Camping Freezer or Cooler: Which is Right for You?

Camping Freezer or Cooler: Which is Right for You?

When heading out into the great outdoors, the question often arises: is a camping freezer or cooler the better choice? On the surface, the answer may seem simple—a camping freezer has more to offer in terms of preservation capabilities, but a cooler is typically lighter and easier to transport. However, for a well-informed decision, you must consider a range of factors such as your specific camping style, food preferences, and trip duration. This article aims to break down the main differences between the two, allowing you to make the best choice based on your camping needs.

Understanding Camping Freezers

A camping freezer is essentially a portable refrigerator you can take to your camping adventures. It’s powered by electricity, running off either your vehicle’s 12V power system or a separate powered supply like a generator.

A major advantage of camping freezers is they have the ability to keep food frozen, or at least very cold, for extended periods. They are adjustable, meaning you can use them as a refrigerator or a freezer, allowing you to store a wide range of perishable food safely.

However, camping freezers tend to be more expensive and heavier than coolers. Plus, they depend on power sources, meaning if you’re camping in a remote location without access to power, they might not be the most practical choice.

Understanding Camping Coolers

Coolers, on the other hand, are a simpler and more traditional choice for camping. A cooler doesn’t use power and instead relies on pre-chilled items and insulation to keep items cold. The basic function of a cooler is to slow down the heat convection process, thereby keeping your food and drinks cooler for longer.

A downside to coolers is that the temperature rises gradually as the ice melts, reducing its effectiveness. Therefore, coolers are often not the best choice for long camping trips, unless you have constant access to fresh ice. On the positive side, coolers are generally less expensive, more lightweight, and can be used anywhere, regardless of the availability of electricity.

Factors to Consider

1. Duration of Your Camping Trip

If you’re planning a short camping trip—say a weekend getaway—a cooler might suffice. You can easily pack enough ice to keep your food and drinks cool for a few days. However, for longer trips, a camping freezer will prove far more effective, as it can maintain a constant temperature for as long as you have access to power.

2. Access to Power

Remember, camping freezers require a consistent power source to function. Therefore, if you’re planning a remote camping trip where access to power could be an issue, a cooler is a better option. On the other hand, if your campground has access to power, or if you own a portable generator or solar power setup, a camping freezer can be an excellent investment.

3. Types of Food and Drinks You Plan to Carry

Consider the type of food you plan to bring along. If you’re going basic and bringing non-perishable food and drink items, a cooler should serve well. But, if you wish to enjoy gourmet meals including meats, dairy, and other perishables, a camping freezer will be more fitting.

4. Space Considerations

Note that camping freezers need more space than coolers due to their bulkier nature. Therefore, consider your space availability in your vehicle or campsite before making a choice.

5. Cost

Typically, camping freezers are more expensive than coolers. It would be best to consider your budget and evaluate whether the added benefits of a camping freezer justify the added cost.


In the end, choosing between a camping freezer and a cooler comes down to your individual camping needs and style. If you are a casual camper who mostly enjoys short trips and simpler foods and drinks, a cooler would serve your needs well. But if you are an avid camper who goes on longer trips, or if you prefer to have a wider range of gourmet food options, investing in a camping freezer would certainly be worthwhile.

Always take into account your personal preferences, camping style, and the specific conditions of each trip to make the most suitable choice! Happy camping!

By Kokoda Gear Uncategorized