With a massive 42-litre capacity, does size matter and has this Waeco Cool-Ice coolbox got what it takes to shine in the Practical Motorhome review?

Overview

Have you ever run out of space for everything in your motorhome fridge on holiday in hot weather? Yes, so have we!

So we can't be the only ones who end up debating whether it's more important to keep the food fresh or to improve our holiday by keeping the lager and white wine perfectly chilled and ready for drinking. What's the solution to this hotly debated holiday dilemma?

The answer, we think, is to take along a coolbox to supplement the fridge. Powered coolboxes are widely available, but the original passive coolboxes that you fill with frozen ice blocks are making a big comeback. Perhaps people are seeing the value of keeping life simple and cutting down on the number of random power leads in the motorhome locker!

Despite the convenience of powered coolboxes, which typically just plug into a 12V cigarette lighter type of socket, we think that the original passive type is the original and best kind of coolbox. After all, if you unplug a powered coolbox and use it to take your picnic to the beach, it won't keep your food cool for long. Yet if you use a passive coolbox with a few frozen ice blocks inside, you'll have a lot longer to find the perfect picnic spot, go for a swim and work up an appetite.

So we tested a host of products that you don't have to plug in, as part of our quest to find the best passive coolbox on the market in Britain. And all were put through the same rigorous test procedure. 

We kicked off our test by checking each product’s thermal abilities. All were opened and allowed to reach an ambient temperature of 25˚C. Then they were loaded to 5% of their capacity with ice chilled to -12˚C. Next, all were closed and placed in a room kept at 27˚C for eight hours, and we checked their internal temperatures regularly throughout this period.

When considering which coolbox is the best, we were also mindful of price, ease of carrying, the depth to store tall bottles upright and build quality. Drainage bungs – which allow ice melt to be removed without raising the temperature inside – are a bonus. Decent feet are, too, because they lift the box from the ground to prevent the (warm) ground from being in direct contact with the box’s base. 

Here we have the 42-litre version of the Waeco Cool-Ice. Waeco has been making top portable fridges and powered coolboxes for years, so we had high hopes of the new Waeco range of passive coolboxes.

We weren’t disappointed with this product. For a start, it had extremely good results in our thermal tests. The minimum temperature reached was 12.3˚C below the ambient temperature in the room (our room was 27°C) and the average over eight hours was 12.5˚C. This excellent result catapulted the 42-litre Waeco Cool-Ice into our group test’s premier league. In fact we voted it our Practical Motorhome Editor's Choice – the overall winner of our test of passive coolboxes in 2014. 

Funnily enough, it isn’t the absolute best coolbox that we tested, if you just look at its thermal properties, but it is easily the most affordable of the top players, especially considering that it offers a vast 42-litre volume. The Cool-Ice range is made to an Australian design, so it gets most of the critical aspects right. Our own thermal results and the manufacturer’s claims that it will retain ice for three to 10 days prove that the insulation is more than up to the job.

Other essentials such as a lid seal, a meltwater drain with a bung, stable polythene feet, strong handles at both ends and lid clamps are also included. It's easy to wipe clean and keep hygienic. The hinges are rustproof stainless steel and the cabinet is polyethylene. This coolbox is insulated with thick polyurethane refrigeration grade foam.

At 62cm x 38cm x 24cm, it is reasonably compact, too, considering its capacity. It is also seamless, which avoids food getting trapped and going mouldy in the coolbox. It weighs 9.3kg and comes with a five-year warranty. 

However, while this 42-litre Waeco Cool-Ice received a glittering five-star rating, we understand that its £115 price tag might be too much for some, so it might be worth considering one of the other coolboxes we reviewed. How about the 22-litre version of Waeco's Cool-Ice? Or the Campingaz Icetime, the Thermos Weekend, the Coleman Xtreme3 or one of two Igloo products tested, the Island Breeze or the Sportsman.

Verdict

At the end of Practical Motorhome's review of the 42-litre Waeco Cool-Ice, it's clear that this is a very capable product and one of the best coolboxes out there – why else would we give it a five-star rating? However, this isn't a cheap option, so if you're on a budget, why not check out our other passive coolbox reviews.

Conclusion

Pros

  • It's got a huge capacity
  • It does a great job of keeping items cool
  • The handles are sturdy and its feet are stable

Cons

  • At £115, it's not cheap
  • Its 9.3kg weight might be too much for some
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