Aussie’s are esky experts, with high expectations of their beer-chilling technology. We gave our Explorer Aidan the new Yeti Hopper 30 to see if the US brand lives up to the hype.
Every now and then, a brand comes along and revolutionises what you thought you knew about a product category. Kind of like what iPhones did for telecommunications, or the opposite of what The Emoji Movie did for cinema.
This has been my impression with Yeti, a Texas based manufacturer of adventure focused cooler technologies – or ‘eskies’ as we call them this side of the hemisphere.
The company was founded when two brothers, frustrated by existing esky brands, set out to shake up the market and develop a range of eskies actually able to keep up with the rigours and abuses of outdoor trips.
I was given one of their creations, the Yeti Hopper 30 (a 25.5 litre soft-shell esky bag), to try out. Here’s what I thought.
The Hopper 30 is big on durability.
Its two-layer design uses high-density nylon (the same material used on whitewater rafts) to ensure maximum abrasion-resistance. Much of Yeti’s marketing for this product draws on references to rhino hide, and in testing it it wasn’t hard to see why. For instance, there’s a video of a man running over a full Hopper 30 with a Jeep. Impressive stuff.
For me, esky bags have traditionally invoked a fun road trip game where the aim is to strategically position them in the car so that they won’t tip over, leak and ruin everything.
Having had the experience of losing this game, this was a large concern for me. So once full of ice and water I lifted the Hopper 30, inverted it and shook it spiritedly. Not a drop of leakage to show for my efforts. This owes to the bag’s thick inner laminate and its industrial grade zipper (which literally comes with a small bottle of zipper lube, so you know they mean business).
Look and Feel
I’m a big fan of the design itself – whilst carrying it in an apartment block elevator it even got a compliment from a stranger. The stitching and seam-welding reek of quality, and a range of straps are provided so you’re covered whichever way you prefer carrying it.
Undoubtedly, it’s a little heavier than your usual esky bag (although generally heavy-duty goods tend to be), so it’s definitely a car camping/short walks bring-along product.
But let’s be real – the preceding stuff is semantics compared to the overriding purpose of all eskies – keeping beverages frosty. I did a bit of research and found that most agree that beers are best enjoyed at temperatures of no more than 7 degrees, which I think is fair.
So I conducted a test to establish how long the Yeti Hopper 30 keeps a beverage below this 7°C refreshment threshold (or the Refreshold, as I termed it).
I filled my Hopper 30 with five litres of petrol station ice and a stubby of beer, kept it in a sunny spot on my back porch and let nature take its course (checking the beer temperature every few hours). Here’s how it went:
The result: a 79 hour window of opportunity before you’re drinking sub-optimally chilled drinks. 3.25 days. Not bad at all.
Admittedly, this test happened in late August, which would have helped the Hopper 30 keep its contents cool for longer. However, I also only had it half-filled with ice, which would not have helped. So *shrug*.
The Yeti Hopper 30 is by far the most robust and well-insulated esky bag I’ve ever seen. With enough space to carry 18 standard drink cans, it would serve as exactly the oasis of cold drinks and snacks you’d want on a hot day’s camping, canoeing or climbing. Just be aware of its size when choosing the trips you’re bringing it along for.