Just got back from 14 days in the Porcupine Mountain wilderness in Michigan's U.P. averaging 85 degree days, but 95 in the sun. I bought this cooler online for $50 and picked it up before we left. Since it was going to be our freezer, and have to sit in the van the whole time, I made a box of insulation (1/2" styrafoam w/shiny aluminum) to surround the outside of the cooler and kept it covered with blankets, towels & jackets. I set the cooler on top of 2 layers of insulation and placed a layer on the inside bottom of the cooler. I bought 56 lbs of dry ice ($62), surrounded it with the insulation and put that in the middle of the cooler. We packed all of our pre-made frozen meals (casseroles, lasagna, fried rice, bacon, sausage, yogurt, etc.) on either side and laid 4 frozen gallon jugs (2 per side) on top of the food. On top of that I put 20 lbs of cubed ice ($4). Every other day we would swap out a gallon jug to go in our 36-qt cooler (same insulation set-up) and replace the meals we had eaten and also put cubed ice into our 12-can beverage cooler. On the 7th day, we still had a couple lbs of dry ice, meals were still frozen and we had solid ice in the jugs! I put a 10 lb block of ice ($3) on top of where the dry ice was and again covered everything with 20 lbs of cubed ice ($4). It's been 16 days in all and there's still about 4 lbs of the block ice and about 6 lbs of cubed ice. Our lives camping used to be about planning an ice run every 48 hrs or so. Since the closest town is 17 miles away, this would've cost us almost $100 in gas and ice over the 2 weeks -- and nothing would've stayed frozen after the third day or so risking spoilage. Instead, we drove out for ice once and spent the days truly enjoying our surroundings and each other with no anxiety or time lost over our food safety or prep.
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