The Best Coolers & Ice Chests (Ice Box) in 2020

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Winner
Orion Heavy Duty Premium Cooler (55 Quart, Desert), Durable Insulated Outdoor Ice Chest for Maximum Cold Retention - Portable, Bear Resistant, and Long Lasting, Great for Hunting, Fishing, Camping
Best Price
Thermik High Performance Roto-Molded Cooler, 45 qt, White
Dometic TC35-DC-A 12V Tropicool Tc35 Thermoelectric Cooler/Warmer
Ice Chest Cooler Box 20L Large Capacity Reusable with Bottle Opener High Performance Commercial for Camping Fishing Bbqs Beach Trips
funwill Ice Chests and Coolers, 38L (40QT) Cooler Ice Chest Box, Portable Large Ice Cooler for Camping, Travel, Fishing, Beach and Patio
Product name
Orion Heavy Duty Premium Cooler
Thermik High Performance Roto-Molded Cooler
Dometic TC35-DC-A 12V
Ice Chest Cooler Box 20L
funwill Ice Chest 38L (40QT)
Test Result
Test Result 9.8/10 Excellent September 2020
Test Result 8.8/10 Very Good September 2020
Test Result 8.5/10 Good September 2020
Test Result 8.2/10 Good September 2020
Test Result 8.1/10 Good September 2020
Dimensions
29.53 x 19.61 x 19.45 inches
27.5 x 17.5 x 17 inches
22.4 x 20.3 x 15.3 inches
44.3 x 13.4in
20.2 * 10.1 * 11.5 inches
Weight
38.2 lbs
29.8 lbs
22.5 lbs
2.31 lbs
17.8 lbs
Performance
Value for Price
Pros
  • Very strong, can be used as a chair
  • ​Insulation is the best we have tested
  • ​Basket included
  • ​Can hold over 30 Cans with ice included
  • Bear resistant
  • Inside is tapered, easy to drain
  • Great price for an high end model
  • Awesome size
  • Lightweight
  • Electric cooler / warmer, keeps low temperature for a long time
  • Lightweight
  • ​Good insulation
  • ​Very easy to carry with shoulder strap
  • ​Great Insulation through next gen material
  • Very Lightweight & modern design
  • ​​Deep freeze storage section included
  • ​​Comfortable handle, also very robust
  • Best price in the test of the best Ice Chests
  • ​Great fit for loading on trucks
Cons
  • Expensive
  • ​Surface hard to clean
  • Smaller size for less capacity
  • Small size, cant fit many bottles
  • No drain plug
  • ​Could collect condensation on the bottom
Price
Price not available
Price not available
$169.09
$300.95
$179.99
Winner
Orion Heavy Duty Premium Cooler (55 Quart, Desert), Durable Insulated Outdoor Ice Chest for Maximum Cold Retention - Portable, Bear Resistant, and Long Lasting, Great for Hunting, Fishing, Camping
Product name
Orion Heavy Duty Premium Cooler
Test Result
Test Result 9.8/10 Excellent September 2020
Dimensions
29.53 x 19.61 x 19.45 inches
Weight
38.2 lbs
Performance
Value for Price
Pros
  • Very strong, can be used as a chair
  • ​Insulation is the best we have tested
  • ​Basket included
  • ​Can hold over 30 Cans with ice included
  • Bear resistant
Cons
  • Expensive
Price
Price not available
Check Price on Amazon
Best Price
Thermik High Performance Roto-Molded Cooler, 45 qt, White
Product name
Thermik High Performance Roto-Molded Cooler
Test Result
Test Result 8.8/10 Very Good September 2020
Dimensions
27.5 x 17.5 x 17 inches
Weight
29.8 lbs
Performance
Value for Price
Pros
  • Inside is tapered, easy to drain
  • Great price for an high end model
  • Awesome size
  • Lightweight
Cons
  • ​Surface hard to clean
Price
Price not available
Check Price on Amazon
Dometic TC35-DC-A 12V Tropicool Tc35 Thermoelectric Cooler/Warmer
Product name
Dometic TC35-DC-A 12V
Test Result
Test Result 8.5/10 Good September 2020
Dimensions
22.4 x 20.3 x 15.3 inches
Weight
22.5 lbs
Performance
Value for Price
Pros
  • Electric cooler / warmer, keeps low temperature for a long time
  • Lightweight
  • ​Good insulation
Cons
  • Smaller size for less capacity
Price
$169.09
Check Price on Amazon
Ice Chest Cooler Box 20L Large Capacity Reusable with Bottle Opener High Performance Commercial for Camping Fishing Bbqs Beach Trips
Product name
Ice Chest Cooler Box 20L
Test Result
Test Result 8.2/10 Good September 2020
Dimensions
44.3 x 13.4in
Weight
2.31 lbs
Performance
Value for Price
Pros
  • ​Very easy to carry with shoulder strap
  • ​Great Insulation through next gen material
  • Very Lightweight & modern design
Cons
  • Small size, cant fit many bottles
Price
$300.95
Check Price on Amazon
funwill Ice Chests and Coolers, 38L (40QT) Cooler Ice Chest Box, Portable Large Ice Cooler for Camping, Travel, Fishing, Beach and Patio
Product name
funwill Ice Chest 38L (40QT)
Test Result
Test Result 8.1/10 Good September 2020
Dimensions
20.2 * 10.1 * 11.5 inches
Weight
17.8 lbs
Performance
Value for Price
Pros
  • ​​Deep freeze storage section included
  • ​​Comfortable handle, also very robust
  • Best price in the test of the best Ice Chests
  • ​Great fit for loading on trucks
Cons
  • No drain plug
  • ​Could collect condensation on the bottom
Price
$179.99
Check Price on Amazon

