Backpack “Refrigerator” provides menu variety

Add Menu Variety with a Backpack Refrigerator

Ever wonder how to keep things cold while backpacking without making someone carry a bulky chest full of ice?  This backpack refrigerator is helpful if you want to prepare a wider variety of foods on your trips.  It adds no weight or bulk to your backpack.  I’ve used this on several outings and have had great success.  This isn’t a panacea for long trips but will work on an overnight and will probably work on up to a three-day, two-night trip.  That is, of course, if you don’t mind the added weight of fresh food.

Why a backpack refrigerator?

Typical backpacking food is dehydrated, like mountain house meals, harmony house soups or OvaEasy eggs.  If you’d like to add some variety by having a more “fresh” meal at the beginning of your trip, this simple trick will enable you to carry fresh food for a couple of days.

What is a backpack refrigerator?

I simply use a fleece pullover to carefully wrap my food after I have sufficiently chilled them.  The below pictures illustrate the technique.  The plastic bag shown in the photo is a gallon size freezer bag.  I’ll give you two examples of conditions I hiked in and how the backpack refrigerator performed.

On my first attempt, I had no idea of how my idea, the backpack refrigerator, would behave and didn’t want to make myself and my fellow backpackers sick a dozen miles from civilization in the woods.  So, to that end, I froze my prepared meal, spicy stew fixings, into a solid chunk of ice by putting it in the freezer in the middle of the week.  It was taken out of the freezer the morning of the hike at about 6AM and wrapped in my backpack refrigerator a.k.a. fleece and off we went.  At about 6PM that evening, after a day of hiking in ~72F weather, it came out.  It was about 20% defrosted with a giant ice chunk in the center.  I hadn’t planned on defrosting my food before cooking, but that’s what I had to do.

On my most recent trip, the weather was very similar (65F – 78F).  Again, I was responsible for the dinner, my menu choice was Jambalaya with biscuits. This time, since I had less dehydrated and more fresh food i.e. sliced vegetables, cooked meats etc. I didn’t really want to freeze everything and ruin them.  When I got up in the morning, I placed the food pouch from the home refrigerator into the freezer for about 45 minutes, flipping it over after 20 mins.  Again the food was wrapped in the fleece and immediately placed in the waiting backpack.  We traveled/hiked from about 8:30AM until about 5PM.  When I removed the food from the fleece, it was still very cold my guess is about 40 – 45F.

Backpack refrigerator – images

To make your backpack refrigerator simply fold per the photos below. Depending on how big your fleece is and how full the food pouch, you may be able to tie the arms with a simple overhand knot.

backpack refrigerator beginning Refer2 Refer3
1-Center food 2-Bottom up 3-Top down
Refer4 Backpack refrigerator - done
4-Cross Arms 5-Tuck under

That’s all there is to it. Let me know how your backpack refrigerator works for you, especially the menu creations you enjoy with it.

P.S. hope you didn’t mind the bait-and-switch image  😉

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