Packing your coolersPosted on: March 23, 2017
Here is a sneak peek at the inside of our new cookbook; we have plenty of other camping tips and tricks as well as funny stories.
Packing your cooler
Pack your cooler correctly and you will make it last; pack it wrong and you will lose a lot of food and ice. Getting the right cooler will help. We suggest you stick with the thick-sided ones with good thick lids. The body-sized coolers are the best way to go because they hold more ice and product and sometimes you can go an entire weekend with one cooler.
Prep your coolers before each trip in the summer by acclimating them. Put them in your basement or in another cool area for at least forty-eight hours with the lids open before you pack them. If you take the coolers from the warm heated garage during the summer and load them with ice right away it will take at least four bags of ice to cool it off to an optimal temperature.
If you have a big group and lots of different ingredients, separate your coolers according to food groups: beer and drinking ice in one, raw meats in a smaller one, and perishables and produce in another. Keep your produce separated from direct contact with your ice. We put a thick towel between the ice and produce sometimes, which helps keep the ice insulated as well.
Once you are in camp, put your coolers at a slight incline and leave the valves open on the bottoms so the water can drain downhill away from the food to help keep the ice from melting faster. Keep your coolers in the shade all day if you can, which will help keep your ice longer. We look for areas covered by heavy tree limbs and put a tarp above the cooler or around the sides, creating a shaded spot from sunrise to sunset.
The best way to pack dry ice is in the bottom of the cooler. Lay a thin layer of cardboard on top and a beach towel over that then layer your ice on the towel. You will be surprised how long it will last. Some campers even fill a body cooler with dry ice on the bottom, followed by cardboard and bags of ice on top to fill up the rest of the cooler. Then they have access to ice the entire trip to refill all their other coolers.
Freezing your meats and packing them on the bottom of your coolers will help keep your ice fresh, but make sure all food products are in resealable plastic bags to help prevent soggy food a few days into a trip. The two-gallon size by ZiplocR is very handy for eighteen-pack egg cartons. We have all experienced the soggy, broken-down, paper egg cartons in the melted ice before, but we continue to pack it because we forget.