When I first received a Yeti Hopper soft-sided cooler to try out, I didn’t think I’d use it much. I was shocked to realize a year in that it had become my go-to cooler. Unless I am in a boat and need the hard-sided Yeti Tundra to stand on, I’d rather have the Hopper with me than any other cooler on the market. My wife, Tracy, and I, use it frequently to travel to and from her family place in the mountains. She recently loaded an entire from-scratch lasagna’s worth of ingredients into it and made me one of the best meals of my life when I walked out of the turkey woods.
That being said, the Hopper has one notable flaw: no drain hole. If you fill that bag up with water ice it quickly becomes labrum-tearing heavy, too. The obvious solution was to use refreezable ice blocks. I had some foam ones that had come with a shipment of wine and they worked very well, but after a few cycles in and out, they began to get torn and to leak material.
Clearly, what I needed was a large, burly, easily frozen ice block that could stand up to the abuse we take for granted in using Yeti products. Well, Yeti had the same idea.
The product comes in two sizes: 4 lbs., which has the exact footprint of the bottom of a Hopper 35, and 2 lbs., which is half sized. Both have the “handle” cut out in the middle, which Yeti explains is actually to help the core freeze at the same rate as the exterior.
My experience so far has been good. This is a very practical, quick solution to the ice problem and will keep a cooler cold for a day or so. You will not get three days of ice retention out of these: above all else, they just don’t have the volume of a 20 lb. bag of ice. (See my cooler comparison in partnership with Fly Rod & Reel magazine for a full explanation).
Bottom line, these blocks are Yeti-grade products that you would need to back a car over to destroy. They also are the “rechargeable batteries” of cooler tech: buy it once and never pay money for ice again. They offer significant weight savings at some loss of effectiveness, but clean up is literally as simple as taking them out and putting them back in the freezer.
Rating: 4 stars out of 5 (demerit for not using a more sciency longer-lasting blue goo).
Price: $20 2 lb. | $30 4 lb. (I would buy the 4 lb. block first.)