I’ve found over the years as I travel more for my hunts that I’ve always got a need for a cooler. By definition the fact I’m going hunting means I’m looking to bring some food home. Food in most cases needs to be kept cool and clean. What better way than an air tight, permafrost insulated, rotomolded cooler? My thoughts exactly. With this in mind I started the 2020 deer season with high hopes to test out the YETI Tundra 105 and YETI Ice.
I’ve used YETI coolers exclusively for almost 10 years now and have yet to be disappointed. I’ve drug their hard coolers, soft coolers, and drinkware all over the US in search of game and adventure. So when I was looking to upsize for my annual deer camp with my dad I talked with the crew at YETI and landed on the Tundra 105. I have a Tundra 75 that has treated me very well. However, with the possibility of two big bodied Northern bucks and a lingering doe tag I felt stepping up to the 105 would be in my best interest. For reference, I fit 3 hogs (quartered, no ribs) in the 75 this past summer and during the early antlerless season in September of this year the 75 held two does (quartered, no ribs) just perfectly. I was optimistic though we’d be knocking down some bruiser bucks so the 105 got the call.
The thing that drew me to the Tundra 105 was when YETI designed this one, they varied a little from previous efforts and made the 105 taller with a smaller footprint. What that meant to me is that I could line the bottom with ice packs and hopefully not have to use any ice. I’ve tried hauling animals in coolers with ice in bags, ice in trash bags, and in some cases just dumping the ice all over the meat. Keeping it in bags is super bulky and it still leaks. Trash bags aren’t much help and take up too much room and just dumping ice in causes the meat to sit in a soupy, wet meat bath. Enter YETI Ice. With the taller cooler and flat design of the YETI Ice I felt I may have finally found my perfect set up. Only problem was that the deer didn’t cooperate so I wasn’t able to fully execute my test plans.
What did happen though was a late season opportunity to put the 105 into action. On December 31st the stars aligned and I was able to take down a late season antlerless deer at my Uncle’s. So you ask why I would I need a cooler when the highs were only getting up to the freezing mark? Actually, several reasons. I was at my in-laws so I didn’t have all my usual space and equipment. I improvised by using the playset as a buck pole but couldn’t leave the deer just hanging or the dogs would get into it. We were in my wife’s vehicle so I couldn’t just toss the deer in the bed of my truck. I needed a place to keep it safe from other animals. Along those same lines, there was no way my wife would let me put a carcass inside her SUV (nor did we have room with the kids in tow). The alternative would be to have strapped the deer to the hitch hauler. Let me tell you, on our way home someone had done just that. As soon as they passed us my wife immediately said that would be a terrible way to transport an animal. That thing was getting covered in dirt and salt. Fortunately, I had the Tundra to keep my kill nice and clean. Lastly, I couldn’t dispose of the hide, legs, head, etc at my in-laws. This meant I had to cart the entire animal home. The size of the Tundra 105 was perfect to fit an entire deer in (less the entrails). This meant the meat, hide, bones, head, everything. The animal was quartered but the ribs were left intact with the backbone so the chest cavity took up a lot of room. If I had a bigger deer it would have all fit, I just would have had to break the animal down a little more to fill in the dead space.
As noted I was using the Tundra 105 when temps were a little cooler so ice retention wasn’t a huge factor. BUT, as I did mention, I used the Tundra 75 to haul hogs back from Texas in July. Yikes! I was fortunate to have the benefit of the insulating capabilities of a YETI Tundra to keep my meat plenty cool till I could get it home 4 days later. A few other perks the Tundra comes with are the rubber feet on the bottom of the cooler. Referred to as “Bearfoot” Non Slip Feet, they prevent my Tundra from starting at one end of the truck bed and ending up at the other. The last thing I’ll mention is the ColdLock Gasket and the Interlock Lid System. The most obvious purpose of these items is to seal in the cold. However, as mentioned earlier in this review It was less than 32 degrees for the duration of my hunt so I needed the gasket and lid to seal out the dirt, grime, and salt during the ride home. Upon reaching my humble abode the outside the cooler was coated with anything you could imagine the road could kick up over the course of a several hundred mile drive. Fortunately the only stains on the inside were from blood.
In summary, once again YETI came through getting my kill from the field to freezer clean and safe. The YETI Ice system works great not only in the 105 on long distant hunts, but daily in my lunch bucket as well. The Tundra 105 proved to be exactly the right size to hold an entire deer and also acted as a nice cutting board during the butchering process. If you own a YETI Tundra, you know. If you’re still on the fence about picking one up, you won’t be disappointed.
Disclaimer: I received the items above at no charge in return for an honest review. As you can see from the pictures I tested the Ice and Tundra in real life conditions and they performed flawlessly. I do not get any additional kick back if you chose to purchase either product, even though I would recommend you do!