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How to Choose a Great Ice Cooler (and Pack it RIGHT)

If you are planning a trip in the next few weeks, you will want to make sure that you are fully prepared.

One of the most crucial aspects of a trip during the spring and summer, which people often ignore, is to pack your cooler in the right way.

A lot of families do not think it is a big deal how they pack their cooler. But the truth is that when you pack it in the right way, you will get to enjoy cold beverages throughout your day trip. But if you make a mistake, you will have to suffer through warm drinks for most of the time.

Say you are heading to Lake Ray Roberts in the next few weeks. It is a great place to visit, as you can do everything from camping to fishing to boating to kayaking. The possibilities are endless. They even have some hiking trails nearby.

We have visited the lake a few times and always have a great time. It is a special experience. But it is one that can go wrong if you are not packing in the right way. It is why we wanted to give you a little guide that will help you pack your cooler in the best way possible.

Choosing a Cooler

Before you think about packing your cooler, make sure that you own one that is the right size.

With tons of cooler reviews out there, it got easier to find the right cooler for your needs. Industry magazines publish independent reviews of the best coolers (like here) and provide insightful buying guides packed with plenty of practical tips.

We just want to highlight one of them: pay attention to the cooler size, because if you don’t do your homework and don’t figure out the real size that you need, the cooler you get may eventually turn out to be way too small.

A common mistake when choosing a cooler is to think that you have enough space for all the drinks you will want to take, but forgetting about the space needed for ice.

You have to assume that you can fit items in there about halfway, then you will have to fill up the remaining space with ice. It is why you may need a bigger cooler than you initially thought.

Now that you have a cooler that is large enough for you to take on a day trip, you will want to start preparing it. A key aspect of preparing your new cooler is to keep it in a cool place until you are ready to start filling it up.

Say you are staying at home or at your apartment, keep it in the room that is the coolest. When you are about an hour away from leaving, then you will start to prepare your cooler.

Another preparation step that you can take is to keep every drink and food item going into the cooler in your fridge. It will help you tremendously, as those items are already cool. If you put them in when they are warm, you will find that you are spending a lot of that ice on getting the items cold.

When they are cold, the ice melts and in as little as a few hours they are warm again! What you want is the ice to work less, which is why putting them in cold is a great approach.

Proper Filling Of Your Cooler

Always put your food and drink items in first. It is a common mistake to put the ice in first. The items go in first and the ice goes on top. You want to have them totally submerged with the ice and eventually cold water. It will ensure they stay cold for as long as possible.

One smart tip that people often don’t know is to use regular ice (ideally in the form of large ice blocks) combined with….. ice packs. This combination, if done right, can keep ice intact for a bit longer. However, it’s very important to have the good quality ice packs. Cheap ice packs may simply not perform well enough, so it’s better to buy the good ones (especially that ice packs don’t cost a fortune). To learn what are the best cooler ice packs, check this post or simply ask Google – spend 5 minutes and you’ll know on what the top ones are and how to choose the right ones.

Continuing, if you have any perishable food, such as deli meat or cheeses, keep it closest to the ice. So fill up the cooler with cans and bottles, then add your perishable food and then start adding the ice on top. Closest contact with the ice means those food items will stay cold and safe to eat for the longest possible time.

Using Your Cooler

There are right and wrong ways to use your cooler when you are on your trip. One step that you can take is to keep it in a shaded area for as long as possible. If you keep it away from the sun, you will find that you are getting some vital extra time for that ice to stay unmelted. The sun’s rays can do a lot of damage to the ice, as it is an extra amount of heat hitting the cooler.

A final step that you must take is to open it as few times as possible. If you are opening up that cooler every five minutes and moving items around, you are doing more harm than good.

Leaving it shut is the best way to ensure the cold air stays trapped and less hot air is going inside. Only open it when you need a drink, and try to take out the item that you need very quickly. Then you can make it last for many hours or even days.

If you follow these steps, you should have cold drinks for the whole day and even into the night during your trip to Lake Ray Roberts!

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