Is cooking always included in your camping trip checklist? Then you need to know how to make the most of your camp fridge. These tips can help keep your food fresh, cold and safe to eat.
Select the right camp fridge settings.
A camping fridge freezer is better than a regular cooler as it can keep your food cold for longer. It’s the best choice when you enjoy multi-day hikes or road trips. One thing you should always do is to set it at the right temperature. Ideally, programme it on its lowest setting while you’re on the road. Once you arrive at your destination, switch it to economical mode. Doing so ensures energy efficiency while keeping your food safe.
Another helpful tip is to cool your compressor unit the night before your trip. Packing your food in an already cold environment helps ensure freshness. Also, it is best if you can use alternative power sources like propane or solar panels. This way, you don’t have to worry about remote locations or sudden power outages. The ACOPOWER R50A portable camping fridge is an excellent example.
Chill or freeze food in advance.
Packing cold food in a pre-chilled unit helps in preserving freshness and your unit’s correct temperature settings. So, before you go to bed, freeze meats and sliced vegetables flat in individual resealable bags (to make them stackable).
Chill beverages, fruits and other similar items overnight, too. If you’re cooking eggs at the campsite, freeze beaten eggs in a freezer-safe container. These will thaw out slowly in the unit, just in time for your campfire frittata in the morning.
Keep food and drinks in separate fridges if possible.
Enjoying the view on your way to the campsite is best while sipping an ice-cold drink. However, constant opening and closing of your camp fridge can alter temperatures drastically and spoil its contents. Condensation due to fluctuating temperature can also result in moisture accumulation and contamination.
So, if you can fit in two units in your vehicle, have one for food and the other for drinks. Using a separate regular cooler for beverages is another option. Better yet, look for units with separate compartments, like the Dometic Waeco CFX 75DZW.
Pack food in a strategic layer.
Like packing your suitcase when travelling lightly, you need a strategy when packing your food inside the portable camping fridge. One way is to put raw and frozen meats at the bottom, while food that requires minimal refrigeration gets the top section. Another is to stack food items in the order that you’re going to eat or cook them. Either way helps minimise temperature change effects when opening the fridge lid.
When packing, it’s also a good idea to have thermal ice packs tucked around your food. Thermal ice packs are reusable and can double as a cold pack for first aid. You can also use them to fill in extra spaces in the unit. Reducing air spaces is an effective way to keep the interior temperature colder.
Use block ice, not ice cubes.
You can also use frozen water bottles to maintain your outdoor camping fridge freezer temperature. Fill plastic containers with water, then freeze them way ahead of time, a week at least, to make them frozen solid. Freezing the bottles for 24 hours is alright, but they will melt much faster.
It’s a great technique when you want to optimise fridge space and have cold drinking water once the bottles defrost. You can use ice cubes from the supermarket or service station, too, but only as a last resort. This option can only cool your unit for a short period. It’s not economical either, and without proper containers, ice water can pool inside your fridge and create a mess.
Keep your camp fridge out of the sun.
If you love camping during summer, make sure to keep an eye on your compressor fridge and its digital display panel. Place it under a shaded area at all times, and move it as needed throughout the day. High ambient temperatures can affect your fridge and make it work doubly harder.
When you load your fridge into your car, keep its air vents free from any obstruction. Also, make sure not to pack anything around the ventilation slots. Some camp fridge brands have matching protective covers or sleeves for extra insulation in hot conditions. The Brass Monkey 15L Portable Fridge is one example. While you need to purchase its jacket separately, this fridge is compact, great for transporting drinks and relatively more affordable.
Place the camp fridge on a levelled surface.
Now that your fridge is all set, the final tip is to keep it level at all times. Proper positioning will keep connections in compressor fridges intact and energy transfer at its optimum. For added security, strap down your unit. Aside from preventing disconnection problems, it will also protect your fridge from bumps and scratches while driving on uneven terrain.
Ready for campfire cooking? Don’t forget to bring the camping stove with you!