|YETI Tundra 45 Cooler White||$349.99||Buy on Amazon|
|Ozark Trail 26-Quart High-Performance Cooler,||$115.20||Buy on Amazon|
Ever since I purchased my Yeti, I have really begun to clue into the ongoing comparisons that others make with alternative brands. One rivalry that has been getting a lot of attention is the one between my chosen brand, which is certainly Yeti, the Trail coolers made by Ozark. Ozark coolers are sold exclusively by Wal-Mart, and they have become acting as a sort of house brand for the retail giant. A lot of friends of mine use Ozark Trail coolers, and they sure like to boast about how they did not have to pay as much as me and the other Yeti users. Needless to say, they end up patting their own backs and having a good laugh about the foolishness of Yeti cooler owners.
I’m glad they’re happy, but I’d like to officially bring my point of view to the discussion: they’re also wrong. Ozark, the brand made by Wal-Mart, is a clone, its a knock-off, alternative– it is manufactured in a cheaper way, and it does not hold ice as long. These are just a few standout issues, which have good company among other inferiorities brought to the equation by Ozark.
Cooler enthusiasts have been becoming more aware of the prominence of Ozark models on the market. They are only available at Wal-Mart, as they have a specific deal with them. Like Yeti, and many other brands who manufactures premium quality coolers, the cooler is roto-molded and insulated. My initial impressions of these Ozark coolers were pretty strong.
I’ve got a friend with an Ozark Trail, so I took my Yeti over to his place, and his was agreeable enough to allow me to perform as ice test. He was aware that I had some issues with the brand, and definitely is not a fellow who lives and dies by the Ozark sword; he just liked the value for the dollar, which I think is totally fair.
Anyway, here are the formal results from the Ozark cooler vs. Yeti cooler test:
They look a little bit alike, but the Ozark is considerably more awkward and cheap looking. Like RTIC and many other brands, I have to think twice before calling their coolers and products “knock offs” of Yeti products. It may be harsh wording, but I believe it to be true. As I mentioned before, the Ozark is practically a clone of a Yeti. As well as being a brand, Yeti has also become a style of cooler. Though there are things to be said for using the innovations of competitive products, I think there is something to be said for paying a bit extra to go for the model that everybody else is copying, rather than settling for a less expensive, more cheaply made “knock off.” Also, a product backed by Wal-Mart doesn’t necessarily inspire confidence as far as morality goes, in my opinion… Not that I have a huge problem with Wal-Mart, but they’re not exactly an innocent little Mom & Pop shop.
I think this is a clear decision for Yeti, who innovated their own product and created their own design… Rather than depending on a great company to come along with an idea to steal, Yeti entered the scene and set the standard, which many competitors borrow from. Though it’s simple, it’s slick and modern, and Yeti wins this by a long run.
To put it simply, there is no way that Yeti is losing this battle to most coolers, perhaps most specifically that applies to the Ozark. The Yeti manages to fend off some pretty tough competition; I don’t think that the Ozark qualifies in that category. The Yeti won the ice test by at least a day. The Ozark hardly lasted 4 days, while the Yeti had enough ice left in it at that point that it looked like it would last at least 2 more. And that was in quite a cool environment; because of the inferior insulation, I have heard Ozark Trail users complain about their ice melting between 8-12 hours, which is not at all acceptable for a product claiming to be a valid competitor to industry leaders. As far as coolers go, this is the definitive quality, in my opinion. I also think that the Yeti is generally made from higher quality materials and has a more organic, user friendly, and natural feel. The Ozark is made in China, and completed with unsatisfactory rubber latches which seem pretty feeble. Ozark hardly puts up a fight. This one goes to Yeti.
What cooler you deem to be more valuable will ultimately depend on your priorities. If you are looking for a better cooler, and prioritize quality above other aspects, the Yeti’s high price also represents much higher value for your dollar. Yeti offers a great warranty, and is an industry leader in almost every quantitative field that applies to premium coolers. If you are pinching pennies and looking for a cooler than can deliver admirable results for as low of a cost as possible, the Ozark is not a bad option. It is very functional, and offers many of the same positive features as the Yeti; it just brings nothing new or unique to the conversation at all, which is exactly why Yeti is such a remarkable brand in the first place. I believe that Yeti delivers more bang for your buck, but I realize not everybody is financially comfortable or secure enough to invest the extra money into their cooler. Again, if you’re looking for a cheap alternative, the Ozark is a fine choice…
At the end of the day, you are comparing an original to a clone. What I can say about the Ozark Trail, though, is that it hardly even classifies as a clone. If you are looking for a Yeti knock off, there are better brands on the market. Still, I think that you would be better off making a conscious effort to save up a bit more money and invest in the real deal.