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Sturdy plastic zip-type bags for ice storage in cooler?

Bucks County...
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Sturdy plastic zip-type bags for ice storage in cooler?

I wasn't sure where to post this question, but thought I'd try this forum. We went to Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks in 2012 for 11 days and bought a very good 50 quart Coleman cooler at a Walmart in Layton, UT (and gave it to a hotel worker on our last day in Salt Lake City before flying home). I'd brought 1 gallon and 2 gallon size zip-lock plastic bags to hold ice to keep food cool in the cooler, but discovered after a few days' use, the bags developed holes in their seams and then leaked.

We're planning a 12 day visit to Yellowstone late this coming summer and I wondered if anyone can recommend a brand of sturdier, more heavy-duty bags in which to put ice, or some other way to store ice in a cooler-- but it will need to fit in my suitcase.

Florida - Alaska...
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1. Re: Sturdy plastic zip-type bags for ice storage in cooler?

Use zip locks to put your food in, not the ice. Then you can put really perishable items in the ice and items needing less cooling on top of the ice. It is also much easier to drain the water through the coolers drain, than to take each ziplock out and drain them individually.

You could also look at some the snap lid plastic storage containers, they work well for items you might want as dish up like sliced fruit, cheeses, salads, etc.

No need to haul it with you from home, there are plenty of big stores, Wal-Mart, Fred Meyers, etc that you can buy this stuff enroute from SLC to YNP.

Bucks County...
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2. Re: Sturdy plastic zip-type bags for ice storage in cooler?

Thanks for your suggestions, MrCycling. I don't remember if our 2012 cooler had a drain in it, so if I try your method, we'll make sure to buy a cooler that has one. Since we'll be needing to get at least two meals (and snacks) each day from the cooler, I was trying to figure ways to lessen the "hassle factor" of mopping up a mess at the end of each day, but having the cooler was necessary and appreciated since it kept us from spending valuable time finding a place to get a meal. And the hassle factor's certainly not a big deal when you're visiting a place as incredible as Yellowstone.

Colorado Western...
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3. Re: Sturdy plastic zip-type bags for ice storage in cooler?

Large blocks of ice will keep longer than small ice cubes, but make it a bit trickier to pack the cooler. You can buy ice in blocks, but can also freeze water in your water bottles for the start of the trip, then begin using the water bottles for drinking as they begin to thaw.

Bucks County...
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4. Re: Sturdy plastic zip-type bags for ice storage in cooler?

WingLady-- I'd considered the block ice, but also thought of the possible problems of packing the cooler with them. If we can find the block ice, though, I may try it and see how it goes. Because we're flying into SLC, we won't have access to a freezer for water bottles, unfortunately, but thanks for the input!

Florida - Alaska...
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5. Re: Sturdy plastic zip-type bags for ice storage in cooler?

Most ice chests bigger than 36 quarts have drain holes, as the bigger the ice chest, the harder it is to pick it up and tilt it to drain out the water.

But in the long run, leaving the water in is actually better for cooling, especially for canned or bottled drinks. Ice (cube or block) & water will keep items in the ice chest cooler better than ice & air. Cube ice & air will keep the items cooler than block ice & air. And while I haven't tried it, salt water & ice is supposed to be the best overall (which makes sense since ice cream churns use a salt water and ice bath).

Chicago's North...
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6. Re: Sturdy plastic zip-type bags for ice storage in cooler?

here's what we do:

first off, since we have little kids, and don't mind preparing our own meals, we try to stay in places with fridges/microwaves/kitchenettes etc.... even a small fridge in a hotel room helps.....

when we use "ziplocs" (usually buy them from ALDI and bring with), we double bag the ice...but still, eventually, the water finds a way to leak out after a coupla days.... but it's good for day trips.... bring plenty of bags!

water bottles----freeze a few water bottles the nite before and put them in the cooler..... they last longer than cubes, they don't leak, and you can drink from them during the course of the day, or on a hike... i'll take ice cold water over warm water on a hike any day!! of course, this only works if you have access to a freezer...

blue ice---again, lasts longer and doesn't leak.... but the hassles are packing it from home (unless you buy a few blocks with your cooler), weight and keeping them frozen...thus, again, this only works if you have access to a freezer.... we have picky eaters, one with nut allergies, so my wife has even gone as far as packing frozen foods in a suitcase with some blue ice and clothes for insulation to HAWAII, and it stays!! i always think she's crazy for doing it, but what the hey....

having mentioned the blue ice and water bottles, if your room doesn't have a fridge/freezer, you can ask hotel/motel staff if it's ok to freeze them in their freezer... in our experience, most have obliged....

i'm not a big fan of block ice---i tried it once or twice, and like others said, you have packing issues.... i've also tried dry ice---not a big fan either, plus it's $$, and with limited availability....

hope this helps and happy trails!

Bucks County...
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7. Re: Sturdy plastic zip-type bags for ice storage in cooler?

Thanks for the input, MrCycling and StrangeTripper.

ST-- We're staying in cabins at 3 different places over 11 days inside Yellowstone National Park and none have refrigerators, TV, WiFi access, air conditioning (usually not needed, at night at least), or any other amenities you might find in a motel. So we're pretty limited to block or cube ice we'll need to find or buy daily since we'll be using and depending on our ice chest/cooler every day. I guess I'll just have to bring a LOT of plastic zip bags and double them. My original post was aimed at wondering if any campers or road-trippers had found something sturdier than the usual home food storage zipper bags found in supermarkets-- something I could easily pack for air travel that wouldn't be bulky.

I may consider doing as MrCycling mentioned a few posts back: packing the food in the bags and throwing loose ice in around everything. But I'd like to avoid a wet mess and dripping bags every time we want to pull a few things out of the cooler. Oh well-- not a big deal in the great scheme of things! :-)

Chicago's North...
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8. Re: Sturdy plastic zip-type bags for ice storage in cooler?

here's another idea regarding sturdier bags:

dry bags.

what i mean are the bags paddlers use to keep their stuff dry... you can get them at REI and other outdoorsy stores.... they come in different sizes, from maybe 4 quarts to very large backpack sized... i know for a fact, they keep the water OUT, so, if you were to fill one or 2 smaller ones with ice, i'd imagine they'd do a great job of keeping the ice water IN.... or, put ice in the cooler as previously mentioned (i don't like it because of the potential for leaks and the water ending up all over your floor) and pack the food in the dump bag(s)....

http://www.rei.com/c/dry-bags

heck, i just thought of this, maybe i'll try it some time;-)

Edited: 27 February 2014, 14:25
Chicago's North...
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9. Re: Sturdy plastic zip-type bags for ice storage in cooler?

oh, and the advantage is you can use them almost forever...and of course, cross utilize them for their intended purpose of keeping things dry....

Bucks County...
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10. Re: Sturdy plastic zip-type bags for ice storage in cooler?

ST-- those dry bags look interesting, but I don't think we'd have much use for them in the future, after our Yellowstone trip. We're not campers and tend toward staying in inexpensive motels/cabins with fridges, microwaves, etc., for road trips or vacations, so depending on an ice chest/cooler for 11 days isn't what we usually experience. Buying a decent cooler at the beginning of our trip and then giving it away, buying bear spray-- and then giving it away-- are necessary "evils" (expenses) of spending time wisely in this wonderful park and not being able to carry things like this home on a flight. From airfare to more expensive in-park lodging, car rental/gas, food, etc., I'm trying to to be practical but realistic about expenses since they can quickly mount up. But I may visit some of our local sporting goods stores to see what's out there.