Picking a Good Quality Ice Chest

After a disaster – such as a hurricane – part of the relief efforts usually include bottled water, MREs or canned goods and ice. The ice is supposed to help people preserve their cold or frozen foods. But, this ice is of little good if the person getting the supplies to does have a good quality ice chest.

It has been in my experience that Rubbermaid brand is almost the bottom of the bucket. I have taken a 34 quart Rubbermaid ice chest, put a couple of bags of ice in it. And the next day just about all of the ice is melted.

On the other hand, Coleman and Igloo both offer quality solutions. One of my ice chest includes a 128 quart Igloo 5 day. Your supposed to be able to be able to put ice in it, and when kept in the shade the ice is supposed to last 5 days.

Two ice chest next to a barbecue pit on a trailer

Back in June of 2008 a buddy of mine got married at the beach. My wife and I loaded up the truck, hooked up the bar-b-q pit and headed to the beach to take part in the wedding. In the back of my truck was an Igloo 128 quart ice chest full of ice, drinks and a couple of frozen gallons of water. We got to the beach Friday evening. The Igloo 5 day extreme ice chest was in the back of my truck all weekend, in direct sunlight and day time temps were in the mid 90’s. Sunday, when my wife and I loaded up to go home, there was still ice in the chest.

After a disaster, open the freezer, pull out some frozen food and put it into the ice chest. This stops people from opening the freezer every time they need something to cook. The food will thaw in the ice chest will slowly thaw over the next few days. When it comes time to cook a meal, open the ice chest and pull out what you need.

With a quality product, you should be able to fill it with frozen meat, and the contents will stay cold for several days.

Ice Chest Examples

  • Igloo Marine
  • Yeti
  • Coleman extreme

Look for an ice chest that has an insulated lid, drain plug, and latches to help keep it closed.

Ice chest with a seal on the lid seems to help ice last longer.

Lets put the plan into effect for an example:

Power goes out.

Open freezer put out several days worth of frozen meat and put into ice chest.

Close freezer – connect generator to freezer every so often to make sure the contents stay frozen. Since the door is not going to be opened again, the generator is going to be used less. You may want to open the freezer once or twice a day, just for a few seconds to make sure the contents are staying frozen.

Over the next few days, open the ice chest and take out what you want to cook.

Your going to use less fuel in the generator because the door to the freezer is going to be opened less. The food in the ice chest will thaw slowly over several days. So even if you and your family had to evacuate, a large portion of frozen food could be taken with you.

But – I do not recommend taking frozen food on a road trip evacuation. Meaning you and your family have nowhere to go. If your just driving blindly trying to get away from a disaster, it might be better to leave the brisket and ribs at home. Most people do not have a way to cook large pieces of meat while on the road.

On the other hand, if you and you family do have a place to go. Contact the people your going to be staying with and ask about bringing your frozen food. Most friends and family members are not ready to take in a group of people. Any extra food that you bring along might help feeding everyone.

A real life example of this: As Hurricane Ike was approaching Galveston, a buddy of mine called and asked if he could stay with my wife and I. We talked about all of his frozen food – which he told me he was bringing with him. Some of the food was left in the ice chest for 3 days and was still frozen.