There aren’t many ways to keep food cold when you’re taking a road trip or heading to the lake for the day.
Most people use conventional coolers with cold packs. For adventurers looking for better performance, a camping freezer might be the best solution.
Like a cooler, a camping freezer is a portable, self-contained storage box. However, unlike a traditional cooler, these cooler/freezers do not use cold packs to
keep them cool.
Thanks to these technologies, food stays cold for days, not just hours. A cooler is enough if you’re only going to be out for a few hours. But if you want to camp for a whole weekend, you might need a portable camping fridge/freezer.
A thermoelectric camping freezer has a heat pump that removes heat from the insulated interior instead of using a refrigerant or compressor.
They are lightweight and quiet because they have no compressor. But ambient temperature can affect cooling. When it’s 90 degrees outside, this type of
camping freezer will only cool to about 60 degrees.
The other option, a camping freezer with compression refrigeration, is the type of refrigeration found in homes. This freezer uses a refrigerant and a compressor, which means it maintains a cool temperature regardless of the outside temperature.
However, they are heavier, more expensive, and noisier than their thermoelectric counterparts.
If you’ve decided you need a camping freezer for your weekend adventures, here are some tips on how to keep your food cool and manage electricity.
First, move food from the freezer to the refrigerator the night before to defrost it. Second, keep your camping freezer out of the sun.
Third, let hot foods cool before putting them in the freezer so the refrigerator doesn’t have to work so hard to cool them.
Finally, be smart about packing things away. Put the foods you need first on top so you don’t have to open the lid as long to find what you want. These tips will help keep food at a safe temperature.
The biggest drawback to a camping freezer is that you need a power source. You don’t want to waste electricity, so a thick power cord is important. This ensures minimal electrical resistance and maximum power supply.
Also, avoid using your car battery as the camping freezer will drain it quickly. To maximize power consumption, set the temperature to the coldest setting while driving. When you arrive, lower it as needed.
Also, pack cans instead of bottles, since drinks cool faster in cans. And always take spare fuses with you so you’re not left with a non-functioning camping freezer on the weekend.
Finally, keep your fridge as full as possible, because an empty fridge is less power efficient.
What to consider when buying a camping refrigerator
If you’re looking for a camping freezer to make your adventures more enjoyable, you don’t want to pick up just any off-the-shelf unit.
Read reviews from people who use the unit similarly to you. Then pay attention to these important factors.
The length of your trip and the number of people traveling with you will determine how large a freezer you need to purchase.
If you are going on a long
road trip, you should invest in the largest size possible. If you are planning weekend trips, this size is not necessary.
The same goes for the size of your group. If you’re traveling with one other person for a weekend camping trip, you don’t need the
large size that a family of five might buy. Consider how long you’ll be on the road and how much food you plan to pack.
As mentioned earlier, this is the biggest drawback to using a camping freezer. Ideally, you want a unit that offers multiple power sources. These can be hard to find or very expensive.
Many options run on AC or DC power, so you need to know how to provide that power.
There are some solar and battery powered camping freezers, but not many.
You can use the outlets in your RV or car sparingly, but keep in mind that a camping freezer will drain the battery quickly. If you use it as your primary power source, your car may not 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, the insulation should not be so thick that there is little space left inside for storage.
So weigh the pros and cons of each freezer to determine which storage capacity, combined with adequate insulation, is right for you.
As mentioned earlier, not all camping freezers use compressor technology. But if you want one that maintains temperature, you’ll probably want a compressor fridge.
Read the reviews of others who mention how noisy the unit is or how heavy it is because of the compressor.
Finally, portable refrigerators have a variety of controls with modern technology.
Some offer standard switches to turn the unit on and dials to adjust the temperature, while others have control panels connected to Wi-Fi and Bluetooth.
Cheaper camping freezers have built-in controls for easier setup. However, if you need wireless operation, you can also find options with apps.
The 7 Best Camping Freezers for Your Road Trip 2023
Below are seven of the best camping freezers. When shopping, consider the length of your trip.
Also consider group size and the various features listed above to choose the best camping freezer for your travel needs.
1. ICECO JP30 Portable Refrigerator/Freezer
Rated 4.7/5 stars, this ICECO portable refrigerator costs about $500 and runs on 12/24 volts DC and 110/240 volts AC. With a capacity of 31 liters, it is a good choice for a weekend getaway.
It measures 13.8 inches in depth, 23 inches in width and 15 inches in height. It uses compression technology and weighs about 35 pounds. You can set the temperature from -7 to -50 degrees Fahrenheit and use the two modes for different performance.
Eco mode slows down the compressor speed to save energy, while Max mode maximizes the compressor speed to reach the set temperature quickly.
A satisfied customer wrote: “I researched many options and chose this ICECO unit because of the compressor and the balance between weight and capacity.
Last year we hauled a conventional 50-quart cooler with ice and cold packs to our off-grid cabin in the desert, but we were 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 light enough to pack in the truck.”
2nd F40C4TMP 12V Refrigerator/Freezer.
This camping freezer, rated 4.5/5 stars, is about half the price of the ICECO unit and runs on 12/24 volts DC and 110/240 volts AC. It has a capacity of 24 liters, so it’s also a bit smaller.
This ICECO unit is 9.8 inches deep, 10.6 inches wide and 13.9 inches high. It also uses compression technology, so it weighs about 26 pounds. This camping freezer cools to 32 degrees Fahrenheit in 20 minutes and, like the ICECO unit, has Eco and Max modes.