We tested and reviewed the best Coolers / Ice Box in terms of Price, Capacity, Weight, Performance, Cooling ability and more.

Above you can see the Ranking with the best Coolers / Ice Chests of the test and below you will find additional info about cooling boxes.

Test: Best Coolers

Who hasn’t experienced it? One sits comfortably together when camping and would like a cold beer. Unfortunately the beer is already warmed up and does not taste very good anymore. The only thing that helps is to buy a cool box and to enjoy your beer and drinks in the future completely pleasantly cooled. But which cool box is best suited for your own purposes? In my coolbox test I have tested the best models.

Especially in the summer months, when many activities take place outside and one or two evenings are spent at the bathing lake, the advantages of coolers can be appreciated.

When camping, at the bathing lake, on longer car trips, or just watching football at the public viewing, it is always a great thing to have cooled drinks and also food with you.

However, there is now a confusing number of coolers on the market with the most diverse functions and requirements. Prices range from $20 for a passive cooler to $600 for a professional compressor cooler. Of course, it is difficult for the layman to keep track of the situation.

Best Ice Chest overall: Orion Heavy Duty Premium Cooler

Best Ice Chest overall: Orion Heavy Duty Premium Cooler


Pros

  • Very strong, can be used as a chair
  • Insulation is the best we have tested
  • Basket included
  • Can hold over 30 Cans with ice included
  • Bear resistant

Cons

  • Expensive

The Orion Heavy Duty Premium Cooler is a extremely powerful cooler, with a size of 56 quarts considering its moniker; not much smaller. However, it does sell a basket which can be taken straight out, which is handy while camping. It is ranked by IGBC as you would expect to see in this group of innovative goods.

The insulation here is top-notch. The latch device is user friendly and durable. This latches are not going to let you down on a boat. For around six days, the cooler may be used to hold food and drink below 40-degrees.

It has a number of external attachments to fit into for the Orion Heavy Duty Premium Cooler. This offer varying choices based on what you want to do, such as having some things apart from each other. Compared to an economy model where it is not predicted, this is characteristic of well-regarded brands.

The connector is not leashed. However this is a extremely versatile cooler for road trips in other ways. It is probably the strongest thing we’ve seen in the world.

2nd Best Ice Chest: Thermik High Performance Roto-Molded Cooler

Thermik High Performance Roto-Molded Cooler review


Pros

  • Inside is tapered, easy to drain
  • Great price for an high end model
  • Awesome size
  • Lightweight

Cons

  • Surface hard to clean

The Thermik High Performance Roto-Molded Cooler is, as it reveals, considerably pricer. It comes with an fascinating choice of color which will certainly allow it stand out from other coolers crowd. The size is 54 quarters which is ideal for most singletons, groups or families traveling.

Part of the higher end design includes a gasket which keeps warm air out, a hinge with an interlocking pattern, and roto-molding that is robust. Although the handles of the rope take a little to get used to. The 25.5-pound weight for the multiple coolers under analysis is in the mid-range of the weight. Anyone who doesn’t have solid arms would enjoy not getting too hard on this scale.

The hinge has a distinct style than those tested by other coolers or ice boxes. During usage it is a little smoother compared to the T-shaped hinges which need a firmness to almost push them into place. There’s a little more finesse to this hinge.

The cooler is able to hold products kept below 40 degrees for a period of 5 days. If that’s what you’re searching for for your cooling needs, the Thermik High Performance Roto-Molded Cooler is the classier edition too.

