Overland Cooler Size

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RyanC

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Hello,

I'm really new to overlanding and I'm having trouble figuring out what size cooler I need. Are there general guidelines for how many people can eat out of a cooler for how long based on size? Or something like that? Like one person for 6 days and two people for 3 etc...

Thanks,
Ryan
 

vegasjeepguy

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I'm a fan of "your cooler can never be too big" (within reason). If you're planning on using a cooler for 3-6 days you're looking at a fairly pricey high end cooler (Yeti, Pelican, Orca, etc.). That being the case, you should buy the biggest cooler you can afford and will fit. One consideration for me was the cooler needed to fit in my CDN M101 trailer. I bought a Yeti Tundra 75 for around $450 a few years ago and has been perfect for multi-day trips with my wife. She will prepare some meals and bring ingredients for others and we have plenty of room with a good supply of beer thrown in for good measure.

When using a cooler for multiple days it is important to exercise good cooler discipline (open only when necessary, fill dead space, keep out of the sun, etc.). It is also good to supplement "real" ice with ice packs. I have 3 Yeti Ice packs that freeze at -2C to line the bottom of the cooler that extend the useful life of the ice.
 

4xFar Adventures

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What do you think will be a typical trip for you? How many people, and for how many days?

Typically a cooler lists how many cans of soda it can hold to visualize the volume. If you're looking at a cooler that needs ice, you'll need a bigger cooler than you may think. A Rotomolded case is super strong (think kayak) but you'll pay extra for it. Given the performance of a Rotomolded cooler, they are usually worth it. The extra money up front pays out over time.

Find a store like REI that has a variety of options to look at. You could even take empty containers of food with you and see how they pack, and take into account the space for ice. Ice cubes are the most convenient to use but melts quickly. I used to make block ice by freezing a gallon of water. It takes a couple days to really freeze through and takes up a large amount room in the freezer, but it'll last for days. The melted water really slows the ice from melting since it's all contained in the bottle, and your food stay dry. The freeze gel packs are good to pack around and in between you food. Food destroyed by ice water was a big issue for me and what really made me get an ARB Freezer Fridge.

Pack the cooler efficiently. Food that will be eaten days from the start of the trip can be frozen at home and used as ice. It will thaw and be ready to eat after you've gone through your first batch of thawed food.

If you want a GOOD cooler, stick to the brand names and you'll be set.
 

RyanC

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I was thinking of a name brand roto cooler. The biggest trip i can think of wanting to do is 7 days with two people total. That's a few years off though and I will probably splurge for a fridge by then. Most of my use will be 3 days just me or one other person.
 

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Another big determiner for coolers, is the weather at the location you are going. This will determine your ice needs.

For an inexpensive fridge option look at truckfridge.com The TF51 is a great price! There is a group buy listed on tacomaworld currently that offers an additional 25% off the price. I have had my TF51 for almost three years now and still going strong.
 

RyanC

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So I'm leaning towards something in the range of 65 quarts and the weather will usually be moderate, nothing extremely hot but maybe 80s as the highs and probably won't go out much in winter. Does that sound about right for a weekend with a few friends or a week for myself?
 

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That would probably work. Depending on how remote you go, you might also have the option of re-stocking your supplies at some point during your trip.
 

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Anyone have any experience with the Coleman Iceless Coolers? Got a range of 3-5 to 4.3-5 stars on various retail sites but couldn't find any review on any of the forums
 

RyanC

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Anyone have any experience with the Coleman Iceless Coolers? Got a range of 3-5 to 4.3-5 stars on various retail sites but couldn't find any review on any of the forums
My parents have one and it works really good but it's power hungry and doesn't keep stuff cold any better than a cheap cooler when unplugged so if you can't keep it plugged in almost all of the time or if you want to try and use it without the car running for extended periods it may not be a good choice. But if you can keep it plugged into either your running car or AC power they are pretty awesome.
 

