What We Like
Can replace 18 pounds of ice
Comes in a pack of three
Each lasts up to 22 hours (based on our testing)
Minimal amount of sweating
What We Don't Like
Some assembly required
Takes up a lot of freezer space
Shrink when they thaw out
GenTap’s Cooler Shock Dry Packs are designed to eliminate the need for ice. The three-pack can replace 18 pounds of ice and once the gel packs reach 18 degrees, they change from a solid to a liquid, rendering them colder than ice. GenTap claims that their Cooler Shock packs remain cold for 24 to 48 hours, but we had to try them for ourselves and see. Keep reading for our assessment of the ice packs’ setup process, size, design, freeze time, and performance.
Setup Process: Easy despite one hiccup
The Cooler Shock Dry Packs come empty, so you have to fill them with water yourself. Because there’s a little set-up involved, the ice packs can be messier than those that come pre-filled—especially if you’re a first-time user like us. Each pack has one screw cap in the top left corner, so you have to pop that off and then fill the bag with water using the included funnel. Once the water is in, the instructions say to gently squeeze the pack and keep the opening straight so you can see the water rising to the top. Well, in doing so, we accidentally squeezed out some of the powder formula that would transform into gel. Luckily, the formula is non-toxic, so we scooped it up and funneled it back into the pack.
The ice packs were so cold that they hurt our bare hands.
Aside from that little snafu, the Cooler Shock Dry Packs were easy to fill. We have the large size (10 x 14 inches) which require 7 cups of water per pack. You can use a measuring cup to add the appropriate amount of water. Standing over a sink, slowly pour the water into the spout using the collapsible funnel provided, then carefully squeeze the pack so the water rises to the top. To seal the bag, gently push in the included silicone cork until it’s flush. Here’s a helpful tip: Wetting the cork makes it easier to insert, but once the cork is is installed, it can’t be removed—so make sure you’ve filled them adequately. Once filled, the pack will turn to gel in about 20 minutes.
Size: Ideal for large coolers
The Cooler Shock packs are available in three sizes: large (10 x 14 inches), medium (10 x 10 inches), and lunch bag (7 x 7 inches). We ordered the large ones, which come in a pack of three. When the bags arrived, they were entirely flat, foldable, and easy to store. Once they were filled up with water, however, they expanded about 2 inches and took up a good chunk of space in the freezer.
The large packs are definitely intended for high-capacity coolers (16 quarts and up). You can refer to the chart on the packaging to determine how many ice packs you’ll need based on the size of your cooler. Since we’re only a two-person household, all of the coolers we own are relatively small. Using the biggest cooler we have (14 x 10 x 13 inches), we attempted to put an ice pack on the bottom but it was too big. Instead, we had to turn the ice pack on its side to fit it in.
Design: Proven to outperform ice
Cooler Shock Dry Packs have some high-tech features that lend them long-lasting power. The three-layer bags are designed to absorb and transfer energy and due to the bag’s large surface area, it can distribute an incredible amount of cooling power. At 18 degrees, the gel material in these packs gradually changes from a solid to a liquid, making them colder and more effective than ice. Each 4-pound pack is intended to replace 6 pounds of ice.
Performance: Stayed cold for hours
Cooler Shock Dry Packs need to be kept in the freezer for 24 to 48 hours to achieve their full effectiveness. We’re used to throwing our ice packs in the freezer for 12 or so hours overnight, so we were a little surprised by the long freeze time. As the instructions advised, we separated the packs before freezing them. Apparently, stacked packs take even longer to freeze due to the reduced surface area. We left two packs in the freezer for about 36 hours and when we removed them, we wore a pair of rubber dishwashing gloves as the ice packs were so cold that they hurt our bare hands. The instructions also warn that the sides of the pack can become sharp when frozen, so we weren’t messing around.
We put one ice pack in a large cooler along with two beers, a bottle of tonic water, a can of seltzer, and a bag of frozen fruit. As recommended, we placed all of our items in direct contact with the pack. We left the cooler outside around 3 p.m. and checked in on it about three hours later. It was a fairly warm and sunny day—about 72 degrees—and the bag of fruit was still frozen solid and all of the beverages were cold.
Although the pack didn’t last a full day, it kept its chill for a solid 22 hours which was far longer than any other ice pack we’d used prior.
Around 9 p.m., we went outside to check on the cooler again before we settled in for the night. The bag of fruit had almost thawed out, but it was incredibly cold with chunks of ice still in it. Surprisingly, the bottle of tonic was much warmer than it had been a few hours ago. But then we noticed the bottles had shifted around a bit and the tonic water was no longer touching the ice pack, so we rearranged the bag and left it overnight.
The next morning, we checked on the cooler around 7 a.m.—16 hours after we’d initially left it outside. At this point, the Cooler Shock pack had fully thawed, but it was still ice cold as were all of the beverages. We noticed the pack had shrunk and the gel had shifted to the bottom, leaving a lot less surface area for our items to touch. So again, we rearranged our items so they were all touching the pack.
Around 2 p.m.— 23 hours after we’d started our test—we went outside to retrieve all of our items. The thawed gel in the ice pack was somewhat cool, but it had lost its effectiveness and our beverages were starting to get warm and sweaty. Although the pack didn’t last a full day, it kept its chill for a solid 22 hours which was far longer than any other ice pack we’d used prior. While we expected it to last longer, we were still very impressed with its overall performance. In order to boost their effectiveness in the future, we would leave the Cooler Shock packs in the freezer for 48 hours before using them. We might also add a second ice pack to our cooler.
Retailing for roughly $23, the Cooler Shock Dry Packs offer superior performance for a reasonable price. Plus, they come in a pack of three, giving you plenty of bang for your buck.
Competition: Plenty of products to suit your needs
YETI ICE: GenTap’s Cooler Shock Dry Packs are hard to beat when it comes to how long they stay frozen. If you’re looking for something a little more rugged, though, YETI offers a great alternative. The outdoor brand’s ICE blocks—which are available in 1-, 2-, and 4-pound options—are made from tough, drop-resistant plastic. While they only stay frozen for seven or so hours, they take very little time refreeze and they don’t sweat at all (like not even a little bit). Given the brand’s high-quality construction, they are a little more expensive and range from $15 to $30 depending on the size you choose.
Thrive Reusable Ice Packs: If you’re looking for a small ice pack that can fit in a lunch box or bag, Thrive’s option is well reviewed. The company sells their 6.7 x 4.3-inch packs in sets of four (for $15) and each features a fun, kid-friendly pattern like chevron, pineapples, or dinosaurs. The ice packs are made of BPA-free vinyl and filled with non-toxic gel, so you don’t have to worry about little ones breaking them open at school, either.
- Product Name Cooler Shock Dry Packs
- Product Brand GenTap
- MPN 7CSLSET
- Price $22.95
- Weight 1.4 lbs.
- Product Dimensions 10 x 14 x 1.5 in.
- Warranty 1 year
- What’s Included Three large packs, one collapsible funnel, three silicone corks