The 8 Best Portable Freezers
We spent 42 hours on research, videography, and editing, to review the top picks for this wiki. Whether you are sailing around the globe, cruising the highways in your RV, or just taking a weekend camping trip, one of these portable freezers will keep your food frozen solid and your ice cream from melting. They are available in a wide range of sizes to suit individual and group needs, and many have useful features like cupholders and wheels for transport. When users buy our independently chosen editorial picks, we may earn commissions to support our work. Skip to the best portable freezer on Amazon.
A Brief History Of Freezers
Pickling, brining, and salting were all commonplace, and these techniques allowed merchants and explorers to stock enough food to sustain a long journey.
With refrigerators and freezers being so commonplace nowadays, it can be easy to forget that keeping food fresh for an extended period of time was a problem that absolutely bedeviled our ancestors for millennia.
Humans in frigid climates initially used Mother Nature as a freezer, with many cultures storing meat and other perishables in naturally-occurring ice formations. This was quite useful — until the ice melted or a scavenger came along and made a meal out of your leftovers, that is.
The ability to hoard sustenance played a big role in our ability to transition from a nomadic lifestyle to a centralized civilization. If you didn't have to eat your food immediately to prevent it from spoiling, you could stay in one place for longer, instead of constantly following a herd of your preferred prey.
Despite this, there were precious few advancements made in food storage technology for much of our history. Pickling, brining, and salting were all commonplace, and these techniques allowed merchants and explorers to stock enough food to sustain a long journey. However, spoilage was still a big problem.
The first form of artificial refrigeration was created in 1755, when Scottish chemist William Cullen used a pump and diethyl ether to lower the temperature inside of a tube. While not suitable for cooling anything on a large scale, Cullen's experiments proved that it was possible, and in the 19th century several advances were made in vapor-compression technology.
Meanwhile, ice boxes were used in many homes to keep food cool. These were wooden boxes lined with a material like tin or zinc, and they housed large blocks of ice in a partitioned area. These were extremely useful at the time, and may have even helped lower infant mortality during the summer months. However, the ice required frequent refilling, and icemen would deliver new blocks regularly, just like milkmen.
In 1913, home refrigerators hit the market, but they relied on toxic chemicals that limited their use. The introduction of Freon in the 1920s, however, presented an option with lower toxicity levels, allowing the market to expand greatly in both home and commercial use. Separate freezer compartments were developed in 1940, and for the first time, frozen foods became commonly available.
Today, most people would find it unthinkable to live without a refrigerator or freezer in the home. It seems like, the more advanced we become, the harder it is to understand how our ancestors ever survived in the first place.
I mean, I can understand not having refrigerators, but how did ever they live without fidget spinners?
Benefits Of A Portable Freezer
You may think that portable freezers are only for people who spend most of their lives outdoors, like campers and adventurers. And while it's true that these people will definitely benefit from having a quality freezer, these appliances are valuable for almost anyone.
If you live in a rural area, getting a freezer to store your groceries during transport can prevent your ice cream from melting or your fish sticks from thawing.
If you live in a rural area, getting a freezer to store your groceries during transport can prevent your ice cream from melting or your fish sticks from thawing. Even if the grocery store is just down the block, though, a freezer can give you more flexibility when planning your day, allowing you to go shopping first thing in the morning and then stay out all day without worrying about your food going bad.
Likewise, if you have something volatile that you need to keep fresh all day, like breast milk or medicine, you can keep it nearby without risking spoilage. This can come in extremely handy for parents, as they can attend to their children's needs without having it interfere with their daily errands.
Ultimately, however, a portable freezer is all about convenience. Yes, it may seem like cheating while you're on a camping trip, and no one will give you any points for roughing it, but it's much easier to feed your family when you can pack a few meals ahead of time. Having something that everyone can eat besides jerky and s'mores will ensure you have happy campers — and that's the only real measure of a trip's success.
Choosing A Portable Freezer
Whether you're trying to make your camping trip a bit more civilized or you just like having more food options on your road trips, investing in a portable freezer is definitely a smart choice.
Campers will likely want a model that can be powered by their car battery, while suburbanites may be happy with a shorter-range unit.
The first consideration when shopping is the capacity. Do you need to feed an entire brood, or are you just fending for yourself? While a larger freezer will give you more options, it will also eat up precious space in your vehicle, as well as suck down more electricity. Try to be economical when packing, but if you have to leave too many items behind, it can defeat the purpose.
Many models require some installation if you're putting them in a car, including some electrical work, so be sure you can handle this or are willing to pay to have it done before you buy. There are solar-powered options available, as well, but those can come with their own host of problems, such as using them in inclement weather.
Also, modern freezers are designed to be extremely energy-efficient, so there's little risk of it draining your battery, but that's something to check on before you buy. You may need to upgrade to a newer battery, or invest in a portable jump-starter, just in case.
There are options that have chargeable batteries, as well, if you're just looking to plug it in at home. This is certainly the easiest option, but not suitable for longer trips where you won't have access to power.
Ultimately, your decision should hinge on how much you'll need to store and how much power you'll need to have. Campers will likely want a model that can be powered by their car battery, while suburbanites may be happy with a shorter-range unit. Either way, these freezers will provide you with more flexibility when planning a trip of any length.
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