When looking for a fridge that would be perfect for our truck camper and overland travel, there were so many things to consider. Size, mounting, brand, and accessibility were all weighed carefully to find the perfect fit for our overland setup. Below we discuss our journey in determining the best option for an ideal truck camper overland fridge.
The Dreaded Cooler
As a young family we started camping several years ago. We started off like most people camping in a tent. As our passion and love for exploring became more and more our equipment wants also started to become more.
One of our biggest complaints when camping was using our cooler. We, probably like you, have suffered from tons of ruined food due to our cooler and our lack of discipline in packaging items individually so they don’t get ruined by the melting ice. We found using a cooler a miserable experience especially for longer trips. This prompted us to begin looking into our options for 12-volt electric coolers or fridges perfect for our overland lifestyle and camping adventures.
Fridge Options We Considered
When we first started looking for a fridge for our truck camper, we were caught up in the specs and having what is perceived as being the least power hungry. We also, did not want the fridge to waste cold air when it’s opened.
Of course, I’m talking about the top loading fridges that ARB, Dometic, National Luna, SnoMaster, and many others offer. These are all great offerings and are available in many shapes and sizes, with differing features and options. If you follow social media even a little bit then you know these are being pushed for being the best of the best for ‘overlanders’ and adventure travelers.
We looked at these long and hard and tried to justify one of these anyway we could. Ultimately, there was no way any of these would work for us.
Straying Away From a Top Load Fridge
But why wouldn’t a top loading style fridge work for us? Because it wouldn’t fit in our camper! Having a Chevy Colorado with an All Terrain Camper Bobcat Shell model, we are a little cramped for space. I looked at the layout of our camper and measured, and then measured some more. The problem I kept running into was that we would not be able to access a top loading fridge when the cabover bed was pulled out. Two adults and a child in our camper is a tight fit. Whenever we sleep for the night, we fold out our couch that we optioned to have put in our shell model camper. At that point we pull out our cabover bed to make room for the three of us to sleep comfortably. When the cabover bed is pulled out it limits the space under it. This constraint would not allow any top loading fridge to open far enough to feasibly be accessible. This is a huge limiting factor for us. It would be extremely inconvenient if we wanted to get something out of it when our camper is in sleep mode. This was the main deciding factor to not purchase a top load fridge.
Front Opening Fridge?
What other options are there for fridges? Front opening fridges like you have in your home of course! Our overland fridge would just have to be much smaller. The options seemed much more limited when we started diving into the research on these types of fridges. What we found was that there are only two viable options.
I’m sure someone will comment to let me know I’m wrong about that, and that’s great, I’d love to hear about options I might have missed. The two brands that offer fridges like we are looking for are Dometic and a lesser known company which goes by the name TruckFridge. At this point we were less concerned with the specs and how much cool cred our overland fridge had on Expedition Portal and more concerned with finding the most perfect fitting and useable fridge for our application.
Dometic and TruckFridge both have fridges that met our size requirements while being able to be accessed in any configuration our camper might be in at the time. They both offer a similarly sized 65-liter fridge that met our size requirements. They both seemed to have excellent reviews and similar performance ratings. We finally decided on choosing the…
TruckFridge!! Why did we decide on the TruckFridge on being the best overland fridge? Well, I had full intentions with going with this Dometic fridge as it is a more well-known company and it might be easier to find a local retailer or someplace that could offer support. I found out that is not necessarily the case. The Dometic website is hard to navigate and there are several models of 65-liter CRX fridges available, but it is not clear what is different between them. Then when looking for an online dealer, we found few vendors and the cheapest one also seemed very disreputable and we did not want to take the risk. The next vendors are significantly more expensive.
The other thing we found is that the Dometic fridges do not come with a mounting flange, but we thought this might be necessary when doing our custom install. Unfortunately, we could not find any vendors that stocked this part and it seemed unnecessarily difficult to try to find one of these. All of these things stacked up against Dometic.
Please note that I did not reach out to Dometic or any of there vendors, as I’m of the belief that things should not be difficult to purchase online in this day and age on the internet. You might still decide to go with Dometic and it does seem like they have many more vendors for their top loading style fridges. This might be because they aim the top loading fridges more at consumers and the front loading fridges more towards RV/camper manufacturers. That leads us to our choice of TruckFridge.
The Best Truck Camper Fridge
TruckFridge is a very straight forward and easy to deal with company. Their website is simply www.truckfridge.com. TruckFridge aims their marketing towards Semi truck drivers, but their fridges can be fitted into other applications with ease. They only offer a few models of fridges and they are all very straight forward in their offerings. Specs and drawings of the different models are available on their website. TruckFridge also has many excellent reviews from their happy customers.
Their 12 volt fridges come with a mounting flange at no extra cost and they offer very reasonable shipping prices. Shipping for the 65 liter TF65 is a flat $50. I placed the order for our TruckFridge TF65 on a Saturday night and they promptly shipped it out Monday morning.
Mounting the Truck Camper Fridge
The fridge arrived in perfect condition and was ready to install. Luckily I had done my homework and measured and then measured again so I had a super simple mounting solution in mind. We have always wanted to keep our camper as light as possible to make it easy for our Colorado to take us wherever we want to go. I simply bought a couple 8 foot 2×4’s from Lowe’s and some l-brackets and made a super simple and sturdy mount for our fridge. Good thing it came with that mounting bracket.
Our mounting solution has been rock solid and has shown no signs of weakness. I’ll let the pictures show how it is mounted and how it fits perfectly in our space. This fridge has been a great addition to our camper and has made it super simple to take anything we would like with us without worry of it being ruined by being submerged in melty ice. We also never have to worry about running out of ice again! Another huge plus is that this fridge has a small freezer space which has worked out wonderfully for frozen treats and other items.
We can take anything that we would have in our fridge at home with us on the road. If you are on the fence on purchasing a fridge for your adventure rig then I would strongly encourage you to go for it. It is our favorite addition to our truck camper!