Eskies review and compare

Summer wouldn’t be summer without an esky, but are they all equally cool?
 
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01 .Introduction

Eskies

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
Evakool E060
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.

 
 

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Recommended models are profiled on the What to buy page. Full results for all tested products are found in the table below.
Eskies result table - Performance and Specifications
Brand / model (in rank order)Overall score (%)Performance score (%)Ease of use score (%)Days to melt ice External dimensions (cm, H x W x D)Internal dimensions (cm, H x W x D)Calculated volume (L)Weight (kg)Price ($)
Downunder DU 62L
www.downundericeboxes.com
83 87 75 4.1 45 x 73 x 47 32 x 59.5 x 32.5 62 11.3 385
Evakool E060
www.evakool.com.au
72 72 71 3.7 43 x 71 x 45 32 x 59 x 32 60 9.8 399
Coleman Xtreme Series 6262A707G
www.colemanaustralia.com.au
70 67 76 3.2 44 x 79 x 41 31 x 65 x 29.5 59 6.7 179
Tropical Iceboxes T62
www.downundericeboxes.com
70 72 66 3.4 47 x 74 x 49 33 x 59 x 32 62 11.7 263
Xtracool 60L Premium Cube
www.xtracool.com.au
61 56 71 2.4 47 x 59 x 47 36 x 46.5 x 34.5 58 9.1 150
Icemate by Evakool IM064
www.evakool.com.au
60 56 68 2.8 45 x 65 x 44 35.5 x 51.5 x 33.5 61 8 279
Waeco CoolIce WCI-60 (A)
www.waeco.com.au
60 59 63 2.8 42 x 70 x 44 30.5 x 56 x 33 56 10.4 249
Thermos 7860M/51-57L
02 9756 4311
60 56 69 2.2 43 x 65 x 40 37 x 55.5 x 32 66 4.8 99
Willow 55lt Wheelie Cooler
www.willow.com.au
51 41 74 1.6 42 x 57 x 40 36 x 51 x 32 59 5.5 100


Eskies result table - Features
Brand / model (in rank order)Fits 2L bottle uprightFits sparkling wine bottle uprightWheelsNon-slip feetBasketDry ice compatible
Downunder DU 62L
www.downundericeboxes.com
 
Evakool E060
www.evakool.com.au
    (B)
Coleman Xtreme Series 6262A707G
www.colemanaustralia.com.au
    • (C)
Tropical Iceboxes T62
www.downundericeboxes.com
   
Xtracool 60L Premium Cube
www.xtracool.com.au
     
Icemate by Evakool IM064
www.evakool.com.au
     
Waeco CoolIce WCI-60 (A)
www.waeco.com.au
       
Thermos 7860M/51-57L
02 9756 4311
      • (C)
Willow 55lt Wheelie Cooler
www.willow.com.au
     

Table notes

Scores The overall score is comprised of performance (70%) and ease of use (30%).

Days to melt ice See How we Test.

Features See What to Look For. All models on test have drains and hinged lids.

External dimensions Our measurements for the smallest box that fits around the esky.

Internal dimensions Our measurements used to calculate the volume.

Price Recommended or average retail, as of October 2009.

(A) Discontinued, but may still be available in some stores.
(B) Available at an extra cost.
(C) Direct contact with liner is not recommended.

How we test

Performance Our testers, Ben Rossetto and Geoff Day, load each model with cold bottles (one 750ml bottle per 5L of the eskies’ internal volume) and ice (one-quarter internal volume when melted) then measure how long it takes for the ice to melt in a 32°C room. They then measure the time for the contents to warm from 10°C to 20°C.

Ease of use They assess the ease of loading, transporting and cleaning the eskies.

83% Downunder DU 62L

01_downunder_copyPrice $385

Good points

  • Standout performer – the only very good model on test.
  • Easy to use.
  • Has a basket and non-slip feet.
  • Dry-ice compatible.

Bad points

72% Evakool E060

Evacool 60Price $399

Good points

  • Easy to use.
  • Dry-ice compatible.  

Bad points

  • None to mention.

70% Coleman Xtreme Series 6262A707G (Best Buy)

Coleman extremePrice $180

Good points

  • Easy to use.
  • Easy to move on a smooth surface – has wheels and a very tall towing handle.
  • Lid has internal recesses and cup holders on top (external).
  • Comparatively cheap.

Bad points

  • Lid does not have a separate latch and requires significant effort to lift and close properly.
  • Very bulky considering storage volume.
  • Width makes carrying difficult for one person.
  • Handles and hinges appear comparatively flimsy, and durability may be questionable.
  • Not fully dry-ice compatible.

70% Tropical Iceboxes T62

TropicalPrice $263

Good points

  • Has non-slip feet.
  • Dry-ice compatible.

Bad points

  • Very bulky considering storage volume.
  • Bulky lid overhang and width makes carrying difficult.

About the rest

  • XtracoolThe Xtracool is easy to use but very bulky, considering its storage volume. While its lid overhang protects the handles, it also makes carrying difficult.



  • IcemateThe Icemate has a basket that aids access to lower items but the handles are integrated into the cabinet and offer only finger slots to grasp. It is not easy to tie down – its handles do have a ledge that can hold rope in some configurations.


  • WaecoThe Waeco is very easy to clean but tall bottles don’t fit vertically and its lid does not open a full 90°. Its handles are integrated into the cabinet and offer only finger slots to grasp. It has no tie-down points.


  • ThermosThe Thermos is relatively inexpensive but the lid is domed and items stored near the top are unlikely to stay very cold. When empty, it tips over when the lid is opened. Its handles and hinges appear flimsy compared with other models.


  • WillowThe Willow is relatively inexpensive, easy to use, has compact wheels and a tall towing handle but borderline performance. Its handles and hinges appear flimsy compared with other models.

Size Check the esky fits the space you intend to transport it in. Narrow eskies are easier to lift without assistance. Vertical bottle storage is offered by taller eskies. 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. The thickest walls of the eskies on test are approximately 50mm.

Handles should be easy to grasp and robust if they need to double as tie-down points.

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

Wheels make pulling a loaded esky on smooth surfaces much easier than carrying the esky and contents, particularly when coupled with a tall towing handle.

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

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

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

Latches should be easy to operate and the lid should be able to be secured so it can withstand wind or vermin. None of the models on test can be padlocked.

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.

Latch fault design

The two lid latches of the Downunder broke on the first day of testing when two testers independently used the anchor-shaped handles to stretch the rubber loops over the knobs. The correct way to use the latches is to push the concealed divot onto the knob, but this isn’t clear. Instructions on the esky itself or a more obvious design are needed. The manufacturer told CHOICE the latches could be replaced under warranty or bought for $10 each.

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