How to Pack a Cooler
A right way to pack a cooler must be needed if it is to keep your food and drinks cold for days. Here are some simple tips that could maximize ice retention and get the best performance out of your cooler.
Start with a cool cooler
Most of us don’t realize how the importance of pre-chill the cooler before packing the next day. A warm cooler that has been stored in a hot garage or car would waste a lot of ice and lower its temperature inside. Ideally, if you want to get it cold, please make sure you bring the cooler at room temperature and pre-chill it with ice overnight.
Frozen or chill what you'll be packing
The colder the food and drink you put into a cooler, the longer it'll stay cold. Pre-chill everything before you pack, or, even better, pre-freeze it. Need to pack drinking water? Freeze it. Packing steak? Freeze it in its marinade in a leak-proof bag.
Store a mix of ice
To keep the cool ones stay cooler, an ideal ice-content ratio is 2:1. Don’t expect a cooler full of food with a sprinkle of ice on top to stay cool for very long, so pack as much ice as you can.
Use cold ice
The bigger the ice chunks, the more slowly they'll melt. Dry ice mixed with regular cubed ice is an ideal combination, as the cubed ice will chill your contents faster and the dry ice will last longer. If dry ice isn't available, look for block ice which will also last longer. Cheaper plastic coolers can crack if used with dry ice, so check with your coolers manufacturer before using.
Store it in the shade
Keep your cooler as chilly as possible while en route. When you arrive, leave it in a shady spot. If trees aren’t around, don’t keep it in the car—on an 80-degree day, the temperature inside a car can reach nearly 110 degrees in just 20 minutes. Instead, bring it outside and throw a light-colored blanket or towel on top to keep the temperature from climbing.
A cooler’s worst enemy is the changes in the air temperature inside, and opening it a lot will raise the temperature, please keep the lid tightly shut and limit how often it’s opened.
Don’t drain the water
Excess air can promote heat transfer and melt the remaining ice faster. It's tempting to drain the water from your cooler as soon as possible but don't. The water is actually an insulator that helps keep the remaining ice chilly.
Tips: Hard-sided containers typically have better insulation, making them good for longer trips, when food (especially perishables) needs to be kept cool for a few days. Choose a container that’s about two inches thick—the thicker the insulation, the better it cools.