One of the few things we definitely need when we camp out is a form of storage for our food. And in most cases, most of us will do end up using coolers filled with ice to keep the ingredients we will cook on the campsite. Some are already fine when buying the common off-the-shelf coolers since camping here in the Philippines only last a day or two. But, if you are getting serious with camping, there is another type of cooler that you might find interesting.
Rotomolded coolers, for those who are familiar with, are the “can’t live without” coolers. They are thicker and more air tight version of the coolers we often see and use. YETI, an American based company, pioneered the rotomolded coolers. These coolers have thicker walls. This keeps the temperature inside constant, and prevents heat from the outside to penetrate inside more effectively. This type of cooler has been proven by fishers and campers and has been the favorite of many overseas.
Time has given other companies the chance to adopt the technology and start making their own rotomolded coolers and one of them is SubZ. They too focus on making these coolers, and now they have reached Philippine waters for us to also experience and enjoy.
Of course, we jumped into buying a 45L SubZ Cooler, and here’s our in depth review.
We often stay for a minimum of two nights and often times what we bring for food is mostly beef, pork, and seafood. So, we needed a cooler that will keep our frozen food frozen as long as possible. YETI coolers are hard to find locally; they are also quite expensive even for our liking. So we got one from SubZ and put it to the test.
The 45L cooler is 40.7cm long,63cm wide, and 38cm tall. On the inside, it measures at 52.6cm x 30.2cm x 29.2cm. Cooler thickness is around 10 cm and is insulated with polyurethane foam on both the walls and cover. The cover is also lined with a rubber gasket that seals flush on the lip of the cooler. It has a screw on drain plug on the side that also seals flush on the cooler with the use of a rubber gasket. It comes with a metal basket for food or drinks that you want cold but not frozen, and it also comes with a divider that also serves as a chopping board.
Weight comes in at 10.5kgs. Pretty heavy for a cooler, but handling was well thought of. For carrying handles, it has ropes attached on either side, and these ropes have handlebars that are made of plastic. It has rubber locks that keeps the lid air tight. And finally, underneath are rubber feet to keep your cooler from sliding all over the place.
We definitely didn’t handle the cooler with care. We used it as an extra bench for us when we lack/forgot chairs; and we also used it as a stool to stand on when we need things on top of our vehicles. We’ve accidentally dropped it once during cleaning, and we have loaded it at the back of a pickup without securing it. Basically, the plastic that was used for this cooler is of excellent quality. We’ve been using the cooler for several trips now, and it performed the same way when we first bought it.
We’ve used different cooling methods to test out how good the cooling capability is. The results are as follows:
We’ve place a piece of frozen meat inside together with ice (2 bags) as our cooling method.
- 24hrs: A lot of ice present with minimal amount melting. Meat is still frozen
- 48hrs: Noticeable ice melted but still a lot of ice. Meat is still frozen
- 72hrs: Significant amount of ice melted. Estimated half of the ice has turned into water. Meat is soft on the outside but still frozen on the center.
- 96hrs: Very minimal ice left. Meat is cold but no longer frozen.
Ice + Ice Packs:
- 24hrs: A lot of ice present with minimal amount melting (Only a few drops of water present when we opened the drain. Meat is still frozen
- 48hrs: Still minimal amount of ice melted. Ice on top is no longer frosted. Ice packs are still frozen. Meat is still frozen
- 72hrs: Significant amount of ice melted. Ice packs are still frozen. There is a noticeable amount of water. Meat is frozen.
- 96hrs: Almost 75% of the ice has melted. Ice pack is watery but still frozen at the very center. Meat is soft on the outside but frozen at the center.
- 120hrs: Very minimal ice left. Ice pack is watery all through out. Meat is cold but no longer frozen.
Ice Packs + Dry Ice:
We’ve chosen not to use regular ice since it will quickly evaporate the dry ice once it melts.
- 24hrs: Both are frozen (No drops of water when we opened the drain). Meat is still frozen.
- 48hrs: Both are still frozen. Meat is still frozen
- 72hrs: Ice packs that were near the top are starting to get watery. Meat is frozen.
- 96hrs: Significantly smaller dry ice. Ice packs at the top are watery but the ice packs at the bottom are frozen. Meat is still frozen
- 120hrs: Dry ice has fully evaporated. Ice packs are watery. Meat is soft on the outside but solid at the center.
- 148 hours: Ice packs are watery. Meat is cold but no longer frozen.
The 45L cooler is just enough for one person if you’re camping for an extended period of time. It can also accommodate frozen food for 8-10 people for around 3 days. If you’re going to camp out and happen to just stock up one side with food and the other for drinks, we do suggest to cut up a sheet of insulation foam used for house roofs to isolate the food on one side from the air space on the other.
Since leaving any open space inside the cooler promotes melting of ice or ice packs faster, having to insulate all that is need to be frozen would help. Also, frequent opening of the cooler exposes the frozen side to warm air. Thus, having to also cover the top with insulation foam, refrains the rush of warm air to seep into the ice or ice packs.
To me, Ziplock bags are my friend. Transferring your food into ziplocks will help you pack your cooler tightly to accommodate as much food as possible. Not to mention that when ice melts, your food is protected from the water that will slush at the bottom. I did have an instance where I placed a carton box inside the cooler and totally forgot that ice does melt (haha silly me). Well, you guessed it, it had chunks of the carton box floating as I opened the cooler when I arrived home.
Feeling wasteful with Ziplock bags? Try purchasing silicone food bags online. It’s a life saver, I tell you! It’s puncture resistant, freezable, and can be used for as long as you take good care of it!
SubZ coolers in any size are highly recommended for their quality and price. But seeing different brands and seeing their construction of rotomolded coolers are fairly the same, SubZ and any other Rotomolded Coolers are worth the money.
When it comes to durability, I can only speak for the one I have, and SubZ is built well. I cannot say that ice retention will be the same across all, but rotomolded coolers, by design, are intended to hold their internal temperatures as good as possible.
I do have friends who have YETI coolers that they brought home from the United States, and they stand up to the promise they advertise. But to me, having such a high price tag, I would opt for a portable fridge. Yes, there are coolers (similar to the big coolers at our suking tindahans) available that are bigger for that price. However, it is not that compact to bring and space is precious when you are car camping. But that topic aside, and with owning a non-well-known Rotomolded Cooler brand and comparing it to the regular coolers available off the shelf, I can say that it is a bang for your buck.
3 thoughts on “Sub Z Roto Molded Cooler – An in depth review”
How much is it and where did you buy the SubZ?
Hi Rich! I bought it off from an online seller on FB Marketplace. 🙂
Pingback: Camping Essentials in the Philippines - MotoKampo