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How to Pack a Pelican™ Elite Cooler

August 15, 2017

How to Pack a Pelican™ Elite Cooler

This post is going to dive into how to properly pack a Pelican Elite Cooler for maximum results. Now, I realize there is going to be more than way to pack a cooler depending on its intended use and. With that said, I will also highlight the key requirements to be followed to have the best performing Pelican™ Elite Cooler.

We grabbed a 70QT OD/Green cooler and packed to the brim with food, beverages, and ice for a long camping trip in the western part of VA. Temps out here become in the upward 90s with 80% plus humidity this time of year. We didn't want our food to spoil or our drinks to be hot.

Here's what we packed in this order:

  • Dry ice ( for more information on how to use dry ice inside of a Pelican™ Elite Cooler;  visit Top FAQ Answered.)
  • Regular ice
  • Meats
  • Regular ice
  • Beverages
  • Regular ice
  • Fruit & vegetables
  • 2 Small dry rack baskets filled with sandwiches, cheese, pastries, eggs, more fruit, nuts, and more.
  • Regular ice to the top 

I present to you: Cooler Lasagna

Pelican Elite Cooler Lasagna

Always, use the 2:1 ice ratio. Add a layer of ice between

e v e r y t h i n g! 


As mentioned in a previous post, It's also important to understand that based on the size of your cooler, the average expected ice retention will be affected. Ice retention will vary per cooler size, the temperature of products added, usage, placement of cooler, etc. In and given situation your cooler will perform differently because the variables are always changing.  


Expected Ice Retention 

Using the 2:1 ice ratio 

Pelican Elite Coolers Ice Retention By Size


<< Key steps for increasing ice retention >> 

Chill first and pack cold. If the cooler is starting out warm, a small amount of ice could initially melt faster in a Pelican™ than a thinner walled cooler due to the stored thermal energy.  Maximum ice retention can be attained by pre-chilling the cooler. This will sufficiently cool the insulation and inside of the cooler, which will allow the thick polyurethane walls to store and assist with ice retention.  
Bring your cooler indoors 24 - 12 hours before use and add a sacrificial 10lb bag of ice inside the cooler and latch the cooler shut. When you are ready to start packing the cooler, add to the water/ice that is remaining or dump out and start fresh. 
Ice 101. When it comes to ice, both surface areas and size matter. Block ice will melt at a slower rate and perform best for long-term temperature maintenance. But cubed ice will chill your Elite Cooler quickest. A mix of both may help you get the best results.
We recommend the 2:1 ratio. It seems obvious, but fill your cooler with as much ice as possible. The less air inside the cooler - the colder it can remain. We suggest twice the amount of ice to goods as the optimum amount for longest ice retention.
Simple thermodynamics. A 40-pound cooler at 70 degrees will not keep the contents cold, you must sacrifice over 20 pounds of ice to bring it down to 30 degrees. Then it will keep the contents cool.Freezing or chilling your provisions before adding them to your Elite Cooler can also help extend your temperature retention. This allows the ice to work towards maintaining a temperature versus lowering it from a warmer state. Ice retention is tricky. Coolers do not make cold they only retain it. These Elite Coolers are no different, but they MUST be conditioned before use. Plan well and your Elite Cooler will reward you by increasing its performance level.
Do not drain. Hold your water. Believe it or not, the cold water resulting from melting ice will help your Elite Cooler chill longer. Acting as additional insulation (as close to the same temperature of ice) it will prevent airflow around your goods. Airflow also brings in heat every time you open the lid. Attempt to be efficient with opening and closing your cooler and latch the lid when finished for top temperature retention.
Please note: Ice retention is NOT affected by bowing. A “gap” is cosmetic only, not a functional failure. The gasket is the seal, and it is about two inches inside the outer rim of the cooler. We propped the lid open 1/8 inch and it still kept ice for 7 days in our test.