Caravan holidays are all about getting out there and seeing the world, whether you’re somewhere a few hours or a few hundred miles from home. You’re going to need to consider how you’re going to keep food and drink chilled when out and about, so Practical Caravan has tested a range of passive coolboxes to help you decide which product is best for you.

It might seem strange that with powered coolboxes now being more widely available and more affordable than ever before that passive coolers are proving popular. But powered coolboxes don’t always deliver on their promises, especially in warmer climates (for example, if you’re touring Europe), and when power is removed, these coolboxes tend to warm up quite quickly, not ideal when you’re enjoying a picnic away from a hook-up.

Thankfully, the inexorable march of technology has come to the aid of caravanners. Plastic moulding, insulation and ice pack technology are all advancing, especially Down Under and in the US of A, leading to the development of so-called super-coolboxes, which will keep items chilled not just for mere days but for weeks without more ice packs needing to be added. Alright, they’re not cheap, but they are very capable. And while they weren’t designed for caravanning, they could be ideal for keeping your essentials cool on tour. Also, as there are no ventilation grilles, a passive coolbox can be kept anywhere, other than in direct sunlight.

Every item in the Practical Caravan passive coolbox group test was put through the same rigorous workout to see how it performed. We opened them so they hit an ambient temperature of 25˚C, before filling them with -12˚C ice (totalling 5% of its capacity), shutting them and leaving them for eight hours in a room at 27˚C, checking the temperature inside the coolboxes at regular intervals across this eight-hour test.

Many other factors were considered. We also looked at how well built the product was, how secure the seals were on the boxes and if there’s a padlock so alcoholic beverages can be kept away from children. How much the coolbox costs, ease of carrying, if tall bottles can be stored upright (to prevent spilling), if there are drainage bungs, how it functions as a seat and if the coolbox has good feet (which raise the box from the ground so it isn’t in contact with, for example, hot sand), were all also taken into consideration.

This 25-litre Icey-Tek Cube Box is Australian made and designed, and thanks to the sterling work of the UK importers, they have become one of the favourite high-performance coolbox brands in the UK. But success, ultimately, has been down to outstanding performance rather than slick marketing. With a minimum temperature of 11˚C and an average of 12.5˚C during our test, this edged ahead of our group test winner, the 42-litre Waeco Cool-Ice, albeit slightly. 

The result does highlight a problem for the brand: at £100 for 25 litres, as opposed to Waeco’s £115 for 42 litres, performance needs to be more significantly ahead to justify the premium pricing. Having said that, Icey-Teks have a charm of their own. They’re tough, they’re lockable, they look seriously funky and they come in numerous bright colours, including yellow, red, purple, pink, blue and green. What’s more, the manufacturer even produces white cushions to make them more comfortable to sit on! 

In fact, the makers of the Icey-Tek Cube Box are so confident in their product that it is sold with a 12-month warranty – and in the Practical Caravan review it received a strong four-star rating. 

And there’s more – want to supercharge your coolbox? Icey-Tek’s high-performance Aussie Gel Ice Packs are wide and flat (30cm x 23cm x 3cm), which makes them excellent for distributing chilling around the coolbox. They’re £12.50 each and you should use one for every 20 litres of capacity.

We also tested the very affordable Igloo Sportsman which scored a more than respectable four-star rating, the Techniice Signature, which also scored four stars, the three-star Igloo Island Breeze rolling cooler and the one-star Argos coolbox.