3rd Best Cooler: Dometic TC35-DC-A 12V

Best Cooler: Dometic TC35-DC-A 12V review test


Pros

  • Electric cooler / warmer, keeps low temperature for a long time
  • Lightweight
  • Good insulation

Cons

  • Smaller size for less capacity

The Dometic TC35-DC-A 12Vrounds out our 5 brands with the BMX 25 cooler under review. This is a dinky edition, with a size of 25 quarts. It is meant for singletons and undemanding families who may like anything other than a Coleman and who also do not require something like that.

The BMX 25 will stay for 2-3 days or longer under 40 degrees. It is well insulated but there is no airtight lock, meaning that air or water will get inside. Also, the latches and hinges allow much to be desired, but they do work perfectly.

The 11.3-pound weight is the lightest of the category, but it makes sense because of its 25-quarter size. The walls are heavier than you would anticipate, which is why it’s about as strong as the Coleman Xtreme, but less than half of its storage space is provided.

This Dometic TC35-DC-A 12V model crosses plenty of boxes for someone who may not need or want a big cooler but who needs to keep food fresh and beverages cold enough.

4th Best Cooler: Ice Chest Cooler Box 20L

Ice Chest Cooler Box 20L;Best Cooler


Pros

  • Very easy to carry with shoulder strap
  • Great Insulation through next gen material
  • Very Lightweight & modern design

Cons

  • Small size, cant fit many bottles

Ice Chest Cooler Box 20L is a common name on camping equipment. They seem to be on the market’s more competitive end but there are also more than one type to choose from. The Xtreme cooler isn’t any better except that it sits at a stretch below 40 degrees for up to four days.

While coming in at remarkably small 11.9 pounds, it carries at least 68 quarts too. It is beaten only by the Igloo, which shaved a few more grams of the weight, but it has less than half the power.

Isolation is enough to keep food and beverages cold, but it’s not airtight as it is on the street with certain other ice chests. The concept’s straightforward existence won’t win any Concept prizes here. The handles are often rugged and a little difficult to get used to. However, with the smaller weight, relative to more convenient handles attached to boxes that weigh many times more when you fill them up, it is manageable.

The Ice Chest Cooler Box 20L is a decent all-round alternative for those who are on a much reduced budget. You ‘re not going to get the bells and whistles here, but that’s characteristic of this company where customers want the best price for value.

5th Best Ice Chest: Funwill Ice Chest 38L 

Best Ice Chest: Funwill Ice Chest 38L review test


Pros

  • ​Deep freeze storage section included
  • ​Comfortable handle, also very robust
  • Best price in the test of the best Ice Chests
  • Great fit for loading on trucks

Cons

  • No drain plug
  • ​Could collect condensation on the bottom

The Funwill Ice Chest 38L is provided since it comes with a pair of chunk wheels so you don’t have to push it down the road. This makes the Funwill Ice Chest 38L especially appealing to those with a broken back, who lack the power of the arm or just like living on wheels.

It has a strong capacity of 60 quarts and can hold its storage area under 40 degrees for at least four days. It weights well over 88 lbs, so it’s a big one. Bringing everything out of the trunk may take some work – you will want to remove the food and drink first, then refill it while it’s on the road – so while you’re moving around, it doesn’t matter any extra weight.

The model comes with several attachments but there are fiddly latches in the system that aren’t the easiest to use. The biggest selling point, though, is that it’s like a roller suitcase-just bigger. And who should argue?

Which different kind of Coolers are there?

Among the modern coolers on the market, a distinction can be made between passive and active coolers. A distinction is made here between:

  • Passive Coolers
  • Active Coolers

Both are presented in the following. The active models are again differentiated according to the cooling technology used in: thermoelectric, compressor and absorber.

The passive Coolers

In passive coolers, the goods to be cooled, i.e. the drinks and food, are kept cool as long as possible by means of refrigerated batteries. Passive cool boxes cannot temper food downwards, but can only keep cooled food and drinks cool for a few hours, thus delaying a temperature rise as long as possible.

The Best Coolers & Ice Chests (Ice Box) in 2020

The advantage of passive cool boxes with rechargeable cooling batteries is that they are very inexpensive to buy and easy to carry around because of their low weight.

They are usually made of plastic with gel inside and are cooled as low as possible in the freezer at home and then put into the cooler when you put the goods in it and want to go out. (You can find an article about the freezer packs here: The functionality of freezer packs >>

With passive coolers, it depends very much on how well they are insulated. With good insulation, a cool box can keep drinks and food well chilled for several hours. The higher the outside temperatures are, the shorter the period in which the drinks and food are kept cool. There we are already at the disadvantage of passive coolers. These cool boxes are not suitable for a longer period of time, but only for a short period of time.

