Making Your Own Cooler Ice Pack

Using cubed or bagged ice in a cooler can be a giant, annoying mess. It seems to melt more quickly, leaving you with nothing but a bunch of soggy, floating food. In this guide we’ll show you how to make DIY cooler ice packs to keep everything organized, dry, and easy to use!

DIY PVC Ice Packs

Got some old PVC pipe laying around from your latest reno? Put it to use by making a PVC ice pack. This is a super simple project but you will need some basic plumbing supplies. This project is based on instructions from!

pvc ice pack

What you will need:

  • Measuring Tape
  • PVC Pipe (We recommend 2″ but it’s up to you)
  • PVC End caps (2 for each length of pipe)
  • Saw or PVC cutter
  • PVC Cement
  • Rag or paper towel
  • Spray paint (optional)

Step 1 – Measure & Cut

Measure the inside of your cooler to determine how long you can make your PVC. Whatever the measurement is, take off about 4 inches (to make sure that the pack will fit with the end caps on) and cut the PVC to that length.


Step 2 – Seal one End

Apply some PVC cement to the outside of one end of the pipe and to the inside of the end cap. Push the cap onto the pipe and hold firm for a few seconds. Wipe up any cement that may have oozed out and let the pipe sit for ideally an hour.

Step 3 – Fill ‘er Up

Once your cement is dry, it’s time to fill it with water. Only fill the pipe up about 3/4 full, since the water will expand when frozen. Then, repeat step 2 with the open end of the pipe and stand it up while the cement dries to make sure it cures properly.

Step 4 – Paint (Optional)

If you’re so inclined, grab some spray paint and give those pipes a fresh coat of your favourite color. Make sure you’re doing the painting outside in a well-ventilated space and lay down some newspaper or cardboard before you get started.

Step 5 – Freeze

Et voila! Stick your new ice packs in the freezer and next time you’re heading out camping and need an ice pack you’ve got a nice, durable and homemade pack right at your disposal.

Cooler Reviews

Not sure what coolers to use this in? Check out our cooler reviews to see the different options available.

DIY Gel Packs

Instead of a large bulky PVC pack, you can also try making one of these flexible gel packs – which while perfect for coolers can also be used after hikes for your knees, ankles or back. This is another very easy project with minimal skill and materials required.

diy gel pack

What you will need:

  • Ziploc freezer bags, boxed wine bladder or vacuum sealer bags
  • 1 Cup Rubbing alcohol
  • 2 Cups Water
  • Food colouring (optional)

Step 1 – Mixing

Mix together 1 cup of rubbing alcohol with 2 cups of water in a large measuring cup or mixing bowl. You can choose to add some food colouring here if you so wish.

Step 2 – Bag it

Pour your mixture into a ziploc bag or other plastic vessel like a boxed wine bladder. We prefer using the wine box bladders because they are much larger, made of a much thicker material diyand are less likely to leak. Another good way to go is using a vacuum sealer to make your own sealed bags. If you’re going the ziploc bag route, we recommend double bagging to avoid leaks. Once in the bag, try and squeeze as much air out of the bag as possible.

Step 3 – Freeze

Put your new ice pack in the freezer and in a few hours you’ll have a great new gel pack for your cooler and home!

gel pack

James Kennedy