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Best Ice packs for Coolers

Every vacation and outing in summer is incomplete without a cooler full of drinks and snacks. Having an cooler by your side while camping, traveling or fishing will never let you go thirsty or hungry. It's normal to use ice from a gas station or grocery store to help keep everything cold. Unfortunately, the elting always turns things messy. The mess created by melting ice led to the create the reusable ice pack. Ice retention is a concern with many coolers, and only the best ice packs work and can solve the problem. Retention of coolness inside totally depends on the type of ice pack. These do not suit all types of coolers. The type, size and material of an cooler will determine the best ice pack for retaining coolness. Before we get into our reviews, let’s review the different types.

Best Rated reusable cooler ice pack 

Yeti Ice Pack

Yeti Ice Pack

This is a reusable and durable substitute madeto keep drinks ice cold for longer periods. It is made of high-density polyethylene, a material that resists punctures, scratches, and impacts, and filled with a non-toxic freeze gel that freezes faster and lasts longer than traditional ice. The ice pack comes in different sizes and shapes to fit inside any cooler or bag.

Customers who have used the it praise its effectiveness in keeping their drink and food chilled, even in hot temperatures. They also appreciate that the ice pack does not leak or make a mess, and that it can be easily cleaned and reused. However, some users have noted that the ice pack takes longer to freeze than expected and that it is quite heavy, which can add weight to the cooler or bag.

Overall, these may be the best cooler ice packs.  Yeti is reliable and sturdy substitute that can make outdoor activities, camping trips, or picnics more enjoyable by keeping your drinks and food fresh and cool.

Cooler Shock packs

Cooler Shock

The Cooler Shock reusable gel pack has received positive reviews from many customers. It is said to be long-lasting and more effective than most slim ice packs. The pack contains a non-toxic gel that freezes faster than water and keeps items cold for an extended period. It is also environmentally friendly and can be reused multiple times. Many customers have recommended this product for outdoor activities, camping, and even for use in medical situations.  

Arctic ICE Chilling Brew Series

Artctic ICE Chillin Brew Series

The Arctic ICE Chilling ice pack is a reusable option that can keep food stay ice cold longer. It is made of non-toxic, BPA-free materials and is available in different sizes to fit various coolers or lunch boxes.

Customers have reported that the Arctic ICE Chilling ice pack is durable and effective at keeping items cold. The pack also stays frozen longer than other reusable ice packs, which is helpful for outdoor activities or long trips. Some users have also mentioned that the pack is easy to clean and doesn't leak.

Overall, the Arctic ICE Chilling are reliable slim ice packs for keeping food and drinks cold and is a popular choice among outdoor enthusiasts, campers, and travelers.

Engel Ice Pack

Engel Ice

The Engler ice pack seems to be a well-designed and efficient ice pack for various uses such as sports injuries, pain relief, and post-operative recovery. Its soft gel-filled design allows it to conform to the body's contours and provide maximum coverage for effective therapy. The pack is also reusable, flexible, and durable, making it a good investment for long-term use. Some users have reported that it may freeze a bit harder than other similar products, but this can be resolved by placing a towel between the skin and the ice pack. Overall, the Engler compact ice pack is a popular and well-reviewed product.

Is it better to use ice or reuseable ice packs in a cooler?

Let us see why most cooler packs prove to be better. Many coolers boast of holding ice for several days. What they do not say is how much the cooler will sweat when the ice melts. The messiest part is the melt entering the storage chamber and spoiling the food. People complain of pulling out sandwiches immersed in water which can spoils the fun of a summer picnic. Manufacturers do not mention this when advertising and only boast of material and ice retention time

When thicker ice packs are used in the cooler the melting problem goes away. However, some coolers may sweat outside but will not spoil the food and beverages stored in them. Some may recommend dry ice instead. Although dry ice works for transportation, the performance degrades when you open and close the cooler for several times. Dry ice is a gas and escapes the cooler whenever you open the lid. This means dry ice is ideal for transporting perishables as long as the cooler remains closed.

Are most ice packs better than normal ice?

The answer is a definitive yes.  Ice is important in coolers to help keep the contents cool. When ice turns into water, it’s still cold and is able to keep the contents cold. In most cases, they do prove to be better for coolers. Let’s first try to understand how they work to keep things cool.

Slim Ice packs are small in size, but the cooling delivered makes for a good use of that space. They stay colder longer than regular cubes without drowning the storage area.

Ice packs for coolers provide even cooling to all the food and beverages stored in the cooler. Slim ice packs can fit between items to distribute coolness evenly. This distribution is not possible with regular ice. There is also the danger of ice cubes melting and spoiling food.

Suppose you pack soda, beer and lunch meats. You can place more between the items to ensure that they are cold when taken out for consumption. Freezing the items before loading will keep them cooler for a longer time.

The only advantage of ice cubes is the ability to crush it and pack it tightly. This means you can add more  to keep the contents inside cool till the entire ice melts. Probably that is the only advantage of the ice cubes over the best ice packs.

Let’s now move on to our favorites available today. There are different types available today for different types of coolers and uses. 

How many ice packs can fit in a cooler?

6 pak

You would first place your drinks of food in first, then fit the ice cubes around them.  The same works for food and ice packs.  Place your items in first then depending on the type of pack you either fit them between your items or on top.  On top is a good spot as it will help keep external sun out and the cold in.

The only exception to this rule is if you are using a 6 can resuable ice pack.  these are designed to go in first then slip the cans in after.

How do you keep an ice pack cold?

