By Mike Deming
Spending time in the field with family and friends is a joy for nearly everyone. The fresh air, beautiful scenery and the sound of nature without the interruptions of cell phones, draw us back time and time again. These backcountry excursions will require you to give up a few of your creature comforts of home, but that is no excuse to be miserable.
Keeping your edibles and drinks cold and preserved is part of a good camping experience. I am sure that I’m not the only person on the planet who has opened their cooler up to see a good majority of the ice has melted and has left my sandwich looking a lot more like a sponge than the tasty lunch I anticipated. My all-time favorite is to know that you have not only drowned your worms for the weekend, but you will also get to taste them for yourself whenever you grab a new drink.
One or two of these experiences is all a person needs to start looking for alternatives. I’ve been freezing jugs of water for years to eliminate these messes, but you sacrifice valuable cooler space with this setup. Other ice substitutes have been tested over the years, but they have all performed with less efficiency than ice.
A new product has hit the shelves this year which will render other ice substitutes obsolete. Introducing Arctic Ice. The Alaskan and Tundra series are the two different types of re-usable “super cooler packs” which are designed to keep items extremely cold or even frozen for days on end. Both models use a biodegradable Phase-change material derived from oils of plants. This non-toxic material is reusable for up to 100,000 times. This means it will last well more than one person’s lifetime and save you a lot of money on ice along the way. This material is stored in a rugged high-density polyethylene container which will provide you years of puncture proof service and is 100% dishwasher safe. Both models come in four different sizes to accommodate your lunchbox, all the way up to the 150 quart tailgater special.
The Alaskan Series is designed to keep items cold. Its freezing temperature is 33.8° Fahrenheit and keeps food and drinks chilled much longer than the same volume of ice. It takes about eight hours in your standard freezer to get the most out of each usage.
The Tundra Series is designed to keep items frozen. It has a freezing temperature of 5° Fahrenheit and will keep items frozen for several days. It takes 36 hours in your freezer at the coldest setting to get completely frozen. The material in the unit is purple in color, but will turn white when it is fully charged and ready to go. This product will freeze items that are put into your cooler, so make sure to choose the right series for the job. This product is a much better alternative to dry ice. It can be put in your cooler or fish box where dry ice is usually illegal. Dry ice also produces carbon dioxide which mosquitoes love.
We were able to test these products in conjunction with our EXTREME COOLERS test for this issue and they proved to be a match made in heaven. Since we had two test models of the Igloo Yukon 70, we decided to use one with a large Alaskan series and one totally without. We filled the first cooler with 40 pounds of cubed ice purchased at our local Sportsman’s Warehouse. We put a large (2.5 pound) Arctic-Ice Alaskan in cooler number two and topped it off with 37.5 pounds of cubed ice. We set both coolers on our back deck where they stayed in full sun from about 10 am until it set at 8 pm. Overnight lows during our testing ranged from the low 30’s to low 40’s and the daytime high’s ranged from hi 70’s to mid 80’s. I opened each cooler several times a day to simulate getting products out of the cooler on a routine camping trip. The Yukon 70, with ice only, held ice into the 8th day. However, the cooler with the Arctic-Ice Alaskan Series held ice deep into the 12th day.
I can say with confidence, the Arctic Ice products are a must have for anyone camping, boating or tailgating. The Alaskan and the Tundra series combined with an extreme cooler is the answer to keeping all your food and beverages cold or frozen whenever you leave home without the worry of ruining the contents. The cost savings in ice over just a few years makes having numerous different sizes and models of Arctic Ice well worth the money.