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  #1  
Old 05/30/11, 12:41 PM
 
Join Date: Dec 2007
Location: Western North Carolina
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Dry Ice? Or Regular Ice for camping?

We are beginners at Camping long term. What works best for use in an Ice Chest? Dry ice or regular ice? And is there a certain type cooler that works better for long term cold?

Thank you.

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  #2  
Old 05/30/11, 12:45 PM
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Dry ice will freeze your food. We find that freezing ice in half gallon juice containers works best - much better than crushed.

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  #3  
Old 05/30/11, 01:09 PM
 
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We also take jugs of frozen water, frozen drinking water. So nice on a HOT day in the woods (or desert)
Dry ice is so expensive.

How long a camping trip?

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  #4  
Old 05/30/11, 01:16 PM
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We freeze as much of the food as possible, and then use milk jugs frozen (and use as drinking water). Freeze your water bottles, meat, even milk. We use a coleman xtreme, and it really does last longer than other brands of cooler. I've had the ice stay frozen for 5 days in hot hot weather (keep the cooler out of the sun).

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  #5  
Old 05/30/11, 02:03 PM
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I went camping for a week in a place where there was no ice available so I took a second cooler full of frozen food and dry ice as well as my regular cooler. This worked out well except that mosquitos home in on the CO2 that you exhale to find a meal. When dry ice sublimates it goes straight to CO2 gas. There was a cloud of mosquitos arround the coolers that would nail you every time you went to get something out of one. LOL

Coleman extreme coolers do last longer.

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  #6  
Old 05/30/11, 02:28 PM
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Second vote for Coleman Extreme coolers, a very noticeable difference in how long they keep stuff cold.

Think about a second cooler for snacks and drinks. Keep the main food cooler closed. Let the snack cooler handle the most often needed items. The food cooler will stay much colder without little hands in and out.

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  #7  
Old 05/30/11, 02:51 PM
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Dry ice is some good stuff... however, it'll freezer burn any food it comes into contact with, including your skin.

You can't have too much insulation for your cooler. If you go with a portable cooler, keep it in the coolest place available, in the shade of course. Placing blankets or anything insulative over it will make your ice in the cooler last even longer.

If your really doing long term 'car camping', look into a small freezer. When in elk camp, one of the old timers brings an extra freezer, full of frozen jugs of water, and frozen foods. As long as the lid isn't left open long, food stays frozen for many days. They plug it up to the genny in three or four days for an hour or two, while using the genny for camp lights and other 'chores'. If an elk or three is taken, they're quartered and hung out at night to freeze, then thrown into the freezer... for the full day/night drive back home. Beats the snot out of regular/heavy duty portable coolers.

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  #8  
Old 05/30/11, 03:16 PM
 
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Thanks everyone -
We will be camping for a month and maybe five weeks in August. Going from Western NC to Missouri, Iowa, Minnesota, over to Wyoming, Yellowstone, Grand Teton, then back this way.

We are practicing now. Going on short trips to learn what we need and who likes to sleep in a tent or who prefers a hammock. Also, we are gathering up gear - just found some old plastic plates and cups today.

I did not know dry ice would burn things. Thank you for that tip. We will look at the Coleman Extreme cooler too.

I saw some instructions on the internet where they said to take a cooler and place it inside a larger cooler and then spray the "great stuff" type stuff all around it for more insulation. But, it seems to me that would use up a lot of space?

Would it help to glue solid blue insulation over the outside of a cooler?

Thank you.

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  #9  
Old 05/30/11, 03:41 PM
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Traveled and camped of and on for seven years averaging six months a year over the summer. Never had or used ice. Rough it just a little bit.

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  #10  
Old 05/30/11, 04:08 PM
 
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How about freezer packs? When I worked at the hospital, I took the ones that came with our drugs home, along with the Styrofoam coolers they were packed in. They were designed for one-time use for drug shipping, and we were just throwing them away. I gave them away on Freecycle, and also passed some on to a couple in our town who do CSA. Because of this, they didn't have to buy a second commercial ice freezer.

I'm talking about coolers that were designed to keep drugs cool that cost $20,000 a dose, that kind of thing. Insulin too - it will cook if it gets too hot. I know a lady who takes Enbrel and has it shipped to her house, and she once put some frozen cookie dough in one of these packs, placed it in the trunk of her car while going to visit her grandchildren in the summer, and it was still frozen solid 3 days later.

