The humble cooler – or ‘Esky’, as Aussies know it – has been the go-to food and beverage hold-all for short trips for decades. These simple units, packed with ice, are ubiquitous to campgrounds around Australia for good reason: as long as you have access to ice, an Esky will never fail.
The construction means there’s nothing that can go wrong with them and, for the most basic ones, they are pretty cheap. If you’re camping consists mostly of weekends away – or you’re a regular boatie and/or angler – they are brilliant bang for your bucks in regards to keeping food (or your catch) fresh and beers cold.
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Pelican is a brand renowned for producing near-indestructible protective cases for civilian and military use, ranging from those designed for laptop computers through to larger storage cases that can be secured in or on your 4x4. The brand recently branched into the cooler market, bringing with it all you’d expect in regards to construction standards, build quality and optimum performance.
Its Elite Cooler range covers capacities from 19 to 236 litres, in a variety of colour schemes. This white and grey 50QT (QT signifies the US-specific Quart measurement, which equates to around 47 litres) Elite Cooler has been residing in the back of the Discovery for the past two months.
As you’d expect with any product adorned with the Pelican label, this thing is built tough (so tough, the company offers a lifetime guarantee). The hard plastic exterior protects 50mm of polyurethane insulation inside, and there’s a freezer-grade gasket lining the lid.
All hardware is stainless steel for resistance to corrosion; the moulded handles are tough enough to use as tie-down points; a drain and tethered plug take care of melted ice; there’s a lock hasp; and there’s a bottle opener in the lid. Plus, there’s a fish scale on the lid for anglers.
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Pelican is very confident in the cooling capabilities of its Elite Cooler range, claiming up to 10 days of ice retention. That’s a very big claim and one that is, of course, somewhat reliant on conditions and where you store your cooler when camping (in the vehicle, the tent vestibule, or under a shady tree).
During one particularly hot three-day camping trip, with the 50QT spending time in the sun (and then inside the tent awning), we didn’t come close to needing to replenish the ice – unlike our fellow campers who did two runs to the local store. The 50mm of insulation and the super-tight seal definitely helped here.
Whether we’d get the claimed 10 days would, again, be totally dependent on conditions, but having used a variety of Eskys over many years of camping, this one definitely excelled. The hardware and thick insulation, plus the unit’s overall size (762mm x 516mm x 518mm), contributes to a hefty dry weight of 12kg – and necessitates plenty of cargo space. Even empty, this thing is a handful to lug around – full, it’s a two-person job.
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The 50QT’s bulk also saw it chew up a fair amount of space inside the Disco’s cargo area; although, I had no qualms loading gear on top of the lid, as it’s a solid unit.
The asking price is pretty high, but with a bombproof construction, the fact it retains ice for a more-than-decent amount of time, and the lifetime guarantee, you can safely assume you’ll still be pulling coldies out of this big bopper 10-plus years from now. You can’t argue with that.
Available from: www.pelicanstore.com.au
We Say: Bombproof; top-notch construction; excels at its design brief.