How to Keep Cooler Cold for Camping?

If you want tasty fresh food on a camping trip then you need to keep it cold. It can be frustrating when you pack ice into your cooler, only to find a melted mush after a few hours. So how exactly can you keep your cooler cold during a camping trip? Here we find out.

There are a few tips and tricks to keep everything cold while camping. None of it can be done without a high-quality cooler, so that should be your first step. After that, make sure you pack enough ice, don’t open it too often, and keep it in the shade.

Choose the right cooler

With coolers, you really do get what you pay for. The insulation will play a huge role in keeping the ice inside cold. It’s always better to get a hard-sided model as these will have thick walls of padded insulation that can keep ice solid for days.

Cooler bags are much more compact but simply can’t offer the same level of insulation. They can still be a good option for those who want to day camp. Whichever model you get, the rest of the tips can help in keeping the contents cold.

Look for a high-rated model and one that has a great range of features. This includes a high level of insulation, solid construction, and a solid closure system. A great cooler can make your camping trip a lot easier.

Don’t open it too often

Your cooler is designed to keep the cold air locked inside it. Every time that you open it, that cold air is going to be replaced by warm air. This means that when you close it again, the air inside the cooler is going to be a little warmer than it was before.

This happens every time you open it until the contents become as warm as the air outside. This is why you should only ever go into the cooler when you absolutely have to. If you have drinks, then perhaps bring a couple out at the same time and keep them in the shade.

Cool the cooler

Before you pack your cooler, put a bit of ice in there and leave it closed for a while. This will cool down the air inside. It means you won’t be packing a cooler that is at room temperature. Remove the old ice before you pack and pack it up quickly.

Use two coolers

Two coolers are double the cost and double the space, so this is not going to be an option for everyone. It is though a great idea to separate the food and the drink into different coolers. This will help to preserve your food and keep it fresher for longer.

It isn’t as important for drinks to be cold but they are the reason you go into the cooler most of the time. Having separate coolers means you’ll only be going into your food cooler a few times each day. It also helps to keep the food cooler drier as you’ll have less condensation.

Large pieces of watertight ice

A large block of ice is going to melt a lot slower than a smaller block as it has less surface area. It’s always best to try and keep your ice as thick as you can. The typical bag of ice you get from a store is great for putting in a freezer for drinks but it melts very quickly.

There are plenty of products out there that are great. Rigid icepacks will not only take a long time to melt but they are also watertight so you don’t have to worry about loose water. Try to avoid using small pieces of loose ice.

Pack tight

Warm air is going to be your enemy. One way to reduce the amount of it in your cooler is to pack it tightly and therefore minimize the amount of hot air in there. Any spaces that you have can simply be filled with ice.

Along with packing it tight, you should also back it smartly and with a method. You don’t want to open it up and be rummaging around for 5 minutes. You want that lid open and shut in the shortest possible time. That means knowing where everything is before you even open it.

Freeze food

You should freeze all the food that you can before you head out on the trip. This will keep the overall temperature of the cooler lower and preserve the food inside for longer. The likes of raw meat can be frozen and you can also freeze the likes of bread.

Not all food can be frozen, of course, with dairy being a good example. Many fruit and vegetables will also be ruined if frozen. Simply freeze what you can and let anything you want to use thaw outside of the cooler for an hour or so.

Use frozen water

If you want to take water into your cooler, freeze it beforehand. It will quickly melt whenever you need it so you may as well use it as extra ice for your cooler before you do. It’s worth noting that water expands by 9% when frozen so make sure it’s not full before freezing.

If you have anything canned, then don’t freeze this beforehand due to the expansion. Other drinks can be frozen too such as bottles of coke, as long as you’ve accounted for the expansion. Strong spirits such as vodka, whiskey, and gin don’t freeze until around -17°F so you can stick them in your freezer too.

Keep it shaded

Once you’ve taken your cooler to your campsite, keep it shaded. The hotter the outside of the cooler, the harder the inside has to work to stay cold. It’s a sensible option to always keep it out of direct sunlight.

There are even more ways you can keep it cool, such as wrapping it in a wet towel which will help to keep the outside cool. It can also be an idea to part-bury your cooler so that it’s sitting in the colder ground and the hot air isn’t getting into as much contact with it.