How To Keep Food Cold While Camping?

How To Keep Food Cold While Camping?

Last Updated: December 20, 2021

Packing dry food for camping is the most tried and tested way to survive without stress. 

But if know how to keep food cold while camping without technology, then you too can satiate your craving for steaks and veggies during those challenging outdoor stays.

Camping is all about connecting with nature away from luxury to enjoy some peaceful time with friends and family. 

But that doesn’t mean that you have to survive on dry food and completely ignore your cravings. 

So, today we will share some tricks about how to keep food cold, frozen, and crisp for long while camping so that you can confidently extend some extra days in the wild.


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11 Ways To Keep Food Cold While Camping

Deep Freeze Uncooked Food To Keep It Cold For A Long Time


The simplest way to extend the freshness of uncooked food is to deep freeze before packing them for camping.

For a better experience, we suggest you buy frozen food or freeze uncooked food and store them in a deep freezer before taking them out for packing.

Storing uncooked food in a deep freezer will help to lock its freshness and edibility which is crucial during outdoor stays when you don’t have many options to choose from.

The only way to survive in the wild outdoors is to eat healthily and save limited supplies for the rest of your camping days. 

While you are stashing food in the freezer, make sure to cover them under enough ice and avoid opening the freezer frequently. 

This one simple hack will keep the food fresh and cold for a long time once you transfer them into the camping cooler.

Freeze Your Drinking Water Bottle

While prepping for camping the most common concern is how to keep food and beverages cold for a long time. 

But there is nothing to stress much on packing and preserving food for camping.

We shared hacks to keep uncooked food cold for long and now we will give you tips to stay sufficient with enough drinking water throughout camping. 

Availability of fresh drinking water is of prime importance when you are off to unknown camping sites as drinking water from wild sources can be dangerous. 

So stash enough packaged bottles of drinking water in the deep freezer to freeze them instead of carrying ice packs. 

This brilliant idea will not only keep you confident of sufficient drinking water but the layering of frozen bottles inside the freezer will keep food cold while camping and will also keep its freshness intact for long.

You will also have the privilege to drink ice cold water once you are at the campsite, especially when you are camping in summer. 

Strategically Arrange Food Inside The Cooler To Keep Food Cold & Safe While Camping

Strategically Arrange Food Inside The Cooler To Keep Food Cold & Safe While Going Camping

If you have a knack for organizing things, then this trait can help you to survive on fresh food while camping. 

Wondering how? 

It all depends on how strategically you can arrange supplies in the camping cooler.

To do it the right way here’s some steps you can refer to:

  • Layer the bottom of the cooler with a thick sheet of ice and then place the frozen foods like canned meat or items that can last longer with another layer of ice above.
  • Now stuff the packaged uncooked items above that you are planning to cook during camping. 
  • And then pack the food items for breakfasts or other delicate items on top that you can easily access.

Now it’s time to place the frozen beverages and water bottles in an organized way to add some extra chills inside.

You can also plan ahead and arrange the food day-wise (the food to be consumed last will go at the bottom of the freezer and so on).

This way your food will be cold and frozen for long, as you will be able to quickly access the food to be cooked and minimize the opening and closing of the cooler. 

Use Your Cooler Less Often To Keep Food Cold While Camping

If you want the supply of fresh food coming till your last day in the wild, you must use the cooler smartly. 

The simplest way to do it is not to open it too frequently and also instruct your kids to do the same.

This is a great way to keep food safe and cold while camping. 

Whenever you are opening the cooler to take ingredients out for cooking, make a list of what you need beforehand and get everything out at once from the cooler. 

This will help the unit to work efficiently in keeping food and drinks cold for a long time.

The more frequently you open the cooler, hot air from outside will get in to disrupt the cooling system and you won’t be able to keep the food cold for long.

Also, some of the perishable food items may get spoiled once the cooler reaches room temperature. 

Keep Your Cooler Away From Direct Sunlight

The camping cooler that you are carrying is your only source of fresh food till the last day. 

