No Fridge / No Cooler / No Ice

TrailHunter

Hooked
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I've decided to try something new on our Family Trips... and that's to Ditch the Cooler. The reason is simply space or lack there of. Loading up the Jeep with a family of four can be difficult and I've tried real hard to keep things to a minimum. A week before the last trip out, as I was loading the Jeep and struggling for space... I thought, Fuck it... Backpackers don't need ICE... and they survive... so I yanked the cooler out of the Jeep. Now don't get me wrong, I like cold beer and homestyle meals.... but the truth is, we can live without that luxury for a few days... or a week. So I made a list of foods that don't need to be cooled and went for it. It was honestly an added sense of freedom not having to worry about ICE (or powering a fridge)... and the space gained in the Jeep made organizing our shit so much easier. I even cracked a couple non-cooled Guinness's and they tasted GREAT after a full day of hiking and exploring.

Granted this last trip was more of an experiment... because we stayed in a motel... but 90% of our meals were had out of the Jeep, or on a hike. And I really think this would be fairly easy if we camped the whole weekend.

So if anyone has tried this... maybe we can share ideas on foods & meals you bring when ditching the cooler.

Here is a list I started... and brought most of them on our trip:

Mountain House Dried Meals
Canned Foods / Meats
Spam - Low Sodium
Ramen / Cup of Noodles

Epic Bison Bars / Beef Jerky
UNCUT Salami
Sealed Sausages
Tuna Packets
Bacon Bits

Sealed Cheese

Pro Bars / Protien Bars / Meal Bars
Peanut Butter Packets
Raw Honey Packets

Wheat Thins (non brittle crackers)
Flour Tortillas
Pita Bread
90% Dark Chocolate
Oatmeal Packets

Instant Coffee packets
Tea Bags
Mio / Mio Sport / Liquid IV
Whiskey
Guinness
5 Gal Water - Life Saver Jerry Can

Mustard Packets
Stevia Packets
Salt & Pepper
 

WJCO

Meme King
When I used to backpack a lot more, we would always plan out a trip where we camped near a stream. We always chilled our drinks in the stream near camp.
 

WJCO

Meme King
That does work well. What were a couple of your favorite meals?
Depended on the season. But excluding Winter:

Cold meals and drinks:
Yogurt with granola for breakfast.
Lunchables for kids (easy).
Beef Jerky.
Trail mix.

For cold meals, I used a soft frameless insulated bag and I would pre-freeze water in a ziplock bag so it turned to ice. So the 'ice bag' and cold food would go in the insulated lunch bag. When I got to camp, I could easily dump the water out of the ice bag and put the remaining ice back in the insulated lunch bag. By the end of the trip, if the ice was still there, I would dump it at camp and then the ziplock bag for trash was literally zero weight to carry back.

Warm meals:
Pre warmed up soup in a thermos for first meal (sucks to carry back a thermos but it's still an easy meal).
Mountain House various.
Idaho powered potato packs.

In some ways, Winter was easier because the snow keeps the food cold. Anything that you don't want to freeze, you just bury about a foot under the snow.

I'm sure I had more meals, but I really got into backpacking with the kids and it was all about quick, convenient type stuff.
 
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TrailHunter

Hooked
Depended on the season. But excluding Winter:

Cold meals and drinks:
Yogurt with granola for breakfast.
Lunchables for kids (easy).
Beef Jerky.
Trail mix.

For cold meals, I used a soft frameless insulated bag and I would pre-freeze water in a ziplock bag so it turned to ice. So the 'ice bag' and cold food would go in the insulated lunch bag. When I got to camp, I could easily dump the water out of the ice bag and put the remaining ice back in the insulated lunch bag. By the end of the drip, if the ice was still there, I would dump it at camp and then the ziplock bag for trash was literally zero weight to carry back.

Warm meals:
Pre warmed up soup in a thermos for first meal (sucks to carry back a thermos but it's still an easy meal).
Mountain House various.
Idaho powered potato packs.

In some ways, Winter was easier because the snow keeps the food cold. Anything that you don't want to freeze, you just bury about a foot under the snow.

I'm sure I had more meals, but I really got into backpacking with the kids and it was all about quick, convenient type stuff.
Nice.. We also brought a very small soft cooler in case we felt the need to grab some ice & beer at a gas station or something... but we didn’t.

Jeeping like a backpacker is definitely easier because food weight is not an issue... and you can bring more of it. Then if you pass through town you can treat yourself. Not once did We complain about not having the cooler.
 

WJCO

Meme King
Nice.. We also brought a very small soft cooler in case we felt the need to grab some ice & beer at a gas station or something... but we didn’t.

Jeeping like a backpacker is definitely easier because food weight is not an issue... and you can bring more of it. Then if you pass through town you can treat yourself. Not once did We complain about not having the cooler.
Nice. Always good to think outside the box and keep it practical.
 

wayoflife

Administrator
Staff member
Awesome post! Back when Cindy and I were wheeling our TJ, with our son and dog, we had to pack much in the same way and that was with a trail rack and roof rack. It's amazing what you can get by with freeze dried and can food and a Jet Boil.
 

TrailHunter

Hooked
Awesome post! Back when Cindy and I were wheeling our TJ, with our son and dog, we had to pack much in the same way and that was with a trail rack and roof rack. It's amazing what you can get by with freeze dried and can food and a Jet Boil.
Teresa said, “why don’t you just get a roof rack”... and for sure that is an option... but I’m determined not to. I bought a more ultra light sleeping system for all of us which helps a lot.. and I think good meals can be made without a fridge or cooler. Oh and the kids really want a dog to bring with us... I’m like, “where the hell is the dog gonna sit... On your lap??” 😂😂
 
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Brute

Hooked
It's easy to do what you suggest...as long as your buddies carry your cold beer in their rig...

