Help! How to camp longer than 2 days without fridge - Fiberglass RV


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Old 07-29-2009, 06:44 AM   #1
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73 Compact II only has icebox. I freeze 2 gallon blocks of ice; freeze food if possible before trips. Had to leave great campsite in Arkansas early this week due to lack of food storage and no ice anywhere nearby. Finally bought some ice way down the road and drove on home to LA. I do the same sort of prep for the Coleman ice chest I keep in the car.

No matter what I do, 2 1/2 days is it and need to find ice. Been considering taking out the icebox even though avocado green and matches stove and replacing it with fridge but the RV refrigerators start at like $800 and just too much. Compact II ice box is much bigger than the cube dorm fridges and thinking about getting the next size up like the 2.5 cubic foot one.

Any one have experience with these or with camping without fridge for longer than 2 1/2 days? I'm close to giving up and really could use some advice. Thanks.

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Old 07-29-2009, 07:04 AM   #2
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This is exactly why we only camped once with the icebox, then immediately replaced it with a small fridge. We have one that is bigger than the dorm size & it's great! I think it's 4.5 cubic feet. It's all electric & only cost a little over $100 at WalMart. I don't know what the solution is to using an icebox when ice is not available near the campground. We've never regretted replacing the icebox.
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Old 07-29-2009, 07:09 AM   #3
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Quote:
73 Compact II only has icebox. I freeze 2 gallon blocks of ice; freeze food if possible before trips. Had to leave great campsite in Arkansas early this week due to lack of food storage and no ice anywhere nearby. Finally bought some ice way down the road and drove on home to LA. I do the same sort of prep for the Coleman ice chest I keep in the car.

No matter what I do, 2 1/2 days is it and need to find ice. Been considering taking out the icebox even though avocado green and matches stove and replacing it with fridge but the RV refrigerators start at like $800 and just too much. Compact II ice box is much bigger than the cube dorm fridges and thinking about getting the next size up like the 2.5 cubic foot one.

Any one have experience with these or with camping without fridge for longer than 2 1/2 days? I'm close to giving up and really could use some advice. Thanks.
Hi Pat. I have a 65 Compact II
What I do is buy a piece of DRY ICE large enough to pretty much cover the ice tray, usually about 8 lbs. Wrap it in newspaper. THEN I put 2 blocks on top of that. It keeps the blocks from melting for quite a while longer. You can put your food (in addition to the below ice food compartment) on top of the blocks. Dont put any food directly on top of the dry ice though (dont make direct contact) unless you want it frozen. I also buy a case of water (bottled) and freeze them and put some in the icebox and a bunch in my cooler along with the ice (that will melt.) It serves as both a coolant and a beverage when it thaws. THE DRY ICE WILL EVAPORATE, BUT IT WILL DEFINITELY LENGTHEN THE THAW TIME OF THE BLOCK ICE FOR A COUPLE MORE DAYS. Hope this helps! Mike
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Old 07-29-2009, 07:30 AM   #4
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We purchased a 70 quart, 5 day Coleman cooler for food storage. It'll hold our ice blocks for 5 days, and we freeze foods as well for later in the week. We use the icebox in the Trilly for drinks only. Freeze half a case of water, and chill everything before leaving, drinks start to hit ambient temps around 3 days in.
The Coleman sits in the back of our tow vehicle, and we only open it up for food prep, saving the ice that little bit longer. About 5 days in, we need to start looking to buy ice, but the store bought ice doesn't last as long, since it's not frozen as solid as it should be.
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Old 07-29-2009, 09:13 AM   #5
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Hi Pat. I have a 65 Compact II
What I do is buy a piece of DRY ICE large enough to pretty much cover the ice tray, usually about 8 lbs. Wrap it in newspaper. THEN I put 2 blocks on top of that. It keeps the blocks from melting for quite a while longer. You can put your food (in addition to the below ice food compartment) on top of the blocks. Dont put any food directly on top of the dry ice though (dont make direct contact) unless you want it frozen. I also buy a case of water (bottled) and freeze them and put some in the icebox and a bunch in my cooler along with the ice (that will melt.) It serves as both a coolant and a beverage when it thaws. THE DRY ICE WILL EVAPORATE, BUT IT WILL DEFINITELY LENGTHEN THE THAW TIME OF THE BLOCK ICE FOR A COUPLE MORE DAYS. Hope this helps! Mike
Hi Pat,
I think Mike's idea is a good one if you have access to dry ice. The only variation I would do is to keep a separate small cooler with dry ice and fresh ice blocks that you don't open until absolutely needed. You can even duct tape the opening to prevent air leaks. Then when you need more fresh ice you will have it. We used to do this on long river trips through hot country and we could still have a block of ice after 8-10 days if we kept one cooler with ice and dry ice and didn't open it until needed. Good luck!
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Old 07-29-2009, 09:21 AM   #6
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I second the Coleman Extreme cooler. When we were tenting we used one and as long as the lid isn't opened alot the ice really does last 5 days. We also covered it with a folded up moving blanket for extra insulation.

