Yeti Coolers and the NRA: Getting to the Bottom of the Drama

yeti and NRA

Last Updated by Brandon F. on December 3, 2021

One thing that has always gone hand in hand together in the outdoors world is hunting and coolers.  At just about every hunting site in the country, you would be sure to find a few coolers lying around.  Some of these coolers are used for storing food, drinks, and beer while others are used for helping to preserve the day’s hunting results.

Cooler companies know that the hunting/fishing crowd is one of their largest target audiences.  You will often see their advertisements directed specifically at this group.  Other evidence includes camouflage cooler wraps, built-in measuring devices, and special rebates for organizations such as the NRA (National Rifle Association).

Being in good graces with an organization as large and impactful as the NRA is vital for the success of a cooler brand, which is why Yeti has recently suffered from some particularly harsh scrutiny in how they have handled a recent update to their legacy vendor programs.

Yeti Discontinues the Legacy NRA Discount Program

For those that aren’t aware, Yeti has been in the process of modifying some of their internal programs and this also included how they are structuring their discount programs.  According to a Yeti representative, this was necessary to better align the program with their future business goals.  This particular change to the discount program affected several legacy companies that have had special membership pricing for many years with Yeti.

yeti NRA post

While this wasn’t great news for any organization that had enjoyed discount Yeti prices up to that point, the NRA took it particularly bad.  They have recently been under the spotlight due to multiple businesses withdrawing their support for the NRA.  These companies include Delta Air Lines, REI, United Airlines, MetLife, Enterprise Rent A Car, First National Bank, Wyndham Hotels, Best Western, and more.

companies not endorsing NRA

The big difference here (and what has made this particularly viral news) is that Yeti is a cooler company.  And historically, cooler companies have heavily leaned on support from the outdoor world to survive.  Catering to the millions of hunters, fishermen, and general gun enthusiasts was an absolute necessity if a cooler brand hoped to survive in this challenging and competitive market.

If a cooler brand wouldn’t stand behind one of its largest customer bases, then what’s next?

The Madness Unfolds

As you might expect, when NRA members caught wind of this information, they took it to social media.  Angry tweets, Facebook messages, and Instagram posts started multiplying like rabbits.  Videos of people destroying their Yeti coolers and Tumblers with guns, explosives, and even shop presses became viral sensations.  Here at TheCoolerZone, we received numerous emails from readers who were sharing their distaste and disgust with Yeti for doing this.

So What is Happening?

We thought it was worth it to our readers to get to the bottom of this and shed some light on the situation.

Yeti has recently come out and reaffirmed that the decision to update their discount policies was NOT targeted specifically at Yeti.  Instead, it was a general update that affected a plethora of organizations.   Also, the rumor that Yeti wishes to “cut ties” with the NRA is not true, according to Yeti.  Rather, Yeti simply “no longer wished to be an NRA vendor”.

To some, “cutting ties” and “no longer wishing to be an NRA vendor” might be the same thing.  To others, those are notably different acts.  We will let you come to your own decision on that one.

We can confirm that the desire to no longer be a vendor and allow special discount programs were applied to a broad range of companies outside of Yeti.  This is certainly different than companies such as Hertz and First National Bank who specifically honed in on the NRA and not to a large list of other companies.  Also, there is a newly-updated Yeti discount program in place that NRA members can still apply to, but it is the same program that both companies and individuals could also take advantage of.

Our Thoughts

Many of you have asked what our thoughts are on this whole ordeal.  While we try to always wait until all of the evidence is out there before making a judgment, we feel comfortable making a statement given what we have seen so far.

With the size that Yeti has become, they want their target audience to be a very broad spectrum and not just a certain niche.  Smaller cooler brands have made their reputation by focusing on specific groups of people or applications.  But with Yeti, they have grown to the point where they want to be the top product not only for the hunter but also for soccer moms, campsites, tailgates, and even organization picnics.

Yeti also likely realizes that there has been a lot of polarizing news lately related to guns and gun control.  A larger and larger percentage of the population is taking a very aggressive stance on guns and boycotting certain brands based on their support of gun ownership.  Evidence of this impact is seen by the non-exhaustive list of companies listed above who have recently discontinued their affiliation with the NRA.

We feel that Yeti has taken sort of a “hybrid” approach.  Due to a huge increase in the level of premium cooler competition on the market combined with Yeti’s oftentimes extremely high asking prices, Yeti is likely overdue for some cost-cutting.  One of these cost-cutting methods is to remove or update various discount programs that they have had in place.  We have seen evidence of that here with Yeti’s broad update to their discount program which has affected many organizations including the NRA.

That being said, this was also a “convenient” way for Yeti to quietly disassociate from the NRA.  By lumping the NRA in with other organizations, Yeti may have hoped to reduce the social media sting it would get when compared to other brands that explicitly called Yeti out.

Well, that tactic didn’t work!

Look, we get that Yeti needs to do what is necessary to stay competitive.  As you can see from our huge list of other cooler reviews, there are plenty of companies that can keep up with Yeti from a performance standpoint but at a fraction of the price.  The one thing that Yeti has always had going for it is its reputation.  “Yeti” was the “Ferrari” of the cooler world. 

When people thought of high-end coolers, Yeti always came to mind first.  This is what has kept Yeti competitive despite their being much more cost-effective options out there.  And it is a big reason why Yeti still sees the success it has today.

In the midst of all of this new competition, the most important thing that Yeti needed to do was cater to its faithful user base.  The NRA and other passionate user groups are known for being brutally loyal to brands that support them.  Paying a premium for an American-made product that supports their cause is a small price to pay that many NRA members would have no problem doing.

Instead of leaning on these people, Yeti has lumped them in with every other organization.  We can understand a random bank or hotel taking this approach, but a cooler company?  Outdoorsmen and Outdoorswomen are the bread and butter of a cooler brand and we feel that this would have been a great time for Yeti to stand out from the masses in their support.

Time will tell if this whole ordeal blows over and Yeti can retain its reputation.  But for now, it is certainly a notable blemish on the storied company.

For those that are after cooler brands that still proudly support the NRA, we recommend that you check out Engel and Grizzly Coolers.  You can read up on some of our reviews of each brand in the links above.

Yeti Coolers and the NRA: Everything You Need to Know
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