How to pack an esky...
This page is under construction...
I always intended that this should be a pictorial exercise but as I am currently
on a dry Aboriginal Community in East Arnhem Land its a bit difficult to get
hold of beer and ice let alone an esky that still has a lid.... I will add the
My mate Paul Mac was going to offer advice along these lines on his
website as we have discussed
the why's and where fore's at great length. We both agreed that people need
education on this important subject lest they subject themselves to the horror
of a beer at less than optimal temperature. Alas Paul, who was "waiting for
the wet season to start" so that he could spend a rainy day inside making a
really good job of it...is still waiting 2 years on...(we're having a draught...(oops)...
drought at the moment..)
Coming feature: Taking your esky off road. Important
considerations courtesy of Ev Tandy, Senior Tour Guide and Operations Manager
for Wilderness Challenge
This page has been written on the assumption that the
reader has absolutely no knowledge of the intricacies involved in the proper and
safe use of an esky. While every care has been taken to ensure that the
procedures outlined are safe and proven no responsibility will be taken for any
injury or liver damage incurred a result of following this guide.
Principles and background
Once you have a basic understanding of the principles behind the behaviour of
cold air you will be able to enjoy a future free of the disagreeable experience
of a tepid beer. Now it is scientific fact that hot air rises, we all know that,
and the converse is true, that cooler air drops. An easy practical experiment
will demonstrate this adequately:
Take your thongs off (no, I'm not talking about skimpy underwear, and although
you may remove your underwear as well if you wish, it will have no bearing on
the results of the experiment... I'm talking footwear here, otherwise known as
"jandals or flip flops" depending on what country you're in) and put
on a pair of shorts. Now, stand in front of the refrigerator (an upright freezer
is even better for our purpose), open the door, and very quickly stand in the
middle of the open door with your toes 4-6 inches from the bumper plate under
the door opening. You will notice a steady stream of cold air flowing over your
feet. This is the cold air that has been trapped in the fridge flowing
downwards. Perform this experiment as many times as is required to satisfy
yourself that the statement "cool air drops" is true and thus proven.
(best to let the fridge recover for a few minutes between each opening as
explained in the next sentence).
Once the door is closed again the cold air quickly builds up once more, aided by
the arcane technology of the workings of the fridge (often accompanied by a
humming or whirring or clanking sound from the bowels of the fridge and rarely
in the case of older machines it may actually start moving around the kitchen
floor in a random but vaguely threatening, alarming manner). You may have
noticed that most fridges have a plate located near the top of the inside of the
fridge which often ices up, capturing and adhering to any item that is placed
too close (usually lettuce and plastic wrap). The reason it is in the top of the
space is so that air around it is cooled quickly and drops to the bottom of the
fridge to keep you're vegies and salad stuff cold. The cold air builds up until
it reaches this plate and eventually the whirring sound stops, indicating it has
reached an optimum temperature. If we ponder these facts further it is logical
to assume that items at a lower level in the fridge will be less prone to
temperature fluctuations (caused by the constant door opening in the experiment
above) as the cold air is replenished in the lower levels sooner than the top.
So it is also logical to assume that when storing beer in the fridge they should
be placed as low in the fridge as possible such as seen here:
(click to enlarge)... Note Ev's happy smile after the experimental first sip...
"Esky" is actually a brand name of the original ice
box/cooler (fridge) manufactured by Malley in 1884. The first "Esky"
portable cooler was launched in time for the summer of 1952 and was dubbed the
'Esky Auto Ice Box' and was widely promoted to car owners in motoring journals
claiming that the product was: "Just as essential in the boot as the jack !
Gaining wide popularity, these items earned a place close to the heart of most
Australians. Eight years later in 1960 more than 500,000 units had been sold and
began to feature innovations such as carrying handles, hinged lids, built in
bottle openers and a drain plug to drain the water from ice melted. Click
here to read the full history. Also known as coolers, ice chests and, as in
the case of New Zealand, "Chilly Bin" ('pronounced chooly bun'). In
Australia you simply cannot go wrong if you refer to every form of these
items as an esky. They come in different shapes and sizes and an example of this
is the "Tartan cooler" (circa 1950's), a heavy cylindrical unit with
varied Tartan colours and patterns. It had very thick walls probably using cork
as insulation (standard at the time) and came with a handy little tray which
fitted inside the top, presumably to put the ice in.
the 50+ year period since 1952, well over five million Esky coolers have
been sold in Australia.
personal flotation device is one of the more unusual uses for an Esky
cooler. There have been a number of cases where an Esky cooler has saved
the life of anglers, the most recent being in Western Australia. A man was
fishing from a small boat when a wave caused the boat to capsize. The man
grabbed his Esky cooler, which he had been using to keep his bait cool,
and floated to shore. Thanks to his Esky cooler, he lived to fish another
The Hovey family from Horsham in Victoria boasts three generations of
loyal Esky cooler users.
