Two of the greatest campsite pleasures are sipping chilled drinks and gobbling down a fatty fry-up. However, without some kind of cooling you could be faced with lukewarm larger and iffy eggs. So with summer arriving, we thought it would be a good time to run you through the different cooling solutions and explain how to get the best out of them.
Getting The Best Out Of Your Cooler
As the best practice for cooler use is the same regardless which type you have let’s get started by running through our top cooler tips;
- Pre-chill It– Make sure the things you put in your cooler are already as cold as possible. If you can get away with pre-freezing items do so as this will greatly boost the cooling duration. Also, when buying food during a trip always shop from the chiller cabinet or freezer section where possible.
- Fill It – When you open a half full cooler most of its nice cool contents (the air) will simply drift away. Keeping it topped up with food or drinks will prevent this from happening. If you find yourself in the unfortunate situation where your shopping doesn’t quite fill it up you’ll just have to add a little more chilled beer or wine (what a shame).
- Shut It – Try to minimise the amount of time your cooler is open and also put chilled items back as soon as you’re finished with them.
- Ice Pack It – Don’t scrimp on the ice packs! If you have extra space and need more ice packs in a hurry fill some old plastic bottles with water and freeze them. Just remember to crush the bottles slightly before screwing them shut to allow the water to expand as it freezes.
Now you know how to maximise your cooling power, let’s talk about the different coolers available.
Ideal if you want to keep things cool for up to 12hrs. Cool bags are lightweight, inexpensive and are the least bulky cooler option. Cool bags are best suited for things like picnics or for keeping items cool until you reach accommodation equipped with a proper fridge.
Cool Boxes (Passive Cool Boxes)
If you follow our advice above when using a cool box it can be effective for as much as 24-48hrs. That said it tends to be the larger versions that are able to provide 2 days of cooling. Generally speaking cool boxes are robust and good value for money, however, they are bulkier so make sure they’ll fit the space you have available in your car.
It is also possible to achieve long-term cooling with a passive cool box if you plan ahead. Many campsites provide facilities for refreezing ice packs so if you check for availability and take two sets of ice packs you can keep things cool indefinitely.
Powered Cool Boxes (Thermoelectric Cool Boxes)
Increasingly popular and with good reason, thermoelectric cool boxes allow cooling without the use of ice packs. Depending on the model a powered cool box will cool between 15-25°C below the outside temperature. It is, however, important to be aware they are not fridges so will struggle to cool down non-chilled items, and on hotter days won’t cool as well as in more normal conditions.
For power most now have a mains option (domestic plug) as well as a 12 volt option (car cigarette lighter plug). As so many campsites now have mains hook-up available the mains option has become essential, however, they do need a mobile mains kit on most sites to connect them up.
Just one word of warning it is essential that powered cool boxes are never run on 12 volt when the car’s engine is switched off as this can quickly drain the battery. Instead when you reach your destination switch over to main power or (if a freezer is available) add ice packs and use as a passive cool box.
We hope with this advice will make lukewarm lettuce the thing of the past. If you have any further tips for keeping things cool we’d love to hear them. Until next time, happy camping!