7 Tips for Keeping Your Cooler Cold

Marc Sorensen and Chris Studdert, the founders of Blue Coolers, have spent their lives exploring Utah’s unique landscapes with their families through camping, boating, and hunting. When it came to finding the perfect cooler, they were looking for something durable, reliable, and affordable, and couldn’t seem to find the one that checked all their boxes. In 2018, after a long search, they decided to take matters in their own hands. Dedicated to making the cooler Marc and Chris could never quite find, Blue Coolers are every bit as tough and reliable as you’d ever want them to be, all while being affordably priced.

With decades of experience in Utah’s deserts and mountains, combined with years of creating the ultimate cooler, Marc, Chris, and the rest of the team at Blue Coolers have learned a lot about how to get the most out of your cooler. These are Blue Coolers’ top seven tips and tricks for optimizing your cooler in order to keep your food and drink as cool and crisp as possible, even in the hottest months.

7. Pre-chill cooler

The whole idea behind optimizing your cooler is trying to keep things as cold as possible, for as long as possible. The first step to getting the most out of your cooler is to pre-chill it, ideally for up to 24 hours before your trip. This is where the first hero of your journey comes in, the sacrificial ice bag. The duty of this first ice bag is to bring your cooler from garage temperature down to fridge temperature. Alternatively, if you don’t want to offer up an unblemished bag of ice, (or don’t want to pay for an extra one) you can always use frozen water bottles or freeze water in an empty milk jug for a similar effect.

6. Pre-chill food and beverages

Use your fridge and freezer at home while you still have it. As your sacrificial ice bag is doing its duty in the hours before you take off for the weekend, pack everything you’re wanting to eat on your adventure into the fridge. The colder your food is before you pack it up, the longer it’ll stay cold. If you place warm food in a cold cooler, a lot of the cold you’ve cultivated will be wasted. As an added tip, consider placing a frozen pie in the bottom of your cooler before heading out for the weekend. The pie will gradually thaw out to the perfect temperature just when it’s about time to break camp and head home, letting you end your adventure with a delicious treat.

5. Leave no air space

Having dead space in your cooler can contribute to and even accelerate ice melt. With empty space, soon, the very thing dedicated to keeping your drinks perfectly chilled will split its attention between your food and wasted space. To get the most out of your ice and your cooler, pack it full of as much ice and cold food or drink as you can. After all, are you really going to be upset if there are leftover cold ones at the end of the trip? If you still have significant dead space in your cooler and no more ice or food to spare, fill the space with a towel instead.

4. Keep a lid on it

Getting the most out of your cooler is as much about keeping warm air out as it is keeping the cold inside. Every time you expose your tiny tundra to the summer heat, you’re losing cold that is hard to recover, making your ice melt faster. For the same reason you shut the windows while the AC is running, keeping the cooler’s lid closed and properly strapped down as much as possible will go a long way in ice retention. To avoid wasting valuable seconds digging through ice and losing that precious cold to the warm summer air, pack your cooler intentionally. Know what drinks are where and put the items you’ll need first near the top. A little organization goes a long way!

3. Stay in the shade

It’s always warmer in the sun, plain and simple. Exposing your cooler to direct sunlight will compromise the fragile environment you’ve created inside, shortening your window to maintain ice-cold food. With this in mind, keeping your cooler in the shade is one of the most important things you can do to make your food colder for longer. In fact, a shaded cooler will help it retain ice for nearly twice as long as a cooler left neglected to the sun or in the car. If there’s no shade available to you, cover the cooler with a light-colored towel that will reflect some of the sun’s light and heat.

2. Don’t drain the water

If there’s anything we’ve learned from Frosty the Snowman, it’s that all ice melts eventually. But don’t panic! Even when it does, it might not be as bad as it seems. This lesson applies to your cooler just as much as it does to magical snowmen. As the days go by, you’ll start to notice that your ice is gradually turning into water. Rather than dumping it, make sure you keep that water in your cooler for as long as possible. This water is still very cold, and it helps to insulate the surviving ice. Keep in mind that it’s better to have a little water in your cooler than to replace it with empty air.

1. Know your ice

The last tip for optimizing your cooler comes in three parts. Ice comes in all kinds of shapes, sizes, densities, and clarities. Understanding these differences is crucial to helping you come up with the perfect cooling strategy for your next journey.

First, consider the differences between blocked ice and cubed ice. Blocks of ice are larger, taking more space in your cooler and melting more slowly, while cubed ice cools your food faster but melts relatively quickly. Consider using a mix of both kinds to help you make the most of your cooler.

Second, the color of your ice tells you how dense it is. Clear ice is pure water, meaning it’s denser and will melt slower. Cloudy ice, on the other hand, is full of air pockets which means it will melt much faster and, unfortunately, won’t do as good a job cooling your food in the first place. Opt for clearer ice for a longer shelf life.

Finally, remember that ice temperatures vary greatly. Wet ice is probably hovering right around the melting point of 32-degrees Fahrenheit. Dryer ice usually means its colder, and as we all know, the colder your ice the longer it’s going to take to warm back up. Choose your ice carefully, and you’ll be ready to rock and roll in no time.

No matter your adventure, nothing beats having great food and ice-cold drinks to either kick-off or close out the day. Whether you’re making pancakes and eggs on a chilly morning or scarfing down a bowl of pasta at sunset, your cooler is an integral part of your experience — one that keeps time in the mountains feeling a lot like a home away from home. By implementing these tips and tricks from Blue Cooler’s experts, you’ll be enjoying dope meals all weekend long.