In short, the cool bag has only one advantage over the cool box: it can be folded together and is lighter. So actually already two advantages! But that is the only advantage that the cool bag has. Because it can be folded, it has no thick insulating layer and can therefore not provide cooling for a long time.

Too much heat exchange between the environment and the cool bag in too short a time means that the food and drinks are only cooled for a few hours. The situation is different with a cool box. Depending on the quality of the cool box, the insulation is sometimes very thick and has a high insulating capacity.

This means that the cooler can maintain the cooling for much longer and has already proven in tests that it can maintain a relatively low temperature for up to 3-4 hours even at high outside temperatures.

Another advantage of the robust coolers is that they cannot be squeezed between pieces of luggage and any food contained in the cooler is not squashed. This can happen quite quickly with a cool bag. With drinks this is usually not important but with food it is. The disadvantage of the cooler is then, as already mentioned, its not so good handiness and the relatively heavy weight.

What are the differences between Coolers?

If you only want to cool drinks and food for 1 to 2 hours, then you will certainly be able to manage with a cool bag. For everything beyond that, I recommend that you buy a cooler. Make sure you get a cool box or cool bag with the right capacity for you. Of course the capacity of cool boxes and cool bags varies greatly and it is also a question of price, as more capacity usually means more costs.

The Best Coolers & Ice Chests (Ice Box) in 2020

With a passive cooler, the most important purchase criteria are price, insulation, capacity and manageability. I always make sure that the cooler has at least one compartment for drinks and a separate compartment for food. This prevents drinks from pressing on the food and thus crushing it. When it comes to insulation, you have to pay attention to the thickness of the insulated layer. It should be 2-3 cm to ensure good insulation.

Another important point is the capacity of the cool bag! Depending on the intended use, you should choose the capacity according to your needs. Do you only want to carry 2 or 3 drinks for your family in the car or do you want to supply your handball team with cold drinks during training. These are questions you should of course think about before buying a cooler.

The good old passive cooler or cool bag is in my opinion still a classic and is in most cases completely sufficient. Don’t be irritated by the statements of sellers who naturally want to sell them a much more expensive active cooler with great functions. If you don’t really need it, don’t buy it. In many cases, a cool bag or passive cooler is quite sufficient.

The active Coolers with Cooling mechanism

From the disadvantage of the passive coolers, the active coolers were developed. Active coolboxes have a cooling mechanism on board, which can cool down the contents of the coolbox on the one hand and then also maintain the low temperature.

With the active cool box there are different technologies regarding the cooling mechanism. The advantage of active coolers is that they can cool down the goods to be cooled relatively far even when the outside temperature is high (this is of course always dependent on the quality of the cooler and therefore the price) and maintain this temperature permanently as long as they have a power supply.

There are cool boxes that can be operated with 12 V, 24 V, 110 V and 230 V connections and even with gas. Sometimes there are also active coolers that have rechargeable batteries on board and are not dependent on an external power supply, at least for a short period of time.

Of course the active coolers also offer the advantages of the passive coolers, i.e. they are also naturally insulated and can maintain a cooled down temperature for a certain period of time even without active cooling. There are many different types of active coolers, for example, special coolers for the back seat of a car, special coolers for campers or caravans or even smaller mini coolers that are well suited to take with you.

Let’s talk about the different cooling mechanisms of active coolers.

  • (Thermo-)electric boxes with Peltier cooling
  • Boxes with compressor cooling, like a refrigerator
  • Absorber boxes

The (Thermo) Electric Cooler

The thermoelectric cooler works with so-called Peltier elements. These contain thermoelectric transducers which create a temperature difference when a power supply is used. Some of these transducers can also be used to achieve a higher temperature.

The Best Coolers & Ice Chests (Ice Box) in 2020

The Dometic CDF11 12v (In the Ranking at the top) for example has a built-in heating function. But usually they are used to lower the temperature in the cool box.

Advantages

The advantage of thermoelectric coolers with Peltier units is that they are relatively inexpensive, very robust and resistant and relatively light.

Especially coolers are often not handled very carefully. More complex cooling mechanisms, such as the compressor cooling or absorber cooling mentioned later, are also much more prone to defects than the thermoelectric variant.

If the cooler falls over or falls down, it is not so problematic with the cooler with Peltier elements. A cool box in the trunk can also be thrown around, which usually doesn’t bother a thermoelectric box at all.

