The Homemade Yeti Cooler

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If You Can't Fix It With Duct Tape...

If You Can’t Fix It With Duct Tape…

Don’t get me wrong, your Yeti is a great cooler and, yes, you can use it for a poling platform, sort of, and it does make you look very cool but if you’re like me and you travel a lot to fish it’s just not practical.

What I need is a cheap cooler that I can use for a week or two, then toss in the garbage on the way to the airport. I suffer a little guilt for landfilling a bunch of styrofoam, but the damage to my wallet is minimal.

I’ve used styrofoam coolers from grocery stores for years. On photo shoots I will sometimes have a half dozen of them. The problem is, they don’t hold up. You can buy cheap plastic ones but they are still twenty bucks or so and they’re not as good as the styrofoam at keeping ice. If you pitch six of them, you’re tossing $120. My frugal soul can’t stand that.

Five or six years ago I figured out this cool trick for making your styrofoam cooler bomber. A couple of layers of strategically placed duct tape on the sides, top and bottom make them surprisingly tough. Adding duct tape hinges and a lid helps to keep your ice longer by keeping the lid shut tight.

I’ve been doing this for years and I have no problem using a styrofoam cooler for a two week fishing and camping trip. It even holds up surprisingly well when your drunk buddy (Bruce Smithhammer) forgets it’s not a real Yeti and tries to sit on it. This one lasted another week and a half after that incident.

You can do two coolers with a good roll of duct tape. Don’t skimp, use it all. You can buy an extra roll for drift boat repair, but that’s another post. For my money, you can’t beat it. There’s nothing more satisfying than drinking a cold beer from your home made Yeti.

But I don’t recommend it as a poling platform.

Come fish with us in the Bahamas!

Louis Cahill
Gink & Gasoline
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29 thoughts on “The Homemade Yeti Cooler

  1. Perfect! On a recent trip to Tennessee I was reminded of the functional excellence (and cheap price) of the styrofoam cooler. I’m going to need something on a coming trip to Idaho. I’ll be bringing my duct tape.

  2. FYI – don’t use the cheap duct tape either. For added class, you could always get the mustache duct tape, or something of that sort…

  3. “Styrofoam appears to last forever, as it is resistant to photolysis, or the breaking down of materials by protons originating from a light source. This, combined with the fact that Styrofoam is lightweight and therefore floats, means that over time a great deal of polystyrene has accumulated along coasts and waterways around the world. It is now considered the main component of marine debris.”

    Maybe, just maybe, it isn’t the wisest decision to advocate the use of throw-away products that end up accumulating in dumps, waterways and oceans.

  4. Excellent! I love this kind of thing. Here’s the deal, my first car was a 1967 Buick LeSabre that cost me $50. Looking back I now realize that I came out on the short end of that deal, however my whole perspective on economics has always been influenced by that car. In other words, there’s no way I’m going to lay out $300 for a cooler if I can buy a car for fifty bucks. Or use styrofoam and duct tape!

  5. Now you can even get duct tape in patterns like leopard spots, zebra stripes, etc. I am going to call the company and suggest steelhead & trout patterns!

  6. To avoid the waste factor of styrofoam , how about getting a good soft side- we use a Fishpond in our dory- and using it as luggage when traveling . Ours often ends up filled with clothing duffels or gear bags when heading out on long trip. Then filled with food and ice at the campsite.


  7. I love my yeti cooler soo much. It held ice for five days last week up in Rangeley Maine. My buddies melted on the 1st‎ day then he had to use mine. I will have it for tears.

  8. To Debbie Downer – I am sure the lights you leave on and the water you use has an equal negative effect on the planet. Styrofoam is the least of this planets problems. I can’t imagine styrofoam makes up more than 1% of the trash in our oceans.

  9. To Debbie, I appreciate your concern for the ocean and it’s demise. I can tell you that the number one pollutant to the ocean is beer cans and garbage from cities like new York who dump tons of garbage off barges daily. I doubt if Kent’s coolers are noticeable statistically.

  10. My Southern Brothers! I am so proud of you after reading this! Only a great southern mind can come up with a way to improve the already legendary styro cooler. Remember to draw in the little circle R next time so you don’t get in trouble with Yeti!

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  14. At this time of year you can probably get a heavy duty styrofoam cooler for free at your local pharmacy. They ship flu vaccines to us in them and we normally just throw them away. The walls of these coolers are 2 1/2 to 3 inches thick so they’re real sturdy. The down side is, this makes for smaller capacity.

  15. Really? “I suffer a little guilt for landfilling a bunch of styrofoam, but the damage to my wallet is minimal.”

    Reminds me of the a**h****s who also think only about what’s best for them when they dump a bunch of garbage in the river weighted with rocks – out of sight and out of mind. Until the spring floods, or I snag it on my line. But hey, its not their problem then!

    If the few bucks this might save you is really more important to you than anything else, I’ll but you a collapsible cooler myself. All you have to do is thank me in your blog whenever you go fishing with the words “I used the cooler I was to f******g cheap to buy myself today – thanks buddy!” I’m serious – just get in touch!

    As for all those sorry folk who whine and cry about people in New York who are trashing up our world – wake up. Or at least grow a pair. Be man enough to admit it when you are part of the problem, instead of hiding behind the BS that your trash doesn’t count!

    Debbie – thanks for the input. You may be the only woman commenting on this, but you’re definitely not the only pu**y!

    • I’m with Bonefish and Debbie Downer – Igloo now sells reusable but disposable cardboard coolers you can get for about 10 bucks that don’t keep ice as well as styrofoam but don’t have a life span measured in epochs. Anyone who loves the outdoors shouldn’t be creating trash for trash’s sake when there are viable alternatives.

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  17. If you ever buy meat from a company like Omaha steaks they ship in a very thick foam cooler which really keeps things cold for a long time. You still can’t stand on it unless your a child

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