HEAD TO HEAD: ICE BOX ESKY OR PORTABLE FRIDGE?
Which is better for Aussie outdoor adventures: the classic ice box esky or the portable fridge?
The case for an Ice Box Esky:
1. They are cheaper
A good quality portable fridge freezer can set you back $1000 or more, while an ice box esky is a lot cheaper. Of course, there are exceptions to the rule. There are cheap portable fridge freezers and expensive ice box eskys – depending on what you need. But if you’re looking at like for like, ice box eskys will leave you some decent petrol money.
2. They are waterproof
Simplicity of design and no electronics means waterproof. That’s a very handy feature when you’re in the great outdoors. Unlike some portable fridge freezer models, there’s no need to worry about hauling your ice box under cover when the heavens open.
3. There are no electronics
Sometimes you don’t want to worry about solar panels, generators and power on your trip. You just want to set up camp or head out on your boat and leave all that behind you. That’s where an ice box esky comes up trumps. Unlike a portable fridge freezer, there are no electronics involved. Just a box and ice. Let’s face it, with electronics comes the possibility of malfunctions, which could lead to everything freezing, thawing and going to ruin.
4. They can store gear when empty
Ice boxes don’t just have to be used for food and drink. Without the ice, they are very handy storage containers for your outdoor gear. Portable fridge freezers could also, but they are much heavier, whcih leads us to…
5. They are lighter
No contest – when it comes to weight, an ice box esky is more lightweight than a portable fridge freezer. They’re designed to be transported easily from car to camp to boat and back again. Some models have built-in ergonomic handles or straps to make it even easier.
Why you should save your dollars for a portable fridge freezer
We’re not going to sugarcoat it – there are heaps of reasons you should save your dollars for a portable fridge freezer. Here are just a few:
1. Buying ice is a pain.
Ice boxes are nothing without the ice. They’re literally just boxes. But buying ice can be a real pain. Especially when you’re in the middle of the bush. If your ice is melting, best case, you need to drive to the nearest roadhouse for a bag of ice. Worse case, the nearest roadhouse is a few hundred kilometers away and you need to eat four days worth of meals in a night.
2. Ice melts
Especially in warm weather. We’re not telling you anything you don’t know but, if you like touring in high summer, an ice box esky might not be the thing for you. Oh and the more you open the lid, the faster the ice will melt. On the upside, some ice box eskys will keep ice frozen for up to 10 days, when used properly, but that kind of retention doesn’t come cheap.
3. Ice costs money
Okay, buying ice is never going to break the bank, but the more you need to refill the ice box, the more you’ll spend. And it can really add up when you’re heading out on a few trips a month. Not to mention those longer adventure road trips where you need to refill the ice box esky every few days.
4. Nobody likes soggy meat
The thing about ice is that when it melts, the water that seeps into all your food and makes it soggy. And nobody likes soggy meat. Worse, nobody likes soggy meat that also tastes a little bit like that cheese, which happens to be swimming in the same water. If you choose an ice box esky, be sure to invest in waterproof bags and containers too.
TIP: Grab some baking cooling racks and use them as a buffer for your food to stand on.
5. Ice takes up internal space
You might have bought the most cavernous ice box esky on the market (we offer models as big as 111 litres!), but once you’ve filled it with ice, it shrinks. You can’t help but sacrifice some room if you want to keep things cool. So if you want more space, choose a portable fridge freezer.
It really depends on the types of adventures you’re planning. If you’re in the outdoors for days, weeks and even months on end, then a portable fridge freezer is the best solution – even when you consider the price. It’s more convenient, will keep things cool for longer and prove better value for money in the long run. If you’re planning shorter trips, the ice box esky will cover most bases. Lightweight, affordable and versatile, ice box eskys have been the go-to adventure gear for decades.