If you're looking for a passive coolbox to take on your next motorhome holiday, make sure you read the Practical Motorhome review of the Campingaz Icetime

Overview

One of the joys of a motorhome holiday is getting the flavour of a new area by enjoying local foods. It's wonderful to take edible local delicacies home as presents for friends, your family and maybe your cat sitter, too.

In our opinion, food makes the best souvenir from any holiday. So, if you're off to the local farmer's market and want to pick up some local cheese, clotted cream, smoked fish or meat, it's well worth using a coolbox to supplement your motorhome's or campervan's fridge.  

Although there are thermoelectric powered cooler boxes that you can plug in to a cigarette-type socket, we've noticed that passive coolboxes have been making a comeback. These are the original type that you put your blue gel ice packs into – or actual ice if that's readily available. If there's no ice box in your motorhome fridge, don't worry. Many campsites still offer the use of their freezers so you can swap your defrosted ice pack for a frozen one. It's a simple system that has stood the test of time.

There's next to nothing that can go wrong with them, and they require no power. There's no lead to lose and they're also easy to clean. Best of all, they tend to be cheaper than powered coolboxes! 

The expert Practical Motorhome review team has tested and reviewed a group of insulated ice-block-filled examples to find out which is the best coolbox in the UK. 

We began with each product's thermal capabilities. We opened each box to start with so that they all started at the same ambient temperature of 25°C. Then we loaded them to 5% capacity with ice chilled to -12°C, after which we closed them and left them in a room at 27°C for eight hours. We checked the internal temperatures of the coolboxes regularly throughout this time.

When scoring each coolbox we rated it for price, ease of carrying, depth for storage of tall bottles upright and build quality. Cooler boxes with drain holes and bungs gained extra marks because they allow you to drain out any melted ice without emptying the container completely. We were also happy to see some coolboxes with locks, keeping beers away from the children, while a box that is raised a little from the ground will help keep items cooler for longer. We were also pleased to see that manufacturers generally recognise that people tend to sit on coolboxes, making them strong enough for this purpose – they make a handy extra seat!

One of the coolboxes we tested is the Campingaz Icetime. With better-than-average finish and build quality, this is a good budget option and an alternative to Igloo’s Sportsman which we also reviewed. With a 30-litre capacity, it’s fractionally bigger inside than the Sportsman, too. But, predictably enough, thinner walls mean less impressive thermal characteristics.

In our test, the internal temperature only dipped down to a minimum of 16.6˚C, but the box almost managed to maintain that for the whole test period – its average temperature was actually 16.8˚C. 

Other similarities with the Igloo Sportsman include a top handle and its unusual tall-and-narrow shape (36cm x 22cm x 45cm). This allows two-litre bottles of soft drinks to be kept upright across the full width of the coolbox.

Some effort has been made to raise the base off the warm ground, but the 10mm clearance and airflow achieved could easily disappear if the coolbox feet should sink into soft ground. The £34 Icetime received three out of five from our test team.

As well as the Igloo Sportsman, we also tested another Igloo coolbox, the Island Breeze. In addition, we reviewed two versions of the Waeco Cool-Ice, one with a 42-litre capacity, the other with a 22-litre capacity, plus the Thermos Weekend and the Coleman Xtreme3.

Verdict

It's not the cheapest coolbox on the market, or the best, but if you're shopping for a bargain, this Icetime coolbox from Campingaz does the job at a very reasonable price.

Conclusion

Pros

  • Decent build quality

Cons

  • The short feet could easily sink into soft ground
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