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View Full Version : Packing A Cooler For A Long Distance Contest


huminie
09-11-2012, 04:17 PM
Hi folks,

I will be traveling to the American Royal in a few weeks, driving from California over several days. I plan to leave early Monday morning to arrive Thursday for the contests on Saturday and Sunday.

I will be bringing my meats so I am looking for some advice from folks who travel long distances to contests. My hope is to have all meat trimmed ahead of time, and frozen for the journey.

I am looking for advice on how to best pack coolers with the meat. I am thinking using dry ice might be the way to go. I also have the thought of allowing brisket and pork to thaw along the way, but would need to make sure this is done safely and without risk of spoilage.

What would you suggest as a plan of attack so I can travel several days with 2 contests worth of meat that is fresh and thawed, ready for the competition?

Thanks in advance for any helpful tips or information you may have.

Mexi "Q" Tioner
09-11-2012, 04:51 PM
Good to see another CBBQA member among the brethren, good luck at the Royal! :thumb:

AZScott
09-11-2012, 05:26 PM
I'd use blocks of ice mixed with some cubes. It's going to last you much longer. I prefer not to freeze my meat and would more than likely just vacuum seal them. I'd also use the cambro's to store the meat rather than using basic coolers or better yet, get a good sized Yeti and you shouldn't have much of an issue.

Brewer
09-11-2012, 05:42 PM
Not sure if it's an option for you Adam but you may want to look at getting a Yeti. They're super efficient and will keep food at or below 40 or frozen for days with very little ice. I got one last year and bought another this year because I was so impressed with the first one. I put one small homemade ice pack (made using a chamber sealer) with each Brisket or Butt in a stainless pan and a 10lb bag of chunked ice dumped out across the bottom and I can keep temps at or below 40 for 2-3 days depending on the outside temp. I use much less ice with the Yeti than I did with any of my previous coolers - by a very large margin.

Butt Rubb'n BBQ
09-11-2012, 05:51 PM
Dry ice is the way to go. On long hunting trips we use dry ice with a paper sack on top and bag of ice or so and our coolers are like freezers for days.

crd26a
09-11-2012, 06:17 PM
Adam - are you traveling alone or with the family? If alone, I'd almost consider having it shipped out unless the cost is crazy. I'd probably only consider shipping briskets if you're using SFR etc., but if standard pork butts and ribs, I'd place my order with RD which is down the street and save myself the hassle. No way I'd consider shipping chicken, I'd buy fresh locally.

Slamdunkpro
09-11-2012, 06:41 PM
+1 for dry ice if you have to take your meat with you. Yetis are nice but the $250 price difference between a Yeti and an Igloo Marine buys a lot of ice.

Pigs on Fire
09-11-2012, 07:13 PM
Get ONE cooler larger enough to handle all of your meat. The night before, fill it with a couple of 20 lb ice bags. The morning (or immediately) before you leave, drain it and put your meats in it. Fill the remainder with ice. Leave the drain plug open.

This should last at least 24 hours. Don't open the cooler unless you are adding more ice.

You don't need a Yeti or other high-dollar cooler. A regular cooler from your local store will do the job. Pre-cool it and keep it closed.

4 days at most x (1) 20 lb bag of ice per day = $32 at most. You're going to spend twice that a day on fuel.

Butcher BBQ
09-11-2012, 07:19 PM
All great advice and if I can help any on my end let me know.

Big Mike
09-11-2012, 07:30 PM
I have 3 of the 120qt, 7 day igloo coolers. I pour a 20lb bag of ice into the bottom, put my meat in and then put in 2-3 more 20lb bags of ice. I don't know if sams still has them on sale for $65 or not

jbrink01
09-11-2012, 07:36 PM
Buy your meat from Bichelmeyers?

Balls Casten
09-11-2012, 09:12 PM
If the meat is froze and the lid is left shut. I would think regular ice would be fine.
Use your remote thermometer to monitor tHe cooler temps if you are unsure.

bigdogphin
09-11-2012, 10:30 PM
Buy your meat from Bichelmeyers?

Are their ribs any good?

