Field Tested: Esky 55 Cooler

Australians have long assimilated the name Esky with ice chests and for good reason. For more than half a century Esky has made some of the finest coolers available, a legacy which has now  been brought to the United States through another famous name––Coleman. Having purchased Esky in 2009, the Coleman company, quite familiar with coolers themselves, have positioned the Esky brand as their premium cooler line.




Like many top tier coolers, the Esky series is constructed with a blow molded shell and filled with high-density foam for maximum ice retention. And although a cooler’s best attribute is its simplicity, an Esky is all the same feature rich and thoughtfully designed. The 2-inch thick walls are paired to a 2.5-inch thick base and 2.5-inch thick lid. That lid is joined to the body of the cooler with an integrated hinge held in place with an oversized stainless steel pin. The rubberized latches are recessed into the body and lid as to not snag or catch on anything in transit, and being rubber, are virtually impervious to failure.




Integrated into the lid is a high-density cutting board with a defined handle for secure grip, and rubberized feet to ensure it stays in place when doing the delicate work of cutting. Rubber feet beneath the cooler keep it from sliding around and rope handles facilitate a confident carry, even in uneven terrain. The thick rubber seal around the perimeter of the lid seals in the cold air as well as any melted ice water that may want to escape.



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Adding to the list of features is a basket to keep items out of the ice below and a two-stage drain which can accommodate a garden hose for easy draining without having to remove the cooler from within the tight confines of a truck. The larger aperture of the 2-stage drain can have the cooler drained in a matter of seconds. The outer shell material is UV resistant and the inner liner is made of an anti-microbial plastic to assuage the threat of odors. It’s a well designed cooler with attributes that directly benefit the overland traveler.


MSRP: $340




So the question remains––how does it perform?


During the warmer days of this spring, I found the Esky 55 had no problems retaining ice for seven to nine days in temperatures just shy of 80ºF. Coleman claims the cooler can retain ice for six days in summertime temperatures, a claim I think is probably spot on. For my two tests, I filled the cooler with 24 cans of beer and 15 pounds of ice. After removing a couple beers each day (okay, perhaps three) in temperatures in the mid-70s, the remaining beers and water were quite cold even at day eleven.


Naturally, once filled with beer and ice, the 55 quart Esky is as heavy as a baby rhino, so it’s not going anywhere on its own. I had to fully drain the cooler to budge it, which is a consideration for the overland traveler.



  • The latches and hinge are easy to operate and appear to be extremely durable.
  • The rounded shape helps the cooler fit in tight spaces.
  • The rubber feet keep the cooler from sliding around.
  • The cutting board is not just an added gimmick, but a very nice feature made to endure many uses.
  • Made in the USA


  • It is a hulking box of a cooler. Once fitted within most SUVs, the lid can only be partially opened.
  • Did I mention it was big?






Christophe Noel is a journalist from Prescott, Arizona. Born into a family of backcountry enthusiasts, Christophe grew up backpacking the mountains and deserts of the American West. An avid cyclist and bikepacker, he also has a passion for motorcycles, travel, food and overlanding.