$39 Yeti tumbler vs $9 copycat: any difference?

Is a Yeti really worth the money?

The Yeti Rambler tumbler is the hottest, or should we say the coldest, thing in camping equipment these days.

Walk into any Dick’s Sporting Goods, Cabela’s, or other camping store, and you can’t miss the displays of Yeti tumblers, the hottest selling cold drink cup in history.

Concrete contractor Chris Allender would love one for his job. “If it really works, it would be great,” Allender said.

But many folks can’t fathom the price: $39, essentially 40 bucks for a 30 ounce stainless steel tumbler.

“No way,” one woman told us outside Dick’s. “I wouldn’t pay that for something, I don’t care if it keeps your drink cold for a week!”

Retailers Roll Out Knock-offs

Retailers know the price is high for many family budgets. So they are rolling out inexpensive competitors, such as Walmart’s look alike Ozark Trail tumbler, for just $9.75.

We decided to compare them. I bought 3 stainless steel tumblers:

  • The $39 dollar Yeti, which holds 30 ounces.
  • Walmart’s $9.75 Ozark Trail look alike. also 30 ounces.
  • A $9 SubZero, sold at Kmart, Walmart, and Amazon, but only sold in a 20 ounce size.

We Test Them Out

I packed each one with crushed ice, attempting to use the exact same amount of ice in each, and sealed them tight.

Then, after waiting 12 hours with the cups untouched on a kitchen counter, I measured how much ice had melted.

The Yeti and Ozark lost exactly the same amount of ice into water: 2 ounces.

The SubZero lost one and half ounces, but since the SubZero was 30% smaller than the other two, it actually had more ice melt. So at this point, the Yeti and Ozark were tied, with SubZero slightly behind.

At 24 hours, I drained each cup again.

The Yeti and Ozark lost identical amounts once again, 6 3/4 ounces. The SubZero lost 4 1/2 ounces, a slightly bigger  percentage of melting. Again, the Yeti and Ozark were tied atop the leader board.

Finally, at the two day mark, 48 hours, all the ice had melted. except for one tiny  piece of ice remaining in Walmart’s Ozark Trail cup.

So in the end we’re calling it a tie, between the Yeti and Walmart’s Ozark Trail. Both did an excellent job.

Shoppers Seek Out Copies

“I think it’s a fantastic idea,” one Dick’s shopper told us. “But if it’s cheaper somewhere else, I’d go there.”

And a lot of people are doing just that: If you don’t need the cachet of a name brand, Walmart’s is 75% cheaper.

One caution: Yeti has recently filed a lawsuit against Walmart, over the Ozark tumbler, and against another brand called Mammoth Coolers.

It’s asking Walmart to stop selling look alike tumblers. But for now they should still be available, so you don’t waste your money.

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“Don’t Waste Your Money” is a registered trademark of Scripps Media, Inc. (“Scripps”). John Matarese reports on deals and scams so you Don’t Waste Your Money. While purchases from links inserted in this article may result in a commission for Scripps, no Scripps reporter benefited from that commission.

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