There’s nothing worse than spending a packet on ice, only to have it melt within a few hours. Your food gets soaked and contaminated. Your cooler’s drainage plug leaks. Worst of all, you end up with warm beer on a hot day. It’s nothing short of a disaster when camping.
Only the best Esky can prevent this nightmare. I’ve sorted through a tonne of Eskies and picked out the 10 best eskies in Australia. Find the right esky for your next camping trip in the list below.
My Review Process
In the last 40 years I’ve dragged eskies to the hottest and remotest parts of Australia. Days from a servo and convenient ice, they’ve been critical for food management and cold beer.
I always carry several eskies. Each one is suited for different things like 4WD adventures, camping, fishing, day trips to the beach, and some of them are multipurpose
So what do I look for in an esky? First, I look for eskies that are robust and keep ice from melting for the duration I need. This requires good sealing and insulation, strong construction, and strong latches and hinges. Capacity is also important. As a bonus, it helps if they can double up as spare seating or cricket stumps.
I have this model - It’s awesome. Dometic is one of the best esky brands. It’s constructed from food-grade polyethylene with 50mm of refrigeration-grade insulation. The lid seals perfectly, assisted by the durable stretch latches. The Cool-Ice Esky retains ice for days.
The hinges swing on stainless steel pins, and the ergonomic handles retract for easy transport. The tie-down points ensure there are versatile packing options. It’s only 14kg empty, which is pretty easy to manage.
It’s perfect for any type of camping and also makes for a long-lasting backyard party esky. The Cool-Ice series is available in a range of sizes.
The Classic Hardcore is an ideal weekend car-camping esky. Bigger families should up-size for longer adventures, but this will suit a family of 3. Ice retention is outstanding and the heavy-duty roto-moulded polyethylene construction is perfect for harsh environments.
Campers will appreciate the internal divider and basket. This keeps foodstuffs organised and perishable foods out of the ice water.
In addition, the double latching system is easy to use when camping. The hinges on this esky are integrated into the casing, protecting them from damaging exposure.
Brilliant for relaxed weekend trips or hardcore remote adventure, the Classic Hardcore is premium Aussie cooling.
When I need to trek to my fishing spot, it’s shoulder bags and backpacks only. The Yeti Hopper is my go-to for this situation thanks to its comfortable shoulder carry.
This cooler is very expensive, but it offers excellent cooling performance and is tough enough to get a day’s worth of drinks, food, and bait across the ocean rocks to the water’s edge.
Constructed with Coldcell insulation and a Dryhide Shell, no heat gets in and cold doesn’t escape. It’s leakproof also – making it ideal for smelly bait transport. At 27 litres, I can even get a decent fish home in the cool. The latch points also make it brilliant for carrying easy-to-grab fishing gear.
The Coleman C003 is perfect for hiking to a picnic spot. Holding 28 cans, there’s enough room for lunch and drinks for two. The insulated main compartment will hold your ice bricks, wine, and food. The rear pocket is perfect for condiments and cutlery. Save internal space by placing water bottles in the mesh side pockets.
It’s leakproof and constructed from durable materials. And at under 500 grams, you’ll barely know it’s on your back. The straps are padded, strong, and comfortable, and there’s a waist strap for support. Great for treks, BBQs, parties, fishing, and more.
The Yeti is hands-down the best wheeled esky and is priced accordingly. Yeti earns its price tag, however, as the feature-laden Tundra will last you a lifetime of camping, BBQs, and backyard celebrations. 50mm of insulation delivers outstanding ice retention. The freezer-grade lid gasket delivers a perfect seal to keep the cool in.
Never-fail twin-pin hinges and never-flat wheels combine with heavy-duty rubber latches, making this one of the most durable eskies available. The wheels and axles deserve a special mention. Often a failure point on lesser eskies, these wheels are built to last. For trips where you want an esky on wheels, the Tundra is the perfect choice.
The Roadie isn’t the smallest esky, but it’s pretty compact. At 20 litres, it offers enough capacity for an expansive picnic for two or day trip adventures such as fishing trips, live concerts, and backyard shindigs. It’s tall enough to stand a wine bottle or two upright, yet narrow enough to fit behind the driver’s seat of a small car.
Ice retention is excellent, and you can expect things to remain cold for a couple of days. It’s a Yeti, so the construction is robust, durable, and capable of lasting beyond the average esky’s lifetime. The Roadie 24 is a premium small esky for those who demand the best.
I like the Techniice Signature for days spent in the backyard. A backyard esky needs to be robust, mobile, and super cold. The Techniice has all of this covered.
Esky accessories include a divider and basket, as well as an integrated bottle opener. The recessed fridge seal is out of the way, which is handy for an esky that will be opened frequently. Wheels and a collapsible handle ensure movement is a breeze when full. The rope handles are very sturdy when lifting is required.
In addition, when the party’s in full swing, the Techniice provides extra seating. There’s cricket stump potential here, too. The Techniice Premium is also an excellent esky for camping trips and is available in a range of sizes.
