Cooler box ice test

Posted by Melanie van Zyl on 18 November 2013

It’s not a real holiday without a cold drink to accompany that hard-earned sunset. We tested eight cooler boxes to check which one guarantees an ice-tinkling gin and tonic after a long day’s travel.

Also read: 7 compact coolers tested




In our ice test, all cooler boxes were simultaneously filled with equal amounts of ice and left in the same place at the same temperature over three days. Here’s how our top eight fared.


Overall winner

1. Igloo Maxcold Island Breeze Roller

Dimensions: 56 x 38 x 53cm
Weight: 7kg
Capacity: 47 litres
Ice test: 40 hours
Price: R1299, available at Makro and Builders Warehouse.

Travelling with the Igloo Maxcold cooler is a pleasure. It’s lightweight, comfy to carry, fitted with big wheels, and it’s a cinch to tie down to a vehicle. Overall, it’s a cleverly designed product that keeps cold without compromising on portability.


Best value

2. Four Day Coleman

Dimensions: 65 x 35 x 37cm
Weight: 5kg
Capacity: 47 litres
Ice test: 52 hours
Price: R899, available at Pick n Pay Hypermarket, Cape Union Mart and Trappers.

The Four Day Coleman design is incredibly simple – the only extra features are four cup holders in the lid. It performed well in the ice test, is lightweight and easy to carry, and drains easily. Coleman was the first US company to venture into the production of plastic coolers and remains top of its class.


Ice test winner

3. Romer

Dimensions: 76 x 43 x 48cm
Weight: 12kg
Capacity: 65 litres
Ice test: 56 hours
Price: R1950, available at Safari and Outdoor stores and directly from Romer.

The biggest (in size and capacity) and heaviest of the cooler boxes we tested. It also outdid the others in the ice test. The handles aren’t the most comfortable and it’s not ideal to lug around. Still it’s great for an overland adventure or camping trip. There are padlock holes so you can lock it, and tie-down points to fasten it to your vehicle.


We also tested…

4. Addis Ice Cooler

Dimensions: 58 x 35 x 40cm
Weight: 4.6kg
Capacity: 45 litres
Ice test: 20 hours
Price: From R499, available at Pick n Pay, Makro, Game and selected plastics stores.

In addition to handy cup holders, this Addis box has a compartment in the lid for keys or other valuables. The moveable divider is especially useful when travelling. It was one of the first to leave the ice test, but it’s affordable and will serve you well for a day out. Strikingly similar in looks and performance to Camp Master’s offering (see below).


5. Safari Chiller

Dimensions: 62 x 42 x 36cm
Weight: 9.5kg
Capacity: 45 litres
Ice test: 55 hours
Price: R1645, available from tackle stores.

For the seriously ambitious fisher.

The Safari Chiller is designed to keep your catch fresh, as was proven by its performance in the ice. Thanks to hinges, you don’t have to hold the lid open when getting something out, and the foam handles make for comfy carrying. It’s a pity the box can’t hold two-litre bottles upright and it has no drainage hole.


6. Cadac

Dimensions: 57 x 34 x 35cm
Weight: 5kg
Capacity: 45 litres
Ice test: 23 hours
Price: R449, available from Cadac.

This lightweight box from Cadac is well suited to travelling and has two comfortable carry handles. Two compartments in the lid hold ice bricks, saving you space in the main box, and it fits two-litre bottles upright. This cooler box was eliminated after 23 hours in the ice test and there’s no drainage hole, making it difficult to clean properly.


7. Chilly Chest

Dimensions: 59 x 44 x 43cm
Weight: 10kg
Capacity: 50 litres
Ice test: 53 hours
Price: R1800, available at Outdoor Warehouse.

Keeping food and drinks very cold for up to 53 hours, the Chilly Chest is more square in shape than the others tested. If you have a small boot, consider the shape before buying because it could be a pain to pack. There’s a small lip on its edge for carrying instead of handles and you have to angle the chest to drain properly.


8. Camp Master Hard Cooler

Dimensions: 58 x 35 x 40cm
Weight: 4.9kg
Capacity: 45 litres
Ice test: 26 hours
Price: R449, available at Makro.

It’s one of the lightest of the lot and easy to lug around, but the Camp Master cooler box left the ice test after 26 hours. It has two spaces on the inside of the lid for ice bricks, which will improve its cooling abilities, and it’s a convenient size to pack, fitting perfectly into even a small hatchback boot.


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