The 10 Best Ice Packs for Coolers

Updated November 10, 2017 by Brett Dvoretz

10 Best Ice Packs for Coolers
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We spent 43 hours on research, videography, and editing, to review the top selections for this wiki. When you need to keep items cool for an extended period of time, ice packs offer a more convenient and cleaner alternative to mounds of wet ice. We have rated some of the best available to get you through your weekend camping trip, fishing excursion or all-day sporting event with a chilled beer or fresh sandwich always at hand. When users buy our independently chosen editorial picks, we may earn commissions to support our work. Skip to the best ice pack for coolers on Amazon.

10. Nordic Ice NOR1038

Nordic Ice NOR1038 have a soft multi-layer exterior that is specifically designed to reduce sweating. This helps to keep items free from damage during transport. But they're not flexible, which can make it difficult to wrap them tightly around foods.
  • good for keeping breast milk cold
  • can be used daily
  • are a bit bulky
Brand Nordic Ice
Model NOR1038
Weight 3.1 pounds
Rating 4.0 / 5.0

9. ThermaFreeze TF46-5

The ThermaFreeze TF46-5 is a 10" x 15" sheet made of a soft cloth on one side with a thin backing on the other. This unique design makes it extremely versatile, but when the sheet thaws out, it tends to get a little sticky and messy.
  • rolls up for storage
  • great for use on swollen body parts
  • not super durable
Brand ThermaFreeze
Model TF46-5
Weight 4 ounces
Rating 4.1 / 5.0

8. Techni Ice

Techni Ice is a high-performing polymer refrigerant that has cold and hot applications for a variety of uses like, food delivery, pain relief and backpacking. It can last 4-7 times longer than wet ice and stays frozen just as long as dry ice.
  • comes in a dehydrated form
  • can freeze colder than ice
  • difficult to activate
Brand Techni Ice
Model pending
Weight 7.2 ounces
Rating 3.5 / 5.0

7. Icy Cools Penguin

Perfectly sized for a six-can cooler or a kid's lunch box, the Icy Cools Penguin offers a better way to keeps items cold. It features built-in hinges that offer the flexibility to wrap around food, beverages and even arms or legs when used for injuries.
  • lasts four to six hours
  • contains purified water
  • adorable kid-friendly design
Brand Icy Cools
Model 27000
Weight 2.6 pounds
Rating 3.9 / 5.0

6. RubberMaid Blue Ice Weekender

At nearly seven inches in size, the RubberMaid Blue Ice Weekender is a trusted cooler companion when camping or at beach parties. It is one of the best out there as it takes a long time to melt and does not sweat as much as some other brands.
  • simple to keep clean
  • durable plastic doesn't break easily
  • affordable and lasts a long time
Brand Rubbermaid
Model No Model
Weight 6.9 pounds
Rating 4.2 / 5.0

5. Bentgo Chillers

You can pack your lunch with peace of mind that your food will stay fresh with the Bentgo Chillers. This 4-pack offers a great bang for your buck, at under $8, and comes in four snazzy colors to suit your taste. Their slim profile also doesn't add any bulk to your bag.
  • one-year warranty
  • nontoxic and bpa-free
  • takes up minimal freezer space
Brand Bentgo
Weight 1.7 pounds
Rating 4.1 / 5.0

4. Arctic Ice Chillin Brew

Arctic Ice Chillin Brew is the perfect way to keep beer, soda and other beverages ice cold for days. It freezes quickly, within 6-10 hours, and has been tested for up to 100,000 uses, so you never have to travel with heavy ice again.
  • integrated handle
  • comes in a variety of sizes
  • keeps coolers clean
Brand Arctic Ice
Model 1211
Weight 5 pounds
Rating 4.2 / 5.0

3. Flexi Freeze

Flexi Freeze offers an ingenious way to keep food fresh without the mess. These reusable ice sheets store conveniently in your freezer, remain flexible even when frozen and can be cut down in size to fit into any bag or cooler.
  • durable enough to last for years
  • create a flat bottom layer
  • made of 100-percent water
Brand FlexiFreeze
Model FF3FS02-3FSRT
Weight 8 pounds
Rating 4.6 / 5.0

2. Fit & Fresh Cool Coolers

Fit & Fresh Cool Coolers are a popular choice among parents to keep kids' lunch boxes or smaller coolers at the ideal temperature all day long. Their thin 0.25" design takes up little space, which leaves extra room to pack more food and snacks.
  • dishwasher safe for easy cleaning
  • hard plastic shell
  • great for sporting events
Brand Fit & Fresh
Model 336KFFKIT2
Weight 3 pounds
Rating 4.9 / 5.0

1. Cooler Shock

Cooler Shock is a game changer in the world of ice packs; it keeps your food cold and safe for 24 hours. You simply add water to the pouch, freeze it and within 15 minutes the pack turns to gel. It's the perfect portable cooling device to take along for fishing or camping.
  • durable aluminum and nylon build
  • made in the usa
  • cools down drinks quickly
Brand Cooler Shock
Model Shock-1/18F-Dry
Weight 1.5 pounds
Rating 4.5 / 5.0

Why You Need An Ice Pack For Your Cooler

We’ve all, at one time or another, made that fatal error with our coolers that has resulted in a food or drink not being cold enough to really enjoy. The worst of these transgressions usually involves inexpensive beer, which is all but undrinkable when it rises above a certain temperature.

