Is a 12V Camping Fridge Really Worth It?
At some point in your camping life, you may find yourself yearning for a 12V portable fridge. However, at a cost of $1,000 or more, there’s a good chance that your future outdoor fridge will cost more than your household unit, which you use every day! Likewise, at this price a new camping fridge will cost you five times more than a good-quality cooler box. This raises an important question: Is a camping fridge really worth it? Well, that’s for you to decide. But before you do, here are some things to consider.
1. NO MORE MELTED ICE
What motivates people to buy an expensive camping fridge? In most cases, it’s the following:
- No more melted ice
- Adjustable temperature control
- The ability to camp for longer periods
- Being able to explore remote places
We all know the frustration. You start your camping trip with a meticulously packed esky, and you even go so far as to buy ice en route, so that it stays cool as long as possible. But no matter what you do, by day three you have a 2-inch pool of milky water at the bottom of your cooler, and the foul-smelling liquid has found its way into your “sealed” pack of sausages.
Apart from not having to worry about ice anymore, a good 12V camping fridge will also allow you to vary the temperature for different food types. Both National Luna and Evakool offer great dual zone models that allow for compartmental temperature control. Set the fridge compartment to 5ºC for things like milk, cheese, vegetables and cooldrinks, while the second compartment can be set for things like frozen meats (-10ºC) and ice-cream (-18ºC).
Having the ability to keep food frozen allows you to camp for longer periods without having to buy more supplies. And what’s more, in many remote places around Australia, it can be almost impossible to find ice and other food supplies.
2. TOO HOT TO HANDLE
Generally speaking, most remote places in Australia are hot. And, ironically, most camping fridges are not designed for the reality of such heat. Most of them claim to be “built for harsh Australian conditions” when In fact, almost every camping fridge on the market is tested at a 25ºC ambient temperature, and many of these units cannot reach their claimed performance figures when the outside temperature rises to 35ºC or more – which is commonly the case in Australia. When this happens, the fridge may still be relatively cool, but it may fail to prevent your frozen food from defrosting. It’s a crucial point to remember, and if you’re in the market for a 12V camping fridge, you should take special note of the fridge’s performance figures, and at what ambient temperature it claims these statistics.
3. BACK ME UP
Things break, especially electronic things that bounce around in the back of a 4x4. It’s a major concern for many campers: the thought of spending hundreds, sometimes thousands of dollars on a fridge that could break down when they need it most. Fortunately, a good fridge will boast extra thick insulation, so at the very worst, your camping fridge will act as a cooler box until you can get the unit fixed. But how long will that take?
Very little can go wrong with a sturdy cooler box; but your 12V fridge may, at some point, require spare parts. There are several things that could go wrong: an accidental bump to a control panel, a damaged power inlet plug, or perhaps excessive dust ingress. These things happen, and when they do, you want to be sure that spare parts are locally available − and not imported per request.
4. DO OR DON’T
There’s no denying the high cost of a 12V camping fridge, but there aren’t any doubts about their benefits when you head into the outback. At the end of the day, whether you decide to make the investment will depend on how often you camp, where you camp, and what you prefer to eat on holiday.
Aside from the initial cost when purchasing one, there are very few disadvantages to owning a 12V camping fridge. However, regardless of their benefits, the most important feature of any camping fridge is longevity… whether or not it’s a long-term investment. Evakool and National Luna are both leading international 12V fridge brands. They both offer long-term durability, with 2, 3 and 5 year warranty options. Parts are also available locally and without delay. Both National Luna and Evakool promise fantastic high-temperature performance up to 55ºC ambient. And it's also worth mentioning that both brands offer 12V, 24V and 240V operation.