While camping trips are something that everyone looks forward to, one of the less glamorous sides that often gets forgotten is how to keep your food fresh for as long as possible.
You might find that you have to limit yourself to day trips, or shorter camping trips overall because sooner or later, that cool box is going to become less useful in keeping your food fresh, and your drinks cool. And let's face it, no one likes soggy sandwiches on the menu.
Why not avoid having a soggy sandwich on the menu completely by investing in a camping fridge? You might think you won't get a lot of use out of it, but with the variety of camping fridges out there, we're confident you'll find one that fits your needs and budget!
We've reviewed 5 camping fridges below as well as giving you all the know-how so that you can improve your camping experience and find the best camping fridge for you! A couple of good old-fashioned coolboxes also rated highly enough in our research to be worth an honourable mention, so they've been included for comparison purposes.
The different types of camping fridge/freezer
- A thermoelectric cooler is typically the most affordable range of camping fridges
- It is also one of the most compact types of camping fridges
- Designed to be used more as a cool box but you still have the option to keep food warm
- It consumes quite a bit of power though, so not ideal for longer camping trips and more suited for day trips or a very short camping trip
- A thermoelectric system uses a heating conductor and as a current passes through the conductor, it produces cool air which is what keeps your cool box cold.
- A compressor fridge is definitely the most expensive sort, but you also get some amazing features at its price point
- Its cooling power allows it to cool food well below freezing temperature, even if the ambient temperature is higher
- Most models have precise temperature adjustment controls, and depending on the individual camping fridge, they may even have dual temperature controls, meaning you can turn the fridge space into fridge freezer compartments
- Compressor fridges are the best choice for long trips, especially if you're planning on staying somewhere off-grid for a little while.
- They are often made of material that is built to withstand harsh weather and climates so are perfect for long trips.
- An absorption fridge will cost more than a thermoelectric cooler but less than a compressor fridge
- It uses 12v DC, 110v AC as well as propane gas, which is what it runs most efficiently on. It's not great running on 12v DC and it'll drain your car battery in no time, so it's best to treat this as a gas fridge.
- It generally doesn't have any temperature adjustment settings and doesn't keep food cool very well once temperatures start crossing 25 degrees
- If you are using absorption coolers on propane, you do need to make sure that it's kept as level as possible so that it works properly, as well as making sure it is well vented so that there isn't any build-up of carbon monoxide.
- Absorption coolers are probably best used when camping in a traditional sense, with a camper van where you aren't planning on moving around too much and the camping fridge can stay put in one place if running it on propane.
3 Types of Camping Fridge Comparison Table
Best Camping Fridge Comparison Table
|Grill||Best For||Type||Capacity (liters)||Weight (lbs)||Product link|
|Dometic CFX28 12v Electric Powered Cooler||Best Overall||Compressor||28.31||28.88||Check price|
|ARB Zero Portable Fridge Freezer||Camping, Outdoor & Fishing||Compressor||69.09||62.9||Check price|
|Setpower AJ50 Portable Freezer Fridge||Truck, Van & RV Road Trip||Compressor||50||37.7||Check price|
|Alpicool Portable Refrigerator||Driving||Compressor||18||26.2||Check price|
|Igloo BMX Cooler||Beach and Camping||Coolbox||49||16.33||Check price|
|Coleman Xtreme 5 Cooler||Long Trip||Coolbox||70||12.3||Check price|
|ICECO GO20 Dual Zone Portable Refrigerator||Outdoor, Home Use & Driving||Compressor||20||23.8||Check price|
The Best Camping Fridges
1. Dometic CFX28 12v Electric Powered Cooler - Best Overall
The Dometic CFX28 is definitely one of the best compressor fridges on the market and is our top recommendation as well.
With minimum power consumption, its impressive cooling power allows the Dometic to deep freeze down to -22 degrees celsius while still being able to use refrigeration functions.
The compressor cooling technology isn't the only powerful thing about this Dometic camping fridge. It's fitted with high-quality steel hinges and reinforced corners, so no matter how much it is jostled or bumped about on your camping adventures, you can be sure that your cool box is safe and working.
2. ARB Zero Portable Fridge Freezer - Runner Up
Coming in at close second is the ARB Zero portable fridge freezer. This is definitely one of the best options for those who are long term travellers and need a sturdy portable fridge that's in it for the long haul.
Its flexible design means that you can adjust the compartments according to your needs, and the temperatures for each individual zones of the fridge can be controlled independently and can be set to fridge, freeze or off.
It takes technology to the next level with its wireless control functions that are compatible with your devices via Bluetooth and even has a 3000mA USB outlet for charging your devices.
The Setpower AJ50 is another great option especially if you're looking for something a bit on the more compact side.
It has a good cooling system allowing the temperature of the camping fridge to be adjusted from 0 degrees f to 50 degrees and the high-speed cooling fan will make sure the compressor stays cool as well.
And even after turning off the cooler, the thickest part of its insulation layer reaches 3.1 inches meaning your food will stay cool for a good while.
The Alpicool portable refrigerator is a great affordable option with an 18-litre capacity so you can still fit a good amount of items in there.
With its high-density foam insulation, it'll keep your food fresh and the cooling temperatures will remain constant throughout your journey.
It also offers 3-way protection for your car battery to ensure it doesn't run down with levels of high, medium and low making it a great portable camping fridge.
As the name suggests, the Igloo BMX cooler is an especially great camping fridge if you need to keep your food and drinks cool for an extended period of time or if you're camping/travelling in harsh weather.
Unlike traditional camping products, this heavy-duty freezer allows for ice retention for over 5 days and the UV inhibitors protect the cool box against damage from the sun which extends the life of the freezer as well as helping with the cooling performance.