Disadvantages

The disadvantage of the thermoelectric cooler is that it can only provide limited cooling. This means that it is dependent on the outside temperature and the cooling mechanism cannot cool the goods to be cooled down to an unlimited extent. Depending on the manufacturer and model, relatively large temperature differences to the outside temperature can be achieved, but larger minus temperatures cannot be reached in summer.

The maximum cooling for thermoelectric models ranges from around 10°C to 30°C below ambient temperature for the best models (Dometic CDF11 12v).

Another disadvantage of the thermoelectric cooler is that it consumes more and more power, depending on the temperature difference from the outside temperature. Unlike the compressor cooler, for example, the power consumption is directly dependent on the temperature difference generated, which is of course a cost factor when operating from a 230 V socket. But a cooler can also draw a lot of power in a car, which can become a problem for the battery.

Mobile Refrigerators with compressor

Modern coolers with compressors work the same way as the refrigerator at home in the apartment. They are among the most powerful coolers, as they are basically a mobile refrigerator. This is of course reflected in the price, but also in the weight.

Advantages

The great advantage of this cooler version is that it achieves the lowest cooling values. They are independent of the outside temperature and are capable of cooling drinks and food to the lowest possible temperatures (Dometic Coolfreeze CFX-35 W down to -22°C).

As a rule, the good compressor models have connections for 12 V in the car and 230 V for the socket at home. So they are also ideal for taking along on holiday.

The Best Coolers & Ice Chests (Ice Box) in 2020

At the campsite, compressor boxes can be used as a compact replacement for a refrigerator. If required, they can also be used as a freezer.

Disadvantages

Where there are many advantages there are unfortunately also mostly disadvantages. On the one hand, these coolers are of course not exactly cheap. You can get good models from about $200-300. Depending on the capacity it becomes then still clearly more expensive.

Furthermore they do not belong to the silent variants of their kind. The compressors are clearly audible during operation. Similar to the refrigerator at home, the cooler makes a small noise while cooling down. However, they are much quieter than a thermoelectric box with its fan noise.

While this is not very disturbing when camping or at a bathing lake, it looks different when you have the cooler in your caravan at night.

Moreover, these models are very heavy and hardly suitable for mobile use because of the cooling technology. So the Dometic Coolfreeze CFX 35W weighs 38.5 lbs when empty.

Absorber Coolers – Silent and Gas Powered

A very interesting variant are cooling boxes with absorber unit. They can be operated both with electricity and gas. Because of their completely different mode of operation, they can even be operated by solar energy in some cases.

Their advantage is their almost noiseless operation, the possibility to run the cooler with gas when camping, but also to move it to the 12/230 volt connection for cooling.

The disadvantage is the high price of this coolbox variant and the very high weight that the coolboxes weigh. Therefore they are often equipped with wheels so that you can pull them behind you.

Features

Just like the thermoelectric coolers, the cooling capacity of the absorber coolers depends on the ambient temperature. At high temperatures they no longer reach very low temperatures. For example, if you are camping in Spain and it has outside temperatures above 40° (which is normal in Spain, especially in southern Spain in summer), cheaper models only achieve differences of 20°. This means that the cooling capacity would be limited to 20°, which does not really allow for cooling of drinks and food.

However, good models are able to cool down to 35° below the ambient temperature and thus achieve a quite good cooling of the drinks and food even at high temperatures. However, you can’t reach very low minus temperatures at high ambient temperatures with these models, as it is already clear here. It is definitely not possible to carry frozen food with you at high temperatures. An important point you should consider when buying such a cooler.

The Best Coolers & Ice Chests (Ice Box) in 2020

If you run these coolers on electricity, then you need to know that the higher the cooling capacity is, the more electricity is consumed. Even when operating with gas, the gas consumption depends on the cooling capacity. This cooling capacity or energy consumption is of course directly dependent on the temperatures. If you use a cooler at 20° and you want to cool down to 5°, then not too much electricity or gas is used as if you wanted to reach 5° at an ambient temperature of 35°.

Just like the thermoelectric coolers, the absorber models do not reach any minus degrees or cooling capacity. As just described, they are only able to create a temperature difference to the outside temperature which, depending on the model and manufacturer, cannot exceed a certain value.

The best models have a difference of 35° – the cheaper models have a difference of about 20°. The disadvantage is of course clear: at high outside temperatures they cannot reach very low temperatures. This is usually not a problem in Germany, as high temperatures are rare in Germany. Because even at 28° they could reach temperatures of 8° cooling with a cheap absorber cooler. This is usually completely sufficient for drinks and food.

