5 Ice Chest Tips

Camping and ice chests just go hand in hand. The big question is: when you’re living out of an ice chest instead of a refrigerator and freezer, what can you do to make life easier? Here are five tips to help!

Look over your ice chest before you head out. Is the drain cover still attached? Are there any bubbles or cracks in the sides, bottom or lid of the chest? Does the lid still fit tightly? If your ice chest looks worn it won’t keep your food cold. That makes it a good ice chest for drinks (cans of soda pop won’t spoil if they get warm), but you should invest in a new ice chest for perishable food items.

Block ice will last longer than cubed ice. Just make sure that it is cooling the entire chest and keeping foods at an even temperature. Of course, you’ll still need a bag or two of cubed for drinks.

All items in your ice chest should be packed in watertight bags or containers. Who wants soggy lunch meat? Gross! Also, don’t put items in your ice chest that could be left out or stored in large plastic containers, like peanut butter or mustard.

Freeze some camp cooking ingredients to help chill the ice chest. Good examples are meat and cans of frozen juice. Just be sure that your dinner will be thawed by the time you want to eat it!

To remove odors from your cooler, wipe it with a water and baking soda solution. You can also leave it in open in the sun for a few hours. Make sure that it is 100% dry on the inside before you close the lid for storage.

The ice chest of choice.

As for me? Yeah, I totally recommend going for the one of the Coleman Xtreme® Coolers. You lose a bit of internal storage space, but the cooler will keep ice a lot longer than a conventional ice chest. This is the exact ice chest that the EatStayPlay.com “Royal” Family uses when we’re out for adventures.

How do you use your ice chests? What tips can you share?

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One Response to “5 Ice Chest Tips”

  • Lynne:

    I stole and adapted a tip from my mom for the ice for my chest when camping.

    When I was small, our family would drive to visit my grandmother, which involved a stay at a motel halfway there. My mom would freeze a quart of milk, which would keep the first day’s sandwiches cold. By the next morning it had melted, but was still cold, and was used on those little boxes of cereal for breakfast.

    I have 4 plastic half gallon milk jugs, well-washed. Upon arriving home from camping I wash them out with baking soda and hot tap water, then leave a bit of dry baking soda in them and store them in the cooler.

    A couple of days before my annual camping trip, I rinse the jugs well, fill them, just to the bottom of the molded in handle, with water, and freeze them. Last thing before leaving on Friday afternoon, I pack the ice chest, one bottle in each corner so the food is surrounded. By Saturday afternoon, enough ice has melted that I have refreshing ice water to drink, and there is usually ice left when I get home Sunday evening.

    Advantages also include the fact that, except for some condensation from the outside of the jugs, there isn’t a lot of water in the chest to get stuff soggy.

    I’m guessing this would work fine with gallon milk jugs for a larger ice chest. I have a smallish Coleman (just wide enough to squeeze a 12 oz soda bottle in between the two milk jugs at each end) and four half gallon jugs are just right.

    One more tip: I store my ice chest with a couple of sheets of newspaper loosely crumpled inside. I read somewhere that this will help keep smells away, and it certainly seems to work.