Monday, October 14, 2013

Boondocking Ice Chest (Enhanced with Reflectix)

We do a lot of warm-weather camping in remote places, and we use our ice chest to supplement our very small refrigerator.  We noticed, however, that after three or four days, the block ice tends to melt, no matter how careful we are about keeping the ice chest in the coolest possible places.  Also, there is no place to buy ice (especially block ice) way out in the boonies.  (Cube ice tends to melt very quickly -- too much surface area.)

We looked into those expensive “five-day” coolers, sold at sporting goods stores.  But those units tend to have very thick and bulky walls, and limited storage capacity, and they are very heavy. So, just for laughs, we tried an experiment – I had quite a collection of Reflectix scraps in the garage, after I had insulated the fresh/black/gray tanks on the trailer.  I glued Reflectix to the top, bottom, and sides of our existing cooler, and I added extra weatherstripping under the lid:

I then fabricated a cover to fit over the cooler – here it is sitting on the cooler: 

And this is what it looks like on its side, so you can see inside the cover: 

The pieces of the cover are fitted together with clear plastic packing tape.  Duct tape would have worked just as well (and it would have been so much more stylish).

After several camping trips, we have concluded that this “up-armored” ice chest really works – it seems to double the length of time that the block ice will last.  The cover is a little bit inconvenient, because it covers the handles (making the ice chest harder to lift), and we have to take the cover on and off every time we want to get something out of the ice chest.  But since we use the ice chest mostly as backup storage for our onboard refrigerator, that’s not a big deal.


Linda Swesey said...

Hey Dan..

Been looking through your blog and some of your great ideas for different things! Very creative.
I have an idea for you. We do a lot of dry camping too. We often run out of water. Due to that we probably aren't as conservative as you are. We also travel with extra containers of water.
However when we put the water into our tanks from the stored water, we pour the water into a 5 gallon bucket, submerge a small fountain pump with a long hose. Put the hose in the tank connect electric pump to generator and wala water is being pumped into the take.. no back tweaking.. :)Probably should stand by the bucket to be sure pump doesn't go dry..
Bought pump on Amazon recently with tubing about $35..
We do a lot of camping year round. We live in Northern CA at Clear Lake.
I too do a blog. I blog our camping/fishing trips as well as family get togethers.. I have some creative ideas as well. Not just camping but cooking, gardening/etc..
Thanks Linda & Everett


A friend of mine sells these things. I've not used them myself but everyone that has, swears they're awesome!