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You don’t have many options for keeping food cold when setting out on a road trip or heading down to the lake for the day.
Most people use traditional coolers with ice packs. But a camping freezer may be the best solution for adventurers looking for better performance.
Let’s look at tips for using these portable fridges and seven of the best options for your 2023 trips!
What Is a Camping Freezer?
Like a cooler, a camping freezer is a portable, self-contained storage chest. However, unlike a traditional cooler, these refrigerator/freezer units don’t use ice packs to keep them cool.
Camping freezers use thermoelectric and compression refrigeration, making them a huge upgrade from a standard cooler.
These technologies help keep food cold for days instead of just hours. A cooler will work if you’re tailgating for a few hours. But if you want to go tent camping for an entire weekend, you may need a portable camping refrigerator/freezer instead.
A thermoelectric refrigeration camping freezer has a heat pump to move heat out of the insulated interior rather than using a refrigerant or compressor.
They’re lightweight and quiet because they don’t have a compressor. But the ambient temperature can affect the cooling. If it’s 90 degrees outside, this kind of camping freezer will only cool to about 60 degrees.
The other option, a camping freezer that uses compression refrigeration, is the type of cooling you see in homes. This freezer uses a refrigerant and compressor, which means it maintains a cool temperature no matter the ambient temperature outside.
However, they’re heavier, more expensive, and noisier than their thermoelectric refrigeration counterparts.
Tips for Using a Camping Freezer
If you’ve decided that a camping freezer is what you need for your weekend adventures, here are a few tips to keep your food cool and manage electricity.
First, switch food from the freezer into the refrigerator the night before to thaw your food. Second, keep your camping freezer away from the sun.
Third, let hot food cool before you put it in the freezer, so the refrigerator doesn’t have to work so hard to cool it.
Finally, be smart when packing the items. Put the food you’ll need first on top, so you don’t have to keep the lid open very long to find what you need. These tips will help keep food at a safe temperature.
The biggest con to using a camping freezer is the need for a power source. You don’t want to waste power, so getting a thick power cable is important. This ensures minimal electrical resistance and maximum voltage supply.
Additionally, avoid using your car battery because the camping freezer will quickly drain it. You also want to maximize your power usage, so set the temperature to the coldest degree when driving. When you arrive, lower it as needed.
Furthermore, pack cans instead of bottles as canned drinks cool faster. And always carry spare fuses, so you don’t end up with a non-functioning camping freezer for the weekend.
And finally, keep your refrigerator as full as possible because an empty fridge is less power-efficient.
Things to Consider When Buying a Camping Freezer
As you look for a camping freezer to make your adventures more enjoyable, you don’t want to grab any unit off the shelf.
Read reviews from people using it similarly to how you will. Then pay attention to these important factors.
The length of your trip and the number of people traveling with you will affect how large of a camping freezer you need to purchase.
If you go on a long road trip, you’ll want to invest in the largest size possible. If you plan weekend trips, that large size won’t be necessary.
The same is true for the size of your group. If you travel with one other person for a weekend camping trip, you won’t need the large size that a family of five might purchase. Consider how long you’ll be gone and how much food you’ll pack.
As mentioned earlier, this is the biggest con to using a camping freezer. Ideally, you want a unit that offers various energy sources. These can be hard to find or very expensive.
Many options run on AC or DC power, so you’ll need to know how to supply that power.
You may find some solar and battery-powered camping freezer units but not many.
You can use the outlets in your RV or car sparingly, but remember, a camping freezer will quickly drain the battery. Using them as your primary power source may leave you with a car that won’t start.
So if you can find a portable refrigerator with multiple power options, that’s the best choice.
The insulation of a camping freezer is of utmost importance. It keeps your food and drinks cold; better insulation means less energy consumption.
However, you don’t want so much insulation that you have little interior space for storage.
So weigh the pros and cons of each freezer to determine which storage capacity combined with adequate insulation will work for you.
As mentioned above, not all camping freezers use compression technology. But if you want one that maintains the temperature, you’ll probably want a compressor fridge.
Read reviews from others who mention how noisy it is or how heavy the unit is as a result of the compressor.
Finally, portable refrigerators have all kinds of various controls with modern technology.
Some offer standard switches to turn on the unit and dials to adjust the temperature, while others have panels that connect to Wi-Fi and Bluetooth.
Less expensive camping freezers will have onboard controls for a simpler set-up. But if you need a wireless operation, you can also find options with apps.
