We all know that freezing our food is a great way to keep it fresh without using harsh chemicals, but keeping things cool on the go can be a real challenge. Whether you’re travelling, camping, or need a temporary solution when your main freezer is down, a small portable freezer could be the perfect solution.
These handy devices can work in a variety of ways, but they’re all designed to keep small amounts of food frozen, and many don’t require a conventional power outlet. With so many portable freezers to choose from, working out exactly which one is right for you can be a challenge – that’s where we come in. We’ve scoured the internet to help you find your perfect mini freezer. We’ve also taken the time to address some common questions and concerns about this handy piece of kit, helping new owners to get the most out of their new freezer.
The Best Portable Freezer
Starting off our list is this compact cooler by Koolatron. The versatile device can both heat and cool food, making it the perfect option for RVs, minivans, cars, hotel rooms, or wherever you need to store fresh food. By purchasing an AC adapter, the handy device can also be plugged into any wall outlet. The cooler maintains a low temperature through a cooling element and fan. For easy transportation, a convenient handle folds out of the cooler to give users the secure grip they need.
When in use, it’s extremely quiet, so there’s no need to worry about noisy equipment ruining the family vacation. Once switched on, it can cool thing down to 40 F below the ambient temperature – just enough to maintain freezing conditions in the right climate. Users say the device is ideal for road trips, keeping picnic supplies cool and fresh throughout the journey. It’s a convenient alternative to traditional coolers, which doesn’t require any ice packs to function.
Compact, 2-in-1 cooler and heater
Can be plugged into any outlet with the correct adapter
Capable of achieving temperatures 40 F lower than the ambient range
Ideal for keeping lunch supplies cool and fresh
Can achieve freezing temperatures if required
Ideal for cars, SUVs, RVs, cabins, and more
Features a carry handle
- Weight5 pounds
Dometic have also earned themselves a spot on our list, thanks to their lightweight and efficient portable fridge freezer. Available in a variety of sizes, you’re guaranteed to find a version that meets your needs. Each portable device can be powered by a range of sources, including a car battery. Its three stage monitor system lets you know how much power is left at a glance if you choose this option. You can even power the cooler using a solar panel, for an eco-friendly take on the camping fridge. If it’s more convenient, the device can also be plugged into a standard outlet using an AC adapter.
Because it’s made from durable and weatherproof polypropylene, the cooler is perfect for outdoor use – whether it’s a barbeque or spontaneous picnic. Users say that the cooler is powerful to actually freeze items within an hour, so it’s a great option if you’re looking for that all-important portable ice cream freezer. Capable of freezing items on the go, even at hot ambient temperatures, this nifty little freezer as powerful as it is compact. Each one is equipped with a fabric strap for easy transportation, and two handy cup holders.
Ideal for camping, barbeques, road trips, and more
Power via car battery, standard outlet, or solar panel
Freezes contents within an hour
Made from weatherproof polypropylene
Features a handy strap for easy transportation
- Weight19.84 pounds
The next portable fridge-freezer to earn a spot on our list is by Whynter. Its 45 qt. capacity is the perfect size for camping, road trips, and more – equating to around 60 cans worth of storage space. The versatile device can both refrigerate and freeze fresh foods, providing the versatility you need to undertake any trip. It’s compact, powerful, and well-insulated, adding up to a portable freezer that delivers every time.
The cooler can operate through both AC and DC power, so you’re sure to find an effective power source almost anywhere – from standard outlets to car batteries. Unlike conventional 12 volt coolers, this option is pretty powerful. In fact, it can cool down to temperatures as low as -6 degrees F. Thanks to adjustable temperature settings, it’s easy to choose exactly the temperature you need for the task at hand. Meanwhile, and LCD temperature display makes it easy to see exactly how cool things are getting inside. To help keep its contents organised, the device also features two removable wire baskets. Wherever you place the freezer, it will stay firmly in place, thanks to a set of grippy rubber feet.
