How to Keep Drinks Cold in Your Backpack: Tips and Tricks 

 July 1, 2023

By  Keith Terrell

Whether you're climbing a mountain peak or exploring a dense forest, a refreshing cold drink is essential to quench your thirst. But how do you keep your drinks chilled while trekking under the scorching sun? 

Using an insulated backpack or soft insulated bags designed for school lunches can keep drinks cold in a backpack. Adding cold packs to the bag, pre-chilling the drinks, or freezing empty plastic bottles can also help. Other effective methods include using sleeves or can/bottle holders and keeping your bags away from sunlight. For longer trips, you can take a personal lightweight cooler or add sleeves to individual cooler bags for extra insulation.

Imagine being at home and pulling an iced can straight from the fridge—and now imagine having that same iced refreshment even if you're miles away from a fridge. It’s no longer like a distant dream! Our carefully curated tips and tricks will make this cool fantasy an easily achievable reality on your outdoor adventures. Read on to discover the secret to keeping drinks ice cold in your backpack wherever you go—it's easier than putting on a pair of well-worn hiking boots.

Packing Ice and Freezer Packs for Optimal Cooling

When it comes to keeping drinks cold in your backpack, ice and freezer packs are the best solution. However, not all ice and freezer packs are the same. Some do not keep your drinks cold enough, while others can take up too much space in your backpack. Here are some tips on how to pack ice and freezer packs for optimal cooling:

An effective way to use ice in your backpack is to chill your drinks before packing them. This way, you can ensure that they are ready to serve at the start of your trip. Use sealed bags filled with fresh ice instead of packing loose ice directly into your backpack to avoid melting and condensation.

Another tip is to use small ice packs as these keep drinks cold better than larger ones. Small packs fit better in insulated backpacks and give you more space for other things. If you don't have small ice packs, freeze plastic water bottles overnight and use them as a substitute for ice packs.

Some people also add salt to their ice or water before freezing it to keep it cool for longer. While this technique has been proven effective in some cases, adding salt can lead to corrosion over time and damage the insulation inside the backpack.

Think of packing ice and freezer packs like a puzzle. Plan in advance how much space you need for each item and where best to put it in your backpack. Make sure that the frozen items fit snugly together, leaving little room for warm air gaps to transfer heat.

Now that we've discussed how to pack ice and freezer packs for optimal cooling, let's talk about the type of backpack that is best for keeping things cold.

Use of Insulated Backpacks

If you plan to keep things cold or warm for a long period of time, insulated backpacks are a must. They are designed to keep your drinks at the desired temperature, protect fragile items, and provide ample storage space.

A standard 30L insulated backpack holds up to 30 330ml and keeps drinks icy for about 8-10 hours with an ice pack. These backpacks are perfect for outdoor activities such as camping or hiking where carrying extra weight is not ideal.

A well-insulated backpack like this will protect your drinks from sunlight and heat exposure. Nevertheless, it's advisable to use a separate bag for each drink to avoid opening the bag several times, which allows warm air to penetrate the insulation.

Some may argue that soft insulated bags can be used for school lunches instead of buying special insulated backpacks. These bags may be cheaper, but they may not insulate as well as backpacks specifically designed for cold drinks. They may also not have sufficient storage capacity or durability for outdoor adventures.

Think of an insulated backpack as your personal fridge-on-the-go. Would you rather have a makeshift cooler made of soft insulated bags that can be easily punctured, or a high-quality, sturdy backpack that preserves the freshness of your food and beverages?

While an insulated backpack provides excellent insulation to keep your drinks chilled for longer, there are additional methods you can use to improve its effectiveness even further. In the next section, you will learn how to keep ice from melting when keeping drinks cold in your backpack.

Best Insulation Practices

To keep drinks cool in your backpack, it is important to insulate them properly. Start by chilling your drinks before packing them to ensure they are cool from the start and have a better chance of staying cold for longer.

Choose a bag of appropriate size and shape for the number of drinks you are taking. Do not forget to pack small cold packs in the bottom of your bag. This not only provides extra insulation but also allows cold air to flow from the bottom to the top, keeping your drinks cool. Another option is to freeze empty plastic bottles, which serve as both insulation and a source of fresh water when they thaw during your trip.

For maximum insulation, use multiple layers, such as placing individual cooler bags inside an insulated shopping bag to increase heat transfer resistance. Minimize the entry of warm air into your backpack by rolling up the bags, squeezing out excess air and sealing them tightly. This reduces the amount of warm air that can enter and helps your drinks stay colder for longer.

While some believe that adding salt to ice can prolong its coldness, its effectiveness is debated on. Adding salt can lower the freezing point of water, but it does not guarantee that the drinks will stay cold for longer and may even speed up melting through chemical reactions. So it is important not to set your expectations too high.

By following these insulation practices, you can maximize the duration of cold drinks on your backpacking adventures..

Controlling Condensation in Your Backpack

If you pack your backpack with cold drinks and cold packs, condensation can be a problem as moisture accumulates and potentially damages other items. To control condensation and keep your belongings dry, there are effective methods you can use.

One way is to use towels or absorbent materials at the bottom of your backpack. Placing a small towel or cloth on the bottom of your backpack will absorb the moisture, preventing damage and keeping your backpack dry. It also reduces the amount of water you need to take with you, as the towel can be used for multiple purposes.

