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#153323 - 08/02/11 04:31 AM Home Made backpacking cooler
RobbySkateboard Offline

Registered: 08/02/11
Posts: 6
I have this camel back that's great for a day pack and I just strap it onto the back of my normal backpack for extra easy to get to storage. I don't take the actual bladder with me but I've found that the pack is perfect for just day hikes and a cooler. This particular camel back has an insulated pocket where the bladder goes and I've used it to keep eggs, sausage, hot dogs, and even cans of soda cold. It works pretty well, I recently got back from a trip up to Big Sur with a friend of mine and we were able to have a nice cold can of Coke two nights in a row. I put one of those frozen ice packs that they ship with medications and things like that to keep them cool, I put that at the bottom, put 4 cans of soda in there, sausage and six eggs were all able to fit in there and stay surprisingly cold. My question is if anybody knows of a good material for keeping things cool because it is sort of a downer having to take my items that need to stay cold on a day hike with me if I don't want to leave my camp spot but want to spend the day hiking around. So my thought is that if I found a material that worked well for this I could just sew a pouch that I could slip into my day pack and pull out and leave at camp. I figured somebody would probably know a material that works really well (perhaps better than another that I would have gotten) for this particular project.

#153329 - 08/02/11 11:40 AM Re: Home Made backpacking cooler [Re: RobbySkateboard]
balzaccom Offline

Registered: 04/06/09
Posts: 1739
Loc: Napa, CA
Uh...This is the lightweight zone. I am tired just reading about how you are carrying sodas and ice packs. I prefer to leave the sodas at home...and camp in areas where these is snow to chill my aching bones...and any food I want cold.

But it you really want to do this...trying wrapping some mylar film around an envelope made of a closed cell foam sleeping pad.

Then you'll have to put that in your bear cannister or hang it carefully from a tree to keep the raccoons and bears from enjoying a nice cold drink on a hot summer's day.

check out our website and blog:

#153334 - 08/02/11 12:26 PM Re: Home Made backpacking cooler [Re: RobbySkateboard]
BZH Offline

Registered: 01/26/11
Posts: 869
Loc: Torrance, CA
The one thing you should know about insulation is that it doesn't care which way you are trying keep the temperature. So... think pot cozy! I think your best material would be the reflective window screens. would put the reflective stuff outward facing and make sure the container seals well.

If you are looking for something ready made, meritline sells small cheap lightweight coolers:

Just don't expect them to last forever. I had the strap rip out on mine.

Ohhh... don't worry about the lightweight snobs. Many people reduce pack weight so that they can bring more luxury items along. I personally would never want to hike a can of soda up a mountain (but I don't drink at that bottom of the mountain either), but some sausage and eggs sounds pretty tasty.

#153337 - 08/02/11 12:53 PM Re: Home Made backpacking cooler [Re: RobbySkateboard]
finallyME Offline

Registered: 09/24/07
Posts: 2710
Loc: Utah
You know, I might try this with my scouts that I want to slow down. I can put some sodas in their packs and have them carry them for me. Then I put the soda in a snow bank, or stick it in the snow runnoff river, and presto, cold soda that I didn't have to carry. I have 2 scouts that I need to put a 6 pack in their packs so that I don't have to run to keep up with them.
I've taken a vow of poverty. To annoy me, send money.

#153342 - 08/02/11 02:44 PM Re: Home Made backpacking cooler [Re: BZH]
OregonMouse Offline

Registered: 02/03/06
Posts: 6426
Loc: Gateway to Columbia Gorge
Ohhh... don't worry about the lightweight snobs.

It's not snobbery, but just that this section of the forum is dedicated specifically to lightweight gear. Items not related to lightweight gear really should be posted in other sections.
May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view--E. Abbey

#153344 - 08/02/11 02:50 PM Re: Home Made backpacking cooler [Re: OregonMouse]
RobbySkateboard Offline

Registered: 08/02/11
Posts: 6
thanks for the input. I feel I should not necessarily defend myself but kind of represent why I brought 4 sodas on the last backpacking trip: almost purely to see if it would keep them cold enough and if it was a viable option. I also have a motorcycle and do some longer motorcycle rides and figured it would be cool to carry some soda's on that where weight is almost not an issue at all (if you can maneuver with the backpack on your back it should be fine). So it was kind of a test for that but I will admit it was a really nice feeling cracking into a can of Dr. Pepper or Coke miles away from anything else.

#153345 - 08/02/11 02:53 PM Re: Home Made backpacking cooler [Re: RobbySkateboard]
PerryMK Online   content

Registered: 01/18/02
Posts: 1162
Loc: Florida panhandle
I've never tried using a cooler. If I need something cool and I set up camp near running water, I put it in the water. Be sure to secure if necessary. This usually does the trick for cooling things down as most streams are fairly cool. Not every trip gets a site near water so sometimes I do as the British and drink the beer at room temperature (smile).

#153347 - 08/02/11 03:03 PM Re: Home Made backpacking cooler [Re: RobbySkateboard]
AaronMB Offline

Registered: 07/18/11
Posts: 12
I'll second the car-shade idea. It works for a lot of folks for a pot cozy.

"Reflectix" is the brand-name of the kind of material found in car shades. It's a bit more expensive but perhaps more durable. This is very popular as a pot cozy choice.

I use and like "Thinsulbright" from craft/fabric stores. It's a fleeced-mylar and insulates very well. I made one with a rip-stop nylon shell and it works great for me as a freezer-bag cooking cozy. It packs flat, is lightweight, and is machine washable, too, which is an added plus.

I get what you mean about the taste (feel?) of a soda while on the trail. I most enjoy a carbonated fountain drink after returning from a backpacking trip. I don't take them on the trip, however, as I've found I can enjoy myself more with a lighter load. So, for those times I might want more than just the 'taste' of water, I pack along various kinds of powdered drink mixes; many of them have vitamins/electrolytes in them, too, which can be beneficial for the body.

There are times when I do take some kind of adult beverage and, as suggested above, will utilize a near by water source for keeping things cool(er).

Edited by AaronMB (08/02/11 03:04 PM)

#153349 - 08/02/11 03:29 PM Re: Home Made backpacking cooler [Re: OregonMouse]
BZH Offline

Registered: 01/26/11
Posts: 869
Loc: Torrance, CA
Originally Posted By OregonMouse
Ohhh... don't worry about the lightweight snobs.

It's not snobbery, but just that this section of the forum is dedicated specifically to lightweight gear. Items not related to lightweight gear really should be posted in other sections.

and the OP is asking about a lightweight cooler to carry some pretty heavy food and drink. It fits the lightweight zone perfectly!

#153384 - 08/03/11 06:09 PM Re: Home Made backpacking cooler [Re: BZH]
Jeff Offline

Registered: 03/06/09
Posts: 41
Loc: Nevada
I have never carried a cooler but I have an insulated nalgen bottle holder
I have frozen some quality steak in a couple of zip locks and use the holder to keep them cold on the first day of the hike. I brought a couple of thin metal skewers and cooked the stakes and a couple of back potatoes in foil over an open fire. Hardly light weight but it was only a weekend peak backing trip so it didn't mater much.

I agree that the soda seems to be a poor reward for the effort to carry them.
Jeff MyBackpackTrips


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