The situation is different if you spend your holidays on a campsite in Spain. Outside temperatures of 40-45° are not uncommon here in southern Spain in summer. A cool box that only provides a cooling capacity of 20° would not be sufficient here. Please consider this when buying a cool box, so that you are not surprised negatively later.

The strength of the absorber models are clearly on the campsite. Since especially cheap camping sites or wild campers do not always have electricity connections, gas operation is a fine thing with these models. Therefore they are completely independent of a power source and can cool permanently.

Also the very quiet operation mode is very helpful for many users. A permanent noise in the pipes of the mini fridges at night is simply disturbing and energizing for many people.

This is where the absorption coolers have their clear strength. The disadvantages are the cooling capacity, which depends on the outside temperature, and the susceptibility to defects, as shocks or vibrations should not occur too often. On top of this comes the relatively high price.

What kind of Cooler should I buy?

Now the question of whether you choose a thermoelectric cooler, cooler with absorber unit or with compressor depends on where and how you want to use the cooler. For example, if you want to cool frozen goods permanently to -10° in summer, then in principle only the cooler with compressor is suitable.

Only the compressor is able to provide a cooling capacity of -10° at outside temperatures of 20-35°. Both the coolers with absorber unit and those with Peltier elements (i.e. thermoelectric coolers) depend on the outside temperature and, depending on quality and model, are generally only able to cool between 10-30° C below the ambient temperature.

If we have a hot summer, with outside temperatures of 35-40° C, the maximum cooling capacity would thus be in the range of 5-30° C. With a top model like the Dometic TropiCool TC-21, cooling down from 40°C to 10°C is no problem. That’s totally sufficient for cool drinks. And if the box is still in the shade inside, that’s fine anyway.

The Best Coolers & Ice Chests (Ice Box)

I myself have often had the TropiCool TC-21 with me on holiday in Tuscany, where I used it to cool drinks in continuous use. Perfect to complement the relatively small fridge of the mobile home on the campsite. Because 2 L bottles go in standing up and that was always perfect for me.

If you want more cooling power, you have only one choice. Then there are hardly any real alternatives to the cool boxes with compressors.

Also their power consumption is not dependent on the outside temperature. Thermoelectric coolers consume more electricity the higher the difference between the outside temperature and the cooling temperature.

Of course a compressor cooler also consumes more power when it has to reach very low temperatures, but the difference is not as big as with a thermoelectric cooler or an absorption cooler.

What about the good old Cooler with Rechargable Batteries?

I’m still a fan of the passive cooler. I.e. a cool box that does not have an active cooling system with electricity or gas, but relies on classic cooling batteries. The best of this type are quite capable of keeping drinks relatively cool for up to 6 to 8 hours, unless the outside temperature is particularly hot, and they do this very cheaply. In the purchase price, they are already available for clearly less than $50 and the cooling batteries are also very cheap.

If you put a few more cool packs in the passive cooler, you will get a good cooling.

The biggest disadvantage of these boxes is that they can’t cool permanently, but in my opinion even more so that they can’t cool down drinks and food, but only maintain an already low temperature.

For example, if you buy drinks at a petrol station, or a supermarket on the way to the bathing lake, then it is of no use if you put them in a passive cool box with cooling batteries. The drinks will not cool down noticeably!

For the passive cool box, you need the widely used cool packs to cool the drinks and snacks. These are frozen in the freezer in the freezer compartment of the refrigerator and then put deep-frozen into the box when using the cool box. The batteries and pads are filled either with salt water with preservatives or special cooling gels.

Both liquids have a rather high heat storage coefficient and can therefore keep the low temperatures for a relatively long time. The classic task of a cooling battery or cooling pad.

The situation is different with an active cool box. If you put the drinks into an active cooler, for example with a compressor, the drinks will cool down significantly within 20-30 minutes. A very pleasant thing

What kind of electric Sockets do i need for Coolers? (12V, 24V, 230V)?

There are various ways of supplying these models with energy. Depending on the connections, the corresponding cool box is suitable for different purposes. When purchasing, you should always pay attention to which connections are available and which ones you specifically need.

Classic 12V Socket Cooler for Car

Every car has a 12 V connection in the center console and some cars also have one in the trunk. Cool boxes with a 12 V connection are suitable for supplying them with power while on the road in the car and thus maintaining the cooling of the food and drinks carried along even on longer journeys. Almost all active coolers have such a 12 V connection, but there are exceptions.

When you buy a 12 V car cooler, make sure that it provides the same cooling capacity at a 12 V connection as at a 230 V connection. Many models do not have this and have only limited cooling capacity, which is obvious with a lower power supply, but there are also models where this is not the case.