Maintaining the cooling performance, the Igloo BMX also boasts Cool Riser technology in the base material which ensures that the inside, where all the cooling is happening is kept away from hot surfaces, so even if you do happen to place the cooler on an especially hot exterior, the temperature inside will remain the same and its performance won't be affected.
The Coleman Xtreme 5 Cooler is a great multi-purpose cool box with its integrated cup holders and capacity to hold up to 250 pounds, so it can always act as an extra seat if you're out and about with your family.
The capacity of being able to hold up to 100 cans also makes it a great camping fridge for larger parties and the comfort-grip handles means that it's easy and safe for everyone to handle.
The ICECO GO20 refrigerator is a great dual camping fridge that can be used as a fridge freezer at the same time. Its easy controls mean you can monitor and adjust the temperature, energy-efficient mode and more with just the click of a button straight from your phone!
Unlike some other fridges, this includes 2 power cables suitable for both DC and AC power, allowing it to be used both at an outdoor location and in the car.
Size and capacity
One of the most important factors when choosing your camping fridge is considering how much space you want inside your cooler and also whether or not it is suitable to carry around in your car.
Depending on your needs, you may find that you only need a camping fridge for a weekend away or short day trips with the kids. In which case, a smaller sized cooler will get you by just fine.
However, if you're looking to travel for longer periods of time, maybe even weeks and months at a time, then it makes sense to invest in a camping fridge that accommodates those needs.
You can find capacity options starting from 45 litres and going all the way up to 100 litres, so do consider how much space you have and how much space you need, depending on who you're travelling with and for how long.
Design is another factor to consider and while capacity is definitely worth considering, so are the external dimensions of your potential camping fridge. The external size and design of it can determine whether or not it's suitable for your vehicle and if it's easy to carry around or not.
A lot of the top portable camping fridges will have non-slip handles and some even cater to your camping fridge to be used as an extra seat, so if that's an added feature you would enjoy, it's definitely worth looking for.
How portable a camping fridge is will definitely inform your decision. As mentioned before, a lot of the top fridges already ergonomic in shape which makes it easier to move your camping fridge from one spot to another.
The dual fridge freezer options that are suited to be used both at home and on the go are also often designed so that you can shift it from your home to the car quickly and efficiently, and then unload it again once you've reached your destination.
However, do keep in mind that how lightweight a camping product is shouldn't compromise on quality or sturdiness. Look out for stainless steel hinges, reinforced corners and aluminium housing. Such features can easily indicate the quality of the product.
Whether you're buying a camping fridge for just a day at the beach, or perhaps for more off-grid adventures, it's a given that in all circumstances, the less power that your camping fridge drains, the better.
Many of the best portable camping fridges offer 3-way car battery protection which is a great system that ensures that you won't be stranded in the middle of anywhere with a dead battery. These can often be monitored through digital displays so you can keep an eye on things.
The best camping fridges often work on 12v car batteries, as it ensures low power drainage and with the built-in battery protection, you shouldn't have any troubles when you're on the road.
The durability of your camping fridge is definitely something to consider especially if you're planning on camping in the wilderness or for long periods of time. The last thing you'd want is your cool box dying on you while you're out and about!
The best camping fridge that is tailored for long trips often offers ice retention for up to 5 days or more and extra-thick insulation with deep freezing that can withstand the ambient temperature.
Some are also especially resistant against UV damage, and whilst it's generally not a good idea to keep your cooler in direct sunlight or in the sun for too long, that extra protection if you're going to be out for long, is a good defence measure to increase the life and durability of your camping fridge.
Again, depending on your needs for your camping fridge, you may want to factor in the temperatures at which your camping cooler can operate at.
If you need both fridge and freezer compartments, it may be a good idea to invest in a dual fridge freezer so that you can adjust the temperatures for both compartments individually.
This is usually a good idea because you can adjust the temperatures right away as the weather changes without worrying about your drinks becoming warm or your food not staying fresh.
What is the best fridge for camping?
Our best camping fridge recommendation has to be the Dometic CFX28 12V Electric Powered Cooler. It's not the most expensive camping fridge on the market which saves you some money, but it doesn't compromise on features and functionality either.
With minimal power consumption, it has excellent cooling performance, being able to deep freeze down to -22 degrees celsius, and yet, you can choose to use one, or both compartments as a fridge if you want!
The temperature can be monitored through the digital display and its memory functions allow for you to preset temperatures and maintain them even when the cooler is turned off, so you don't have to worry about setting your desired temperature each time you turn it on.
We simply cannot say enough good things about this camping fridge which is why the Dometic CFX28 has to be our best choice.
How does a camper fridge work?
A camper fridge is typically an absorption fridge and although it can run on electricity, it is best used as a gas fridge with propane.
Because it is best used with propane, these types of fridges are probably best used in things like RVs or campers because they need to be kept as level as possible to keep it working properly and also to avoid the buildup of carbon monoxide.
So campsites, where there is plenty of level ground, are great places to use an absorption fridge where it won't be constantly moved about.
Can you use a normal fridge for camping?
If you happened to be using campers for your trip, then it would be possible to use a normal fridge. However, normal household fridges are usually bulky and not designed to be shifted around.
You will be better off using a camping fridge for the road as it is both more space-friendly than a normal fridge as well as more energy-efficient and easy to carry around.
How much do camping fridges cost?
The cost can depend widely on the type that you purchase.
A thermoelectric cooler is typically the most affordable of the bunch, followed by absorption fridges being mid-range in cost, and a compressor fridge is typically the most expensive as they often have dual fridge freezer functions.
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