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7 WAYS TO A PACK A COLDER COOLER

Coleman coolers packed in the back of a car, ready for a camping trip. Coleman coolers packed in the back of a car, ready for a camping trip.

Camping brings friends and family together. A large part of that camping experience is outdoor cooking. The secret to good cooking is good ingredients. And the secret to good ingredients is a well-packed cooler.

 

7 ways to pack your cooler for campsite cooking success.

1. Choose the right cooler for the job:

Coolers ratings are based on the number of days they can keep contents cool in ideal conditions. For trips of 3 or more days, you want to select a cooler that has a greater amount of high-quality insulation in the lid. For day use, a less-insulated cooler might be sufficient. Set yourself up for success by selecting the right cooler for the trip.

Coleman tents, a lantern, cooler and other gear packed in the car to go camping. Coleman tents, a lantern, cooler and other gear packed in the car to go camping.

2. Choose your ice wisely:

Block ice lasts longer than cubed. Cubed ice works well to fill in the voids between food items. For best results, mix the two. An ideal guideline is using .75 lb. of ice for each quart in your cooler. A good strategy is freezing plastic bottles of water to use as block ice. When the ice in the bottles melt, you’ll have cool water to drink.

3. Use food as a cold pack:

Aside from foods you’ll use the first day and any delicate foods, freeze anything and everything you can before packing the cooler. Jugs of water or lemonade become ice blocks, as do packets of bacon, sauces, bags of chili… you get the idea. Anything that can’t be frozen should be pre-chilled. **Do not freeze glass containers and stainless steel water bottles.

4. Consider the order:

How you pack food in the cooler is important. Start at the bottom with the most perishable foods such as meat and dairy, and work up with items that are less of a concern. Layer with ice. Keep meat away from the edges, which will get warmer in the sun. Store the produce on top of the ice.

Coleman coolers filled with fruit and water. Coleman coolers filled with fruit and water.

5. Start with a clean slate:

Make sure to clean and dry your cooler between uses. If raw meat was stored in the cooler, make sure to clean with a bleach disinfect prior to storage. Hot soapy water is sufficient for beverage coolers. Regardless of what has been stored in the cooler, a camper’s hands can introduce soil and bacteria, so it is always smart to clean well after each use.

6. Pre-chill your cooler:

If you’re worried about your ice lasting through the duration of the trip, get a head start by filling the cooler with ice water for a couple of hours just before packing it.

Coleman cooler on a fishing trip. Coleman cooler on a fishing trip.

7. Leak-proof everything:

Milky ice water is nasty. So is slimy cheese. Put everything in leak-proof containers. When in doubt, double bag it. Be sure to test that your containers are leak-proof!

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