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Old 07-29-2009, 09:23 AM   #7
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We camp mostly while travelling so we do not use a cooler. One of our stops in the later part of the day is to shop what we need for the evening meal. We have a few canned goods for an emergency meal if we do not come across a store. For longer stays away from the stores we pay close attention to our menu, pre-plan and use mostly dry food or canned goods. With careful shopping it can be done and still be very pleasant but one does miss the ice cold one that would be refreshing.
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Old 07-29-2009, 09:49 AM   #8
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We have 2 of the 5 day coolers and use frozen bottles of water for ice. One cooler has the cold drinks and foods that just need chilling and the other which doesn't get opened as much has meats etc. We find it really does last 5 days.
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Old 07-29-2009, 09:53 AM   #9
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you can reduce what needs to be refrigerated as well. This will keep openings down.

Don't know if you are milk drinkers directly, but for cooking milk, use evaporated or powdered stuff. You really can't tell a difference even in delicate things like sauces. If you use the canned, put the unused portion, still in the can, in a ziplock bag and stow in the cooler. It will last a week or more. The other cans.. don't need refridgeration until opened.

If you bring in bulk.. put only a few sodas in the cooler and replenish from your stock that you stow UNDER THE TRAILER. It stays quite cool under there.. even in the desert.

Microwave ready bacon can be stored in a cool place, it doesn't have to be frozen.. it will last for weeks. Canned is the same, but expensive and difficult to find.

Supplement the ice with, as others mentioned, with dry ice, blue ice thingies etc. they last a lot longer than the real stuff.
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Old 07-29-2009, 01:20 PM   #10
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Hi Pat. I have a 65 Compact II
What I do is buy a piece of DRY ICE large enough to pretty much cover the ice tray, usually about 8 lbs. Wrap it in newspaper. THEN I put 2 blocks on top of that. It keeps the blocks from melting for quite a while longer. You can put your food (in addition to the below ice food compartment) on top of the blocks. Dont put any food directly on top of the dry ice though (dont make direct contact) unless you want it frozen. I also buy a case of water (bottled) and freeze them and put some in the icebox and a bunch in my cooler along with the ice (that will melt.) It serves as both a coolant and a beverage when it thaws. THE DRY ICE WILL EVAPORATE, BUT IT WILL DEFINITELY LENGTHEN THE THAW TIME OF THE BLOCK ICE FOR A COUPLE MORE DAYS. Hope this helps! Mike
I've read that the gas from evaporating dry ice needs to escape. What has been your experience with it? Almost did dry ice but kept seeing warnings about it????
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Old 07-29-2009, 01:44 PM   #11
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Okay, I can chime in here, having lived in the tropics on a boat with only an ice box. I will say that the first thing that crossed our minds when making landfall was "Ice!"

While a 'fridge is nice, it does make for more weight, complication, and expense. An icebox is dead simple.

