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Best camping fridge and cooler in the UK

best-camping-fridge-in-the-uk

Having access to a camping fridge is such a gamechanger. It will level up your cooking on your car camping trips. You can do a nice fry up in the morning on a Cadac cooker or burgers in the evening. And let’s not forget about all the cold drinks! There are a lot of different types of coolers and portable fridges for camping. You might be overwhelmed by the wide range of products and wondering what are the best fridges for camping? People will need different options for their situation, depending on if they are a big family, couple or solo camper. I put together a guide about the best camping fridges currently available on the UK market.

All these options will work great if you have a vehicle. However if you are backpacking, then I suggest taking some expedition meals on your adventure. They are lightweight, delicious and don’t require a fridge. A must for your wild camping equipment list.

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Table of Contents

4 Types of Camping Fridges and coolers

Passive coolboxes

These are insulated cool boxes or bags that you keep cool with ice blocks or frozen drinks bottles.  These are the cheapest cooling solutions,  although there are some big beasts that can be quite pricey.  The advantage is that you don’t need a power supply and they can be used anywhere. They are ideal for day trips or overnight trips. If you are going away on a multi-day adventure, then you will have to keep refreezing your ice blocks. Some campsites have freezers available for this purpose.  To use it as effectively as possible, minimise the number of times you open the box.

Electric cooler box

These are also known as thermoelectric cool boxes. People often just refer to them as a 12v cooler box or car cooler. They are insulated boxes, that are powered by an electric fan. They are usually powered in your car by a 12v or you can get an adaptor and use it on the mains hook-up at a campsite. How cool it will keep your food will depend on the outside temperature. An average model may have a cooling power of 20 °C below the ambient temperature. These should be suitable for the UK climate, although it depends on what you want to keep in it. Ideally, raw meat needs to be kept under 5°C to avoid the growth of bacteria. The best temp for a fridge in your house is around 5°C. Some better performing electric cooler boxes might keep it 30 degrees below ambient temperature. A cheap electric cooler box is quite noisy and they usually drain the car battery fast if left charging without the engine off. 

3-way camping fridge

Also known as gas camping fridge or absorption cooler. A big advantage of them is that they can be used without a vehicle battery or electric hook-up. They can works off mains, gas or 12v battery/hook up. If you use it on gas, then it must be kept in a ventilated area. You should also get a good quality carbon monoxide detector for safe of mind. They tend to be silent and can cool up to 33°C below ambient temperature.  These are ideal for longer trips and bigger families. 
 

Compressor camping fridge

These camping fridges are the most similar to your fridge at home, they are just much smaller. Many of them can also function as a camping fridge/freezer. You can set the temperature, and it will keep it at that level. They can run via mains power or your vehicle’s battery. The warmer it is outside, the more energy it will consume. This is not a problem if it’s hooked to the mains, but can affect the efficiency if your car battery is not powerful enough. These units tend to be quite expensive, but they are the best option if you go camping regularly and stay at campsites with electricity. They can also work great for car camping if you have a portable power station. They are also the most common choice to use as a camper compressor fridge.

Top Picks

Best cooler box for camping: Coleman Xtreme Cooler
Best cooler for the beach: Arctic Zone Titan Deep Freeze
Best Fishing Cooler: Dometic Cool-Ice
Best Electric Coolbox: Hi-Gear Cooler
Best 3 way camping fridge: Dometic CombiCool RC 2200
Best camping fridge on a budget: Alpicool G22
Best compressor fridge for campervan: Smad 3 Way Fridge
Best mini fridge for everyday use: Dometic Boardbar

