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road trip refrigeration- 4 ideas on how to keep food cool while traveling and camping

keep food fresh while traveling and camping

keeping food fresh while traveling and camping, is going to be a priority. here are a few different set ups to make this possible. you should approach this with proper planning.

10 day cooler by RTIC
RTIC 10 day cooler


first off, everyone needs a cooler. if you only take day trips, most basic coolers will do. even a good cooler backpack can help. everybody else, should invest in a decent 7-10 day cooler. i use an RTIC brand cooler. i find the quality to be good and reliable. by the way, when a cooler boasts 7-10 days, it means the rating is for when the cooler is packed full with only ice, and under normal conditions. under those circumstances, the ice itself should last that long. otherwise, many factors are involved in determining the rating. usually, during actual usage, ice doesn’t hold up as long. here’s a few tips on getting the most efficiency out of any cooler.

  • keep the cover closed and tight.
  • keep out of the sun!
  • put it in the coolest area of room or vehicle.
  • let hot items cool down before placing in cooler.
  • try to keep it full of food or ice, avoid spare room.
  • keep some cold melt water inside helps to moderate the temperature.
  • if you can find solid block ice, it lasts longer.

some other basic cooler tips:

  • clean out and sanitize every once in awhile.
  • wash containers before placing inside.
  • remove labels, and paper packaging. clean off any glue residues from labels.
  • always use leak-proof packaging. spills are no good.
ice cooler type backpack
handy insulated roll top backpack

ice cooler type backpacks

I own an ice cooler back pack, in addition to my hard shell 10 day RTIC cooler. I have found it to be useful in many situations: Biking to the closest gas station to grab an emergency bag of ice. As an annex to my cooler. Bringing cold cans and snacks on hikes from the campsite. To store cold items from the grocery store before i can put them in the cooler. Prices range, and some of These can get expensive. However, I found an affordable one at my local target. it’s handy, i use it all the time. And if you’re just doing a day-trip from home, this may be all you need. I suggest getting a hold of one if you can!

12v mini fridge

I admit i bought one of these thinking it might be more useful than it was. And it still could be if you are in the right situation for one. What i found, is that when i wasn’t driving all day, i couldn’t keep everything cool enough and would panic. I ended up running my generator way too often. Nobody wants spoiled food and the associated waste. So, unless you can get an energy efficient one like an iceco brand, and have a battery bank with solar panels, skip this option. I still have mine, and when i can afford a solar installation on my van roof, i’ll revisit this.

honda eu1000i generator, portable ice maker, and RTIC cooler
my three amigos

generator and portable ice maker

This is a pretty good option and what i currently use. It allows me to stay camped out, without emergency trips to civilization. Plus, i don’t need to run my van’s engine to power it. The generator I use is a honda eu1000i. it is reliable, efficient and very quiet for a generator. sure, it takes gas, but much less than if you need to pick up ice every day or two. and while i’m making ice, i charge up my devices and any other rechargeable equipment. keep in mind, that generators need their oil changed regularly like a vehicle. and that it’s best to keep enough things plugged in while the generator is running. running them without a load, shortens the units lifespan. and get a honda. hands down the best.

Most portable table top ice makers will do. but you can research the ones currently that are the most efficient, compact and economical. and great for home use as well.

handy portable ice maker
another handy gadget: the portable ice maker

putting it all together

if you’re just doing short trips or only eating at restaurants the simpler options will work fine. But for people, who like myself, spend most of the year on the road, or camp for extended periods, and are in remote locations frequently. I suggest getting a honda portable generator to power a portable ice maker to fill your 10 day cooler. Or if you have a good sized battery bank and solar, try an efficient 12v mini fridge. Most people could use to have a 10 day cooler anyways. In case of a power outage at home or the occasional picnic and/or tailgating event. An ice maker may also be a useful appliance for around the home when your there. you can use it For parties or just some cool summer drinks. You could also have an ice cooler backpack on stand-by for trips to the grocery store or hikes and picnics. All of these items are useful for home life emergencies, and as a basis for keeping things fresh and cool when your on the road.

RTIC cooler, honda eu1000i generator, and portable ice machine
my system for refrigeration on the road

for more road trip and camp gear ideas click here.

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