Easy to read LED screen for easy temperature monitoring
Includes both AC and DC cable, for use in the car, or with a standard outlet
Grippy feet ensure the freezer remains in place
2 removable baskets included, for better organization
- Weight45 pounds
Making their second appearance on our list is Koolatron, with this 29 qt. cooler. Unlike conventional coolers, no ice required – just a car battery or AC outlet for power. The device is made from durable polypropylene plastic, which is both strong and highly durable. These properties make the cooler easy to transport, without worrying about damage.
Its mid-range capacity is ideal for long road trips, RV adventures, and camping stints – 29 qts. is equivalent to around 48 soda cans. Whatever you’re cooling, this handy container maintains a temperature that’s 40 degrees F lower than the ambient. Alternatively, it can also heat up to 130 degrees F, making it equally suitable for keeping food hot on the go. This heating and cooling is achieved with the use of solid state technology, limiting the number of moving parts, for ruggedness and quiet operation. Users say that this cooler is built to last – often going strong after years of on and off use.
29 qt. portable cooler/heater
Cools to 40 degrees F below the ambient temperature
Heats to a maximum of 130 degrees F
Minimal moving parts for durability and quiet operation
Ideal capacity for road trips and camping
Made using strong and durable polypropylene plastic
- Weight13 pounds
The next portable freezer to earn itself a spot on our list is this large and sturdy offering by Dometic. Ideal for camping, tailgating, picnics, and more, the powerful yet efficient device can cool down to an impressive – 8 degrees F. This temperature is fully adjustable, through simple thermostat controls mounted on the side of the deice. An easy to read LED display makes it easy to keep an eye on the temperature within.
Made using high density plastic and heavy-duty stainless steel, the freezer is built to last – taking plenty of bumps and scrapes in its stride. It’s also designed for easy access, featuring foldable carry handles and a detachable lid. Once opened, the food and drink inside is illuminated by a bright LED light, making it easy to see what you have. Thanks to two removable baskets, organizing your snacks is simple, too. For on the go versatility, the freezer can be powered through pretty much any electricity source, from car batteries to standard AC outlets. Each freezer comes with its own AC and DC power adapters. You can even charge small devices from the freezer itself, since it’s equipped with a USB port.
Made using sturdy plastic and stainless steel
LED display for easy temperature monitoring
Interior light for better visibility
2 removable baskets make for easy organization
Includes AC and DC power adapters
Equipped with a USB outlet for charging small devices
- Weight38.6 pounds
If you’re looking for a portable fridge-freezer that’s on the smaller side, look no further than this handy device by Alpicool. The petite yet mighty device can reach temperatures as low as -4 degrees F, making it the ideal way to keep fresh food cool on the go. Users can easily adjust this temperature using a digital control panel. Thanks to the AC and DC cables included with the freezer, it’s easy to power wherever you go. It can even be connected to a solar panel for eco-friendly functioning.
The freezer is made from strong yet lightweight plastic, improving its portability, without compromising on its ability to last. A set of handles positioned on each side of the cooler make for easy transportation, while a vibration resistant design keeps its contents safe and sound on the go.
Adjustable temperature can reach as low as -4 degrees F
Made with lightweight but durable plastic
Can be powered by AC and DC electricity
Suitable for use with solar panels
Features carry handles for improved portability
Vibration resistance protects food on the go
- Weight21.2 pounds
The next portable freezer to earn a spot on our list is by EdgeStar. The powerful device cools food using a compressor, making it much more efficient that its thermoelectric counterparts. Each freezer includes a detachable power cord, which can be plugged into any standard AC outlet.
Thanks to its effective cooling technology, the freezer can achieve temperatures as low as -8 degrees F, holding steady even when the ambient temperature is warm. This temperature is easy to adjust to meet your needs, thanks to a digital thermostat located on the side of the device. Thanks to its Fast Freeze setting, the device can rapidly cool to its lowest temperature making it easy to keep food fresh in a hurry. This setting is the perfect way to keep foods frozen after a supermarket trip. For ease of use, the freezer also features two carry handles, making for simple effective transportation.
