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The 6 Best Cooler Ice Packs

No matter what kind of cooler you're toting around to the beach or on road trips, using one of the best cooler ice packs will keep the food and drinks inside colder for much longer. They are all made from high-quality reusable materials, but which shape and size will be right for you will depend on the size of your cooler and its contents. Since ice packs are not all designed the same, here are some things to consider when shopping for an ice pack for your cooler.

Size & Shape

Before shopping for ice packs, it's a good idea to figure out how many packs you'll need to purchase for your specific cooler size, In general, experts recommend a two-to-one ratio of ice to food or drinks for optimal chilling. In terms of style, refillable or softer cover packs will be much more flexible so you can easily mush them between your items and target where you want the cold action. Harder-sided ice packs can only really be used vertically or horizontally, but they are much more durable.

Ice Pack Type

Most ice packs are made with a mix of water and a chemically-formulated gel substance that can be reused time and time again. Though this gel is often nontoxic and biodegradable, if you'd prefer to go the all-natural route, you can get the benefit of a sealed, leak-proof ice pack by choosing one filled with only water.

Ice Pack Longevity

As a general rule of thumb, ice packs typically keep the contents of a cooler cold for about eight hours. However, if you need an ice pack to last longer than that, you may want to opt for the biggest size possible. Expert tests have demonstrated that larger ice packs are more likely to keep items cold for a longer period of time versus using multiple smaller sized ones, though keep in mind you'll need to allow for extended freeze time before they can be used.

To help you find the right option, below's a roundup of the best ice packs for coolers you can buy on Amazon.

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1. The Best Refillable Ice Packs For Coolers

  • Dimensions: 10 x 10 x 1 inches (length x width x height)

These medium-sized Cooler Shock ice packs are one of the most popular options you'll find on Amazon with over 2,500 5-star reviews. Also available in small and large sizes, each bag in this four-pack is equivalent to 3 pounds of ice and is made from five layers of aluminum and other custom materials. When properly frozen for at least 24 hours before using, these packs will typically stay solid between 24 and 48 hours. However, there's one minor inconvenience to these bags: Unlike other options on this list, these packs are shipped dry and require you to fill with water and shake them to create the chemical gel coolant before freezing. After that, they can be reused endlessly without having to refill or mix them ever again.

Helpful review: "We love these ice packs. They were easy to ready for cooler usage and store well in our freezer, stacking easily. They have been used for camping trips, extended day trips to the beach, picnics, school popsicle parties and sporting events, to name a few scenarios. Depending on the insulation of the cooler/insulated bag you use them (and the number of ice packs you combine), your food will stay 'refrigerated' for hours, even days."

2. The Best Ice Packs For Keeping Frozen Foods Frozen

  • Dimensions: 6.8 x 7.8 x 1.3 inches for the medium size (length x width x height)

Not only does this Arctic tundra ice pack come in a wide range of sizes, from small (4.3 by 6.3 by 1.3 inches) to XX-large (10.5 by 10.5 by 3 inches), it is also notable for its extra-cold 5 degrees Fahrenheit freezing point. That makes it the best option for pairing with frozen foods (like ice cream and popsicles) and keep them in their solid-state for as long as possible — one Amazon fan mentioned being able to keep ice cream frozen for the duration of a five-hour road trip. For best results, it's recommended to place the Arctic ice pack in a freezer at the lowest temperature setting available for at least 36 hours before each use. The purple interior will turn a white color to signal when the all-natural, gel-based ice pack is ready to be used.

Helpful review: "I have been using the Tundra ice packs for over 3 years and have no complaints. I'm an avid angler and use the Tundra blocks to either keep my ice longer or to store in a cooler to keep fish on ice at the end of the day. It works great and has paid for itself through the last 3 years with the amount of ice money saved! For those that are not putting these in a chest or deep freezer, you will not get the true benefits."

3. The Best Ice Packs For Cans & Bottles

  • Dimensions: 8.4 x 8.2 x 2.5 inches

To keep your favorite beverages the right temperature, this set of two can ice packs are the perfectly sized accessory. With one set, you can keep cans water bottles or even baby bottles cold inside your cooler. Plus, several Amazon users also mentioned that these have the added benefit of keeping drinks more upright in a cooler. They're made from BPA-free thermoplastic and gel coolant.

Helpful review: "I have been looking everywhere for these! They are an excellent way to keep drinks cold. They are easy to use, keep things cold for hours (and hours!) and fit easily into standard cooler sizes. I definitely recommend these reusable cold pals!"

4. The Most Flexible Ice Packs

  • Dimensions: 19 x 15.5 x 1 inches (length x width x height)

Just like using ice cubes from your freezer, these FlexiFreeze ice sheets are made from 100% water but thanks to the clever packaging, they have a significant advantage because they are pre-filled and sealed shut — therefore there's no liquid mess to worry about when they melt and they can be reused over and over again. You can choose to bend and wrap the sheets (there are three included) around the contents of your cooler or cut them down to better fit your needs.

Helpful review: "I first bought a set of these ice sheets almost ten years ago and have purchased dozens more since then to give as gifts. We use them to wrap around six-packs of drinks and, lay them flat and place plates of food on them to keep cold for hours. Some really cool features include cutting them into smaller sizes to put inside a lunch bag."

5. The Most Affordable Ice Packs

  • Dimensions: 4.3 x 5.3 x .8 inches for small (length x width x height)

If you don't want to spend a lot on ice packs, you can't go wrong with this reusable Igloo MaxCold freezer block. As one Amazon reviewer pointed out, this ultra-therm gel-filled ice pack is the best "bang for your buck," in terms of size to cost value. They will also keep your cooler properly chilled for a long time: "The cooling capacity surpasses 24 hours," one user reported. If the small block is too tiny for your needs, you can also get them in medium or extra-large sizes.

Helpful review: "Like others have said, this is a very large block and even though I knew what the dimensions were you don’t realize it until you put it inside your cooler. Initially, I wanted to buy two but only one is going to be needed due to the size. For half the cost of some of the more expensive ones out there and 1/3 larger, this is the best way to go."

6. The Best Ice Packs For Personal-Sized Coolers & Lunch Bags

  • Dimensions: 4.75 x 4.75 x .25 inches (length x width x height)

With an extra-slim profile, these square-shaped packs are ideal for use in smaller, more personal-sized coolers when you still want to have enough space for all your snacks inside. You'll get four total per set, giving you the flexibility to use more than one to stack or create layers between your food. Note: These may not be the longest-lasting ice packs on this list (per Amazon users, you'll get about five to six hours max before they thaw), but the value and convenience can't be beaten.

Helpful review: "They are very small and thin so they can be packed into a lunch bag and take up very little real estate you need for your food and drinks. I put two of them at the bottom of my lunch cooler and fit four sodas, a full-sized pack of lunch meat and a full-sized package of cheese with no struggle. I put another in the top compartment with two more sodas and that fit easily too."