The easiest answer is to put them in the freezer when you aren't using them.  For best results, most should be refrigerated for 24 hours before use.  Here some additional recommendations:

  • Pre-chill before use by storing them in the freezer for at least two hours.
  • Use a cooler or insulated bag for storage. This will help to maintain their temperature.
  • Add salt before placing in the cooler. Salt lowers the freezing point of water, causing ice to stay colder for a longer time.
  • Keep the cooler or insulated bag out of direct sunlight and away from heat sources.
  • Place a layer of insulation, like towels or newspaper to keep the cold inside.
  • If possible, add more to the cooler to help maintain the temperature.

How long does an ice pack stay cold?

Most will stay cold for two to three days inside of a cooler.  The flexible versions typically won't last as long as the rigid option with a hard other shell.

Different Types of Ice Packs

They are used for two main reasons. First, they provide better cooling. Secondly they stay frozen for longer.  This means they do not spoil the food stored in the cooler when melting. With regular ice, the food stored in the cooler such as hot-dog or sandwiches becomes soggy. This happens because of the melt entering the storage and immersing everything in the water. Nothing can be more disappointing than reaching a soggy sandwich or hamburger after a tiring activity outdoors. Fortunately, this does not happen when you use ice packs in your cooler.

Environment-Friendly Ice packs


Many companies are turning towards environment-friendly chemical products that are non-toxic. The same applies to the ice pack industry. The traditional blue plastic blocks used for packing food and beverages are petroleum based. There was concern of leakage into the food when it being to melt.

The most popular material in use recently is Phase Change Material (PCM). Unlike traditional materials PCM is not a petroleum based chemical. PCM is made of plant-based material and are fully biodegradable which makes them environment-friendly. PCM absorbs heat while keeping the coldness locked inside to maintain coolness for a long time. The eco-friendly nature PCM makes for the best ice packs available today!

One significant advantage of the PCM material is that it does not lose the cooling due to the heat absorbed. The entire unit needs to reach a melting point for the phase changing to take place. Ice starts constantly melting which results in a rise in temperature inside the cooler. Today there are several brands of PCM ice packs that are popular and well-reviewed. Search on Amazon for some of the best options.

Flexible Foil Gel Packs


Flexible foil are a type of gel pack that are gaining popularity recently. Originally these helped to transport blood for emergencies. Foil packs accelerate cooling by drawing heat from the surroundings with the help of the three nylon layer pack. These are environment-friendly and are 100% non-toxic are not too expensive. They don't take up too much space so there is more real estate in your cooler.

The layers of the pack are 7-mil thick and can freeze down to 18 degrees Fahrenheit. This is less than the temperature of melting ice. A few bags can replace 20 lbs of ice.  These small, flexible packs are ideal for lunch boxes.  One drawback is that they will not keep your contents ice cold as long as some larger ice packs.

Gel Packs


These are still being widely used in coolers. The advancement in the technology helped to improve them by using BPA-free material. They freeze at lower temperature than water and have better heat capacity properties. This enables gel packs to internally store energy longer. Today the market is flooded with different types of environment-friendly and toxin-free ice packs. These are available depending on the type of the cooler. The BPA-free gel pack removes the worry of chemicals leaking into the food.  These will fit well inside lunch bags and give you more real estate for beverages.

Are gel based ice packs better?

Gel packs have some advantages over other types of ice packs. They are more flexible and can conform to the shape of the body, providing better coverage and distribution of cold therapy. They also tend to stay colder for longer periods of time than other types of ice packs. Additionally, gel ice packs are reusable and do not create as much condensation as ice cubes or traditional ice packs, making them a more convenient and mess-free option.

Size of the Ice Packs

One disadvantage is that the shape is rigid for packing into the cooler. This is where ice outperforms ice packs in coolers. Some come with flexible packing that are still difficult to fit in narrow spaces and corners. These do not fit into awkward corners. Fortunately, there are companies that came out with a newline of ice packs that solve this short coming. There are a few brands designed to suit the packing requirements of the cooler. These are shapeable into pieces or the size required for your particular cooler. It's amazing! There are also slim ice packs available. These are just ¼ inch and can easily fit into any corner or tighter spaces similar to ice cubes.

Things to Consider When Choosing the Right Ice Pack for Your Cooler

More and more people are turning to BPA free options. Traditional petroleum products are not in use but pop up here and there. Be sure to look closely at ice packs label.

The size of the cooler matters. Buy ice packs that fits the cooler not the other way. There is a misconception that an ice pack will keep an 60 quart cooler cooler or days. Ice packs only have enhanced ice retention capacity of around 60%. There are no miracle packs to keep the cooler chilled for several days.

Best Ice packs for Coolers

Although ice delivers effective cooling, it turns the interiors messy when it starts to melt. The melted ice immerses everything stored in the cooler. This can make the vacation an unpleasant and a disappointing one. There are several reasons to use reusable ice packs for their coolers.

  • Re-usable packs are a one-time investment.
  • Cold retention is 40% to 60% longer.
  • Prevents items stored in the cooler from becoming soggy.
  • last but not least – not more trips to the gas station for ice!

Are Yeti Ice packs worth it?

Like other brands, Yeti Coolers has branched out.  Based on customer reviews and feedback, Yeti ice packs are considered to be durable, effective, and long-lasting. They can keep your drinks ice cold for a long time, making them ideal for outdoor activities, camping, and long road trips. Although they are more expensive, many users believe that they are worth the investment due to their superior performance and quality.