After setting up camp on a hot summer’s day, it’s time to reward yourself with an ice-cold beer. If you’re camping without a fridge, prepare for disappointment!
Not only do camping fridges keep your food safe but they also allow you to unwind in nature without constantly driving back to the store to buy fresh ice for your cooler.
To help you out, we reviewed the best camping fridges available in 2021.
We also put together a buying guide, so you know exactly what to look for when shopping for a camping fridge. We will advise you on electric and conventional coolboxes as well.
Best Portable Camping Fridges Review
AstroAl 12 Volt Refrigerator
- Capacity: 55 liters
- Lowest Temp: - 4°F
- Power Source: 12V/24 DC or 110V AC
We think that the best camping fridge on the market right now is the AstroAl 12 Volt Refrigerator. The 55-liter capacity gives you plenty of space for supplies, and the lowest temperature of - 4°F can be reached in just one hour.
As you set the temperature on an LED display, you can choose whether to use the AstroAl as a fridge or a freezer.
When you want to save energy, you can switch to the Eco mode, which will keep food cool with very little power draw. What’s more, the AstroAl refrigerator has built-in battery protection, so you don’t have to worry about draining your vehicle battery.
You can switch the power outlet for use at home or in a vehicle, and a portable power bank is included so that you can use the fridge outside as well.
ARB Zero Fridge Freezer
- Capacity: 53 or 71 liters
- Lowest Temp: not specified – cold enough to freeze
- Power Source: 12V DC or 110V AC
If you’re looking for a top-quality camping fridge, the ARB Fridge Freezer may be the one for you.
This model has two separate zones, so you can bring along a mixture of fridge and freezer items. Each zone can be set to ‘fridge’ or ‘freezer’, or turned off.
You can monitor and control the temperature via a user-friendly app that you download onto your mobile phone. The fridge also provides USB charging for other devices.
This is a heavy-duty, power-efficient fridge freezer that performs particularly well on off-road overlanding adventures. The tough steel casing will protect your fridge on bumpy mountain tracks.
If you have access to mains electricity, you can use the AC power inlet. On the road, just switch over to the Dual DC power inlet and you’re good to go.
Set Power Portable Freezer Fridge
- Capacity: 40 liters
- Lowest Temp: -4°F
- Power Source: 12V DC (You can order an AC cord separately)
If you can’t splash out on a top-of-the-range camping fridge right now, the Set Power Portable Freezer Fridge is a brilliant, affordable option.
It is designed with functionality in mind, with wheels to make moving it around a lot easier. It is a sturdy portable fridge that can withstand the bumps of off-road driving.
In addition to being able to control the temperature, you can choose one of 3 power settings to avoid overdraining your vehicle battery. If you want to plug in the refrigerator at home as well, you can order an AC cord separately.
The Set Power Portable Freezer Fridge comes with a 2-year compressor guarantee, so you can rest assured that you’ll get your money’s worth!
Asperona Freezer Fridge
- Capacity: 42 liters
- Lowest Temp: -4°F
- Power Source: 12V DC
Thanks to a redesign, this Asperona Freezer Fridge has a capacity that is almost 8 liters larger than the previous model, without a noticeable increase in size.
This Asperona model offers a separate fridge and freezer zone and intelligent battery protection to prevent your battery from being drained. The fridge will automatically cut off once a certain amount of power has been used, so you can rest assured that your car will start again in the morning!
Users report that the customer service team is very responsive and helpful. Plus, the door is designed to prevent you from trapping your fingers!
Dometic Fridge Freezer
- Capacity: 26 liters
- Lowest Temp: -7°F
- Power Source: 12V DC or 100-240V AC
The Dometic Fridge Freezer has an excellent reputation for quality. This model has two different zones for freezing or refrigerating, as well as a useful USB power outlet to charge phones and devices.
Our favorite thing about this model is that it is very compact and light, weighing just 29 lbs. Most camping fridges weigh at least 40 lbs, and sometimes a lot more.
The drawback of the size is that the capacity is only 26 liters, but that is enough fridge space for most people going on a short camping trip. If you decide that you want a larger capacity, it’s possible to buy bigger Dometic models.
