Reviewed by Kathryn Harrison
My family and I love camping, we try to get away in our tent a couple of times over the summer, having wonderful family time in the great outdoors. We camp without electric hook up, which is great for us as we like to use our trips as an opportunity to switch off from electronic devices but does cause an issue when it comes to keeping food cold. Earlier this year we bought a very large, heavy duty cool box which is brilliant however if we’re going away for a shorter trip such as a weekend it’s just not practical. It’s too big, takes up a lot of space in the car and is heavy, we need something more suitable for short trips. In the past we have tried cool bags but found they just don’t perform so when we were given the opportunity to try out the Quechua Fresh Compact Camping/Walking Ice Box from Decathlon I was initially dubious.
The Quechua Ice Box is a self-inflating cool bag, when it arrived it was folded very small and packaged with a cardboard sleeve. The instructions on the packaging are extremely minimal, there are just pictures giving direction on how to inflate the bag and no further information about the product at all. A quick look on the Decathlon provided much more information so worth looking at if you buy this item in store.
It was very easy to inflate the bag, you just open the two valves, leave it to self-inflate for around 5 minutes before adding a few breaths into the valves to finish inflating completely before closing the valves. It was impressive to see how the bag went from a small folded package to a large spacious bag. The inner capacity is 36 litres, so lots of space inside for all your food and drinks.
The Quechua Ice Box claims it can keep things cold without any ice packs for up to 11 hours, this seemed rather optimistic to me, but we decided to give it a go taking a picnic on a day out. We packed the bag full of drinks, sandwiches and salad before heading out to a local park. The bag is quite light meaning I was able to carry the picnic easily using the padded shoulder strap, obviously it gets heavier depending on what’s inside. After 4 hours we sat down to eat and all our food was as cool and fresh as when we first put it in. A further 3 hours later when we got home the remaining water in the bag was still quite cool.
The next test would be a short camping trip, for this trip we added ice blocks as we knew we would need to keep things cool for longer than 11 hours. Inside the bag there are net pockets in which you can put ice blocks leaving lots of space for food. We put a couple of 2 litre bottles of water in the bag, thanks to the height of the bag and the very handy elastic straps along the side of the bag we were able to store these bottles upright. We also popped in some milk, meat for a BBQ and some sandwich meats. The 36 litre capacity meant there was enough room to store everything for our family of four. We kept the bag in a shaded spot within the tent and opened it as little as possible. This was only an overnight camping trip so we emptied the bag around 36 hours after we packed it, everything left inside was still cold! I was really surprised and have full confidence that had we stayed the full weekend the bag would have still performed just as well. For longer trips you could extend the cooling time by adding fresh ice blocks.
Despite my initial reservations I am extremely impressed with this cool bag, it has lots of useful storage solutions and is very versatile. It is light enough to use, without ice blocks, for a day out. Large enough to use with ice blocks for a weekend camping trip and if you rotate ice blocks you would easily be able to keep things cool for a longer camping trip. For us this will now be our go to cool bag for days out or weekend camping, when we go for longer camping trips it will complement our heavy-duty cool box perfectly as somewhere to store drinks. A brilliant, versatile piece of equipment for all campers or families wanting to keep food cool on a day out and great value for money.
For more information or to buy visit www.decathlon.co.uk.