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Esky reviews

Eskies, coolers or chilly bins - these picnic favourites are known by many names around Australia. We test nine of them.
 
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01 .Introduction

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Test results for nine hard, medium sized coolers priced from $90 to $450.

Now is the perfect time to enjoy an outdoor picnic, but no one wants warm drinks, a leaking cooler (affectionately known as the esky, after the brand), or most of all, to finish a great day out with a bout of food poisoning.

We found big differences in performance! We'll show you the better product options if you intend to use your cooler for storing food.

In our testing, we;

  • find out which keep cool the longest
  • are the easiest to use

Check below for the Brands and models tested tested, plus How we test.

Brands and models tested

  • Caribee 47L Family Cooler with Wheels
  • Chillco 50 L Sky Blue Cooler SB50L
  • Coleman Xtreme
  • Esky 50L ES0500BL 1219784
  • Esky 50L Wheeled Cooler 1257323
  • Techniice Signature Series
  • Waeco Cool Ice WCI-55
  • Willow Quickserve Wheelie Cooler 20888
  • Xtracool Long Ice Box - IBCAM055 Pink

How we test

Performance
Our tester, Corinna Horrigan, tests the coolers by loading each cooler with drink bottles to about 20% of its capacity. The coolers are preconditioned to 32°C. She fills each cooler with ice equivalent to 15% of the coolers’ volume, closes them and places them in a temperature-controlled room at 32°C. Corinna measures the time taken from when the average temperature inside the bottles rises by 0°C to 2°C, and then 2°C to 8°C. The slower the warm-up time, the better the performance score. We open the coolers for only a few seconds during the test to tamp down the ice; they’ll warm up more quickly with more regular opening.

Ease of use
Corinna assesses how easy each cooler is to carry, load and unload, and how easy it is to open and close the lid.

Strapped for picnic food ideas?

Try Cook’s CHOICE creations, such as egg and dill salad with crusty bread, potato and tomato salad, or watermelon with kaffir lime syrup.


 
 

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Size Check the cooler fits the space you intend to transport it in. Narrow and smaller coolers are easier to lift without assistance. Vertical bottle storage is offered by taller coolers. While models with recessed lids allow loading above the top of the compartment, items stored in this area could be very warm.

Insulation Thicker walls generally provide better insulation. Look for walls that are consistently thick, not just at the top. Also look for walls and lids that don't compress easily when pressed, as these are more likely to be filled with air rather than a better insulation material. You're also more likely to be able to use the better-insulated hard coolers as a seat, as they're sturdier.

Cleaning Cheaper coolers often have white textured lids that can be difficult to keep clean. Flush-mounted drains don’t trap dirt or objects.

Dry-ice compatibility Check the manufacturer’s instructions regarding the use of dry ice. Generally, a dry ice block should be heavily wrapped so it doesn’t come into contact with the liner and therefore damage it.

Wheels make pulling a heavy loaded cooler on smooth surfaces much easier than carrying it.

Handles should be robust and easy to grasp. Shoulder straps are useful for small coolers. Pull handles for larger wheeled types are handy, but try them out to make sure they suit your height.

Non-slip rubber feet help stop the cooler sliding around in a vehicle, but they may also make sliding the cooler into position difficult.

Bungs that seal the drain hole should fit well and be attachable so they don’t get lost.

A hose fitting allows the cooler to drain without being moved.

Latches and lids should be easy to open and close; one-handed types are easier for general use. However, watch out for hinged lids - some are quite heavy, which can cause the cooler to tip over when it's empty.

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