All kidding aside, it's not a route I would go. I simply enjoy cold beer too much...and when I backpacked, I carried a couple cans of beer in ice just to enjoy it on the first night...

If I were you, I'd start to develop a taste for red wine...no refrigeration necessary...(I did see the whiskey on the list)...
 

TrailHunter

Hooked
It's easy to do what you suggest...as long as your buddies carry your cold beer in their rig...

All kidding aside, it's not a route I would go. I simply enjoy cold beer too much...and when I backpacked, I carried a couple cans of beer in ice just to enjoy it on the first night...

If I were you, I'd start to develop a taste for red wine...no refrigeration necessary...(I did see the whiskey on the list)...
yup.. Whiskey. Different trips call for different pack outs... and I will still be using a cooler... This is more for scenarios where I've got the whole family and fully loaded with Camping, fishing, hiking gear... I have gone out with buddies though many times, with nothing but a flask of whiskey and I was perfectly happy.
 

jeeeep

Hooked
get a 60/40 seat delete, pack the cooler and ditch the least favorite kid 😂

I've often thought of buying a Frigid Rigid cooler to replace the 60 bench side seat portion but it would be an expensive experiment/mod
 

Jkratt

Member
get a 60/40 seat delete, pack the cooler and ditch the least favorite kid 😂

I've often thought of buying a Frigid Rigid cooler to replace the 60 bench side seat portion but it would be an expensive experiment/mod
Now that’s funny. Maybe the kids could earn a seat spot. The one that doesn’t put in the work stays with the dog.
 
Fresh fruit and maybe a cliff bar for breakfast.
Dry sandwich on a bagel for lunch. Usually salami and if you have gas station packets of mayo your golden.
Idahoan potatoes and Spam singles diced up in it for dinner if the fishing was better than the catching.


Mountain House and the like fuck up my guts after a few days but their breakfast skillet in a burrito is a go to for us.
 

JTRay

Hooked
All kidding aside, it's not a route I would go. I simply enjoy cold beer too much...and when I backpacked, I carried a couple cans of beer in ice just to enjoy it on the first night...

If I were you, I'd start to develop a taste for red wine...no refrigeration necessary...(I did see the whiskey on the list)...

lol I have to agree I like my cold beer... my future kids will have to go on the roof rack. 😂😂

... but also one reason why I bought a JT for the extra room 😬
 
Interesting...... I can’t help but wonder what takes up the most space in your Jeep. 🤔 Having wheeled trails like the Dusy Ershim (minimum 3 days on the trail) and camped a 3-4 nights in the desert etc with 3 kids in a CJ8 we always had room for a cooler. Sometimes we used a roof rack ( for light stuff like sleeping bags, tarps etc), other times we just used every inch of space including the foot wells (when the kids were smaller since their feet didn’t touch the floor). When I bought a JKU in 08 the kids were teenagers and we were excited to have even more space.

I must say, there are a lot of things I’d give up taking before I’d give up real food & my cooler. 😁
 

Murphyfish

Caught the Bug
Pretty much what you’ve mentioned. Canned food, dried foods, trail mixes. The canned stuff is loaded with sodium, even the reduced sodium labels, but it’s not like you’re eating like that all the time.
Get a dehydrator and make your own jerky. 1/4 the price, make it to your tastes and you know it’s real meat.
MRE’s and some of those survival foods are an option. But they effect everyone differently. You may shit your brains out, you may not shit for days. And to be honest, you may get the tar shits from them too. Not something you want with no shower facility unless you’ve brought t-shirts you don’t want anymore. Cuz toilet paper ain’t cleaning you up.
Scotch/whiskey neat, requires no ice. Wife drinks red.
Honestly tho, let’s not act like when we’re camping that we’re really “off the grid”. I haven’t been too many places where there wasn’t someplace within 20-45 minutes from the trails we use. We used to pack with food for the week. Now we bring food for the night, breakfast for the morning and pick up more if we need it on the way back from a trail.
As someone with 2 kids who need car seats and a Saint Bernard (used to have 2) Jeep gets tight. The whole reason I joined this site is cuz I was looking for a roof rack. Do your research, get something that works for you, your family and future plans. It will be perfect sometimes, too little other times and too big most of the time.
 

TrailHunter

Hooked
Interesting...... I can’t help but wonder what takes up the most space in your Jeep. 🤔 Having wheeled trails like the Dusy Ershim (minimum 3 days on the trail) and camped a 3-4 nights in the desert etc with 3 kids in a CJ8 we always had room for a cooler. Sometimes we used a roof rack ( for light stuff like sleeping bags, tarps etc), other times we just used every inch of space including the foot wells (when the kids were smaller since their feet didn’t touch the floor). When I bought a JKU in 08 the kids were teenagers and we were excited to have even more space.

I must say, there are a lot of things I’d give up taking before I’d give up real food & my cooler. 😁
Oh, I can make it all fit with the cooler... but it’s tight, blocks my view out the rear window... and makes loading & reloading a pain in the ass because we stop a lot to, hike, fish, chill, eat lunch, camp etc... Just trying to keep things to a minimum... (and avoiding a roof rack) I like a little space to breathe and keep it simple. Like backpacking... but in the Jeep.
 

bonebreak98

New member
You sure know how to rough it out there. F that....fridge/cooler for me or I ain't going. I didn't buy a $60,000.00 dollar Jeep to slum it. Good luck with that.
 
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