When you’re driving cross country or taking an extended camping trip, you might wish you had your freezer with you, whether for safely storing meats or for transporting sweet snacks like ice cream. Thankfully, portable fridges and freezers make that an actual possibility. While brands like Yeti make coolers that are capable of keeping your food cold for as long as a week, there are times when even that just isn’t enough. Portable freezers can reach much colder temperatures for longer, allowing you to store foods that you might not otherwise be able to pack on a trip. Portable freezers are also often referred to as powered coolers. Powered coolers are so named because they can store as much food as a regular cooler, but they have greater cooling capabilities courtesy of electricity.
Another feature that makes a powered cooler a great investment is that they eliminate the need to fill up half your cooler with ice or ice packs. That means that you can store the stuff that really matters, whether those are drinks or frozen steaks. Some of these options, like the ones from Dometic, even have dual compartments that can be set to fridge or freezer temperatures. Just like your regular fridge, you can store beers in one half and ice cream on the other. But unlike your fridge at home, you can actually set both sides to the same setting (you can set both halves to freezer temperatures, for example).
Powered coolers and portable freezers often feature 12V adapters, allowing them to plug into your cigarette port charger while you’re driving. You can also plug them into a regular wall outlet once you get where you’re going. Even if you’re not traveling, you can keep one of these coolers on hand in the event of a power outage. Hook it up to your car or a portable generator, and you won’t have to stick to canned foods the whole time.
Some portable freezers even come with compatible apps that connect via WiFi or Bluetooth. It might seem like a frivolous feature, but you can use the apps to monitor the amount of power your portable freezer is using as well as the temperature levels. Portable freezers vary widely by power and performance, so we’ve rounded up a few different options for the best portable freezers that you can buy for your next trip.
1. Dometic CFX3 95 Dual Zone Powered Cooler
It’s an investment, yes, but the Dometic powered cooler is one of the best ways to keep your snacks, beverages and frozen foods cold for extender periods of time. The feature that sets it apart is the two separate compartments. Like your fridge at home, you can independently set the temperatures of the two compartments, allowing you to both freeze and cool foods. You can set the temperature using the app or using the intuitive control panel.
2. Whynter Portable Fridge
RUGGED DESIGN FOR EVERY ADVENTURE
This option from Whytner is capable of cooling to well below freezing at -8 degrees Fahrenheit, all the way up to 50 F. And if you forgot to freeze your foods before heading out on a big trip, Whytner’s portable fridge freezer even has a fast-freeze mode that quickly freezes foods. The exterior is primarily made from powder-coated steel, making it sturdy enough for all of your adventures. It can be plugged into AC or DC power, including a wall socket or your car’s cigarette port. The 80-liter capacity makes it large enough for your weekend trip, especially since you won’t need to fill it up with ice.
3. Igloo Thermoelectric Portable Ice Chest
BEST FOR DRINKS
Igloo is beloved for its effective but affordable coolers, and this beverage cooler is a great option for keeping drinks cold and food fresh on road trips. It’s not designed to be used as a freezer, so it works best as an alternative to standard coolers. You don’t have to use ice, allowing you to pack more while keeping food and drinks cool. and the 8-foot long cord plugs into a car’s cigarette port. The unit’s capacity is 24 liters.
4. Dometic CFX28 12v Electric Powered Cooler
BEST FOR CAMPING
This powered cooler from Dometic is less expensive than the other Dometic cooler on this list, and the main sacrifice is in capacity. This cooler can hold 26 liters, where the CFX3 can hold 94 liters. That means that this can be a more suitable option for cars with smaller trunks. Like the CFX3, this cooler has two compartments that can be independently controlled. You can set both to freeze, one to freeze and one to cool, or both to cool. This versatility makes it a great camping companion.
5. ICECO JP50 Portable Refrigerator Fridge Freezer
AFFORDABLE BUT POWERFUL
This option from ICECO has a generous 50-liter capacity. It offers greater storage than a cooler of the same size would, because you don’t need to add ice to this powered cooler. The temperature is widely adjustable depending on what you’re packing and if it needs to be cool or frozen. You can adjust it from -7 degrees F to 50 F, and you can switch from Max to ECO mode depending on your power source. The included storage basket makes it easier to load and unload.
6. Cooluli Mini Fridge Electric
BEST DESKTOP FRIDGE
This option from Cooluli isn’t made to store enough food for large groups on long excursions, but it is great for a single person to have in their car for long drives or at their desk. It’s the perfect compact size to store your day’s lunch or a few cans near the couch. It’s not designed as a freezer, but for fridge foods, it’s a great option. It’s also suitable for nursing mothers or for storing beauty products. It can be plugged into the wall, a car’s cigarette port or even a power bank for peak portability.
7. Alpicool CF55 Portable Refrigerator Freezer
Alpicool’s portable freezer offers powerful performance at a more attainable price. It has a 55-liter capacity and can reach temperatures as low as -4 F, making it suitable for packing frozen foods. However, unlike the Dometic option, you can not separately set the temperatures of the freezer and fridge sections. So, if you’re packing frozen meats and soda cans, for example, it may not be the ideal solution. The unit can be plugged into your car’s cigarette port, and the Bluetooth compatibility means you can remotely monitor performance.
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