Portable fridge freezer featuring a 43 qt. capacity
Efficient and powerful thermoelectric cooling mechanism
Plugs into any standard AC outlet
Cools to -8 degrees F
Fast Freeze setting allows rapid cooling
Two carry handles make for easy transportation
- Weight48.5 pounds
Earning a second spot on our list is Whynter, with their large and powerful 62 qt. portable freezer. The premium quality design features two separate cooling compartments, each of which can maintain a different temperature. This handy feature means that this piece of kit can be used as both a fridge and freezer simultaneously. Thanks to its powerful compressor cooling system, the device can reach an impressively low temperature of -6 degrees F.
Selecting a temperature for each of the sections is easy, thanks to a simple set of controls on the side of the device. Here, and LED temperature display makes it easy to keep an eye on how cool things get inside. Another LED mounted in the freezer’s interior makes it easy to see your food and snacks even in the dark. Keeping things organized inside is easy thanks to two removable wire baskets, while a set of handles on each side of the device make for quick and easy transportation. This versatile fridge-freezer can be powered by both AC and DC power sources, allowing it to draw power from both automotive batteries and standard power outlets.
2 separate cooling compartments can hold 2 different temperatures
Minimum temperature of -6 degrees F
Easy to read LED display
Interior light for improved visibility
Features 2 removable baskets for easy organization
- Weight62 pounds
Although it’s not a portable freezer per se, we thought our list would be incomplete without mentioning this handy transportation bag for your new device. Available in a variety of sizes, it’s guaranteed to fit ARB portable freezers of all shapes and sizes. Featuring a thin but effective insulating layer, it’s the perfect way to save energy without compromising on interior temperature.
Because it’s only a couple of pounds in weight, the handy bag won’t weigh you down either. Thanks to its soft yet durable fabric, the handy cover helps to protect your freezer (and its contents) from the knocks and scrapes that come with car travel. Users say the bag offers a fantastic fit, and helps keep your freezer firmly in place with its strong and durable anchoring point.
Storage bag for portable freezer
Various sizes available
Compatible with ARB devices
Provides your freezer with effective insulation for improved efficiency
Helps protect your device against dings, scrapes, and vibrations
Protects your freezer’s contents from the dangers of travel
- Weight2.2 pounds
Last, but not least, comes this tri-voltage fridge-freezer by Engel. The conveniently portable device can operate on both AC and DC current, and works through a highly efficient, low amp compressor. The compressor draws only one or two amps each hour, which is around 40% less than conventional compressors. When in operation, the freezer is impressively quiet, so there’s no need to worry about distractions on the go.
Engel are known for the durability of their equipment, and this portable fridge freezer is no different. It features variable temperature control, so you can keep food and drink at the perfect temperature whether that’s frozen or refrigerated. Thanks to a set of detachable handles on either side, the freezer is easy to carry, too. When you’re on the go, the lid can be clipped firmly in place, preventing its contents from flying away in transit.
40 qt. fridge-freezer for portable use
Made from durable ABS plastic
Cools food ia a low amp compressor
Efficient compressor draws 40% less power than many on the market
Variable temperature control
Carry handles and secure lid make for easy transportation
- Weight48 pounds
Best Portable Freezer Buying Guide & FAQ
These portable freezers are the best of the buch, and we’re confident you’ll find the perfect option for you somewhere on the list. To help you work out which one best meets your needs, and get the most out of your new device, we’ve compiled this handy guide. Below we run through what to look out for in a portable freezer, why you might need one, and how they work.
What to Look for in a Portable Freezer
When it’s time to choose your own portable freezer, there are a few key factors to bear in mind:
- Minimum Temperature
The minimum temperature you require will depend upon whether you want to refrigerate or freeze your food. Portable coolers with colder minimum temperatures provide the best versatility, since you’ll be able to adjust their temperature, but they also tend to be pricier, so it’s important to balance your requirements with your budget. Ice packs can be used to decrease a cooler’s temperature in a pinch without the need to splash out.
How much you need your portable freezer to hold will depend on what you plan to use it for. For instance, during a short road trip, chances are you won’t need to store as much food as you would during a week-long camping stint. If you’re unsure about the capacity you’ll need, look out for a mid-size option, such as item number four on our list.
