YETI Roadie 24 Review: Is This the Best Small Cooler?

Is the king of small coolers worthy of its throne?

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by  Cooler Bill Barton | Last Updated: 

Is the YETI Roadie 24 really worth the price? Nothing’s worse than buying a cooler only to find when it’s time to pack up and leave that the cooler isn’t big enough to fit all your supplies.

In this YETI Roadie 24 review, we’re going to break down every test we put this cooler through so at the end, you’ll know whether the Roadie is right for you.

Highest quality cooler in the 20 qt category
82 Image Source: YETI
VALUE
7
score
CAPACITY
8
score
INSULATION
9
score
DURABILITY
9
score
EASE OF USE
7
score
PORTABILITY
8
score
FEATURES
6
score
True Liquid Capacity:   24 quarts
Hours Below 40º F:   73 hours
Pros:
  • The Roadie 24 has best in class (20-25qt) insulation
  • The taller shape is more convenient when packing a car, and is helpful as a seat or a table when camping
  • The hinges stay open and the latches are far easier to open than the competition
Cons:
  • Because it’s taller, you need to layer the contents—if you need something at the bottom, you’ll have to plunge your hands into the ice and dig around for a while
  • It’s not air-tight, meaning water will likely leak if this is tipped over
  • There’s no drain

The only thing I miss about being a high school teacher is the last day of school.

I was in competition with my colleagues to see who could look the most going on vacation immediately

One year, I showed up with a Hawaiian shirt and a big hat (even though I was just going to San Diego), and I thought I’d be the winner of the day. But one guy showed up with a huge cooler and tent strapped to the roof of his van. He definitely looked like he was going on vacation the minute the bell rang.

In honor of that moment, I decided to pick up a YETI Roadie 24—YETI’s smallest hard-sided cooler. I needed a camping companion, and I went to the most popular brand in the space to see if they had the best option.

In this YETI Roadie 24 review, I’ll not only dive into the details of how this cooler performs, but I’m also comparing it to close competitors so you can decide for yourself whether the Roadie is worth riding with. 

YETI Roadie 24 Overview

The YETI Roadie 24 was released in early 2020 and is YETI’s smallest hard-sided cooler. 

It’s an improvement over their previous Roadie 20 in several ways. They’ve removed some features that allow for greater insulation, and it has a taller build that makes it both lighter and more spacious. 

Instead of 20 quarts of liquid capacity, the new Roadie has 24 quarts (hence the name Roadie 24).

At the time of writing, the Roadie 24 comes in six different color options. Four are year round staples (Charcoal, Desert Tan, White, and Navy), and there are two rotating limited edition colors. 

You can also pick up a cooler with an official MLB or collegiate logo, though it looks like they just add a big sticker on top, which you could just do yourself and save some money. 

Things to Consider Before Buying the YETI Roadie 24

The biggest consideration to make before buying the Roadie 24 is what you’ll mostly be using it for. I do a lot of camping and I have a small coup car with very little space. 

For this reason, I like that the Roadie 24 sits upright in the back seat and takes up more vertical room than horizontal room. That allows me to stash more camping gear in the back of the car. 

But if you want a shorter, wider cooler, something like the RTIC or Orca 20 Qt options might be better for you. 

Of course, with YETI, price is always an issue. These are relatively expensive coolers. I’m also comparing the Roadie 24 against the much less expensive Igloo BMX 25 Qt cooler. If you only need to keep food cool for a day or so, maybe the more economical option is better for you. 

But compared to other 20-25 quart coolers, the YETI Roadie 24 can maintain a food safe temperature the longest.

YETI Roadie 24

Compared to other hard-sided coolers in the same size category, the Roadie 24 has better insulation and it’s more practically easy to pack into your car and hit the road.

Plus, because it’s around three inches taller and three inches slimmer, it makes for a more convenient seat or table-top when camping.

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Why You Should Trust Me

In this review, I’m not just focusing on the YETI Roadie 24. I also picked up coolers from YETI’s stiffest competition to see where the Roadie excels and where it falls behind. 

I’m testing the Roadie against the RTIC 20 qt cooler, the Orca 20 qt cooler, and the Igloo BMX 25 qt cooler. 

I tested the insulating power of each of these coolers under the same conditions. For 20-25 quart coolers, that means I used seven pounds of ice and measured the internal temperature of a single hot dog for 96 hours (four days). 

