Kit review: Outwell ECOCool coolbox
Fern the Campervan has been a fantastic addition to my outdoorsy life but while she boasts modern reliability, a comfy bed and great storage, she lacks a fridge. Until now I have made do with a basic cool box, cooled by icepacks. Now I have a great addition, an Outwell electric ECOCool coolbox.
To be honest, I had been looking at how to have a campervan fridge fitted but they are not cheap and they tend to be quite small. Instead, the electric ECOCool portable box has been a pretty good find.
I have the 35l version, although there is a 24l size, too. This comes in a very robust hard plastic case and measures 52cm x 32cm x 43cm. There are two areas for storage, divided by an ice pack that slots in between. The lid is also divided so you can access, for example, just one side where you might choose to stow bottles of drink. The box takes bottles up to 2l in size.
I was worried about how cool the items would remain (my old ice pack only coolbox lasts around 12 to 24 hours, or less in hot weather, before items warm up). I also had concerns about the coolbox draining my van battery.
But all worked out really well. If you follow the instructions and insert the frozen icepack into the Outwell electric EC0Cool coolbox, at the same time as plugging it in, either indoors at a plug point via a 240V AC mains supply, or with the additional DC socket pushed into a cigarette lighter socket in the van, the products stay very well chilled for days.
I can’t tell you whether to what exact degree this worked because I didn’t measure the temperature of the products, including milk, yoghurt and butter, but Outwell claims the ECOcool coolbox keeps contents around 20C below the outside temperature. Certainly everything remained very chilled.
The coolbox also boasts the “latest energy-saving technology” and is designed comply with European ECO legislation. Who really knows what this means but hopefully it results in less energy being drained from my van battery.
When driving, this isn’t a major problem, although, of course, the energy to run the cool box will cause extra fuel use. When the engine is off and you are still using the coolbox there is a handy indicator light on the coolbox to tell you if the vehicle battery is running low. This didn’t happen to me although that is because I had to switch it off for a spell overnight (see below).
In addition, the box can keep items warm up to 60C, by simply flicking a switch.
My thoughts on Outwell 35l ECOcool coolbox
The box is big enough for a few days of food supplies for a basic wild campervanning trip. It has a good height so you can fit in large bottles. I like that the storage area and lid are divided so that you can access just one area of the box at a time. This helps with keeping the main storage area, where you might stow milk and butter, cool, while you can still access the other storage area for drinks.
The box is very sturdy and robust. It feels like it will be durable over the long term. The handle is also strong and well designed and has a handy way of folding so that you can keep open the lid without using your hands.
It is fairly heavy to carry but I have preferred to keep the coolbox in my van and load it directly from shopping bags. I have also taken to keeping the ice packing the home freezer so when I need it, it’s ready to go.
The sockets and switches are neatly placed beneath a cover to the back of the coolbox.
I have tried the coolbox while plugged into a home socket and also the cigarette lighter in the van and both work equally well to keep the box of products cool. In fact, the items felt cold to touch.
The socket wire for the van is long enough to feed through from the back of the vehicle over the front seats to the socket.
There are couple of dislikes though. The coolbox makes a quite a loud whirring noise when it’s is being powered and this made it tricky to sleep through at night. In the end I turned it off for most of the night.This meant that the box did lose a bit of coolness but not too much because I kept the lids shut.
I also found it a bit tricky to slot the ice pack into the centre divider. For some reason the ice pack has sloped sides rather than running parallel and this, for some reason, makes it difficult to slot in. However, this might simply be my stupidity!
All in all, the Outwell ECOCool box is a brilliant solution for keeping food cool while on a campervan trip. It costs around £100, which seems like a fair price for a well-made and designed product. There is a cheaper 24l version.
The coolboxes would be most useful for campervan trips, glamping and picnics.