A good portable freezer is built to last - this is especially important when you bear in mind the bumps, scrapes, and vibrations it is likely to experience during transit. To ensure your freezer lasts, look out for high quality materials, such as high density plastic and stainless steel.
As with any purchase, budget should be borne in mind when selecting a portable freezer. The largest, most powerful models can cost up to $1,000, which may be a sound investment for some, but not if it’s only intended for occasional use. For this sort of light usage, we’d recommend a budget-friendly option, such as Koolatron 18 qt. model.
Benefits of Having a Portable Freezer
Keeping a portable freezer about comes with a wide array of benefits:
- Portable freezers are perfect for keeping store groceries frozen on a cool day as you drive home
- Portable fridges and freezers help keep food fresh on long journeys
- Portable freezers can be a great stop-gap if your regular freezer is out of action
- Portable freezers come in a wide variety of shapes and sizes
- Many portable freezers offer a variety of temperature settings
- Some portable cooling systems can be powered by solar panels
Types Of Cooling Systems
When choosing your own portable freezer, you’ll notice there are two main cooling systems to choose from:
- Compressor Powered
The most efficient portable fridge-freezers are usually powered by compressor. In this system a pump - called a compressor - pushes cooling solution (refrigerant) into a high-pressure chamber known as a condenser, before it’s pumped into a low-pressure chamber called an evaporator. These two components are connected in a loop, and the refrigerant constantly cycles between them.
When the refrigerant is pressurised in the condenser, its temperature rises. Because the condenser is located outside the unit, excess heat from the refrigerant can escape from here into the surrounding air.
When the refrigerant passes into the low pressure evaporator, its temperature drops. The evaporator is housed inside the fridge, cooling the internal temperature overall.
Essentially, compressor powered refrigerators work by pumping heat out of the system.
- Thermoelectric Powered
This type of fridge makes use of a phenomenon called the Peltier Effect. This occurs when an electric current is passed between two different conductors; one heats up, and the other cools down.
In a portable cooler, the cold side is placed inside the device, while the hot side sits externally, radiating heat away into the surrounding environment. Sometimes, a small fan helps the process along, by dissipating the hot air produced.
These coolers tend to work less efficiently than their compressor powered counterparts, and demand more electricity to function. However, without many moving parts, they’re very durable, and can be made very compact.
Best Portable Freezer FAQ:
Q: What is a portable freezer and how does it work?
A: Portable freezers help to keep food and drinks cold on the go. They usually consist of a compact insulated box, cooled by one of two methods:
We outline how each of these methods work above.
Q: What is the optimal refrigeration temperature setting?
A: According to the FDA, fresh food should be refrigerated at a temperature of around 40 degrees F (4 degrees C).
This temperature ensures that any bacteria are dormant, and significantly slows down their growth. If you want to keep food frozen, you’ll need to maintain a temperature of 0 degrees F or lower.
Q: How long does it take to freeze ice in a portable freezer?
A: This depends on the portable freezer in question.
Some feature a Fast Freeze setting, such as option number seven on our list, and can freeze water into ice in a matter of minutes. Others may take a couple of hours to reach their coolest temperature.
Always check the manufacturer's advice before attempting to freeze food from fresh in your portable freezer.
Our Top Pick
Topping our list of the best portable freezers is this 18 qt. cooler by Koolatron. Capable of cooling down to 40 F below the ambient temperature, the versatile device can easily keep your frozen goods fresh on the road. It’s a convenient alternative to traditional coolers, and you won’t need ice packs or other cooling devices to make it work.
Its 18 qt. capacity is large enough to hold ample food for your trip, but not big enough to be cumbersome. Thanks it its tall, thin design, the cooler is practically designed to slip into place between car seats, or in other tight spots. Once switched on, the cooler can operate very quietly, so it won’t become a nuisance. Customers agree that this handy portable car fridge is ideal for long journeys. With its solid build and convenient carry handle, it’s also excellent value at its price point.
- How Do Portable Refrigerators Work? - Hunker