Best portable fridge freezers in Australia 2021: Single zone
There’s no shortage of cooling options when camping, working or four-wheel driving, but what are the best portable fridge freezers in Australia?
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Best portable fridge freezers in Australia 2021: Single zone
- Dometic CFX3 55L
- Engel MT-V60F 60L
- Adventure Kings 60L
- Companion 60L Rechargeable Fridge Freezer
- Companion 60L
- Bushman Original Camp Fridge 35 – 52L
- EvaKool Camping Fridge Travelmate TMX65
- ARB Elements 60L Fridge Freezer
- Oztrail 45L portable fridge
- 62L Brass Monkey Portable Fridge or Freezer
- myCOOLMAN 60L camping fridge
How did we pick this list?
Our editorial team selected the portable single zone fridges on this list based on several factors. This includes the average customer rating at established ecommerce sites like Amazon and eBay (as of January 2021), the opinions of other professional review sites, and our own personal experience and tests.
An esky full of ice will only get you so far in Australia. Our great distances and frequently extreme weather conditions ensure even simple tasks like keeping your meat fresh and your beer cold is out of reach. And warm beer is simply un-Australian.
As such, there are plenty of handy uses for a portable fridge. Camping, one of Australia's favourite pastimes, is the most common use case. Whether you're doing The Lap or just enjoying a weekend away with your family. But they're frequently handy for other needs, too. Keeping your lunch fresh when on the job; drinks cool for the team on game day; a cold one on hand during a 4WD adventure; or even just extra storage ahead of Christmas lunch, the list goes on.
So, what are the best portable camping fridges in Australia and what do you need to consider when making your purchasing decision?
Quick summary of best portable fridges
Is the Dometic CFX3 any good?
Perhaps the most revered of the portable camping fridges in the Australian market is Dometic. These iconic fridges were previously referred to as Waeco, but have rebranded in recent years. As such, older models still bear the Waeco name, so don't let that confuse you – it's the same mob.
The Dometic CFX3 55L, as well as its sister models in additional capacities, ticks all the boxes you might expect from a premium portable fridge without innovating. The design is particularly robust, with a squat shape that has reinforced corners and very strong handles. It feels unbreakable. The lid can also be fully detached and turned around if that suits your needs.
The HD display panel has been improved over previous models allowing you easy access to everything you need to know via soft-touch buttons. You can control it all via a Bluetooth enabled app on your phone and we particularly like how the app alerts you if one of your kids has left the lid open!
You can power your phone and other devices through the singular USB port and the whole Dometic CFX3 55L itself can operate happily under solar power.
More importantly, Dometic's own VMSO3 compressor, which intelligently varies its speed depending on the situation, runs great in all conditions. It even allows you to drop as low as -22ºC if outdoor conditions are compliant. This newer model extends the evaporator around the inner walls helping to ensure even cooling of the contents.
Dometic CFX3 55 vs Dometic CFX3 55IM
We mentioned that the Dometic doesn't really innovate, but there is one model that is an exception. For around $150 more you can get the 55IM, which is essentially the same fridge except for one handy distinction. The 55IM sacrifices about two cans worth of space to include an ice maker. Yes, IM stands for ice maker. This allows you to create ice for your drinks and cocktails with ease, but it's hard to justify the extra cost. Especially as it draws a lot of additional power. It's optional and can be removed, bringing the capacity back up to 55L.
Is the Engel MT-V60F any good?
Similar in production quality to the Dometic range, the Engel series offers premium portable fridge solutions that opt for a metal rather than plastic exterior. This makes it a little bit more robust for brutal travelling experiences such as off-road four-wheel driving. It has plenty of strong tie-down points to further that use-case. The large stainless-steel latch is even lockable.
It's powered by an efficient and reliable Sawafuji compressor, which is why it also comes with a great 5-year warranty. It's all controlled by an easy to use, if unspectacular, control panel, although it's a shame that there is no companion app support.
You'll be hard-pressed to find any bad user reviews on this product. The only consistent complaint is its weight, which at 33kg unpacked in just the 60L model is extreme. But that's what you get when you build with durability in mind. We also think the design is rather utilitarian, even if the ventilation and squat design helps with efficiency. Although, it's worth noting the fridge is too squat to hold a bottle of wine standing upright.
Engel has a powerful legacy in Australia. Your parents were probably using an Engel, such is their time spent in the field combatting our country's weather. Many people have decades-old Engels that have never died, too. That kind of reputation comes at a cost.