I didn’t open the lids while testing, and the tests were all recorded at the same time—the ambient temperature was the same for each cooler during this test.

I’m not just a dude who has a YETI cooler. I’m a dude who’s rigorously tested the YETI Roadie 24 against the best 20 qt coolers in the game. 

Oh, and I also cut the YETI Roadie in half to see what was on the inside. You can check out that video below:

YETI Roadie 24 Cooler Review

Value

Probably the biggest question on your mind is this: is the YETI Roadie 24 worth it? So, I’ll address that first.

The YETI Roadie 24 is far more expensive than some of its competitors. While it is stronger in the insulation category (plenty of data on that below), the practical difference isn’t so massive that it warrants double the price. 

That said, there are many other reasons to pick one cooler over another: my favorite thing about the YETI Roadie 24 is its shape. Because it’s taller and thinner than most other hard sided coolers in the 20 quart category, it easily fits in the back seat of my car, which makes it better for camping and beach trips. 

There’s also the brand: few others cooler have the same following as YETI. I love that you can find limited edition YETI coolers and build a complete collection of matching tumblers, big coolers, small coolers, etc. 

While YETI does charge a premium for their brand, that may be perfectly ok for you as the style of the cooler and wide variety of matching gear is mainly what you’re after. 

Capacity

The YETI Roadie holds 24 liquid quarts, which I measured out myself in a bathtub. But that doesn’t tell the whole story.

Yes, I measured the number of liquid quarts the Roadie 24 can hold…in my bathtub

Compared to the other 20 quart coolers I’ve tested, the YETI Roadie 24 has the lowest space efficiency ratio—I get this number by dividing the number of cans a cooler can hold by its liquid quart capacity. 

The YETI Roadie 24 may hold the fewest number of cans in this category, but there’s a good chance you’re packing more than just beer. Even with 18 cans, there’s room left over for food and ice. While this cooler isn’t perfectly optimized for 12oz cans, I like that it can bring a day or two of supplies into camp (including the beers—gotta have those). 

What size ice should I get for the YETI Roadie 24?

The YETI Roadie 24 technically holds 24 pounds of ice, but with that amount, you’re not carrying anything else. I’ve used this cooler with seven pounds of ice, which I still think was more than I needed. The sweet spot is three pounds of ice for a night or two away. That leaves you plenty of room for your supplies, and should keep everything below 40 degrees for about 48 hours.

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Because the Roadie 24 is taller, there’s a greater chance that you’ll have to go fishing toward the bottom to find what you need. This is fine during a hot day, but if you’re plunging your hand into ice at night, it can get uncomfortable. 

How many cans does a YETI Roadie 24 hold?

The YETI Roadie 24 holds 18 twelve-ounce cans.

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Overall, the YETI Roadie doesn’t hold a ton of cans, so if you’re looking for just a beer cooler, there are better options. But if you need something more versatile that can carry your beers, steaks, and a head of lettuce for grilling burgers later, then the YETI Roadie is actually one of the best choices. 

Insulation

Insulation is where the YETI Roadie 24 is an unambiguous winner. Take a look at the graph below:

In my ice test (96 hours, 7 pounds of ice, no opening, no sunlight) the YETI Roadie 24 outperformed all other hard sided coolers. It held its contents under 40 degrees for 73 hours (that’s a little over three full days), kept its beers frosty for 83 hours, and it finished the test at 57 degrees. 

You can see the difference in insulation more clearly in the graph below (just hours 60-96):

The next best insulator was the RTIC 20 Qt, which was consistently three hours ahead of the YETI at those major temperature points (meaning the YETI Roadie has three extra hours of insulating power). 

If you’re looking for the best 20 quart cooler for insulating, the YETI Roadie 24 is the best I’ve tested. 

Durability

Rotomolded coolers are known for their rugged durability—there aren’t any seams to crack and the hinge that connects the lid to the body is a sturdy stainless steel rod. 

I haven’t dropped my YETI Roadie or put it through any sort of durability test, but I can say for sure that it feels incredibly solid. 

The rivets in the side where the nylon web handle attached would be the weakest spot on the cooler, but even when the Roadie 24 is filled with cans, food, and ice (it can get up to 40 pounds), the handle performs just as well as when the cooler is empty. 

The YETI Roadie 24 is extremely well-built. I can’t say that it’s sturdier or tougher than the Orca or RTIC, but it’s certainly a step in quality above the Igloo BMX 25. 

Portability

Portability is another big win for the YETI Roadie 24. In fact, that’s my favorite thing about this cooler. 

