How to keep food cold when camping - 6 Top Tips © Image Courtesy of zoff-photo from Getty Images by Canva

How To Keep Food Cold When Camping: 6 Best Tips!

If you’re planning an outdoor adventure, you may be wondering how to keep food cold when camping. Read our post, as we outline 6 tips to help you do exactly that! 

It makes no difference whether you are an experienced camper or this is your first time camping, the problem of keeping your food cold and safe during your stay is something we all face.

There is nothing more exciting than being able to enjoy the great outdoors, camping under the stars. But whilst camping can be a great adventure, there are also a few practical items to tick off your list to ensure you have the best experience possible.

One such consideration is, how you can go about keeping food cold when camping. 

Well, with this guide at your disposal, you’ll soon find out!

The purpose of the following article is to go over all of the methods that you can use to guarantee your food stays cold while you are on a camping trip.

It is important to note that each of these methods is effective in its own way, but some are better than others. That being said, all of them are viable options.

So, let’s dive in and learn all about keeping your camping food and drinks cold and refreshing! 

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Campers Guide To Keeping Food Cold When Camping

We’ve all experienced upset stomachs and full-blown food poisoning before, and it’s a nightmare at the best of times.

Getting sick at the campsite, however, is the last thing anyone wants. Here are the different options you have for keeping your food cold and fresh, and thus, preventing any unwanted illness on your next adventure.

Using A Cooler

Use Coolers - How to keep food cold when camping

Keeping your food cool on a camping trip is essential, but it is nigh on impossible to keep your food chilled on a trip with a cheap cooler, even with tons of ice in it. 

Various models of coolers are available, from inexpensive foam coolers to more expensive steel or fiberglass coolers and electric models that plug into the car’s battery.

There are also more expensive kinds that include handy features like thermostats, drawers, latches, rollers, and plugs for drains.

The model of cooler you should buy depends on your needs. You should consider factors such as your finances, your tastes, the storage space you have available, and the length of your camping trip.

Coolers made of glass and steel keep food cool for many days, but plastic coolers are lighter and more portable. 

When planning to carry one over long distances and for lengthy periods of time, this is something to keep in mind.

One of the best coolers on the market that we recommend is the Coleman Ice Chest, which keeps your food cold and fresh for up to four days!

This is the ideal length for a long weekend camping trip, and you will love it.

The best thing about this cooler is it is made out of stainless steel, so you know it is a high-end product that will stand the test of time. 

If you are interested in something a little more basic, budget-friendly, and lightweight, you can of course purchase the classic Coleman Cooler.

This is ideal for those shorter camping trips and is better suited to picnics or barbecues. It will keep your food fresh, but not for as long as the other recommended cooler.

However, if you’re on a budget, this is a more affordable option.

Be Sure To Chill Your Cooler Before You Go

Make sure your camping trip doesn’t start off lukewarm.

You can extend the shelf life of your cooler by chilling it the night before or just prior to your trip.

This can be accomplished if the box is filled with a bag of frozen ice cube packs or loose ice cubes.

Rather than storing your refrigerated food at room temperature, you can transfer it to a pre-chilled environment when you are ready to travel.

With the space you have, your entire cooler can fit inside the deep freezer.

Ice will last longer this way since only the cool temperature needs to be maintained instead of first having to be lowered.

Long-Lasting Ice Is The Best Choice

Using loose ice from convenience stores and supermarkets is fine, but melts very quickly, leaving you with watery coolers and soggy food.

If you plan on using ice in a cooler, you should put large blocks of ice in the bottom.

When you use large ice blocks, your food will stay cooler for longer, since they take a long time to melt.

Making your own ice blocks about four days before your trip is even better. Just freeze water in plastic bottles or milk jugs before the trip.

You will not have to worry about your food floating in the water, as the ice doesn’t melt.

In an emergency situation, the ice in the bottles or jugs melts, and you have safe drinking water.

Can dry ice be used? Dry ice is available at many grocery stores in the United States if you’re camping.

The biggest benefit of using this option is that it keeps your food cold for the longest amount of time, but it requires careful handling.

Newspaper wraps will prevent dry ice from burning your skin and cracking your cooler.

Furthermore, do not place any food you do not want to freeze directly next to dry ice because it will freeze whatever is next to it.

You can use World Bios Dry Ice which is available on Amazon for your cooler, and it comes in multiple sizes and packs so that you can find the one that is best for you.

We recommend you give this product a go if you want cold food.

Freeze Your Food Ahead Of The Camping Trip

The food you are going to take on a camping trip should be frozen before you leave.

We recommend this, especially for those longer camping trips, and it really does help to prolong the life of your food if your cooler perhaps isn’t up to snuff.

Don’t Forget Ice Packs

Keeping food cold when camping by using Ice packs

Maintain the temperature of your food and beverages longer by using ice packs.

Ice packs can be purchased online or at a store that sells food and camping supplies.

It is possible to reuse these ice packs over and over again, and they remain cold for up to two days.

By freezing water in ziplock freezer bags, you can make your own ice packs without spending any extra money.

Homemade ice packs can also be made from frozen bags of vegetables.

In case of an injury, while camping, ice packs can also help to reduce swelling, so it’s a win-win situation.

These Fit + Fresh Ice Packs are the ideal option for anyone looking to use some ice packs in their cooler.

They can be easily carried along just like any other item of luggage and make a great option to keep your food cold while you are on the move.

Bring Two Coolers

Another tip is to take along two coolers on your trip if you want to separate food from drinks because opening a cooler frequently will cause the cooler to lose cool air quickly, and this will affect how long your food stays fresh.

Frequently Asked Questions – How To Keep Food Cold While Camping

Can You Use Small Ice Cubes For Keeping Food Cool In A Cooler?

As long as you have a well-insulated cooler and are only using this ice for drinks, it’s probably fine; however, you should avoid using smaller ice cubes or chips for food because they’ll melt quickly, leaving behind a soggy carnage in your cooler.

Which Cooler Is Best To Use?

The two coolers we have recommended are both great choices for camping, no doubt about it. If, however, you would like a cooler to take on a long trip, you would need the Ice Chest, however, if you are only going for a short trip, you will need just the classic Cooler.

Should You Have Two Coolers?

To refer back to what you read earlier in the guide, it would probably be a good idea to have two coolers, if you have the room and the budget to do so.

With this, you can be sure that your food and drink will remain cold and fresh until you need them.

Summary – How To Keep Food Cold When Camping

Whilst camping adventures do tend to be somewhat more rustic in nature, you do still want to ensure you have cold and fresh food at your disposal during your trip. 

Having read this guide, you will now have the necessary knowledge on how to keep your food cold when camping.

Each of these tips will help you keep your food fresh for longer periods of time and make it safe to eat when the time comes to have a snack or cook a meal under the stars.

Marco Santos

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