How To Prevent Water Logged Foods In Your Cooler

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Soggy food is just one of the many things that can ruin a day at the beach or on a camping trip. It’s frustrating and sometimes even disgusting when your whole cooler becomes water logged. Keeping items dry, no matter what time of year you are storing them, can be easy if you use these 10 tips to keep your food dry and enjoy it all summer long!

Table of Contents

1. Cooler Tray

A cooler tray is by far the easiest way to keep food dry inside a cooler. One of the downsides of these trays, though, is that they need to be on top of the ice so if your cooler is already almost full it can be extremely frustrating when ice gets in the way underneath the cooler raising up the tray and meaning that you can’t close the lid properly. 

It also makes it hard to use that section directly under the tray because ice fills that space, as soon as you add any drinks or other frozen produce, they won’t fit anymore. So while trays aren’t perfect, they are definitely the easiest solution unless you are able to afford a more expensive cooler with insulated walls.

A cheaper alternative is to get an old wire shelf from a fridge and cut it to fit the bottom of your cooler. The wire shelf allows water to drain out of the bottom and everything else sits on top.

2. Waterproof Bags

Waterproof bags can be a great way of keeping items from getting wet and soggy inside your cooler. I will often put cheese and vegetables inside freezer bags to keep them from getting wet and soggy inside the cooler full stop. 

The only problem that I found with using waterproof bags is that the exterior of the bag’s gets extremely wet. This means when you open the bag to get the item out a little bit of water often gets in. 

This isn’t a problem for single use vegetables you might be cooking for dinner but when it comes to something like a block of cheese even just getting a little bit of water in there can ruin the entire block.

3. Plastic Tupperware Containers

Tupperware containers can help you keep your food out of the water and put back onto the ice to keep it cool without getting soggy. The downside is that they take up a lot of space, making it hard to fit everything into your cooler.

4. Trashbag And A Towel

We have a simple trick to prevent water from getting into the bottom of your cooler. Start by placing a small trash bag filled with ice on the bottom of your cooler, then place a towel on top of that, followed by items to be kept cold and lastly a second towel on top of those items. 

This will ensure that there are no gaps for water to get underneath and dampen your stored items. Make sure not to fill up your cooler with stuff because this will create more weight that causes it to be packed with ice which is not good for food storage. We always leave the drain hole open so any water drains out instead of staying in the cooler.

5. Tall Storage Container

A good way to prevent waterlogged foods is to place tall plastic cereal type storage containers in your cooler. We leave the lid off and then we are careful that the ice doesn’t go over the top! These containers will keep your items separated and prevent water logging. This also makes it much easier to organize the cooler and avoid digging through the loose items trying to find what you want.

6. Freeze Water Bottles


Use a vacuum sealer to pack food in advance and freeze. This way you can throw frozen pouches of meals and snacks into the cooler and pull them out when it’s time to eat. To keep ice from melting, freeze water bottles first and then fill up the ice chest with them as needed. and then when the ice melts it stays in the bottles and you can drink the water.

7. Multiple Coolers

I recommend that you have at least 2 coolers, one for drinks and one for your food. Use regular ice for the drinks and ice blocks (frozen water bottles, igloo packs, etc) for food. If you can swing it, use a third cooler as a freezer. With dry ice you can use it to re freeze your ice blocks. dry ice MUST be handled carefully, it will cold burn your skin and cannot touch your food for same reason.

8. Use Better Coolers

The best option is to buy a good quality cooler. Check out our recommendations for coolers you can use outdoors. But for those of us who can’t afford that, there are other solutions. It could mean making an inexpensive foam box that fits inside your existing cooler.

9. Precook And Prefreeze

Cooking your food prior to a trip is a great way to do that. We’ve been doing this for years, and it’s saved us from ruined food more than once. Freeze and vacuumpack them ahead of the trip,  this will also help keep the rest of your food cold longer so you don’t need to use as much ice!

10. Place Under A Shade


Keep your cooler covered and out of the sun to prevent it from getting wet or hot. place a cheap mirror-type blanket in the top of your cooler. If you cannot afford a blanket, any plastic type covering will help. 

What’s Next

If you are tired of hunting for ice and having soggy everything, consider getting yourself a portable RV refrigerator. Check out our recommendations for the best portable RV refrigerators for outdoors.

About Us

Jules and Ken

Jules and Ken

Hi! We are Jules and Ken. We are outdoor lovers, travellers, and writers all rolled into one. You have seen our posts here reviewing lots of different types of outdoor gear, camping equipment, RV equipment, kayaking, to cycling. Our reviews are guided by our years of experience being outdoors. We are happy to share our knowledge with you to make a better choice when you are outdoors.

We hope you enjoyed this article and if you have questions about How To Prevent Water Logged Foods In Your Cooler or want to leave your own personal comments, feel free to leave a comment below. We would love to hear from you!

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