We tested nine 60L eskies, priced from $99 to $399. We found ice lasted twice as long – just over four days – in the best-performing model than in the worst, which is well short of some manufacturers’ claims of five to 10 days.
We use a mixture of ice and drink bottles in our test. Our measurements did not correlate with manufacturer’s claims, probably because each manufacturer’s test method varies (they may not be comparable or based on realistic usage).
Please note: this information was current as of December 2009 but is still a useful guide to today's market.
Factors that contribute to performance
- Conditions such as heat, wind and direct sunlight
- Wall thickness and construction materials
- Weight is not a reliable indicator
Eskies typically have a protective hard shell, such as fibreglass, polyethylene or other plastics surrounding a foam material that provides the insulation. The foam varies, from high-quality household refrigerator foam in the wall base and lid, to simpler foams and just air in the lid.
Cheap can be cheerful
Even though our top-performing model will keep food cold for longer, a cheaper model may be good enough for parties, picnics or shopping trips. In more demanding scenarios, such as camping, you might be able to compensate by packing more ice or refilling the esky more often. At $4 for a 5kg bag of ice, you can buy a lot for $300 – the difference between the best performer and the cheapest model on test.
Brands and Models tested
Coleman Xtreme Series 6262A707G (A)
Downunder DU 62L
Icemate by Evakool IM064 (A)
Thermos 7860M/51-57L (A)
Tropical Iceboxes T62
Waeco CoolIce WCI-60 (A)
Willow 55lt Wheelie Cooler
Xtracool 60L Premium Cube (A)
(A) Discontinued, but may still be available in some stores.