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How To Pack Your Cooler For Camping The Right Way?

Cooler For Camping

Camping brings us lots of surprises; it allows us to separate ourselves from modern and monotonous life and let us reconnect with mother nature. But every time, camping doesn’t enable us to enjoy pleasurable moments. Sometimes it brings inconveniences too, especially when you miss following some techniques regarding camping, as such you pack your camp cooler in the wrong way. As a result, all your stored food may get rotten before you reach the campsite. That’s why it is quintessential that you pack your cooler correctly. If you don’t know how we will guide you on how to accomplish this job in a cinch in this article.

Before diving into the details of how you should pack your cooler for camping, first, you need to check out your existing cooler’s condition. Below, we will guide you on the path of choosing the best cooler for a remarkable camping experience out in the wild. 

Different Types Of Coolers You Can Get

Camping coolers tend to boast a variety of sizes, designs, and shapes. And the way of choosing a camping cooler varies from camper to camper. But we won’t make things confusing for you; instead, we will talk about some cooler types to give you an idea and help you choose wisely. We will start with soft-sided coolers.

Soft-Sided Cooler

This type of cooler is appropriate for keeping your food preserved for two or three days. Usually, soft-sided coolers consist of robust liners with insulated fabric shells. Some of these coolers tend to be flexible, allowing them to be squeezed for compact storage. On the contrary, some don’t provide such a facility but offer other impressive functions such as exterior pockets, padded straps, etc. Finally, these coolers fit nicely in small spaces and depending on the models, they provide quite satisfying storage capacity. 

Roto-Molded Cooler

Roto-molded coolers are praised for their rugged construction and extreme endurance in any environment. They come with whopping impact resistance, thanks to their outstanding hardware. Alongside housing virtually bulletproof construction, most of these coolers include rugged rubber t-latches, lid hinges, grab points, non-skid feet, and so on. In short, when durability and capacity, and ultimate performance are your concern, a roto-molded cooler will perfectly suit your needs. 

Now let’s say you and your family are planning to go camping using a camper van. In such a scenario, you can go with something more advanced and futuristic. Let’s go through some of these cooler types.

Electric Cooler

Speaking of electric coolers, you will find two kinds of electric coolers on the market that are immensely popular among avid campers, fishers, and other outdoor enthusiasts. And these are thermoelectric and compressor-driven coolers.

Thermoelectric Cooler

Thermoelectric coolers eliminate the traditional use of additional ice to keep your food and beverage cool for an extended duration. Another benefit these type of cooler offer is they are capacious as you don’t need to place those slushy ice; instead, you can store inside of it plenty of items that you need for camping. The only drawback you may encounter while using a thermoelectric cooler is the cooling capacity. Except for that, this cooler’s got nothing to complain about. 

Compressor-Driven Cooler

Compressor-driven coolers are also widely known as two-way refrigerators. Regardless of outdoor temperatures, they are more like your household refrigerator and can keep contents cool longer than thermoelectric coolers. 

So, now you know the most used camper coolers, and you can try out any of them, which is best suited for your needs. And if you already have one, let’s read out how you should pack your cooler before heading towards the great outdoors.


You need to prepare your cooler before the day you go camping. Below we will reveal how some experienced folks deal with this craft.

Bring Your Cooler Out

First, you need to bring your cooler outside, if you have stored it in a safe and secure place. The reason for that is it will blow out any toxic gas as soon as you open its lid. Besides, by doing this, you are ensuring that you will have a fresh cooler for your adventure. 

Wash-Off Thoroughly

For cleaning, first, you should fill your cooler with clean water, give it a good mix and then rinse out the inside of the cooler. Afterward, wash off using any disinfectant spray or a mixture of baking soda, dish soap, etc. 

Pre-Chilling Cooler

Pre-chilling is not a must-to-do chore before going camping with coolers. Hence, you can skip this part if it seems to you a tedious job. Anyway, for pre-chilling, you need to pour cold water or ice and leave it for some hours before camping. Then dump the mixture and refill your cooler with fresh ice. In this way, you can pre-chill the camping cooler. 

Prep Your Camp Food

This one is optional; you can follow this part to save some space. You can chop meat, and slice veggies in various portions. You can use small drinking water bottles, soda cans, and many more things to save as much space as possible, though.

Cooler For Camping


Now let’s discuss what kinds of ice you should prefer based on your cooler types and camping duration. 

  • Block Ice: Block ice tends to last for an extended period than other ice types as it boasts comparatively less surface area. But unfortunately, block ice isn’t widely available, and sometimes it is pretty challenging to find one batch in your local market. However, you can make your block ice by filling up any container or pan with fresh water and then freezing it to solve this issue. Yeah, it is that simple.
  • Cubed Ice: Many campers use cubed ice for filling gaps between food containers and drinks. You can follow them to ensure your food always stays at a cooler temperature. Preparing cubed ice is an effortless job, just pour fresh water into the ice maker and insert it inside your home refrigerator. Then, leave it for hours, and your cubed ices are ready to go along with you. 

So, we’ve done all the preparations, now let’s discuss how you should pack your cooler for camping in the great outdoors. 

Pack The Cooler

Following a few simple instructions will help you pack your cooler efficiently. If you can pack your cooler correctly, not only will it perform better, but it will also let you have a more pleasant camp experience.

Lay Down Block Ice

The first step of packing is to lay down block ice on your cooler’s bottom. Then, start placing your food and beverages on the block ice. While arranging, you should first place the last day’s meal and then gradually climb up to the first day’s food.

Use Ice Lid

After finishing arranging the food, you should fill the top with cubed ice. Ensure that your cooler’s top section is filled with ice, and there should be no space for air circulation as air will accelerate the ice-melting process. You can follow another technique to make your cooler airtight. After placing one layer of food inside the cooler, you can lay down a layer of ice and repeat the process until the camp cooler is full. 

Trapping Temperature

Now you should place some packs of reusable and foldable freezer sheets on the top of your camping cooler. These packs will prevent the cold temperature from escaping and resist the hot temperature from getting inside simultaneously. Anyway, if you don’t have a pack of reusable freezer sheets, you can go with a damp towel, though. 

Cooler For Camping

Prep A Cooler Map

It’s another optional section on our content, and you can follow this part if you plan to use a large cooler. However, if you make a cooler map, you won’t face any hassle while searching for food, as you already know where foods and beverages are located.

Often, some campers make the mistake of draining out meltwater, which they shouldn’t do. It reduces the cooler’s cooling power. But if you want to replace the cooler’s ice, there is no harm in draining the meltwater. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Should I Keep Raw Meat in a Cooler?

If possible, you should store raw meat, seafood, and poultry separately. Otherwise, you can place these food items in the bottom of your cooler but make sure they are wrapped securely.

Q: How Can I Insulate My Camping Cooler?

For that, try to make a couple of holes in the cooler’s lid and then fill those holes up with closed-cell foam insulation. After the foam is entirely dried, seal all holes with silicone. You can also use a styrofoam board or reflective insulation to keep your camping coolers cold for a prolonged period. 

Q: Is it possible to freeze eggs for camping?

Yes, it’s possible; you can do it by pre-cracking your eggs into mason jars or any other heavy-duty airtight jar. Before placing those jars inside your camp cooler, first check out whether they work inside your home refrigerators or not. 

So, that’s the correct way to pack your cooler to get the most out of it. Besides packing it perfectly, you need to make sure you are using the best quality camping cooler. Otherwise, all your hard work won’t be fruitful, and you may end up having an intolerable camping experience in the backcountry. We hope you find this article valuable, and that it will help you on your upcoming adventure in the great outdoors.

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