Let’s admit it – room temperature is just not good enough to store meat. So, when you plan a camping trip that takes you to an off-the-grid location or when you decide to spend a day at the beach, you have got to think of how you will store the meat.

So there is a need to purchase a good quality cooler of any brand at the best price available or a good homemade cooler. The last one in comparison with others is the best option for you. Now you can get a 12V fridge set up in your vehicle or even go for the roto-molded high rated coolers. But if you are working with a shoestring budget then these options can be far-fetched ideas.

Our solution here – DIY Yeti cooler!

Here is how to build your homemade Yeti cooler.

How to Build Your Own DIY Yeti Cooler

Let’s get working here to build a high quality DIY cooler. Follow the step by step process and you will have a super insulated cooler to meet your requirements.

Set Your Goal First


Before you start any project, it is extremely important to set a clear objective as it will help you define the roadmap of the process. In our case, we can define our objectives as:

  • A cooler that is portable and spacious enough
  • It should be able to hold ice for 4 days and have enough insulation
  • There should be a mechanism in place for water to drain out
  • It should not stick out like a sore thumb

Collect the Material

Now that we have a clear vision of what we want to build, we should start procuring the required material. Here is a list of what we shall need:

  •   Expanded Polystyrene Foam
  •   Acrylic Plexiglass
  •   2×2 inches of furniture framing lumber
  •   Good quality plywood

The Tools You Will Need

  •  Finishing screws
  •  Caulking

If you are wondering where you can find all these things, then you can just drive down to your local hardware shop and you will get everything there. Or else, just order it online and you will be sorted. Just check the customer reviews of best brands before you order online. Once we have all the required material, we can then start building super insulated cooler!

Step 1: Build a Frame

The first thing you ought to do for high quality DIY cooler is to build a frame that will hold the walls and create an enclosure. The size of the frame will depend on how big you want the cooler to be. If you are going to use it as a portable cooler in your car, then a smaller size will do. However, if you want to use it as a fridge in your RV, then you would need a bigger frame.

If you want to add cup holders or storage drawers, then make sure that the frame of your cheap DIY cooler is a little bigger.

Step 2: Add in the Walls

After you are done with setting up the frame, the next step is to screw in the walls and complete the closure. Don’t worry if your frame is thin or flimsy. The ply walls will add the structural integrity and make it stronger.

Step 3: Set Up the Insulation

This is the most important step in the entire process. If your insulation is not setup correctly, then you may not get the cooling effect.


To set up the insulation, first cut the Polystyrene Foam by running the blade across the grain of the foam. This way you can get a straight line cut which can then be snapped easily.

After you have all the sides ready, set them against the walls of the enclosure. If needed, use an adhesive to stick the foam to the walls. Some people prefer to make two layers of the foam for better insulation.

Step 4: Add in the Plexiglass

Next, cut the plexiglass and add to the structure that you have in place.

It can be a little tricky to cut plexiglass in a straight line. You may not get it right at the first attempt. So, expect some wastage here. But you can check out some videos on YouTube for some plexiglass cutting tips.

Step 5: Set Up a Drain for Water

Like a regular freezer or cooler, even your portable cooler will have some water formation. You need to set up a drain system to ensure that this water gets an outlet and does not make the insides soggy or messy.

To set up a drain identify which ways you want the water to go. The most obvious direction is a bottom. However, you may also want to consider draining it sideways out of the vehicle directly.

To set up the drain, you can simply drill a hole into the plexiglass and then add water piping and compression fittings.

We recommend you drill through extra plexiglass to get comfortable before you drill through the one inside the cooler.

Step 6: Seal the Cooler

As the final step, you need to make the cooler watertight. To do this, add caulking across all the joints on the plexiglass. This will make the cooler watertight. If you do not have a caulking, you can also spray silicone.

And your cooler is ready to be used.

How Does It Work?

Remember, any cooler is as good as its insulation only. If it is bad, your cooler will perform poorly. So, to get better insulation, we have recommended Expanded Polystyrene Foam which works nicer than other options.

The combination of two layers of Polystyrene with plexiglass gives enough insulation to keep the cooler full of ice for at least 4 days. The caulking added at joints keeps the exterior heat at bay and does not let the cool air out of the structure. The small drain lets you drain out the water that is formed as the ice melts over a period of time.


This is the simplest way to make your own Yeti style coolers that:

  • Does not cost you a lot and is affordable
  • Let’s you utilize space efficiently
  • Let’s you stock food and ice for 4 days

So, the next time you plan on going off the grid, you can do that while still enjoying your favorite burger and a drink with it.

Cold Drink

Of course, Do-It-Yourself cooler will be cheaper than buying it. But if you don’t have time to build it or don’t have the skill for this and you are going to choose one in some shop, we recommend you to read Yeti cooler reviews and look through ratings for making the best choice for yourself.