Yeti has built a $450 million business by selling $400 bear-proof coolers that keep food and beer cold for days. The company now makes other products, including a line of bottles and growlers, that have equally shocking price tags but purport to carry the same indestructible DNA. To find out whether Yeti’s newest offering—the $40 18-ounce Rambler bottle—is as bomber as the coolers, we put it through a torture test that included smashing it with a bat and dropping a kayak on top of it. Here’s how the bottle held up.
The only way to test a Yeti product is to beat the shit out of it, so I hit the bottle with a baseball bat, dragged it behind my car down a dirt road, and dropped a 45-pound kayak onto it. I drank water, tea, and coffee from it for a week to determine usability. I also filled it with boiling water, attached the top, and measured how well it insulated over the course of four hours.
Durability: I was able to put only one good dent in the bottle’s body after five minutes of batting practice. That means you’d be fine dropping it off picnic tables or from your car for years without the body getting too banged up. I did make direct contact with the plastic lid on one swing—it cracked but didn’t fail, and the liquids never leaked. The bottle and lid didn’t blink when I dropped the kayak onto it, and the bottle was fine after being dragged behind my car at 20 miles per hour. The lid, however, did come apart during the drag test and was rendered unusable.
Thermoregulation: To find out how well the double-walled vacuum insulation in the bottle works, I poured in 203-degree water and let it sit for four hours. When I opened the bottle, drips from the lid actually burned me—the water was still a piping-hot 171 degrees. I tested other insulated travel mugs back in December, and a 32-degree heat loss would have put the Yeti in second place overall, behind the Zojirushi mug, which destroyed the competition with just a 25-degree loss over four hours.
Usability: I liked the wide mouth, which was easy to drink from and made cleaning a cinch. The diameter is perfect for a one-hand hold, and it’s small enough to fit in most vehicles’ drink holders but not so small that it rattles around on dirt roads. The top was easy to thread, and the plastic loop was great for attaching the bottle to bag straps.
Bottom Line: There are less-expensive bottles that thermoregulate better than the Yeti, and the lid wasn't as tough as we would have liked. But when it comes to the durability of the bottle itself, the Rambler wins. Whether you need a bottle that can stand up to a baseball bat…well, we’ll let you be the judge. Of course, there’s also the coolness factor: Yeti is now a status symbol at campsites and trailheads across the country, and it feels damn good in your hand.