6 Genius Cooler Hacks

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Super Charge Your Camping Cooler
6 Great Cooler Hacks

You may know a polar bear tube is a PVC pipe with water inside it and the ends sealed. You store them in the freezer and put them in your cooler when it’s time to go. They are a reusable, space-saving, high-efficiency, no-mess solution to keeping your food cold while camping. You can make SUPER polar bear tubes by adding ½ cup salt per gallon to the water in those tubes. The salted water freezes at a lower temperature so the ice in the tubes lasts longer.

To make your own Polar Bear Tubes, measure the internal dimensions of your cooler and determine if you want the tubes to run the long way or the short way in the cooler – you may want some of each. Also measure the internal dimensions of the freezer where you’ll store the tubes when not in the cooler! You want them to fit easily in the freezer, too.

Cut PVC tubes one inch shorter than the length you measured. Use either 1 ½-inch or 2-inch PVC pipe. Remember, the larger the mass of the ice inside the tube, the longer it will last, so larger tubes will stay cool longer than smaller ones.

With an appropriate sized cap and PVC cement, seal one end of the tube. Follow directions on the cement for drying time, then fill the tube just over ¾ full (80 percent is about right) with salted water. The empty space allows expansion of the freezing water without breaking the tube. A mix of ½ cup salt per gallon of water will result in a solution just a bit more salty than seawater. It will freeze at about 28 F rather than 32 F.

Carefully seal the open end with cap and allow to the cement to cure with the tube standing upright so the water doesn’t reach the cement. Decorate the tubes anyway you see fit. Make them unique, because you want to keep track of your SUPER tubes. Once the cement is cured, put the tubes in your freezer, and they will be ready for your next outing.

When you throw a normal cooler into the bed of a pickup truck or on the wet deck of a boat, it slides all over the place. It gets banged up and wrecks stuff around it. Heaven forbid, you should want to stand on it to get a better view of … whatever. A few large anti-skid pads strategically placed on the bottom of the cooler quickly eliminate all those problems.

To ensure good adhesion to the plastic, if the surface is rough smooth with some sandpaper or emery cloth. Then use rubbing alcohol to clean off the places where you intend to attach the pads.

Those Super Polar Bear tubes you made in Hack #1? Another great use for a couple of them is to support a false bottom in your cooler. That way if you use regular ice in addition to the tubes or any of the frozen food thaws, the run off drains to the bottom of the cooler but the contents stay high and dry above it.

Making a false bottom is so easy! Get a length of that white, coated wire shelf material. Cut it down so it fits in the bottom of the cooler. Zip tie two or three polar bear tubes between the wires and lay the system in the bottom of the cooler. Voila! You’re done. No more nasty melt water and who-knows-what-else slurry contaminating your camping food.

The best thing you can do to preserve ice and keep everything colder is put an added layer of insulation at the top. A couple of custom cut pieces of foam insulation work well, but even better is a flexible foam pad (like the backing on mouse pad) that can lay over the top. Then when you open the cooler you lift up only the end of the pad you need to access what you’re after.

The more insulation, the better. Take whatever material you decide to use for your cooler pad and cut to size so it fits snugly just at the top of the cooler. If you go for two layers, cut the inner layer in half and glue it to the single top layer. This makes a “hinged” lid so you only expose half the contents to that nasty warm air when you open it.

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Rick Lee says:

Instead of cutting and gluing PVC pipes with salt water inside, why not just put salt water inside used water bottles?

Corner Garage Productions says:

Worst hacks ever

Javierfernando999 says:

Keep it cool 🍺👍

vanlife 123s says:

Freeze two 2 liters soda bottles with water put to one side of cooler standing up.
Measure bottom of cooler with them in there. Go to home depot & buy cheap plastic tub to fit bottom. Done.

Corbin Garrett says:

I think your conversion was a little off. 3/4 is not equal to 80 percent.

jim says:

That's just stupid.

Troy Mi says:

Very very nice, love these ideas. Good video.

Walter Pierce says:

Russ Estridge – Me too but these comments are hilarious.. I think I need a homeless guy life coach too now.

Geoff Lee says:

Salt water ice vs fresh water ice – just because salt water has a lower freezing temp does not mean fresh water cannot get colder than frozen salt water. If you put a bottle of salt water and a bottle of fresh water in your freezer (at home) and the freezer's temp is 10 F, eventually both bottles will be 10 F.
The real issue is the specific heat of salt water vs fresh water. That is, how much energy does it take to heat salt water vs fresh water. Here we find that salt water has a lower specific heat value and will be less efficient at keeping the cooler cool.

JW Rhyne Jr. says:

Great video! Thanks for the tips!

Ashbrook Doodlebops Gautier what what what says:

I just drilled holes in my cheap cooler and sprayed spray foam in the viods

John Allen says:

Freeze the bottom layer of beer cans, as the ice above melts it refreezes when it gets to the super cold alcoholic beer at the bottom, making for one big block of ice and beer cans. You can't drink the bottom layer of cans for a few days until they thaw out, but it really makes for a long lasting cooler if you're out in the boonies. You occasionally loose a beer during the deep freeze process. Been doing this for years for those week long trips.

Daniel Murray says:

You ziptied your "polar bear tubes" to the metal grate…how are you going to get that whole contraption into the freezer now? Idiot…

Greg Wichterman says:

Why not drill holes in the top of the lid, fill it with water (75% or 4/5). Seal the holes anput the lid in the freezer.

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