A camping cooler is a cooler, so what is the big deal. It is a big deal when you are going to be camping or on the trail for several days. The quality of cooler is the most important factor when considering your purchase. You don't want your food to spoil nor constantly having to buy ice.
With the various designs that are available, take your time in making your choice. Consider is how well the cooler is insulated, retarding the melting of the ice. Most camping coolers will state on the label how long ice will last. The length of time would be determined also, by how many times the cooler is opened.
Here is a simple common sense technique in slowing down the rate your ice melts away and all it takes is a little planning on your part. The night before your trip, place everything you want kept cold in the refrigerator or if you can, the freezer. Then all you have to do is pack your cooler as one of the last things you do before you start out. You'll be amazed how much this slows down the ice from melting.
Another tip is to have a separate cooler for a days worth of drinks. This would reduce the number of times the main cooler is opened. The cooler for drinks would be much smaller reducing the amount of ice you would need.
To make the ice last longer is to freeze blocks of ice yourself. Blocks of ice will last much longer than a bag of. I start a month or so ahead of time, using the flat storage containers. Freezing a few at a time, once frozen I place them is zip bag. When packing the cooler, place them on the bottom as well along the sides. This reduces the number of bags of ice you may purchase during your camping trip.
Here is a short list of some other things to consider when choosing your camping cooler.
Originally, ice chests were constructed of metal, durable but heavy. Today's coolers are made out of durable plastic, with wheels. Another type that is becoming popular not only at the office but also camping is a camping fridge, which is similar to a small refrigerator that is powered either by household outlet or cigarette lighter. A different variation of this is the type used in motor homes that use propane to cool. These are expensive, but last a long time due to relatively few moving parts.
The size needed is really determined by how long you will be out, number of items kept cold, portability. If you have a group, then separate containers will be needed to handle drinking water, frozen food, and items to keep cold. If you are backpacking, then a less quality smaller cooler is the only answer.
Options you may consider:
Camping cooler quality should never be skimped on, but there is always newer technology that is keeping food cold longer.
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