So you’ve finally updated your cooler by ditching your cheapo ice chest for something a bit more rugged and capable of ice retention. Congratulations! At this point, you’re probably excited to test out your super cooler’s capabilities claims on an upcoming camping trip, or perhaps you’ve already plopped it on the back porch next to the grill and are getting an early start to BBQ season. But how can you make the most of your super cooler? Breathe easy, because we’re about to drop some ice-cold knowledge to get you through summer’s heatwave.
FIRST THINGS FIRST – ALWAYS PRE-CHILL YOUR COOLER
The first mistake that many people make is to simply pack their food into a non-chilled cooler. STOP RIGHT THERE. A cold cooler keeps ice longer – plain and simple. We recommend that users store a bag of ice or two inside of the cooler the day before your trip to pre-chill the insulation-filled walls. At the very least, fill your cooler with cold tap water and make sure to leave it in the coldest space you can find the night before your trip.
USE TWICE THE ICE AS YOUR CONTENTS
Don’t be stingy with ice. We recommend a 2:1 ice-to-contents ratio to make sure that your food and beverages are kept cold for the longest possible time. We understand that this cuts down on the amount of space that’s available for your food and beverages, but we promise that preventing salmonella and warm beer is well worth it.
ALTERNATIVE ICE SOLUTIONS
If you don’t want to waste money buying multiple bags of ice, there are a variety of alternatives to consider for temperature regulation. Fill and freeze empty milk jugs, plastic tupperware containers, water bottles or even water balloons a day or two in advance and pack them all around your food and beverages. Larger blocks of ice have more mass and will melt slower than smaller ice cubes.
DRY ICE – For extended trips, dry ice serves as a great solution with Cascade Mountain Tech Super Coolers as it keeps food and drinks cold and frozen for much longer than regular ice. Dry ice gives off over twice the cooling power than regular ice, meaning you’ll need less ice to get the job done. Dry ice is safe to use by itself or alongside regular ice, but should always be handled with caution. To prevent freezer burn, make sure to wear protective leather or cloth gloves, oven mitts, or drape your hands with hand towels. We recommend wrapping dry ice in several sheets of newspaper before packing it into your cooler. Please be sure to keep dry ice out of reach of small children. NOTE: dry ice is frozen carbon dioxide, which is released when the ice is melted. Make sure to leave a cooler with dry ice in a well ventilated area at all times, especially when riding in a closed vehicle, to prevent shortness of breath, or in the most rare cases, loss of consciousness.
To save space and simplify your cooking time at the campsite, you’ll want to prep the majority of your food at home. Food packaging tends to waste significant space, and certain foods are less resilient in the wet and tightly packed confines of a cooler. Pre-chop your veggies and mix your marinades in advance, and be sure to pack them into smaller containers that take up less space in the cooler to save room for ice.
Just as pre-chilling helps to lengthen the ice retention abilities of your super cooler, it’s also important to make sure your food and beverages are cold before packing them. Make sure to do your shopping a day or two in advance and allow everything cool down in the fridge before packing. Planning on cooking meat at your campsite? You might consider freezing it in advance and letting it thaw just before you’re ready to cook.
PRO TIP: For food that is sold in low-quality packaging that’s prone to leaks, or that doesn’t come in any packaging whatsoever, consider using durable zip-lock bags or tupperware to keep things from becoming soggy over the course of your trip.
HOW TO PACK A COOLER
Packing contents into a cooler may seem like a no-brainer, but there are a few helpful tips to keep in mind when loading your perishables for a multi-day excursion. If you’re tired of soggy cardboard packaging and mushy food floating around in the ice, you’re in luck. We offer a handy cooler basket that’s ideal for fragile foods and items with packaging that might easily become damaged or soggy when packed loosely inside a cooler. Hate digging around in the ice trying to find the hot dogs? We also offer cooler dividers for both sizes of our super coolers, which are great for keeping food types separated and easy to find.
If you’re heading out with a large group of people, consider a multiple cooler setup that will allow you to store food in one cooler and beverages in another. Beverage coolers tend to be opened more often than food coolers, causing the ice to melt more rapidly. A beverage cooler also makes it easier to access drinks that would otherwise require a bit more digging underneath the food that is typically stored on top.
THINGS TO KEEP IN MIND DURING YOUR TRIP
DRAINING WATER – You might think of melted ice as a downside to your cooler, but the melt-off can still help to keep your beverages at the bottom of the cooler quite cold. On the other hand, standing water makes the remaining ice melt faster than it otherwise would. Our advice is that you drain water once or twice a day if you’re on a longer trip, but consider leaving it be for quick adventures.
KEEP YOUR COOLER CLOSED AND LATCHED – Cascade Mountain Tech’s Super Coolers are built with a freezer-quality seal that allows them to keep items cold for days on end, but the seal only does its job when the cooler lid is closed and both latches are properly sealed. Make sure to keep both rubber latches in place at all times when the lid is closed.
KEEP IT SHADED – Even though our coolers are built for long-lasting ice retention, the sun is a powerful heat source that is always working to warm things up. Store your cooler under a picnic table or canopy to avoid direct exposure as much as possible. Alternatively, you might consider keeping a blanket or a wet towel draped over the top.
USE COOLER LOCKS TO KEEP BEARS OUT – If you live or camp in areas where bears are native roamers, you’re probably aware of how skilled they are at getting into food storage containers. Our Super Coolers have been rated as bear-proof by the Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee, but for them to actually live up to that certification, it’s important that cooler locks are kept in place. Make sure to lock up your cooler before bed or before venturing out of the campsite.
THINGS TO KEEP IN MIND ONCE YOU’RE BACK HOME
KEEP YOUR COOLER CLEAN – While we understand that cleaning out a cooler can seem like an unnecessary step after arriving home from a weekend getaway, we highly recommend that you prioritize this task. A bit of soap, warm water and even a bit of bleach can go a long way in extending the lifespan of your cooler and preventing bacteria and mold from making a home. Make sure to let your cooler fully dry after cleaning so that it’s funk-free for your next trip.
STORE YOUR COOLER INDOORS – Even though our super coolers were designed to be used and abused in outdoor settings, extended exposure to the sun can leave lasting damage to the exterior plastic. Make sure to store your cooler in the garage or somewhere indoors when not in use.