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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I am trying to determine whether I want to get some type of 12v refrigerator or electric cooler, or whether I can make do with a standard ice cooler.
I just did a 6 day test outing using an inexpensive cooler, which I loaded with block ice and ice cubes. It was hot weather, varying between 80 to 95 degrees during the day, and between 55 and 68 at night. I began with one block of ice and 2 bags of ice cubes, which filled about 2/3 of the cooler capacity, and the rest was food and drinks. I found that I needed to buy new ice just about every day during the trip. The block ice lasted longer but in order to fill the space adequately with ice, I needed cubes as well as blocks. As well, although I had planned to set my food into an uncovered plastic bin to keep it above the ice and melted water, eventually the combination of water and remaining ice tipped the plastic bin and made my unenclosed food items soggy.
I considered starting out with dry ice, but had read that dry ice will freeze everything put into the cooler, and I didn't want my vegetables to freeze.

My experience from my 6 days trip was that (1) I'd like to be able to go more than 1 day without buying more ice (2-3 days would be great) , (2) I need to experiment with putting all food into watertight containers so that when the ice melts, the food doesn't get soggy (does this work...have others tried this?), (3) I need to experiment with dry ice or a combo of dry ice and regular ice and see how that works.

Things I am wondering about, and would like feedback on:
(1) Is there a way to use dry ice in a cooler while avoiding the food all becoming frozen?
(2) Do higher quality coolers allow the ice to last longer, so that I would not need to buy more ice each day? For instance, I'm considering this cooler: YETI Tundra 45 Hard Cooler which some reviewers say will hold ice longer than standard inexpensive coolers.
(3) In terms of 12v refrigerators, one concern I have is the noise they make when running, as I like things to be quiet at night and one of the goals when camping is to experience the silence. I am wondering if there are some electric coolers/fridges that are low noise.
(4) I notice the Dometic brand refrigerators are expensive: there are other brands which are significantly less expensive, wonder if anyone has had a good experience with these others.
 

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We have a Yeti cooler. We freeze a few plastic bottles with water before the trip and put them in the cooler. After a week of camping, we start buying ice every other or third day, since the ice in the bottles has melted by then (water in the bottles is still cold.) In the future, we plan to buy an electric freezer/cooler, freeze plastic bottles during the day and transfer them to the cooler compartment for the night. This will allow us to turn off the freezer/cooler for the night.
 

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We're staying with just a cooler for now. Refrigerator isn't in the budget. In addition to frozen water bottles as others have suggested, we freeze any meat that we won't use the first night. And we travel with the pillows/blanket piled around the cooler when we aren't sleeping. Can get 3 days easily before needing more ice. Juice bottles work well as they are sturdier than milk jugs. But I'm still hunting for a square container with a large lid so that I can add ice cubes as needed.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
We have a Yeti cooler. We freeze a few plastic bottles with water before the trip and put them in the cooler. After a week of camping, we start buying ice every other or third day, since the ice in the bottles has melted by then (water in the bottles is still cold.) In the future, we plan to buy an electric freezer/cooler, freeze plastic bottles during the day and transfer them to the cooler compartment for the night. This will allow us to turn off the freezer/cooler for the night.
That's an excellent, creative idea!
 

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i gave up on soggy food years ago and never looked back. couldnt pay me to have ice for more than a beer cooler now. only plus is constant supply of ice for cocktails, but my fridge makes it fast enough
 

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When we use a cooler, we buy dry ice for it. In order to keep the temperature from going too low, I wrap the dry ice in newspaper.

Of course always wear winter gloves when handling dry ice or your skin will freeze to it and cause substantial damage.

All meat is pre cooked so that it lasts longer and just needs to be warmed to taste.

A compressor refrigerator / freezer setup is in the plan.
 

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We're staying with just a cooler for now. Refrigerator isn't in the budget. In addition to frozen water bottles as others have suggested, we freeze any meat that we won't use the first night. And we travel with the pillows/blanket piled around the cooler when we aren't sleeping. Can get 3 days easily before needing more ice. Juice bottles work well as they are sturdier than milk jugs. But I'm still hunting for a square container with a large lid so that I can add ice cubes as needed.
Make sure the lid is tight. Ours wasn't. We froze water in the container and much of the melted ice water ended up in the cooler.
 

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We're been very happy with our Dometic CFX. The current drain is very low and we don't have to worry about spoiled food. It was pretty spendy although we managed to get it while it was on sale on the Dometic site. When we're out in the middle of the Mohave there's really no place to buy ice. :sneaky:
 

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It depends on how often and long you're going to be using it.

I use a cooler because my trips are seldom longer than a week, and I might only get 6-7 trips a year where I'd use a cooler. $50 MaxCold cooler works just as good if not better than a $400 Yeti, 20lbs of ice lasts 3-4 days in the summer and costs $2-3.

Soggy? You're not doing it right.
I have a separate plastic bin INSIDE the cooler where I put the ice; it takes up about 1/2 the usable space. I also put canned beverages in with the ice so they are xtra coldish. All stuff I don't want to get wet goes alongside that plastic bin. And for extra protection, some things are in sealed plastic containers or ziplocks.