So make sure to use it the right way to never run out of fresh supplies.

While traveling to the campsite by car, turn on the AC to keep the cooling unit working, efficiently. 

Throughout the way, try not to roll down the car windows unless it’s that important, or even if you have to halt somewhere, keep the windows closed and car doors closed.

Never keep your cooler in the trunk if your goal is to keep the food cold for longer while going camping, as the trunk gets heated fast. 

Exposing the cooler to heat will hamper its efficiency and may ruin the freshness of the food which in turn will ruin your perfect camping trip with friends and family. 

Also, while walking on your way to the spot, wrap the cooler with a heavy damp towel to shield it from direct sunlight and environmental heat. 

Store Food and Drinks Separately To Keep Them Cool For Long

Store Food and Drinks Separately To Keep Them Cool For Long

Even if you are following every measure to keep food and drinks cold in the cooler, you might not be able to maintain that while traveling with kids or friends.

No matter how strict you are, you cannot prevent yourself or others from getting their favorite drinks or water bottles out from time to time.

So to make it a convenient affair, carry 2 coolers than getting pissed off with such unmanageable situations. 

In one cooler you can arrange all the food strategically as mentioned earlier and in the other, you can stash all the beverage cans and water bottles to quest their uncontrollable thirst. 

After all, you too will agree that hydration is more important than food and children need it the most. 

So rather than barring your friends or kids from frequently opening the cooler, make it uncomplicated by carrying two coolers and you will be able to keep food cold for long while camping.

Use A Mix of Large and Small Blocks Of Ice

Use A Mix of Large and Small Blocks Of Ice

Keeping food cold while camping will no more be a concern if you know the correct technique of layering ice cubes inside the cooler.

No matter, how thoughtfully you organize food inside the cooler, all your effort will fail if there is not sufficient ice to keep food cold and fresh. 

So, the first thing to do is to add large blocks of ice at the base, and then put perishable food with another layer of ice above. 

Similarly, add food stock with a layer of ice on every set and sum up the packing with small cubes and crushed ice on top.

Now that you know the technique of ice layering inside the camping cooler, you can survive confidently on the fresh stock of food till the last day of your camping trip.

Use Ice Packs To Keep Food Cold Longer

Ice packs are the most widely used item to keep food cold for long. 

You can easily get these packs to preserve food and beverages but the question is for how long? 

Any branded ice packs claim to keep your food crisp and fresh for 12 hours which is true to some extent but not always. 

But you can extend the utility by keeping the packs in the freezer for 24 hours before putting them in the cooler to keep food cold while camping.

However, to keep your food cold for long while camping you can buy Healthy Packers Ice Pack as it comes with 8 slim ice packs that are lightweight and portable and easily pass through TSA security checkpoints. 

The best part is your cooler or packed frozen food will not get all wet after the pack starts reaching normal temperature. It will keep your cooler or backpack dry. 

These lightweight ice packs easily fit into your camping cooler without occupying much space. You can safely use these packs to layer your camping food stock along with a generous amount of ice cubes and blocks. 

To summarize, here are the advantages of buying this ice pack: 

  • It is available in 2 different pack sizes
  • The packs are reusable and made from 100% non-toxic materials
  • It is perfect for everyday use in lunchboxes, breastmilk bags, bento boxes, and coolers, obviously.
  • Sleek and lightweight
  • TSA-certified long-lasting ice packs are safe for international travel.

Don’t forget to pre-freeze the hard gel ice packs as we have mentioned already to extend its utility than the actual timeframe.

Buy A Good Quality Cooler

While you look for smarter hacks to preserve food fresh during camping, there is no match for a good quality cooler in keeping food and drinks cold for long.

So, if you are worried about how to keep food cold while camping for 3 days, then investing in a camping cooler is the only way to solve your anxiety. 

Coolers not only keep food fresh but are also the safest means to carry meals for the whole squad. 

To help you make the best purchase, here we recommend Igloo 52 Qt BMX cooler known for its advanced features and functionalities.