Editors note: I recommend never ever setting off
in a dinghy or indeed a boat of any kind without the safety back up of a large
These days esky's are a far cry from the heavy earlier models and use more
efficient insulation which is far lighter. Metal materials are a thing of the
past, unlike my trusty "steel belted" number.
Pack the esky...
For this exercise you will need:
1 x esky. I recommend a capacity of at least 30
litres. It should be a designated beer esky. Have a separate esky for food
and kiddies drinks as you know they'll be at it all the time opening it and
never closing it properly. Remember what happened to the fridge? It had to
work harder to keep things cold.
1 x 5 litre (standard) bag of crushed ice.
1 x cold carton of your favourite brew. For
portability, weight, space and safety considerations I personally recommend
and prefer cans, a 30 pack or "block" is ideal. You can fit more,
carry more, drink more and if you drop one it wont break (hopefully)..
There are a few variables to think about such as how long you
would want your beverages to stay cold. In the example we are going to be using
it is reasonable to assume that with care and under the right conditions you
would still be able to extract an icy beer after 24-36 hours (presuming you last
that long...). A general rule of thumb would be that the more ice = longer
desired cold temperature. Other factors to be taken into consideration
Will the esky be parked in the shade or in the open?
Near a heat source such as a BBQ or away?
Will there be ice pilferers? Usually women dinking spirits
with mixers who have a sixth sense about which esky has the most ice, yours,
but not for long unless you put a stop to it in a decisive manner.
Is there a risk of someone turning up with a six pack of hot
beers that have been rolling around the back of the utility for a few days
(that are better off being kept in the background in case someone needs a
fire extinguisher) and trying to disturb your careful preparations by
rummaging around and inserting them haphazardly into your esky without
care or consideration of the ramifications for the esky's eco-system.
The ambient temperature. Especially important in the
If in doubt factor in more ice but in our example a 50/50 ratio
is ideal providing the esky is:
A dedicated beverage esky.
Parked away from the sun and other heat sources
guarded against spirit drinkers (who never bring their own
ice) and small children (who just want to muck around with the ice as they don't
understand the seriousness of it all, AT ALL!).
Packed with cold beverages at the very start. (You can pack
your esky with warm beer if you have no other choice but doing so will halve
the optimum temperature expectancy and requires an unacceptably long waiting
period before reaching optimum temperature).
Obtain you're supplies from the local vendor, take your esky
with you as there is danger of a precipitous drop in temperature when your block
sits in the boot and precious ice will be melting. The publican will understand
the need to perform the following task IMMEDIATELY upon purchase as his/her livelihood
depends on the sale of COLD BEER.
Carefully loosen the flaps on one side of the carton so they
freely open but DO NOT remove any cans yet.
Open the lid of the esky and taking great care, hold the
flaps previously loosened closed while turning the block onto its side so
that it is between your forearms with your fingers splayed around the flaps
preventing the beers falling out of what is now the bottom.
Approach the esky directly from the front and lower the box
carefully down into the esky, box and all. Note that your hands enter the
esky adjacent to the narrow ends of the esky.
Grasp the box firmly and pull it directly upwards. The
weight of the cans will cause them to stay pretty much where they are while
the flaps you loosened previously open and allow the box to be removed
easily. You will note that all the cans are fairly neatly lined up and will
naturally roll to either side to fill the empty spaces. Do
not expect to get this exactly right first time, it takes practice.
If your esky is not wide enough to accommodate a block a standard 24 can
carton can be used in the same manner. But if you already have the block and
the esky size is less (didn't I tell you to use at least a 30 litre?) you'll
just have to do it manually, but quickly now as the publican is probably
getting upset that your leaving the beer out in the warm air for so long.
Level off the last of the recalcitrant cans noting that
placement of the cans is with the tops and bottoms against the front and
back of the esky respectively. (The interior of the esky is not cold yet so
you do not want to place the entire length of cans along the warm walls of
an empty esky unless you have pre-chilled your cooler). In the case of an
esky which is too narrow to accommodate two rows of cans you will need to
place them sideways, and though this is not ideal, sometimes it cant be
helped. Just be sure to level all cans off as best as possible as we know
that they must be as close to the bottom as possible in order to remain cold
for the longest possible time.
Finish off by emptying all the crushed ice onto the top of
the cans. (If the ice has locked together in the bag due to poor storage, or
because of you spending so long on the first few steps, it can be loosened
by dropping the closed bag onto a hard flat surface several times. Do not
drop it on a hard jagged surface as you may rip the bag and end up
with pile of ice on the ground.
There, not so hard was
Now that you have a well packed esky you are ready to go. Don't forget to use an
appropriate device to protect your hands from the extreme cold and maintain the
temperature of opened cans. The ideal is a device known as a "stubby
holder". Usually made of neoprene rubber or diving suit material they have
reasonable insulating properties and will fit both cans and stubbies and so are
Any input or suggestions in the way of advice, photos,
additions or corrections welcome.
please email: ...........Well I'm sorry that I had to remove this email address
as I was getting WAY too many spam emails and I have blocked the address. Maybe
you'll just have to look me up in the phone book.