Wherever a group of people gathers, you can’t do without a meal when it comes to trips out of town. And, in order to keep food fresh and even chilled, a refrigerator bag will come in handy: it is even easier to use it at camping, because there most definitely will be a car from which you can charge the device. Even if you need the simplest refrigerator bag (the price depends on the design and features), it will be able to fulfil its main function – it will keep the products placed inside at least at their original temperature.
Refrigerator bag: what is it and how it works
Any model on sale is a heat-insulated container that maintains the temperature at a certain level for a long time. In winter, such products are in demand to keep the food hot, so they are actively used by lovers of fishing, hunting, sports competitions, and hiking in the mountains or in nature, where there are no familiar living conditions.
If you take a standard portable device, then you will get a design similar to a thermos: inner and outer layers, between which polyurethane foam, polyethylene, or other heat-intensive material is additionally placed.
How does a cooler bag with active and passive cooling work
Regardless of the material used, all models are divided into two types:
- Those that maintain the initial temperature are the simplest food bags with or without cooling elements.
- Active cooling bags can be powered by electricity or gas. They perform their functions, as long as there is a power source: without it, they simply turn into a convenient container.
It should be clarified that thermal bags that are soft and do not have a rigid frame, which is why they are not suitable for carrying or storing any non-hermetically packed products. Therefore, for long-distance travel, you still need plastic or fabric container bags, but with a solid frame. They are not very convenient to carry in your hands, but they will be an ideal solution for a car.
Refrigerator bag: how to use electric ones and those with cooling elements
If we are talking about a model that maintains the temperature when connected to a power source, then its operation is similar to a home refrigerator. Electric ones are simply smaller, but their functionality is similar.
However, in the case of the classic options in which cooling elements are used, it is necessary to follow a different principle of employment. The temperature retention time and its level directly depend on which coolers you use. They can be hard, plastic, or soft, made of polyethylene and with filler inside. Both types require pre-freezing in the refrigerator freezer for 4 hours or more (better left overnight).
Note: Standard cooling elements have a capacity of 250 to 800 ml. The small cooler bag will hold from 1 to 2 cooling devices, the large one – up to 5.
There are 3 types of fillers for cooling elements. Each of them has both disadvantages and advantages:
- Water-salt types are hermetically sealed, enclosed in a plastic case, and can maintain a temperature in the range of -20 to +8 °C for up to 24 hours.
- Silicone ones keep the temperature only from 0 to + 2 °C, but they “work” up to 7 days. Ideal for cases where you need to keep food fresh for a long time.
- Gel ones are considered the safest, and most importantly, they can retain both cold and heat. They last for up to 16 hours.
Among all those cold accumulators listed, it is the gel ones that are considered the safest. Therefore, if you have a cooler bag with a picnic set, but the cooler was not included in the kit, then get the gel one. Even if the container with the “stuffing” is damaged, it will not harm the products, unlike water-salt or silicone ones.
Refrigerator bag: how to choose, so as not to be mistaken
When choosing any product, start by determining how and where you will use it. This will depend on such parameters as weight, volume, material, and design.
- if you need a travel model that is comfortable to carry on your shoulder or in your hands – choose a volume of no more than 30 liters and a weight of up to 1.5 kg;
- for family trips to nature, a refrigerator bag with a set of dishes, already ideally placed in a container with a volume of up to 3 liters and a weight of 500-600 gr. would be great;
- to organize a large party, it is better to take several medium models up to 40 liters rather than a large one: it will simply be difficult to carry;
- for those who do not move on foot but take the main part of the journey by car, it is not so important what volume and weight the bag has: everything is limited only by your needs and free space in the trunk.
All bag types – compact, large, and with active or passive cooling – have an outer and inner layer. The outer part is exposed to external factors, therefore this layer is made waterproof with synthetic fabrics or food-grade plastic. It is completely harmless to health. Its main purposes are:
- heat absorption,
- easy cleaning,
- water-repellent properties,
- fast drying.
The inner layer can also be covered with synthetic fabric, but more often it is still polyethylene or foil: they retain temperature better. Polyethylene ones are cheaper, but automatically reduce the time of keeping food cold / warm by 2-3 hours, even if gel coolers are used. For bags powered electricity, this is not that important.
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