I'll get a 12v refrigerator/freezer at some point, but I haven't felt like I "needed" it yet. Also keep in mind that if you add powered appliances, you'll have to add power storage, and way(s) to recharge that power storage. So even though $350-500 for a 12v fridge doesn't sound so bad, you'll also need to get $350-500 worth of other stuff to make it reliably functional. But, no more ice, no more worries about not having enough ice, no hassle dumping the melted ice, etc.
 

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Started with a 55 quart premium brand cooler. After the first six months upgraded to a 50 quart ARB Fridge/Freezer. No more cooler bilge water. No more stopping to buy ice. Set it and forget it. Having no ice leaves more usable space for food. Once you have a fridge, you'll wonder why you waited so long.
 

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It depends on how often and long you're going to be using it.

I use a cooler because my trips are seldom longer than a week, and I might only get 6-7 trips a year where I'd use a cooler. $50 MaxCold cooler works just as good if not better than a $400 Yeti, 20lbs of ice lasts 3-4 days in the summer and costs $2-3.

Soggy? You're not doing it right.
I have a separate plastic bin INSIDE the cooler where I put the ice; it takes up about 1/2 the usable space. I also put canned beverages in with the ice so they are xtra coldish. All stuff I don't want to get wet goes alongside that plastic bin. And for extra protection, some things are in sealed plastic containers or ziplocks.

I'll get a 12v refrigerator/freezer at some point, but I haven't felt like I "needed" it yet. Also keep in mind that if you add powered appliances, you'll have to add power storage, and way(s) to recharge that power storage. So even though $350-500 for a 12v fridge doesn't sound so bad, you'll also need to get $350-500 worth of other stuff to make it reliably functional. But, no more ice, no more worries about not having enough ice, no hassle dumping the melted ice, etc.
Agreed. Isolating the ice has worked better for us than trying to isolate the food. Plus, easier to dump the melt water. But what works for one might not work for others depending on length of trip, type of foods, beverages, etc. Our trips are shorter and we rarely have chilled beverages. Not to diminish sportcoup's reminder about food safety but there are a lot of things that don't absolutely have to be in the cooler: most fruits and many vegetables do just fine unless the outside temps are very high.
 

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Just got back from our first trip with a Dometic CF45. It was easy on the juice, between 10-15aH per day. Wasn't too hot. Loving it so far.
 

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We have a Truckfridge 130 12v fridge freezer. It's made by the same company that makes the Isotherm Cruise 130. The only difference seems to be the door and the price right down to the compressor and controller.
137165

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Still sometimes we are throwing a party and need lots of cold beer so we have a Lifetime 55 quart.


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Look them up on Youtube for 7 day tests holding ice.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
It depends on how often and long you're going to be using it.

I use a cooler because my trips are seldom longer than a week, and I might only get 6-7 trips a year where I'd use a cooler. $50 MaxCold cooler works just as good if not better than a $400 Yeti, 20lbs of ice lasts 3-4 days in the summer and costs $2-3.

Soggy? You're not doing it right.
I have a separate plastic bin INSIDE the cooler where I put the ice; it takes up about 1/2 the usable space. I also put canned beverages in with the ice so they are xtra coldish. All stuff I don't want to get wet goes alongside that plastic bin. And for extra protection, some things are in sealed plastic containers or ziplocks.

I'll get a 12v refrigerator/freezer at some point, but I haven't felt like I "needed" it yet. Also keep in mind that if you add powered appliances, you'll have to add power storage, and way(s) to recharge that power storage. So even though $350-500 for a 12v fridge doesn't sound so bad, you'll also need to get $350-500 worth of other stuff to make it reliably functional. But, no more ice, no more worries about not having enough ice, no hassle dumping the melted ice, etc.
Thanks for the explanation on how to correctly use ice in a cooler! I'm on a learning curve here and clearly the first lesson is about how to avoid ending up with soggy food! That's a great idea about putting the ice in a separate compartment.
My trips tend to be 3 days to 14 days, with most in the 7 day range. I expect to do perhaps 3 trips a year at 7 to 10 days and another 3 to 6 short 3 day trips. So I think a cooler would work fine if I learn how to do it right.
I was thinking the same thing about the fridge....not only the expense of the fridge, which is considerable,but then figuring out all the power issues, the expense of the battery/ies and the possibility of having to install solar panels just for the fridge. I don't really need solar panels for anything else, so it would seem a waste to spend all that time and money on powering a 12v fridge when a good cooler set up well would be sufficient.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Just got back from our first trip with a Dometic CF45. It was easy on the juice, between 10-15aH per day. Wasn't too hot. Loving it so far.
That sounds good..in terms of power consumption. That's about what I'd hope for....
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
We're been very happy with our Dometic CFX. The current drain is very low and we don't have to worry about spoiled food. It was pretty spendy although we managed to get it while it was on sale on the Dometic site. When we're out in the middle of the Mohave there's really no place to buy ice. :sneaky:
That's a good point about being somewhere that you can't buy ice. I wouldn't expect to go more than 3 days without finding a store to buy ice...but who knows...
 

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My Cooler days are behind me, But Block Ice is the only way to go.
I have a Norcold refrigerator now.
If you do a lot of driving a deep cycle battery charging off of the Transit alternator may be all you need to keep it alive, Well that and something called a Battery to Battery Charger
 
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