How to Keep Your Food Cold While Camping

One of the many things that can ruin a really fun and exciting camping trip is none other than warm beer. Imagine cracking open a can of beer to go with your delicious hot dog, only to realize that the beer has become all warm.

 

That is likely to happen due to two possible reasons; firstly, not packing your camping coolers tight enough to keep your drinks and perishable food items perfectly chilled; secondly, using a low-quality cooler that doesn’t really do a great job at keeping your food chilled.

 

Warm beers aren’t even the biggest issue here; not storing your food at the right temperature greatly increases the risk of food poisoning. This is especially true when you’re camping because you don’t have the typical refrigeration facilities outdoors like you do at home.

 

However, that doesn’t mean that you have to survive on canned food or dried noodle packs for the entire trip. There are many ways by which you can keep your food and drinks nice and cold for a long time while camping.

 

Learn How to Keep Your Food Cold while Camping

If you’re wondering how to keep your food cold while camping and prevent it from going bad, then read on to know how to keep your beverages and food chilled for a long time.

 

1. Have Enough Coolers

Often times, campers try to stuff all their drinks and food items in a single cooler when they don’t have enough storage space or because they’re already carrying too much weight. This inevitably leads to spoiled food and warm drinks because you and your camping buddies are likely to open the cooler every now and then to get a beer or a soda.

 

Since drinks are accessed more than the food, it’s best two have two coolers with you; one for the drinks and the other for food items. This not only helps you properly organize all your food and beverages, but it also ensures that everything stays at the right temperature.

 

2. Don’t Bring Too Many Perishable Food Items

We understand that you want to eat fresh food while you’re camping outdoors, and it can be a bit of a challenge to go without a fresh meal for days, especially when you have a long camping trip up ahead. However, that poses a serious health risk because perishable food items like dairy and meat tend to go bad very quickly. This can lead to severe food poisoning and an upset stomach.

 

3. Use High-End Coolers

A key requirement of any camping trip is using a top-quality cooler that does more than what it’s supposed to do. If you aren’t a frequent camper, you might not want to spend a lot of money on a high-end cooler; however, that’s actually the best way to keep your food cold and safe to eat.

 

These coolers are worth the high price tags because they provide optimal insulation and have thicker walls as compared to other low-quality coolers. This effectively prevents the ice from melting, which, in turn, keeps your drinks and food perfectly cold for long periods of time.

 

4. Use Ice Packs

Freeze packs are a great way to keep your food cold while camping because they are reusable, and they also prevent the mess that comes with melted ice cubes. These ice packs are made of non-hazardous and non-toxic materials, so they don’t have any health risks associated with them. However, if you don’t fancy buying those store-bought ice packs that have a weird kind of blue gel inside them, you can make one of your own. There are several DIY ways to make ice packs at home, but one of our favorite methods is the one that uses rubbing alcohol.

 

All you need to make this ice pack is a freezer bag or any Ziploc bag, water, and rubbing alcohol. Simply fill the bags with two cups of water and a single cup of rubbing alcohol. Try to get as much air out of the bag as possible, seal it, and then pop it in the freezer. This makes an excellent homemade frozen ice pack that does a great job of keeping your food cold while you’re camping.

 

5. Pack and Organize Your Cooler Efficiently

A common mistake made by several campers is that they don’t pack their coolers tight enough, which leaves a lot of empty space inside the coolers. If this happens, your cooler is likely to get warm faster as air has a lot of space to move through the cooler, bringing the heat with it. In order to prevent that from happening, you must ensure that every bit of space inside the cooler is completely filled with ice packs or frozen water bottles.

 

When organizing your cooler, first begin by covering the base of your cooler with ice packs. Next, place all of your frozen food items neatly on top of the ice, followed by another layer of ice packs. Stack the remaining items on top of the ice packs. If you see any gaps in between the food items, fill them up with some ice cubes.

 

6. Bring a Portable Car Fridge

If you’re a frequent camper, you’ve probably thought of upgrading to better and much more technology-advanced cooling options for your camping trips. One such option that you can use to keep your food cold while you’re camping is a portable car refrigerator.  Although it is a more expensive option than coolers and requires a continuous power source in order to work, a car refrigerator offers full temperature control along with a much greater temperature range. Additionally, some portable car refrigerators also help keep food frozen for several hours in case of a power loss.

 

However, it all comes down to your personal preferences and factors like your budget, your need for a well-functioning freezer, etc. It is best to first analyze your needs and weigh the pros and cons of a portable car fridge.

 

Additional Steps to Follow for Keeping Food Cold While Camping

The above-mentioned tips are surely going to help you keep your food cold while camping; however, it’s best to be extra prepared, have backup options, and be well-informed on the dos and don’ts of camping.

 

Here are a few additional factors to bear in mind to ensure that all your food and drink supplies stay cold and fresh on your next camping trip.

 

1. Keep Your Cooler in a Shaded Area

This is a no-brainer; no matter how good your cooler is, if you keep it under the sun, the ice inside your cooler is definitely going to melt. Make sure that your cooler is always kept in a shaded area if you want your food to stay cold while camping. Your cooler is likely to turn into an oven under direct sunlight, so the best way is to keep it sheltered from the sun is to either leave them in the car or find a nice shaded spot on your camping location and keep the coolers there at all times.

 

2. Bring Non-Perishable Food Items as Backup

No matter how well you’ve prepared for your camping trip, there are times when unpredictable and unavoidable circumstances do occur, and you can’t do anything about them. For example, imagine that before going for a hike, you mistakenly leave your cooler under the soon for a few hours, only to come back to melted ice and food that has gone bad. What do you do then?

 

For such situations, it’s best to pack some non-perishable food items as a backup. Some common items include dry fruits, energy bars, granola bars, chips, canned food items, juice boxes, and dried meats, to name a few.

 

3. Cool Your Cooler First

One of the best ways to keep your food cold while camping is to cool your cooler first before packing it with food items. This ensures that your food stays cold from the get-go because you’ll be starting out with a cooler that’s cold and not at room temperature.

 

Our Final Thoughts

When camping outdoors with your friends or family, you want to have fun and be relaxed without having to worry about food going bad or the beverages getting warm. So, in order to avoid unnecessary worry or any food-related emergencies, follow our tips on how to keep your food cold while camping and have a great time!

About Walter W

Hi, I'm Walter. I love the outdoors and spend most of my free time camping, hiking, hunting, and fishing. Through the years I've used a ton of outdoor products, so I've seen the good and the bad. I'd love to share my knowledge of the wilderness and outdoors with you.