How To Make Your Own Ammo Can Bike Cooler

Refreshment can be an important part of cycling and recreation, and reader John wanted a way to keep his beverage of choice cold.  He did a great job of transforming an Ammo Can into a cooler and he documents the process below.  Putting the entry together made me thirsty . . .

The Ammo Can Bike Cooler

I needed a cooler I could bring on my bike when shopping, but more importantly for kickball, softball, and other drinking league sports, since I found no commercial options I built my own. I decided to use an ammo can because I saw so many saddlebag conversions done by motorcyclists. I chose a fat .50 cal ammo can because it is slightly larger than the typical .50 cal cans most people are familiar with while still being small enough for bicycle use.

red and white Ammo Can Bike Cooler

For Just Under $30

I was able to pick one up from the surplus store for just under $30 in pretty good shape. First thing I did was sand the entire box and made sure to remove any rust I encountered. Once everything was sanded and looked rust free I started painting. I bought self-priming spray paint, but to be on the safe side I still bought primer. I decided to go with the familiar cooler colors of white over red. I even did a final clear coat layer to hopefully keep the can looking good for a while. This part took 4 days to do because of the extended dry times.

Ammo Can Bike Cooler opened

Proven Hardware

After painting came the hardware mounting, I chose to use hardware from Velo Transit. Since the cooler was going to be carrying the weight of ice, beer, and the can itself, I thought it was better to go with proven hardware vs. whatever I could think up at home. I chose to mount the hardware lower on the cooler body so it would be invisible when viewed from the opposite side. Once the hardware was on, it was time to glue the insulation into the cooler. I choose super tuff rigid .5 inch insulation foam.

Ammo Can Bike Cooler with 3 cans

The Cooler Foam

The foam I used claims to have an R3.3 rating which I don’t really know what it means, but it was the best I could find for .5inch foam. I had to carve out holes for the nuts and washers of the mounting hardware. I just cut pieces for each side and the bottom and glued it in with construction adhesive. To protect the foam, I bought lexan to use as a liner for the cooler.

I just scored and broke it with a utility knife, which actually worked very well. After gluing down the lexan with the adhesive, I covered every seam with silicon caulk to prevent water leaking into the foam. I ended up with an interior space that is 10.5 inches long, 5.5 inches wide, and 8 inches deep, it can hold 9 regular sized cans with ice and a 6 pack of the larger 16oz cans with ice.

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How To Make Your Own Ammo Can Bike Cooler — Bike Hacks