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  #11  
Old 05/30/11, 05:01 PM
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Originally Posted by meanwhile View Post
Thanks everyone -
We will be camping for a month and maybe five weeks in August. Going from Western NC to Missouri, Iowa, Minnesota, over to Wyoming, Yellowstone, Grand Teton, then back this way.

We are practicing now. Going on short trips to learn what we need and who likes to sleep in a tent or who prefers a hammock. Also, we are gathering up gear - just found some old plastic plates and cups today.

I did not know dry ice would burn things. Thank you for that tip. We will look at the Coleman Extreme cooler too.

I saw some instructions on the internet where they said to take a cooler and place it inside a larger cooler and then spray the "great stuff" type stuff all around it for more insulation. But, it seems to me that would use up a lot of space?

Would it help to glue solid blue insulation over the outside of a cooler?

Thank you.
Beefing up coolers is a waste of time, unless you're in a permanent type of camp and you have LOTS of room to transport stuff.

Several smaller coolers are better than giant ones, you can seprate things out that can get by with different cooling needs like people have said--drink cooler, fresh fruit/veggie/eggs/cheese cooler(more to just keep these from getting smashed up, they dont' need much cooling), meat(try to freeze as much as you can, or buy frozen stuff).

Although, we've gotten by fine submerging stuff like beer and soda and milk jugs in cool running streams or springs. Disclaimer on giardia though--you are traveling to foreign lands as far as your body goes. I've never had a problem in my native land. You might want to have some bleach wipes to wipe off the part that goes in your mouth. Walk upstream aways to see if there is anything dead in the water too.

Coolers are one thing where you def get what you pay for!

Get lots of wipes!

It really helps to spend some time thinking about how to pack your vehicle so that you dont' have to unload the whole thing before you start setting up camp. IE, tent comes out first, set that up, then fill it with the bags and clothes. Have a small duffle bag or backpack for each person. Put the snack stuff so it's easy to hand when you're driving, also the soap a jug of water to wash hands with, wipes.

Dog leashes(!!!!!), and take a spare.
Make sure you have a way to tie up your dog(if you're taking one) because just about all campgrounds require dogs be tied up 24/7. If you're sleeping in a tent and you can't trust your dog to stay in it(my heeler can unzip, even if the zippers are tied together) take a crate for them to sleep in. A crate is really nice for traveling too, again my heeler is a very "bouncy" dog and it's a lot better for everyone if she's not flying around the truck while driving.

Take some ice packs anyways--you'll probably make friends in the campgrounds and can ask some rv-er folks to freeze a pack overnight for you. Just remember to fetch it!

I'm just blabbering here, what kind of vehicle are you taking? tent? for car camping I always say buy as big a tent as you can get, you'll always appreciate the extra space! If you have teenagers get them their own tent, it will be a godsend

Take the cast iron fry pans and a dutch oven--those teflon fry pans are worthless on a coleman stove.
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  #12  
Old 05/30/11, 05:04 PM
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or instead of wipes you can put damp washcloths in a wipe box. just washthem out a lot or they'll get funky FAST

and have your own toilet paper. campground bathrooms aren't always stocked johnny on the spot. or on the road you might have to stop and go in the woods.

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  #13  
Old 05/30/11, 06:45 PM
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Originally Posted by wyld thang View Post
Beefing up coolers is a waste of time, unless you're in a permanent type of camp and you have LOTS of room to transport stuff. Several smaller coolers are better than giant ones
We transport fresh and frozen meat every week as part of our delivery route. It is a 2 AM to 8 PM trip - long day. Every week. It's like a camping trip and the meat has to stay at just the right temperature for the stores and restaurants so it doesn't lose quality. As such we've gotten this down to a science. Our extensive experience of years of doing this is the exact opposite of what you say above.

We have a big beefed up chest cooler in our van. We pack it with product and ice. It is far better than the smaller coolers although we use those too when we don't have enough room in the big cooler. Generally we just use the smaller coolers for carrying the orders into the customers premises.

For testing I've done five days in the big cooler before there is more than a few degrees F of temperature rise. The secret is it is a chest cooler and it has extra insulation.

Big coolers. Well organized. Lots of insulation. We have the butcher freeze the bones and extra back fat to act as cold packs. Works great, ever week, year after year.

