Buying Camping Ice Chests and Coolers

Woman holding an ice chest

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The best ice chests and coolers for camping will keep your ice cold and food fresh. Whether you're going camping for a night or a few weeks, you'll need ice chests and/or coolers to adequately store foods and keep drinks cold. Depending on your lifestyles, eating habits, and personal preferences, there are a variety of ice chests that will meet your needs.

You may want to use several different coolers. While traveling, a small 6-pack cooler comes in handy for keeping drinks cold in the car/truck. For weekend campouts, you can use an Igloo ice chest for storing drinks and a larger Coleman ice chest for storing food. The Coleman can stay at the campground while you go fishing, hiking, or sightseeing, and the Igloo can stay in your car with drinks and some lunch.

What to Look for When Buying an Ice Chest

  • All-around insulation
  • Tight-fitting lids
  • A drain plug
  • Storage bin insert
  • Enough space for your needs

How to Prolong the Ice

  • Pre-chill, or freeze, food and drinks
  • Put food in first, then cover with ice
  • Keep the cooler out of the sun
  • Make sure you close the lid tight
  • Don't drain all the cold water
  • Keep meats/perishables directly on ice
  • Avoid opening frequently
  • Use dry ice

For extended camping trips, you may want to pack up a 150-quart cooler. An ice chest with a deep condiment compartment, dual insulated lids, two panel inserts to create separate areas inside, and a drain plug with a hose fitting works excellently.

Whatever make, style, or size ice chests you use for camping, the best way to keep food cold and prolong the ice is to avoid opening them as much as possible. It only takes a little time to master packing your cooler.

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