Ya see this small to mid sized cooler here. I’ve been taking it to hang out in the mountains, and we store the frozen foods in it when traveling. Ice disappears quickly. It’s so old the sides are bulging in and I had to re-rig the spring to hold the lid upright. It travels in the back of the truck and gets pretty hot in the sun. I think it might make a passable cooler IF I laid a an inch layer of reflectix on top and glued more around the sides and bottom. Nobody would think about stealing such a rigged item.
I really dislike that I can’t lay something on top.
We needed a better cooler. I researched good ice chests. $200! $300! It’s a couple of dollars of plastic, fifty cents of screws, and a dollar of expanding insulation. Unless they get downright silly. Like the one with a radio in it! Are the manufacturers crazy? Yeah, forget that. I don’t spend that kind of money on an ice chest which can grow legs and walk off with sneaky thieves. I want something I can leave in the truck bed or out under the shelter all day and night and know it’s going to be there when I wake up.
Here’s what I bought. It’s not so big I can’t carry it loaded and it’s got a big handle. It feels fairly heavy. I can see little insulation plugs so I know there is insulation.
I began by asking myself — inside or outside? I’ve seen videos where they put the insulation on the inside. Nope. Takes up too much room and how to they prevent mold? Then I went scrounging. I had a roll of reflectix from Home Depot. It’s bubble wrap with aluminum foil on both sides. It’s a favorite of modifiers. I kept a small shipping cooler from last Christmas. Each year my famous pitmaster friend sends me some of the best BBQ in Texas. The BBQ and ice bag arrives still frozen so I know the container is awesome.
I use a second one for my fish chest when I go fishing for not-to-big of trout. Drop a frozen soda bottle in and it’s ready to go. That way I don’t get my food cooler fishy smelling. It doesn’t hold a lot but I don’t seem to be very good at catching either.
I began the build by trimming a part of the shipping cooler to fit the outside bottom. An inch and a half thickness sounds perfect. Then I started measuring, cutting, and taping the reflectix until I made a slightly loose box. One layer. Had to be something I can slide off to dry. Made a top that fits over the handle. Isn’t pretty but pretty doesn’t hold in the cold.
I tested it out by tossing in room temperature drinks and gigantic ice cubes I made from freezing water in plastic storage squares. They lasted two days.
I don’t like it very much. I have to put the lid in the truck so it doesn’t fly off. Maybe I’ll glue the reflectix on the lid. Maybe another layer of reflectix.