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Read about our on-farm butcher shop project:
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  #14  
Old 05/30/11, 08:15 PM
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Question for you people who know about dry ice. If dry ice will freezer burn whatever it touches...like the fish I'm going to catch!!!...what do I do to make sure that my fish WON'T get freezer burned?? I'll be fishing Fri and Sat and coming home with them on Sunday (7 hour drive).

The fish will be in bags...can I just put newspaper over the dry ice to protect my fish?

Mon

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  #15  
Old 05/30/11, 08:32 PM
 
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A newspaper "barrier" between the dry ice and what ever

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  #16  
Old 05/31/11, 12:19 AM
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Theres some keys to making those Colmen Extreme Coolers work thier best. You need to precool them for about twenty-four hours before you pack them and put only hard frozen food in them.
We pack mules into the primitive areas. Going in for up to 12 days at a time, everything has to be well planned.
For 10 people it takes 6 of the large extremes. Each one is reverse packed according to the order that the food will be used in. That way you don't disturb anything. The dry ice is tightly wrapped and taped in several layers of newspaper and put on top of the frozen food. The first 4 have 10lbs. And the last 2 carry 15 lbs. (Less food, more dry ice.)
Back in country we have rocked up a spring so we have a dependable source of water. We made a place to put things like canned drinks, where the water can cool them. By not having to pack in large amounts of water we can carry items like dry rice and dehydrated potatoes. That cuts down on weight also.
At night we put the coolers up in the trees to keep the bears out of them. Early in the morning they're put on the north side of the tent and wrapped in blankets.
By the end of the nineth day we are down to the last cooler. On the twelfth day, the last of the food is just starting to thaw and is ready to use that day.
The empty coolers are repacked with garbage and other items to consolidate the packs on the way out.
With the changes in peoples food needs changing toward more fresh foods, we have had to do things like making an underground cool box for fruits and vegetables.
If you are going to use ice made from water keep it in the center of the cooler and in as big a chunk as possible.

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  #17  
Old 05/31/11, 12:20 AM
 
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Originally Posted by frogmammy View Post
what do I do to make sure that my fish WON'T get freezer burned?? I'll be fishing Fri and Sat and coming home with them on Sunday (7 hour drive).

The fish will be in bags...can I just put newspaper over the dry ice to protect my fish?
Freezer burn is just a very VERY poor grade of freeze-dried - so much so that the protein becomes dry and leathery.

An air-tight plastic bag will just about protect things, since they can't dry if the moisture can't get out. Just about, although moisture can move around inside the bag. The flesh freezes, ice crystals form by sucking moisture from their surroundings (the flesh), and if that goes too far and the ice then sublimes taking the moisture away ... well, leathery freezer burn.

As others have said, a layer of newspaper insulation to slow the freezing down will help prevent freezer burn. Don't be scared of it though - freezer-burned meat is less palatable, but it's not in any way bad for you. It's actually just better-preserved (freeze-dried, as I said) than plain frozen meat. Chop it, mince it fine, stew it, maybe chilli or garlic or mushrooms to replace the flavour that went with the ice, and you can eat it just fine.
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Old 05/31/11, 07:48 AM
 
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Thank you so much everyone. I am printing all the ideas to save with our camping checklist. Good ideas. I like the idea about putting newspaper around the dry ice. I have read several places that the dry ice will last longer than water ice. But, I have also read about freezing the drinking water in jugs and that would help too.

We may be able to buy a used trailer or the present idea is to buy a small cargo trailer and fix it up for our needs. We might build a box with thick insulation to set the cooler down in the box, with an insulated lid and it will be kept in the cargo trailer........but that is just an idea so far....

I am surely not taking any Dogs with us! My dogs would try to eat everyone up along the way! The Dogs will stay here with my sister and her husband! We have friends staying long term at one of our Cabin's here at home and they are going to help with Dogs too. I need a break from them.

I will be traveling with a mix of people - at first just me and my 13 year old son / then we add my 19 year old son / next my 23 year old son arrives to meet us in Minnesota / then we fetch my husband in Wyoming (he will finish up a school thing there) / and then people will fly back now and then / and relatives are added along the way / so........it is hard to say who will be where at any time........just a mix! And yes, Teenagers and others will have their own tents.......the older boys like to roam out in the deep woods and hide in the trees to sleep........the rest of us stay near the car or campground where we can build a fire.......

Thanks!

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Old 05/31/11, 09:26 AM
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Originally Posted by frogmammy View Post
Question for you people who know about dry ice. If dry ice will freezer burn whatever it touches...like the fish I'm going to catch!!!...what do I do to make sure that my fish WON'T get freezer burned?? I'll be fishing Fri and Sat and coming home with them on Sunday (7 hour drive).

