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HOW TO MAKE THE MOST OF YOUR PORTABLE FRIDGE

HOW TO MAKE THE MOST OF YOUR PORTABLE FRIDGE

- April 22, 2023

Whether you're heading out on a day trip with your family, camping for the weekend, or embarking on an extended overland expedition, having access to fresh and healthy food and ice-cold beverages is essential. That's where a portable refrigerator or cooler (also commonly known as a car fridge), can be an invaluable piece of kit. However, you don’t just plug it in and hit the road … to optimize the usage of your car fridge, here are a few tips and tricks:​


© Lennart Pagel

Pre-cool your car fridge before use​

Before putting anything into your car fridge, make sure to pre-cool it. This means turning it on and letting it run for at least a few hours before adding your food and drinks. This will ensure that your fridge is at the optimal temperature for keeping your items cool and fresh. If you don’t want to drain your vehicle’s battery system and don't have access to an external power source, get yourself a Dometic PLB40, the highly portable Lithium battery.  ​

On that note, you want to look for a fridge that gives you the most chill for your power. Dometic’s CFX fridges are some of the most energy efficient in the world. The range features a unique evaporator coil that evenly distributes cool air, prevents frost and ensures an airtight seal to keep freshness inside. All their powered coolers work off flexible power options (AC 100-240 V and DC 12/24 V) which allows you to cool them off your deep-cycle dual car battery system or mains.​


© Charlie Keating & Lennart Pagel

Pack your car fridge efficiently​

When packing your car fridge, make sure to place items in a way that maximizes space and minimizes air pockets. This means using containers or bags that fit well in the fridge and filling any empty space with additional items or ice packs. This will help ensure that your fridge stays at the optimal temperature and that everything stays cool and fresh. ​

If you’re heading out on a multi-day adventure, layering is the best way to go. Pack from the bottom up, stacking your supplies from the last planned day/night to the first so that the first evening’s food and drinks are at the top. To be most efficient on your trip, pre-cook easy-to-heat meals such as stews and curries and then freeze them in packable, freezable containers. Put some newspaper (and an ice brick or two) on each layer and then work your way up. ​

For longer expeditions a dual-zone powered cooler (such as the 75l or 95l Dometic) is ideal. These car fridges feature two storage compartments that have independent temperature control so you can use one side as a fridge and the other as a freezer. To make meals last the longest and maximize space on these trips invest in a vacuum-pack machine. Vacuum a range of pre-cooked meals and then freeze them as flat as possible. This way you can pack your freezer vertically, almost like a filing system. To reheat, simply defrost slowly in warm water and then pour the contents into your Potjie Pot (Dutch Oven).​


© Ian Niklaus & Bartek Kolaczkowski

Cooler maintenance​

Keep your cooler out of direct sunlight and invest in a fridge cover. If that's not possible, cover it with a wet towel to keep it cool. Dometic's CFX3 line features an intuitive user interface that displays the voltage, connection status, and temperature in colorful graphics, and the operating settings of the cooler can be adjusted with a simple menu.​

The CFX3 line also comes paired with a free mobile app (available for iOS and Android) that allows you to control and monitor the temperature of the cooler remotely. It features a user-friendly interface to help you track the cooling status of your CFX3 and, if you happen to leave the lid open (every time you do that cold air escapes and warm air enters), the app will ping you a notification. While powered, the app keeps detailed records of the temperature and power consumption history, so you know your limits on your next journey. In addition, the CFX3 has a powerful USB charger output to power devices such as mobile phones and tablets.​


Use ice packs​

This may seem counter-intuitive for a powered cooler, but for shorter trips, managing it like a cooler box is not a bad idea. Ice packs are a great way to help keep your car fridge cool without using up too much power. They’re especially useful for shorter trips or when you don’t have access to a power source. Make sure to use high-quality ice packs that are designed for use in coolers and that can be refrozen as needed.

With these tips, you can make the most of your portable fridge and ensure that your food and drinks stay fresh and cool throughout your outdoor adventure. Choose the right portable fridge, pack it efficiently, and maintain it properly for optimal usage. Dometic's CFX line offers a range of high-tech fridge/freezer sizes to suit all types of adventure and travel needs.​

From the CFX 35 (which, with its 35l capacity, is ideal for day trips and shorter overnight adventures) up to the expedition ready CFX 100, all CFX3s were designed to perform in the toughest conditions.​


© Front Runner & Charlie Keating

The 55IM with freezer plate is the ideal long-weekend model and has the unique distinction of being the first camping fridge in the world to offer an ice maker. The single-zone cooler has an independently refrigerated ice-making section (complete with ice trays) that can make ice while running the main compartment as a fridge. And, for longer adventures, as mentioned earlier, there are two dual-zone coolers.​


© Craig Kolesky & Craig Rhodes-Harrison

In addition, there is a range of vehicle-specific off-road accessories to pair with the CFX3 range, including fridge covers and heavy-duty Front Runner fridge slides (to maximize accessibility and space in your vehicle) as well as the game-changing Dometic PLB40. This portable 40Ah Lithium Iron Phosphate battery system was designed specifically for powering powered coolers and other 12V appliances while being off-grid.

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