An Ice Chest is a very handy piece of equipment to have when you are fishing, camping or in need of a place to keep your drinks cold! You can pick these up for much cheaper than a fridge designed for camping, which is why they are so popular. Also, gone are the days where you had to keep throwing ice into an esky or Ice Chest! Today, you can get little packs which you freeze yourself, and they last for much longer. These are not very expensive, and you have no recurring cost once you own a few.
There are a number of good places to get an Ice Chest from, including Techni Ice and Evakool. You can get all sorts of sizes; ranging from 5 litres right through to over 1000 litres, for the commercial fishing boats. A fridge is good, but having something a little easier to move around is very handy when you catch fish or go camping. Not everything fits in a fridge either, so rather than upgrading to a bigger fridge, or getting another you can save the money and get a good Ice Chest instead.
Why buy an Ice Chest?
The primary reason for buying an Ice Chest is to keep something cool. Be aware though that they are not fridges. They will keep things cool, but are not designed to keep everything frozen! You can use them to cool things down, but constantly putting warm items into them is going to decrease the time that it all stays cold. Ice Chests are very handy because they are cheap, large enough to throw anything in and with the technology today they last for days on end. There is nothing better than catching fresh fish and throwing it straight into a chest of ice, as they stay fresh for much longer. The whole principle behind camping gets so much more simple and more enjoyable if you have a few extra things, like an Ice Chest. Having a good Camping Light is another item that is so vital for a good trip.
How much does an Ice Chest cost?
This is one of the reasons that makes buying an Ice Chest so popular. You can pick up a big ice chest (120L) for under 200 dollars which is much less than a fridge. For under $400 you can walk away with 4 Ice Chests (largest being 120L), and that is delivered to your door too! These are incredibly cheap compared to even a small fridge, which has made them so popular.
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What colour Ice Chest is best?
Generally, the lighter the colour of the ice chest the better it performs overall. The reason behind this is simply because less heat is absorbed by lighter colours. If you were to pit two identical Ice Chests together, one white and one blue, the white one would win every time. Yellow and White are generally the better colours to have, although they do show the dirt up easier!
Ice Chest Ice Packs
The best way a few years ago to keep drinks cool was simply to get an esky, and fill it up with ice blocks. This usually lasted for a while, but that is old technology today. An Ice Chest will keep things cool for much longer than an esky, and you don’t have to pay for bags of ice on a recurring basis. Most companies that sell an Ice Chest also sell the packs which you use as ice. These are soaked in water, and they absorb it. You then freeze the packs, and when they are completely frozen you can use them.
The packs are not that expensive, and are much more effective than ice blocks or little ice packs. If you are dealing with fish though, it’s a good idea to put the packs in a sealed bag, or you will find they will absorb that bait smell!
How long does an Ice Chest keep things cool?
This entirely depends on the Ice Chest that you purchase, the number of ice packs you keep in the chest, what you are keeping in it, how often you are opening the chest, where it sits and many other variables. Most decent Ice Chests will last for at least 3 days though (keeping everything decently cold). Of course, if you have plenty of ice packs, you keep the chest out of the sun and you rarely open it then things can stay cold for up to 15 days, giving you a very time.
I have found that the best way to use these is to have a fridge and freezer with your camping gear. Anything that gets thrown into the Ice Chest should be frozen first (except fresh seafood), and you can take the ice packs out and freeze them up overnight if they begin to defrost (just rotate them around). By doing this, with just a reasonable Waeco Fridge/Freezer you can use ice chests for weeks on end, and they perform very well.
What are Ice Chests made of?
Each Ice Chest varies in the material that is used to manufacture them, but many are made of fiberglass or plastic and polyurethane. Of course, depending on the quality that you prefer you will pay price differences. I have used the Techni Ice ones, and these seem to work very well. They come with a lifetime warranty as well, which shows that they back up the product!
Keeping my Ice Chest cold for as long as possible
In order to keep the contents of an Ice Chest as cold as possible, there are a few things that you can do:
• Minimize the number of times that you open the chest, and the duration of each opening
• Ensure that the Chest is shut properly, with the locks in place at all times
• Keep the Ice Chest out of the sun
• Dig a hole in the dirt (if it is cool) and sit it in the hole
• Ensure that the ice packs are frozen completely before you use them
Ice Chest or Fridge?
A lot of people weigh up whether they should get a fridge or an Ice Chest. At the end of the day, although they perform the same action they are two different items. A fridge can usually be used as a freezer (or part of it can be turned into a freezer), and you can keep things cold for as long as you have power to the fridge for. An Ice Chest on the other hand will eventually melt down, and this happens quickly if you are opening it regularly.
If you are only using the Ice Chest for camping a few days at a time or for putting fresh seafood in then they are a great piece of gear. However, if you are a more serious Camper then a fridge is a much better buy. Ice Chests are great for their portability; you can throw them on a boat easily as well. It just comes down to matching your requirements with the right item. I have found that having both is great, because you can re freeze any items in the Ice Chest with the freezer, if you ever need to.
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Where do I get an Ice Chest from?
You can get Ice Chests from a huge range of suppliers, but the two main ones are Techni Ice and Evakool. Both seem to make good Ice Chests, but the price is different (because of the materials used). Techni Ice offers a special where you can get a range of chests delivered to your door for under 350 dollars, which is pretty good. You can use the big one for camping, the smaller for keeping fish and the smallest to take your food to work in! I have found that are quite cheap too, but shop around.
Ice Chests are truly awesome pieces of equipment, and with the technology that exists today combined with the price of these, you are looking at an easy, cheap and reliable way to keep things cool.