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Old 06-11-2010   #1
 
durango, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2004
Join Date: Sep 2009
Posts: 5
cooler packing for multi day trip

I'm going on a five day river trip. Is it better to use block ice or frozen water bottles? I think the bottles won't stay cold as long as the ice but what do you all think about that?

Any tips on how to pack the cooler and keep it as cold as possible?
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Old 06-11-2010   #2
Dipshit with the most.
 
carvedog's Avatar
 
Bellevue, Idaho
Paddling Since: 1991
Join Date: May 2005
Posts: 2,078
Quote:
Originally Posted by nupey View Post
I'm going on a five day river trip. Is it better to use block ice or frozen water bottles? I think the bottles won't stay cold as long as the ice but what do you all think about that?

Any tips on how to pack the cooler and keep it as cold as possible?

Unless it's going to be super hot or you have a really crappy cooler, five days is no problem.

I mix a couple of bottles and two or three blocks in the bottom, push beers down around the edges and cover with chipped ice. Frozen meat ( double zip locked so as not to contaminate my cocktail ice ) on top of that, then a layer of clean cardboard then produce, milk etc up top. Using this method with moderate 60 degree outside temps, we had still hard frozen chicken on day three......we should have taken it out of the ice area on day two I guess.

Where you headed? When? It may make a difference.
FYI eggs don't need to be refrigerated just kept cool in drybox.

Edit to add: I use the rectangular, flatter bottles that apple juice comes in ( the kind my daughters like can't remember brand) so they don't waste space around them.
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Old 06-11-2010   #3
 
mustloverafting's Avatar
 
Aspen, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1983
Join Date: Jun 2008
Posts: 65
First of all, get your cooler as cold as possible a couple of days prior to the trip with dry ice. Freeze all of your stuff that can be frozen to go into the cooler including Gatorade bottles etc. Get all soda and beer as cold as possible in the refrigerator. Get 2 2-gallon jugs frozen to put in your cooler the moment you leave. This also works as drinking water too, later in the trip. Block ice has always been more of an issue for me when it melt all over the inside of the cooler and my 2-gallon jugs have lasted longer than block ice. One gallon jugs will sometimes crack in the freezer but I have never had that issue with the 2-gallon jugs.
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Old 06-11-2010   #4
 
Kayenta, Arizona
Paddling Since: 2006
Join Date: Apr 2010
Posts: 95
I used 3 frozen solid Ice Mountain 3 liter jugs...frozen solid at 3/4 full so it won't crack.. Two 1 liter water bottles frozen solid. and one block ice chunk from the store with two bags of crushed ice over that.. I have an Engel 123 and we were on a 4 day San Juan trip this past weekend when it was 95+ each day. The block ice performed better than the jugs, with more than half still solid after day 3. But you can't drink that melted water. We drank ice cold water much of day 3 and 4 to our pleasure.

I was surprised at how well the block ice from the store held up, I will use two blocks next time. Also we had the luxury of a second cooler for just beer but I think I would still layer the bottom of my primary cooler with cold aluminum beer cans anyhow in the future.

I like the idea mentioned to use a cardboard divider to separate the cooler in half for keeping stuff on top...I will try that this next time. Thanks. Also, the square water bottles for juice would pack better as a result less air room, more ice room.

One adage I have read on here before and will follow, is "limit the air room with ice room.." In the future I will add more crushed ice in the gaps and one more block ice than would appear necessary.

Good Luck!

Stay Cool.

M.N.
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Old 06-11-2010   #5
 
yakrafter's Avatar
 
Whitewater Boater, Boating Whitewater
Paddling Since: 2004
Join Date: Aug 2006
Posts: 147
Had this debate many times.

I would go with bottles frozen not blocks. 1st I like things clean. 2nd is science.

When ice blocks melt, most folks tend to drain it. But all ice and water below the temperature you are trying to achieve (which will go up as the trip goes on) acts at as a heat capacitor. The ice can absorb heat and heat up the melting point, the heat can then be devoted to the heat of fusion (melting the ice) and then heating up the ice to 40 degrees or so when it becomes less useful. Ice sitting in water is at or around the freezing point so if you drain it you would loose water at 32 degrees which is still useful to you. But if you do not drain it you can get cooler soup, bad.

Now in bottles, this cold water will stay in your cooler, helping you cool your food. Folks will say that the water left in will melt your ice and hurt you but that has nothing do do with AVERAGE cooler temperature. Heat is gained through conduction through the walls of the cooler, through convection via opening the cooler, via pseudo convection of cold fluid out when you drain the cooler and via radiation from the sun. The only influence the water has is a bad one when you take it out. Bottles can then be drinking water later and keep things very clean.

I recall meeting Count almost one year ago at the Main Salmon put in. We just did 7 days on the Middle fork after 3 days of travel and camping. I cringed seeing his cooler full of our resupply food in the sun, but he was sitting on top of it smiling.

