Flexible thermal insulating material for portable food storage?

May 7, 2007
Canadian Prairies
I want to make my own flexible food storage bags for a road trip. While the square hard shell type are dandy and handy, they infringe on prime space when you're packing your vehicle tight and light, and as the food is depleted it still occupies the same space.
I normally precook meat, grains and legumes, freeze and pack into single serve sizes, enough for the first 4 days at which time the last serving is almost thawed (I fare better if I can snag a motel room in-between with a fridge.
I want to try using a flexible insulating material to layer and fit into more convenient and efficient shapes, sort of like the insulating bags you get at the grocery check out stand. I was thinking a tubular shape, and packing the meals in order of consumption, and then keep rolling the empty portion back over itself.
Materials that come to mind are:
  1. synthetic quilt batting
  2. foil on bubble like the water heater insulation
  3. Down (as in salvaged from old parkas)
Does anyone have technical experience in insulating materials, with any suggestions?
May 5, 2005
SW Virginia
I can't recommend a specific material, but I can provide some general guidelines. You want the lightest material you can get that has sufficient structural rigidity. The best insulator available, besides a vacuum, is dead air. The working principle of most thermal insulation materials is to trap dead air. Down is very good at that as long as it has sufficient "loft". Once it gets compressed or wet it is useless as a thermal insulator. Bubble wrap, if it can be kept intact, would be quite good. I'm not familiar with synthetic quilt, but I guess it's something like the polyester insulation that is occasionally used in outerwear. It might work o.k.

Hopefully someone here has some experience and can give you specific recommendations.
May 9, 2008
houston tx
Most of the flexible coolers will use a closed-cell polyethylene foam, and if combined with a very thin aluminum layer (light-blocker) they can be pretty good. But those aren't found in DIY supplies. Next step up from the closed-cell package foam would be bubble wrap, but not as efficient per inch thickness due to larger bubble sizes.

The one problem with ESD packaging is that you pay for the ESD certification which don't mean nothin to what you want to do. Googling for polyethylene foam rolls can get you more than you want. Recommend white 'cause black absorbs heat faster.

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