While not a standout in any specific category, the combination of reasonable insulation, decent portability, and a number of organizing compartments makes the eBags Crew Cooler II a pretty great choice for an everyday lunchbox. If you're looking for something relatively inexpensive that can keep a bunch of beverages cold we would recommend the Homitt 30 Can, or, if you need to carry them a long way, the Ice Mule Pro. However, if you're looking for a simple lunch companion, the eBags Crew Cooler II has you covered.
eBags Crew Cooler II Review
Cons: Not as insulative or durable as other models
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Our Analysis and Test Results
As the eBags Crew Cooler II is designed more for an everyday lunch scenario than long-term insulation performance, it suffered a bit in our overall scoring. In the sections below we review how the Crew performed in each of the tests that make up our overall scores.
The Crew Cooler was one of the poorer performers in our insulation test. It had only five ounces of its original seven pound bag of ice left after 48 hours. The only model that fared worse was the much cheaper Coleman 16-Can. However, we don't see this as too big of a knock against the Crew Cooler. It is meant to be a lunch bag and not a long-term beverage cooler. Unless you plan to leave your lunch bag in direct sunlight all day, it has plenty of insulation to keep your sandwich and bag of carrots cool from morning til lunch hour.
Ease of Use
Though it earned a respectable mid-range score in our ease of use testing, the Crew II found itself at the bottom of the pack for ease of use amongst all the coolers we tested. This was almost solely because of the Crew's liner. Most of the other coolers we tested are meant to be loaded up with ice and cans, so their liners are designed to be waterproof. This also makes them mostly impervious to stains and easy to clean. The Crew's liner is a bit more porous and more susceptible to stains getting into its fibers. eBags countered this problem by making the liner removable, and thus easy to scrub clean, but it is the only liner in our testing lineup likely to need this treatment. However, if you tend to keep your lunch neat, this won't be a problem.
Apart from the liner, the Crew is perfectly designed as a lunch bag. It has plenty of separate compartments for utensils and food items that don't need to be cold. The handle is comfortable to carry, and it even has a strap for balancing the cooler on top of wheeled luggage if you want to carry your cooler on to your next flight.
The Crew was one of the lowest scoring models in our durability testing. Generally, it's well built; we didn't find any manufacturing flaws and found few online user reviews that complained of durability issues. It is plenty tough enough for its intended use of carrying lunch to and from the office. However, it just can't match the durability of the other models we tested, most of which are meant for more rough-and-tumble use in the great outdoors.
Here again, the Crew was an average scorer, though you'll have no trouble toting it from the car to the workplace. However, its shoulder strap lacks any padding, so carrying it for longer periods of time can be a bit uncomfortable if it is fully loaded, but you probably won't be carrying your lunch box long distances on a normal day.
The Crew II makes a pretty nice little lunch box for a reasonable price. It has all the organizational powers to keep your lunch tidy on the way to work and is nice and easy to use. It might not be the best choice if you're leaving said lunch in a hot truck all morning, but if it's sitting under your desk in a cubicle, you'll be pleased with this relatively inexpensive little cooler from eBags.
At a list price of about $40, the Crew II is a bit pricey for a lunch bag, but thoughtful design touches and their added convenience make this a good value if you're packing a lunch to the office every day.
The eBags Crew Cooler II can't match most of the other coolers we tested regarding insulation performance and ruggedness, but it shines in its own niche as an everyday lunch bag.
— Max Mutter and Steven Tata