Subaru Crosstrek, Forester and Outback owners are the most adventurous group on the planet and many take their all-wheel-drive vehicle with a roof-top tent to get away from civilization. If you are taking more than a day trip, you’ll need to keep food and drinks refrigerated or frozen, and an in-car refrigerator is just the ticket.
In-car refrigerators are the perfect solution to using a cooler and having to pack ice which melts and eventually your food and drinks are warm again. With a portable fridge, you simply dial the exact temperature you’d like it to maintain internally, then forget about it. Everything inside will stay cool or frozen, as long as you need, whenever you need it.
With new technology, there’s a number of options and units available for adventure enthusiasts. All you need is your Subaru Crosstrek, Forester or Outback’s 12-volt outlet or cigarette lighter. You just plug the unit in, and it does the rest. You can throw one in your rear cargo area, load the rest of your gear around it, and you’re ready to go.
If you are thinking it will run down your battery, many fridges include a battery monitor, which will switch the unit off if your battery starts to get low. No worries about getting stranded in the wilderness due to a refrigeration-induced dead battery. Typically, running one uses less electricity than it takes to power a car headlight.
Here’s a list of the 8 best in-car portable refrigerators on the market. Check out each one with the link provided, and see which one best fits your camping needs.
1. ARB Fridge Freezers are the ideal way to keep your food and beverages chilled or frozen on your back-country adventures. Not to be confused with less effective 12 volt “coolers”, the ARB unit is a true refrigerator/freezer. The ARB Fridge Freezer has an interior volume of 50 quarts, exterior dimensions of 20x28x15.
2. The Black & Decker TC212B Travel Cooler and Warmer is smaller and less expensive, but does a great job of cooling or warming food and beverages simply using your 12V vehicle power outlet. This model has a low voltage cutoff to protect your vehicle battery from draining.
3. The Koolatron Krusader P-85 Cooler is another great option if you have lots of food and drinks to pack. The 52-Quart Krusader model is hard sided and large. Koolatron claims it’s the largest 12V cooler available. They have other portable fridge units you can check out on their website.
4. The Dometic CDF-11 Portable Freezer/Refrigerator is for those who don’t need a large unit and claims to be the smallest portable true refrigerator/freezer available. This model will hold 6-12 oz. cans and weighs only 19 lbs. The CDF-11 is a lightweight, portable fridge that is also easy to carry if you are going on a day hike.
5. Another Dometic fridge is the larger TC-35US 37-Quart Portable Thermoelectric Cooler/Warmer for those who are staying out in the back-country for longer periods of time. It features integrated intelligent special electronics with a power-save circuit and memory function incorporated into a dust-proof and moisture-proof soft-touch keypad with an LED temperature display. Its solid polyurethane foam insulation keeps contents cool longer without power.
6. The Coleman Powerchill is all about the 40 and offers a 40 quart capacity and can hold 40 cans plus food, and will chill to 40 degrees below the outside temperature. The Coleman fridge has flexibility and can be used like a chest cooler or upright like a mini refrig.
7. Roadpro 7 Liter Cooler/Warmer is thermoelectric and will cool to 20-30 degrees below the outside temperature. This model is best for someone who just wants to keep a cool drink in the car. It’s small and weighs only 6 six pounds. It also offers two cup holders on the top, and can also be used for a warmer. The best thing about the Roadpro is the affordable price. It’s not recommended for continuous use.
8. Wagan Personal Fridge/Warmer The Wagan 2577 has the capability to cool or warm your food. It has a 7 liter capacity holding up to 7 cans. It cools to about 35-40 degrees below outside temperature and heats to 140 degrees. It offers a carrying strap and has two drink holders on top. The Wagan is a great option for a day picnic and it’s easily portable. It doesn’t offer the capacity of some units so its use is limited.
If you don’t want to mess with ice melting and your food and drinks getting warm, pack up your Subaru Crosstrek, Forester or Outback with your gear and take along one of the 8 best portable fridges on the market.
Photo credit: Subaru