Skip to Content

How to Keep Food Cold While Camping — Amazing!

How to Keep Food Cold While Camping — Amazing!

For those who love being in nature, a camping trip’s the best. However, the last thing you want is to get ill from spoilt food, so how can you prevent this?

The key to success when it comes to food safety during camping is good planning.

With correct tools at your disposal and a few handy tricks, you’ll be well on your way to enjoying your adventure stress-free.


How to Keep Food Cold While Camping

To keep food cold while camping invest in a good-quality cooler box and some ice packs. If you’re pre-cooking food, refrigerate or freeze it before transferring it into your cooler. Packing the cooler tightly and surrounding it with frozen icepacks will lock in as much cold air as possible.

Choosing a Cooler

Cooler boxes keep food cold while camping
Cooler boxes keep food cold while camping

A number of factors play into choosing the right cooler for your trip. You need to consider size, durability, how well it insulates, and the material it is made of.

Cooler boxes made of fiberglass or steel will keep colder for longer but can be more difficult to cart around. Styrofoam coolers, on the other hand, are light to carry but may not insulate as well as others.

When you’re shopping for your cooler, think about the terrain you will be visiting and how long your camping trip will last.


Preparing your Food for Packing

Depending on the duration of your camping trip, you may want to freeze some of your meals in advance. This is the best way to keep your food fresh and cold for as long as possible in your cooler box.

Meals can be frozen a few days before packing your cooler to make sure they’re frozen solid.

While you’re at it, you can also freeze your icepacks so that they’re ready in time too.

If you don’t have ice packs at your disposal, consider freezing water in plastic bottles or bags. This works a lot better than loose ice blocks that will melt to water in your cooler.


Preparing your Cooler

Once you’ve identified a suitable cooler for your trip, it’s time to start prepping and packing it.

In this regard, it’s advisable to prechill your cooler. The easiest way to do this is to fill it with ice blocks or ice packs the night before your trip.

Alternatively, if you have a large enough freezer, you can cool the entire container for a few hours before packing.


Packing your Cooler

Shortly before you embark on your trip, it’s time to pack your cooler.

Layer the cooler’s bottom with ice or icepacks. Then, place the food you intend to use last, or that you need to keep cold for the longest timeframe, right at the bottom.

Pack your meals or food items tightly, filling in any gaps with icepacks, and cover the whole lot with top layer icepacks, too, before sealing.

If you’re packing a combination of meat products and other foods, ensure everything is securely wrapped to prevent cross-contamination should food start to spoil.


Keeping your Cooler Closed

Every time the lid of your cooler is opened, warm air rushes in. You want to avoid this.

Therefore, open your cooler only when strictly necessary. This way, you lock in as much cool air as possible for as long as possible, preserving your food to its maximum potential.

It’s also crucial to ensure your cooler’s away from the sun. Store it in a shaded part of your tent, under a tree, or in your car (if parked in a shady area).

Basically, anywhere where you know the sun will have a hard time getting to it.


Why it’s Important to Keep Food Cold on a Camping Trip

The last thing any adventurer wants is to get sick in the middle of a camping trip.

Did you know that food at temperatures higher than 40 degrees Fahrenheit (4 degrees Celsius) may begin to perish, significantly increasing your risk of contracting food poisoning?

For this reason, it’s exceptionally important to keep some food safety tips in mind when you’re planning your getaway.

For starters, keep meat items like chicken, pork, and beef separate from the rest of your food if you’re able. This may indicate that you need multiple coolers, but if that is not a possibility, just make sure they’re double-wrapped.

Meat has a higher risk of contracting bacteria, so you want to keep it away from your other food items.

Secondly, keep food that has been defrosted, warmed, or cooked away from your cold food.

Once your meals are at room temperature or above, you don’t want them interacting with your frozen meals as this may increase the chance of spreading bacteria.

Finally, make sure you wash your hands before and after handling your cold food, as well as your utensils. This reduces the risk of accidentally contaminating the meals in your cooler with any unwanted nasties.


Frequently Asked Questions about How to Keep Food Cold While Camping


What less-perishable items can I take along on a camping trip?

If you don’t want to rely only on your cooler, you can pack a few non-perishable items for your trip. These include things like canned soup, instant mashed potatoes, cereal, energy bars, peanut butter, and biscuits. You can also include some items that don’t require refrigeration, like bread, fruit, and vegetables.


What temperature should my cooler be?

The temperature inside your cooler should be between 33 to 41 degrees Fahrenheit (0 to 5 degrees Celsius), as anything above this increases the risk of your food starting to spoil.



Now that you know how to keep your food cold while camping, you can start to plan your trip.

Following the above guidelines will help keep your food cool and fresh over several days, hopefully alleviating your concerns about food safety and allowing you to make the most of your adventure.

About Me

Hi, this is Kent Walker. I am an outdoor enthusiast. I love fishing, hiking as well as kayaking. I write about my adventures in the wide open and what I learned about it.