Going camping & kayaking for the first time in 35 years near Ft. Myers Fl (Alva).

I bought a cooler, to keep my burgers, dogs & drinks cold. I will be there for 3 1/2 days.

Will the perishables stay cool that long.

Any tips would be appreciated.

How is the kayaking there?

I have a 11’ Sot, & a Tempest 160.

I decided to take the lil guy, don’t plan

on doing big distances, just some nice & easy

exploring & relaxin.



Don’t waste your money on ice…
Freeze a dozen water bottles. The will stay frozen longer than ice cubes & by the end of 3 days you will have cold water to drink. Don’t sit there with the cooler open (BROWSING) either. Open, grab what you need & close. This will hold the cold in longer.

Paddle easy,


not likely
Unless it is unusually cool for Florida, I doubt that a typical cooler filled with ice will last that long.

Block ice will last a lot longer, if you want to chance it, but I would look into a dry ice cooler for that length of time in warm weather. If you only open the cooler once a day the refrigerant will last longer.

Freeze the dogs and burgers before putting them in (except what you may need the first day).

If you do buy ice, get block ice instead of cubes.

Depends on the cooler too
I agree with what’s already been said, but your choice of cooler is as important as anything. Those plastic coolers that are so popular nowadays (even the Coleman ones) don’t even have insulation in them. Metal coolers like those made by Coleman or Igloo are much better, but even those are only mid-grade. I have a really old and rugged Styrofoam cooler (NOT like those white coolers made from pressed Styrofoam beads that are made nowadays) that will keep ice three times longer than a metal Coleman cooler. Also, I’ve heard that there’s a top-of-the-line Coleman cooler that’s a lot better than the usual metal ones you see, but I’ve never seen them for sale in stores. Your cooler’s position on the range of available quality will make a lot of difference.

Keep your cooler cool
Don’t leave it in a hot car unless there are varmints in the area. Keep it in the shade, during the day you can wrap your sleeping pads around it too. As said freeze everything you can, water bottles, meat, juice pouches whatever. And/or plan a non refrigerated meal for the last day. Cool gatorade is okay but meat that gotten too warm can ruin your trip.

Good Luck


cover the cooler
with a wet beach towel. It really does make a difference in the car. As far as kayak camping I have no experience as I do dehydrated foods and never carry a cooler.

Best Cooler
Coleman’s Extreme series of coolers should be able to handle 3 1/2 days, provided you keep the cooler in the shade and avoid frequent opening.

For the last word in coolers, check out Yeti:

Expensive but the best available.

Freeze two one gallon jugs of driking water and a bunch of 1 liter bottles, rather than using ice.

Freeze your meat ahead of time (unless it is meant for the first day).

Make sure all other contents are near ice cold before packing.

The last thing you do before you leave is pack the cooler.

While on the trip, don’t open it too often.

Keep it in the shade whenever possible.

That MIGHT get you through 3 days if its not too hot.

Better than wet towels
Better than wet towels. We learned this from an outfitter in the southwest. We use this for canoe camping but don’t know if it will adapt for a kayak.

Get an old burlap sack. We get ours from a local coffee shop that roasts their own beans. Just soak the sack real good in the river (it takes a long time for newer sacks to get soaked) and place it over your cooler. Refresh it in the river as the day progresses.

This is what I use:

I have a few different sizes, but bring the 24 can version along on multi-day canoe trips. It’s kept a big block of ice for about 4-5 days with temps maxing out in the 70’s. Not sure how it would work in the summer.

If I were car camping for more than a few days in summer temperatures I would get the biggest Colmenan Extreme 6-day cooler and use block ice.

kinda off topic
well maybe it aint off topic but a few years ago i filled my cooler with ice then added salt if i recall cooler got down to like 0 f

Some logical speculation…
That’s interesting. It also makes perfect sense, since the salt would cause the ice to melt faster, and heat exchange between the ice/water and the surroundings takes place when there’s a phase change so that rate of heat exchange would be faster too. The latent heat of fusion is what gives ice such an enormous capacity to keep the inside of your cooler cold. The cooling capacity of ice is many times greater than the cooling capacity of some other material having the same initial temperature as the ice. The problem I see with this method is that sure, you can make your cooler extra-cold inside, but the ice won’t last as long either, and it’s probably more important to maintain a “reasonably cold” temperature for a long time than to maintain a “super-cold” temperature for a short time.

