Believe it or not, ice packs are a life-saver. They’re super easy to use, are convenient and affordable, and they keep your food and beverages fresh and chilled for as long as you want!
And let’s be honest, you’re probably wondering why you need so much information to buy an ice pack. After all, it’s not rocket science, right? Well, yes. But there’s a little more to it than what you think.
And if you’re gonna buy something, why not buy it right! Let us help you make that decision with our list of the 7 best ice packs for coolers in 2021!
Top 7 Ice Packs For Coolers Reviewed!
The sleek and stylish TOURIT ice packs are perfect for when you want to go for a shorter trip! They’re compact and incredibly slim, meaning they will fit right into the smallest of gaps and keep your food chilled for hours!
They have a hard shell, BPA-free plastic casing so you don’t have to worry about the accidental puncture. They also come in packs of 4,8, and 12!
What makes TOURIT our top pick for today is that it is so compact that it is perfect for everyday use! At such an affordable price, you can’t complain!
- BPA-free hard casing
- Compact and affordable
- 2-year warranty!
- Small size may not be suitable for all
Our next product on the list is our top pick for soft-casing reusable ice packs! The Cooler Shock ice packs are super convenient and bendable to use, and fit in just about anywhere! They’re also 100% non-toxic so you don’t have to worry about any hazards!
The only problem you could possibly encounter with this product is that it’s only available in one standard size. But at such an affordable rate, you can buy as many as you like!
- Non-toxic and Non-hazardous
- Bendable and accommodates in any space
- Soft-shell casing may puncture
- Only one size available
Another great option for everyday use! The Fit & Fresh ice packs are great for your kid’s lunch boxes or your work lunches. What I particularly love about them is that they’re so compact that you can always store a couple of them in your freezer, and you won’t have to remember to freeze them 8 hours prior!
Fit & Fresh is a great choice if you need a lightweight option. They’re food-safe and are specifically designed, keeping in mind your daily requirements. The brand also offers an XL option for campers!
- Compact and slim
- Super lightweight
- Small in size
- Do not last as long
The Nordic Ice long-lasting gel packs are soft-shell ice packs that are made of biodegradable material and are completely safe for you and the environment. These come in packs of three, perfect for both school lunches and camping trips!
They’re also enclosed with a multi-layered exterior that reduces the rate of condensation of the gel to a minimum. These will last you a long-time! Customers also vouch for their loyalty to the brand because these ice packs, despite being soft-shelled, are incredibly hard to puncture.
- Temperature-sensitive outer layers
- Multi layer exterior that ensure long-lasting effects
- Affordable and accessible
- Compact and convenient
- Soft-shell might leak occasionally
- Tend to stick together
The best thing about this particular product is the variety and versatility it offers. Engel Coolers come in many sizes, and with many freezing points.
Consider the fact that the brand itself is a premium manufacturer of coolers, you’d expect no less from its products. And I’m here to tell you that it delivers just that! Engel Ice packs are super long-lasting and impact-resistant, their hard outer casing prevents and absorbs any shocks while carrying the food and beverages from one place to another.
It is also completely non-toxic and non-hazardous. You won’t have to worry about the food’s safety anymore!
- Comes in many sizes
- Long Lasting and No-sweat feature
- Some users feel that it can be too heavy for its size
Well, the name says it all. The BentGo ice packs are specifically designed to chill your lunch boxes and work tiffins. They’re ultra slim and easy to handle, and come with a good grip so they’re easy to carry once frozen.
BentGo also comes in four vibrant color options so your lunch never seems dull! It comes in a pack of four so there’s plenty for everyone, and it can be used for a range of purposes like lunch boxes, coolers, etc.
- Ultra slim and compact
- 100% food safe
- Leak-proof and easy to clean
- May not be suitable for longer freezing periods
We’re ending the list with a bang! This multi-purpose ice pack was specifically made keeping in mind your camping trips and weekend getaways! They’re extremely durable and shock-proof, meaning that they practically require zero maintenance. And they have a No-sweat technology that prevents any moisture leftovers or condensations even after they thaw!
While the Arctic Ice long-lasting packs do fall a bit on the pricey side of things, believe me when I say that they’re worth the investment! And more so, in the long run, you’ll end up saving more than you spent. These packs also come in many ranges with variable freezing points for your utmost convenience.
- Durable and long-lasting
- 100% safe and non-toxic
- No-sweat technology prevents mess
- Some users find it too large for coolers
Best Ice Pack Features (Buying Guide)
Now that you have a handy list of all the best ice packs for coolers you can buy, the next question is simple. How do you choose the right fit for you?
Well, we’re here to help you with that too. Let’s have a look at our buying guide and find the one for you!
- Design (Outer casing)
Most ice packs in the market are one of the two- soft-shelled or hard-shelled. The primary difference between the two is their price and their outer shell material.
Softshell ice packs are typically made up of a gel substance that is filled under a comparatively thin plastic bag. This could mean a few things. On the plus side, they’re easier to accommodate and more flexible. This means all the more space for your food and beverages! However, remember that softshell ice packs are more prone to puncture and may just spoil all your food!
Hardshell ice packs, on the other hand, are a lot safer and trustworthy. They may cost more, but they’re long-lasting, puncture-proof, and do not make a mess.
- Size and Shape
The size and shape of your ice pack play a key role in deciding what to buy. Of course, the larger your ice pack is the more it will last. But you will need to consider both the size and shape of your cooler before you look for an ice pack.
Another important factor to consider while buying an ice pack is how much it weighs. Trust me, you don’t want to end up buying the largest product and realize that you have no space left for anything else. NOt to mention the added weight you’d have to carry!
