A Custom Cooler, Sewing Not Required


When you go to the beach or on a camping trip this summer, notice how you pack your cooler. Your beverages already come in a box, yet you remove them and put them in a larger, insulated box. [Jason] thought it would be a great idea to just add insulation to a case of soda (or other beverages, we assume) and ended up making a custom soda cooler.

The fabrication of this cooler is actually pretty simple. A layer of flexible foam is sandwiched between two layers of waterproof vinyl with spray glue. After tracing out a pattern, [Jason] then cut this fabric into panels and glued them together into a soda box-sized cooler. Simple, elegant, and something even hackers that didn’t take home ec can put together in a few hours.

As an aside, we at Hackaday seem to forget the ‘softer’ builds of fabric, foam, and paper far too often. That doesn’t mean we eschew these projects; I have a barely post-war Singer 15 sewing machine right above my workbench. Send us a tip if you have one of these soft hacks. We’d love to see it.

Video of the build below.


22 thoughts on “A Custom Cooler, Sewing Not Required

    1. This is HACK-A-DAY!!! not things I bought a the dollar store/ebay/deal extreem

      Also very cool project, no pun intended :) Maybe leave a little extra room for an ice pack to keep it cool longer?

      1. I thought Hack-a-day was for practical hacks. Why spend hours making something you can buy for $1 that is better? Maybe this should be in a Craft-A-Day blog instead.

          1. Meant to say “Every post has a comment” but i got stuck between 2 different sentences and ended up with both.

            Leave me alone I’m tired and hungry!

      1. It’s the combination, double layer nylon AND foil where the foil is reflective to IR components should work, the foil prevents easy heat conduction between the layers I guess.

        Many take-away food places also use it, wrap it in foil then plastic and I can tell you it DOES work. Sometimes they just wrap it in many layers of paper, and that works too in practice.

    2. It may be “sewing not required”, but sewing is a whole lot less work than all that spray-glue and binder-clipping and duct-taping business, it’s durable, and it looks neater when you’re finished. Sewing a few straight lines is easy, so this would be a good beginner project. And you can get dirt cheap Chinese sewing machines for under $100 (new!), so it’s not like they’re any more expensive than a half-decent multimeter.

  1. This is a great idea. Keeping the density high inside the cooler by keeping the extra space to a minimum will keep them cooler longer.

    They used to make coolers sized to hold the old 3×4 array drink packages, but then everyone switched to the 2×6 array to give the drinks better positioning/prominence in the fridge, and probably to improve packaging or shipping costs. Or at least improve shelving and stocking at the store.

  2. It’s a pretty good idea. If one isn’t already sold, it should be. But if you’re going to take the time to DIY, why not make it better than typical consumer goods, instead of copying their inadequacies? Double up on the foam at least.

  3. Well if your going to make something low tech in a high tech world… try doing it the way Jean Charles Athanase Peltier did in mid-19th century. He took two different kinds of metal and passed 12 to 24 volts DC through it. One side got hot and the other side got cold. If you heat-sink and or muffin-fan the hot side the cool side gets cooler.

    You could spend under $30 at http://www.frozencpu.com for some Peltier-TECs or just cannibalize them from a old CPU or video card.

    Really low-tech would just take some Styrofoam from your new PC or gadget packing crate and glue together a box around your soda. The soda has to be in the fridge for a few hours before hand. Or just pour the Styrofoam peanuts in a cloth bag around your cold soda.

  4. In the 80’s a gas station gave these away when you bought a 6 pack of cola…
    I think it was an Esso olympic promotion or something (has the rings on it)…

    If I take a photo of it can I be on HAD?

    1. Of course you’re not going to get temperature measurements. Yes, the cooler technically keeps your drinks colder than they otherwise would have been, but I’d predict the difference is tiny. Why do I say that? Because commercial coolers with a similar design don’t work worth a damn either.

  5. My hack proven 2 years. Kid sized backpack lined with towels and metalized Mylar, holds growler cold during Mosey Down Main Street. It is filled at the Lafayette Brewing Company with fresh cold beer. Accessory includes tethered capped plastic drinking vessel. No glass in hand, a Mosey requirement. See in action this Saturday.

  6. I’ve done something similar to this, however, what I did was purchase a car sunshade which was made of the bubble mylar stuff, and I then duct taped it together. Simple and effective, this project was more refined; kudos still!

  7. I have often used a piece of packaging foam or bubblewrap and an elastic band to keep a drinks bottle from the fridge cold whilst out riding. Even afer an hour of sitting in pannier bags in summer heat it’s still cold enough to make it refreshing.

  8. I thought it was a cute project, that is a start, like add a peltier cooler, a small solar panel, and a jell battery pack, and a handle, and have a portable solar powered cooler.

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