This fridge freezer can be used at home or in your vehicle, and the temperature quickly reaches as low as -7°F. This fridge is particularly good for hot-weather camping, as it works efficiently in extreme temperatures.
All in all, the Dometic is an excellent-quality fridge freezer that we highly recommend.
Cigreen Portable Refrigerator
- Capacity: 60 liters
- Lowest Temp: -0.4°F
- Power Source: 12V DC or 120-240V AC
The Cigreen Portable Refrigerator is a highly efficient camping fridge freezer. You can choose ‘turbo mode’ for super-fast cooling or ‘eco mode’ to protect your battery from draining.
This quiet camping appliance has 2 zones, so you can use it as a freezer and a fridge at the same time. When the fridge has used a certain amount of power, it will automatically cut off so that your car battery can’t be emptied. The thick insulation will keep your food cool even after the fridge has turned off.
The Cigreen Camping Fridge has been designed with off-road driving in mind, thanks to a 30° Vibration Anti Tip Design. This is a great contender for longer-term overlanding!
Whytner Portable Fridge
- Capacity: 102 liters
- Lowest Temp: -8°F
- Power Source: 12V DC or 115V AC
The Whytner Portable Fridge / Freezer has an enormous capacity of 102 liters. Reaching extremely low temperatures of -8°F and running off the vehicle or mains power, this is a powerful and versatile camping fridge.
You can use the ‘fast freeze mode’ when you need the freezer to rapidly cool, and there is an indicator to tell you when power is running low.
However, the fridge does not automatically cut off when your vehicle battery is nearly depleted, so you run the risk of draining your battery.
This is a true fridge freezer, working just as effectively as the fitted appliances found at home. The two separate zones allow you more flexibility with the temperature.
Smeta Propane Refrigerator
- Capacity: 59 liters
- Lowest Temp: 32°F
- Power Source: 12V DC or 110V AC or Propane
The Smeta 3 Way Refrigerator can be powered by a 12V vehicle outlet, a 110V mains outlet, or propane gas. This gives you a lot of flexibility, and you can easily adapt your power source in different situations.
We really love that this fridge is freestanding, so you can open the door like you would a conventional fridge and use the shelves to store your food. This is a lot more convenient than classic box camping fridges, in which you have to rummage through a pile of drinks and snacks to get to the thing you want.
The fridge is very efficient, consuming around 0.4 lbs of gas per day. Its lowest temperature is 32°F, so it cannot be used as a freezer.
The Smeta 3 Way Refrigerator is very quiet. It can be plugged directly into the car cigarette lighter, hooked up to the gas tank, or plugged in at home.
Please remember that the refrigerator should be attached to the gas only when you have arrived at camp and are able to set it up outside of your vehicle. For your safety, gas appliances shouldn’t be used in restricted places without ventilation.
Linsion Portable Fridge / Freezer
- Capacity: 21.5 liters
- Lowest Temp: -13°F
- Power Source: 12V DC
The Linsion Portable Fridge / Freezer is a very compact, portable camping fridge and freezer. The capacity is only 21.5 liters, but this means that the fridge is very light and easy to move around.
This Linsion fridge comes with a DC power cable only and should not be plugged into the mains. Nonetheless, it goes down to an impressive -13°F and still works when tipped at a 45° degree angle, so it holds up well in off-road conditions.
All in all, this Linsion model is an affordable, effective camping fridge/freezer; however, it is rather small.
TechClic Portable Fridge / Freezer
- Capacity: 30 liters
- Lowest Temp: -4°F
- Power Source: 12V DC or 110V-240V AC
The TechClic Portable Fridge / Freezer has lots of high-quality foam insulation and cools down very quickly. It is quite heavy for its size, but it does come with wheels to make moving it around a lot easier.
Users love that it is so quiet and energy-efficient, but some people report that it keeps only things at the very bottom completely cold. This limits the cooling capacity somewhat, but you could choose to keep meat and dairy on the bottom and cans of drinks on the layer above.
