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Why Are People So Obsessed With YETI, the Cult-Fave Camping Brand?

It’s no longer just a brand for frat bros and fishing trips—fans of YETI's rugged, high-end gear are everywhere.
Ian Burke
Brooklyn, US
May 6, 2021, 5:59pm
yeti-stuff-3
Composite by VICE staff

Excuse me—this? [Points, raises eyebrows in disbelief.] This isn’t a coffee mug. It’s a tumbler, and it wasn't cheap. (Well, technically, it’s a “Rambler,” but you get it.) 

Ideally, we’d like our pricey mugs to neither tumble nor ramble, but what we really care about is whether they keep our various liquids hot or cold. And, despite being named after some Himalayan folk monster, YETI mugs—and the rest of their insulated products—really do. 

Now, you’ll have to look past the Mandela-like effect of YETI’s early days as what seemed to be a cooler company for monied yacht-owners who didn’t so much sail as lounge around their palatial Nantucket docks, pulling freezing-cold fifths of Orphan Tears out of $300 iceboxes. No, these days, from big-time chefs to your sweet, sweet mother (for whom you better have bought a present), everyone is aboard the YETI train. And for good reason! As much as we’d like to dismiss them as an overhyped, overpriced knockoff-Tupperware retailer, we can’t. Indeed, their products slap as hard as the birds say. 

Now, we know our folks’ trusty, eternally-sticky Coleman cooler never let any of our uncles’ Michelob Ultras get warm during those awkward family parties, but there’s a good reason that YETI products are significantly pricier than their budget counterparts—they work, and they don’t break easily. For example, their Tundra coolers can hold ice for a ridiculously long time, are built to last, and feature military-grade polyester ropes, heavy-duty rubber latches, and LIPGRIP™ (the jokes write themselves these days) handles. Oh, and those tumblers I was teasing mere paragraphs ago? They keep my coffee hot enough to loudly and obnoxiously burn my lips in front of everyone I work with during our 2 p.m. meetings. 

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So, whether you’re trying to keep 100 Heinekens cold for a camping weekend with the bros, or you just want to be able to periodically burn your tongue on hot coffee throughout the day, there’s a YETI item out there for everyone. (Even the good bois.) 

For backseat boozing or, you know, sandwiches?

roadie cooler

I, too, can squeeze behind the driver’s or passenger’s seat of a car—albeit when heavily greased. Thankfully, this hard-top cooler needs no WD-40 to tuck behind your seat, and can fit most standard wine bottles (standing upright) for all your winish road trip needs. 

ROADIE 24 HARD COOLER, $199.99 at YETI

Bring a sixer to a party, you make five friends. Bring a keg to a party… 

beige bucket

… And you’ll make a ton of friends, for about as long as it takes them to brush past you to guzzle down some free beer. But while your reign as The Coolest Kid In School might be short-lived, it’s still a reign—and you wouldn’t want 60 lukewarm pints of pastry stout (vom) to ruin it. That’s where this ice bucket comes in, to keep your pony keg cold long after you inevitably pass out in the yard, again. 

YETI TANK 45 ICE BUCKET, $199.99 at YETI

Who needs a Birkin bag?

blue yeti bag

Listen, you’re not going to be able to find a knockoff soft cooler bag that keeps your draaanks as cold as this YETI version—unless you’re Ilana’s mom, maybe. So for anyone not within driving distance of Canal Street, this is your best bet. And, look! It has a wide mouth for easy loading and unloading, just like you.

HOPPER M30 SOFT COOLER, $299.99 at YETI

For your 98 slices of watermelon

bigger yeti bucket

Because we’re not gonna stop at 97! No, sir. This massive bucket holds an impressive amount of watermelon (literally 98 slices, per the product description) or “20 gallons of trash can punch,” which we’d love to bathe in. Or get a recipe for. Whichever.

YETI TANK 85 ICE BUCKET, $249.99 at YETI

Save the turtles with this Dunkin’ delivery vessel 

yeti rambler

This 26-ounce rambler is perfect for sipping large iced coffees, imperial pints of punch, or massive, earth-shattering day cocktails. It also has a handy dandy straw lid, so you can feel marginally less bad about hammering mug mimosas (patent pending) during work hours.  

RAMBLER 26 OZ STACKABLE CUP WITH STRAW LID, $29.99 at YETI

A cooler, but for your body

long sleeve t-shirt

While the jaws on the back are kind of coming across as monkfish-esque, you’ll still get all the pros of a long-sleeve T-shirt (of which we’re sure there are… many) with all the branding of the coolest cooler company in town. Plus, it features UPF 50 sun protection, so you can enjoy all the perks of being a weathered sailor without the leathery skin.

SHARKS SUNSHIRT LONG SLEEVE T-SHIRT, $49.99 at YETI

An “airtight citadel”—for those of us who need one

airtight citadel

You know, as opposed to those janky-ass, water-permeable citadels we’ve heard such awful things about. This easy-to-carry pack is also “puncture resistant,” which we think is a tacit go-ahead to roll around in a pile of knives. (Please don’t.) It has a laptop pocket, too!

PANGA BACKPACK 28, $299.99 at YETI

Deny your organs, yet again, any nourishment whatsoever

coffee mug

Who needs water when you’ve got that sweet, sweet bean juice? Though every fiber of your being wishes you’d stop inundating your insides with black coffee and White Claw, we both know that’s not gonna stop you. Instead, give into your darkest caffeinated desires and fill up this 10-ounce, shatterproof mug again and again.  

RAMBLER 10 OZ STACKABLE MUG WITH MAGSLIDER LID, $24.99 at YETI

128 fluid ounces of fun 

gallon jug

As any good outdoorsperson knows, carrying around an insulated gallon jug of ambiguous liquid is one of the keys to making sure everyone else on the trail knows you mean business. Or that you just have a lot of soup. 

RAMBLER ONE GALLON JUG, $129.99 at YETI

For your pet, who is *definitely* going to appreciate the branding

dog bowl

We’re pretty sure subjecting your pet to drinking out of some common vessel is animal abuse (disclaimer: it’s not), which is why this pastel-colored, four-cup dog bowl is a must-have for your wittle precious angel. It’s also the perfect way to let the other dogs at the park know who the #alpha is. Oh, and we’re not calling your dog a Boomer—YETI is. 

BOOMER 4 DOG BOWL, $39.99 at YETI

What, you expect me to sit in an Adirondack chair?

chair

Seriously, we didn’t just spend 15 months in quar to sit in some non-YETI folding chair while we pound PBRs until they start to taste good. It’s durable, it’s chiq, and it has a cupholder that—wouldn’t ya know it—fits all of the YETI ramblers.

HONDO BASE CAMP CHAIR, $299.99 at YETI

So go, reader, deck yourself out in YETI gear and look abominable. 


The Rec Room staff independently selected all of the stuff featured in this story. VICE may receive a small commission if you buy through the links on our site.