One reviewer wrote: “I purchased this item for a recent vacation with my children. The unit was used as a refrigerator and freezer at various times. I have no complaints at all about the functionality of this item. It performed better than I expected.
What really won me over was its use as a freezer. The frozen custard we bought on our trip was still frozen when we got home three days later.”
3rd DOMETIC CFX3 Portable Refrigerator/Freezer Combo.
This camping freezer from Dometic received 4.6/5 stars on Amazon. However, it is the most expensive unit on this list because it offers multiple power sources. It runs on AC/DC power, but it also has solar power. The Dometic has a capacity of 45 liters and is a great portable fridge.
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 stated, “I plugged the fridge in with my Jackery to try it out right away, and the fridge temperature went from 78 degrees to 32 degrees in about 30 minutes.
I’m impressed. The CFX is built like a tank and came super well packaged. I love it already.”
Don’t forget: How many of these camping favorites have you tried? Click on the link to see which ones you still need to try!
4. Alpicool K18 Portable fridge / freezer for the car.
This Alpicool K18 camping freezer, rated 4.4/5 stars, is a more budget-friendly model. Like the other models, it runs on 12/24 volts DC and 110/240 volts AC. Capacity is only 19 quarts, although a 26-quart option is available.
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 has low, medium and high settings to protect the vehicle battery from discharge. The temperature drops from 68 to 32 degrees Fahrenheit in about 15 minutes.
A weekend camper wrote: “I went on a weekend camping trip here in the northeastern US. It held everything I needed for three nights with two people…. I had no problems with the refrigerator running while driving to the campground 2 hours away.”
5th BougeRV 12V Car Fridge/Freezer
This BougeRV camping freezer, rated 4.6/5 stars, is another budget-friendly option and comes in a variety of colors and sizes. It works on DC 12/24 volts and AC 110/240 volts.
The BougeRV has a 23-liter capacity and measures 912.2 inches deep, 12.6 inches wide and 22.2 inches high. It is comparable in size to Alipcool’s portable refrigerator.
Since it also uses compression technology, it weighs about 27 pounds. Like previous models, this camping freezer has Eco and Max modes for optimal performance. It cools from 77 to 32 degrees in about 15 minutes.
A reviewer with a 30-foot sailboat said, “Good power consumption, good cooling performance, no noise.
You can use it as a combination refrigerator/freezer, it’s lightweight and portable, has a relatively low center of gravity for solid anchoring (sailors will appreciate that). And the physical features like the door opening and accessibility to the controls are excellent.”
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 holds 48 quarts, but there are also smaller and larger versions.
With a depth of 13.6 inches, a width of 27.2 inches and a height of 18.2 inches, it can hold 46 cans, 28 water bottles or 15 wine bottles. Since it also uses compression technology, it weighs about 33 pounds.
Like the Alpicool refrigerator, this EUHOMY camping freezer has low, medium and high settings to protect the vehicle battery from discharge.
A truck driver wrote: “Freezer and refrigerator are great! I am a truck driver and needed something good and reliable! However, I was curious how low I can set the freezer without my refrigerators freezing.
To my surprise, I set the freezer to zero degrees Fahrenheit and it froze everything solid on the freezer side, but on the refrigerator side it was just cold…. I highly recommend it!”
Don’t forget: Which RV refrigerator is the best? Let’s dive in!
7th AstroAI 12V Car Refrigerator/Freezer
This camping freezer received 4.6/5 stars on Amazon. This AstroAl portable freezer costs about $270 and runs on DC 12/24 volts and AC 110/240 volts.
It holds 23 quarts, so it’s another smaller option. The AstroAI is 9.6 inches deep, 12.8 inches wide and 10 inches tall, making it ideal for travelers with limited storage space.
It uses the same compression technology as the others and weighs about 26 pounds. Finally, this camping freezer features both Eco mode and Max mode, as well as low, medium, and high settings to protect your vehicle battery.
A satisfied traveler shared, “We returned from our 10-day overland camping trip by car; here are my results…. It worked flawlessly.
We used a combination of power sources, our Jackery 1000 Power Station, the cigarette lighter, and AC power during our trip…This AstroAI refrigerator worked great, even while traveling off road and the countless times it was brought in and out of the vehicle.”
AstroAI 12 Volt Car Refrigerator, 12V Portable Freezer 23 Quart Camping Fridge Cooler 22L (-4℉~68℉) with 12/24V DC & 110V AC for Car, RV, Truck, Van, Boat for Camping, Travel, Fishing Outdoor
LARGE CAPACITY: Our 12 volt refrigerator, with its large 22L capacity with ice cube tray, works as a refrigerator or freezer….
FAST COOLING: With its powerful compressor, the 12 volt refrigerator can cool down to a maximum of 32°F in 15 minutes when empty; it…
Enjoy tailgating, camping or adventuring with a camping freezer.
No matter your reason for needing a camping freezer, you can find some great options in a variety of sizes.
Whether you want to spend a lot of money on a high-end Dometic freezer or you’re looking for a budget-friendly option for your all-day grilling pleasure, you’ll find a camping freezer that fits your needs.
But remember to read the owner’s manual, check warranties and use the right battery and power options to get the best performance.
Do you own a camping freezer? How has your unit performed?