The fish will be in bags...can I just put newspaper over the dry ice to protect my fish?

Mon
Whenever I go fishing I do my best to leave the fish in the lake. They seem to like that system better and so do I, no fish to clean, and they dont end up on my plate!
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  #20  
Old 05/31/11, 10:43 AM
 
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When the kids were young we took car camping road trips nearly every summer. Just from my experience, dry ice doesn't last longer than water ice; it just maintains a lower temperature (frozen) while it is around. Although we have a dry ice plant just down the road, we never used it for camping. We just used a chest cooler with jugs of ice frozen at home. We started out with frozen foods for the first few days, then shopped at local stores or farm markets for food and bought more ice as needed. For drinking, we used a 5-gallon jug of water, replenished with bagged ice cubes. We each kept a small bottle to drink in the car & refilled it when we stopped.
One other thing- have you hauled a trailer before?
We always used a tent or tents, since we often traveled away from tourist areas. Finding a place to park with a trailer can be a PITA, even to just run into a store. On the other hand, having a take-along potty would be very very nice!
Hope you all have a great time!

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Last edited by stickinthemud; 05/31/11 at 10:44 AM. Reason: clarify
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  #21  
Old 05/31/11, 01:16 PM
 
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Dry ice can be dangerous if it is handled incorrectly, and I would not have it around kids.

You are traveling. You simply stop and buy blocks of ice whenever you need it. The blocks will last a lot longer than the bags of cubes. You also stop occasionally at the local Safeway and buy fresh meat and fresh milk, instead of trying to carry enough for the entire trip.

When I travel and camp, I use a lot of food that doesn't have to be refrigerated. Fresh fruit, nuts, jerky, trail mix, small sealed bottles of juice, crackers, cereal, fresh potatoes.

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  #22  
Old 06/01/11, 04:41 PM
 
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Thank you everyone -
We camped yesterday and last night successfully. I know....two days and one night is not very long but it is a start! We used a huge deep "drink" type cooler.......one of those that you put water or lemonade in and it has the spout on the bottom.....but we put ice in the bottom, then we put a layer of a plastic container and the food sat in it.....then we put Blue Ice containers......I think we had 12 of the small size.....on top of the food and then we folded a thick bath towel over it......screwed the top on good.......and it lasted even though it was up to 93 here yesterday.......we still had ice in the bottom when we got home.

Thank you for all the tips and advice.

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  #23  
Old 06/01/11, 07:40 PM
 
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Originally Posted by meanwhile View Post
Thanks everyone -
We will be camping for a month and maybe five weeks in August. Going from Western NC to Missouri, Iowa, Minnesota, over to Wyoming, Yellowstone, Grand Teton, then back this way.

We are practicing now. Going on short trips to learn what we need and who likes to sleep in a tent or who prefers a hammock. Also, we are gathering up gear - just found some old plastic plates and cups today.

I did not know dry ice would burn things. Thank you for that tip. We will look at the Coleman Extreme cooler too.

I saw some instructions on the internet where they said to take a cooler and place it inside a larger cooler and then spray the "great stuff" type stuff all around it for more insulation. But, it seems to me that would use up a lot of space?

Would it help to glue solid blue insulation over the outside of a cooler?

Thank you.
If you are traveling a lot by car, I recommend using, at least some of the time, a thermoelectric cooler, that plugs into the cigarette lighter outlet. They are about $45, but will pay for themselves on savings and hassle on buying ice. The Colemans come with a 110v ac adapter, if you can find AC somewhere, that you stay. They cool down pretty quick and although they won't make drinks tooth-numbing cold, it is adequate, for drinks, cold meat cheese, etc.

I lived out of one for a year (5 days a week) while truck driving.

Have fun.
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  #24  
Old 06/01/11, 08:29 PM
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If you are traveling a lot by car, I recommend using, at least some of the time, a thermoelectric cooler, that plugs into the cigarette lighter outlet. They are about $45, but will pay for themselves on savings and hassle on buying ice. The Colemans come with a 110v ac adapter, if you can find AC somewhere, that you stay. They cool down pretty quick and although they won't make drinks tooth-numbing cold, it is adequate, for drinks, cold meat cheese, etc.

I lived out of one for a year (5 days a week) while truck driving.

