Ice Question for 3 days, 2 nights

Myself and 7 others are setting out on an extended weekend trip on Friday. We’re going 51 miles over 3 days and 2 nights down the Tallapoosa in central Alabama. I’ve already started making ice blocks out of gallon sized zip lock bags. My questions is if I pack a bag of regular crushed ice between block ice, will it hold up until day two or three. We’re taking a seperate food cooler that will only be opened at night for dinner and I was wondering if a bag of a crushed ice for day two and three would hold up in that cooler. We could then transfer it to the drink cooler for the appropriate day.


– Last Updated: Jun-21-09 8:48 AM EST –

block long outlasts crushed ice, so you'd probably do better to just make extra blocks, and pack a hammer along. When you want to refill the drink cooler just smash one of your ice blocks.

Instead of making ice blocks in zip-locks, I'd make them in something square or rectangular. 2 gallon spring water containers are good (the ones with the handle on top) or a big rectangular tupperware. Find something that fits well in your cooler, so you can get them in without wasted space.

That said, in my climate, a single block of ice in a cooler that's opened a handful of times per day will last for a good 3 days. So you may not really need to carry an extra 80-pound cooler entirely filled with block ice to support your 3 day trip. An equal weight of cube-ice only lasts about a day for me though.

extra time
How much of the block ice makes it to the 3rd day depends on a million circumstances - down south here it’s pushing it, but it can be done if you take care. Crushed ice won’t last much more than a day.

To extend the life of your block ice a little, line the bottom and sides of the cooler with 4-sheet-thick newspaper or thin cardboard, wrap each block in 1-sheet of newspaper and keep a towel draped over the outside of the cooler.

The Extreme coolers work great
I have one of the Extreme coolers. They really do hold ice for 5 days. Just drape a towel over them so the sun doesn’t beat down on it.

Use a white marine style cooler. Do keep it covered wtih a wet towel. Go to Home Depot and buy some of that reflective coated bubble wrap type of material that they use as an insulation coat under siding and cut it to just fit the inside of the cooler. This reduces the air space that you are trying to keep cool. Get two of the two gallon rectangular water containers and freeze them. Two of them just fit in the bottom of my cooler. Make damn sure everything you put in the cooler is COLD before you put it in. Doing the above has kept things cool for us on 5 day drips in 90 to 100 degree days. Have fun on the trip. I wish I was going somewhere.

I have had an ice block last 12 day’s before. Keep cooler in the shade. Only open when needed. Buy large block. Use a good Cooler.

Dry Ice
Check your local yellow pages for someplace that sells ice commercially. Here in NJ they also have dry ice. With one of the newer extreme coolers mentioned and good cooler protocol and discipline (open infrequently, protect from direct sun, pre-freeze what you can, etc.) you will be able to re-freeze things after several days. You’ll still need some regular block ice to help hold the cold.

For a short trip like yours, you won’t need much. On one trip I had icy milk for my coffee after one week. Granted, it was not in the south, but hey, it works.


Coffee sack
I use a wet burlap coffee sack on top of my cooler. I frequent a local coffee shop that roasts their own beans (much better than Starbucks or other chain shops – keep it local) and they are more than willing to give me their empty coffee sacks.

I agree with Sloopsailor on the extreme coolers. They do make a difference