How To Keep Food Cold While Camping

One of the most important things you should bring on a camping trip is food. If you know you are only going to be out for a day or two, your bag is probably enough for storing all the food that you need. However, if you are going to be out for a longer period of time, say, for a week, then you definitely need a better form of storage, especially if the food you brought requires preservation through storage at low temperatures. You also have to keep food cold if the food you brought is simply best served cold. 


How to Keep Food Cold for a Week While Camping

1. Buy a high-quality cooler. 

If you are planning on keeping your food cold for a week, then it would be best if you purchase a high-quality cooler. Of course, you would have to spend quite a little more money if you want something durable, but it surely will be worth it. If you want to free yourself from the bothersome task of having to put ice every now and then, then consider getting a thermoelectric cooler instead of a traditional one. 

2. Pre-chill your cooler. 

Prechilling your cooler prior to camping will allow it to keep your food cold for a longer period of time. If you are lucky enough to have access to a walk-in freezer, keep your cooler in there overnight at the very least. If you do not have a walk-in freezer, then put large bags of ice inside and close it as tightly as possible. 

3. Cool or freeze food prior to the day of camping. 

To keep food cold for as long as possible while you are camping, it would be a great idea to chill your food overnight at least before the day you leave the house. This is particularly helpful if you’re bringing meat. If you put it in a cooler frozen, then it is highly likely that it will stay that way for a longer period of time. This helps a lot in preservation. 

4. Make your own ice packs. 

Ice cubes are smaller so they tend to melt much faster, and so bringing ice packs to put in your cooler is much better. Make your own ice blocks or ice packs instead of buying some from stores. You can use soda bottles, milk jugs, or freezer bags. Make sure you have enough for the entire duration of your trip. 

5. Move your cooler. 

Even though your cooler is not a plain box and even though it was made to maintain the cold temperature inside it, its efficacy may still be affected by the external temperature. 

Therefore, always make sure that the cooler is as far away from the sun as possible. If the weather is much hotter than usual, you can cover it with a blanket. 

6. Consider using a mini-refrigerator. 

If you have a bigger budget, then consider getting a mini-refrigerator. Of course, even though this seems like a great idea and even though it appears to be much less of a hassle, remember that you’d need to keep it running, and to do so, you would need something like a generator, so if you go for this method, make sure you can also afford to have a power source. Also, this is a good choice if you have a good and safe place to store your refrigerator such as a camper van.

You might also be interested in The Best Waffle Fry Cutter.

5 Best-Selling Coolers for Camping

Reviews of 4 Top Rated Coolers for Camping

1. Coleman Steel-Belted 54-Quart Camping Cooler

Coleman Cooler SteelBelted BBQs, Tailgating & Outdoor Activities
Product Highlights:
  • high-capacity, heavy-duty cooler with a charming retro design.
  • 54-quart capacity accommodates up to 85 cans; have-a-seat lid supports up to 250 pounds.
  • keeps the ice insulation offers 4-day ice retention in temperatures as high as 90 degrees fahrenheit.
  • built to last with rust-resistant stainless steel hardware and leak-resistant channel drain for easy cleanup.
  • comfort-grip steel handles allow for easy, controlled lifting and carrying.

If you are going to stay out for a few days and you are planning on storing quite an amount of food, go for this 54-quart cooler from Coleman. 

It can hold up to as many as 85 cans and it is tall enough for you to be able to fit 2-liter bottles upright inside. 

This cooler, which has a retro-design, is lined with polyethylene vinyl acetate. It can keep ice for as long as 4 days. And even though it appears metallic, it is actually made of stainless steel, so you don’t have to worry about rusting quickly. It can also hold up to 250 pounds of weight, so that means you can also use it as a chair if you wish to rest. 

