Esky 135 Cooler and cold box review
Editor: Cory McLaughlin
Just the Facts:
Outdoorsmen, meet your new best friend – the Esky® Series 135 Quart Cooler. Catch-free latches, integrated hinges with stainless steel pins, and a slot to slip in a pad lock secure your items in a tough-as-nails outer shell. Fill it up with everything from drinks to game, and you’ll see that this cooler works as hard as you do. Thick insulation and a tight-fitting lid gasket retain ice for up to 10 days, which is days longer than a regular cooler. Tie down points allow you to secure the cooler while leaving the lid free to open and close. The antimicrobial lid and liner resist odor, mold, mildew and fungus on the product, making it easy to clean between uses. This is a tough, American-made cooler made to excel in the wild – just like its owner.
10-day ice retention and room for supplies to last a week or more or for storing large game
Tough, scratch-resistant exoskeleton with non-skid feet
Durable, large-knuckle integrated hinges with stainless steel pins
Catch-free, rubber latches are recessed to help stay securely fastened
Antimicrobial liner and cutting board resist odor, mold, mildew and fungus on the product
Dual drains for easy draining from a standard hose or fast 2-in. gate mouth
Air flow barrier with gasket seal, cork fit lid and liner ridge for extended ice retention
2.5-in. lid and floor insulation and 2-in. sidewall insulation
Lock slot and tie down points keep your cooler secure
Integrated cutting board, fish ruler and dry storage basket
Rope handles with durable soft-touch grips
Dry ice compatible
External dimensions: 36.5 x 24.2 x 22 in.
Internal dimensions: 25.8 x 15.2 x 15.7 in.
Weight: 50 lbs.
6-year limited warranty
Made in the USA
The greatest thing a cooler can do is keep things cold. That is its job by definition. The problem that we as outdoorsman have long faced is that the coolers rarely do their job long enough to keep us in the field for the duration of our hunts. So, this means trips to town for ice. Town is where we left and not the place we want to return to.
The Esky 135 is absolutely massive! This cooler can hold your whole camps food and then some. This bad boy is big enough to fit just about anything that you could ever need to bring into the woods or on the boat. If you are looking for the one cooler to rule them all then you need not look any farther.
When I first received the ESKY cooler I was blown away at how big it was. Sure, I knew that it was 135 quarts and I had seen the pictures online but it was still a shock when it hit my doorstep. I took the box off and was instantly impressed.
I noticed that this cooler is very well made but it is not a roto-molded cooler. This sets it apart from the likes of Yeti and many others. Though it is not roto-molded it appears to be very well made with material that will hold up to the rigors of the sportsman life.
The lid on this cooler is a beast and it comes with some cool features. The first thing I noticed was the retention strap to keep the lid from over extending the hinges. This is a great idea as the weight of this would certainly test the strength of any hinge design. This feature is nice but also has the potential for being an area of concern in the event that it was to be over stressed and strip out the screw that hold the retention cord. Also visible is the rubber sealing gasket that helps keep the cold in.
Another great feature of this lid is the integrated cutting board. This is a very cool addition that is also extremely useful. The only negative I have to say about it is that the retention brackets are loose and do not hold the cutting board very well while opening the cooler lid. This area could use some improvement. As you can see below a piece of tape was used to keep the board in place.
The drain on this cooler is a two part system with a smaller hose compatible drain or from the large cap style main drain. The drain does a great job of getting nearly all the water out. This picture from the ESKY website best shows how the drain system can be used.
I really like the included dry goods basket as this allows for storage of items that need to be cold but not wet. Here it is in use during testing.
The handles on this cooler are about as good as you could ask for and very similar to those of most high end coolers. The only down side that I can see is that they are attached by a small bracket that could potentially break under certain circumstances. As a whole the cooler looked to be well made and the fact that it was a “Made in USA” product really put it a step up in my opinion.
Luckily after my initial inspection I had a great reason to put this thing to immediate use as a good family friend was getting married and they were in need of a cooler. The Esky 135 answered the call and was used as an ice tote for the reception. Below you can see the cooler positioned next to the bar as this was the main receptacle for the ice used in the mixed drinks.
After using this great cooler for the wedding I was struggling a bit to find a reason to get it out into the wilds. I knew that I would be using it for elk camp but I wanted to get it out before then. I was able to get out for some fishing and though we did not take the cooler onto the boat it was a great cold box back at the marina to hold ice for the fish we unfortunately did not catch (not ESKY’s fault).
The next big test would be my annual Elk Camp. I had the job of bringing up the cooler filled with extra ice to replenish the other coolers which have far less effective ice retention. Fortunately, the Esky 135 can hold some serious ice! I filled it up with 12 bags (4 Block- 8 Crushed) and just a few food items before hauling it to camp.
Unfortunately our elk camp was cut short by lack of game and weather issues. I was pretty bummed but this gave me a great opportunity. I had a cooler full of ice so I used this as my ice retention test as it was both practical and realistic. What I was not prepared for was how well the cooler would do. The Esky 135 was filled with ice on September 29th and held ice in solid form until October 22nd. Yes, that is 23 days of ice retention.
Here is a picture from day 23!
What I can say is that the Esky 135 far exceeded the advertised 10 day ice retention. Now, I know this was not done in the heat of summer but it makes the test no less useful. We had temperatures hovering consistently around the 70-80 degree mark for many of the testing days. What this test shows us is that this cooler is going to be an asset in the field no matter what time of year you use it. I would like to see the warranty be a little better for the price of the cooler but 6 years is a long time and better than most brands. If you are in the market for an absolutely huge American Made Cooler you should not overlook the ESKY 135.
What can be don’t better?
While I really did like the cooler there are certainly some things that I would like to change. I would love to see the cutting board brackets redesigned to better hold the board in place. I would also like to see the handle design be a little sturdier. The ice retention of this cooler was fantastic and overall it was a great cooler. For the price point of $579 I think that a few more tweaks should be made and Coleman/ESKY will be on to something very amazing. This products is most definitely worth a look.
I give this product 4.38 stars as there are a few little things I would like to see changed for the price.