Passive coolboxes Comparison Chart

  • Thermos Cool Box
  • Coleman 28QT Xtreme Cooler
  • Arctic Zone Titan Deep Freeze
  • DOMETIC Cool-Ice
Thermos Cool BoxColeman 28QT Xtreme Cooler Arctic Zone Titan Deep FreezeDOMETIC Cool-Ice
£
£
£
££
Capacity28 l26 l60 l42 l
Other sizes available32 l47 l, 49 l, 66 l, 94 l13 l, 55 l, 86 l
Dimension L x W x H43 x 30 x 40 cm58 x 49 x 27 cm56 x 56 x 38 cm42 x 64 x 36 cm
Weight1.2 kg2.1 kg3.2 kg8.1 kg
MaterialPlasticHigh Density PolyethyleneTough, water and stain resistant Rhino-Tech®Food grade polyethylene CFC free material and Steel Pin Hinges
Insulation materialPolystyrenePolyurethane FoamRadiant heat barrier and triple layer ColdBlock™ baseRefrigeration grade foam insulation
Efficiency8 hours3 days (bigger versions 5 days)3 daysUp to 10 days
WheelsBigger versions have wheels
See PriceSee PriceSee PriceSee Price

Thermos Cool Box Review

This is a great cheap coolbox, that is ideal for day trips and picnics. Might also be suitable for an overnight camping trip in the cooler UK climate. It is quite bulky, but lightweight. You can stand large soft drink bottles in it upright. It has a carrying handle for easy transporting.    

Pros:

  • Lightweight
  • Good budget option

Cons:

  • The lockable lid can fail and let in warm air
  • Short ice retention spam
  • Flimsy, not great quality

Coleman 28 QT Xtreme cooler review

 
This is a great option for couples or small families for a short camping trip. It has great insulation in the walls and lid as well. The lid also features two beverage cup holders, so you can use it as a side table when camping Alternatively the box itself also functions as a seat for up to 113 kg. The bigger versions also have wheels, which makes them easy to transport. Those models also have a longer ice retention span of up to 5 days.
 

Pros:

  • Good quality
  • It can function as a seat or a table with cup holders.

Cons:

  • Heavy, especially when fully loaded.

Arctic Zone Titan Deep Freeze Rolling Cooler Review

 

A fantastic portable camping cooler. It has a detachable cart, which features all-terrain wheels, and a retractable, telescopic handle. This makes it easy to pull even when fully loaded with a maximum 45 kg weight. It has many cool features like a removable bottle opener, easy clean lining. In addition to the main zip opening, it also has a quick access lid, which prevents cold air from escaping when you open your cooler. It has many pockets for different things. The whole bag packs and folds away well when not in use.

Pros:

  • Collapsible
  • Lots of compartments
  • Easy portability

Cons:

  • Not rugged 

Dometic Cool-Ice Review 

This is a great quality, sturdy cooler with ice retention for up to 10 days. It is probably the best cool box in the UK when it comes to quality and efficiency. Thanks to its design it is able to withstand continuous exposure to all sorts of weather. Perfect for longer camping, fishing or hunting trips. Depending on the party size you can get smaller or bigger versions of this cooler as well. The 13 l smaller version has slightly shorter ice retention, but they are still one of the best insulated and quality on the market. This is also reflected in their price. There is also a 55 l and 86 l option, which are fantastic if you are after a large cool box that will last for many years.

Pros:

  • Long ice retention
  • Handy drain plug
  • High quality and effective

Cons:

  • No wheels

Electric cooler box Comparison Chart

  • Andes Cool Box
  • Hi-Gear Cooler
  • Outwell ECOcool
  • Campingaz coolbox
Andes Cool BoxHi-Gear CoolerOutwell ECOcoolCampingaz coolbox
£
£
££
££
Capacity25 l45 l24 l24 l
Dimension L x W x H40 x 29 x 43 cm 54.6 x 41 x 44.5cm47.4 x 46.4 x 29.9 cm41 x 31 x 43 cm
Weight4.6 kg10 kg6 kg3.6 kg
Wheels
Heating
See PriceSee PriceSee PriceSee Price

Andes Large 25L 12V/240V Cool Box Review

A fantastic budget option. It comes with a 220-240V AC mains adaptor & 12V DC car adaptor. Able to keep food warm for up to 2 hours and to 65°C. Also doubles as a table with cup holders on top. I would suggest adding freezer blocks in the cooler as well to keep the temperature down, as otherwise, the efficiency is not great on hot summer days.

