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How To Keep Food Cold While Camping

By Jessie SwiftLast update: 2023-07-16

A common question from campers concerns the best way to keep food cold. Anyone would be annoyed by the prospect of food sickness while stuck in a remote location. Everyone wants food to stay delicious and cold while camping.

You will eat more and more nutritious food when using cold camping meals. Nothing compares to the delightful aroma of a cooking dinner as you sit by the campfire. Here are some important tips and step-by-step instructions for learning how to keep food cold while camping.

How To Keep Food Cold While Camping

How to store cold food when camping

Great outdoor activities include eating, chatting and sleeping there under the night sky. However, not having the right meals can lead to boredom after the first few days. During camping, keeping fresh items cold can be a challenge, typically no more than two days, you'll only have a handful of life-sustaining items or just sweets. You'll have enough to keep your food cold and consume as much as you want during your camping trip, no matter what type of trip you're enjoying. All you need to do is plan and organize your vacation ahead of time.

Pre-cool your cooler

If you want to carry perishable food with you, then freezer packing is a must. However, you won't want your cooler to cool all of your food.

Put some ice in the fridge for a few hours when you put your food in if you're wondering how to keep it cold. Simple ice cubes will do this well, but they should not be used while packing food. And if you're lucky enough to own a full-sized freezer, putting an entire cooler inside it is one of the best methods to get it really cold.

Before leaving, cool or freeze food

Prepare your meals before camping vacation to reduce stress to a large extent. This can greatly reduce your anxiety, especially if your product contains meat. Then, in order for the cooler to stay cold longer, food and drinks need to be frozen or cooled before going out. Alternatively, you can always buy some pre-frozen foods from your local grocery store to save time.

You will want to pack all fresh foods inside freezer bags. If you don't want defrosted food to contaminate the rest of the food in the fridge, raw meat should always be carefully sealed as any contamination can be harmful.

How To Keep Food Cold While Camping

Bring some ice packs.

Choosing the right rock for camping is very important. If you want to chill your fridge before you leave, please use the ice pack you bought at the store. However, to keep food cold after you leave, this type of freezing is not optimal. The ice will melt quickly due to the large air volume of the small blocks. Also, a damaged bag or some loose ice can cause water to get into unwanted places. Use a sizable piece of ice in place of bricks. Block ice is a much superior option because it keeps its cold for a very long period.

Dry ice

An extremely cold type of rock called dry ice is formed from carbon dioxide, not water. For extra cooling, some campers choose to use dry ice packs. However, because they need to be handled with more care, we do not recommend using regular dry ice packs. Be careful to wear warm gloves if you decide to use it. Please note that carbon dioxide, not water, is created when dry ice melts, so keep that in mind. Therefore, it should be kept out of reach of humans and animals.

The pressure inside the cooler eventually increases as the dry ice melts and releases the gas. To make sure the lid doesn't come off when using a lot of dry ice, it's a good idea to open the lid from time to time.

How To Keep Food Cold While Camping

Organize food neatly in your refrigerator.

The food that has to be handled with care should be placed closest to that same bottom of the refrigerators when packing a refrigerators for a camping trip. Any meat or frozen food must therefore remain at the bottom. Make sure to double-pack frozen food in freezer bags and wrap it in aluminum foil when storing meat or other foods that provide a severe risk of cross-contamination.

Move the meat towards the top layer if it has to be defrosted. Your food will stay cold longer if you layer it along with ice cubes and ice packs. Stack three layers of ice: one on the bottom, one over the meat, and one more on top.

Bring two coolers

Regarding the previous point, having two coolers is probably a good idea if you have the room and the money. Food and drinks are kept in separate refrigerators. There are many advantages for this. Surely more people will use the beverage fridge. Due to the large volume of visitors, the cooler will frequently open and close, allowing warm air to enter as cold air leaves. With two coolers, it can be ensured that the food cooler is opened only when absolutely necessary and guests can add water to their glasses whenever they want.

How To Keep Food Cold While Camping

You should close the refrigerator as much as possible.

To keep food cold, do not open the refrigerator much, it is important to maintain a cold temperature in the cooler. When you close the lid, high heat will flow in here to replace the cold. Most of the time, I will close my refrigerator to maintain long-term cooling.

Do not expose your cooler to the sun.

Protect from light to prevent ice from melting and food from going rancid. To keep things cold while camping, try to keep the fridge in the shade as much as possible. Large tree trunks, your car, tent and other items are some of the best places to get some shade, setting up your own tarp to use as a storage space when camping. As the day goes on, notice how the sun moves across the sky and how the shadows are changing.

How To Keep Food Cold While Camping

Freeze water bottles

During your camping vacation, bring plenty of drinking water and consider freezing it. Coolers will stay cooler for a longer time if you use them as large ice cubes. On the other hand, this may imply that they take some time to set and should be kept in the refrigerator for at least four days before going camping. However, keep in mind that some water may be needed urgently and frozen water bottles can take a while to thaw.

Water has salt in it

If you want to chill, add 1/4 cup of salt to the plastic bottle you just used to hold the water. Salted water will freeze faster and more efficiently. Just remember to label the water bottle so you can tell when defrosting the water is salty or not.

Proper food storage

When you go camping, not every food you bring needs to be frozen. In the car or in an airtight container you can store dry items including bread, bananas, cakes, chips, etc. as they can be left at the room temperature.

How To Keep Food Cold While Camping


A good travel dinner starts with keeping your food cold. If you are looking for great recipes for delicious camping food. These tips will make it easy to keep food cold while camping. You can enjoy your journey without worrying that your food will spoil by using refrigerators and smart packaging. Then use these suggestions on your next camping trip. Properly storing food will give you more space to store foods that need to be refrigerated. Spending time with the people you love while enjoying the tranquility of nature should be the focus of outdoor experiences, ignoring worries about spoiled food. You can develop some serious health problems if you don't store food properly.

"I'm Jessie, being an author for gearinstant, an office job? No, with internet, I can be a digital nomad everywhere, I enjoyed cycling, running whenever I can. I'd love to share my experience from the gears, useful tips and learned for everybody who have the same passion like me."

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