Overall, it is a highly rated smaller cooler, and it is more affordable than brands like Dometic and ARB.
Alternative - Electric Coolbox
An electric coolbox is a more affordable alternative to a camping fridge or freezer. As well as tending to be less expensive, they are usually lighter and more compact.
You can plug them into your cigarette lighter or 12V power adapter to keep food cool. The benefit of an electric coolbox is that they don’t require ice like conventional coolboxes, and they aren’t as much of an investment as a true fridge/freezer.
However, they aren’t as effective at cooling down your food as a fridge is. They normally keep food at a certain threshold below ambient temperature, which will vary depending on the climate in which you are camping.
If you’re thinking about getting a coolbox, I suggest that you check out the Igloo Iceless Cooler.
I love this cooler because of its dual orientation. Depending on what you are storing in it, you can choose to use it as a chest cooler or a standing cooler with shelves.
Conventional Coolbox or Cool Bag
If you want the most affordable option, you can consider getting a conventional coolbox, or even an isothermic cool bag.
You have to put ice or cool packs in your freezer at home before setting off, then place them in the insulated cooler to help keep food cold.
The good thing about conventional coolers is that you don’t have to worry about any complicated technology going wrong on the road.
To function safely, camping fridges need about 5 inches of airspace around them, which can be difficult when your car is full of kit. Coolboxes don’t need that airspace, so they can fit into a smaller space.
However, the drawback of a conventional cooler is that, to keep things cold, you have to find ice every day.
A Cool Bag is less insulated and effective than a coolbox, but it is also a lot lighter. You could consider using a cool bag and cold pack if you are through-hiking with your tent and just want to keep your food a little fresher for the day.
Trusted Brands With the Best Camping Fridges & Freezers
In particular, we recommend the following brands of camping fridges and freezers for their reputation for quality and their brilliant user reviews:
How to Choice the Best Camping Fridge
The best camping fridge for you will depend on a range of factors. Here are some things to consider when researching a specific model.
Think about how much food and drink you will be bringing with you. If you have a large group or are planning a longer camping trip, we recommend that you find a fridge with a minimum 50-liter capacity. If you are camping for just the night, a smaller 30-liter model should be more than enough.
You will also want to note how much power the fridge is going to draw.
Some fridges have automatic cut-offs to prevent them from draining your car battery. As important as this is to preventing breakdowns, it can also mean that a lot of food gets ruined.
Try to find a model that has an eco-mode, or at least figure out how many hours you will be able to safely run the fridge on your battery.
Tip: If you are running a fridge on your car battery, it’s a good idea to go for a drive every day to help keep the battery charged.
For most people, a dual-zone camping fridge will be more convenient than a single-zone alternative. A dual-zone fridge has two sections for which you can set the temperature separately.
This means you can set it up as a small fridge and freezer, or set both zones at the same temperature.
If you don’t need the freezer function, a single-zone fridge can work fine!
You will want your camping fridge to be well-insulated. In this case, if you do have to turn off the fridge, it will keep the food cool for longer.
Unfortunately, it is not a good idea to cover your camping fridge with any insulation of your own.
This is because camping fridges need around 5 inches of space around the outside to expel heat created by the power source. Covering appliances can be a fire hazard and risk damaging the appliance.
You can add a homemade insulating cover to a conventional coolbox (non-electric), or you can sometimes buy a purpose-built insulating cover for your specific fridge model.
These are made with fire-retardant materials, fit snugly, and have appropriate vents to let heat escape.
Compressor Versus Absorption
You can choose between a compressor fridge or an absorption (three-way) fridge, which can be powered by gas or electricity.
The good thing about a compressor fridge is that you don’t have to spend time connecting and disconnecting the gas bottle for travel.
This type of fridge can also be used in confined spaces, whereas a three-way fridge will need to be used in a well-ventilated area in case of gas leaks.
However, gas fridges are much quieter than compressor fridges. So, if the noise of a whirring compressor will irritate you, a gas fridge might be a better option.
These are also a good idea for longer-term camping trips on which you don’t want to risk draining the car battery.
