How To Choose An Ice Chest
by Brian E. Rooney
Whether you want to call it an ice chest or an ice cooler, the function is the same in camping.It is there to keep perishable food from spoiling.Okay, sure it keeps the beer cold, but if you want to avoid the consequences of food poisoning, it would be a wise idea to keep perishable food at a lower temperature to avoid spoilage.In camping, this means on ice, since there are no electrical outlets to plug a compact refrigerator into in the woods.
What size cooler?
·For two people, a 20-30 quart ice cooler would be adequate.
·For three people, a 25-40 quart ice cooler
·For four people, a 50-70 quart ice cooler
·For more than four people, 150 quart ice cooler
A point to remember is that for every rated quart, Coleman recommends ¾ pound of ice.Keeping this in mind a 150 quart ice chest without food would need about 112 lbs. of ice.If you don’t have two guys both named Bubba along for the trip to carry the ice chest, then you might want to use smaller ice chests.
The recommendation above is based on the assumption you will have two ice coolers, one for food and another for beverages.Two coolers is the best arrangement, the one containing the beverages will be opened more often and the one with food will be opened less often with the food remaining colder longer.If you choose to go with one cooler, then I suggest a 54 quart ice chest for two people.
Choose a 5-6 day ice cooler for maximum chilling retention.The Coleman Xtreme and the Igloo Maxcold are both 5-6 day coolers.Other ice cooler models are in the 3-4 day range.
Ice coolers come in either plastic or metal.The best choice is the plastic models.The stainless steel models do get dented and the paint chipped away plus the plastic models are a lot cheaper.
What to look for in an ice cooler is all-around insulation, tight fitting lids, drain plug, and a storage bin insert.That sort of eliminates the Styrofoam ice cooler as an adequate choice.Also consider how sturdy the ice cooler is.People are going to use it as a bench to sit on and stand on it to reach something.
Packing a cooler to maximize efficiency doesn’t require a degree in rocket science, but a good game plan and common sense will ensure that goods stay fresh and ice lasts as long as possible.The ice in a fully packed ice cooler last longer than ice in a half empty cooler.Try these helpful tips from Coleman.
·Pre-chill drinks and food:Ice lasts longer when items in a cooler are already cold. For instance, a six-pack or gallon of liquid at room temperature melts bout 1 ½ pounds of ice just to cool down.Pre-chill coolers by placing a few ice cubes inside the chest for an hour or so before loading your cold beverages and food.
·Put ice in last:Cold air travels down.Load can and bottles first, then cover with ice for maximum cold-keeping.
·Use crushed and block ice:Crushed ice cools food and drinks fast; block ice lasts longer.As an alternative to block ice, pre-freeze drinking water or juices in clean milk jugs.They’ll keep foods cold and provide a handy source of cold beverages as they thaw.A combination of block and crushed ice is the best choice to maintain a cold temperature.
·Put foods in “chronological” order:Pack foods that will be consumed last on the bottom and work upward, storing first-used and often-used items on top.Store perishable foods like meat and dairy products directly on ice.Keep foods dry by using sealed plastic containers or zip-closure bags.
·Keep coolers out of the sun:Ice lasts as much as twice as long in the shade.To keep warm air out and cold are in, open the lid only when necessary and close it right away.While travelling, pack picnic blankets, sleeping bags or clothing around the cooler to insulate it even more.
·Don’t drain cold water: Water from just melted ice keeps contents cold almost as well as ice and preserves the remaining ice much better than air space.Drain water only when necessary for convenient removal of cooler contents or before adding more ice.
Recommended buy:The Coleman Xtreme is very durable and keeps food fresh for 5-6 days in 90 degree temperatures.It has thick 2 inch insulating walls gasket sealed hinged lid to keep food cold.The Igloo Maxcold was a close second.Either would be a good buy.