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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Ok I am preparing my meals for a Grand Canyon trip. Planning to cook my meals beforehand and freeze everything down. I have a 150 quart cooler. Everything in the cooler will be vacuum packed and sealed. Was planning on just pouring some water in the bottom of the cooler and freezing everything down solid into a solid block in a walk in cooler. How many inches of water should I have in the cooler? 4 inches, 5 inches? How long should it take for the water to turn into a solid block of ice, the walk in cooler is minus zero.
Once I freeze everything down solid I'll throw some dry ice on top and drive to the putin.
Thanks for any input.
 

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I did mine with 3" in the bottom. A day later I added day 19 food and covered it with water. Day later added day 18 food and covered it with water. Day later added day 17 food and covered it with water. Day later I filled the last few inches up to 2" from the top of where the lid closed to. Then it sat there for a couple days. When I went to get it, i took dry ice I had picked out that was about 2" thick. I threw that on top and sealed it up in the freezer.

The freezer was -3 degrees F. It froze the +/- 3" sections overnight just fine. I have heard of people doing the whole thing at once finding that the bottom didnt freeze well. I assume it was due to the cooler insulating the rest of the water after the top froze in the freezer, or maybe they didnt leave it in long enough.

The trip was a late may trip and I was chiseling my meals out for day 17. I should have checked on it a day earlier and left it open the night before. Cooler was an icee kool 150. All that drink ice in mid june on day 17 was awesome. The coolers that were used earlier had no dry ice and the ones for the first week just got 4-5 inches on the bottom layered and frozen over 2 days. That made nice drink ice as well.


Make sure to leave the cooler lid open in the freezer. One of our coolers got bumped in the freezer and the lid shut on day 2. That layer wasnt frozen well the next day. It recovered fine over the next few.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
That sounds like a heavy cooler! We only have access to the walk in freezer for about 6 days. So everything in the cooler will need to be frozen all at once. We have precooked our meals already. Wondering about how much water to freeze in the bottom??
Paging Brady from Moenkopi or any GC outfitter....:D
If I had my way we would have just gone with a outfitter packed trip.
 

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The Old Troll
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I used plastic containers with tops frozen into the ice so that food was frozen below the level of the ice but accessible from the top. Think NY steaks. It's no fun to chisel out the food.

Decide on which coolers will empty first and put in more food and less ice in these. On our trip after the food was out of the first two coolers we lifted a two inch slab of ice out of the cooler and put it on top of the other coolers.

On you last cooler use some dry ice to keep the ice from melting for the first few days. You'll have ice in this cooler for 27 days.

Remember if you put lettuce and other fragile produce in direct contact with the ice it will turn to slime.

Pre cooking is one option but adding canned and dry ingredients to frozen food will save a lot of room in the coolers. For example if you are making chili you only need to have meat in the cooler. Onions canned tomatoes act. will all come out of dry boxes.

Dry ice will freeze blocks of ice with water in between into a solid block. If you try to freeze too much water in a cooler all at once it won't freeze all the way through and if it did it would expand and wreck the cooler.
 

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As written above. If you try to freeze it all at once the cooler WILL break and you WILL be without food.

Kinda seems you need to rethink your whole plan.
 

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Just make sure to consolidate coolers and drain water daily! A full cooler is a happy cooler!


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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Except that's how the outfitters do it, at least the two I have rented from. They put stuff in vacuum packed freezer bags pour in some water into the cooler and freeze it down solid. We went with a food pack from Moenkopi last year, we sent our coolers to them and they packed them. I would think that if you pour in about 5 inches of water in the bottom of the cooler and put the vacuum packed frozen meals it would work? Hoping that would freeze down in a walk in freezer in 6 days?

As written above. If you try to freeze it all at once the cooler WILL break and you WILL be without food.

Kinda seems you need to rethink your whole plan.
 

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The Old Troll
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Three inch layers will freeze over night for sure and not do damage to cooler. As the layers get deeper the ice forms over the top and insulates underneath.
 

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El Chupanibre
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Be nice to the commercial trips and pick up some ice below Whitmore Wash, we used block ice, and covered our coolers with gunny sacks and moving blankets. Members of our group enjoyed frozen margaritas on night 13.


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The commercial trips threw us some ice and we didn't even ask. We had iced cocktails that night. Sure creates a lot of good will.
 

