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In-Depth Cordova vs RTIC Hard Cooler Comparison (2024)

We covered Cordova vs. YETI recently and the topic was well-received, so we thought we’d run that play back and compare Cordova to another competitor. It’s RTIC vs Cordova this go-round. So… (Boise State University) Broncos Country, Let’s Ride! (that phrase no longer in need of trademark protection) and see how we stack up against those folks from, well, we’re not really sure where they’re from. It’s not exactly clear from their website but looks from Google Maps like maybe they’ve got a fancy new distribution center around Houston somewhere…

RTIC Coolers Rundown

RTIC is not quite the publicly traded 800-lb gorilla of the industry, but they got private equity money a few years ago and from the outside looking in they seem to be stepping their game up. The kinda out of left field grills are gone from their site, the pandemic-induced SUPs will sell eventually and if they can get through their Mardi Gras Colorway injection molded cooler inventory, they should be in good shape. Plus, their stuff is in Walmart and Lowes stores now, so they’ve moved beyond their original direct-to-consumer model and cracked the code on big-box retail. Hats off to RTIC.

Unlike Cordova, RTIC makes both rotationally molded and injection molded hard coolers (that PE money comes in handy for product development!), but not in the United States. It’d be a stretch to state that RTIC is propping up the Chinese economy. It’d be a fact to say they’re contributing to the Chinese Gross Domestic Product.

Head-to-Head Cordova vs RTIC Ice Retention Comparisons

We’ve documented some of our Cordova hard coolers vs. RTIC hard coolers testing on our social media channels. Even with their lower price point injection molded ultralight cooler, the ice retention honestly isn’t bad:

But again, ice retention in a new cooler is one thing, durability is another. Injection molding, the method RTIC uses for their ultralight coolers, is cheap to produce at scale and absolutely has its place in the manufacturing world. But it’s apples and oranges to compare injection molding durability to rotational molding durability. Injection molded pieces need to be fit together to form a cooler shell. There are seams. Seams are weak points. The whole point of rotational molding is to produce monolithic, seamless shells that will last for decades (at least). Fact: the best-performing, longest-lasting hard coolers are rotationally molded. That’s why all Cordova hard coolers are rotationally molded. It costs more, but produces a superior product.

So, beyond ice retention at first use, let’s look at some key cooler features you need every single time you use the cooler. Talkin’ ‘bout practice handles, latches, and lids!

Hard Cooler HANDLES:

We like our hard cooler handles so much that we patented the cooler handle design. Bold statement follows: They are, bar NONE, the toughest cooler handles on the market. Seriously, it’s not even close and we’ve got receipts: Have you pushed your cooler to the limit?💪🏼 We tested our Backcountry Class Hard Coolers with 1,000 pounds of Natural Resin and it STOOD I… | Instagram. Where everyone else saw a chance to cut costs with rope and PVC, we saw an opportunity to excel. Anodized aluminum side plates, a solid stainless-steel grip bar with custom-fit foam padding bolted and anchored right through the unibody cooler shell. Grab hold and you know immediately, you’ve got positive control of the weight. And the chances of smashing your hand against the cooler? Zero. The handles lock before they rotate that far. We really do feel like we pegged the meter on both form and function with this feature.

Hard Cooler LATCHES:

Are our cooler T-latches upside down? Or does everyone else have it backward? (It’s the latter.) Put your cooler up against your tailgate or bed wall or any other place where gear is packed all around it and tell us whether you think it’s easier to access our Top-Loading Latches or if you’d prefer to dig down and grab the other guy’s. Also, our latches are modular and, in the highly unlikely event one is ever in need of replacement (say maybe it gets cut), that takes about 30 seconds to swap out.


Our cooler lids are stout. They’re also rotationally molded and filled with EcoFoam. We know from personal experience that it’s easier to get in and get what you’re after when you don’t have to use one hand to keep the lid from slamming down on the other. So our lids are designed to stay open until you close them. Another aspect of our coolers we’re so proud we patented it.

Sometimes tables help with side-by-side product comparisons. Here’s a by no means all-inclusive, but still useful list of some key Cordova vs. RTIC hard cooler features:


*The author was browsing RTIC’s site on a laptop while researching this blog and received a text message from RTIC (so, on another device) with instructions to “stop browsing and start exploring the world” showing the same product displayed on the web browser. The author thinks that’s creepy and happens to know Cordova does not engage in such practices.

Align with the (Many) Advantages of American-Made Hard Coolers

Again, we need to give credit where it’s due. Hard Coolers and motorsports go together like peas and carrots so RTIC is the “Official Cooler and Drinkware of NASCAR” and NASCAR is about an American thing as a company whose products are made in China could ever hope to sponsor. Honestly, we’d love to have Ricky Bobby pictured with a Cordova cooler. Again, that private equity money and strategery (not a typo, we’re Will Ferrell fans here) comes in handy.

Cordova Outdoors is about Good People Making Great Coolers and manufacturing products designed to perform exceptionally for decades in Idaho’s Treasure Valley. Shake. And… Bake.

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