A portable fridge can make any off-road adventure a whole lot more pleasant. If you want to keep drinks or food cold in your truck, this article is for you.
There’s nothing quite as nice as enjoying a cool beverage and a fresh snack after a long day of off-road adventure — and that’s exactly why so many options exist in portable, powered fridges, freezers, and coolers designed for use in your Jeep, truck, or 4×4.
If you’re tired of messing around with ice packs that eat up space in your bulky camping cooler, you’ll want to give the products below a look. Each is powered by the outlet in your vehicle and keeps your snacks and drinks chilled without the need for ice packs.
Many also feature compatibility with standard household wall outlets, making them easy to move from your truck to the campsite or cottage with ease. Whether you need a small electric cooler for one person or a great big cooler for a multi-day family adventure, the products below have you covered nicely. Here are some great portable fridge options:
Table of contents
- 1. Editor's Pick: Cooluli Mini Fridge Electric Cooler and Warmer
- 2. Best First Truck Fridge: Coleman PowerChill Thermoelectric Cooler
- 3. Best for Big Jobs: Costway 54 Quart Portable Refrigerator/Freezer
- 4. Best Splurge Buy: Costway 105-Quart Compressor Fridge/Freezer
- 5. Think Gizmos 15-liter Mini Fridge and Warmer
- 6. SMAD 12-Volt Refrigerator
- 8. Wagan EL6224 24-liter Electric Car Cooler and Warmer
- 9. Knox Gear 27-Quart Electric Cooler / Warmer
- What You Should Know Before Buying a Portable Fridge
- Size It
- Mind Your Battery
- Help Your Fridge
- Place and Secure It
- Keep it Fresh
1. Editor's Pick: Cooluli Mini Fridge Electric Cooler and Warmer
The Cooluli Mini Fridge Electric Cooler and Warmer takes our Editor’s Pick designation with ease for its combination of affordable pricing, unique features and options, and compact, go-anywhere sizing. You won’t be packing a weekend’s worth of beverages and snacks into this one, but if you’re traveling light and want to keep a few cans and a snack cool until you reach your lunch stop, it’ll do the job nicely.
Not only is the Cooluli Mini Fridge Electric Cooler and Warmer a great looking truck fridge, it’s also extremely quiet, highly energy efficient, and portable enough that you’ll want to use it every day. All power cord provisions are included, and awesomely, you can even power the Cooluli Mini Fridge Electric Cooler and Warmer from a portable USB power bank — which greatly expands the range of situations where it might come in handy.
Not only a fridge, this well-reviewed product is a warmer, too. Perfect for a few sandwiches and cans of pop, some users also use this product to transport insulin, medication, breastmilk and cosmetics. Did we mention that it’s really affordable?!
2. Best First Truck Fridge: Coleman PowerChill Thermoelectric Cooler
This 40-quart cooler comes with good owner reviews, lightweight design, and the flexibility you need to use it in a multitude of applications. By keeping contents up to 40 degrees cooler than the surrounding temperature, the Coleman PowerChill Thermoelectric Cooler opens up a new world of possibilities when it comes to bringing your favorite food and beverages along for the drive. There’s an 8-foot power cord that allows easy hookup to your vehicle whether the cooler is in or outside of it, and the door can open in either direction for added versatility. There’s room for a few days’ worth of snacks or food, or up to 44 cans.
Priced very fairly, this portable fridge takes our top pick as an ideal truck fridge for the first-time buyer. Just note that owner reviews are very mixed, and some owners report excessive frost formation when in use. Keep your documentation handy and familiarize yourself with the warranty and return policy, in case you run into any problems.
3. Best for Big Jobs: Costway 54 Quart Portable Refrigerator/Freezer
Though cheaper options exist, the Costway 54 Quart Portable Refrigerator/Freezer comes with some generous capacity and an excellent selection of owner reviews in exchange for its big asking price. With a generous 52-liter capacity, this one is our top pick for big jobs without getting into crazy-expensive territory.
