RVs are fabulous because they include everything you need. But since RVs come equipped with so many features and luxuries, many people feel like they don’t really need to pack much.
This is 100% understandable, and even correct to an extent. However, there are some things my family likes to keep in our RV that many would deem redundant or unnecessary. That’s fine, to each their own, but let me assure you that we carefully consider each and every item we carry with us on our travels, and everything we keep, we keep for a good reason.
Take our ice chest for instance. Considering the fact that our trailer has a perfectly good refrigerator, using some of our limited space on an ice chest may seem like a silly move. I understand this and have even thought the same thing from time to time, but we always end up holding onto our cooler. Why? Because it’s super useful.
Here are some of the ways we make use of our ice chest. Maybe you’ll decide you could use one too!
1. Backup refrigerator
While RV refrigerators are perfectly fine in the vast majority of cases, there have been times when ours has stopped functioning properly. Simple things such as extreme heat or driving to high altitudes can have an effect on how well your fridge functions, meaning it’s always a good idea to have a backup plan. For us, this is the ice chest.
We’ve spent a week camping in Brooklyn, NY with no way to recharge our batteries, keeping our food cool in an ice chest. We also had to break out the ice chest in North Carolina when we drove high into the mountains. Finally, the ice chest came in super handy when a small part went out on our RV refrigerator and we needed to keep groceries cold until we could get a new one.
The point is, you never know when you’re going to need another option for keeping food cold, and a good ice chest that is close at hand is always helpful in these situations.
2. Reduced trips in and out
Sometimes when we are spending a day outdoors, we will also use the ice chest to reduce the number of trips we make in and out of the RV. We fill the chest with ice, beverages, and snacks, and keep our trailer door shut for the majority of the day. In return, we get a nice, cool, bug-free home-on-wheels at the end of the day.
3. Day trips
Of course, the ice chest also comes in handy for keeping food nice and chilly when we head out on long day trips. We can throw some leftover pizza or fried chicken into the chest along with some sides and a big bag of ice, and return to the truck at lunchtime for a delicious meal that we know is safe to eat.
In fact, the food stays cool for so long, we can even pack a dinner if we like, saving us money over the alternative of eating out.
4. Extra surface and storage
So far, every use we’ve mentioned has involved keeping food cool. Obviously, this is what ice chests are used for, and is what we use ours for much of the time. That said, there are other uses for a hard-sided cooler.
Often, our ice chest will be used as an extra outdoor surface to set things on, or for people to sit on when chairs are scarce. Sometimes we’ll even bring it inside to use as an additional surface to work on while cooking.
It also works nicely as a storage space, and will sometimes be used to hold our outdoor toys, shoes, or other items. That said, using it as storage means sanitizing before using it for food again, something you may want to keep in mind.
5. Emergency air conditioner
This final reason for keeping an ice chest around is not one we’ve tried yet. However, we certainly would do so, should the occasion arise.
Apparently, if you choose to purchase a special kind of ice chest, it will actually convert to a fairly effective A/C. The contraption only requires as much power as a fan, meaning it can be used while boondocking. Obviously, this is great news for those who enjoy boondocking, especially if they aren’t the kind of travelers who follow the weather.
That said, even if you don’t boondock regularly, you could find this option useful should your A/C go out or if you find yourself needing to save a bit on your electricity bill during the hot summer months.
As you can see, there are plenty of reasons to carry a quality ice chest with you on your travels. Not sure you can fit a traditional cooler in your rig? No worries! Collapsing ice chests such as this one work well for most things.