If you love camping and often plan a trip with friends, family, and loved ones, a fridge explicitly designed for the purpose is necessary. It ensures that your food remains cold and fresh during your stay.
A coolbox is an excellent choice to keep your food cold for a couple of days, but opting for a fridge is a better choice if you have a more extended trip planned. However, the most important things remain to choose the product that fits your requirements.
What Makes a Good Camping Fridge?
Camping fridges, unlike ordinary appliances, are designed mainly to fit the requirements of the camper. So, their functionality differs from the regular daily use of refrigerators. There are numerous things that you need to check inside your fridge.
Some of the factors that you need to check include:
Although all of these factors need to be considered in great detail before selecting a product and making a purchase, there is one thing that you always need to remember that the best product for you can vary. One person might want to have a camping refrigerator for carrying beverages, while others might want to store food items in it. Thus, the storage capacity of the users would vary. So you must be aware of your preferences.
Furthermore, regardless of the chosen product, it should not be too big, making it difficult to carry. The ideal camping fridge needs to be easily manageable during the trip, and it should have a compact design to an extent. It would make it easy to carry and stress-free to fit in your tent if you plan a night out.
Regardless of the type you choose, it’s important to remember that a camping fridge’s operation depends significantly on the insulation. If the box that you choose cannot hold the temperature, it would have to work extremely hard, which would mean that more ice blocks in manual boxes have more power in electric-powered boxes.
4 Types of Camping Fridges
Camping fridges are created in various shapes and types to ensure that every person has something that fits their requirements. Usually, the four types of fridges are:
Passive cool boxes
Passive coolboxes are the traditionally styled boxes; they are insulated, and the camper would have to keep them cool by putting ice blocks or frozen beverage bottles. The most significant advantage of this type is that it does not require power. Thus it tends to be cheaper and a lot more portable.
However, there is a significant disadvantage: you would constantly need to keep it cool by putting in ice blocks if you have a more extended trip planned. If you intend to go camping for a few days and considering that you would already be short on ice blocks, this might not be the ideal choice.
Although, for shorter day trips, you can choose passive coolboxes, and they will work brilliantly. You can find various sizes ranging from a small shoulder bag with a 10-litre capacity to chest size and wheelable models that can carry even more items.
Thermoelectric or electric cool boxes
The Thermoelectric or electric coolboxes are also insulated boxes that also have an electric fan installed. The user can power it through the car or by an adaptor located at the campsite’s main power supply.
It depends on the external temperature as to how cold these Coolboxes can keep your items. The Coolbox won’t keep the food cold, unlike a home fridge (around five °C) if the external temperature is around 30°Cs.
There are two main disadvantages to this type of Coolbox. Firstly, if your car’s engine is off while the Coolbox is working, it can drain the car’s battery. Secondly, although they tend to be cheaper (than the following two models), specific models are poorly insulated and nosily.
Compressor coolboxes and camping fridges
The compressor coolbox is the most preferred choice for regular campers who like to plan long camping trips. It is one of the most popular choices, but it allows the user to adjust the items’ temperature, including the option of freezing them. If the weather is hot, then the fridge would have to run more, but it’s incredibly efficient, which means delivering what you expect.
The battery of your car can power the fridges, or it can also operate on mains. Furthermore, they have power-saving features, and specific models are also capable of running on solar power.
This type’s average power requirement and consumption are often lower than others because the compressor only operates when the temperature falls below or exceeds the adjusted levels. It is ideal for camping in hot climates, but they also tend to be heavier despite providing the user with more considerable size diversity.
Three-way fridges or Absorption coolers
If you are seeking something heavy-duty, then an absorption fridge is the ideal choice. It begins at nearly 30-liter capacity, and thus they are sometimes known as three-way fridges. The Absorption coolers operate at 12/230v electricity and additionally at gas. They have a quiet operation and are capable of cooling around 33°C below ambient.
The silent operation is one of its most significant benefits because you don’t want to disturb your sleep after a long camping day. Furthermore, your neighbours would thank you for having these because they are entirely noiseless.
The size of the product also suggests that they are ideal for families or longer trips. You will need to ensure if you are operating it on the gas inside a ventilated area. Some coolers operate at a canister, while others use a large gas bottle and a hose. It also won’t be able to work when tilted.
Our Top 6 UK Choices
Coleman 28 Quart Xtreme Cooler
Best Passive Cooler for Small Families or Couples.
- Coleman Extreme coolers are designed with premium insulation technology which...
- These coolers are perfect for long road trips, days spent on the campsite, or...
- Very robust cool box with strong handle for assured durability and easy...