A work esky spends a fair bit of time getting tossed around the ute, sat on, and stood on. While keeping things cold is important, a work esky also has to be very durable. The Dometic 13 litre has you covered on the toughest job sites. With low heat absorption and refrigeration grade foam insulation, your drinks, smoko, lunch, and a cold beer stay chilled.
Integrated hinges with stainless hardware ensure the lid stays put. The ABS latch system helps deliver a perfect seal, keeping the cool in and heat out. At 2.8kg, it’s no load to carry, and the convenient strap provides a comfy shoulder carry. It’ll easily last until you retire.
This is the rare soft esky that claims to keep ice for up to four days. Such claims might be a stretch, and it’s probably not required for such a bag. But you can bank on great chill retention for 24 to 48 hours.
That makes it a great option for an individual traveling light. It’s ideal for overnighters, fishing, weekend camping, picnics, and BBQs. I especially like the Engle for a day out on the boat.
All the seams are welded to make this esky waterproof. It also keeps the heat out. The 840 D outside will take some rough treatment. And the thermal plastic urethane layer adds cooling support to the closed foam insulation.
If you’re looking for a quality general purpose esky of this size for under 50 bucks, you may as well use a $10 plastic tub. The starting price for high-quality eskies that perform well and endure Aussie conditions is around $150.
That’s roughly the price point of the IceKool 46 litre, my cheap pick for a durable high ice retention esky. It will last you countless BBQs and camping trips. The latches and hinges, while not premium, are highly durable and more than adequate for tough Aussie conditions.
It’s light for its size, yet sturdy enough to sit on and stack in the back of the ute. The handles are sturdy enough to use as tiedown points and the easy-to-use latches assist in keeping a super-tight seal. If you’re on a budget but still demand quality, the Evakool IceKool is ideal.
How To Choose The Best Esky
Size And Capacity
Esky capacities are given in litres. Sizes range from 15 litres (small) to a whopping 210 litres. Sometimes size is also provided in drink-can capacity.
Choosing the right size is dependent on what you need to store and your transport mode. Importantly, the best cooling results are achieved by filling to capacity. So, you don’t necessarily want to get an esky that’s much bigger than you need. Camping-sized eskies start at around 50 litres.
Quality eskies start at around $90 for small models. Extra-large, high-quality models can exceed $600. You can get good quality mid-sized general-purpose camping eskies starting at around $250. The best soft eskies can be very expensive, exceeding $400.
For BBQs and picnics, you needn’t choose top-shelf models. A half-day of ice retention is usually enough. For work, make sure it’s durable. For weekend camping and backyard parties, look for good ice retention. For remote camping, boating, and 4WDriving adventures, invest in the best ice retention and durability you can afford. Soft eskies are great for hiking, fishing, and picnics for two.
Big eskies are very bulky items. For example, a 111 litre Dometic has dimensions of 1055(L) x 535(W) x 442(H). You’ll need some serious vehicle space to carry this monster! I keep multiple eskies around so the one I choose for any adventure is never too small and never too big. 70 litres is a common choice for two people car camping for 3 to 7 days.
Eskies weigh from 3kg to 35kg empty. You’ll need to consider the packed weight, however, when thinking about how to move them around. The largest eskies will exceed 100kg fully loaded. Soft eskies are the lightest. They usually have shoulder straps, so they’re ideal for hiking or any situation where a walk is required to get to your destination.
Quality insulation and sealing are the first steps toward good ice retention. Most eskies will state their ice retention capacity, but this should be used as a very loose guide only.
You should look for stated ice retention of 5 to 7 days and more. Assume these figures as the absolute best case. Usage, ice quality, and conditions impact ice retention significantly. Australia is hot! Quality insulation should be a priority regardless of your application.
A well-made esky can last a lifetime. Campers, boaters, and 4WDrivers should look for the most robust models they can afford. Important considerations are strong latches, hinges, sealing, and drainage plugs. Soft cooler bags should have durable zippers and heavy fabrics.
Ease Of Cleaning
Most hard eskies are very easy to clean – simply hose it out. Sometimes a little dishwashing liquid and scrubbing might be required. Soft eskies can be difficult to clean thoroughly. Juices from fishing bait and BBQ meats can get in the seams. If not cleaned properly, the bag will develop mould and bacteria and start to smell.
Most eskies will have a drainage hole to release the melted ice. It’s critical that the plug is watertight, durable, and doesn’t protrude. Leaking drainage plugs contribute to temperature gain inside the esky. They also cause damage to car carpets and other water-sensitive surfaces.
Final Words On The Best Esky For Australia
For serious campers and those wanting a good general-purpose esky, the Dometic, Tundra, and Techniice are my top picks. The Dometic is my personal favourite and the esky I carry most of the time. While the Colemen is great for a hike, my fishing adventures benefit from the Engle and Yeti Hopper eskies.
*The information on this site is based on research and first-hand experience but should not be treated as medical advice. Before beginning any new activity, we recommend consulting with a physician, nutritionist or other relevant professional healthcare provider.