The rugged cooler merchandising landscape has become an arms race of luxury, with companies continually seeking to one-up each other with their next salvo, offering models that keep ice frozen for days on end, and even models touted to stand up to the gnashing teeth and claws of a grizzly bear.

Austin-based company YETI has become synonymous with the large, expensive coolers that run hundreds of dollars and can be found in almost hunting and fishing photo your friends send you. The company commands a large portion of the market and competitors of all shapes, sizes and price points have sought to carve out their own portion in a thriving gear market. And while other companies continue to expand their lines, YETI has decided to go soft — with an eye-catching product that could further change the cooler game.

YETI’s new Hopper 30, which already is sold out on the company’s website — is unlike any other soft cooler on the market, and like its hard-bodied predecessors, it too is touted to help keep ice and beer — or whatever beverage you prefer — frosty for nearly a week. The Hopper is marketed as the first 100 percent leakproof portable cooler, featuring a DryHide shell with RF-welded seams, a HydroLok zipper that’s waterproof and airtight and ColdCell insulation that’s an inch thick on the side an 1 1/2 inches on the bottom.The Hopper also is equipped with D-ring tie-down points and a HitchPoint grid to which you can secure accessories.

The Hopper measures 22 1/2 inches tall, 16 1/2 inches wide and 12 inches deep, making it an offering that is much more practical for weekend warriors than hauling around its larger hard-sided coolers, which start at $300 and run as high as $1,400. Unlike those models, the Hoppers weighs just 6 pounds empty.

YETI’s hard-sided coolers are built with a one-piece, polyethylene rotational-molded construction, the same technique used to construct whitewater kayaks. They are equipped with 2 inches of PermaFrost insulation to keep contents cold longer. In 2009 YETI became the first line of coolers to be certified grizzly-proof by the Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee after surviving a series of simulated bear attacks and an hour-long encounter with two hungry adult grizzlies.

The Hopper’s suggested retail price is $299.99.

You won’t find any grizzlies in Texas, and you may not even be able to get your hands on a Hopper for the foreseeable future, but it’s worth staying vigilant and keeping an eye out for either of them.


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