Having ice with you when you’re camping turns an OK camping trip, into an awesome one.
You can enjoy a nice cold beer at the end of a long day, cook fresh meat on the BBQ, hand out ice creams and cool drinks to all the family, and more.
Knowing how to keep ice from melting for the longest possible time, or least for the duration of your trip is make or break.
You will, of course, have a cooler. You shouldn’t leave home without one.
If you’re in the market for a cooler then check out my reviews of the Yeti Tundra vs the Coleman Xtreme for two of the best side-by-side.
That said, with your cooler loaded with ice here are some additional tips to help keep that ice frozen for longer, and most importantly keep your beer at that perfect temperature longer.
Keep Your Cooler Cool
If you want your cooler to work harder you’re going to have to help it out a little. The cooler you can keep it, the longer it will take for the temperature inside to rise and melt the ice.
The first thing I always do is keep the cooler in the shade. This might mean moving it around as the sun moves, or keeping it out of reach under a big tree somewhere, but it’s worth it.
Another thing you can do is cover the cooler with a wet towel. This will provide a barrier to resist the sunlight raising the temperature inside.
Keep Your Cooler Locked Shut as Much as Possible
This is another obvious, yet important, and in need of reminding people. There is always ‘that person’, right. They leave doors open, cars unlocked, and worst of all, coolers open in hot weather!
If you have kids with you there is always a chance one of the little ones will be guilty. So make it a priority to check your cooler is shut tight when not in use. Maybe even assign someone trustworthy to guard the cooler.
Load the Cooler with Cold Items
When first loading your cooler put items in that you’re taking directly out of the freezer or fridge. The initial contact between items and ice is important to keep the temperature lower for longer.
If you’re picking up drinks when you’re at a campsite then chill them by sitting the cans in cold water first. Do whatever it takes to preserve that ice for as long as possible.
Use Bigger Blocks of Ice
Most ice comes in packs of crushed ice or small blocks. Larger blocks of ice last a lot longer, of course, they are not as manageable and take up more awkward space but add the largest blocks you can fit.
It’s easier and costs less to make your own ice, as well as meaning you can make your own sizes that fit in well with your box and contents.
Add Some Salt to Your Ice
If you’re making your own ice as per the last tip, add a little salt to your water. Adding salt actually enables the ice to freeze at a lower temperature, and a lower temperature means longer before it warms to the point of melting.
If you’re interested in the science behind the lower freezing point it’s explained here. The point is it works however, try it out next time.
Fill Your Cooler Up
There are two reasons I can think of why you should be filling your cooler full of stuff. One, you’ll have plenty of cold food and drink for the duration of your trip. Two, less empty space means your items will keep colder, for longer.
If you always have loads of space in your cooler all that air needs to be kept cool and is drawing from your ice. Buy a smaller cooler if necessary, it’ll be lighter too!
Most of these tips are common sense or obvious to most of us, but unless you’re doing them you’re not making a difference to cool your food and drink is staying.
Use one or more of these tips and even one degree less when it comes to opening that cold drink can make all the difference.
If you have any additional tips how to keep ice from melting for as long as possible I’d love to hear them, just drop a note below – thanks!