I'm poor. How do I make my cooler work better?

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MA_Trooper

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Ok, I like looking at all the fridges and Yeti coolers. But I know I will likely never own one. 1, because I'm poor, and 2, because I just can't justify spending more on my cooler than on my vehicle suspension...

Anyway, I have a 30 dollar Colman I picked up on sale from Academy Sports and Outdoors. I live in Texas, which means the back of the Trooper gets warm and outside of the vehicle isn't any cooler. What ways do you make your ice last longer?

I open mine as little as possible.
I fill it with ice and let it cool inside before loading it with goods (which have been chilled in the fridge) before leaving on a trip.
Keep the cooler in the shade as much as possible.

What do you do that make your cheapo coolers hold ice longer?
 

Laughing Otter

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Found this online a few years ago when faced with the same issue...

"Tips that save money! Whatever brand or size of ice chests, icebox, esky or cooler you own, these tips will help you keep your ice longer so you can get the best out of your camping trip or backyard barbecue. 1. Prepare your icebox. Spread a layer of crushed ice around your ice box the day or night before you use it. A bag of crushed ice costs around $5, but don’t worry it won’t be wasted. By cooling down your icebox, and the air inside, in advance you’re doing half the job of the main ice you’ll put in later. 2. Use block ice. Crushed ice is full of space and air which means there isn’t much actual solid ice, so it melts quickly leaving you with an icebox of cold water. Block ice is a solid mass of ice. It will keep your icebox as cold as crushed ice but won’t melt as quickly. When block ice is unavailable, make your own using ice cream containers or juice bottles remembering to only part-fill them to allow for expansion. 3. Add some salt to your ice. Adding salt to water before freezing lowers the freezing temperature of the water, meaning that your ice will actually be colder than frozen fresh water. Using sea water will work even better than adding your own salt to the water. 4. Cool your drinks and food first. No matter what you’re putting into your icebox, cool it down first if possible. By taking your food or drinks from the fridge straight into your icebox, you’re saving your ice from having to cool the beers down in the first place, making the ice last longer. If you don’t have room in the fridge, put your beers in the crushed ice you’ve already put in the icebox. 5. Adding the Beers! If you’re putting drinks in your icebox, leave the crushed ice in (from Tip #1 above) even if it’s already half melted. The cold water will help to slow your block ice from melting. 6. Keep it out of the sun! The sun is your worst enemy in preserving your ice and the reasons should be obvious. Keep your icebox in the shade as much as possible and ensure there is good air flow around the box. Sitting the icebox inside your tent or car is like putting it in an oven as temperatures can often climb 10 – 20 degrees higher than outside. You could even cover your icebox with a blanket or towel to shade it from the sun, and if at the beach a wet towel will work even better. 7. Avoid opening your icebox too much. This is obvious, but every time you open your icebox not only do you let the heat in but you let the cold out. Avoid opening your icebox too much. 8. Fill your icebox as much as you can. An icebox packed to the brim will preserve its ice longer than a part-filled icebox of air. The more food or drinks you have in your icebox, there is less air which needs to be cooled down and kept cold.
 

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A buddy of mine built a plywood box (no lid) out of 5/8" thick plywood and lined it with Styrofoam then slid the cooler in...super tight fit. Attached handles...works great, but did slightly increase size and weight of the cooler.
 

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I second the use of block ice, it will take much more time to melt than cubed. You could also go get an old comforter or something and wrap the cooler in that. Maybe put some of those suction cup sunshade things up in the windows to keep the sun out a bit more and open the doors and windows when you are stopped so the interior doesn't heat up.
 

Steve

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stoney126

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We use frozen 1 gallon plastic milk jugs. Then when it eventually thaws, we have cold water to drink.

This is what we do. Kept things cold for 5 days. It's a huge coleman with wheels. If I had smaller one I think it may have worked a Lil better
 

Cappy410

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I purchased one of these a few years ago at a outdoor adventure show. It lasted a maximum of 5 days without putting cans in the centre as I found it melted faster.



Cappy "410 Expedition" [emoji1063]Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
 

Narbob

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I recently lined my cooler with Reflectix ( 2 sheets of aluminum foil with bubble wrap in the middle ) and aluminum tape. It's used for residential and commercial insulation and is very easy to work with. Although I haven't put it to use yet, it's gotta be better than just the plastic lining the cooler.
 
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LB_Jeep

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I have a friend who covers his cooler with a reflective sun shade in the bed of his truck . I cant say for sure if it helps but he stands by it.
 

Winterpeg

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If you are camping in the backwoods and are able to dig a hole, you could find a shady spot and dig a hole so that just the lid is above ground level.

I also keep my beer chilling in a nearby stream prior to putting them into the cooler.... *shhhhhh!:tonguewink:
 

mmnorthdirections

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Hey you all, I was reading through all the post's remembering floating cooler messes we all have experienced over many years combined. And I wanted to just post "Come on people just enjoy the soup and move on, it's not that bad after the first sip" .
And I started laughing so hard. I'm sorry. Seriously now, A few years ago we were camping with some friends and I looked at this cooler? Well he covered the entire thing in DYNAMAT, and it worked great. It was the cheapest Coleman cooler he could find and used the savings to by scrap pieces of the mat from a local custom stereo shop. When done maybe 50 bucks total. JUST 02 cents...
P.S. everything is good with TAPATIO!
 
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MidwestOverlanders

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Pro tip: drink your beer faster.

In all seriousness, you could look at other cooler alternatives as well such as RTIC, Canyon Coolers, Ozark Trail, etc. Yeti is great and all, but just like anything that popular and in demand, you're paying for a name.

Keeping your cooler in a shady cool spot is always key as well. Open it as little as possible and make sure whoever opens it last closes it. We also tend to throw something heavy on top of the cooler to make sure it's shut good and tight (ie. our gear boxes).