RyanC

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Check out the RTIC coolers or the Canyon brand. There was a test done and they all performed identically.
I read on the RTIC page and you can use dry ice in them.
Thanks for pointing out RTIC! I'm thinking about picking up one of their 20 qt coolers now. Might be good to have a smaller cooler for frozen things with dry ice.
 

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I'm a fan of carrying two coolers, one for drinks and one for food. Currently have an AO (similar in design to the YETI soft sided cooler which I bought at Home Depot for $50) which I use for drinks daily behind the drivers seat (Can keep a twelve pack cold for four days in the summer with a 10lb block of ice) and I currently use a Colman extreme for the food, which stays covered in the back, surrounded by Reflectix and a heavy blanket. Only get into the food cooler twice a day, so it has lasted 7days with a 20lb bag of ice. Someday I'll upgrade to a nicer RTIC cooler for the food that doesn't need so much insulation around it.
 
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We bought a Yeti Tundra 75 qt way before any competition existed for them. We also have an Engel MD14 we use as a dedicated freezer strictly for ice packs and for ice cubes for our evening libations. We ( two people) can pack enough food, milk, orange juice etc etc, for 5 days in the Yeti. Remember also that the manufacturer recommends that 1/3 the volume of the cooler should be used for ice. We use a 10lb block, and a 10 lb bag of ice and have always had a good sized chunk of ice left after 5 days out, even in 100 degree temps. It is mounted in our trailer and the drain is plumbed to a spigot outside the trailer to keep the water drained. It would probably be good for 7 days if we left the water in it. Bigger is always better, if we had the room in the trailer I would have gotten the next size up..
 

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I'm a fan of "your cooler can never be too big" (within reason). ... It is also good to supplement "real" ice with ice packs. I have 3 Yeti Ice packs that freeze at -2C to line the bottom of the cooler that extend the useful life of the ice.
Do you find those Yeti Ice things to really work? I have a Yeti 65 which is great. I got the largest size I could fit in the space I was allowing for it. We just got back from a 2 week road trip. I did learn one thing about coolers: Dry ice sucks! At some point we were resupplying at a Safeway in Truckee where they had dry ice. I thought it looked like a great idea... However, the steak we were planning on eating that night was frozen solid, as was most everything else in the cooler... Too cold!
 

vegasjeepguy

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Do you find those Yeti Ice things to really work? I have a Yeti 65 which is great. I got the largest size I could fit in the space I was allowing for it. We just got back from a 2 week road trip. I did learn one thing about coolers: Dry ice sucks! At some point we were resupplying at a Safeway in Truckee where they had dry ice. I thought it looked like a great idea... However, the steak we were planning on eating that night was frozen solid, as was most everything else in the cooler... Too cold!
The Yeti ice packs lining the bottom of the cooler extend the "life" of the ice by several days. On quick weekend trips I've come home and emptied the color and found the ice melted and then refroze on the ice packs.
 
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MOAK

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I really like our 75 and that keeps me from buying a full sized ARB fridge freezer. I've considered using dry ice, but I think I would build a slatted wooden bottom of some sort with stubby leg type supports and put the dry ice in the bottom, put a newspaper on top, then put the custom slatted wooden floor in, then food on top of that. The important thing is to keep the dry ice from touching any food... I may experiment with this idea this winter when I run out of things to do..
 

Teephud

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I really like our 75 and that keeps me from buying a full sized ARB fridge freezer. I've considered using dry ice, but I think I would build a slatted wooden bottom of some sort with stubby leg type supports and put the dry ice in the bottom, put a newspaper on top, then put the custom slatted wooden floor in, then food on top of that. The important thing is to keep the dry ice from touching any food... I may experiment with this idea this winter when I run out of things to do..
Interesting idea. Just think it would take too much space. I might try that Yeti Ice on our next big trip.
 
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MOAK

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Interesting idea. Just think it would take too much space. I might try that Yeti Ice on our next big trip.
Actually it would take up half the space of H2O ice, as it is twice as dense. The major conundrum is keeping things from becoming frozen.
 
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