2. Engel 16-Quart Cooler/Dry Box 

Engel UC19 19qt LeakProof Lunchbox For Men And Women In Blue
Product Highlights:
  • keeps food and drinks cold and doubles as a dry box - keeping out moisture and/or dust from your valuable electronics, emergency kits and cameras.
  • features a unique airtight eva gasket around the lid - for excellent ice retention and a water proof seal.
  • features a recessed central carry handle in the lid & integrated adjustable shoulder strap. also includes a removable hanging tray - for storing dry goods.
  • all fittings secured with stainless steel screws. rear hinges are self stopping. front latches are stainless steel.
  • non-absorbent surfaces are easy to clean and are stain and odor resistant.

This cooler is not your regular cooler, because it can also serve as a dry box for electronics you plan on bringing for camping. Its lid has an airtight gasket to prevent leakage of liquids and also to prolong the cooling effect of the ice you put inside it. It’s so good that it can keep ice for as long as 3 days!

It comes in many different colors including blue, gray, and orange, and it has a central handle and an adjustable strap for portability. 

3. YETI Tundra 35 Cooler 

YETI Tundra 35 Cooler Desert Tan
Product Highlights:
  • the yeti tundra 35 is portable enough for one person to haul while still having an impressive carrying capacity of up to 20 cans with a recommended 2:1 ice-to-contents ratio
  • ice stays ice thanks to up to 3 inches of permafrost insulation and an extra thick fatwall design is certified bear-resistant
  • the rotomolded construction makes the tundra armored to the core and virtually indestructible so wherever you decide to take it, this portable cooler’s sturdy construction will stand up to the rigors of the journey
  • all tundra coolers feature t-rex lid latches constructed of heavy-duty rubber so you’ll never see another busted latch and has patented keeper technology
  • the tundra 35 dimensions are 21 3/8 in long x 16 1/8 in wide x 15 3/4 in high with an empty weight of 20 lbs note: all tundra models come standard with one dry goods basket

YETI coolers are perhaps one of the most well-loved coolers out there. And it’s pretty understandable. YETI coolers, especially this one, do not disappoint. 

This cooler has really thick walls, in order to ensure that the ice you put inside lasts for a long, long time. It also has polyurethane foam in its walls to enhance its cooling effect. As a result of these two things, solid ice can last in this cooler for as long as 3 days. It is also very durable. 

4. Igloo BMX Family Cooler 

Igloo BMX 52 Quart 16.34 Pounds - Carbonite Gray And Blue
Product Highlights:
  • heavy duty blow-molded construction with reinforced base for increased strength and protection
  • extremely durable yet lightweight with proven 4-5 day ice retention at 90°f
  • uv inhibitors protect the cooler against sun damage for extended life. capacity: 83 12-ounce cans, 52 quarts (49 liters)
  • rust-resistant, stainless-steel hinge rods and hardware provide extended performance
  • rubberized t-grip latches keep lid secure. threaded drain plug is garden hose compatible and features a non-slip, easy-grip stainless steel tethered cap

Just by looking at it, you would know that this cooler is made to last. Despite its durability, though, this cooler is relatively lightweight in comparison to other good coolers out there, and yet it can retain ice for as long as 5 days. 

What is unique about this is that it has UV inhibitors, which protect it from damage. 

This durable and efficient cooler comes in three variants: 25 quarts, 52 quarts and 72 quarts. 


If you are going to go camping with friends and family for quite some time, food preservation is a must, and it also must be done correctly. A high-quality cooler will be of great help when it comes to this. Some coolers are more expensive than others, but these tend to retain the cold temperature for longer periods of time. In addition to that, make sure to bring lots of ice and that you go for the ones that last for a long time, such as larger blocks (instead of small ice cubes). 

If done correctly, you will reduce the risk spoilage of the food you bring. In addition to that, you will be able to enjoy cool drinks and food even when you are far away from home. 

How to Pack a Cooler for Camping | OARS
Andrea Vaso

When Andrea is not writing, you’re most likely going to find her drinking coffee, reading a novel, or watching medical dramas. She holds an undergraduate degree in biology and as of this moment, she is attending medical school.