Editor's Note: Products featured on Wide Open Eats are independently selected by our editors. However, when you buy something through our links, we may earn a commission.
[dropcap]W[/dropcap]here was this when I was in college? I don't know about you, but I always took leftovers home during holidays. From venison, tamales, desserts, and more. I typically used styrofoam coolers for the trip (or sometimes just hoped food wouldn't spoil during a four-hour drive). However, things would've been much easier if I had a portable freezer! If you take ground beef, venison, ice, or anything you need to stay frozen or cold on road trips, you need a portable freezer. Not only are they great for traveling, but they're also great for RVs and emergencies. We picked out portable freezers that are great for trunks, studio apartments, and more.
When picking out freezers, we considered options that had dual cooling zones: You'll want a small section for refrigerated food that you can store at a warmer temperature. We also considered portability. While not all portable freezers have wheels, we made sure to recommend a freezer that does. However, these freezers aren't too heavy and are easy to carry by yourself or with a pair of extra hands. As for pricing, some of these appliances are expensive and some are more affordable -- but it depends on what you need it for. We recommend making the splurge if you plan on hunting or fishing and want to store and preserve large quantities of food off-the-grid. These are not coolers, but indeed small appliances that will keep your food frozen or cold as long as you need it. Lastly, we considered additional specs like power options, if they're suitable for the indoors or the outdoors, and if they'll work in your car. Here are five portable freezers/refrigerators you'll think about investing in.
1. Our Portable Top Pick
BODEGA 12-Volt Refrigerator/Portable Freezer - Amazon, $372.27
BODEGA's 53-quart portable fridge freezer is perfect for those who like a little tech with their appliances. There's a compatible app to use the temperature control. But don't worry -- if that's not your preference, you can always use manual mode as well. The fridge can reach -4 degrees Fahrenheit, and it is a dual-zone appliance, so you'll be able to keep foods at different temps in both the freezer and fridge sections.
This is our top pick because it's the perfect size for keeping in the trunk of a car, truck, or SUV. Store meat, snacks, fruit and veggies, seafood, or drinks in it. A couple of more specs we like: there's a built-in USB charger so you can charge your phone, and there are wheels and a retractable handle for easy transportation. What more could you need for a beach day or weekend of camping? You'll receive one portable freezer, one cigarette lighter connector, one wall plug and adapter, one user manual, and one dual zone basket with this one.
2. The Best Freezer & Fridge Under $300
Ausranvik 45 Quart Portable Fridge for Car - Amazon, $240
Ausranvik's 45-quart freezer works on a 12/24V DC and 110V AC power source. The chest freezer has a temperature range of -4-degrees to 68 degrees Fahrenheit. It's the perfect portable freezer for under $300 for frozen food, and you're going to love the interior LED light. Thanks to the intelligent battery protection, the freezer/refrigerator won't run your car battery down. The fact that this appliance comes with everything you need for car use is fantastic. If your power ever goes out, you can hurry and put all of your frozen food in this portable freezer. There are dual zones, so you'll be able to store things at different temps in the refrigerator and freezer sections. The freezer is quiet and easy to clean. Sadly, there aren't any wheels, so be ready to carry it.
3. The Best Freezer for Studio Apartments & Offices
Whynter CUF-210SS Energy Star - Amazon, $263.99
Whynter is a leading brand in kitchen appliances. They keep portability and efficiency in mind, and that's what you need in an appliance when you're on-the-go, which is why we're a fan of this small freezer. If you don't need a mini fridge and instead need more freezer space, this is the perfect appliance for your garage, studio apartment, or office. The Energy Star-rated freezer uses less power than a light bulb and is a great fit for small kitchens. It only weighs 44 pounds. The stainless steel freezer has a reversible swing door, a lock for security, and two removable slide-out shelves for your convenience. Not a bunch of fancy tech going on with this freezer, but it's a great option for moving from apartment to apartment if you rent.
4. A Powerful Freezer For Your Boat, Truck, or RV
Whynter Portable Refrigerator - Amazon, $529
Whynter's freezer comes in a camouflage option, making this the perfect pick for hunters who want to preserve their freshly caught food (it also comes in gray). The 110-volt portable refrigerator freezer can be plugged in with both AC power and DC power at the same time. The fast-freeze mode rapidly cools to -8 degrees Fahrenheit, which is perfect for emergencies and travel. You never know when a power outage is coming, so you'll want a back-up plan for saving food that may spoil in the fridge or freezer. This is a large option that will work for hunting and fishing trips -- it works fast and efficiently.
5. A Powerful Outdoor Option That's a Splurge
ARB Portable Fridge & Freezer - Amazon, $1,649
The best-seller is very pricey, so consider this a splurge -- but it's one we think is worth it. It's made of weatherproof materials designed for outdoor use: keep it on your boat, in the back of your truck, or in the woods of your cabin. Avid campers or off-grid enthusiasts will love it. It also has a 4-digit pin code to protect your food and a weatherproof control panel. I'd say this is a great option for keeping food cool when camping at parks, too. The appliance is equipped with rear AC and DC power sockets and has wire baskets to make separating food easy, adding convenience to its portability. There's a backlit LED display for easy control and interior light for easy access to all of your favorite foods. One reviewer writes: "Mounted this in the back of my Tacoma and it works great. It's been though several severe rainstorms and it still runs just fine...Very efficient too. I can get about 4 days of operation with my auxiliary 65 Ah battery."
This post was originally published on March 24, 2021.