The mistake we make is in thinking that the cooler can keep cold things cold on its own. It seems like a reasonable assumption at first. A good cooler should lock in the temperature of whatever lives inside it, and if your beer is cold when it goes in, it should still be cold when it comes out a few hours later. The problem with this approach is that temperatures have a tendency to move.

The energy we call warmth just loves to rub itself all over surfaces and mix with air that isn’t as warm. Whenever the seal on your cooler is broken — whether it isn’t fully closed or its zipper leaves a tiny gap — you’re inviting warm air currents into your cooler. The same goes for surfaces. If you set your cooler down on a surface that’s warmer than its interior (hot sand or pavement, for example) the cooler’s insulation can only do so much to keep that heat out.

The result is undrinkable beer and potentially dangerous foods. Your refrigerator keeps things cold, but not quite frozen. You can set its internal temperature, but most fridges effectively store food and drink at around 35-37 degrees Fahrenheit. Food becomes susceptible to bacteria and toxins at any temperature above 40 degrees. That means it only takes a short while for foods taken out of the fridge and placed in a cooler to enter what food safety experts call the danger zone.

Some people try to fix the problem by putting ice in the cooler with whatever food they’ve brought along. While that will often solve the problem, it will do so by creating another: the potential for leaks. Ice melts, and when it does, that water — like the warm currents trying to get into your cooler — wants to find a way out. If Murphy’s law has anything to say about it, that water will eventually find its way out, usually somewhere in your car or home.

Fortunately, there are ice packs for coolers that can make all this agony disappear. These simple devices sit in your freezer, get extraordinarily cold, and fit into your cooler without much impact on its capacity. They’re also often lighter than the ice and water you’d have to tote around if you just threw cubes into the cooler. With an ice pack in your cooler, the internal temperature will consistently remain lower for longer, keeping your food and drink at safe and enjoyable temperatures for the duration of your excursion.

Tips For Getting The Most Out Of Your Ice Pack

Now that you’ve gotten yourself an ice pack or two, you need to know how best to deploy it. Just tossing it in your cooler haphazardly will bring you some benefit, but there are other things you can do to make sure your food stays fresh and delicious.

For starters, make sure the cooler itself is up to snuff. If it doesn’t quite close as well as it used to, if it’s zipper or clasp gets stuck in an open position, or if it seems like its contents get too warm too quickly (even with an ice pack), it’s definitely time to get yourself a new cooler.

Once you know your cooler isn’t problematic, you can employ an additional method for optimal cooling. The most important thing you can do is master organization. How you pack your cooler can be a big factor in how cold it stays inside.

Proper packing starts with ice pack placement. If you have a soft-sided cooler, it’d be smart not to place the ice pack on the bottom of the unit, as these styles often have less insulation down below as hard-sided models do. Instead, place your least perishable, least crushable items on the bottom, and your ice pack in the middle. In hard coolers, you should place the ice pack on the bottom, as the biggest source of heat in these is their top seal.

Always place your most perishable items closest to your ice pack. While these packs do lower the overall temperature of a cooler, they will keep the things closest to them the coldest. Any meat or dairy items should take priority here. If you deploy multiple packs, you can utilize one for safety and another for enjoyment (making sure the beer stays cold).

Finally, make sure you double check the manufacturer’s recommended fill line inside your cooler. Often, especially in hard-sided coolers, there’s a visible marking above which you shouldn’t pack any food or drinks that could spoil easily, as this is where the warmest air inside the cooler is going to reside.

A Brief History Of Cold Preservation

In certain climates, there isn’t much of a need for external apparatuses to keep things cold. If there’s snow on the ground, there’s a good chance that your food is going to stay frosty. As far back as we have evidence, however, humans have needed to preserve food, and keeping it cold sometimes required ingenuity.

Some of the first attempts to keep food cold involved storing it underground. Our ancestors dug holes and built cellars explicitly for this purpose. In some cases, this storage method failed, but produced edible results, like kimchi, which is traditionally fermented underground.

In the 1800s, an ice trade began to boom, allowing people to purchase ice harvested from northern climates. Deliverymen brought large blocks of ice around to communities where they could cut them down to any size their customers required.

The last means by which we kept food cold before the refrigerator came along was known as the icebox. This household device worked like a large, hard-sided cooler, but looked more like the refrigerators of the 1950s and 1960s. Ice blocks fit into a bottom compartment, and kept the box’s contents cold.

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Last updated on November 10, 2017 by Brett Dvoretz

A wandering writer who spends as much time on the road as behind the computer screen, Brett can either be found hacking furiously away at the keyboard or perhaps enjoying a whiskey and coke on some exotic beach, sometimes both simultaneously, usually with a four-legged companion by his side. He hopes to one day become a modern day renaissance man.

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