Review: Yeti Hopper Flip 12

The lowly cooler is the last thing I would have ever expected to become a hipster status symbol. But Yeti has managed to make it happen, by transformingthe beverage chiller from a utilitarian device into a fashion accessory.

The Yeti Hopper Flip 12, like the rest of its Hopper line, is a soft-side cooler, which makes for a generally more comfortable userexperience than a typical hard-side cooler. As with all coolers of this sort, the Hopper Flip 12 closes witha zipper instead of a traditional flip-up lid. This introduces someplusses and minuses. With 12 quarts of capacity, this is Yeti’s smallest Hopper, a “personal” cooler with room fora 12-pack of soda, water, or beer, depending on the size and shape of the bottles andyour choice of chilling systems.

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There is plenty to like about the Flip 12. It is well built and looks as good as any cooler I’ve ever toted. The lining is mildew-resistant, food-grade plastic, and the zipper is as heavy-duty as they come. Fill it, zip it, and flip it and it doesn’t leak—provided you zipitall the way. (Yeti includes a vial of ChapStick-like lubricant to make the last inch of thatoperation easier.)

You can fill the Flip 12 with ice, or use one of Yeti’s custom ice packs. This isn’t a bad move, as the four-pound Yeti Ice pack ($30) perfectly fitsthe bottom, providing a nice base upon which to build. Just note that a Yeti Ice pack itself won’t keepyour IPA cold, but it will keep the ice cold for longer.

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I tested the Flip 12 againsta similarly sized, garden-variety hard-sided Igloo you can find for $13 at any Wal-Mart. I placedthe same amount of ice and the same number of sodas in each, and waited. The Yeti did a great job keeping beverages cold—not the“ice for days” the company promises, but it was a day and half until the ice meltedfully. But the $13 Igloo offered almost identical performance.

That’s a problem, because the Flip 12 costs $280, or 20 times the cost of the Igloo. Now, I won’t arguethat Yeti coolers aren’tbuilt to high standards. They may well be the most durable soft-sided coolers in the world. However, I will argue that I will never go through 20big box store coolers. Coolers get lost and bits break off, yes, but $280 coolers surely get stolen. Ultimately, this is one more thing that you’ll have to keep an eye on when you’re boogie boarding, because Yeti’s iconic colors makeit a particularly eye-catching to thieves.

The zipper is also a somewhat thorny topic. To make it waterproof, it mustbe tough, whichmakes it tough to operate. It requires a huge amount of effort to open and close the Yeti—to the point where my kids had trouble operating it. Mmaybe that’s a good thing, depending uponwhat’s inside.

RATING

5/10 – Recommended with reservations.

Read more: https://www.wired.com/2016/11/review-yeti-hopper-flip-12/