Another method is to use a plastic sheet inside your backpack. This extra layer provides protection against moisture from melting ice and condensation from outside. If you line the bottom of your backpack with a plastic bag or film before packing, you can avoid getting wet.

Although plastic liners are beneficial, some argue that they can trap moisture between the liner and the insulation. In such cases, paper towels seem to be a better alternative, but they are less robust compared to cloth towels when they get wet.

When you consider these methods like a raincoat that protects your valuables, it becomes clear how important it is to take care of condensation. Let's now explore how towels and absorbent materials can play a dual role in controlling humidity and maintaining optimal beverage temperature.

Use of Towels and Absorbent Materials

Towels and absorbent materials are not only useful for reducing moisture at the bottom of your pack, but they also help with insulation. Taking a small towel or two with you when packing your drinks and cool packs will provide extra insulation and keep your drinks cold and fresh for longer.

In addition, wrapping individual drinks bottles with towels or absorbent materials can provide extra protection, especially for fragile or glass containers. This ensures that the bottles remain intact even in the event of sudden knocks or movements.

While some criticize the extra weight of towels and absorbent materials, one solution is to place rolled-up towels in the cup holders where the drinks are packed. This not only reduces extra luggage but also provides stability and prevents breakage.

With these methods, you can control condensation and keep your backpack dry while maintaining the desired temperature for your cold drinks.

Now that we’ve discussed various methods to prevent condensation from ruining everything in your backpack, we can move on to how to make the most out of cold drinks on the road!

Making the Most of Cold Drinks on the Go

Keeping drinks cold during an outdoor adventure can be a challenge, especially in hot weather. However, with the right preparation and useful tips, you can enjoy refreshing cold drinks during your trip.

One effective method is to take several chilled drinks with you instead of just a few. If you have several cold drinks in your backpack, they will keep each other cool. Even if one drink warms up slightly, it will still be colder than if it was the only drink in your bag. 

Investing in a stainless steel bottle with excellent insulating properties is another good option. These bottles offer temperature control and leak-proof security without you having to worry about condensation. They come in different sizes and designs so you can choose a bottle that suits your needs.

While some recommend packing drinks with metallic objects or using a thermos bottle, be aware of the potential drawbacks. Metallic items can cause condensation and affect the quality of the drink, while thermos bottles are not suitable for frequent hydration during outdoor activities.

By following these tips and making sure your drinks are properly chilled before you leave, you can make the most of your cold drinks during your outdoor adventures.

Frequently Asked Questions

How can I maximize the chill factor and keep my drinks cold in my backpack?

When it comes to safeguarding ice and keeping drinks cold in your backpack, there are several key tips to remember. Starting with fresh ice and freezer packs is essential to maximize the chill factor of your drinks. This prevents the temperature of other items in your backpack from warming up the newly added ice cubes. Additionally, adding salt to ice can help it stay colder for longer by lowering the temperature and preventing melting.

To minimize moisture condensation and protect your belongings, use small towels at the bottom of your backpack. Pre-chilling your drinks before packing them also helps maintain their coldness throughout your trip. Another useful strategy is using a water bladder for easy hydration on the go, as it reduces the need to open your backpack frequently and exposes the ice to less warm air.

Consider using a personal lightweight cooler designed to keep items cold, which is perfect for extended outdoor activities. Bringing a separate bag for each drink also helps reduce the frequency of opening and closing your backpack, minimizing warm air exposure to the ice.

Using insulation materials like standing bags, water bladders, or neoprene sleeves can further enhance the chill factor and reduce warm air circulation within your backpack. Before packing them, ensure that these insulation materials are thoroughly chilled in a cold environment. Neoprene, in particular, is a great thermal insulator and can be wrapped around bottles or cans for added protection and heat resistance.

Lastly, packing small ice packs at the bottom of your bag and freezing empty plastic water bottles provide additional sources of cold air and prolong the coldness of your drinks.

How effective are soft insulated bags for keeping drinks cold in a backpack compared to hard containers?

Hard containers, such as rigid coolers, are generally known to provide better insulation compared to soft bags. The thick walls and insulating layers in hard containers are excellent at maintaining temperature and keeping drinks cool for longer. They are particularly effective in extreme heat or during prolonged outdoor activities.

On the other hand, soft insulated bags offer flexibility and practicality. They are lightweight, easy to carry and come in different sizes and shapes to suit different sizes of drinks. Soft bags are more compact and can be folded or compressed when empty. They are often equipped with zips or Velcro to keep warm air out and thus contribute to insulation.

While soft bags may not provide the same level of insulation as hard containers, they can still keep drinks cold for a reasonable period of time, especially when combined with other insulation techniques, such as separate pouches for each drink, sleeves or can/bottle holders. Packing several cold drinks close together in a soft bag also creates a cool environment where the drinks can regulate each other's temperature.

Ultimately, the choice between soft insulated bags and hard containers depends on your specific needs and preferences. If maximum insulation and long-lasting cold are critical, especially in harsh conditions, a hard container may be the better choice. However, if portability, versatility, and convenience are more important to you, soft insulated bags can be an effective solution for keeping drinks cold in your backpack.

About the author

Keith is a one bag traveler and the owner of Backpacks Global. His go to backpack is the Osprey FarPoint 40.

{"email":"Email address invalid","url":"Website address invalid","required":"Required field missing"}