- Freezing Temperatures
Ice packs come in two freezing temperatures – 32 degrees Fahrenheit and below 20 degrees Fahrenheit.
The latter works a lot better than the former, so the lower your freezing point is the longer your packs will stay frozen. These ice packs are mostly used for frozen foods and beverages where you need to freeze them or keep them super chilled for very long periods of time.
Unless you don’t want your food to freeze, choose ice packs with a moderate freezing point.
You may also like: How to Keep Food Cold When Camping
- Dedicated features
If you’re looking to freeze specific foods like seafood, meat, or even beverages, you can choose to buy dedicated ice packs that are designed for specific purposes. Some ice packs even come with a ‘No-sweat’ feature that ensures that everything stays dry even after the ice packs begin to thaw.
Now that you know how to choose the best ice packs for coolers, let’s look at how they compare against regular ice!
Ice Packs vs Regular Ice – What’s The Difference?
The primary difference between the two is that ice packs do not make any mess as they thaw to room temperature.
Ice packs consist of water, silica gel, and propylene glycol. This helps them increase the freezing point of water and helps keep it frozen for a long time. Ice packs are also reusable! Although they do cost more than regular ice, they’re a cheaper option in the long run!
Ice, on the other hand, is very messy to handle and won’t last very long. Plus we don’t want our lunch to be soggy and covered in water once our ice melts now do we?
What Are The Benefits Of Using Ice Packs Over Regular Ice?
There are too many to name, but let’s look at a few!
- They’re more convenient to use
- They’re travel-friendly!
- You can reuse them every time.
- They do not make a mess once thawed.
- They’re cheaper in the long run and save you effort!
- Keeps your food chilled for much longer than regular ice!
Can You Use Dry Ice Instead?
Well, you can. But that wouldn’t really be a sensible choice.
Dry ice is frozen carbon dioxide. It turns to gas when left under room temperature so there’s no mess left behind. Plus it can remain really cold for longer periods of time. But here’s why people still prefer ice packs over dry ice.
Firstly, dry ice can be extremely expensive. It can come cheaper if bought in larger quantities but you don’t always need that much of it.
Secondly, it is just too cold! Dry ice can reach temperatures of extreme cold, as low as -190 degrees Fahrenheit! This means that your food will be frozen at all times, and unless you want to eat frozen foods at your picnic this won’t suit you.
Lastly, frozen ice needs a lot of care while handling. It can cause serious freezer burns if not handled right. All the more reason to prefer ice packs!
How Can I Make My Ice Pack Last Longer?
Sure, you went out and bought the best ice pack for a cooler in the market. Is there any way to make it last even longer? Yes! Let’s look at each of these tricks!
- Buy a high-quality cooler
This goes without saying. A good quality cooler will be able to shield off the heat and warm air far longer than others. Plus, the thicker the walls of your cooler, the more insulated the insides are.
- Do not keep your cooler under direct sunlight
I know what you’re thinking, duh. But we often forget this one in between all the moving and camping. The first thing you gotta do once you’ve reached your destination is looking for a spot for your cooler.
You want a spot that’s away in the shadows, possibly surrounded by greens to shield off the heat.
- Pre-chill your cooler!
I cannot tell you how much of a difference pre-chilling your cooler can make. It’s unbelievable!
The night before leaving, fill your cooler with ice packs or ice and let them sit overnight. The next day, refill with fresh ice packs and it is ready to stay cold for two times longer!
- Avoid opening your cooler lid a lot of times
As a kid, my mom would always scold me for opening the fridge one too many times. And I never understood why except now I do. And the same logic applies to coolers!
When you open the lid of a cooler too many times, you’re allowing the cold air to escape and the warm air to enter the cooler. This thaws out the ice even faster! So it’s better to take out everything you need at once instead of going back to it too many times.
- Use chilled food and drinks
Just like a chilled cooler helps the ice packs stay cold for longer, using already chilled food and beverages also slow down the thawing process of the ice packs! Freeze your foods and drinks overnight and then let them thaw naturally in the cooler.
- Tightly pack your cooler
The important thing to remember is that you only need to buy a cooler that fits the size of the food you’ll be carrying. If there’s any headspace left once you’re done putting in the food and ice packs, the air will more freely circulate through the extra space and fasten the thawing process. Remember to tightly pack your coolers, leave no space!
- Layer your food right!
Once it’s been a few hours since you packed the cooler, the cold air will sink to the bottom and make way for warm air at the top. Therefore, place your meats at the very bottom of your cooler and regular items like sandwiches or drinks at the top. Add extra layers of insulation in between the foods to further delay the thawing.
You can even check out this video for more tips to keep your cooler super cold!
How much should I spend on cooler ice packs?
Ice packs can cost anywhere between $5 to $50 for sets. The important thing to consider is whether they’re non-toxic and reusable.
How many cooler ice packs do I need?
You typically need as many ice packs as it takes to completely fill the cooler. Layer a few at the bottom and the sides, and then place them between each food layer.
Are gel packs better than ice?
On average, most people prefer to use ice packs over gel packs. This is simply because ice packs tend to stay cold for a longer period of time and they are safe and non-toxic.
How long will a cooler with ice keep food cold?
As a thumb rule, remember that the larger the size of your ice pack, the longer it will stay cold. Block ice usually lasts 5-7 days. Whereas smaller ice packs can last about 4-5 days in a well-insulated cooler.
Whichever ice pack you end up choosing, remember to check for its food safety levels! And the next time you go camping with the best ice packs for coolers, follow our tips to have chilled drinks for days! You can also check out this video for a DIY ice pack technique!
We hope we helped you make your choice. If you have any further queries, feel free to leave them below!