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Saving Money with DIY Reusable Ice Packs for Coolers

Imagine your enjoying a nice day outside under your RV awning when tragedy strikes, you are out of ice. Is there anything more annoying and inconvenient than making an ice run to the store or running inside every time you need a refreshment? Considering there is even room in your refrigerator. We knew there had to be a better way for keeping the drinks, food, and fresh caught fish cool when it is warm out. Our search brought us to a reusable ice packs for coolers idea that is so simple you will wonder why you didn’t think of it. This idea comes from a guy named Bill Shelton who runs a unique business selling fishing tackle equipment. He always found it a struggle to get ice to keep his freshly caught fish on. Instead of spending his hard earned cash on reusable ice packs for coolers he decided to make his own. He created what he calls the “Polar Bear Tubes”.



Reusable Ice Packs for Coolers: Polar Bear Tubes

The Polar Bear Tubes are aptly named because of their function and color. They are custom built PVC pipes with end caps. The units are cut to fit inside your cooler or freezer for easy management. Ideally they could get cold in your freezer then deployed to your cooler in a matter of seconds. They could save you a tremendous amount on ice and on frustration. They have a unique build that makes them water tight meaning they keep your items cold without filling your cooler with water.

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The example given by Bill Shelton calls for 2 inch PVC pipes with standard end caps that are custom cut to fit your cooler and freezer space. Held together with traditional PVC glue. The trick is while assembling you will only fill the tube to about 90%. It serves as dead space that will fill with ice as the water expands. This is important because you will seal off the tube with the additional end cap after filling with water. It is important of course to glue one end cap on and let it dry then flip it over before filling with water. Bill recommends leaving it sit for at least an hour before filling with water.


As a neat bonus Bill reminds us that if you take special care in filling these DIY reusable ice packs for coolers with water, it could serve as a emergency water source should the need arise. If you are a fisherman and like his idea then consider having a look at his wares or seeing more information about how Polar Bear Tubes are great for fishing.

Any ideas or products you like regarding reusable ice packs for coolers? Share in the comments below!

5 thoughts on “Saving Money with DIY Reusable Ice Packs for Coolers”

  1. I don’t know that you would ever drink the water – you would have to drill a hole to get to it. And it would probably be contaminated by the PVC glue (usually you flush the lines after using PVC glue on interior plumbing)

    So I would recommend adding some salt (or isopropyl alcohol) to the water you put in the tube. Most freezers cool below 32°F but if you fill it with plain water the ice pack will only be at 32°F.

    Putting in salt or alcohol will lower the freezing point of the water and keep you cooler colder.

    Of course, those who remember their Chem 101 classes know that you still want the water to freeze (since it takes considerable more energy to melt the water) so don’t add too much salt… maybe experiment with a pitcher of salt water and your freezer to see how much you can add but still have the water freeze.
    (or get scientific and calculate the amounts)

  2. Great thought Robert. They probably would be freezer hogs. Probably better for weekend RV camping. The question is who would be responsible for the shift change?

  3. Great idea. Make them to fit your cooler. We simply freeze bottles of water and lay in the bottom of cooler. Keeps items cold and when the do thaw you can drink the nice cold water!

  4. It would seem to me that these would take up a lot of freezer space. I wonder how long they would stay cold. I would assume if you made twice as many as you need for your cooler then make a regimen of swapping the ones in the cooler with the ones in the freezer on a daily basis then the cooler would stay cool forever…..

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