- Premium insulation
- High-quality construction which ensures durability
- BPA free interior
- Weight:- 2.7 kilograms
- Storage capacity:- 26 litres
Coleman 28 Quart Xtreme Cooler is made with high-quality material with premium insulation, ensuring that the content placed inside it remains cold for a long time. It contains an insulated lid with additional insulation installed on its walls which makes the ice retention longer. Since insulation is one of the essential things in coolboxes and camping fridges, the double insulation feature makes it highly beneficial.
The coolboxes are an excellent choice for a long day trip or spending time at a campsite. It contains a strong handle which ensures durability while also making it easier to carry around. Cup holders made inside the lid preserve drinks and confirms that it remains cold. The Coolbox has also been created while keeping the safety of the drinks in mind. Its interior is BPA-free and thus is easier to carry food or beverages inside it. The product dimensions are 46 x 33 x 40, which is ideal for quickly moving it around.
Best Passive Cooler for Large Families
- Heavy duty blow-molded construction with reinforced base for increased strength...
- Extremely durable yet lightweight with proven 4-5 day ice retention
- UV inhibitors protect the cooler against sun damage for extended life.
- Heavy-duty passive cooler
- Extra-thick walls with foam stuffed for better insulation
- Can hold ice for up to 5 days at 90 Degree F
- Drain plug
- Cool riser technology
- Weight:- 1 kilogram
- Storage capacity:- 49 litre
Igloo BMX is a heavy-duty passive cooler with a blow-moulded construction that ensures durability and resilience. The cooler contains extra-thick walls with foam inside and an insulated lid that plays a significant role in adding to the unit’s insulation.
The unit can hold ice for up to 5 days at 90 degrees; thus, it is ideal for large families. The unit’s storage capacity is around 49 litres, meaning there is plenty of space available to store items for yourself and your partners. The product also contains a feature in the threaded drain plug, which allows the extra water to be removed. It is compatible with a garden hose, and it features an easy-grip and non-slip stainless steel secured cap which makes the process a lot easier.
The Igloo BMX comprises cool riser technology, which means that it has an elevated design to improve the cooling performance. Overall the unit is an excellent choice for a camping trip planned with your family for a few days.
TOURIT Cooler Backpack
Best Cooler Backpack
- LEAKPROOF COOLER BACKPACK: High-Density insulation material and leak-proof liner...
- LARGE CAPACITY COOLERS: 15.8" x 13.0" x 7.5" / 40cm x 33cm x 19cm (L x W x H),...
- MULTIPLE POCKETS: 1 main roomy storage compartment, 2 side mesh pockets, 2 large...
- Lightweight and durable
- Large capacity
- Multiple pockets offer convenience
- Insulated backpack
- Weight:- 1.1 pounds
- Storage capacity:- 28 centilitres
TOURIT Cooler Backpack is a bag that is designed for hikers to ensure that their snacks and beverages remain cool for a few hours during the trip. The TOURIT bag pack is an excellent choice, and it can be your ideal partner suitable for various other outdoor activities.
The bag has been designed to ensure portability and complete comfort. The padded shoulder straps and the back of the insulated backpacks have been created to maximize the user’s comfort level. Furthermore, it is designed to be an insulated backpack cooler, making it suitable for carrying items and ensuring that they remain cold at a temperature below 15℃.
The cooler is comfortable and versatile, created with high-quality and tear-resistant fabric with adjustable and padded straps. Another significant advantage of the bag is that it is leak-resistant. It has insulation inside of thick foam and leakproof liner work, which makes leaking impossible.
Mobicool W40 AC/DC 39 L
Best Thermoelectric Cooler
- Runs on 12 V DC or 230 V AC
- Cooling up to 18 degrees Celsius below ambient temperature
- Approximately 39 litre capacity
- Can operate on 230 V AC or 12 V DC
- Can cool at 18-degree c below the ambient temperature
- Storage capacity:- 39 litres
- Thermoelectric cooling technology
- Weight:- 8.4 kg
Mobicool W40 is a user-friendly and intelligent cooler that is powered by thermoelectric technology. It contains various features that increase its usability, durability, and efficiency, making it an exceptional choice for users on a camping trip.
The camper can operate either on a 230 V Alternating current (AC) or on a 12 V Direct current (DC) source. The unit can cool up to 18 degrees C (below the ambient temperature). The storage capacity that it can carry is around 39 litres.
It contains thermoelectric cooling technology, which means that it has a small fan installed above it, which balances the temperature inside the cooler. However, there is one problem: if the temperature outdoor is higher, the cooler might not work according to your expectations.
