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Best (Longest Lasting) Ice Pack For Lunchbox

Discussion in 'EDC Bags' started by kubolaw, Jul 10, 2012.

    kubolaw Loaded Pockets

    Tangentially inspired by this great thread on a new lunch container, I was wondering if anyone had a recommendation for a good ice pack for kids lunchboxes.

    I have tried a number of hard-sided "bricks":
    - Igloo MaxCool (disappointingly don't stay cool that long)
    - Rubbermaid Blue Ice (a bit better, but still only last a few hours in a lunchbox exposed to direct sunlight)

    And other flexible gel packs:
    - An older version of the Techni-ICE packs (seemed to stay cold but I didn't like the "slimy" feeling and wetness)
    - A clear Japanese pack from Marukai (worked okay, but I don't know how to get any more)

    Actually the best one I found was an unlabeled white gel pack that came with a gift box of chocolates - it seems to stay the coldest the longest, and has a rather thick plastic skin. But I have no idea how to order more, short of tracking down the sender, and "gifting" myself overpriced boxes of chocolate - hmmm ...

    Does anyone have any other suggestions to try?
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    Shur Loaded Pockets

    I'm not sure that different manufacturers or materials will make the difference you are looking for. What you really need is more mass, the bigger the frozen chunk the longer it will stay cold.
    AFAIK (just a guess but a reasonable one I think) the goo in those packs isnt a super material that stays cold longer but just a material that will not expand much as it freezes.

    A well insulated container is where I'd spend my money.
    mooshisho likes this.

    Brisket Loaded Pockets

    Shur makes a good point about the container insulation. That being said I too have had poor results with the commonly available commercial ice packs even in quality insulated containers.

    Not long ago I came across some ice packs used for packing medicine in styrofoam cubes for shipment that sound similar to the unlabeled white gel packs you described that work better than anything I have tried before. They are about an inch thick and rectangular in shape (approx 5x8) and have some type of foam or fiber inside that helps maintain the shape.

    Ok, I'll come clean. When I said "came across" what I meant was I went dumpster diving behind my office when a medical supply company neighbor had thown away several styro shipping cubes full of ice packs to be picked up. Don't judge me dang it! I probably saved the planet as those things would take forever to decompose at the dump!
    kubolaw and pacman like this.

    keith1234 Loaded Pockets

    I find all the ice packs to be the same quality and not lasting too long. I usually take one large roughly 8x8x1 inch and 2 small packs 5x8x1 inch and throw them in my cooler which sits in a hot car. I have had them last for more then 24 hours. The flimsy ones that come in a bag don't last as long as the hard plastcic brick ones. I also sometime make my own by using 20 oz soda bottles and filling 3/4 full with water.

    kubolaw Loaded Pockets

    balrog Loaded Pockets

    The foam brick style works better than the gel that hardens when frozen or the plastic bricks. Look at the Polar Pack from thermosafe.com . We get them from a shop that gets seafood deliveries and they sell off the pack or a couple bucks each.

    The other thing is to reduce the amount of dead air space in the cooler. I use a soft cooler from Polar Bear Coolers that works great.

    austindavis1989 Loaded Pockets

    I've used the commercial grade ones to stay cool during a summer beach wedding I was in a month ago. I put them in my coat pocket , kept me cool for 5+ hours.
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    Shur Loaded Pockets

    +1
    Reduce the air by using a soft sided container you can crumple or by filling with more freeze packs.
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    mooshi Loaded Pockets

    I've forgotten what they're called, but there are these ice packs used in the bio lab that keep very well. They're similar to the blue goo, but white. A friend of mine worked in a bio lab and had gotten us a bunch to use for our camping trip and they lasted quite a long time. It also helped that we had a bit of dry ice in the cooler, but after coming home and letting everything thaw, it still lasted a while!

    I'll see if I can find out what they're called.

    patrat Loaded Pockets

    Soft sided (collapsible) water bottle/pouch, filled 85% full of water, air squeezed out. Freeze. Lay large handtowel on table, unfolded. Placed lunch (in hardside ziplock/glad or similar) on towel. Place frozen pouch on top. Flatware to side. Fold up, place into lunchbox/briefcase of choice. Good for 4-8 hours of constant cold. The towel is an amazing insulator.