That night most if not all the ice was already melted in his cooler and much of the food was compromised (depending on your standards). Where did the remaining food go, in our coolers...where there was still ice...in bottles.

As you fill bottles and seal, squeeze a little so that when the ice expands, it does not burst, better than leaving air.

Luckily Count over packed and we still ate more than well. I agree with carvedog too, it is only 5 days, keep it out of the sun (under a paco is great), don't open in the sun and you should be good.
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Old 06-11-2010   #6
 
The Mogur's Avatar
 
Oregon City, Oregon
Paddling Since: 1972
Join Date: Mar 2010
Posts: 379
When I was an outfitter, most of my trips were 4 and 5-day runs. In the late 1980s the ice-making companies started buying machines that freeze the ice into chips and then presses the chips into the shape of a block. This is the product that is sold almost everywhere today as block ice. It is very porus and melts much faster than true block ice, which is almost impossible to buy anymore.

As a private boater now, I make my own block ice in my freezer, using Rubbermaid storage tubs for molds. My ice will easily last through a 5-day trip in even the hottest weather, as long as I don't keep adding warm cans of beer to the cooler. On our trips, we usually set aside one cooler for drinks, and when the ice is burned up, we go to drag bags.

On our Grand Canyon trip, we did some serious ice management, and still had ice at the end of a three-week trip. For starters, we used only the best coolers--Yeti, Iceytek, and similar. Then we put them into walk-in freezers and poured about an inch of water into each cooler every day (if you try to freeze it all at once, you'll crack the cooler) until the coolers were each about 1/3 full of solid ice.

On the 3-day drive to the river, we kept dry ice in the coolers. Then on shopping day, the day before launch, we put all of the things that could be frozen into one cooler along with the remaining dry ice.

Then we put food for our first three days in one cooler, next three days in another, and so forth. Then the coolers were taped shut. Only the one that was being used was opened. We drained all of the coolers first thing every morning, when the air was at it coolest. As each cooler was emptied of food, the remaining ice went into the next cooler. The last cooler in the string was the one that had started the trip with dry ice in it.

Before the trip, I went to a thrift store and bought a stack of white towels. I also had some canvas buckets. We spread a couple of towels over the tops of each cooler, and then soaked them with river water. We kept the towels damp all the time. The canvas buckets seep water slowly onto the towels at night.

I also had a pair of rocket boxes painted white and covered with wet white towels. The evaporative cooling effect kept the produce inside the boxes nice and cool throughout the trip.

Beer in the Grand Canyon is served at river temperature, which is about 50-55 degrees. But when we stopped at Diamond Creek, an outfitter who was breaking down his gear gave us all of his leftover ice, so we enjoyed ice-cold drinks for the rest of the trip out to South Cove.

Ice management and meal planning is one of the major parts of rafting the canyon.
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Old 06-11-2010   #7
 
Denver, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2004
Join Date: Jun 2008
Posts: 10
I will second (and emphasize) the importance of evaporative cooling, you can stretch the life of your ice significantly with a wet towel and keeping out of it until you need to get in there.
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Old 06-12-2010   #8
Dipshit with the most.
 
carvedog's Avatar
 
Bellevue, Idaho
Paddling Since: 1991
Join Date: May 2005
Posts: 2,078
Ok youse guys, some good tips in here for sure.

But for those of you advocating against block ice-
DO YOU NOT DRINK COCKTAILS?
What kind of river heathens are you?
No beer in the cooler???? On a five day trip?

Blasphemers and heretics, I banish you.

Ok all kidding aside, there are some great tips. Wet towels over the cooler help a lot. In real hot weather we pull coolers up in to the shade too and then put wet towels on. But that may be as much to keep the ICE COLD beer handy as anything.

Yakrafter- are you helping Stu with the shopping - he didn't get back to me about any of my menus......I know you got it covered just a shout out. Sure wish I could join...haven't hit the lottery yet. Dammit.

A warning about dry ice - don't ever put it in a cooler with produce or any kind of bread product.

Also never put produce against ice. I also wash and dry all produce before it goes in the cooler, wrap in paper towels and then into a zippy or bag.

With the cardboard divider everything up top stays dry and out of the ice water melt from the cocktail ice. Usually unless someone gets in the cooler and raises hell the cardboard is dry enough to burn if we consolidate coolers. I use the triple layer stuff so it's quite stiff and cut it to precise size with a little flapper to access the beer below.
Always river chill beers before adding to coolers or do it first thing in the am if overnight temps get low enough.

And Budweiser freezes real nice. Nothing like a few little chunks of ice in your beer on a hot afternoon.
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Old 06-12-2010   #9
 
Boulder, Colorado
Join Date: Jul 2006
Posts: 1
Quote:
Originally Posted by The Mogur View Post
... when the ice is burned up, we go to drag bags.
Ok... what is a drag bag? A mesh bag into which you place the cans and toss into the river?
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Old 06-12-2010   #10
 
Join Date: Apr 2005
Posts: 139
A 30 of frozen beer is the best way to keep a cooler cold!
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