Some of the features of this cooler that will tempt you to buy it instantly 

  • This heavy-duty cooler has a reinforced base for added durability.
  • Its extra-thick foam walls and lid ensures ice retention for 4 days even at 90 degrees F.
  • Have UV inhibitors for superior protection against sun damage.
  • Can assimilate 49 liters of stock inside.
  • Available in 5 stunning color options.
  • Its rust-resistant, stainless steel hinge rods and premium hardware ensure improved lasting performance for more camping trips to come.

Investing in a good quality cooler will not only keep your food cold and safe but will also make your camping days worry-free when you stay confident with a fresh stock of food and beverages to feed your entire gang.

Use Dry Ice As A Last Resort

Use Dry Ice As A Last Resort

If you hate the puddles of melted ice inside the cooler, use dry ice as it simply evaporates without creating any mess. 

But before you rush to get dry ice you must know what they are and if they are safe for preserving food. 

Dry ice is nothing but solidified CO2 that is mostly used as a last resort to keep food cold and fresh during outdoor stays.

Before stuffing dry ice in the cooler make sure the unit has a vent or a drainage cap to let the gas out that forms with the sublimation of dry ice. 

If there is no ventilation, then extreme pressure of gas inside can damage the functionality of the cooler. 

Also, don’t forget to wear gloves while handling dry ice as they are freezingly cold and can damage bare skin.

Dry ice generally lasts for 18 – 24 hours if kept in a cooler, and also depends on the brick size so it’s best to invest in a good quality cooler which we have mentioned above to extend its shelf life.

Use Salty Ice Cubes To Keep Food Cold and Frozen For Long

Sometimes improvising a bit can make things better, wondering why? 

If you are a frequent traveler or often go camping with your squad then knowing this trick can help you preserve food for longer days.

To ensure maximum cooling retention inside the cooler, add some salt to the cubes and see how it makes a big difference in keeping the food cold than the regular freshwater ice cubes.

Adding salt has been an old technique applied by the ice cream makers that you can also use to keep food cool. 

Here’s how it works – When you add salt to water it disrupts the hydrogen bonding that holds the molecules together. As a result of which the heat retention capacity of the water decreases reaching 0 degrees to -21 degrees C keeping food cold for long.

Carry Cooler Backpack

Nothing is more convenient than carrying an insulated cooler backpack to camping. 

Cooler backpacks are travel-friendly camping essentials that you can easily carry on your back than tiring yourself by lifting a bulky cooler.

Cooler backpacks are a lifesaver that serves you fresh food after a long day trailing or hiking which is nothing more than a treat in the wild. 

So gear up to confidently survive camping on crisp food supplies with TOURIT Cooler Backpack. So, what can you expect from this stylish and functional camping gear?

  • Crafted with premium insulation material to keep hot food hot and cold food cold for 16 hours.
  • Can assimilate up to 30 cans (330ml) with enough space for other daily use essentials.
  • Lightweight and waterproof bag with multiple storage pockets and 1 beer opener on the strap.
  • Ideal for beach trips, camping, and other outdoor activities.

This large capacity cooling backpack is 100 times a better choice in keeping food cold than the heavy and space-consuming camping coolers. 

Haven’t yet tried one?

Now, make your camping trip more enjoyable and less exhausting with this stylish cooler backpack that not only looks cool but is also a very convenient solution in keeping food cold and crisp while camping.

Final Thoughts

How to keep food cold while camping is a concern when you are planning a long vacation in the wild and want to enjoy the crispness of fresh food that delights everyone.

Though things are manageable for lone campers, when traveling with family and kids, you have to stock food for long considering the uncertainties.

This is why it is crucial to travel with enough food supply to ensure your family is never out of nutrition. 

Before heading off on the final day, make sure to refer to the tips and tricks we have mentioned in this article to keep your food and beverages cold for longer while going camping. 

Do you have any other tricks to keep food cold while camping? Let us know in the comment box.

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