The Costway 54 Quart Portable Refrigerator/Freezer can be used at home, in the car, or at the campsite or cottage. Some customers use it for tailgating-associated beverages, and others use it to keep medication or cosmetics at a suitable temperature while traveling.
With a so-called shockproof design that’ll leave your food and drinks in good shape, even ‘in the jouncy road condition’ (seller’s words, not ours), this portable truck fridge should stand up well to the rigors of off-road driving, too. Fast cooling sees a 60 degree drop in temperature possible in just half an hour, and a built-in battery-saver function can be customized to prevent unwanted drain on your vehicle’s battery.
Both MAX chill and ECO modes can be selected to taste, and both are supported by quiet operation. With some 85 percent of owner reviews in the 4 and 5 star range, the Costway 54 Quart Portable Refrigerator/Freezer can be bought with confidence.
4. Best Splurge Buy: Costway 105-Quart Compressor Fridge/Freezer
If you’re looking to splurge on a massive fridge and freezer for your truck, look no further than the Costway 105-Quart Compressor Fridge/Freezer. For its asking price, you get top levels of space, features, and performance. The massive interior and sturdy metal handles make this one ideal for longer voyages, hunting trips, multi-day excursions, and lengthy camping and off-roading adventures. A fast-freeze function drops the temperature fast, and that’s in spite of a powerful compressor that operates quietly.
Control the Costway 105-Quart Compressor Fridge/Freezer’s interior lighting, temperature and battery protection modes accurately from the included external touch-pad. Users can even set separate temperatures for the left and right side of the unit. A wire hanging basket is included for added packaging flexibility, just in case you happen to be running low on room.
Given its massive size and price, the Costway 105-Quart Compressor Fridge/Freezer isn’t for everyone’s truck or budget—though shoppers after space to spare from a premium, well-reviewed and high-performing portable fridge will likely find it a great investment.
5. Think Gizmos 15-liter Mini Fridge and Warmer
We love the extended capacity of this 15-liter portable fridge, as well as its design, price, and additional features. With room for a stack of sandwiches, numerous pop cans and some additional snacks, the Think Gizmos 15-liter Mini Fridge and Warmer is a just-right size for most any voyage. The great-looking design includes built-in handles on each side for sturdy carrying. Both heat and chill functions are available, and multiple power adapters are included for high compatibility no matter where you use it.
The Think Gizmos 15-liter Mini Fridge and Warmer also features easy-to-use controls and a quiet and long-lasting dual-function semi-conductor system which negates the need for a noisy compressor. It’s also light, easily maneuverable, and well-reviewed by owners.
Shown here is the 15-liter model, but a smaller 10-liter version is also available if you’re after something a little smaller.
6. SMAD 12-Volt Refrigerator
For shoppers who consider confidence to be key, and for those willing to spend more for a high-quality, well-reviewed product, the SMAD 12-Volt Refrigerator is worth further investigation. This pricey unit boasts a 54-quart capacity and can chill or freeze its contents when connected to a 12 or 24-volt power outlet. A lightweight design and built-in carry handle make it easy to move from the campsite to the vehicle to the trailer to the cottage, and rapid-cooling is possible thanks to a powerful compressor and efficient cooling technology.
The SMAD 12-Volt portable fridge also features an LCD display for pinpoint temperature selection. Special programming protects the charge of vehicle battery when required, and unique functionality enables more effective use, even in extreme temperatures. The SMAD 12-Volt Refrigerator is an expensive choice — but for the discerning shopper, the added functionalities and stellar owner reviews should make it worth the added cost.
8. Wagan EL6224 24-liter Electric Car Cooler and Warmer
Here’s another car or truck cooler that combines solid owner reviews with affordable pricing and great features for the dollar. The Wagan EL6224 24-liter Electric Car Cooler and Warmer features a 24-liter capacity and can hold four standard 2L bottles, numerous cans, snacks, or combinations of the above. A conventional cooler design helps maximize storage space, and a built-in handle and moderate sizing ensures a just-right blend of capacity and portability.