It contains two durable wheels and a pull-out handle, making it easier to carry around on a trip. Another noticeable feature is the split lid installed to reduce the cooling loss when it is opened. The unit can fit in multiple 2-litre bottles while standing. Thus it is an ideal choice for carrying beverages.
DOMETIC CombiCool RC 1200
Best Absorption cooler
- Powered by gas, 12 V DC and 230 V AC
- Cooling up to 25 degrees Celsius below ambient temperature
- Approximately 41 Litre capacity
- Gas-powered or required 230 V AC and 12 V DC
- Can cool up to 25 degrees C below the ambient temperature
- Storage capacity:- 42 litres
- Absorption cooling technology
- Noiseless operation
- Weight:- 17 kg
DOMETIC CombiCool RC 1200 is an absorption cooler which means that it is the biggest choice you will find in the market. Hence, although the user can use it to store more items, it also weighs a lot more than other choices that have been listed. The unit’s storage capacity is around 42 litres, which is a lot for a family going on a camping trip. However, the downside can be its weight, which is 17 kg, although it won’t be a problem if you have an RV.
It can be powered through gas or connect to a power source with 12 V DC and 230 V DC. Thus, it provides the user with a variety of choices when it comes to power it. Furthermore, it has enough capacity to fit in 2-litre bottles standing. Thus one thing for sure is that you will never be short of beverages if you use them to store them.
The unit is made with absorption cooling technology and is entirely noiseless in its operation, which is a relief not only for you but your partners.
DOMETIC CoolFreeze CDF 36
Best compressor cooler
- Runs on 12/24 V DC
- Refrigeration and freezing down to -15 degrees Celsius
- Approximately 31 Litre capacity
- Operates on 12/24 V DC
- Can refrigerate and freeze down to -15 degree C
- Storage capacity:- 31 litres
- Digital display
- Internal LED
- Joined handles
The DOMETIC CoolFreeze CDF 36 is one of the best choices available in the market. It is a compressor cooler that gives the users a variety of choices in adjusting temperature, which means that it is easier to select the one they like.
The user can adjust the refrigeration and the freezing to -15 degrees Celsius. The unit’s storage capacity is around 31 litres, which is excellent for a couple or three people. Furthermore, it has a digital display and an LED, making the temperature adjustment a lot easier and manageable.
It is designed to provide benefits, and it is one of the most popular choices in the market. Furthermore, you can get it and take it on a long trip without worrying about anything.
What to look at before buying a portable camping fridge
As already stated above, you need to consider several factors before choosing a product. Considering the factors listed below would ensure that you select the best product for yourself.
Additionally, considering that a good quality camping fridge will cost you money, it’s more than essential to ensure that you get value for the amount paid. So here are few factors that need to be considered:
The type of camping fridge / Coolbox you need
The starting point should be to choose the right type of product that fits your preferences. The two different types have already been mentioned and discussed. It now depends on the camper to select a product.
Ideally, if you have a short camping trip planned or a picnic, then a Passive cool box is the best choice. It is lightweight, cheap, and can quickly fulfil the requirements for a day. Thermoelectric or electric cool boxes are the other choice. Although the user can carry it around for a few days, it’s not the most suitable product for longer trips that will likely last weeks or days.
The best choices are compressor coolboxes, which are a bit more expensive option than the rest. However, they are also the most suitable ones for longer trips. If your camping adventure will continue for a few days or weeks, this is the ideal choice. The most significant benefit of it is that you don’t have to worry about your food decaying because it provides you with the option of adjusting the temperature regulated according to the items stored inside it.
Finally, absorption coolers are the most effective option available in the category. It is suitable for a big family that will be on the trip for a few days. If you have planned a vacation that will last maybe a month, having a three-way fridge inside your RV can help you meet the food storage requirements.
So, to choose the ideal product for you, you need to start by choosing the type of camping fridge or the Coolbox you require.
One thing common among all the types of camping fridges and coolboxes is that they all come in different shapes and sizes and vary in storage capacity.
Whatever product you choose, you always need to consider how many litres it is capable of holding. It needs to be carefully considered by analyzing the different products you will store inside it, including food items and beverages.
If you aren’t sure of the size, then doing a pretend pack is the best choice. You need to take all the products and pack them together inside a box. Once it is packed, you can measure the dimensions to get a rough idea of the required space.
Usually, a family with four individuals requires 40 litres or more, while a couple would only require 18 litres. Although, it does depend on the user as to the type and quantity of the items that they intend on varying inside the product
The best thing is to ensure that you don’t end up buying a product that has a bigger size. It has numerous disadvantages attached to it. Even if you get a product that offers a higher storage capacity, it shouldn’t be too bulky or designed to take a lot of space. Such products only increase the inefficiency and disorganize your entire camping luggage while also bothering to carry around.
