Living in an advanced world such as this one means we’re prone to taking some of the things we have at our disposal for granted. Take the cooler as an example – the staple of equipment for the Aussies who love to throw backyardBBQs as much as take to the road and explore more of what camping has to offer. Easily portable and reliable as it is, it wasn’t always that people had it easy when it came to safely and securely storing food and drinks before taking them from point A to point B.
A Cooler Timeline
For years, the barrel served as a container for preservation, and it wasn’t until the 1800s that it got a somewhat more modernised design that would be the precursor of the portable cooler of today. Thomas Moore was behind what was called the Ice Box or Refrigeratory, lined with rabbit fur. In 1884, the Sydney-based “Eskimo Ice Box” appeared, the creation of Francis Malley.
More than a century later, with the invention of Styrofoam by Ray Otis McIntire, storage insulation got an upgrade. The brand Igloo got into the game in 1947 with the steel buckets for water, to provide field workers with fresh and cool hydration.
But, it wasn’t until 1953 that the coolers got close to what we know of them, with Richard C. Laramy patenting a heavy-duty metal “Portable Ice Chest and the Like”. An outdoor recreation company called Coleman added their twist to it by switching the metal for plastic thus creating the cooler that famous companies like Coca-Cola would later use as promotion material.
Fast forward to today, we have many brands even in Australia, offering a great deal in terms of quality blue cooler bags and hard coolers that have everything you’d want in terms of size, capacity, durability and portability. Two names that stand out are Techni Ice and Esky, amazing with both their soft and hard cooler designs in terms of looks, features, characteristics, and prices.
Which Is Better Soft Cooler or Hard Cooler?
To be fair, they both come with their advantages, and the choice boils down to what you plan to use this equipment for, specifically what the setting is, the duration of the use, and the conditions you’d put it through. If we had to consider each separately, then it would look something like this:
As the name implies, this is a type of cooler that’s more like a bag due to its soft design. Unlike the hard counterpart, which is rotomolded, this one is very lightweight as it’s mainly made from fabric (usually polyester) plus plastic (usually vinyl). As such, a blue cool bag can easily be carried with the handle and shoulder strap, and conveniently packed and stored when not in use.
The highly insulated cooler bags are perfect for day-to-day use as well as short trips to spots that aren’t too far from home. The yard, gym, office, park, and the nearest campsite are some examples. The pluses I just mentioned with the construction, however, are also usually the first things people mention among the cons of these coolers, as the walls and lids tend to be much thinner than the hard coolers.
But, with a trustworthy brand like Techni Ice and their blue cooler bags, you get an outstanding thick wall and lid design (twice as thick as the regular options, to give you an idea!) which makes for both a solid design that can go through the pressure and very high-density insulation. They also have inside pockets in the right size for the brand’s ice packs. Although they come at a somewhat higher price, they do outmatch the practical and versatile Esky Beach and pool bag.
Known as the rotomolded option, this type of cooler looks more like a box due to the hard design. Unlike the soft counterpart, it’s robust, and somewhat heavier due to the heavy-duty casing, but it’s also more durable and can withstand the pressure, wear, and tear you put it through. As such, it’s fit for those longer trips where convenience is of utmost importance, much like reliability.
Fishermen, campers, 4×4 enthusiasts, and adventurers of all sorts can all make the most of these coolers, counting especially on the excellent ice retention. Techni Ice is notable for this, with at least ten days of ice retention even in the summer heat. This wouldn’t have been possible, of course, without the solid and impenetrable frame combined with the ingenious foam added between the walls to create a containment zone that gets rid of heat before it gets to what you store inside.
Then again, there are also the two-freezer grade gaskets added for a boost in insulation. Add to this the pretty thick walls and lid, and you get a design that delivers on what it promises throughout your trip outdoors. With Esky, you have the Esky Chilla (with and without wheels) fit for day trips, the retro yellow cooler, and the heavy-duty HDPE Arctic Pro rugged chest that holds up to seven days in terms of ice retention.