For those that enjoy the outdoors – and live in an area that experiences something called seasons – the turn from spring to summer is an exciting time.

And now that summer is in full swing, we here at Timber Ridge thought it would be a good time to cover one of the unsung heroes of outdoor activities – the cooler.

Ok, so “unsung” might be a little dramatic. You don’t have to be a grizzled outdoor veteran to appreciate a cold beverage on a hot day. Whether you’re camping, tailgating or heading out on a road trip, a cooler allows you to take some of the comforts of home with you wherever you go.

But, did you know there are some things you can do to help your cooler reach its maximum potential? In this blog, we’re going to lay out some tips for cleaning, prepping and packing your cooler.

Clean and Cool: A Clean Cooler is a Happy Cooler

I’d like to say we’ve never done it, but let’s be honest. Most of us are probably guilty of throwing some ice and food and/or drinks into a cooler that’s – how do we put this – less than ideal in terms of cleanliness. Running late for a day on the lake or rushing to get a good spot while tailgating can cause anyone to take a few risks when it comes to cooler sanitation.

But of course, you shouldn’t.

At Timber Ridge, we recommend making a point to clean out your cooler after every trip, so it’ll always be ready to go.

To ensure your cooler is clean, wash with warm water and soap (or even diluted bleach if you need a deep clean) inside and out. Then make sure to completely dry your cooler, either with a rag or by letting it sit out in the sun. Any standing water that may be in your cooler can become a breeding ground for bacteria of all types so you want to make sure it’s as dry as can be.

Prep for Success: How to Ready Your Cooler

Even the most expensive, top of the line coolers are generally only going to be as good as the user. And let’s be honest here, if you’re going to spend hundreds of dollars on that new YETI cooler, shouldn’t you at least follow directions? However, one of the most overlooked aspects of cooler ownership is prepping your ice box.

Think of it this way. If you start with a warm cooler no matter how much ice and cold drinks you add, the differing temperatures will affect how cold your cooler with get and ultimately stay at. So, to properly prep your cooler:

  • Give your cooler a good cleaning (if you didn’t follow our previous rule of cleaning after your last trip)
  • Fill the cooler with ice or cold packs 12 to 24 hours before your trip, especially if it’s a long one, to ensure a cold environment
  • Make sure your food and drinks are cold prior to placing them in the cooler so they don’t cause the temperature to rise

Now that your cooler is ready to house your food and drinks, let’s look at how to properly pack your cooler.

Tips for Packing Your Cooler

You’ve cleaned and prepped your cooler, so now all that is left is packing it. All you need to do is dump some ice in along with your food and drinks and you’re good to go right?

Not exactly.

Most outdoor enthusiasts know there is an art form to packing your cooler, especially if you’re embarking on a long trip. Here are a few tips to packing your cooler so drinks will stay cold and food will stay fresh:

  • Use separate containers: Store your food in airtight containers to minimize cross-contamination and to prevent water from seeping into your food.
  • Meat on bottom: Pack meat toward the bottom of the cooler (especially if it’s frozen) so it will last longer.
  • Layer your food: If you’re on a long trip, try to adhere to the “last in first out method,” by packing the first meal on top and the last on the bottom. This will help prevent opening and closing the cooler and digging for items toward the bottom.
  • Two coolers: If you’re planning a long trip with a lot of food, you might consider adding a second cooler to your arsenal so you can place food and drinks in separate coolers. This will help prevent constant opening of the food cooler and help cut down on cross contamination.

Stay Cool this Summer

Hopefully these tips will help you get the most out of your cooler this summer, regardless of what type it is or how expensive it was. Thinking of adding a new cooler for outdoor activities this year? If so, the Timber Ridge line of products features coolers of all types and at various price points. Our products can also be found on our Amazon storefront.