Not everyone needs a cooler that will hold ice for 10-14 days, but if you do High Performance Marine Coolers are built with you in mind. Most have over 2″ of solid insulation, freezer grade gaskets and a number of other features that put them at the head of the class. Of course all of this doesn’t come cheap, so don’t expect to pay what you would for a Coleman or Igloo Cooler at Walmart.
These high end coolers are popular with boaters, rafters, oilfield workers, border patrols and others who demand a lot from their cooler. Sometimes people who are new to high performance coolers will be disappointed. You may hear, “This thing is even worse than my old cooler” or some variation. All they need is a little understanding to turn that experience around.
The first thing you need to remember is that insulation doesn’t make things cold, it holds the ambient temperature. If your cooler has been sitting on deck or in a hot garage for awhile, it has probably become warm inside. The same insulation that keeps your ice cold, keeps a warm cooler warm. If you load this cooler up when it is warm, you are going to burn through a lot of ice just cooling off the inside of the cooler and insulation. The best way to prepare you cooler is to fill it with ice a day or two before you plan to load it. When you are ready to load the cooler, dump the remaining ice and water and reload the cooler with food and fresh ice. portable keg cooler
When you load food into your cooler, it is a good idea to chill it ahead of time. The previous concept applies, if you load warm beer or soda into the cooler, it is going to burn through a lot of ice lowering the temperature of the cans.
Air is a crummy insulator. For that reason, you should leave as little air in your cooler as possible. Load your ice and food, then fill in any gaps with more ice or even crumpled newspaper. If you can, it is better to leave melted ice water in the cooler than dump it. You’ll lose a lot of cool when you drain water which will be replaced with warm air.
Minimize your access to the cooler. Every time you open the cooler, you let in warm air that has to be chilled. If you know you are going to be sipping sodas all afternoon, pull out a 6 pack and put it into a personal sized cooler. If you do, you only be getting into your high performance marine cooler once instead of 6 times.
How does a pro do it? I’ve heard of outfitters that will store their high performance coolers in a walk in commercial freezer before use. When ready to go, they load the coolers full of cold food, pack in thermal blankets or other insulation to take up any space around the food, then close and latch the cooler. They then seal around the cooler lid with duct tape to keep cold in and people out. The coolers are then used in sequence, for example 1 each day, so no one ever disturbs a cooler until it is ready to be unloaded. With tactics like this it is possible for them to keep ice in their high performance cooler for up to 2 weeks, even under pretty harsh conditions.