Is the Adventure Kings portable fridge any good?
If you're looking for a solid single zone fridge freezer on a budget, Adventure Kings is well worth considering. It uses the highly regarded SECOP compressor, which we see in many of the higher-end brands. This gives you some extra assurance that it will deliver the goods on the road and you'll get some life out of it.
However, elsewhere the quality isn't as compelling. The lid, while reversible, isn't as well insulated and sealed as the top of the range options. Indeed, the overall build quality feels a bit cheap (as you might expect from the price). While the control panel, handles (which stick out considerably) and even just the presentation are all very simplistic. Plus, many users complain of poor customer service when things go wrong.
At least inside the fridge, there are two distinct zones to help you separate your food and drink, as well as a basket divider to help you get a third zone happening.
It's a case of you get what you pay for with Adventure Kings. It's a basic entry-level portable fridge, but with the reliable SECOP compressor doing the bulk of the work, it's still a strong contender in the budget range.
Is the Companion 60L Rechargeable Lithium Fridge any good?
The defining feature of the latest range of Companion fridge freezers is the removable 42amp/h lithium battery. You can take the entire battery out of the fridge at your leisure, easily charging it at home or on-site, and then placing it back in the fridge for the best part of a day's running time without any additional power supply. It also acts as a charging station for electronics, or a backup if your other batteries go flat.
In addition, it has a built-in Anderson Plug, allowing you to directly connect solar panels – assuming they have a solar regulator built-in – to the Companion 60L fridge to help support that lithium battery. The dual-speed SECOP compressor is also not to be sneezed at, offering some big brand reliability.
There's plenty to love about the Companion fridge's design: multiple USB ports for charging, a top-lid that can open both ways, a nice digital control panel, tie-down graded handles, built-in bottle openers and even a little storage compartment. However, it is bigger than comparable fridges thanks to the battery, so that's something consider.
A fridge that wins big on innovation.
Is the Companion 60L any good?
It's worth noting that you will come across an alternate model of the Companion 60L fridge freezer. It's about $600 cheaper and for obvious reasons. It stays within the expectations of your traditional portable fridge freezer without the innovation of its big brother. It doesn't offer the removable rechargeable lithium battery, the multi-opening lid system, the USB ports or the Anderson Plug. Plus, it scales back – but not much – to a dual-speed LG compressor.
However, it remains an excellent option for campers looking for a portable fridge in the budget price range. The great control panel, soft close lid, well insulated shell, low power consumption, 3-year warranty and three-stage battery protection are features we usually expect in higher price ranges.
It also features sturdy metal construction and tie-down graded handles. The handles are a bit hard on the hands, but they do have a low profile allowing for easier backing in a loaded vehicle or trailer. Also note that the metal exterior gets very hot quickly in direct sunlight and while we were still impressed by how it performed in these conditions, we'd recommend getting the cover to go with it.
You can read our extensive Companion 60L review for more information.
Is the Bushman Original Camp Fridge any good?
This intriguing entry in the portable fridge space hasn't changed too much over the years, taking the if it isn't broken, don't fix it approach. It really stands out thanks to one unique feature. There is only one model; the 35L. However, you can buy extenders that increase the size from 35L to 45L, and then from 45L to 52L. You can buy all sizes together in one kit too.
This approach gives you the flexibility of resizing the Bushman Original Camp Fridge depending on how you are using it. Just going on a day trip? Well, you can take it in its 35L form and save on power consumption and space. Doing a long weekend? Go the full 52L so you can pack in plenty of food and drinks. The system for connecting the different capacities works really well.
The Bushman is very much about function over form. It's an ugly looking fridge with an outdated control panel and no modern fringe benefits, such as USB ports or comfortable handles. But the SECOP compressor ensures durability and performance, and we also love the three-basket interior that helps with organising your food and drink in a smart and useful way.
Is the Evakool Travelmate TMX any good?
Another solid all-rounder, the EvaKool TMX Travelmate fridges are known for delivering great performance in hot conditions and for running quiet thanks to a low draw power mode that can be activated when conditions allow. It comes with a handy USB port, Wi-Fi connectivity, a removable basket and a sturdy design highlighted by corner bumpers and a low profile.
However, it's worth pointing out that the handles aren't recessed into the shell fully, meaning it can catch on things when packed. Also, the included basket has a rather wide mesh, with openings that can see smaller items slip through. This is a shame, as otherwise the internal layout – which divides into three zones – is handy.
