We Love Yeti’s New Hondo Chair and Hopper Backflip
The Texas company introduces four new products this spring. These are our first impressions after a long weekend with them.
This spring, Austin, Texas–based Yeti continues its spread beyond coolers. In previous seasons, the company has introduced luggage and, um, buckets. This year, it continues its expansion.
Hondo Base Camp Chair ($300)
This week Yeti brought its overengineered fist down on another flimsy staple of outdoor play: the camp chair. The company believes that, like its coolers, consumers will be willing to fork over serious cash for one. The Hondo Base Camp chair, available this spring only online or at Yeti’s flagship store in Austin, comes with a double-barrel frame of aluminum alloy that buckled only after engineers loaded it up with 3,000 pounds and whacked one of the legs with a stick. In short, if you can fit, you can sit.
The Hondo could very well be the most comfortable camp chair you’ll ever kick back in, with a pressure-point-free mesh fabric that’s stretched and seamlessly molded around the frame in a way that’s reminiscent of those Aeron office chairs—you know, the chair God sits in on The Simpsons. In fact, Yeti hired Hondo product manager Brian Langerak away from Aeron-maker Herman Miller specifically for the project. Of course, the mesh isn’t just mesh, but a souped-up, slightly rubbery-feeling weave that can withstand saltwater, ultraviolet rays, heat, cold, and maybe even a nuclear blast for all we know.
At 16.5 pounds, the Hondo is not light, and it doesn’t recline or collapse into a tube shape like your $15 Big Lots chair, which makes it harder to bring on long float trips. But the frame does have a more ergonomic crossbar that fits nicely in your hand for carrying when you fold it up like a lawn chair. Accessories—including a satchel that hangs off the back—are sold separately.
Camino Carryall 35 ($150)
If you haven’t noticed, Yeti seems to use something of a sticker-shock-and-awe strategy when it comes to introducing new products. The company will come out with a high-dollar item, like the Tundra cooler, then fill in the price points (slightly) below it later on with items like some of the smaller, soft-sided Hoppers. Last fall, Yeti moved away from insulated gear with the release of its Panga, a waterproof duffel bag that you can literally throw out of a plane (though they won’t tell you that). Now comes the Camino Carryall 35, available later this spring.
Made of the same laminated, high-density nylon as the Panga, the Camino looks like a tote Andre the Giant would use. It measures about 15 inches high, 18 inches wide, and 10 inches deep and can carry more weight than the joints in your fingers can handle. The EVA-molded bottom helps keep the tote upright and open, so you can set it down in a mud pit and not worry about the muck seeping through. Just hose it off when you’re done.
As for features, well, it’s a bag. But there is an inside zipper pocket for, say, a fishing license, since the tote seems perfect for hauling around muddy boots and waders, a wetsuit, or even climbing ropes. Daisy chains on the outside make it easy to attach a Sidekick (see below) or just about anything else with a ’biner. One idea that seems like a no-brainer: Use it as a soft, collapsible bucket for hauling loads of water back to camp for dishes—the handles, and everything else, will easily manage the weight.
Hopper BackFlip 24 ($300)
Cooler backpacks are now a thing, apparently, and Yeti jumps in with its Hopper BlackFlip 24, a soft-side cooler with shoulder straps, the same leakproof zipper you’ll find on hazmat suits, and a closed-cell rubber foam wrapped inside a food-grade, puncture-resistant liner that will keep your wild foraged oysters cold all the way home. The exterior features the same burly shell used on other Hoppers, extra handles for easier lifting, and daisy chains for attaching gear. It’ll only come in one size when it’s released this spring, with a volume of about 24 liters. That’s enough for roughly 20 cans of beer or 25 pounds of ice. Empty, it weighs about five pounds. A hipbelt and sternum strap help stabilize the load.
Simple, rugged, and waterproof, think of the Sidekick as a smaller, lighter, soft-side ammo can that’s great for storing small items like phones, small cameras, or even books and journals you’d hate to get wet. A magnetic rubber-gasket enclosure combined with a Velcro flap opens along the entire width of the pouch and didn’t blow open when my 200-pound frame stood on it.