Cool(er) Down

Cool(er) Down

Cooler Reviews

+ Hacks to make your ice last literally forever!


That feeling when….

.... your smoked salmon sits in cooler water all day.

... someone else’s eggs break under your Coors Light.

... all you want is a cocktail but your cooler is full of wet broccoli.

Cooler problems are a pet peeve at the PlayaLabs. It’s so bad when food and cooler-water mix, because now you have 2 problems—spoiled food and nasty slime water.

It's so common and so fucking annoying. And so easy to fix. We get a 10lb block of cooler questions every year, so here are the PlayaLabs’ recommendations and very cool hacks:

Essential Picks

Igloo Marine Series

These are pretty basic but a step-up from your standard tailgating cooler. The bright white resists sunlight. We recommend the 48 or 54 quart for most “normal” needs. The 36 is too small for a week in the desert.

Alternative Hack

Coleman Xtreme 70 quart. 

More features and rated for longer ice life. Slightly more expensive. 

Luxury Larry

Priced to Match

A playa favorite that is bulletproof with warranty out the ying-yang. It costs a lot but so does your ice and food, so protect 'em, right?  Get the 65 quart or larger. Smaller just isn't worth it for the high-dollar coolers. 

Now the Hacks:

Hack 1: Nice Jugs

The ice caps are melting, but we have a solution: Drink a ½ gallon or gallon of milk or juice before your trip. Save the jugs.


Rinse out, fill 90% with clean water. Squeeze the jug to put a dent in the side, then cap it (you squeeze a dent into the bottle to give it room to expand in the freezer).

Freeze those jugs! Use these ice blocks in your cooler for the fist leg of your journey . The ice will last 3-4 days. When it thaws, drink the clean water, then use the jugs to pack out greywater. It’s a win-win-win and it’s free.

Hack 2: XYZ - Examine Your Zipper (Bag).

Get mostly BLOCK ice. Only buy cubes for cocktails. Get a box of XL zipper-close bags. We like this brand but Ziploc will do too:  

Whether you have blocks or cubed ice, put the entire bag (plastic and all) into the Zipper bag. The double bagged ice will last 2-3 more days. The block ice will last even longer and melt less into your cooler.

As the ice melts, pour out liquid water from the Zipper bag. Use this H2O for your bathing/cleaning needs or in spray bottles.

Hack 3:  Basket in the Glory 

Put a wire basket in your cooler (linked here or get from an office store or Dollar store).

This will suspend food above the melty water below. Pack all food in the wire basket. Only canned beverages should be loose in the cooler.

Hack 4: Drain the Main Vein

Drain every other day. Since your cooler water is clean, you can put it into a solar shower or a mist/spray bottle and use for cooling down. We really like these spray bottles, because you can pump up, then spray for several minutes. Add scented oil if you want to go nuts.


Hack 5: No Brain Freeze

Cut down on food that requires a cooler. Another post on that topic is coming, but try tuna and canned chicken, beef jerky, bagels with peanut butter, apples, noodles, backpacker meals… none of that needs to be cold.

Hack 6: Fuck off

Don’t share coolers with your whole camp. We know, sharing is caring… but also, good coolers make good neighbors. Partner up with 1 or 2 cooler buddies but that’s it. Keep your cooler in your tent or private space. Cover cooler with an old blanket or towel for extra shade and to keep Rando away.

Gift a Man a Fish

Gift a Man a Fish

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