Have fun.
One thing to remember, they can only cool so much below ambient temperature. So if you use it somewhere hot (95+) its not going to keep things very cool.
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  #25  
Old 06/01/11, 11:24 PM
 
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Biohazard needle buckets.

Some of the best block ice forms I've ever found...they're narrower at the bottom, larger at the top and make about a 30 to 50 pound block of ice, depending on size. Ice pops right out.

I recommend not using the used ones, though....

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  #26  
Old 06/02/11, 02:38 AM
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Since you are car camping and moving around do what Oregon suggested, buy more ice from time to time. To make the ice last as long as possible you can use block ice, keep the cooler in as cool a place as possible (shade), put a wet towel over it, and don't use the blue ice packs. When a wet towel covers the cooler the water evaporates, keeping the cooler colder than the ambient air temp. It takes a lot more heat to melt a given amount of water ice than to melt the same amount of the blue ice stuff so the water ice will last longer.

Look into renting/buying a camper trailer with a 3 way refrigerator in it. You can run it off 110 volt current if the campsite provides it, 12 volt DC power while you are traveling, and 12 volt or propane when camping where there is no 110 ( watch your battery to be sure you have enough left to start the car). I usually go camping for 2 weeks in a campsite that provides you with a picnic table, a fire ring, and a pit toilet. Sometimes the walleyes won't bite for days and then they go nuts for a few days and then get lockjaw for 3 or 4more. It is not always possible to keep fish you caught only in the last 2 days so that they will keep in a regular cooler for the ride home. With the fridge I just freeze them as I catch them and they travel home just fine. I can always eat a few in camp if I get close to my limit.

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  #27  
Old 06/02/11, 08:31 AM
 
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I do without ice on long trips. I buy dehydrated food or make my own. Cheese will keep for a while if it is not super hot. I hiked the Appalachian Trail in 09 and spend 6 months hiking without ice. I keep crystal light to mix with water, powedered milk to mix with hot cocoa and for breakfast. I ate alot of mac and cheese, pasta sides, tuna, etc. One of my favorite meals to this day is a pasta side or rice package mixed with the sweet and spicy tuna packs. For me traveling light makes the trip more enjoyable.

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  #28  
Old 06/02/11, 09:19 AM
 
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Bags of ice will do a lot better keeping that cooler full of fish . . .even for a many hour drive home.

For my week long trips to the energy fair I put the Coleman metal sided cooler in a 1" blue foam outer box. With several frozen ice blocks everything was fine...............

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  #29  
Old 06/02/11, 12:01 PM
 
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Dry ice is great stuff, but I'd like to add one more thing. I'd be more worried about dry ice touching the plastic of the cooler rather than the food itself. Dry ice is so very cold that can cause the plastic to break just by touching it.

When you use dry ice, make sure that the dry ice has some isulation between it and the walls of the cooler. Burying it in the center of a big bag of regular ice works very well.

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  #30  
Old 06/02/11, 12:02 PM
 
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Thank you for the tip about the plug-in cooler. We had heard of those but have not researched them yet.

Good idea about the wet towel! That is an interesting concept and I bet it works too! Thanks.

Volleypc:
We do plan to use dry and or dehydrated food for part of the trip but for 4 to 5 weeks there will be times we need to use ice. Congrats on hiking the AT! Six month on a trail used to be a dream of mine but I let it go and work and kids took over.......maybe I can hike parts of it one day! My Older Son has 3 friends who are on the Trail now. They just reached Pennsylvania area. We are getting tips from others who have been on the Trail too and those are very helpful but at my age (57) and with a bad-back, I have to plan around that too. Congrats again!

We did think about buying a camper but cannot afford one right now. Also, we thought about renting a camper but the price of renting would use up money that really we could just use for a down-payment on buying one later! We thought about trying to buy a small cargo-hauler and build the inside ourselves, but we are very short on cash right now and even that would be too much for us.

So! For this trip we will make-do and "rough it" but we are doing a whole lot of planning ahead and looking to see what things we already have on-hand so we don't spend money. The boys are making a "challenge" out of it and all of them are searching the barn and our Cabins to find good camping items we can use. Middle Son found some old plastic dishes and bowls in a Cabin last week. Older son found 2 old folding chairs.

Thank you everyone - all these ideas and tips are greatly appreciated. I plan to post a new question later asking for Tips and Suggestions for a long camping trip and I hope some of you will pass on more ideas there.

Thanks and we appreciate the help.

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