What’s the Best Way to Keep Food and Drinks Cold When Camping?

Camping should be a fun activity and not feel like a chore. However, when it comes to packing for any outdoor trip, there’s nothing wrong with being over-prepared. Essentials like tents, flashlights, and first aid kits are great, but you must pack enough food and drinks.

On top of this, you also must ensure your food and drinks stay fresh for long periods. In many ways, a camping freezer can make all the difference.

Also known as powered coolers or portable freezers, it keeps food fresh or frozen, making them a significant investment. A spare power supply or a generator can be convenient when convenience stores are too far.

Camping, Refrigeration, and You

Camping usually comes with long road trips and outdoor adventures in the summer. In many countries, camping is synonymous with summer, but it also means it can get pretty hot. This heat can be annoying, but in some cases, life-threatening due to heatstroke.

Staying hydrated and staying cool are generally good rules of thumb, and refrigerators make both so much easier.

Bags of ice can only do so much since they eventually melt and need to be replaced. In areas where temperatures can reach as high as 35 degrees Celsius (95 degrees Fahrenheit), ice-cold drinks are essential.

Refrigerators also offer more in terms of performance and storage capacity than a battery-powered cool box. While the latter is good for keeping drinks cold, it only provides limited control over their temperatures.

What’s the Best Way to Keep Refreshments Cool When Camping?

New or inexperienced campers often run into the problem of keeping things cool when going out. Because hot weather makes it easy for drinks to warm and food to spoil, cooling matters a lot.

To ensure that your food and drinks stay cold or frozen, consider the following:

  1. Pre-chilled coolers

Putting cold food in a warm cooler will increase the food’s temperature and make it more prone to spoiling.

To prevent spoiling, it’s generally good to add ice packs for at least a few hours before putting food in. You can pre-chill your cooler the night before the trip, take out the water, and add in new ice.

  1. Powered coolers

A battery-operated cool box works similarly to a fridge but is generally much less powerful. Electric coolers don’t need to use ice packs, making them a step up from regular coolers that do.

However, they are also more limited in terms of storage size and temperature. They can keep drinks cold to a certain point but aren’t as good for storing food like raw meats or vegetables.

  1. RV refrigerator

If you’re camping in an RV, there’s a good chance it will have a built-in refrigerator. That said, most RV refrigerators tend to have poor airflow with hot and cold spots in different locations.

To minimize this issue, campers often use an aerator to maintain constant airflow and temperature. Keeping a thermometer inside the fridge also helps to ensure that food is kept at safe temperatures at all times.

  1. High-quality camping freezer or cooler

Cheap coolers, especially Styrofoam coolers, aren’t as durable and will not keep food and drinks cold for long.

The best way to keep food cold for extended periods is by using a high-end freezer for camping. Freezers are generally made of more durable materials and have better overall insulation, making them perfect for chilling food.

What’s the difference between a Camping Cooler and a Mini-Fridge?

Campers both new and experienced need a good way to keep food and drinks cool. However, depending on the trip, it can be tricky to decide between a fridge and a cooler. While both are capable of keeping things cool, they also have their differences:

  1. Storage

Coolers offer a much shorter holding time compared to refrigerators. They often need ice or freezer packs to keep beverages cool.

Meanwhile, a portable camping fridge doesn’t need ice or freezer packs. They are also more effective, cooling food lower than four degrees Celsius (19.4 degrees Fahrenheit), and can store more items.

  1. Temperature

Coolers don’t provide the same amount of temperature control or freeze options as portable refrigerators. They also depend on ice or freeze packs, which eventually melt after a few hours.

Compared to coolers, refrigerators offer greater temperature control, so food items like ice cream will last for longer. Because they don’t need ice, vegetables are also more likely to stay crisp rather than soggy.

  1. Size

Beverage coolers can keep food and drinks cold, but they are generally smaller than camping fridges. This limits how much they can store, which is usually just beverages rather than perishable food items.

Meanwhile, fridges don’t have the same issue. Even mini-fridges tend to have more room than large coolers, allowing you to store both food and drinks.

  1. Build

Coolers are designed to be carried with one hand but are overall less efficient in terms of insulation. Not so with a portable camping refrigerator on wheels.

While they can be significantly heavier, they are much sturdier and can better withstand movement. Additionally, they are made of better insulating materials, which adds to their cooling capacity.

3 Key Benefits of a Portable Camping Fridge

Whether you’re new to camping or are a seasoned outdoors veteran, you want more than just a battery-powered cool box. While the initial cost of a camping fridge can turn you off, it offers more benefits well worth the investment.

Here are a few reasons why you should bring a portable fridge with you on your next camping trip:

  1. Adjustable temperature control

Portable refrigerators generally provide more adjustable controls than coolers. You can store a wider range of food and drinks and even keep ice cube trays.

Many models even allow users to control the temperature remotely. Special apps and software can connect your phone to your fridge, which lets you adjust and monitor the temperature.

  1. Lack of melted ice

With a portable freezer, you don’t need to pack extra ice or freezer packs and risk anything getting wet. The lack of ice packs also frees up space, which is great for storing more food and drinks.

Additionally, because they’re more efficient at cooling, any ice you store in a portable freezer won’t melt. As long as the fridge has power, the ice will stay solid until you take it out of the fridge.

  1. Portability

Portable fridges are designed primarily for outdoor use. However, while they are understandably much heavier than coolers, they also provide much better cooling and storage.

Additional portability features like handles and wheels make the fridge even easier to move. A portable camping refrigerator on wheels can be moved like a trolley, which removes weight.

  1. Longevity

Depending on their maintenance, portable fridges have an average lifespan of about 20 years. They can last even longer when cleaned regularly.

Small checks like checking the door seals and setting the right temperatures can make the difference for your camping fridge. Door seals can also be replaced easily, and coils can be cleaned with a soft brush when you’re not camping.

The Bottom Line

Camping and road trips are fantastic ways to experience fresh air and spend time with friends and loved ones. However, hot weather can easily take away the fun and spoil any food and drinks.

The good news is that camping doesn’t have to be a hassle. When it comes to storing enough food and drinks for everyone, a portable camping fridge is always your best bet.

While fridges are generally more expensive than coolers, they offer much better cooling and storage space. Additionally, they are also more durable and can last longer for multiple camping trips.