24V Cooler for trucks

In contrast to cars, trucks do not have a 12 V connection, but a 24 V connection. If you are looking for a cooling box for your truck, please make sure that it has a 24 V connection. Many electric coolers do not have such a 24 V connection, but only 12 V and 230 V. However, you would not be able to use this model on a truck and therefore always make sure that it has a 24 V connection.

Otherwise, the same applies as for car coolers: check that the 24 V connection has the same power as the 230 V connection. If this is not the case, then you should make sure that the cooling capacity of the 24 V connection is sufficient.

230V Cooler: the all-in-one solution

Most electrical, but also compressor coolers can be operated on a 12 V/24 V or 230 V connection. The 24 V connections are often limited, which are usually only available in more expensive models.

The possibility to operate the coolers on a 230 V connection should not be underestimated, because especially on (permanent) campsites it is incredibly practical if you can connect the cooler to the appropriate power supply. This is especially true for compressor coolers, which usually only provide limited power at the 12 V connection.

Gas Cooler / Gas Cooling chest

Anyone who regularly travels with his motorhome or caravan or owns a permanent camping site should consider a model with gas operation.

This includes only the absorber coolers, which can usually be operated both with electricity and gas. This makes them ideal for camping. Many can also be operated with a simple gas cartridge.

Solar powered Cooler / Cooling box

Solar operation is a special feature of very powerful coolers. With a special solar device, the cooler can then be operated in summer without any problems. Also the solar operation is of course a feature that is especially strong on the campsite.

If you are interested in such a cooler, then you should take a look at the Waeco Coolfreeze CFX 35. It is the test winner among our compressor coolers and is clearly one of the best coolers in its class.

What is important when buying a Cooler?

In addition to how the cooling system works, there are a number of other factors that you should consider when buying a cooler. These include insulation, capacity, manageability and operation and a few other points that we will discuss in more detail in a moment.

Factor 1: Insulating ability

Especially for passive coolers, but also for active coolers, the insulation of the cooler is an important point for the permanent cooling of food and beverages. A poorly insulated cool box heats up too quickly when it is disconnected from the power supply.

The Best Coolers & Ice Chests (Ice Box) in 2020

In passive coolers the cooling time is then considerably reduced and active coolers are not able to maintain the temperature for a long time if they are not connected to a power source. Therefore the insulation of a cooler is an essential point. Most coolers are insulated with polystyrene. Here the thickness of the insulation is crucial, because there should be 2-3 cm of insulation to achieve a good effect.

Factor 2: Capacity

Capacity is the space inside the cool box. When you buy a cool box, it is stated in litres and the more litres a cool box can hold, the more drinks and food can logically be transported and cooled in it.

The purchase criterion capacity is of course very much dependent on how you want to use the cool box later. For example, if you only want to use the cool box to carry a cold cola in the car and a few other drinks for the family, then a cool box with a capacity of 10 to 20 litres is easily sufficient.

However, if you want to supply the whole football team with cold drinks, then the capacity must of course be much higher. Very practical are also cool boxes that are designed to transport 1 l or even 1.5 l bottles in an upright position.

Some cool boxes have different compartments to separate food and drinks from each other. A very sensible thing, because the heavy drinks otherwise press the food together. Therefore, if you want to transport food, make sure that you have different compartments in the cool box.

The larger the capacity, the heavier the cooler will be and the more unwieldy it will be. At the same time, the price will of course also increase. That’s why we recommend that you think about what the capacity really has to be like, because in the shop you usually tend to use larger coolers that you might not need in the same size later on.

Factor 3: Ease of use

Many people think that this is not an essential factor for the assessment, but be careful. Some useful functions are integrated in good coolers. For example the operating status light. Some very good coolers indicate that they cool perfectly. Because nothing is more annoying than when you arrive at your destination and the drinks are not cooled.

Operating status light and cooling power display

How can this happen? This has already happened to us, for example, because we hadn’t properly pressed the power cable into our cigarette lighter in the car. The consequence was that, because we had a cooler without an operating light, the drinks were warm at the bathing lake. If you have a cool box that signals the cooling with a green light, then this cannot happen to you.

More expensive models also indicate what temperature they have inside. This means that you can always see exactly what the temperature of the drinks is. Most of the times, these are models in which the cooling temperature can be variably adjusted.

Castors and handle for heavy models

Very important for heavy coolers, such as absorption coolers or a compressor cooler with a large capacity are also the castors on the cooler. Top models easily weigh 44 lbs and much more. That’s quite a lot if you want to carry the cooler from the car to the bathing lake.

