The esky is as Australian as a pair of thongs, so what has US company Otterbox got that we don’t? Bears, and it seems that the need to keep the destructive foragers out has led to a super-tough range of eskys. Fear not – there’s more to their coolers than strength; the new-to-Australia range has some clever features, as well as reliable fundamentals for keeping your food and fluids cool for longer.
We had a Venture 45 along for the ride from Coral Coast to Karijini, for use as our snacks and water holder. The 45 stands for its capacity in quarts, which translates to about 42 litres.
The first thing you will notice about the look of the Venture 45 is the moulded handles. They make carrying the esky easy and work as tie down points (without restricting your ability to open the lid). The skin is polypropylene and two-part polyurethane insulation internally makes for a comparatively lightweight esky given its volume, tipping the scales at a shave under 12kg.
Capacity-wise it will take a slab of your favourite tinnies and a couple of 5kg bags of ice with ease, which we found stayed icy-fresh for about a week in our hot conditions. I'm sure you could get more, but then you wouldn't be enjoying it!
SEAL OF APPROVAL
Over my years, I’ve encountered all manner of esky, from the useless, hollow-bodied $25 Big-W special, right through to rotary moulded polyethylene and hand laid fibreglass extravaganza.
Throughout that time, I have learnt to appreciate two key attributes: sealing and latching.
A good seal can be the difference between a few days and over a week of chilled product. Typically seals use either a rubber foam strip or a silicone tube to compress between the lid and the opening.
Otterbox use the more hardwearing and easier-to-keep-clean silicone tube option and have it cleverly inset into a mould in the lid. It seals very well to the top of the esky, with a quick leak test proving it works.
The latches are also silicone, so they will not rust like metal springs and are less likely to lose their shape like rubber. They are also nicely inset and feature a hole for adding an optional lock. Speaking of options...
A pet peeve for me is soggy fruit and veggies. Some esky makers use vertical dividers which will ultimately still allow moisture through. The clever among us put our perishables in sealed bags or containers, but sometimes the shapes are not compatible, so Otterbox designed a simple drop-in tray to work with the 45 and other sized coolers.
Being factored into the design from the get-go means it sits neatly in a lip at the top of the opening, which stops it from falling. Also available is a handy cutting board which doubles as a divider when slotted into moulded groves in the sides.
We were also treated to a steel bottle opener which clipped onto the outside, as well as a drinks table which was handy but took up a lot of space when not being used.
I rate the look and robust body of the Venture 45 highly. With its protruding handles, it is not as space efficient as some competitors, but the handles do double-down as tie down points. The price of $499.99 will raise a few eyebrows, but not for heavy-users who will be attracted to the easy-keep silicon seal and robust latches.
Adding on accessories will balloon the total cost, but I highly recommend the dry storage tray and cutting board. Plus, your mates will love the steel bottle opener, even if it is a bit finicky to use. The Otterbox Venture 45 is a top-level esky, the kind you buy once and keep for a long, long time.