Two weeks ago, we looked at travel refrigerators; the idea was that you took your chilled food with you on your camping trip and kept the refrigerator cool by using a solar panel. This is an excellent strategy for a week-long holiday, but if you’re just going for an overnight stay, surely it would be easier to take a cool box with you?
In this review, we’re looking at the best passive cool boxes to take camping this summer.
Cool boxes are probably the most overlooked item that people take with them on holiday. Most people realise they need a cool-box, and rather than put any thought into the process, pop down to their local supermarket and buy whatever is available at the time.
The problem with the strategy is that cheap cool boxes imported from China are made cheaply. They have not been tried or tested and certainly don’t come using the best designs or materials. The time that you realise this is usually the next morning when you suddenly find out that all your food has gone off because the cool box is totally useless.
Starts With Ice Blocks
Before you think about buying the best passive cool box, you need to make sure you’re purchasing decent ice blocks. As with any cool box, you will need the ice blocks to keep everything cool. While I would highly recommend that you start with as much frozen as possible, it’s important that you’re ice blocks help to keep everything cool.
Remember, if you’re taking meats, liquids an even vegetables, they can all be frozen to start. This helps to cool down the cool box and keen everything at the right temperature for longer. In my experience, we have found Thermos Freezeboards to be really effective.
Thermos freezeboards come with dimensions of 33 x 25 x 3 cm, while weigh 1.62 Kilograms. They are designed using tough polypropylene plastic with an exterior heat sealed cap and contain non-toxic aqueous liquid. While we have a decent cool box and pre-frozen as much food and liquid as possible, in my experience they have kept my cool box cool, for four days in the past.
The Best Passive Cool Box
If you don’t want to read the the whole review and simply want to know what we thought was the best passive cool box then check out the coleman Cool Box Xtreme range of of cool boxes. Firstly you’re buying a Coleman which is a by-word for a quality product.
Coleman have been making cool-boxes and other products since 1901. Over the last 100 years, they have both refined the product design and manufacturing process to ensure a quality design. The cool boxes are made from PU foam on the inside and have a outer casing made of a the tough HDPE plastic to ensure longevity.
- While our favorite is the Xtreme 70QT, the range comes in four sizes;
- Wheeled Xtreme 50QT: Capacity 47 Liters, Weight 5.9 kg, Dimensions (Outer/Inner): 58 x 44 x 46/45 x 33 x 33 cm
- Xtreme 52QT: Capacity 48 Liters, Weight 5.6 kg, Dimensions (Outer/Inner): 70 x 38 x 44/53 x 24 x 28 cm
- Xtreme 70QT: Capacity 66 Liters, Weight 6.1 kg, Dimensions (Outer/Inner): 72 x 40 x 44/61 x 30 x 33 cm
- Xtreme 100QT: Capacity 91 Liters, Weight 7.4 kg, Dimensions (Outer/Inner): 92 x 42 x 44/79 x 33 x 29 cm
Coleman Cool Box Xtreme 70QT
The Coleman Xtreme 70QT comes with a capacity of 66 Liters, a weight 6.1 kg and dimensions 72 x 40 x 44cm. The coolers are designed with new and improved insulation technology that helps to keep your contents cold for days on end. In my experience, with the right number of cold blocks, the contents will stay cold on ice for four days, however we have heard longer is possible. The Coleman cool box is great for camping or even sporting events.
Cool Box Materials
The most obvious thing to first look at is material. Generally, coolers are either hard or soft. Hard coolers are typically made from some kind of plastic or polymer material. Plastics are very tough, act as good insulators.
And usually can be cleaned very easily because the plastic can handle cleaning solutions. Plastic coolers are also very durable and keep softer items like fruit from being crushed. One downside of plastic is that they are large and cannot be folded up when not in use to save space.
Soft coolers are typically made out of some kind of insulated polyester or polyurethane material. These coolers are not rigid and so can be folded up when not in use. Soft coolers are space-conscious, lightweight, and usually have extra zippers and pockets on the sides. The main downside to these kinds of coolers is that they tend to be small and they are not rigid, so items can be squished if not placed properly.
Clearly, storage space is important for coolers. Cool boxes range in size from just a small cool box of 10-Litres to a Large cool box that can hold upwards of 100-litres. The size of the cool box you get depends mostly on the intended use. If you just want something to keep drinks cool while on day fishing trips than a smaller cooler will be just fine. If you want to store a week’s worth of food and drink in your camper or RV, then you will need a larger cooler. Some coolers also have separate compartments so you can organise contents.
Most small coolers can be picked up and carried to transport. However, larger coolers are usually too heavy to just pick up. Larger models usually have wheels on the bottom, whether it’s four wheels or two wheels on one side. Either way, the presence of wheels makes the cooler more mobile and makes it easier to transport when it’s loaded down with food and drink.
Coolers may also come with extra features, like a retractable handle, drink holders on top of the lid, a drain plug for removing water, and measurement notches and bottle openers on the side. Make sure to research all these features so you can find a model that does what you want it to do.
Best Passive Cool Box
Best Passive Cool Box
Coleman Cool Box Xtreme 70QT
If you need a big cooler to hold a large amount of food, then the Coleman Cool Box Xtreme is a good choice. This oversized cool box is made from a durable polyurethane material and features polyurethane insulation that can maintain a constant interior temperature.
The coolbox has a massive 70 quarts volume and can easily store up to 2 weeks worth of food for you and your family. It also has a convenient drain plug near the bottom so you can remove and water from melted ice or condensation. The Coleman is also very heavy-duty. The PU plastic is strong, resistant to corrosion or degradation, and can withstand harsh mechanical impacts. The cooler also doubles as a makeshift seat and can easily support your weight while sitting on it. Additionally, this cool box has two handles on the side for carrying and a series of cupholders on the top for holding drinks.
Overall, the Coleman Cool Box Extreme is one of the best heavy-duty rigid coolers you can buy. It is tough, large, convenient, and acts as a great insulator. The PU material does a great job of keeping items cold or hot, and the square design is space-conscious despite the large size. This cooler is perfect to put in your RV for long road trips or for tailgating when you need a place to store drinks and food. The cool box is also BPA-free and compliant with all European health and safety regulations.
Lifewit 30L Soft Cooler Bag
If you simply want a weekend bag to take to a sporting event, I would highly recommend the Lifewit 30L soft cooler bag. The cooling bag is made from a touch and resilient Oxford fabric on the exterior and features a premium PEVA insulated lining on the interior to retain heat and cool.
Between these two layers sits an 8mm layer of EPE foam that protects cooler contents and improves insulation. The Lifewit has a large 30L capacity and is perfect for storing lunch, drinks, and whatever else you can think of on day trips. It also has exterior pockets for holding food accessories. It’s a good choice for hiking, camping, cookouts, tailgating, and more.
The Lifewit is also highly portable. It features a convenient carrying handle that straps together over the top and a strap around the side for carrying on your shoulder. Both handles are padded and detachable so they are comfortable and you can choose to not use them. The cooler is made to be 100% leak-proof, so even if anything breaks or spills in the cooler, it will not bleed through and stain the exterior Oxford fabric. Overall, the Lifewit is an excellent cooler box and is useful for a wide range of activities. It has a good mixture of portability, size, extra features, and comfort that is the calling card of a good cool box for outdoor and indoor use.