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What Size Cooler Do You Need For Camping?

What Size Cooler Do You Need For Camping?

One of the most important items to take on a camping trip is a cooler. A lot of people know that they need one, but don’t know how big it should be. There are a few different factors that determine what size cooler you need for your specific needs. It can help to use this article as a guide when you go shopping for your new cooler! So, what size cooler do you need for camping?

Your camping cooler should be large enough to fit all of your non-perishable food items such as meats and dairy. You also need to make sure that you have enough space to add ice or ice packs around your food. An 8 to 10-quart cooler is big enough for one person who is going camping for one day.

If you want to be able to chill other items such as drinks or bring food for multiple people, you’ll want to read on to decide which cooler setup is best for you.


How Big Should My Cooler Be for Camping?


The most important factor in choosing the right size camping cooler is how long you’ll be gone. You’ll then want to more or less double that amount for each additional person joining you on your camping trip.

What Size Cooler Do You Need for 1 Person?

As mentioned above, one person will need an 8 to 10-quart cooler to carry enough food for 1 to 2 days. If you are staying for the weekend, bringing a 20-quart cooler should be sufficient.

This will give you enough space for your non-perishable food as well as space for a few bottles or cans of beverages.

Smaller coolers that range from 8 to 20-quarts come in a variety of shapes and materials. Some even have straps on them, making them easier to carry around for day trips or hikes.

What Size Cooler Do You Need For Camping As A Couple?

For a couples camping trip, you will be able to bring 1 to 2 days of chilled food if you purchase an 18 to 22-ounce cooler. For a weekend trip or slightly longer, a 30 to 40-quart cooler will work best.

When food is bought in bulk, it usually takes up less space due to reduced packaging. This means that it’s possible that you may have slightly more space in your cooler overall when packing for two.

These coolers are considerably heavier than smaller coolers. A 40-quart cooler weighs in at 24 pounds before food and ice are even added. However, two adults can likely carry it together for short distances.

What Size Cooler Do You Need for Camping As A Family?

A family of four will do well with a 40 to 50-quart cooler for a weekend. Just as mentioned above, buying in bulk and therefore reducing packaging can free up additional space in the cooler.

In addition to holding enough food for a weekend, it’s likely that a cooler this size will be able to hold a fair amount of beverages as well. If you’re camping with a very young child, you should be able to safely place any formula or milk in the cooler.

Coolers of this size can get quite heavy, and a 50-quart cooler weighs approximately 34 pounds before being filled with food and ice. Even with several adults helping to carry this cooler, be careful lifting it and make sure children and pets aren’t around as you’re transporting it.

These larger coolers do well in the trunk of the car for those who aren’t hiking out to their site. This way, it can be easily accessed without having to be taken in and out and is naturally protected from the sun during the day and animals at night.


How To Maximize Cooler Space


While the size of your cooler is important, you can actually make a few decisions that can allow you to bring a smaller cooler on a longer trip:

Pack Your Cooler in an Organized Way

Many people simply throw their food and ice in the cooler, but this can make it difficult to find items later on. Stack your items in a logical and organized way so that it’s easy to find things later on and you have maximized the space best in the cooler.

This will also help to keep your food cooler longer if you group items such as frozen items or dairy together.

Be Mindful of How Much Ice You’re Using

While ice is a crucial part of keeping your food cold while camping, you don’t want to use too much of it. If you pack the cooler full of ice before adding any items, you won’t be able to fit as much in there anyway.

If you can afford to purchase a high-end cooler that can stay colder for longer or if you have access to ice at a camp store, you can use less overall.

Bring More Non-Perishable Food

It will be easier to manage your food on a camping trip if it doesn’t all need to be cooled. Bring more non-perishable items, such as fruits, cereal, candy bars, crackers, and chips. These can add significant bulk to your diet without taking up a lot of cooler space.

Get a Beverage Cooler

If you’re a beverage enthusiast, consider purchasing an additional cooler that’s strictly for your drinks. You can purchase a smaller drink cooler or a larger one if you’re in a bigger group.

This also helps to keep your food colder longer, since you won’t be opening the beverage cooler as often.


Final Thoughts


Luckily, coolers come in a wide range of prices, sizes, technologies, and styles. It’s easy to find something that will work well for you.

If you’re not sure if your current cooler is large enough for all of the food items on your camping trip, consider making a few adjustments. Try to repackage your food into smaller containers. Pack them in an organized way to maximize the space. And bring some backup meals that don’t require refrigeration in case anything happens.

After a couple of trips, you will have a good idea of what size works best for you and how to maximize the space to squeeze an extra few items in there.