Cooler vs Fridge for Camping – Pros and Cons

2010. The year stuff happened. 1

Modern-day campers and outdoor explorers are always searching for the multitude of equipment designed to take along on trekking, hiking, or camping. One factor worth considering is the consistency of keeping supplies for a longer time, including food, water, and other utilities to store their supply. 

Appliances like a 12v refrigerator or cooler accomplish this mission. Here we will tackle each’s pros and cons and help you decide which one you should bring on your next outdoor adventure. Cooler vs Fridge? Let’s put it to the test.

What Is The Difference Between A Camping Fridge And Camping A Cooler?

Off-road activities require campers to invest in several portable appliances to help them store, sustain, or preserve every good they bring alongside the journey. This equipment should hold freezing temperatures suitable for frozen foods and snacks. You should check for a 12v fridge or cooler designed for outdoor adventures and accompany you on your next explorations with the complete breeze. 

These appliances’ manufacturing and designs showcase their ability to provide comfort, convenience, easy-assembly, reliability, and durability. Outdoor enthusiasts must always consider these characteristics as they also require a portable power supply for operations if you bring forth a camping fridge. Coolers are reliant and sufficient based on their structure. They can seal freezing temperatures from ice cubes that are stored inside the structure. 

As a camping enthusiast, you may have thought of upgrading your cooler to a portable fridge. While it takes more than cost analysis, these appliances have their fair share of benefits and setbacks. Here’s a complete overview of what to expect and benefits from them.

Camping Fridge

Portable refrigerators come in various types and use multiple power options, including AC power source, solar panels, and 12v DC source power compatible for most vehicles. These methods of powering camping fridges are not cheap. Most energy-efficient fridge draws 1.3Ah or higher. 

While it may seem like a small amount of power loss, this can still quickly drain energy from your portable generators or solar panels, making them pricey to use.

Here’s what to expect with camping fridge’s advantage and disadvantage: 


  • Freezer options
  • Full control of sustainable temperature
  • Durable
  • Various food compartments
  • Seals automatically
  • Internal lighting
  • Precise and adjustable temperature
  • WiFi capability
  • Digital display


  • Requires portable power
  • Pricey
  • Hard to clean
  • Heavyweight
  • High-maintenance
  • Shorter lifespan

Camping Cooler

Camping coolers are versatile outdoor equipment to help you store and sustain foods or snacks. They are conveniently portable and multifunctional, allowing food or drinks to last for a week or more. This equipment depends on the overall ice capacity, which helps preserve all items you place inside. 

Consider the following benefits and drawbacks of coolers before purchasing one: 


  • Minimal outgoing expense
  • Minimal sustainability expense
  • Affordable
  • Lightweight
  • Low-maintenance
  • Easy to clean
  • Durable
  • Longer usability


  • No freezing options
  • Requires ice cubes to work
  • Limited temperature control

When it comes to controlling and sustainable temperature, the latter has more advanced features between coolers and fridges. Dual-zone fridge types can hold colder temperatures through their integrated electronics and reinforced seals. Single-button press, using meter knobs, or touchscreen display allows you to set the perfect temperature for storing foods properly. 

Cooler vs Fridge Camping Quick Buying Guide: Essential Factors To Consider

Once you have identified each appliance’s pros and cons, it’s vital to understand several essential factors to guide you in your decision-making. Here’s what to consider: 


Your budget is an essential factor when buying or investing in various camping essentials. Cooler and fridge prices have apparent differences. Most advanced camping coolers cost about $200 more or less. 

On the contrary, a camping fridge can cost you about a thousand dollars or more. Since coolers use insulation and ice, they are more affordable than a fridge that requires a power source to be operational.

Frequency of use

Next is to determine how frequently you will be using the equipment. If you are a seasonal camper, you may opt for coolers, especially if you’ll take a couple of days out. However, if you’re an advanced camper and always on the road, a fridge can be a better option. 

Temperature control

Fridges enable you to control the temperature inside, unlike coolers that solely depend on ice to keep cooling your supply. The fridge can freeze your food or snack for a longer time, as long as you keep it plugged in a power source. 


If you’re a backpacker, coolers are the best option. While they may be heavy when filled with ice, portable fridges are heavier. Camping refrigerators are always stationed on vehicles or outside most campsites as they are heavy to haul around. 

Maintenance and cleaning

Coolers require ice to maintain their cooling temperature and keep your stocks in excellent condition. It may sound cumbersome for most outdoor adventurers, but that’s one of the setbacks of manual cooling generation. 

The fridge requires a power source to keep temperature controlled. Though refrigerators use low energy consumption levels, the risk of damaging your power source is another issue.

When it comes to cleaning, coolers are easier to clean as you’ll only drain the water. The fridge requires careful maintenance to ensure it lasts longer. 


For modern outdoor explorers, coolers and fridge are essential appliances which allow you to store drinks, snacks, or foods that can last for days in the wilderness. Both appliances share beneficial features, including portability, capacity, and durability to sustain food or drinks. Whether you go for a camping cooler or fridge, it’s all about knowing what you need, your preference, power source, and volume.  

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