Camping: how do you keep food fresh in a cooler?

Camping:how do you keep food fresh in a cooler?

It's time to go on holiday! The boot of the car is full. You just need to find a little space for the last little bits and pieces. And then off you go for a few days or a few weeks of adventure. All this, with a minimum of comfort and something nice to eat, because nature increases your appetite.

Here are some tips on how to choose and use your cooler well. To sum-up, enough to keep you safe from unpleasant surprises.

Isothermal backpacks, soft or electric coolers:how do you choose?

There's no miracle, to keep your food fresh, especially if you're going out in the sun, it's best to equip yourself with a cooler. Good news: You can find for all needs and for all budgets. To guide you in buying a cooler, we've had a good look at what's on the market for you. Off we go for a quick review and some useful tips for choosing your portable fridge 😉

How do you use a cooler?

Once you're well equipped, focus on the best way to use your cooler or your isothermal backpack. And if it was more technical to use than you thought it was!? Let's start with the 3 useful tips for, before during and after your camping trip.

Before leaving: you need to think of cooling down the cooler or the cooler backpack by avoiding to leave it in direct sunlight and keeping it in a cool place. You especially need to place freezer packs for a few hours at the bottom of the cooler or backpack. Of course, when filling the cooler just before leaving, replace them with fresh freezer packs out of the freezer. BONUS: you can also add a bottle of frozen water or fruit juice.

During the trip: avoid opening and closing the cooler too often.We are not going to go into scientific explanations, but to put it simply, when you open the cooler, hot air enters and melts the freezer packs more quickly.

The best idea to avoid going back and forth into the “fridge”: a second cooler where you keep the drinks. An isothermal backpack works well too!

Another good idea:change the freezer packs regularly. When camping, it is often possible to ask the reception to place them in a freezer for a few hours. So take along enough freezer packs so that you can alternate them.

And one last good idea (yes, we're never done): list the contents of the cooler or store certain food in boxes that are easily recognizable by the colour of their lids.Convenient to avoid emptying everything to get the yoghurt or butter at the bottom.

After the trip: empty and clean the cooler or isothermal backpack.This is the best way to keep it for as long as possible. It would be a pity if you can't use it for your next holiday.


What foods can be put in a cooler or isothermal backpack?

Practically, everything.Theoretically, it's best to be careful and not risk an indigestion.Let's be careful with perishable goods. It would be a shame to ruin your holiday because of poorly preserved food, right? To avoid the worst, here's a little advice.

Dry foods do not need to be kept in a cooler or isothermal backpack.They might get wet and then all you can do is throw them away. Of course, don't store them in full sunlight. Store them in the shade, in an airtight bag or box ideally, away from small animals. And little fingers, when it's not yet time for tea.

Meat and prepared meals can be frozen before leaving. That way, they last longer.They must not have been frozen and thawed beforehand.

Choose instead food that keeps well. And then, once there, it's a pleasure (when possible) to do your shopping in a local market.Fresh seasonal fruit and veg is always better.

Soft cooler quechua

Where do you place the freezer pack and the food in a cooler?

Let's start with freezer packs at the bottom of the isothermal backpack.
Good to know: big freezer blocks defrost slower than small freezer blocks.

Then place the most sensitive food, meat for example, the closest to the freezer packs. However, avoid placing dairy products, which risk freezing, next to freezer blocks/ice.

Hot air rises upwards and cold air goes downwards. Therefore store the food layer by layer, the least fragile at the top and what we want to keep longer, at the bottom.The good idea:store what you are going to eat the fastest at the top of the cooler.

Don't leave spare space in the cooler. If it is not full, add as many freezer packs as possible, or even a few ice cubes scattered on top of the food. Yes... more chemistry for you, but the more air there is, the faster ice melts. Stop when it starts to overflow.You must be able to close the cooler hermetically for the best insulation.

Lastly, think of keeping it in the shade, because the ice will melt 2 times slower.

If your thing is more like hiking over several days or a bivouac, we do not advise you to carry a cooler or an insulated backpack. To make it more practical, there are adapted meals that can be stored easily so no need to ask yourself any questions. 

On the other hand, if you are thinking of going out for the day and you want to use an all-in-one, we advise you the Escape backpack that has an isothermal and modular pocket where you can put your picnic to keep it fresh and cool.

Quechua backpack with isothermal pocket

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