The Best Coolers & Ice Chests (Ice Box) in 2020

Then you’ll certainly be happy if the cooler has wheels and a handle so you can pull the cooler behind you. So make sure that heavy models have a pull-out handle and wheels.

Factor 4: Price / Performance Ratio for Coolers

The price/performance ratio always plays into the equation, as it is of course also possible to make concessions at a very low price. We check the ratio very carefully.

How much do I have to spend for a good Cooler?

A question that cannot be answered generally. Because of course you can basically say that more expensive models also have a better performance or function, but you always have to tailor it to your personal needs. They may make do with a passive cooler or even a cool bag. But it could also be that they need a model for $1000 because they want to provide their twelve friends on the campsite with ice-cold drinks. That means that everyone should choose a cool box that suits their needs.

If you need a longer cooling, then the passive coolers are out of the question. These are the cheapest option but on the one hand they cannot cool for a very long time and on the other hand they cannot reach very low temperatures. But when it comes to maintaining temperatures, good passive coolers are pretty good.

In various tests, it has already been found that they can maintain the cooling temperature for quite a long time even at high outside temperatures. The temperature in the cooler then rises slowly, but the temperatures can be kept quite low for 3-6 hours.

But what we can tell you right away is that cool bags (foldable) have a much worse cooling capacity than cool boxes. This is simply due to the much thicker insulation in the cool boxes. Because cool bags are foldable, thicker insulation with polystyrene or a similar material is not possible.

Advice / tips for using Coolers

  • Pre-cool the cool box for 2-3 hours. Especially when you are at home you should pre-cool the cooler before you put the contents in it. This is not a problem at home when connected to the mains and many boxes do not cool as well when connected to a 12 V socket.
  • Always pre-cool drinks and contents in the fridge or freezer. The cooler you put the drinks in the cooler box, the easier the box will be. First of all, cold drinks radiate coldness and at the same time it doesn’t take that long until the cool box inside is cold.
  • Always use cooler batteries. A few cool packs always help to make it much easier for the box. First of all, you pre-cool the interior very quickly and you don’t need too much power.

If you need a very good cool box for the camping site, you should rather use a compressor driven cool box or a cool box with absorber unit. Because even thermoelectric coolers with Peltier elements cannot cool very deeply, but are always dependent on the outside temperature. Although the coolers with absorber units are also dependent on the outside temperature, they are not as dependent as the models with thermoelectric converters.

Which cooler should i buy for Camping?

For camping we would definitely recommend a cool box with compressor unit. This corresponds to a mini fridge for the caravan or motorhome and these devices are able to cool very low temperatures permanently with a relatively low power consumption, which is also not dependent on the outside temperature.

In addition there are very good models in this category with energy efficiency classes A+++ or A++ or cheaper models with A or A+. For reasons of energy saving and thus also cost saving, we believe that these models are best suited for the campsite with the requirement to achieve very low cooling temperatures.

The Best Coolers & Ice Chests (Ice Box) in 2020

The second best choice for the campsite are the coolers with absorber unit, as they can also run on gas, which is of course very practical on a campsite. Because not every pitch or camping site has an electric power supply. In this case the cool boxes with absorber aggregate are very suitable for cooling food and drinks permanently. But they do not reach the cooling capacity of a compressor.

Which Cooler should i buy for the Car?

For car journeys between 1 and 3 hours, we would recommend you to choose a cheaper model from the category of passive coolers. Because if you cool down the drinks at home in the fridge or freezer and do the same with the cooler batteries, then with a good passive cooler you can keep the drinks and food cool for several hours without any problems.

For longer holiday trips, which last well over 3 hours, we recommend that you buy a thermoelectric cooler with a 12 V connection for your car. These devices do not achieve the cooling capacity of a cooler with compressor or with an absorber unit, but they are much cheaper and more handy. They are able to reach a cooling capacity of 18 up to 30° below outside temperature.

Since the temperatures in the car are normally 21-24° with air conditioning anyway, the cool box can cool down to 0° without any problems. This should be absolutely sufficient in most cases. If you want even more power, you can go for a model with a compressor – but in our opinion this is absolutely not necessary in a car.

In the meantime, there are also chic designer models that can be anchored to the back seat and are very practical and handy. The disadvantage is usually the relatively small capacity. If you have a thermoelectric cooler in your car, make sure that the cooler is not completely confined by luggage. Since thermoelectric coolers, but also compressor coolers work with fans, they need a little space and should not be buried between suitcases.

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