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The 5 Best Ice Packs for Coolers
If you want to help your cooler last as long as possible, you need to have the best ice packs for coolers. Every type of cooler has a stated duration that they are good for, whether it’s three days or ten. However, what the manufacturers don’t tell you is that that’s under ideal circumstances, often when the cooler has been pre-chilled in a large freezer. Not everyone has access to a freezer large enough for a cooler, and that’s where ice packs come in handy. If you want your cooler to last longer, check out our ice packs for coolers reviews and ratings below.
In This Article
I highly recommend using ice packs in camping coolers. They stay colder longer and do not create water like melting ice does. Pop them in the freezer, the night before needed, to be ready the next morning. While ice packs seem simple, they are actually quite high-tech. Here are our picks for the top five best ice packs for coolers and why you should use them on your next camping trip.
The YETI ICE Refreezable Reusable Cooler Ice Pack is the best ice pack for coolers because it uses a unique shape that helps it freeze faster than traditional ice packs, and it uses food-safe gel.
The YETI ICE Refreezable Reusable Cooler Ice Pack is a reusable, refreezable ice pack from a trusted brand. Yeti makes some of the best coolers on the market, and that quality extends to all of their products, including their ice packs. This ice pack weighs two pounds and is the proper shape to fit into any YETI cooler and most coolers from other brands.
The YETI ice pack has a unique shape with a hole in the middle like a doughnut, which makes it freeze faster when compared to other solid rectangular shapes. It can be used alone or mixed in with loose ice. The best part about this ice pack is that if in the unlikely event it does break, the gel is food-safe, so you can just rinse it out and still eat your food.
- Freezes rapidly in about 6-8 hours
- Made from break-resistant plastic
- Contains food-safe gel
- May melt quickly, depending on conditions
The Cooler Shock Refreezable Reusable Cooler Hard Ice Packs are the best ice packs for coolers because the two ice packs can stay cold for up to 48 hours, and they’re specially designed to stack together to save space.
The Cooler Shock Refreezable Reusable Cooler Hard Ice Packs includes two ice packs for better cold coverage in your cooler. The set comes with a powder for preparation, but this only needs to be done once after buying. You use the included funnel to fill up the ice packs with water. Once full, they are ready to freeze, use, and re-freeze as many times as you like.
The ribbed design creates more surface area, so these ice packs get colder faster and can be frozen to 18 °F and stay cold for up to 48 hours. Used together, these ice packs can replace the equivalent of six to seven pounds of ice. The dimensions of each ice pack are 10 inches by 13 inches by 1.5 inches, and they weigh about five pounds together. The stackable design makes them perfect to use in pairs.
- Made from strong impact-resistant plastic
- Has an easy-to-carry built-in handle
- Made in Phoenix, Arizona
- Comes with a one-year replacement warranty
- Can only be used in coolers at least 13 inches in length
The Healthy Packers Ice Packs for Lunch Box or Cooler Bag are the best ice packs for coolers because they come in a set of five and are small enough to fit in even the smallest coolers or in lunchboxes.
The Healthy Packers Ice Packs for Lunch Box or Cooler Bag comes in a set of four or eight. They are perfect for smaller coolers and lunch containers. The dimensions of each one are 7 by 4.5 by 0.5 inches. These ice packs are small enough and thin enough to fit in a backpack, a lunch box, or a tote bag, and they can be used alone or together. Each ice pack has two doughnut holes in it, which make it freeze faster.
Under current TSA rules, these freezer packs are allowed to be in carry-on luggage when in a completely frozen condition. Must be packed in checked luggage when in a room-temperature state. If you buy these ice packs and don’t love them, the manufacturer will refund your money, no questions asked.
- Made from BPA-free plastic
- Small enough to fit in nearly any cooler or lunchbox
- No questions asked refund available
- Useful cool time is only a few hours
The Cooler Shock Screw-Cap Soft Frozen Ice Bag Packs is the best ice pack for coolers because they come in three different sizes and can be frozen to 0 °F, which is colder than most other ice packs.
The Cooler Shock Screw-Cap Soft Frozen Ice Bag Packs come in a set of three flexible freezer packs. These packs come in three different sizes to fit coolers and lunchboxes, but the ones we’re featuring here are 10 by 14 inches. Just three of these reusable ice packs can replace 18 pounds of ice, and they can be frozen to 0 °F, which is colder than most other ice packs.
Each freezer pack comes with a powder mixture already inside—all you need to do is add the proper amount of water, seal the bag, and mix to combine. There are two sealing options you can choose from: a zipper seal or a screw-cap seal. Both types can be permanently sealed, though the zipper option requires an iron. These reusable ice packs freeze best when separated from each other in the freezer so cold air can surround them completely.