7 Best Camping Freezers for Your 2023 Road Trip
Below are seven of the best camping freezers. Factor in the length of your trip while shopping.
Also, consider the group size and various features mentioned above to choose the best camping freezer for your travel needs.
1. ICECO JP30 Portable Fridge/Freezer
This ICECO portable fridge, rated 4.7/5 stars, is about $500 and runs on DC 12/24 Volts and AC 110/240 Volts. With a storage capacity of 31 liters, it’s a good option for a weekend excursion.
It measures 13.8 inches deep, 23 inches wide, and 15 inches tall. It uses compression technology and weighs about 35 pounds. You can adjust the temperature from -7 to -50 degrees Fahrenheit and use the two modes for different performances.
The Eco mode slows the compressor running speed to save energy, while the Max mode maximizes the compressor running speed to reach the set temperature quickly.
One happy customer wrote, “Researched a lot of options and decided on this ICECO unit because of the compressor and balance between weight and capacity.
For the past year, we’ve been hauling a traditional 50-quart cooler with ice and freezer packs to our off-grid cabin in the desert but got tired of dealing with ice and floating food.
This Iceco cooler has the same or better capacity (no ice taking up space) but is still easy enough to wrestle into the truck.”
- ※ 【FREE PARTS】- Insulated Protective Cover & 12 Feet-Long Extend DC Power Cable.
- ※ 【HIGH QUALITY】- German SECOP Compressor; ETL Certificate; Global Product Insurance.
2. F40C4TMP 12V Refrigerator/Freezer
This camping freezer, rated 4.5/5 stars, is about half the price of the ICECO unit and runs on DC 12/24 Volts and AC 110/240 Volts. It has a storage capacity of 24 quarts, so it’s also a bit smaller.
This ICECO unit measures 9.8 inches deep, 10.6 inches wide, and 13.9 inches tall. It also uses compression technology, so it weighs about 26 pounds. This camping freezer cools to 32 degrees Fahrenheit within 20 minutes and has the Eco and Max modes like the ICECO unit.
One reviewer shared, “I purchased this item for a recent vacation with my children. The item was used at different times for a cooler and a freezer. I cannot complain at all about the functionality of this item. It worked better than I expected.
What really won me over was when it was used as a freezer. The frozen custard we purchased while on our trip was still frozen when we arrived home three days later.”
- 【Fast Cooling With Compressor】2 in 1-a car refrigerator and freezer.No ice needed, you can adjust the temperature in...
- 【Higher Lid, More Space】The lid of the F40C4TMP portable refrigerator for car is higher than the ordinary...
3. DOMETIC CFX3 Portable Refrigerator/Freezer
This camping freezer by Dometic earned 4.6/5 stars on Amazon. But it’s the most expensive unit on this list because it offers multiple power sources. It runs on AC/DC power but also has solar. The Dometic has a storage capacity of 45 liters and is a large portable refrigerator.
It measures 27.3 inches deep, 15.7 inches wide, and 18.7 inches tall. This compression camping freezer weighs 45 pounds. It also comes in smaller and larger sizes if needed.
One reviewer explained, “I plugged in the fridge with my Jackery to try it out right out the box, and the fridge temp went from 78 degrees to 32 in about 30 minutes.
I’m impressed. The CFX is built like a tank and came packed super well. I love it already.”
Keep in Mind: How Many of These Camping Food Favorites Have You Tried? Click the link to see which ones you still need to try!
- NO ICE NEEDED: Refrigerate or Deep Freeze down to –7 °F using powerful VMSO3 compressor cooling technology
- RUGGED CONSTRUCTION: Heavy-duty, lightweight ExoFrame construction and aluminum alloy handles will stand up to any...
4. Alpicool K18 Portable Car Fridge/Freezer
This Alpicool K18 camping freezer, rated 4.4/5 stars, is a more budget-friendly model. It runs on DC 12/24 Volts and AC 110/240 Volts like the others. It only has 19 quarts of storage capacity, although you can get a 26-quart option.
The Alpicool measures 11.4 inches deep, 13.2 inches wide, and 23 inches tall. It also uses compression technology and weighs about 26 pounds.
This camping freezer features a low, medium, and high setting to protect your vehicle battery from draining. It goes from about 68 to 32 degrees Fahrenheit in about 15 minutes.
One weekend camper wrote, “I went on a weekend camping trip here in the Northeastern US. It held everything that I needed for three nights with two people…I didn’t have any issues with running the fridge while driving to the camping location, which was 2 hours away.”
