3 Super Cool Ice Chests

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August 13, 2008

DuraChill, Xtreme and MaxCold ice chests

Mobile phones are now more ubiquitous than wrist watches, we average 118.6 TV channels per household and the computer in your kid’s video game is more powerful than those onboard the space shuttle, so why are you still using that old ice chest that goes through ice faster than a hot knife through butter?  These three ice chests are referred to as “five day” or “six day” models, meaning that they are rated by the manufacturer to maintain ice over that timeframe, and while your results may vary, all three of these coolers are a vast improvement over older designs.

All three of these coolers are available in varying sizes, from the gargantuan MaxCold 120 (38.32” long by 17.75” wide and 17.75” tall) to the 36qt. Coleman Xtreme (26” long by 14.75” wide and 14” tall), all with or without wheels. The popular 70qt. size is a good compromise between size and weight and is still large enough for several blocks of ice, along with most of your food and drinks. These coolers are all quite stout, standing up to years of camping with nothing more than a few scratches and a broken lanyard on the drain plug (why do they bother?). Speaking of drain plugs, the MaxCold is threaded, while the others are not and the Xtreme has a channeled interior floor that allows most of the water to drain without having to tilt the cooler. A nice feature when your cooler is tipping the scales at close to 100 pounds! Other unique features include positive-latches on many of the MaxCold models; I’m sure if my cooler had one of these my kids might actually close the lid, which would cut my ice requirements in half. The DuraChill coolers feature a unique center-split lid design. These are all great coolers and the best part is they’re pretty cheap, too!

Happy camping!

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13 comments

  1. Carol Colbert

    I have the DuraChill and love it. I originally got it for a convention I attended where the guest rooms didn’t have a frig. Loaded that cooler up. When I got back home 6 days later I still had some of the original ice left. And my drives to an from there where 8 hours long through the Mojave desert. It has a permanent home in my toad.

  2. We’re pretty poor, so the purchase of a new ice chest is hard to justify. We covered our old chap-o Rubbermaid ice chest with salvaged bubble-wrap and a space blanket from a thrift store—contact cement and duct tape, yup. Gives us an extra day or two of ice-life. The positive lid lock is a bungee cord, btw.

  3. Carol – I think we would get better results if we could keep the kids out of ours for 5 minutes at a time!

    Pete – that’s not a bad idea, I think I have 3 old coolers in the garage that I could “modify”.

  4. JERRY THORNTON

    I PURCHASED PORTABLE ICE MAKER, MAKES BATCH EVERY 6-8 MIN. AND IT HAS SURVIVED OUR AZ. DESERT HOUSEBOAT AND MEXICO PARTIES AND TAKE IN CAR ON SHORT TRIPS TO BE SURE OF ICE. LAST MONTH AT WEDDING, PUT OUT ENOUGH ICE FOR 2 DAYS PARTYING FOR 8 PEOPLE IN OUR CABIN, ETC………I DO USE DRY ICE FOR 3 DAY TRIP TO MEXICO WHEN WE TAKE OUR STEAKS, ETC TO MEXICO FOR A COUPLE MONTHS VISIT…

  5. pam

    We have had the coleman and the rubbermaid and the ice did not last over a day .I have even used it in the house where it is air conditioned and the ice did not last over 3 days.I have not tried the other one.

  6. Block ice, Pam – use two of those 10lb. bags of block ice and you will get three days out of them.

  7. John Jackman

    I have a mid sized electric cooler that plugs into my dash or accessories plug. This works far better than any of the old ice types. I realize that sometime there is no plug but it does have an a/c adaptor and when that is not available I do use an ice model… I work at a big box store and we sell a type of bubble wrap/foil insulation that can be used to line a cooler that will definitely increase the life of the ice. When I use an ice cooler I try to add any bottles or cans in the early morning after the night air has cooled them down.
    I generally use the ice cooler for drinks only as it will be opened and closed many times….

  8. Chip Martina

    I have the Coleman Ultimate Xtreme (their 6 day model). The regular Xtreme is a 5 day cooler. To get the cooler to perform as advertised you must use block ice, cold food and drinks and a chilled cooler interior. If you put warm or room temp soft drinks in your cooler and use ice that’s barely 32 degrees it will all melt in one day.

    I work for a supermarket chain and have access to commercial freezers which get down to -20 degrees F (your home freezer or commercially available bagged ice will only be frozen to about 20 degrees above zero – a 40 degree difference). I super freeze my ice ahead of time and add it along with pre-chilled drinks to my pre-chilled cooler. Yes, there is ice left after 6 days.

    If you don’t have access to a commercial freezer, try this: Put your pre-chilled drinks in your cooler, surrounded by with a couple opened bags of commercial bagged ice a day before you’re going to leave. The next day, drain out all the water from your melted ice (most of the ice will have melted.) Add one more fresh bag of ice surrounding your drinks with your block ice on top. I use 4-1/2 gallon milk or OJ cartons size ice blocks – use more if your cooler is bigger. Place your food in sealed Tupperware type containers on top of the block ice. From that time on, don’t drain your cold water, as it will help the interior stay cold. The cooler should then work as advertised.

  9. Excellent advice, Chip. In fact, many of your points also apply to RV refrigerators. We monitor the temperature of our regrigerator with a wireless thermometer and we find that when we are in-and-out of it a lot (lunches, or kids getting snacks) the temperature can climb into the high 40’s and even low 50’s. When this happens, I’ll take a block of ice out of the freezer (we take extra ice for the cooler) and put it into the refrigerator until the temperature comes back down to 40 degrees. The ice will cool down the refrigerator pretty quickly, vs. more than an hour without ice (we dry camp, so our refrigerator is alway on gas).

  10. Someone told me they’d picked up an old 2nd hand cooler and used to that to store an extra block or two of ice, along with dry ice. I haven’t tried this. Has anyone?

  11. Bob Vaughn

    I went on line in search of the Rubbermaid 75 qt Durachill 6 day cooler and could find none of the big box stores that sell it…..Where have you found it locally ? I much prefer to inspect things before I buy them….

  12. Scott Christensen

    When I was in my teens, I had a military surplus blood bank cooler that could go for a week and a half with ice. the only problem was that it was big and people looked at us funny with the “Human Blood”. stamped on the side .

  13. I’ve used one of the Coleman Extremes for years and love it. You lose a little capacity with the thicker insulation, but it’s a trade-off I’m willing to take for any trip that’s more than a simple over-nighter. There are also some really great thermoelectric travel coolers now too that work well if you’ve got access to a 12V source. Most of them don’t ever seem to get quite as cold as a traditional ice-cooler, but you don’t have to deal with melted ice & soggy sandwiches.