10 Cooler Tips: How to make ice last longer in your Cooler

High budget Coolers on the market can offer you a greater ice retention time, as well as being more durable and spacious. However, if you don’t want to spend over $200 on a cooler, and you have a cheaper cooler lying around.
We have compiled a series of 10 cooler tips, tricks and hacks to get the most out of your cooler. We will be focusing on:

  • Ice Retention
  • Arrangement of items/ Space

Under these sections, you can find little hacks to get the most out of your cooler without the need of buying another one.

What type of Cooler do you have?

Different cooler sizes

How to keep ice from melting in a cooler?

Firstly, it would be a good idea to identify what type of cooler you have. Whether being a small personal Coleman cooler or a heavy duty Yeti Tundra, it is important to know the size and its capacity.

This can be seen on the inside of your cooler as a label, or it can be seen in your instruction booklet.

So let’s get to the Cooler Hack List!

Cooler Tips #1 – Space is everything, use it wisely

Depending on the cooler size (quart), You will be working in a tight space so it is best to pack wisely. A common mistake many cooler Packers do is to load the cooler with heaps of ice at the bottom, in aid to hopefully bury the cans and beer bottles in the midst of the chaos. This is not a bad idea, but bare in mind that you are reducing the number of potential cans that can be potentially fitted if structured orderly.

A fix to that is to arrange a nice layer of ice at the bottom, (acting as a buffer between the bottom of the cooler and the cans). Structure the items in an orderly fashion.
I have a small backpack cooler, so I pack my cooler in an orderly fashion of 4 x 4 cans, fitting into the nice small square cooler box. I happen to fill remaining gaps with extra ice blocks. This allows me to make the most of my space.

Cooler Tips #2 – If you can’t get ice, let your water become the ice

A picture of Ice with water illustrated

This is my favorite strategy and Reddit user r/steveninnewton couldn’t have said it better.

Here is the post – “When packing a cooler and need to maximize space, freeze water bottles to use as ice packs.

  • Light Blue – Ice
  • Dark Blue  – Water

The whole idea is mainly for people traveling light, and have no real reason to take up useless space, using ice packs or ice blocks. This is a great tip for making ice last longer with small coolers or even soft coolers when backpacking in the woods.

This ideally involves you filling a water bottle quarter way up (or 1/2), whereby you freeze the bottles overnight before hiking. The next morning you can fill the remainder with nice cool water.

You will now have cold water for hours, even days depending on your cooler, and in effect, you will have a cooling system inside a larger cooler. “cooler-ception”.

Cooler Tips #3 – Bring a Towel!

An Image of a towel for cooler leakage

… If you’re worried that your bottle would leak through, most soft coolers are leak proof, and should not leak. However, if you would like to keep your cooler as “wet-free” as possible the use of mini towels/paper towels serving as the cooler floor would reduce the amount of water bottles “sweating” if left in hot weather. Or just use a clean sock / Koozie as a nice cover.

Cooler Tips #4 – Close the lid, when not in use

How to keep ice from melting?… Close the lid!

Now this one sounds pretty obvious but it is amazing how much heat is being entered when you leave your cooler lid open for even a few minutes. If you’re interested in how coolers work; this article may be worth a read.

The theory is that convection currents of cool air is being lost, thus losing the ability to retain cool ice, reducing the ice retention time.

Cooler Tips #5 – Get a quality benchmark cooler

Coleman FlipLid 6 Personal Cooler - best soft ice chests

When I say this, I don’t mean you should go and spend over $400 on a cooler if you don’t wish to, there are some coolers that are just plain useless. But there are certain coolers we would recommend that are of great value for the price.

View on Amazon

The Coleman cooler is a great example of a personal cooler that can do the very basic exceptionally well, coming in different sizes (9-48 Quart). if you wish to look further into it,

Cooler Tips #6 – Keep the cooler away from the sunlight

I treat my coolers like vampires, they like to be cold, and away from the sunlight. A nice cover under the trees or shade, or If in open land a blanket or a towel can help reduce the breakdown of insulation within the cooler caused by the sun’s radiation. Increasing the ice retention.

Cooler Tips #7 – Make sure every item is secure to avoid spillage of contents

Water spillage on cooler floor

I’ve done this before on a hike, and believe me it not pleasant If possible pack your contents as compact as possible to reduce the amount of moving contents sloshing around in the cooler. This would avoid the lid from being forced open from the inside, and if your cooler has straps – use the Straps!

Cooler Tips #8 – Make the Ice cubes bigger with a balloon, takes longer to melt

Although I’ve never tried this method this seems pretty interesting the ideas is to increase the area of the ice cubes, this would take longer to melt, keeping contents cooler for longer.

To do this:

Fill a balloon with water, freeze the balloon and you’ve got yourself a larger ice cube which you can surround around the contents you wish to keep cold.

This is a strange one, but worth the try.

Cooler Tips #9 – Pre-chill the cooler and contents

This is an important step to get the most out of your cooler, if you’re packing cans, try putting them in the fridge overnight as well as putting your cooler in the freezer. This will chill the contents of your cans as well as lowering the temperature of the cooler’s interior. This would greatly reduce the ice used up from cooling the cooler insides directly – How to pack a cooler.

Cooler Tips #10 – …Or you can buy an efficient Cooler

The No.1 Pick of the Cooler Reviews

If you don’t want to go through all of these tips and tricks on how to make ice last longer, you can just buy a cooler which can do the trick, we have a compiled list of the best coolers of 2017.

The Yeti Tundra is our winner, although it can be a bit pricey there are other cheaper coolers like YETI with the same great ice retention.

This was inspired by Reddit LifeProTips, thanks for reading and please leave a comment behind!