There’s a 7.5-foot power cord for easy moving of the cooler from in to near your vehicle. When not in use, the cord stores on board a built-in storage cubby for a tidier look.
The Wagan EL6224 24-liter Electric Car Cooler and Warmer can chill its contents up to 36 degrees below ambient temperature in just 30 minutes, and features a warmer that heats contents up to 140 degrees. Priced at less than 100 dollars with good owner reviews, the Wagan EL6224 24-liter Electric Car Cooler and Warmer is an easy product to try, and you probably won’t be disappointed.
9. Knox Gear 27-Quart Electric Cooler / Warmer
Here’s a solid value on a portable cooler and warmer that’s ideal for larger jobs, family adventure, and more. The Knox Gear 27-Quart Electric Cooler / Warmer has a generous 45 litre capacity and comes priced representing great value for the space provided. With warm and cool functions available at the flick of a switch, there’s versatility to spare.
Included are extra-long built-in cords, including one for standard wall outlets, and one for car power ports. You can ride with the Knox Gear 27-Quart Electric Cooler / Warmer in your vehicle all day, and then effortlessly move it to the trailer, cottage or campsite. Wheels are also included for maximum portability. With the Knox Gear 27-Quart Electric Cooler / Warmer, you’ve got space for a four-person day-trip’s worth of beverages, sandwiches and snacks, with room to spare. Owner reviews average 4.2 stars, adding further confidence.
What You Should Know Before Buying a Portable Fridge
Here’s some useful information to consider as you decide which portable fridge or cooler product is right for you.
Do you frequently travel alone? With a significant other? With the entire family? Consider the above against the free space in your vehicle when deciding on which truck fridge is right for you. The bigger the fridge, the more it can carry — though this also means it’ll eat up more space in your ride. Especially if you’ve got a two-door Jeep or pickup with limited space, you’ll likely want to consider one of the smaller options listed above. Before you buy, make sure the product you’re considering has enough room for your supply of drinks and food, and that it’ll fit properly into your vehicle without chewing up too much additional space that can otherwise be used for safety gear, rescue supplies, and other gear.
Mind Your Battery
Some portable fridge options include battery run-down protection, which automatically ramps down or deactivates the device if it detects excessive drain on your battery. Other portable fridges do not. If you’ll run your portable fridge for extended periods when your vehicle is not running, be sure to keep an eye on your battery to prevent an untimely death. For maximum safety, we recommend keeping a fully charged jumper pack in your truck at all times, just in case your portable fridge happens to fully exhaust your battery. You may also want to consider connecting your portable fridge to a permanently powered outlet, if you intend to keep it running while your vehicle is turned off. A solar-powered battery trickle charger may be another great idea to help sustain your vehicle battery, too.
Help Your Fridge
If you won’t stuff your truck fridge full of food and beverages, consider using any empty space inside for ice packs or frozen bottles of water. Doing so may help reduce the need to run the fridge, thereby saving wear and tear, and protecting your vehicle’s battery. If available on the fridge or cooler you select, consider setting the temperature conservatively to prevent overworking the fridge (and your battery), and be sure to engage any available battery-protection feature to the appropriate level at the start of any trip.
Place and Secure It
You’ll need to place your truck fridge carefully in your vehicle, and likely in a position that keeps any vents, fans or air intakes clear. Some users place their portable fridge on the rear seat floor, and recline the front passenger seat up against it to hold it securely in place. Others use bungee cords hooked up to the carry handles (or wrapped around the unit) to keep it from moving. Some models can even be held in place via a vehicle seatbelt with a little creativity. When positioning and securing your portable fridge, just make sure that all air inlets and outlets are clear, and that the device isn’t at risk of tumbling over, falling, or sliding around.
Keep it Fresh
After use, remember to clean the inside of your portable fridge as per the instructions in the owner’s manual, and to store the unit with the lid open, to prevent the buildup of mold, mildew, and odors. Additionally, be sure to carefully read and adhere to any regular maintenance and cleaning requirements outlined in the owner’s manual for maximum long-term durability from your new truck fridge.
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