First of all, I would consider adding or improving the insulation around the box. I wouldnt be surprised to see nothing but a few wisps of fiberglass insulation, and you can do MUCH better now with materials like extruded polystyrene (your basic blue or pink board insulation in 4' x 8' sheets from Home Depot). The more the merrier. If you can get three or four inches all the way around, you'll be in great shape. Stagger the corner joints and tape things together. A layer of foil in there somewhere is good also.

Another thing that helps is to have something like a space blanket, or a piece of Reflectix that drapes over the front of the food, so that when you open the door all the cold doesn't immediately "sink" out of the door. In fact, boat iceboxes have a top opening lid for this very reason. Also, plan your "moves" in your mind before you ever open the door. "Okay, I'm going to reach in, over to the left, and get the cheese." Etc. With good insulation one can go ten days or so with a couple of good ice blocks, if you're careful about opening it (at least in a top loader).

The next component is the ice. It's getting very hard to find good block ice in the U.S. anymore. It's usually either cubes or what I call "fake blocks," which are blocks made of cubes pressed together. They're useless. So you are right to make your own. The bigger they are and the colder you can freeze them, the longer they will last. One larger block is better than two smaller. A dishpan is a handy size, and I've asked shopkeepers and restaurant folks if they would freeze a block in one for me overnight, at times. Closed containers like milk jugs are less messy, but smaller.

Also, the ice should not sit in water (I imagine your ice box drains but it may not). Rig up a drain, and make sure there is a water-trapping loop in the drain along the way. This is important to keep the cold from rushing out the drain through only air. Depending on how this is set up, you may be able to use the meltwater to cool, or to pre-cool beverages. You can also start out with much of your food cold or frozen, if you are leaving from home.

If you find yourself going in and out of the box a lot for beverages, or certain snacks, you might consider a separate small free-standing cooler, just for those items. Maybe one you can collapse after it's done.

Then there is (as Gina mentioned) the fact that people in the U.S. tend to refrigerate a lot of items that really don't need it. It's just become habit. For example, even mayo will keep fine unrefrigerated, as long as you never put a contaminated knife in it. The squeeze tubes make this easy. Also, I've had eggs last for months even in the tropics. You just need to keep air from migrating through the shell. The easiest way is to simply turn them over (the whole carton) once every day or two (there are other methods also). Eggs that have never been refrigerated or washed keep vastly better; I used to ask a farmer to set some aside for me that way. I could go on and on about the foods, but I'll stop unless you have specific questions

I hope this helps - just give a holler if there's anything I can clarify.

Raya
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Old 07-29-2009, 03:19 PM   #12
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If you have electric:

We have a 12v Coleman fridge with AC adapter that we have used for about 6 years now.
No good for ice cream but keeps veggies and eggs and stuff pretty cold.
Plug it into the TV while traveling , then leave it in the TV and snake an AC cord over to it.

A bungi keeps the critters out if we place it on the table outside the trailer.
Bought it at Walmart in SD about 6 years ago. It will also keep stuff warm if you set it that way, never had a need to try it.
In a pinch it will take Ice.
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Old 07-29-2009, 05:55 PM   #13
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We have had good luck with Soft Super Coolers (www.softsupercooler.com). We watched a demo of the coolers during an Americade Motorcycle weekend and decided to give them a try. Our ice seems to last longer and so far so good. Our 3 way fridge in the Burro is very small. We have a few more trips planned and will see how the coolers work out. I do agree that by planning coolers according to frequent to less frequent openings is a good strategy. I have also used these coolers at dog events and have been in and out of them hourly over a 2 day period and still had ice for the trip home. will give a report as I continue to use them.
I do think I will also add a reflectix sheet to our cooler accessories.

Rozanne
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Old 07-29-2009, 11:33 PM   #14
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Does anyone have any experience with a 12 volt refrigerator that can be plugged into an outlet in your tow vehicle. When I purchased my Frontier P.U. and had a new steel shell installed I made sure that the shell had an outlet for 12 volt appliances. I have looked at these 12 volt refers but have only been able to find very expensive ones. Would like to have one, but can't afford anything over two hundred dollars. Cheaper would be better. Thanks. Margaret in NW California
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