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Cooler reviews

Coolers, eskies or chilly bins - these picnic favourites are known by many names around Australia. We test 13 of them.
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04.What to look for

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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