Now, here’s the logical speculation. Making your ice out of salt water would logically result in maintaining a colder temperature without increasing the rate of melting. Is that a good idea? In a “perfect world” it might be, but the reason the world isn’t perfect in this case is that something else would change as a result. Since increasing the difference in temperature between the inside and outside of the cooler will increase the rate of heat transfer through the cooler walls, there might be no advantage at all to using salt water for ice. A disadvantage that’s easier to know for sure, is that you couldn’t use your cooler ice for drinking water after it melted.

increase the insulation in the cooler …

– Last Updated: May-22-11 11:51 PM EST –

...... rigid foam insulation panals are available from the plain jane light styro foam (white) to the denser blueboard (blue) rigid foam panals . Places like Home depot , Lowes , a lumber yard , concrete form service supply ... will have a variety of types and sizes to choose from . Cut the stuff with any type of saw , electric or hand . It's an easy job to line the cooler w/extra insulation (rigid foam panals) . prices vary from dirt cheap , to inexpensive for the amount you'll need .

You said you already bought your cooler , so make it better than the best that can be bought if you want to .

All the panals are available in a range of thicknesses , the thicker the better , the denser grade the better . The Blueboard can be had to 4" thick .

The following is to be fitted to the interior of the cooler ... yes , it takes up interior space .

Cut one piece to fit the bottom snugly . Cut another to fit the top (not real snug though because you will be taking this piece out to get to your food stocks . For the sides , cut the longest sides to fit snugly , then cut the narrower sides to fit tighly inbetween the long side panals . Just remember when cutting the side panals that the top piece will have to set "on top" the sides pieces last , and then the cooler top has to close .

Do the other things already suggested about block ice or freeze 1 gal. water jugs ... prefreeze perishables .

Plan ahead for upcoming meals so you can thaw in advance what you need . Good idea to have a secondary small cooler or large size Igloo flip top to put your foods in (no ice) while they thaw (6-8 hrs advance) .

seems logical
i may try it again


– Last Updated: May-22-11 1:41 AM EST –

Have no business being carried along in warm climates. You may try the cooler tips suggested by people here, to keep drinks cold. If it won't work, in the worst case you will drink warm water - nasty, yet not deadly. On the passage any water goes, but in the camp I prefer adding some sugarless drink powder or crushed Vitamin C, then it goes smoothly without cooler.

On multiday Baja trips with average duration 2 weeks I didn't have a cooler, but carried these sources of protein:
1) Soups that have some dried meat;
2) Dried shredded pork from Chinese food stores (aka Pork Sung, aka Pork Floss). Edible on itself, but better used as a supplement to pasta, buckwheat, rice or soup (any soup). Roughly 2-3 oz per meal per one person.
3) Dry shredded fish (aka Fish Sung). 2 oz is probably enough - it's spicy. Best used with re-constituted mash potatoes powder.
4) Pork jerky or beef jerky from the same Chinese stores. It's sealed in plastic and can be stored for many months without cooler. Usually 6-9 oz per sealed package, so divide accordingly. Discard the carton boxes. After opening the sealed plastic, it should be alright for a day or two. Also edible on itself, but better with something else. Can be difficult to chew, as any jerky, so tear it into smaller peaces before throwing in pasta.
5) Dry shrimp - I tried it, but found too salty and surprisingly not very long lasting, though probably will last for 5-6 days.

Also, dry fruits - apricots, raisins, mango, walnuts, cranberries and so on. Those last forever.

None of this stuff is perishable except for shrimp that starts giving out ammonia smell after a week - (don't know if this is dangerous, but I don't like it).

The above mentioned protein sources aren't delicious when being eaten for a few weeks, but nutritious quality is same or better that of hot dog or burger (God knows what that ground beef was made of and how much fat is there). Besides, dogs and burgers need a fire or BBQ, and you don't usually carry it when camping away from the car.