A portable camping fridge is an essential piece of gear for every camping trip. It will keep your drinks cool, your food fresh, and even make ice for your bevvies – if you choose the right model! But with so many types to choose from, which camping fridge should you choose?
What Is A Portable Camping Fridge?
Portable camping fridges are designed to take on adventures. That means they are compact, mobile and easy to power.
Rather than permanently installing the fridge into your caravan, car or boat, you can easily move the fridge wherever you need to keep your food and drinks cold. That makes a camping fridge the ideal piece of travel gear for boating, camping, fishing, 4WD adventures, caravanning, and much more.
Camping fridges must be connected to a power source, with the most common being a 12/24 volt source from your battery.
Which Type Of Portable Fridge?
To work out which type of fridge you need, you need to think about what you are using the fridge for. Will you be using it for long camping trips or short weekends away? Do you need a fridge and freezer at the same time, or can you get by with just a fridge or freezer?
There are two main types of portable camping fridge:
Dual zone/combi fridge – both the fridge and freezer can be run at the same time.
Single zone – only a fridge or freezer can be run at any one time.
Dual zone models, like the Dometic CFX3 75DZ, give you all the flexibility of independently temperature-controlled zones. Set one as a fridge and the other as a freezer, or both as fridges, or both as freezers. It’s your choice.
A combi model, like the Engel MT-V60FC, has only one temperature control with a divider to split the interior into two sections. Cold air flows from the main compartment into the second to keep the one as a freezer and the second as a fridge.
Which Size Fridge Should You Choose?
Portable camping fridges range from a super compact 14 litres up to 150 litres. So, which one should you choose? First, think about what you actually want to store in your fridge. There’s no need picking a fridge that is bigger than your needs, because you’ll wind up wasting power on cooling empty space. But too small, and you’ll find yourself with some warm beers you can’t fit inside.
Consider how you will use your fridge on your trips. Do you just want to keep a few beers icy cold on a day trip or are you feeding your whole family on a weekend away?
How Much Do You Want To Spend?
When it comes to portable fridges, prices vary massively depending on the model, features and brand you choose. Set your top budget before you start shopping. Camping fridges vary in price up to almost $2000 for a massive portable fridge with all the added extras.
Compare this: For a little under $2,000, you can buy the Dometic CFX395DZ which will give you a 94 litre dual zone portable fridge/freezer plus a 5 year warranty, smartphone app, WiFi connectivity, USB charging outlet for mobile phones and tablets, and more.
If your budget is closer to $1,000, you can snag yourself the Evakool Glacier which is a basic 80 litre dual zone fridge freezer. You get an ultra-modern and easy to use digital controls, eco and max compressor speeds, easy to clean walls, removable baskets and internal LEDs. The warranty is 2 years, which is where much of the price difference comes in.
Pro Tip: Look out for sales – you’ll be surprised what you can get for your money!
What Features Are You After?
Do you want all the bells and whistles, or are you happy with a standard fridge that keeps things cool? Some fridges feature Bluetooth connectivity, which is great if you want to control the fridge settings. But that might be more technology than you need.
Feature to look out for include:
Removable baskets, compartments and dividers
Handles and latches
Digital controls and WiFi connectivity
Self-diagnostic fault system
USB port and charger
Bonus or optional accessories such as a fridge cover
Which Brand Of Portable Camping Fridge?
There are heaps of trusted, well-renowned brands that produce high quality portable camping fridges that will tick all your boxes. Your biggest issue will be deciding which model is best for your next adventures.
For example, Dometic is renowned for its innovative technology and being well ahead of the game. The old Dometic CFX95DZ model was the most popular camping fridge on the market, and the newer CFX395DZ sets the bar even higher!
But then there’s Engel. The sheer durability of their portable fridges means they ae the fridge of choice for farmers and campers alike.
Our recommended brands and ranges out there include:
What makes these camping fridge ranges the best? Simple – they are manufactured to a quality and built to last in harsh Australian conditions.
What’s more, these camping fridges come with extended warranties and after-market support, so you know that even if they fail, you’re covered.
What Are Some Pros & Cons Between Brands In The Range?
Price: Some of the brands are priced much higher than others. The Dometic CFX range and Engel MT-V range go up to around $2000 for a 75 litre fridge freezer, while you can get an Evakool Glacier 80 Litre model for under $1,000.
Features: Depending on the brand, you’ll benefit from lots of features above and beyond the standard fridge. For example, Evakool camping fridges offer an assortment of compartments to cover all variances and requirements, including single, dual and tri-zone units. Plus, most portable Evakool fridge/freezers are fitted with removable baskets. If it’s superior design you’re after, Dometic’s CFX3 features durable and lightweight fender frames to protect the fridge/freezer, making it ideal for use in harsh Australian environments. Plus you can adjust the cooling temperature of your fridge on the display screen or download the CFX3 app and control it remotely.
Warranty: Dometic offers a 5 year warranty while most other brands offer 2-3 years. Every Evakool camping fridge comes with a minimum of a 2 year warranty up to a 5 year warranty, with nationwide support and backup. Look for the national service agent support and spare parts networks that are offered by the premium brands.
Compressor technology: The efficiency of the compressor technology will lift a camping fridge from “just alright” to “absolutely amazing”. Be sure to check out Dometic’s market leading VMSO3 variable-speed compressor cooling technology is featured in the CFX3 fridge range, which ensures superior cooling, freezing and energy efficiency.
Power consumption: The power consumptions varies greatly depending on the size, so make sure you are comparing like for like.
Pro Tip: Look out for bonus items that add additional value to the fridge, such as a fridge cover
Ready to compare camping fridges? Shop trusted brands in our online store.
DISCLAIMER* Please note, this advice is general in nature and we strongly recommend consulting the product manual and where relevant, a professional installer.