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Old 07-08-2009   #1
Moab, Utah
Paddling Since: 1979
Join Date: Sep 2008
Posts: 52
Cooler management/sorting

Looking for opinions on sorting cooler contents for long, hot trips (like the Grand or San Juan in August). What do folks prefer:
1. sort by contents, i.e., meats, vegies, dairy, in separate coolers;
2. sort by meals, i.e., breakfast, lunch, etc.;
3. sort by days, i.e., all meals for days 1-4 in one, days 5-9 in another, etc.
Mostly concerned with arrangement to make things last as long as possible, hearing what's worked and not.

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Old 07-08-2009   #2
lmaciag's Avatar
Lakewood, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2002
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 670
From my limited experience, I think the following sounds like a great plan and what we did on The Grand:

2 coolers for items used frequently - 1 produce, 1 dairy
4 coolers for the frozen items (meat, etc) arranged by when they were going to be used and arranged from poorest quality cooler to best quality cooler. I think we had days 1-5 in one cooler, 6-11 in another, then 12-16 and the rest in the fourth.

As the frozen coolers were emptied, the ice was transferred into the high use coolers (dairy & produce).

We had ice on day 21 in November (highs in the 80's).

In comparison -
Just got done with a MFS trip (similar temps, but only 7 days). We alternated days of cooking out of rotating coolers, saving the last two days with one cooler. I had the coffee creamer and was getting into mine daily. Mine died on day 5 (really day 7 from when it was packed in Denver).


"Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover." - Mark Twain
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Old 07-08-2009   #3
Join Date: Apr 2006
Posts: 49
I prefer to sort by days on long, hot trips so that you don't even have to open those coolers until you need them. Freeze the cooler with the ice if you have access to a walk-in, otherwise, the 2 gal water containers you can buy any grocery store will freeze harder than most of the crappy chipped-ice blocks they sell. Anything pre-cooked should be frozen.

I place a foam pad inside the cooler, seal with duct tape and cover with towels or burlap bags that you can keep wet. Only open coolers in the morning & evening - use a day cooler for lunch stuff that you pull out in the morning. We used this method on our late Aug/early Sept Grand and the 4th cooler opend still had plenty of ice and everything was frozen or cold. On mid-summer Cat and Deso trips, this has also worked great even with 100+ temps.
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Old 07-08-2009   #4
Cisco, Utah
Paddling Since: Dawn
Join Date: Sep 2007
Posts: 351
Mostly by Days, That way the cooler for the meals towards the end of trip never gets opened till needed. A Fruit and Veggie cooler is nice, A lunch cooler that gets stocked each day is nice. Freeze food/meals ahead of time is good. Taping coolers shut is good. A wet towel over the cooler helps ward of the sun. I glued (rubber cement) some plywood and a cheepo foam sleeping pad on top of mine; makes lid stronger for standing on, a comfier place to sit, and some added insulation/protection from sun.
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Old 07-09-2009   #5
Moab, Utah
Paddling Since: 1979
Join Date: Sep 2008
Posts: 52
Thanks all for the input - reaffirmed what I think we should do. Just been a long time since I did an extended trip (8+ days) and needed some reminders. Found the burlap and with a cooler pad, should be ok.
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coolers, management

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