Summer fun and camping season are in full swing and a big part of summer fun involves packing food and beverages in a cooler. Here are some tips on how to pack a cooler for long and short trips.

The Right Cooler

Make sure you have a good cooler. Get a rotomolded cooler with insulation at least 2” thick. We carry Yeti coolers and they are amazing.

Two Coolers

Consider two coolers: one for drinks and one for food. The drink cooler will warm up faster because it will be opened more often. The food cooler will keep your perishable food cooler and safer for a longer period of time.

Chill Before Packing

Chill your cooler before packing and it will help keep your ice longer. Fill your cooler with water and ice the night before and then empty it out before packing it. You could also move your cooler outside or to the coolest area of your house the night.

Packing Prep

The day before, prep your food to make life easier. Get the marinade done, cut the veggies, wash the fruit.

Repackage your food and beverages to save space and protect from yourself from soggy food caused by leaking packaging.

Freeze the food and beverages you’ll be using in a day or two. This helps keep everything fresh and helps keep everything cooler. Make sure to create space at the top for liquids when they freeze.

Make ice blocks from Tupperware, storage containers or water bottles (remove ¼ water for freezing). Ice blocks take longer to melt. Fill in the spaces with cubed ice.

Packing your cooler

Pack your cooler last to make the ice last longer. Start with a block of ice at the bottom. Liquids are stored vertically, container foods horizontally. Create regions for breakfast foods, lunch foods, dinner foods, and snacks. This makes life easier and will keep your ice longer.


Keep the cooler in the car with you if possible instead of a hot trunk. Also, keep your cooler in a shaded area or cover with a light towel if you must keep it in the sun. Keep it closed as much as possible. The more often you open the cooler, the faster the ice will melt. Leave the melt water in the cooler if you’re on a short trip. If you’re on a longer trip, drain your cooler a couple of times a day. It will help preserve your blocks of ice.

Now you’re set for summer fun around the northwest.