Portable Refrigerators for the Car, Read to Find the Perfect One for You

camping fridge

Camping Fridge: Selection Guide

Camping fridge is an indispensable thing for modern drivers. It serves as an aid both when planning a country barbecue and for cooling food on the road. And if you are a person who loves to travel, perhaps you have already thought about buying a refrigerator for camping more than once. The only question that could stop you is how to choose the best camping fridge freezer among such a variety of models? The question is not difficult. And the first thing customers should pay attention to when choosing a camping fridge is its type.

Hiking, fishing, picnics – are you ready for these summer joys? Probably not, if you haven’t chosen a camping refrigerator yet. And in general, maybe the summer does not start in any way precisely for this reason?

Products Will Be Cooled by a Car Refrigerator

All car refrigerators, regardless of the cooling principle, operate on a 12 V constant current cigarette lighter. Some models can work both from a cigarette lighter and a regular 220 V network – these are the majority of compression and absorption models, they are expensive.

If you want a simple small camping fridge to work from the mains, you should separately buy a rectifier (a converter that converts alternating current into direct current), through which you can connect the device to an outlet. When choosing a small camping fridge, be sure to pay attention to the presence of a battery charge fuse in the model: the refrigerator should not quickly consume it. The length of the cable must be suitable: select the location in the car for the camping fridge freezer and estimate the length of the power cable.

How Does a Portable Camping Refrigerator Work?

portable camping

Each of portable refrigerators uses one of three cooling technologies: absorption, compressor, or thermoelectric. Each technology has its advantages, which are most pronounced under certain conditions:

Thermoelectric. Compact and lightweight, portable thermoelectric coolers are easy to take with you on the beach. With a cooling capability of 68 °F below ambient temperature, they are ideal for short tourist trips in warm temperate climates.

Compressor room. Thanks to the large capacity and the possibility of deep-freezing (-7,6 °F ), powerful compressor refrigerators are ideal for hot climates and long tourist trips.

Absorption. Absorption (propane camping fridge) refrigerators can run on gas, which allows you to travel even to places where there is no power supply. Chill food to 86 °F below ambient temperature in the refrigerator without disturbing your sleep with unnecessary noise. Propane camping fridge is one of the best portable camping fridges.

Compressor, thermoelectric, or absorption – which one to choose?


These are small camping refrigerators. In such models, cooling occurs due to the operation of a motor compressor, a condenser, and an evaporator working with a refrigerant – one of the types of freon.

Advantages of compressor auto-refrigerators

  • such refrigerators can not only cool but also freeze
  • quick set of working temperature
  • the ability to adjust the temperature (not all models)
  • large volume – up to 110-120 l (there are also small models from 11 l)
  • unpretentiousness to external temperatures: guaranteed frost at any fluctuations in air temperature within the climatic class of the refrigerator.
  • as a rule, they can work from the network
  • keep cold for a long time when power is turned off: up to 12-14 hours
  • can be both vertical (cabinets) and horizontal (boxes).

Cons of compressor car refrigerators

  • noise
  • high price
  • heavyweight


The current passes through thermoelectric plates built into the walls of the refrigerator, the outer sides of which are heated, and the inner ones are cooled. Interestingly, such refrigerators can heat a meal: it is enough to switch the polarity, and the inner walls will heat up, and the outer ones will cool.

Advantages of thermoelectric auto refrigerators

  • absolute noiselessness
  • low price
  • the ability to use for heating food
  • environmental friendliness (lack of refrigerant).

Cons of thermoelectric car refrigerators

  • small volume (15-30 l)
  • the temperature inside the camera depends on changes in the ambient temperature.
  • poor cooling compared to other types of car refrigerators
  • short time keeping cold (1-3 hours).

Absorption (gas)

Auto refrigerators of this type are intended for large car trips, camping, parking in “wild” places, and not for those who just need to transport a certain amount of food from point A to point B. Absorption refrigerators can operate from a cigarette lighter, from the network, and liquefied gas ( balloon, cartridge) – it is just convenient, inexpensive, and safe for a car battery on a long journey. A six-liter gas cylinder is enough for an average for a week of continuous operation of a car refrigerator with a volume of about 60 liters with a small freezer for 5-6 liters.

Advantages of auto absorption refrigerators

  • can operate on gas where there is no electricity
  • quiet work
  • there are models with a large volume and/or with a freezer
  • the ability to regulate the temperature.

Cons of absorption auto refrigerators

  • high price
  • many breakable elements: boiler, jet pump
  • dependence on “weather conditions”.

An alternative could be a refrigerator bag or a thermo-backpack

A bag with a refrigerator inside works on a cold accumulator and thanks to stable thermal insulation, or as an electronic refrigerator. There are also automobile refrigeration organizers, most often they are mounted on the seat or the back of the driver’s seat.

Perfect Portable Camping Fridge for a Tourist Trip

camping fridge freezer

When choosing a portable refrigerator for camping, it is important to consider how many people will be and how long the trip will take.

  • Weekend trip, couple (2 people) – small camping fridge or small thermoelectric portable refrigerator.
  • Weekend trip, family (4 people) – medium-sized thermoelectric portable refrigerator or compressor refrigerator for freezing.
  • Long summer trip, couple (2 people) – medium compressor portable refrigerator plus a small passive refrigerator.
  • Long summer trip, family (4 people) – large compressor refrigerator or (if freezing is not required) propane camping fridge.

Passive Camping Refrigerators for Short Trips                                                 

In case you are not making a long trip, fishing, or relaxing on the beach, portable camping refrigerators with passive cooling may be suitable, so they will provide your comfort without the need to connect to the mains.

Thanks to good insulation in passive portable refrigerators for camping, ice can be stored for up to several days, in addition, such cold chambers average 20 to 40 liters in volume. To get the maximum result: you should chill all drinks and food at home, then put them in a portable refrigerator filled with ice.

We also selected three of the best camping refrigerators in our opinion.

Best Portable Refrigerator for Camping

portable camping fridge


  • Insulation container, 43 l
  • Highly efficient insulation, extremely low heat capacity
  • High-performance labyrinth seal
  • Seamless plastic, UV resistant, and easy to clean
  • Built-in fixing points
  • Optimal ratio of volume and weight


portable camping fridges
  • Insulation container, 71 l
  • Thick insulation layer and unique seal design allows for longer ice storage
  • Hygienic and easy to clean thanks to the large drain hole
  • Lightweight and easy to carry thanks to durable ergonomic handles
  • Heavy-duty seamless food grade polyethylene construction
  • Built-in polyethylene feet
  • Practical attachment points under the handles
  • Integrated hinges with stainless steel pins and durable rubber latches


small camping refrigerator
  • Insulation container, 111 l
  • Thick insulation layer and unique seal design allows for longer ice storage
  • Hygienic and easy to clean thanks to the large drain hole
  • Lightweight and easy to carry thanks to durable ergonomic handles
  • Heavy-duty seamless food grade polyethylene construction
  • Built-in polyethylene feet
  • Practical attachment points under the handles
  • Integrated hinges with stainless steel pins and durable rubber latches

We hope that our article was useful for you, and after reading you made the right choice for you!

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