How to Keep Food Cold on a Camping Trip

How to Keep Food Cold on a Camping TripA camping trip does not have to be cut short because you don't have the equipment necessary to keep perishable food and beverages cold. In fact, you don't need a great deal of equipment at all, just a cooler and a cold source to maintain low temperatures while you camp. You only have to consider what size cooler you want, as you may have to travel some distance from your car to your campsite.


Difficulty: Moderately Easy

Things You’ll Need:
  • Cooler
  • Frozen gel packs or ice packs
  • Reflectix (optional)
Step 1
Refrigerate the food and beverages you wish to remain cold before leaving for best results.
Step 2
Decide which type of cooler you require. Choose a steel or fiberglass cooler, which offers maximum cold temperature retention power but is heavy when used to full capacity for perishable items such as cheese, eggs, meat sandwiches and yogurt, which require low temperatures. Choose a Styrofoam cooler, which is lightweight and easy to carry, for beverages and perishable foods that could be frozen and then kept cold while camping.
Step 3
Use frozen gel packs, ice packs, or other cold source such as a bag of frozen vegetables or blocks of ice to maintain low temperatures in the cooler. Place cold sources throughout the cooler. Avoid putting bags of ice (or other cold sources) directly on sandwiches and fruits as some freezing can occur. Instead, create a layer on the bottom and top of the cooler. Gel packs are ideal as they remain frozen longer than frozen vegetables and are designed for use while camping.
Step 4
Keep temperatures low by placing frequently used items on top inside the cooler. This technique will allow you to minimize how much air escapes the cooler while you search for items to use.
Step 5
Line your cooler with Reflectix (aluminized bubble wrap), according to, to keep the cold air in your cooler. (Reflectix can be purchased at most home improvement stores.) Another way to retain low temperatures in your cooler is to wrap it in a blanket. You can also increase insulation by storing your cooler on the ground instead of a picnic table. Always keep your cooler out of the sun.

Tips & Warnings

Use large blocks of ice, which take longer to melt than ice bags or frozen vegetables, to keep food and beverages colder longer.
It is not necessary to double bag frozen vegetables and blocks of ice; however, it is important to check for small holes before using to avoid leaks.

Article Written By Charlie Gaston

Charlie Gaston has written numerous instructional articles on topics ranging from business to communications and estate planning. Gaston holds a bachelor's degree in international business and a master's degree in communications. She is fluent in Spanish and has extensive travel experience.

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