Pros:

  • Good value for money
  • Lightweight

Cons:

  • Not great efficiency. Recommended to use them with extra ice blocks.
  • Noisy

Hi-Gear 45-Litre 12V 240V Portable Cooler Review

This cooler works great for bigger families, with its 45 l capacity. The wheels and extendable luggage handle make it easy to move around even when it’s full. You can also use the internal dividers to seperate food and drinks, which makes it easier to find things inside it. Probably the best 12V cool box out there, and it comes at a very reasonably price.

 

Pros:

  • Integrated wheels and handles makes it easy to transport
  • Very quiet

Cons:

  • Bulky

Outwell ECOcool 35L 12V/230V Cool Box Review

A fantastic coolbox, that will keep your contents approximately 20 degrees below the outside temperature. It has an EEA classification and has an Eco function, which saves energy. The storage compartment has antimicrobial properties, which inhibit the growth of mould and the development of unpleasant odours. The unit is capable to store 2 l bottles in it upright. It comes with a freezer block, which is used as a divider. Makes is easy to organise the food better and not waste energy opening the whole cooler.

 

Pros:

  • Eco mode
  • Freezer block acts as a divider

Cons:

  • Small compartment lid can be a bit stiff to open

Campingaz thermoelectric cooling-box, 12 V and 230 V Review

It has an Energy efficiency class: A++ and 4 settings: Off, night mode, eco mode, max mode. You can use the night mode to reduce the noise in the evenings. Very handy if you want to keep it in the tent with you. The inside of the cooler has antimicrobial walls. It has good efficiency and can work as a substitute refrigerator on camping trips if plugged on all the time. 

Pros:

  • 4 modes: including eco

Cons:

  • Lid a bit fiddly
  • Noisy when not on night mode

3-way camping fridge Comparison Chart

  • Royal 772835 Cooler
  • DOMETIC CombiCool RC 1200
  • DOMETIC CombiCool RC 2200
  • Smad Fridge
Royal 772835 CoolerDOMETIC CombiCool RC 1200DOMETIC CombiCool RC 2200Smad Fridge
££
£££
£££
£££
Capacity40 l41 l41 l60 l
Dimension L x W x H49.5 x 47 x 44.8 cm50.8 x 50 x 44.1 cm50.8 x 50 x 44.4 cm46.2 x 48 x 69.5 cm
Weight19 kg17 kg14 kg‎22.6 kg
Tempera-ture RangeCools up to 25 degrees C below ambient temperatureCools up to 25 degrees C below ambient temperatureCools up to 33 degrees C below ambient temperatureTemperature Range 0~10℃ with AC thermostat
Wattage 90 watts‎85 watts‎85 watts‎90 watts
See PriceSee PriceSee PriceSee Price

Royal 772835 3 Way Absorption Cooler Review

 

It’s a powerful three-way absorption cooler, which is a great value for your money. This model is very durable and likely will last you for many more years to come. A good gas cylinder will keep everything cool in this unit for up to 2 weeks. So ideal for long camping trips as well.

 

Pros:

  • Good quality

Cons:

  • Heavy

DOMETIC CombiCool RC 1200 3-Way Portable Absorption Coolbox Review

If you’re serious about camping, then a Dometic 3-way fridge is a must-have. They are very robust and reliable with smart-looking housing. Dometic camping fridges are a trusty brand and an excellent choice for those who enjoy outdoor adventures. This model also has an ice-cube tray, which adds a nice touch of luxury.

Pros:

  • Smart design

Cons:

  • Gas lighting is a little temperamental
  • The 12v system requires an 8amp current which can be too much for some vehicles

DOMETIC CombiCool RC 2200 3-Way Portable Absorption Cool Box Review

This electric camping fridge is fairly similar to the RC1200 model but has a larger cooling plate which means it can cool to a lower temperature. At the same time, it is lighter and about the same size.

If you want to have a portable mini fridge in your car all the time to keep drinks cool, then the Dometic Bordbar is an excellent choice. It is great for picnics and can also keep your food warm. It was designed for use in the car, so easy to fasten with the seat belt.

