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Field Tested: Yeti Hopper M30 cooler

Basics

Yeti’s Hopper M30 is a 30-liter soft-bodied cooler. It has a wide shoulder strap for easy carrying, in addition to a few smaller hand straps. The Hopper is insulated with closed-cell-foam technology, and encased in tough, water- and puncture-resistant material. It closes via two strong magnetic strips, and can be further secured with two straps and buckles.


Pros

Easy to use, easy to transport, and solid ice retention; ideal for weekend getaways or single-day outings with friends.

Cons

Less food-storage space than I anticipated, given the oblong shape.


Our Thoughts

The Hopper M30 is perfect for weekend warriors and those escaping to the mountains for the day. Its large size makes it ideal for two people for a few days, or one person for a bit longer, with extra room for drinks. It’s no backpacking cooler, but it works great for car camping and short treks into the woods.


Size Reviewed

25" x 12" x 17.5"

Weight

7 pounds (empty)

Price

$350

Brand

Yeti


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Prior to testing the Yeti Hopper M30, I owned some junk cooler from Walmart—so obviously my standards were low. Suffice it to say, the Hopper impressed. In fact, consider me a convert: Every weekend climber needs this in their kit.

The Hopper M30 is Yeti’s largest soft cooler. It’s big enough for two people to pack food and a few drinks for the weekend. It’s an updated release, with a watertight magnetic closure system rather than a zipper.

Tote-Style, Soft-Body Design

The Hopper is a tote-style cooler, with a shoulder strap, two small top handles, and two side straps. Empty, the cooler is seven pounds, but rings in closer to 20 (or more) when packed with food and ice. A few sewn loops on the cooler’s exterior allow you to attach Yeti accessories, such as the SideKick Dry Gear Case, for small items like utensils. The cooler is coated with trademarked DryHide Shell, making it waterproof and resistant to punctures and UV rays. More packable when empty and lighter and easier to carry than a hard-plastic cooler, this soft-bodied cooler shines for short getaways. The con of being soft-bodied: It won’t hold ice quite as long as hard coolers, nor will it be as durable.

I tested Yeti’s limited edition Bimini Pink color, which reminds me of hibiscus flowers and pink lemonade. Other available colors are Navy and Charcoal. The cooler top seals with a set of strong magnetic strips. You can further secure the closure with two straps and buckles, which overlay the opening when latched together. The interior is composed of “ColdCell Insulation,” a closed-cell foam that keeps the cold in.

My old Walmart cooler smelt bad after a few uses—probably from the mold. However, both the interior and exterior of the Hopper are treated to be mildew resistant. Cleanup is easy, too: Most weekends, I just wiped down the interior with a paper towel (there’s no drain, so you’ll need to pour out excess water from the top first). After I accidentally split my food container, I used towels and a mild soap, and that worked great.

Food-Storage and Overall Performance

Upon first opening, the Hopper did have a smell—ammonium and plastic come to mind. But I left it open for a few days and the odor naturally cleared out.

The magnetic strip is strong. You really have to try to get the Hopper open, but it does stay open once you’ve managed it. The 30-liter interior fits, according to Yeti, 26 cans of beer with sufficient ice. I’m not much of a beer drinker myself, but it easily holds enough food for my partner and I to escape for the weekend. If you prefer wine, it’s tall enough to house an upright bottle.

When we packed it Friday night for a weekend getaway, the Hopper always retained ice for the duration, even when we left it in the hot car all day while we were out climbing. (Once, I neglected to open and clean it until Tuesday, and there was still ice in it!) Because the base is sturdy, despite being a soft cooler, it also reliably kept my food in the same place I packed it and wasn’t prone to tipping. Not to fear, however, if you do manage to knock it down: The magnetic strips, as promised, are indeed leak-proof.

The outside feels tough, and so it is! Dragging the thing around on rocky surfaces to better reach a snack, you won’t find a scratch on it. It’s been smashed in the car, without losing the integrity of its shape. Because it’s soft, I found it much easier to lug around than traditional rotomolded coolers. The shoulder strap, in fact, was very well designed and is comfortable. Still, this cooler is not designed for the backcountry—you wouldn’t want to hike long distances with it.

If I had to name a con, it’s that the oblong shape means you can’t actually pack the Hopper M30 to the brim, especially since the cooler closes via magnets rather than a zipper. Still, I haven’t missed the space. Overall, I love how easy the cooler is to use. It’s portable, not too heavy, and it works! My partner and I have used it almost every single weekend since receiving it.

The Hopper M30 is no Walmart model. Ringing in at $350, it is expensive, but you get what you pay for, and this thing should last forever.