Ford
09-12-2012, 04:29 AM
Ok I did Vegas in 2003. 5 days to get there. One extreme cooler frozen meat and filled with ice. Leave the cooler shut. 5 days later still frozen. Had to work to get it ready for the contest. 4 days and you don't need to freeze. Check after 2 days and drain. Probably won't be much water come out so won't need to add ice. Chicken will probably partial freeze.

NRA4Life
09-12-2012, 06:32 AM
Here is a youtube video of the sportsmanguys testing high end coolers including the yeti, IRP, Engel, Igloo, and coleman extreme. Pretty informative.

High End Cooler Test by SportsmanGuys.comâ„¢ - - YouTube

huminie
09-12-2012, 11:54 AM
Thanks for all the advice. I will definitely be bringing my own meat. I don't feel comfortable cooking meat I am unfamiliar with at such an important contest. Also, the Yeti isn't in the cards right now, but will definitely go on the 'wish list'.

What I was hoping to learn here was how to use dry ice in a way that won't keep everything rock solid.

As I see it I have 2 options:

One...freeze everything, pack in coolers with ice and thaw when I arrive. Getting there early Thursday should help here.

Two...freeze chicken, but leave everything else thawed in vacuum packaging, pack on ice and hope it stays fresh for almost a week. If I buy pork and ribs the weekend before, it might be ok, but could be a risk.

Was just making sure I didn't miss anything obvious.

I am leaning towards option one and thawing on site. I could fill a cooler with water if need be to speed things up in a safe way.

Just Pulin' Pork
09-12-2012, 01:46 PM
Huminie not sure if it matters but there is a Restaurant Depot an 1/8 of a mile from Kemper Arena where the American Royal is held! When you exit I-70 its right there.

Jon

INmitch
09-12-2012, 02:36 PM
Thanks for all the advice. I will definitely be bringing my own meat. I don't feel comfortable cooking meat I am unfamiliar with at such an important contest. Also, the Yeti isn't in the cards right now, but will definitely go on the 'wish list'.

What I was hoping to learn here was how to use dry ice in a way that won't keep everything rock solid.

As I see it I have 2 options:

One...freeze everything, pack in coolers with ice and thaw when I arrive. Getting there early Thursday should help here.

Two...freeze chicken, but leave everything else thawed in vacuum packaging, pack on ice and hope it stays fresh for almost a week. If I buy pork and ribs the weekend before, it might be ok, but could be a risk.

Was just making sure I didn't miss anything obvious.

I am leaning towards option one and thawing on site. I could fill a cooler with water if need be to speed things up in a safe way.
I would go with option Two. I think you will be fine. If packed in ice I think your chicken will still be froze after 2 days. If it's fresh when you trim n freeze it. It will still be fine for the comps.

INmitch
09-12-2012, 02:40 PM
Something else I do is pre cool my coolers before filling them. Not sure it helps but can't hurt.

bruno994
09-12-2012, 03:21 PM
Thanks for posting that video NRA4Life, makes me even happier with my Coleman Extremes that I bring to comps.

BBQ Bandit
09-12-2012, 03:40 PM
Last May - over 600 pounds of pork butts shared among (4) Coleman Marine/Extreme coolers... packed for (4) days and 450 miles in the back of my pick-up bed. Each was packed evenly one layer on the bottom (15 butts standing on end) - with bags of ice on top. Allowed the melting water in place as a cooling agent. The coolers were then covered with several layers of moving blankets, with a reflective tarp with a cargo netting.

No problem... however was about 200 lbs per cooler factoring meat and ice.
Photo from thread... http://www.bbq-brethren.com/forum/showpost.php?p=2045502&postcount=117

http://i1217.photobucket.com/albums/dd392/lizzietish726/PGBBQ%202012/PGBBQ127.jpg

ique
09-12-2012, 07:57 PM
I dont think you need dry ice. Trim, cryo, freeze. Pack in ice.

Daily or close to it, drain off any water and repack with fresh ice. You'll be fine.

Scottie
09-12-2012, 08:28 PM
I do a TON of long drives and back to back contests on the road. Dont over think it. Do as Chris says. Get rid of the water. If you can get block ice that is 3" thick. They are perfect. Line the cooler with those, put meat in and cover with ice. I do that in a 100qt cooler and with the meat frozen, it stays for a long time. Over 7 days for me...