Pros:

  • Fairly light
  • Great cooling range

Cons:

  • Expensive

Smad 3 Way Fridge Review

This 3-way camping fridge looks the most like a regular home fridge. It has multiple shelves and door balconies. This unit isn’t super portable, as quite heavy and much bigger than others on the list. This model can be integrated into campervans, caravans, motorhomes or canal boats. It has a fairly low gas consumption: 5g/h

Pros:

  • Lots of storage
  • Reliable

Cons:

  • Very heavy and bulky

Compressor camping fridge Comparison Chart

  • Alpicool G22 Mini Fridge
  • BODEGA Compressor Fridge
  • DOMETIC CoolFreeze CDF 26
  • Just Kampers Compressor Fridge
Alpicool G22 Mini FridgeBODEGA Compressor FridgeDOMETIC CoolFreeze CDF 26Just Kampers Compressor Fridge
££
££
£££
£££
Capacity22 l36 l21 l (or 18 l & 31 l version available)45 l
Dimension L x W x H57.9 x 32 x 33.5 cm72.4 x 36 x 36.8 cm26 x 55 x 42.5 cm69 x 34 x 45 cm
Weight‎12 kg13.6 kg‎12.7 kg16 kg
Tempera-ture Range-20℃ to +20℃-20 ℃ to +20 ℃-18 °C to +10 °C-20°C to +20°C
Average Power Consumption60W60 WMinimal energy consumption1.2 - 0.5 Ah draw (low power drain)
See PriceSee PriceSee PriceSee Price

Alpicool G22 Car Fridge Review

Alpicool is a top brand in the portable fridge field. This car fridge is a great affordable option for your adventures. It has 3-way protection for your car battery to ensure it doesn’t run down too far. The vibration-resistant design is an impressive feature. It prevents drinks from being shaken up when road-tripping. This model also has a digital temperature display on an LCD screen. Alpicool G22 works as a freezer and it’s very efficient at freezing without ice. It would make a fantastic campervan compressor fridge. 

Pros:

  • 3-stage car battery protection
  • Vibration resistant design

Cons:

  • No AC power inlet option

BODEGA Car Refrigerator Review

A very durable and easy to use camping fridge freezer. It has two different compartments. A really cool feature is that you can either control the zones manually or with a free app. The wheels make it easy to transport despite its heavy weight. If you are travelling with your extended family, you can opt for a bigger version. They come in sizes 45l and 50l. Or for a small family, you can choose the 18 l or 25 l mini camping fridge.

Pros:

  • Manual or app control
  • Eco mode
  • Dual zone for fridge/freezer
  • Wheel,retractable handle
  • USB socket

Cons:

  • Bulky

DOMETIC CoolFreeze CDF 26 Review

Dometic has one of the best-looking camping fridges available. The slim design means it fits in most places. But it’s not just the look in favour of this fridge. They are extremely reliable, user friendly and durable. This high-performance 12v fridge freezer has a low power consumption. The integrated interior LED light make it easy to see the contents of the fridge even in the dark. It is also available in different sizes. The 18l version is a great option if you are after a small camping fridge.

Pros:

  • Slim design 
  • Very silent

Cons:

  • Expensive

Just Kampers Compressor Fridge Review

This fridge is quite big and heavy, but still lighter than most 3-way fridges. It has two compartments: the smaller area is designed to be used as a cool box. Perfect to keep your perishables such as salads, fruit etc. It has great energy consumption as well. A fantastic fridge at a very reasonable price considering its capacity as well.

 

Pros:

  • Lots of storage
  • Great value for money

Cons:

  • Bulky

Tips for using your camping fridge/cooler

Plan ahead and pack the food you are going to eat first on the top of the stack!

A full fridge is more power-efficient, so try and always keep it full. 

Keep your fridge or cooler away from direct sunlight!

Set the fridge to the coldest setting while you are driving and then to eco mode once you are at your destination. 

Allow time for hot food to cool down before you put it in the fridge. This will help avoid your fridge overworking.

Portable fridges and coolers drain the car battery very fast when not driving. Try and use a main hookup, gas or portable power station instead, when you are not on the road.

 

4 Comments

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