How To Keep Your YETI Hard Cooler Cold For Longer

Sure, there may be numerous reasons to buy a cooler. Whether it’s because the cooler is durable as hell, rolls everywhere you want it to, or just plain looks nifty, you’re still going to want it to perform its duty as an ice chest.

Of course, ice retention is as important as anything in finding and using a high-quality cooler on your wilderness escapades—just look at how we design our coolers. YETI Coolers are rugged and outperform at every opportunity, but durability is just one of the benefits.

With up to two inches or more of insulation in the walls and lids of most sizes, combined with a freezer-quality sealing gasket and one-piece construction, YETI provides industry-leading ice retention. Yet, if you’re asking what you can do to keep your cooler cold the longest, use our tips below to keep ice longer and thus, your contents fresh and cold.

10 Tips to Keep Ice Longer in Your YETI Cooler

1. Start With a Chilled Cooler

If stored in warm places, a significant amount of ice will be wasted cooling the cooler itself. Preload your cooler a few hours prior to use with a sacrificial bag of ice to cool it down or store it in a cool place before loading it up.

2. Use Twice The Ice As Your Contents

Making sure you use enough ice in your cooler is key. We recommend following a ⅔ ice, ⅓ contents ratio. This means that one-third of your cooler can hold your cold drinks and food, while the other two-thirds should be filled with ice if you fill the cooler completely. The more ice you use, the longer it will last.

3. Ice Temperatures Vary Significantly

Warm ice (around 32°F) is typically wet or dripping, and won’t last long. Ice that is colder than the freezing point is relatively dry and will last substantially longer.

4. Block Ice vs. Cube Ice

Smaller, cubed ice will chill a cooler and the contents more quickly, but block ice melts at a much slower rate. Most pros use a mix of both to chill contents and achieve long-term ice retention to keep their cooler cold the longest.

5. Air is the Enemy

Large areas of air inside your cooler will accelerate ice-melt as the ice is consumed with having to cool the air, instead of your contents. If you do need to leave space in your cooler, they are best filled with extra ice, towels, or crumpled newspaper if weight is a concern.

6. Don’t Drain The Water

Once your cooler is in use, DO NOT empty the cold water. The water helps to insulate the remaining ice. However, exposed food and meat should be kept out of the water.

7. Sunlight is a Heat Source

Keep your cooler out of direct sunlight when possible. Ice can last up to twice as long in the shade. Some pros even use tarps or towels to cover their coolers when they can’t find a shaded spot.

8. Limit Cooler Access

Every time you open the cooler, you are exchanging the cold air inside for warm air outside that must then be cooled, causing faster ice-melt. A bonus tip is to utilize a few pieces of tape on the top of your cooler as a “cooler map” to let everyone know where things are located, without having to open it up and dig around.

9. Dry Ice is Best (Hard Coolers and Ice Buckets Only)

The Tundra® and Roadie® Hard Coolers and YETI TANK® Ice Buckets are all dry ice compatible, however, Hopper® Soft Coolers are not. When used in conjunction with a YETI Hard Cooler, dry ice can keep food and drinks cold and frozen longer than regular ice. Here are some tips for using dry ice in a YETI cooler.

10. YETI ICE Supplement

Extend your regular ice with YETI ICE. YETI ICE is dialed into a temperature just below that of regular ice, letting it do all the cooling work to keep your regular ice from melting. Check out the YETI ICE Configurator to find which sizes fit best in your YETI cooler.

Bonus: How To Keep Ice From Melting in Your YETI Cooler Using Rock Salt

Using rock salt will super-chill your contents. Here’s how:

  1. 1. Properly fill your hard or soft cooler with cans or bottles and plenty of ice.
  2. 2. Generously sprinkle rock salt on top of the ice.
  3. 3. Close or zip your cooler.
  4. 4. Wait 30 minutes and then crack open a cold one.


With the right ice, chilled contents, and some well thought-out layers, you’re set. Our pal Will Owen puts it all together for us.

Country Selector