- Cold lasts up to 48 hours
- Choose between two closure options
- Comes in three sizes
- One-year 100% money-back guarantee
- Bags can puncture or tear near the cap if using the screw-cap style
The KoldPacks 4-pack Reusable Can-Cooling Ice Packs are the best ice packs for coolers because they are specially designed to fit snugly around standard aluminum cans to help them cool down faster and stay cold longer.
The KoldPacks 4-pack Reusable Can-Cooling Ice Packs are designed to fit around any size can. They come in a four-pack, and each can cooler bar has a unique design that curves around up to six cans—three on each side. When using all four at once, you can have up to 24 standard cans surrounding the ice packs.
These ice packs need to be frozen overnight in order to be completely frozen, so they don’t freeze quite as quickly as some other ice packs. They are made with BPA-free plastic and are non-toxic. If they get dirty, simply wash them off in the sink—do not put them in the dishwasher, or they could break.
- Cold lasts up to 24 hours
- Made for standard aluminum cans
- Not dishwasher safe
Features to Consider for the Best Cooler Ice Pack
As you can see from our ice packs for coolers reviews, there are a lot of different options on the market. You may have an idea of what you want, but if you don’t, we’ve compiled a list of features that you should consider.
By far, the amount of time that an ice pack stays cold is the most important consideration. The best ice pack is going to be the one that keeps your drinks cold during your picnic or keeps your lunch cold while you’re carrying it around at school or work. If your cooler ice packs are only estimated to last four hours, but you need them to last six hours, they aren’t a good match.
Another thing to keep in mind is where you’ll be using the ice packs. While they’re made with coolers in mind, you may want to use yours in a lunchbox or an insulated grocery bag. How much insulation is surrounding the ice pack will have an effect on how long the ice packs stay cold.
To be useful, the best ice packs for coolers have to be able to fit in the cooler you want to use. If your ice pack is too big for your cooler, it isn’t of any use. Or, if the ice pack is too small for the cooler, it isn’t going to be very good at keeping your food cold. It’s good to know where you will be using your ice pack before deciding on a size.
The strength of the materials used for the construction of these best ice packs for coolers is important. The blue-colored chemical gel is not toxic; however, if it leaks all over the place it can make a mess and leave behind a bright blue stain on lighter-colored objects, such as light carpets or clothes. Many of the best ice packs are made from break-resistant plastic, but others are not. If you think your ice pack will be at risk of being punctured or falling, consider getting one that is made from break-resistant plastic.
Benefits of Using Cooler Ice Packs
If you aren’t already using ice packs, chances are that you’re filling your coolers with loose ice from your local gas station or grocery store. Bagged ice can get expensive if you need multiple bags to fill your cooler, and that ice is single-use, so you need to buy new bags every time you want to go camping. The ice also turns your cooler into a pool as it melts, and it can leak and get into your food if it isn’t completely sealed.
Ice packs are more efficient, stay colder longer than ice, are less wasteful of energy, and can be prepared in any freezer. It’s easy to pop my reusable ice packs in the freezer a day before a trip and load them into the cooler before hitting the road. Reusable ice packs are also great for slipping into your soft cooler or cooler backpack when going on hikes. When you have a cooler that is going to be strapped to you, the last thing you want is to feel water leaking out of it.
The real attraction for me is there is not any mess to clean up. When I take my cooler home, I remove everything, rinse off the ice packs, wipe out the cooler with a dry cloth, and wipe off the ice pack then put it back into the freezer so it is ready to go for my next excursion. Cleaning out your cooler has never been easier when using ice packs instead of loose ice.
Precautions of Using Cooler Ice Packs
Even the best ice packs seem pretty straightforward—and for the most part, they are. However, there are still a few things to keep in mind when using them.
The blue gel found in almost every ice pack is made from water mixed with propylene glycol and either cellulose or silica to give the material its gel consistency. The bright blue color is a non-toxic blue dye that helps show if any of the chemicals are leaking. When using your ice packs, always inspect them thoroughly to ensure that there aren’t any rips or breaks in them.
When packing for your next camping trip, make sure you don’t pack your utensils inside your cooler. While it may seem like a good way to save space, the utensils could puncture your ice pack if you’re using one of the bagged types. You also don’t want forks and knives bouncing around in your cooler and stabbing through the plastic your food is stored in.
After writing out all of these great ice pack for coolers reviews, one product stood out above the rest. The YETI ICE Refreezable Reusable Cooler Ice Pack was the best ice pack for coolers, in my humble opinion. With its tough plastic shell and doughnut shape to help it freeze faster, it’s perfect for my afternoon hikes. I never have to worry about being a little rough when putting my backpack down—the plastic feels rock-solid. It may not have the most longevity of any ice pack, but it is perfect for my needs.