Unlike most other hard sided coolers in the 20 quart category, the Roadie 24 has a taller, thinner design. 

This means it fits more easily in the back seat of my coup car. It’ll also fit easily into the back of a hatchback or truck bed, while leaving more floor space for other gear. As noted above, this makes the Roadie 24 less space-efficient for carrying cans, but makes it easier to pack and bring along on an adventure, which is ultimately what I care about most. 

Features

It’s easy to open and lock the Roadie 24 with a single hand

Compared to other 20 quart coolers, the YETI Roadie 24 doesn’t have many features like a drain spout or space for a bear lock. 

The hatches on the front are a big win for the Roadie 24. Rather than the rubber knobs most coolers use, YETI attaches two-part plastic hatches that are super easy to open and close with a single hand. Not only that, but the hatches are very secure but don’t take much effort to lock and unlock. 

This is a stark contrast to the Orca 20 quart, which has very sturdy rubber knobs that take a lot of effort to undo. And there’s the RTIC 20 quart: the rubber knobs are easy to release, but they can also come undone if you drop the cooler, thus potentially spilling your ice on the ground.

So the hatches on the YETI Roadie 24 are the best I’ve seen in the 20 quart category. 

I wish there was a space for a bear lock on the YETI. Both Orca and RTIC allow for a padlock. It’s possible that the hatch mechanism is strong and complex enough to deter critters, but a steel lock offers peace of mind. 

The Roadie 24 also has a nylon web handle, which is unusual compared to other coolers in this category. I really like the more flexible handle (rather than the steel bar on the RTIC and Orca)—it’s a better option for packing your cooler into smaller spaces. Ultimately, the nylon handle makes the Roadie 24 more versatile and easier to pack. 

The Roadie 24 doesn’t have a water drain spout, though with a 20 quart cooler, I don’t think it’s much of an issue. When the Roadie is full, it can be quite heavy (around 40 pounds). That can make it a bit awkward to lift, tilt, and drain, but it’s still light enough that most men and women can drain excess water on their own with some effort. 

YETI Roadie 24 Accessories

YETI offers the Dry Goods Basket for the Roadie 24, which can be useful if you’re packing food for a short trip. 

I’m considering getting it myself because I think the Roadie 24 is ideal for an overnight camping trip. It’s not the best beer cooler (because it’s not optimized for can storage), but it can definitely hold a six pack and plenty of food. For that reason, having the Dry Goods Basket to keep your lettuce, mushroom, tomatoes, etc. separated from the ice is a great choice.

YETI Roadie 24 Dry Goods Basket

Set one of these baskets in, or two side by side for bringing along the buns, lettuce, and tomatoes for your burgers.

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The Dry Goods Basket fills half of the cooler, so you can get a single one and leave access to the ice below, or you can get two and place them side-by-side for more dry storage. 

There are various tie-down kits you can get as well for the Roadie 24 if you’re hauling the cooler in your truck. 

YETI Roadie 24 vs 20

The YETI Roadie 24 is a significant improvement over the Roadie 20 in every meaningful way. Not only does it allow for four extra quarts of liquid capacity, but it’s a few pounds lighter (Yeti says 10%), and performs better on insulation tests (Yeti says 30% better). 

I don’t own a Roadie 20, so I can’t say for sure, but with such a popular line of coolers, I’m confident YETI has invested a significant amount in the design of the Roadie 24, so that all seems believable to me. 

One of the biggest differences is in the front latches. The Roadie 20 has similar rubber “T-Rex” handles that you can find on the Orca and RTIC, where the Roadie 24 has the hard plastic latches that are much sturdier and easier to open.

The Roadie 20 had a drain spout, which isn’t part of the design for the Roadie 24. 

What Do Other Reviewers Say?

On the YETI site, the Roadie 24 earns a 4.6 star rating with over 3,000 reviews. So it’s a well loved piece of equipment and there’s no shortage of folks who wax poetic about the durability and insulating power of the Roadie 24. 

Negative comments mainly focused on the handle—some found that it was too short, which meant the cooler hit their legs at an awkward angle when the cooler was filled. I personally didn’t see this as being any different than the coolers with steel bars, and the shorter strap gave me more control, but apparently it’s tougher for shorter people (I’m 6’2). 

YETI Roadie 24 Alternatives

RTIC 20 Qt

All things considered, I think the RTIC 20 Qt is a better alternative to the YETI Roadie 24. The RTIC is about 60% of the cost of the Yeti, but only has around 5% less insulating power. 