Make sure to check the maximum temperature for efficient use. Each model will be different.
Avoid electric coolboxes in hot weather, as they keep food only a certain temperature below the ambient temperature. They won't preserve food efficiently in the heat, though they are helpful at milder times of the year.
Check the reviews online before ordering your camping fridge. No appliance will have 100% positive reviews, but the experiences of others can give you a good indication of the quality of the product.
Look for money-back guarantees and warranties so that you know you’ll be protected from any damage that isn’t your fault.
We recommend that you find a fridge with at least a 1-year warranty, though many products offer a 2-year compressor guarantee.
FAQs About Camping Fridges
How does a camping fridge work?
Although it’s a little counterintuitive, camping fridges work by creating heat.
The heat triggers refrigerating vapor to flow from the compressor and into the coils. This vapor absorbs all the heat in the coils, and then the heat in the air around the coils, too.
When the fridge is turned off, the vapor cools down and flows back into the compressor until it is plugged back in.
The coils are no longer absorbing heat, so the fridge starts to return to the ambient temperature. Well-insulated fridges will remain colder for longer.
Will a camping fridge drain my car battery?
Some camping fridges will drain your car battery, whilst others have an automatic cut-off when they have consumed a certain energy limit.
If you’re worried about your camping fridge draining your battery, you can work out how many hours you can safely run the appliance in advance. You can also make sure to drive your car every day to recharge the battery.
Consider buying a fridge that has an eco-mode, which will have a less significant energy footprint.
Can I use a normal fridge to go camping?
A fridge designed for the home would probably be too big and require too much power to be suitable for a camping trip.
Plenty of camping fridges have adaptors, so they can be plugged in at home too, but we highly recommend that you get a specialty portable fridge for your camping adventures.
Do be careful when plugging any camping fridge into your car or home. Make sure the suitable power adaptor is available. A 12-volt cable is usually suitable for vehicles and a 110-240 volt cable would be used at home.
Sometimes RVs are an exception to this, so check the power outlet of your specific vehicle and appliance before plugging in.
If you do plug in a 12V appliance to a mains power outlet, you will break it.
How can I camp without a fridge?
You can go camping without a fridge if you plan meals that don’t require fresh food.
For example, you can cook pasta with cans of sauces and vegetables, or you can buy special dehydrated meals that you combine with boiling water.
We recommend that you avoid meat and dairy if you don’t have a fridge because these types of food are more prone to bacteria growth without an adequate refrigerator.
You can choose to bring a conventional coolbox instead of a fridge, but you’ll need to add fresh ice to it every day.
What is a three-way fridge?
A three-way fridge (absorption fridge) can be powered by gas, 12 volts, or 110-240 volts (mains electricity).
This gives you a lot of flexibility. You can plug the fridge into the vehicle on the drive to your campsite, then set it up with gas on arrival so that you don’t risk draining your car battery.
Gas should be used only in a ventilated space for your safety, so you would have to set it up on arrival and then detach the gas before driving home.
Some people find this quite fiddly, whilst others appreciate being able to switch the power source.
When it comes to keeping your food cool on your next camping trip, you have several options. You can buy a compressor fridge or freezer, a three-way fridge, an electric coolbox, or a conventional coolbox with ice packs.
We recommend that you buy a combined compressor fridge and freezer because they are more efficient and versatile than coolboxes, as well as less fiddly than a three-way fridge.
Our top choice of compressor fridge is the AstroAl 12 Volt Refrigerator. It is reasonably priced and of good quality, can work off a battery, and has integrated battery protection. It also has two separate zones, so it can be used as a fridge and a freezer at the same time.
There are loads more fantastic options on the market. Refer to our buying guide before investing in a new appliance, and always check out user reviews online.
We hope that you found this article helpful, and we wish you many happy nights in the great outdoors!
Do you have any questions about camping fridges that this article didn’t answer? Don’t hesitate to leave a comment. We will do our best to help out!
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About the author
Rachel is a freelance adventure writer and founder of Highly Sensitive Nomad. When she isn’t writing, she can be found wild camping in the mountains and swimming in the lakes of Europe.