Yet there is more to like than dislike with the EvaKool MX65. The lid can be opened either way without having to lock it in one way or the other, allowing for greater accessibility. And with its trusted SECOP compressor, as well as a class-leading, comprehensive 5-year warranty, the EvaKool TMX65 Travelmate portable fridge represents good value for money.
In short, you get plenty of premium features at a medium range price with the Evakool. It would be remiss of us not to point out that some people have had compressor failures shortly after purchase, putting question marks over the company's quality assurance system. Evakool is quick to react with replacements, however.
Is the ARB Elements fridge any good?
As its name suggests, the ARB Elements portable fridge is built for a life outdoors. It's well suited for campers and travellers who are likely to store it in the tray of their ute or in a trailer. It's waterproof and dustproof, is built out of stainless steel, and has an optional mounting kit to keep it from bumping around. We also like the gas-loaded lid arms, which keep it up of its own accord. Plus, it has a lockable magnetic seal, using a three-digit code on the nicely designed control panel.
Its robust design comes at a bit of cost. It's a sizeable fridge for its capacity and considerably heavy, and it's disappointing that the tie-down straps, which are a key accessory given the ARB Elements use case, aren't included. It's also interesting that you must open the fridge to access all the control options, which could annoy some people.
Speaking of annoying, its squat shape is also restrictive on storing tall items like wine bottles.
The ARB Elements does use a reliable SECOP compressor and comes with a 3-year warranty. The use case is very specific though, which is a shame as it's a great looking fridge. There is only the singular 60L option. It's also worth noting that they're not too easy to find, with your best bet being a direct purchase through a physical ARB store.
Is the Oztrail fridge any good?
The Oztrail 45L portable camping fridge looks to fit into the upper range of the budget price tier while offering a sturdy metal exterior. It's got a simple but functional design with utilitarian handles that double as tie-down points, as well as a nice big control panel and sturdy lid clip mechanism. It runs off the solid LG compressor and is relatively quiet, but it isn't top tier and the 2-year warranty reflects that.
While the Oztrail 45L camping fridge is suitable for use with solar panels, the metal fridge itself isn't the best insulated option on the market. Many users often look to spend on the additional cover to help improve that insulation for greater efficiency. Another complaint has been a loose 12V power socket that can detach easily.
The Oztrail 45L lacks the bells and whistles of the medium and top priced fridges, but that does mean it weighs a lot less than most metal portables. For those on a budget, it's a more than solid option that will complete its core job without doing much else.
- Large number of sizes
- Packed with features
- Not that efficient
- Vertical design makes organising hard
- Not the best build quality
Is the Brass Monkey portable fridge any good?
This curiosity in the portable camping fridge space comes jam-packed with features, many of which we only see in much higher-priced models. Indeed, this is on the lower end of the budget range when it comes to price. Yet you get a USB port, Bluetooth app control, built-in bottle opener, a (basic) LCD control panel and a 3-year warranty.
It also comes with wheels and a telescopic handle, which makes it a lot easier to move about for campers who think they'll struggle with the weight of a loaded fridge. Plus there is an optional internal battery backup as well as solar support.
So why the cheap price then? Well, it doesn't use a known-name compressor, which puts some question marks on reliability but also shows up in a higher than normal power consumption. The vertical design is cramped, making it hard to get access to food and drinks buried at the bottom.
Is the myCOOLMAN camping fridge any good?
Coming in at the mid-range price point for a portable camping fridge is the myCOOLMAN 60L model. It's a bit on the bulky side, but there's still a lot to love about its design. The excellent handles are recessed into the wall of the fridge, preventing it from getting caught during packing. Bottle openers on either end are also embedded in the handle bay, while the nifty little control panel is also tucked inside the chassis.
This fridge's low profile makes it great for packing into tight spaces. While the reversible lid and power inputs at both ends, including a USB port, give it added flexibility when packed. Inside, the smart basket design allows for three separate compartments. Although the large mesh can make balancing bottles cumbersome. Bluetooth wireless connectivity to an app is also appreciated.
The myCOOLMAN range uses the German company's own Blue compressor, so you're taking a bit of a punt there in terms of reliability and repair, but the 5-year warranty certainly gives you confidence. The compressor also comes with a Turbo mode, that allows you to get your fridge to temperature quickly – handy when you are still plugged into your mains before leaving home.
The myCOOLMAN portable camping fridges are a new face on the Australian scene, but early indications are promising. There's plenty of bang for buck here, and there are some nice additional accessories you can grab, including a magnetic lithium power pack that offers a great back-up power supply.
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