While I like that the YETI Roadie 24 has a taller, thinner shape, and I certainly think the latches on the front are better, I don’t know that these factors combine to justify the added cost. 

When you add the fact that the RTIC 20 Qt has a drain plug and a space for a bear-resistant lock, it’s a clear winner in my opinion. 

RTIC 20 Qt

All things considered, the RTIC 20 Qt is the best pick in the 20-25qt hard cooler category.

While the YETI Roadie 24 has more insulating power, I think the RTIC 20 is more than enough to keep your goods cold for a weekend and the value-for-money is phenomenal.

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I also cut the RTIC 20 in half and did a comparison of the insulation against YETI.

Igloo BMX 25 Qt Cooler

The Igloo BMX 25 Qt cooler is an excellent budget alternative to the YETI Roadie 24. It’s pretty ugly, and doesn’t look nearly as awesome as the Roadie 24, so that’s definitely a major factor.

I know some guys take major pride in their overland trucks, so in that scenario, a cooler with that vaguely military-esque, cargo style look to it is important, and the Igloo isn’t going to get you there. 

But the Igloo BMX 25 Qt cooler insulates well, holds a lot of cans and food, and gets the job done for a relatively inexpensive price. 

Igloo BMX 25

It's not the prettiest cooler, but it gets the job done.

This is my top budget pick for the 20-25 qt cooler category because it's insulating power is quite good compared to brands that are double (and even triple) the price.

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My Thoughts Overall On the YETI Roadie 24

What I Like

  • The Roadie 24 performed the best in the insulation tests for the 20 quart cooler category.
  • The taller, thinner shape is more convenient when packing a car and also doubles well as a seat/table for camping.
  • The front latches are a much better design than the competition—they’re sturdier and easier to open.

What I Don’t Like

  • The taller design means you need to layer the contents, so you may have to plunge your hand into the ice to dig around for what you need.
  • The seal isn’t air-tight so if the Roadie 24 tips over, it’ll leak.
  • There’s no drain plug which can make it difficult to drain when full.

Who is the Roadie 24 for?

The YETI Roadie 24 is an excellent cooler for you if you’re happy to spend the extra money needed to get the absolute best equipment.

The Verdict

The YETI Roadie 24 performed the best in my insulation tests for the 20 quart cooler category. I also like the taller, thinner shape more than the competition, and the latches on the front are the best design in my opinion.

However, I don’t feel that the YETI Roadie 24 is the best value-for-money in the small hard sided cooler category. If I could only get one 20 quart cooler, I’d pick the RTIC 20 Qt.

At around 60% of the cost, with only about 5% less insulating power, I think the RTIC 20 qt ticks many of the same style boxes and even has some cool features I wish were on the YETI Roadie 24 (like the drain spout and bear lock).

However, if money isn’t an issue, I think the YETI Roadie 24 is the best 20 quart cooler. While it scored the lowest on my space efficiency test, to me, that just means it’s not the greatest beer-only cooler. With the Dry Goods Basket, the YETI Roadie 24 becomes the best 1-2 day camping trip cooler when bringing 12oz cans and food supplies.

YETI Roadie 24

Compared to other hard-sided coolers in the same size category, the Roadie 24 has better insulation and it’s more practically easy to pack into your car and hit the road.

Plus, because it’s around three inches taller and three inches slimmer, it makes for a more convenient seat or table-top when camping.

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FAQs

Is the Roadie 24 worth it?

If you value the smaller footprint, the packing versatility, superior insulation, and easier-to-use design, then yes, the YETI Roadie 24 is worth it.

Can I sit on a YETI Roadie 24?

Yes, the YETI Roadie 24 is designed to easily withstand over 300 lbs of weight on top. You can use the Roadie 24 as a seat.

How long does a YETI Roadie 24 keep ice?

When I tested the YETI Roadie 24, it held ice for 96 hours—most of the ice was melted at that point, but there was still some left. The Roadie 24 held its contents below 40 degrees for 73 hours.

Can you carry a YETI Roadie?

The YETI Roadie 24 is about 12 pounds when empty and can be around 40 pounds when full. 40 pounds is pretty heavy for me (I’m 6’2 and bench a solid 225) when carrying any sort of distance. If you’re carrying a shorter distance (like 10 feet), most men and women can carry a full YETI Roadie 24.