Rub
09-12-2012, 08:52 PM
I do a TON of long drives and back to back contests on the road. Dont over think it. Do as Chris says. Get rid of the water. If you can get block ice that is 3" thick. They are perfect. Line the cooler with those, put meat in and cover with ice. I do that in a 100qt cooler and with the meat frozen, it stays for a long time. Over 7 days for me...
I use disposable full and half pans to make these in the freezer beforehand, pop them out, works great.

djqualls
09-13-2012, 01:13 AM
Dry ice under a layer of ice in a yeti will actually freeze thawed meat ! it happened to me this summer. We left on Wednesday for a comp and Friday my brisket and butts were frozen on the bottom side.

rooftop bbq
09-13-2012, 11:00 AM
i would recommend not trimming before hand, if you plan on traveling with it thawed. Keeping that original cyrovac is really important to protect from spoilage.

Sylvie
09-13-2012, 11:23 AM
I dont think you need dry ice. Trim, cryo, freeze. Pack in ice.

Daily or close to it, drain off any water and repack with fresh ice. You'll be fine.
I also will be driving from the west coast to the Royal and bringing my meats. I think I'm going with Chris' suggestion.

huminie
09-13-2012, 11:58 AM
Don't over think it? I don't know any other way to do it! haahaa!

Sounds like I will be making some homemade ice blocks in preparation for this.

I was really hoping to learn if there were any tricks for using dry ice to conserve space and reduce water, without having everything freeze up like a rock.

I will probably freeze chicken and ribs (pre-trimmed and foodsavered) as they will thaw quick on the other end. I will probably leave pork thawed in original packaging and put trimmed briskets in frozen and hope they thaw a bit on the journey.

I have 2 brand new 120qt ice chests, one for each day's meats, and an older 150qt for other food and drinks. Thinking I might pack me some tri-tips to cook up while I am there. :)

Pigs on Fire
09-13-2012, 12:19 PM
If you really want to use dry ice, there's very simple instructions for using it on the dry ice container in the grocery store.

To keep stuff frozen, place the dry ice on top of the product.

To keep it cold, place the dry ice on the bottom of the cooler and put the product on top...with a layer of some sort of barrier (a brown grocery sack would be a great idea.)

It's really this simple. Dry ice is not cheap. It's a PITA to deal with.

Another poster in this thread and myself laid out a pretty simple plan that is probably the most economical.

sitnfat
09-13-2012, 12:49 PM
Just make you some dry ice and experiment with it. Just be careful and use gloves and goggles when making and handling. It's 100 degrees below zero so it will mess your skin up

va92bronco
09-13-2012, 12:54 PM
Here is a youtube video of the sportsmanguys testing high end coolers including the yeti, IRP, Engel, Igloo, and coleman extreme. Pretty informative.

High End Cooler Test by SportsmanGuys.comâ„¢ - - YouTube (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6-TE4RnqT0U)


Coleman Extreme looked like it did better than the Coleman Marine. Glad a got a extreme. though that Engel looked nice.

Andrews
09-13-2012, 01:42 PM
Don't over think it? I don't know any other way to do it! haahaa!

Sounds like I will be making some homemade ice blocks in preparation for this.

I was really hoping to learn if there were any tricks for using dry ice to conserve space and reduce water, without having everything freeze up like a rock.

I will probably freeze chicken and ribs (pre-trimmed and foodsavered) as they will thaw quick on the other end. I will probably leave pork thawed in original packaging and put trimmed briskets in frozen and hope they thaw a bit on the journey.

I have 2 brand new 120qt ice chests, one for each day's meats, and an older 150qt for other food and drinks. Thinking I might pack me some tri-tips to cook up while I am there. :)

I do a good size chunk of dry-ice on top of the ice for the first day or two then ice only for the remainder of the trip. Meat will be pre-trimmed and vac-sealed if time permits before leaving.

ique
09-13-2012, 04:31 PM
Coleman Extreme looked like it did better than the Coleman Marine. Glad a got a extreme. though that Engel looked nice.

I've been tempted by some of the high end coolers, but that Coleman Extreme is pretty awesome for the price.

huminie
09-13-2012, 04:48 PM
My local walmart had 100qt Coleman Extremes for sale at $55 each. I picked up 2 for the journey to the Royal.