Amazon Outdoor Recreation: How to Pack a Cooler
How to Pack a Cooler for Camping
Packing a cooler for camping correctly allows you to bring perishable food (which tend to be more delicious and healthy than canned or boxed items), and will keep frozen items from thawing. When packed in the appropriate manner, even a medium-quality cooler can keep items fresh and cold for up to 3 - 4 days.
Start with a cool cooler. If you keep your cooler in a warm attic or in the backyard sun, bring it indoors and fill wish some ice a few hours before you even start to pack it. Packing a warm cooler with ice would set you back hours of valuable frozen ice time!
Pre-chill all of the items. The thermodynamics of an ice chest/cooler is all about balance. If you put ice cubes into a glass of warm water, the final temperature of the water after a while will be somewhere in the middle right? Same applies for coolers. It's important to pre-refrigerate items you plan on packing for a weekend camping trip. A common culprits are room-temperature 6-packs of beer or soda. The colder the contents of the cooler are to start with, the longer the "chill" will last.
Place ice at the bottom of the cooler. Cold air sinks, and will keep the ice at the bottom frozen for longer. Ice also tends to melt faster when more surface area is exposed to air, so try to find the ice blocks rather than cubes. The blocks are often found at gas stations or convenience stores, and their shape fits nicely in the bottom of an ice chest.
Place frozen food on top of the ice layer. The lower level of the cooler, closest to the ice foundation, will be your "freezer" layer.
Separate layers to preserve temperatures and prevent freezer burn. Using a thin towel (or better yet, something insulating), separate your contents by laying it over the frozen food section. Put the items that you want chilled, but not frozen, on top of the towel.
Fill any air voids on top. Place another towel, more cold food, or flexible ice packs on top of your items if there is still room at the top. Air is a terrible insulator and open space should be reduced whenever possible.
Keep your cooler in the shade and closed whenever possible. You may consider choosing a smaller cooler for items you retrieve often, like water and sodas. This will keep your perishable food items colder for longer, and you're only introducing warm air into the cooler when you truly need to cook a meal.
Video: 7 Tips To Keep Your Cooler CRAZY Cold
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