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I was day 16-21 in an NRS 146 cooler. It was frozen solid by the "add 3" water layer using a walk-in freezer" method. There was still ice on day 21 but this was a early May trip but we still had most of our days in the 80s+ Oh, and when I say there was still ice, it wasn't frozen solid, but there the food was still entangled in ice. There was a 4" void around the edge of the cooler that had melted out during the first 18 days (16+travel time).

A few things I learned from this method:


  • Air is the enemy. Even with vacuum packed food we has some air pockets and these will cause melt out. Try to avoid ANY air if possible
  • Over-freeze. 3" is a good rule of thumb. Just because the upper layer is frozen doesn't mean the water below is.
  • Keep the top open when freezing. I know it's an obvious thing but you don't want the cooler to work against you.
  • It's heavy. Do the math. 150qt cooler frozen solid is going to be north of 330lbs (water + cooler weight).
  • Still maintain good cooler management. Keep it covered/insulated and out of the sun if possible. Don't open the later coolers until they need to be.
  • Include an ice pick and assume items will get "poked" early one by the ice pick (berries in a ziplock, etc.
 

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The Old Troll
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Sand Stake + Rock make a good ice pick:rolleyes:
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Some good advice here, thanks. Was not able to access the walkin cooler for multiple days so I just cooked all my meals vacuum packed them and froze them down. I'll then throw a block of ice and enough dry ice to keep everything frozen to lees ferry. Replenish the ice and dry ice in flag. I think I used this method the last time I precooked some meals for a GC trip, I think my last meal was day 12 and it worked fine.
Thanks everyone.




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Have a great trip. A Grand Trip would be great if you ate MREs the whole way.
 

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Cooler Freeze

Damn sorry to have missed the thread:( But better late than never...We put 2 inches of water on the bottom before and freeze for 24 hrs. We are 10 degrees below zero. Layering backwards we put day 16-14 already frozen meat or premades on top of the two inches and freeze another two inches in the cooler. THis locks them in from floating and also provides a good solid freeze. Then Repeat. WHen given the opportunity of 5 coolers we run 1 frozen meat day 1-8 that you can see on top of a giant bed of MOE ice. Then in another cooler folks won't have to open until day 9-16+ we will sink the meat from the bottom up until it reaches the top. If you try to freeze a cooler solid in one go the ice will insulate a pocket of water near the center and you will lose your ice faster. Also, if using dry ice to prolong a cooler don't forget to drain you cooler every day as I believe the moisture makes the dry ice burn out faster.

Have a great trip!

Brady
 

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We did the 3" fill a night program in a walk-in freezer for about 5 days with the top open.We vacuum packed all meat and froze it with no issues. We kept our last two coolers (day12-18) shut. I would recommend duct taping them to keep those cocktail thieves at bay. I am OK draining, however I do not endorse opening the cooler to let hot air in to break the vacuum (if that makes sense). I learned that one the hard way. I agree with aggressively trading with commercial trips at the end. They "need" it. We had Yeti coolers which rule. We also planned on not having much perishables at the end, and ended up with plenty of cocktail ice.
Have fun.
 

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Having run my own boat for the first time ever - main Salmon, just got off - I found that a related problem was how to keep things out of the funky melted-ice water at the bottom of the cooler; things that aren't completely sealed, that is. One member got the shits and thought that might've been to blame, though no one else got sick, and the water was probably still in the 40s when she started feeling bad. (Yes, that's right, all my ice was melted by the end of an 8-day trip; you live and learn ...)
 

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You can freeze your cooler solid at home using dry ice. Make your own ice blocks at home and layer ice block then food. Then crush cubed ice atounf and pour in water. Add dry ice and it will freeze it solid. Repeat. It costs a bit but may be a good option for you.

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Having run my own boat for the first time ever - main Salmon, just got off - I found that a related problem was how to keep things out of the funky melted-ice water at the bottom of the cooler; things that aren't completely sealed, that is. One member got the shits and thought that might've been to blame, though no one else got sick, and the water was probably still in the 40s when she started feeling bad. (Yes, that's right, all my ice was melted by the end of an 8-day trip; you live and learn ...)
Cut a piece of polymax to separate your ice and food in the cooler. Works great, no mess

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