How cool does the product have to be?
It is another requirement that varies from user to user. Furthermore, it also differentiates according to the temperature conditions that you are travelling. So you would require a different type of camping fridge in hot temperature than you would need in cold ones.
You will notice that thermoelectric coolboxes and other unpowered models are provided with an X°C below ambient’ rating. Thus it depends on the external temperature, which determines how cold the product would keep the food inside. Although the same is the case for absorption coolers, their X°C rating is a lot better.
Compressor coolboxes are the best choice because they are capable of maintaining a constant temperature. When you consider the benefits that the compressor coolboxes offer, despite the product being expensive compared to the rest, they currently turn out to be the best choice available in the market.
The power requirement
The next thing is to consider where you will be camping. Although you can easily power a camping fridge or a Coolbox when you are driving, however, you will get access to the main supply at the camping site is the real question. Since you can’t leave your car on during the entire trip and leave the fridge or Coolbox inside because it’s impractical, you would need another power source.
Good insulation plays a vital role here, along with how often you are opening the box. IF you leave your Coolbox on the car’s battery, it will drain it, so that’s not a practical option. Although some models do have power-saving features and cut out, they are something that you need to look out for when making a purchase.
The user can also operate absorption or three-way cool boxes on gas, but the main problem remains their huge size, and a gas canister will only make it worse. Additionally, the product also needs to be cooled down entirely on the mains. While they are on 12v, they can maintain the temperature but not change it.
Some specific coolers or fridges can be operated through solar power. However, unless you already have a solar setup, it could be an expensive option.
One of the most important things you need to ensure is that the chosen product’s noise level isn’t too high. It would be a nightmare to have a fridge, Coolbox around that makes a lot of noise. It would be a nuisance for your neighbour as well. Furthermore, an outdoor camping trip’s main point is to connect to nature as much as possible while escaping the noisy environments. Hence, you always need to confirm that your product is noiseless.
Absorption coolers tend to be silent, and compressor coolboxes make slight noises while turning on and off while maintaining the product’s temperature. Still, the top-quality models are also entirely quiet. Thermoelectric boxes make constant fan noise.
You might not get a practical demonstration of the noise level since the stores might not have the model plugged in or buy online. However, we have ensured that the products provide the most benefits to you in our list mentioned above.
Why are camping fridges so expensive?
Camping fridges are explicitly designed to meet the requirements of the users during the trip. Therefore, they contain features that make them sustainable during camping. It has to be designed to be more efficient than regular fridges and offer extra insulation. It should also accommodate various power sources, including solar panels and a car.
Furthermore, specific models have additional features like USB ports or can be controlled through applications inside a mobile phone that the camper can use to regulate the temperature. Thus, you get what you pay.
Can I use a regular fridge for camping?
It’s nearly impossible to use a standard fridge for camping due to various reasons. Regular fridges are designed to fit inside homes. Thus, they contain features that would fit a household. It also tends to be bigger than the camping refrigerator, which makes it difficult to carry around. Even the tiny fridge would be a lot bigger than a camping one.
Additionally, insulation is another critical factor that needs to be considered in camping fridges as it plays an essential role in maintaining a stable temperature inside the fridge. So, while a standard fridge is for households, a camping unit is designed mainly for the purpose, so it’s a more suitable and ideal choice.
What temperature should my camping fridge be?
It is one of the most crucial questions that a camper can ask when setting up their camping fridge. Although this can vary between users, the frequently used temperature for camping fridges is estimated to be between 32 and 31 degrees Fahrenheit. However, the ideal temperature is around 35 and 37 degrees Fahrenheit if you want to keep your food and beverages fresh.
Once again, it would depend on the users’ choice and their intent on camping (its temperature conditions). Certain users may prefer a higher than the ideal temperature suited for vegetables and fruits, while for beverages, a temperature of 32 or even lower can suffice.
Are the camping fridges noisy?
A camping fridge’s noise level is an essential factor that the user needs to consider while selecting an item. A camping fridge should have a low noise level to ensure it does not disturb yourself or your neighbours. Furthermore, the noise level depends on the type of camping fridge that you have.
The Absorption fridges are the most silent ones. Meanwhile, the compressor fridges often make a slight humming noise when turning the compressor on and off, but the newer models are entirely noiseless.
Some of the best products have been mentioned above. We have also listed the factors that you need to consider while selecting a product. It now depends on the camper’s requirements to choose the product after considering various factors.
Although the products above excel in their category, they might not be suitable for everyone. So, it would be best if you watched out before making a choice.
Last update on 2022-03-03 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API