When you are spending a lot of time outdoors, hiking, fishing or just chilling out by the lake, having a cool drink by your side can be very helpful, if not necessary. Especially in the spring and summer months.
Whether you are sipping on water, soda, juice or alcoholic beverages, cold drinks taste much better than lukewarm beverages. It is why you may want to invest in a high-quality ice cooler for your trip. Having a cooler, a good one, is the best way to easily store, carry and cool your drinks with minimal effort.
Here is a short guide that will help you understand the best qualities of a high-quality ice chest or ice cooler, along with tips on the type of cooler you may need for your hiking trip (or any other outdoor activity):
Ice Cooler Features
If you are considering going on a trip, whether it is for a weekend or a few weeks, you will want to take a cooler with you. The best type of ice cooler is one that will have great insulation throughout its body. It is not just about keeping the food and drinks at the very bottom or top cool – they should be cool throughout the ice chest.
Another great feature is when the lid fits tightly. The last thing you want is a lot of air escaping or getting into the cooler. Every time that happens, you are running the risk of your beverages getting warm a lot quicker. If you have the cooler shut, it should be completely sealed.
Coolers that feature an insert for storage bins and a drain plug can also come in handy. But the most important thing is that your ice cooler has the space that you need to keep all your drinks and small food items. In some ways, the cooler you choose will depend on how many people are going on your trip.
If you are going on a trip with a family, we recommend that you look at ice chests and ice coolers that have over 100-quart capacity. Companies like RTIC have those in the offer, as well as many others.
These are the coolers that will be able to easily store all the drinks that you will need for a given day on your trip. Now you may think that having such a big cooler is overkill. But the truth is that when you are in the outdoors, you will realize that you made the perfect decision.
Packing Your Cooler
If you are planning on taking an ice cooler on a trip then you will need to ensure that you are packing it correctly. It is a common mistake made by people who have never been camping or on day trips to the beach. They will pack up their cooler in whatever way seems most convenient at the time.
When it does not perform in the way they expected, they will be disappointed in its performance. It is much better when you read some tips about packing and using your cooler, which will allow you to get the most out of it.
One of the best tips is to pre-chill the items that you are keeping inside the cooler. It is one thing to put warm drinks in an ice cooler if you are just spending a few hours outside in your backyard. In that case, you want the beverages cooled right away and you can always get more ice from your freezer.
But when you are outdoors, you do not have that chance. What you will want to do is make sure that everything is chilled and your ice is completely frozen before it is going in your cooler.
Put any food items in there first. Then cover them up with ice. If you’re throwing in some frozen ice packs – as some people do to improve ice retention further – make sure you’re using the top rated ones. Ice packs do not cost a lot, so take our advice and don’t save a few dollars here, just get the best ones out there.
While packing stuff into the cooler, it is best to put your items first, otherwise, you run the risk of having all the items on top where they are not getting the necessary cooling.
Using Your Ice Cooler
Now that you have filled up your cooler in the best way possible, it is time to think about how you will be using it in the great outdoors. An obvious tip is that you should have your cooler in the shade. Even in the summer, the sun can make a huge difference to how quickly your ice melts.
Another tip is that you should only be opening your cooler when you know that you need to get a drink from it. You will not want to open it every few minutes, because it is only going to result in your cooler letting in too much heat.
We made that mistake the first time we went camping. Every few minutes, we would open up the cooler to see what drinks we could choose next. But it only ended up causing the ice to melt very quickly. Now we know better, which is why our drinks stay cold for many hours!