There's a lot of hungry bellies to feed and thirsts to quench over the course of the eight-day REDARC Camper Trailer of the Year event. With the Gold Coast temperature hovering around 30°C and the humidity around 90 per cent, it wasn’t long before you started to feel parched, or hear that all-too-familiar rumble.
We were glad, then, to have some help from Engel, specialists in cooling technology. In the morning, the sun having risen at 4:45am, or in the evening, as bats circled overhead, there was nothing more refreshing than the cool crunch of an apple, or the icy sip of a beverage — two things which Engel had no trouble supplying.
At the start of the trip, the Camper team distributed Engel Fishing Cooler Bags among all participating camper trailer manufacturers and event staff. These were filled up with breakfast foods on a daily basis: fruit, bread, Norco milk, cereal, yoghurt, jam, margarine, and the like. These bags, with their blue camo styling, were perfect for event purposes, but I can see their usefulness extending to all manner of applications, from fishing, to days at the beach, to picnics.
They come with a big adjustable shoulder strap over the top. There’s also grab handles if you prefer to carry by hand. Down the narrower sides of the rectangular carry bag there’s zippered pockets, with additional storage on the outside of these, such as the flexi-retaining pocket down one side. Along one of the longer sides there’s a sewn-in fabric strap you could tie things to, and a little removable wallet. Below this there's a big compartment that opens outwards with folding flaps down the side so the contents don’t fall out.
The main compartment opens up around the top and inside you have a good sized rectangular prism of undivided space to store your main items. You can stand a beer bottle up just fine, if you’re wondering. The insulation looked the goods and managed to keep things inside cool and in good condition despite the bags, now and then, being left inadvertently in the direct sun. With a pre-frozen ice pack in here you could keep drinks and sangas pleasant all day, no qualms.
Up in the Gold Coast, when the evenings started to wind down, event staff and manufacturers alike would regularly find themselves congregating on the deck of a particular villa, debriefing the day past. In the daytime conditions we were losing a lot of sweat and working up a mean thirst so it was feverish anticipation we’d lift the lid of the Engel Ice Box we also had with us, to fetch ourselves a bottle or can covered in droplets of water.
Our particular model had a 158 litre capacity. When you are catering to the number of people we were, you need something of that size, and it’s great to see Engel’s range reach such rarified heights. You’d do well to find a chest fridge/freezer that big and besides, there’s no need for electricity at all here. What I’m saying is there well and truly is a place for the ice box in this day and age of advanced electronic tech. Particularly for one of this pedigree. Long live the tradition of smashing bags of ice at the service station!
Measuring a whopping 418 (H) x 443 (W) x 827cm (L) on the inside, the ice box is made of food-grade polyethylene which is rotational moulded into shape. The exterior is UV resistant and the lid, sides and bottom offer 50mm of foam insulation. Silicone gaskets do a stellar job of keeping it air-tight inside.
If you use a solid ice block, the unit can retain cool and ice for up to 10 days. We used broken-up bagged ice and had to refill ice once, due to the exceptional heat and the fact that we were opening and closing the lid on a regular basis. Draining water from the inside is easy thanks to the bung plug.
The ice box weighs 19kg empty. Once it’s full, the 158L model inevitably, because of its size, becomes hard to move around, but the convenient grab handles make it as easy as it can be. If you are hosting a smaller crew, there’s plenty of other, smaller sizes available.
Actually experiencing and using Engel’s gear puts the brand front of mind when it comes to keeping your food and drinks cool. Who better to help out in that all-important task in Australian conditions than a brand backed by nearly 60 years of experience?
Engel Ice Box 158L — RRP: $799
Engel Fishing Cooler Bag — RRP: $74.95
More info: www.engelaustralia.com.au