There’s nothing better than cracking a cold beer around the campfire with your mates after a day out on the tracks, and nothing worse than finding out your beers are actually warm when you take that first sip.
When you’re camping it can be a struggle to keep your food and drinks cold, but if you follow some of these neat tricks we’ve picked up over the last couple of decades, your Adventure Kings Portable Ice Box will keep your beers cold and your food fresh all weekend, and then some!
A portable ice box is a great option if you’re on a short trip or you’ve got a limited budget – you can pick one up for under $200 from 4WD Supacentre. They’re filled with high-density CFC-free polyurethane insulation for excellent insulation & broad walls for added durability, as well as having thick EVA seals that prevent cold air from escaping, to keep your food and drinks ice cold for longer!
1 – Get the right size esky for your needs
Make sure you get a portable icebox that is big enough to fit everything you need for your trip, wether it’s a day, a weekend, or a fortnight.
Obviously, if you’re packing the wife and tinlids as well, you’ll need a bigger portable icebox than if you’re heading away by yourself. But by the same token, a bigger esky can fit more cold ones. I like to use a 60L one, as I find it gives me space for a weekend’s worth of food for 2 people, and quite a few cans hidden down the bottom.
2 – Pre chill your portable icebox
You can easily do this by chucking in a few ice bricks or frozen drink bottles before you go to bed, and then shutting the lid. Your drinks and food will then be going into a cold environment, and will then stay cold longer. It works even better if you put all your drinks in the fridge at home to pre-chill as well.
3 – Solid Ice Bricks
Bags of party ice are deadset the worst option for keeping your esky or icebox cold. The smaller bits of ice are full of air, which means there isn’t much solid ice, so it melts quickly leaving you with an Adventure Kings Portable Ice Box full of cold water and soggy food sloshing around the back of your 4WD. And the servo will charge you nearly $5 a bag nowadays for the privilege. A much better option is to fill a few ice cream containers or 2L juice bottles about 3/4 full with water a few days earlier and leave them in the freezer at home. These will take a couple of days or longer to defrost.
4 – Add some salt to your ice
Adding salt to these home-made ice-bricks will actually lower the freezing temperature of the water, meaning it’ll be even colder. Seawater works even better due to the higher salt concentration. Colder ice means a colder portable icebox.
5 – Frozen meals
If you’re one of those people who are really prepared, you can make up a few meals for your trip, pack them into some takeaway containers and then freeze them as well! These give you the double bonus of helping keep your Adventure Kings Portable Ice Box cool, while also providing a quick and easy dinner at the end of the day
6 – Beers down the bottom
I always pack my cold beers first for 2 reasons – 1, so I don’t forget them (that’s my worst nightmare) and 2 – they create a platform for you to stack other food on top of.
Plus, when the ice melts, it’ll help keep the beers cold, and the beers will keep your food out of the cold water and stop that open cream cheese dip from turning into soup.
7 – Keep it out of the sun
The sun can get bloody hot in Australia, and so your best bet to keep your Adventure Kings Portable Ice Box and everything in it nice and cold is to keep it in the shade. If you’re keeping it in the back of the 4WD or your tent, you might as well put it in the oven, as temperatures in cars and tents can easily be 20+ degrees Celsius or more higher than outside. I tuck mine under my Adventure Kings 4WD Awning to keep it out of the sun as much as possible.
8 – Use an esky cover
You’ve seen those insulated covers for 12V 4WD Fridges – this is the same but will cost you about $10. Get one of those cheap reflective windscreen reflector shades, put it over your Adventure Kings Portable Ice Box and hold it on with an ockie strap or bit of elastic rope. Keeps the sun off and therefore your food & drinks cold.
9 – Keep the lid shut
OK, this one is pretty obvious, but every time you open the lid on your Adventure Kings Portable Ice Box, not even the thick EVA seals can keep the cold air in.
So if you’re settling in for a big one, maybe chuck a few drinks in a smaller icebox or Adventure Kings Cooler Bag, and this will help keep your main portable icebox colder. Another option is to have two eskies, and keep one for food and one for drinks.
10 – Ice, Ice and More Ice
Once you’ve packed for the weekend, see if there are any gaps in the esky. There’ll probably be a few. Now tuck as many small frozen drink bottles or icepacks as you can into these gaps. A full esky will stay colder, and all that extra ice can only keep your portable icebox colder for longer.
See you round the campfire with a cold one in hand!
Scott – 4WD Action Team