Jul 11, 2023

Cooler vs. Fridge: Choosing the Right Option for You

When it comes to outdoor adventures like overlanding or tailgating, having the right equipment for food storage is essential. Two popular choices for keeping food and drinks cold are coolers and fridges. Let's explore the differences between these options and some popular brands to help you make the right decision.

COOLERS Portable and Versatile

Coolers have come a long way in recent years. Brands like YETI, Pelican, ENGEL, and Coleman offer highly insulated coolers that can keep food and drinks cold for 3-4 days. These coolers utilize foam insulation and therm-molded plastic to retain coldness longer than traditional coolers. Prices range from $40 to $200 for Coleman coolers and $300 to $800+ for YETI coolers, depending on the size.

These coolers typically feature heavy-duty O-rings, latches, and purge valves to keep hot air out and cool air in. With proper usage, ice can last 2-3 days before completely melting, and even longer if you pre-chill the cooler before adding ice or cold packs.

Usage is Key

To maintain the internal temperature of a cooler, it's important to minimize the frequency of opening and closing it. For those who choose coolers, a two-cooler system is recommended. Use one cooler for perishable items like meat and vegetables, and a smaller second cooler for beverages and frequently accessed items. When the second cooler loses its coldness, a single bag of ice can recharge it. It's ideal if you can find a small store or gas station during your journey.

*Note: For example, we use two 28 qt Coleman Xtreme Coolers - one in the back of the rig and one for easily accessible items. The second one fits in the back seat. They are cost-effective and do a great job!

Cooler #1 is for perishable items we don't need while driving.

The advantages of coolers include easy loading and removal from a vehicle, outdoor storage capability, and portability around the campsite. Most coolers have tie-down spots for secure attachment in your truck or SUV. They don't require electricity and are low maintenance. Additionally, coolers can serve as a step, an extra seat, or a food prep surface.

Keep in mind that coolers create condensation as ice melts, so avoid leaving items like eggs in the paper carton.

FRIDGES Convenient Refrigeration

Another option is a fridge/freezer system, such as ARB, National Luna, Dometic, SnoMaster, and more. These systems are downsized versions of the refrigerators you have in your kitchen. They require electricity to operate and need a constant 12V power source for proper installation. Prices for these systems typically range from $600 to $1000+.

Technical note: Most vehicles shut off power to the 12V sockets when not in use, which can unintentionally defrost your fridge. (Nobody wants their steak to spoil on the third night.)

A vehicle-mounted fridge/freezer allows you to carry a wide assortment of food as long as power is supplied. You don't need to add more ice or worry about food getting soggy or frozen items melting. This opens up the possibility of carrying a greater variety of foods to your off-road or on-trail campsite.

Having a car fridge also comes in handy for daily use, providing cold drinks during traffic or snacks after a long day in town.

The main drawback is power consumption. Most fridges can run for 5-7 days before shutting down due to low voltage. Quality fridges will automatically shut down to avoid draining your vehicle's battery.

Volume and Capacity

Both coolers and fridges have limited storage space compared to their size. Most options fall within the 40 to 50 qt range, which may seem like a lot but can fill up quickly during a long weekend trip.

Expedition Cooler vs. Fridge: Considerations

For shorter trips of 3-4 days where you sleep in your vehicle, a cooler is recommended. If you frequently embark on trips longer than a week and sleep outside the vehicle, a fridge is a great option.

Ultimately, having either a cooler or a fridge is not a necessity, but it significantly enhances the outdoor experience. It elevates your trip beyond dehydrated food and bottled water. Both options have their strengths and weaknesses, so your budget, desired comfort level, and the duration of your adventure will guide your decision more than any product review.

And let's face it, nothing beats enjoying a cold drink or a fresh steak after a long day on the trail. How you keep them cold is up to you.

KASSICO, a leading aluminum box factory in Ningbo, China, has 21 years of production experience. Since 2015, combining the advantages of camping kitchen boxes, KASSICO has expanded its business scope to outdoor camping gear and equipment, including design and supply of camp kitchenware, camp furniture, camping tent, camping lights and tools, etc. With multiple sets of outdoor products solutions, kassico provides customers around the world with hundreds of innovative and affordable outdoor products, we will be your reliable suppliers, and we will try our best to serve you better and to be your honest partner. 
More Detail: https://www.kassico-outdoor.com/ 

Kassico is dedicated to providing superior service.
Welcome tocontact us with any questions or inquiries.