Companion 60L portable fridge review
Quick verdict: With great performance and a durable metal design, the Companion 60L portable fridge is a top buy when camping on a budget.
- Great metal design
- Excellent performance
- Nice LCD screen
- Good bang for buck
- Internal basket not optimised
- No USB port
- No Wi-Fi or Bluetooth
- Vents and LCD screen can be obstructed when packed
When it comes to portable fridges, be it for camping, work, four-wheel driving or just as a spare in your home, there's a big list of options that cover a wide price range. Regardless of your use case and your budget, you're sure to find a few options that meet your needs. And if you're not yet sure of your use case, our portable fridge buying guide will help.
The Companion 60L fridge freezer sits at the higher end of the "budget" range of portable fridges. It retails for $899.99, although can be found typically for closer to the $730 mark. It's a no-fuss portable fridge that looks to deliver performance and durability. Indeed, its strong, metal construction is usually reserved for portable fridges in the mid to premium range.
The Companion 60L portable fridge is two-way, offering mains 240V power or 12V DC powering via car batteries and solar panels. It runs on an LG compressor, which isn't quite as renowned as some of the premium portable fridge compressors, but is still excellent at this price range. It weighs 23kg, which is low for a metal fridge, and can freeze down to an impressive -20ºC with an average power usage of 1.1 amps per hour.
However, at this price, you do miss out on some of the finer features and details that you can get when you have a bit more money to spend. With all that in mind, is the Companion 60L portable fridge any good?
- Great LCD control panel
- 3-year warranty
- Three-stage battery protection
- Eco mode
As mentioned at the top, Companion's portable fridge offers the strength of a metal exterior in that budget price range. The tough metal doesn't insulate as well as plastic or fibreglass fridges and certainly does get hot quickly in direct sunlight, but it ensures the fridge can stand up to the rigours of travel across bumpy Australian roads. You can store it in your trailer, tray or 4WD with confidence.
The big LCD screen makes controlling the Companion portable fridge easy. It is set low to the ground, which can be annoying to access, but that does keep it out of easy reach of the sun's rays.
On the control panel, you will find the LG compressor offers dual speeds, allowing you to change from the standard Max setting to Eco mode when you need to be more conservative with power consumption. You can also play with the three-stage battery protection settings, which will ensure you don't flatten your car battery if that's how you're powering it.
A single basket is included that fills the entirety of the internal space, maximising capacity. You also get a 240V power cable and a 12V car cigarette lighter cable. Plus, there is an internal LED light about mid-way down the internal space. This is all as you'd expect though and nothing more.
Elsewhere, the Companion 60L portable fridge is light on features. There's no charging USB port for your mobile devices or Anderson plug port. A built-in bottle opener, a reversible lid and a draining plug are also absent. It's also not Wi-Fi or Bluetooth enabled, so can't benefit from a Companion app. These features aren't common in this price range, but must be considered when making your purchasing decision.
- Sturdy metal exterior
- Low profile
- Latches unconvincing
- Basket mesh too wide
The design of the Companion 60L portable fridge is simple and functional. It's tall and straight, with an internal compartment that can easily house a standing bottle of wine with plenty of space to spare. The tough, vertical metal walls allow for easy storage, too. And although the handles aren't recessed into the chassis, they have a very low profile minimising their ability to catch on other items in your vehicle or trailer. I'm a big fan of the large LCD display, too.
Ultimately, the Companion 60L portable fridge has a nice, clean design. It looks great and it maximises its capacity versus its dimensions. But there is room for improvement.
The handles themselves I'm not overly impressed with. They can double as tie-down anchors, which is good, but they're a bit hard on the hands. At 23kg unpacked, there's plenty of weight to consider when moving this fridge about.
On the topic of packing the fridge, the vents that expose the condenser are quite low. These require airflow and could prove a problem in densely packed vehicles. With no reversible lid and only one power input port, you don't have much freedom to experiment with different placements to ensure that airflow is available.
As mentioned, the lid isn't reversible or removable as we see in other models, but it does have a nice big seal and happily stands upright on its own. When open, the lid leaves enough space to easily remove the internal basket. The soft-close lid is also welcome, preventing it from falling on unsuspecting fingers, and the thick rubber seal ensures there isn't a loud bang when it closes.
I'd prefer the latches to be a little tighter. They hold the lid down, but don't pull it down to squash that seal into the chassis. This doesn't seem to impact the integrity of the seal, but it does give the lid freedom to move up and down a bit on rough roads. And I do wonder how that movement may impact the fridge over time.
Finally, we have the internal basket. It comes in one, easily removable piece and in my opinion, that's a bit behind the times. I would have liked to have seen two baskets, and perhaps even a divider to create three zones. The gaps in the mesh are large, making it hard to balance bottles while allowing smaller items to easily slip through.
- LG dual speed compressor delivers
- Insulation holds up
- Relatively quiet
- Cover recommended
This is what really counts. You can do away with all the fancy features if the Companion 60L portable fridge is going to deliver cold food and drinks when on the road. In this regard, the Companion 60L is a success. Using a mains connection, I was able to bring the fridge down 43ºC below the ambient temperature in an hour while positioned in direct sunlight.
When I set it to a typical freezing temperature of -3ºC and switched it over to Eco Mode, it happily sat in the sunlight of a 23ºC summer's day. It barely needed to feather on and off to retain that temperature, too, which indicates the quality of the insulation, especially since it's a metal exterior.
I was happy with the compressor's noise. On Eco Mode, it's a challenge to hear it at night unless you put it right next to your head.
That all said, I would recommend getting the $79 Companion 60L cover accessory. The fridge's metal exterior, especially the lid, heats up in direct sunlight almost instantly. Regardless of how good the insulation is, this must be putting the compressor under extra load. And while its 1.1 amps/hour power consumption isn't bad, it's definitely higher than the top range fridges.
The cover would take away the heat created by direct sunlight on metal, and the pressure that brings to the compressor. Unfortunately, I've been unable to test the cover myself.
Should you buy the Companion 60L Portable Fridge?
- Buy it if you're looking for good performance in a metal portable fridge that fits into the budget price range.
- Don't buy it if you want all the latest and greatest features and optimal power draw.
The Companion 60L portable fridge performs as you'd hope and looks great, making it a strong contender for anyone seeking something in the budget range. In our tests, the LG dual-speed compressor produced admirable results with minimum noise. While the low profile build and durable exterior make it easy to transport.
It's not fair to criticise a fridge at this price point for lacking the many features we expect in higher-end models, but I do feel Companion could have reached a little further. Is a USB port and Wi-Fi compatibility really that hard to achieve in this day and age? That, along with a smaller mesh basket and the flexibility to create zones, would have pushed this portable fridge from very good to excellent.
Pricing and availability
While the Companion 60L retails for $899.99, but obviously you should shop around to find the best price.
Where to buy
Images: Chris Stead