- FREEZES WITHOUT ICE: -4°F(-20°C) deep chilling down performance ,can be a frigde and freezer. Run great with your...
- STORAGE SPACE: Exterior Size- 23"x 13.2"x 11.4". 19 Quart(18 Liter) capacity.
5. BougeRV 12V Car Refrigerator/Freezer
This BougeRV camping freezer, rated 4.6/5 stars, is another budget-friendly option and comes in different colors and sizes. It runs on DC 12/24 Volts and AC 110/240 Volts.
The BougeRV has a storage capacity of 23 quarts and measures 912.2 inches deep, 12.6 inches wide, and 22.2 inches tall. It compares in size to the Alipcool portable fridge.
Since it also uses compression technology, it weighs about 27 pounds. Like previous models, this camping freezer has both the Eco and Max modes for optimal performance. It cools from about 77 to 32 degrees in about 15 minutes.
A reviewer with a 30-foot sailboat shared, “Good power consumption, good cooling performance, no noise.
You can make it work as a combo cooler freezer, lightweight and portable, relatively low center of gravity for a solid tie-down (sailors will appreciate this). And physical properties like the door opening and control accessibility are excellent.”
- 【Warranty for Your Rights】The CR22 12V refrigerator comes with a 2-year warranty. If you have any questions about...
- 【Fast Cooling Down to 32℉】With Compressor refrigeration technology, this 12v car refrigerator could achieve 20 min...
6. EUHOMY 12V Car Refrigerator/Freezer
This camping freezer, rated 4.7/5 stars, is one of the best sellers on Amazon. Like the others, it runs on DC 12/24 Volts and AC 110/240 Volts. It can store 48 quarts, but you can also get smaller and larger options.
Measuring 13.6 inches deep, 27.2 inches wide, and 18.2 inches tall, it can hold 46 cans, 28 bottles of water, or 15 bottles of wine. Since it also uses compression technology, it weighs about 33 pounds.
Like the Alpicool portable refrigerator, this EUHOMY camping freezer features a low, medium, and high setting to protect your vehicle battery from draining.
A truck driver wrote, “Freezer and fridge is great! I’m a truck driver and needed something good and reliable! I was curious, though about how low I can set the freezer without freezing my fridge items.
To my surprise, I set the freezer to zero degrees Fahrenheit, and it froze everything solid on the freezer side but on the fridge side, just cold…I highly recommend it!”
Keep in Mind: Which RV Fridge Is the Best? Let’s dive in!
- 【BLUETOOTH CONNECTION & LCD PANEL】Our car refrigerator support Bluetooth connection.Built-in Bluetooth module,you...
- 【HIGH EFFICIENCY&LOW ENERGY CONSUMPTION】Euhomy 12 volt car refrigerators use advanced compressors and are equipped...
7. AstroAI 12V Car Refrigerator/Freezer
This camping freezer got 4.6/5 stars on Amazon. This AstroAl portable freezer is about $270 and runs on DC 12/24 Volts and AC 110/240 Volts.
It stores 23 quarts, so it’s another smaller option. The AstroAI measures 9.6 inches deep, 12.8 inches wide, and 10 inches tall, which is ideal for travelers with small storage space.
It uses compression technology like the others and weighs about 26 pounds. Finally, this camping freezer has both the Eco mode and Max mode plus the low, medium, and high settings to protect your vehicle battery.
One happy traveler shared, “We returned from our 10-day overland car camping trip; here are my results…It performed flawlessly.
We used a combination of power sources, our Jackery 1000 power station, cigarette lighter, and AC power during our trip…This AstroAI fridge freezer performed excellent, even while being subjected to off-road travel, and the countless times it was transferred in and out of the vehicle.”
- LARGE CAPACITY: Our 12 volt refrigerator, with its large 22L capacity with ice cube tray, works as a fridge or freezer...
- FAST COOLING: With its powerful compressor, the 12v refrigerator can cool to 32°F at most in 15 minutes when empty; it...
Enjoy Tailgating, Camping, or Adventuring With a Camping Freezer
No matter your reasons for needing a camping freezer, you can find some great options in various sizes.
Whether you want to pay the big bucks for a top-of-the-line Dometic or a budget-friendly option for your day-long tailgating experiences, you’ll find a camping freezer to suit your adventuring needs.
But remember to read the manual, check the warranties, and use the correct battery and power options for the best performance.
Do you own a camping freezer? How has your unit performed?
Last update on 2024-02-20 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API