camping esky


You have your provisions, the car is all loaded up, the weather forecast predicts blue skies and everything looks set for a perfect weekends camping. The last thing you want to spoil this weekend is your esky heating up and leaving you with spoilt food and warm beer. Packing your esky in the most efficient way will keep your food and drink cooler for longer and can make sure nothing spoils your weekend getaway.


Make sure the esky is clean by washing it with warm water and antibacterial soap. It’s a good idea to do this a couple of days before so you have enough time to cool it before your trip. Once it’s clean cool the esky. A night in a freezer should do the trick, make sure anything you will be putting in the esky is also chilled and has spent a night in the fridge to help it retain its low temperatures.


Once removing the esky from the freezer, you need to tightly pack your ice. The tighter the ice packing the better. You want to make sure reduce air pockets to a minimum to provide insulation. Think about what you will be using first and leave that for the top. If you have your meals planned, pack the esky in the order you will be grabbing things. First in will be the last out. This way you aren’t rummaging around with the lid off giving your food and drink a blast of hot sun every few hours.

You need to fill your esky to the brim. If you aren’t taking enough provisions to fill your esky then top it off with ice or another insulating material. The fewer air pockets which can be heated, the better.

On my camping trips, I usually pack my beers and drinks in a separate esky. With drinks, you will be opening the esky quite frequently and it’s better to keep perishable food items in an esky that isn’t exposed to the warmer outside air quite so frequently.


For anything which could spoil and potentially spread harmful bacteria or contaminate other foods, lock it away in a ziplock bag. Any meat and fish in the esky should be in sealed bags. This will also make it easier to clean the esky before the next trip as you won’t be scrubbing meat and fish juices off the sides for hours.


Foam provides a lot of insulation, so separating your food with foam pieces can help provide an extra barrier against the fierce Aussie sun. It’s also a useful way of separating your meat from your veggies to further prevent contamination. You’ll be surprised how far a little bit of foam insulation can get you. One year we headed to NSW for some un-powered camping in Booderee and had to rely on the eskies. I tried out the foam insulation technique for the first time and found it kept the esky cooler for a whole extra day compared to those without it.


Is there anything you want to add to this article? Let everyone know your secrets by sharing through the comments section below.

Oli Ward

Oli has camped and hiked his way around Australia and most of Europe. He also loves writing about his experiences and sharing his knowledge.