If you’re looking to upgrade your camp comfort game, one of best purchases you can make is an electric cooler or portable fridge/freezer. It’s the first purchase I recommend to people who are looking to get into overlanding or just take their car camping setup to the next level because fridges completely change what you’re able to cook at camp.
Portable Fridge Freezers are Nothing New
They’ve been used by overlanders around the world for decades, but Smittybilt’s new Basecamp 75L Fridge/Freezer has some game-changing features built into it that make it one of the most versatile fridges I’ve ever used.
A lot of portable fridges function as refrigerators only, and have just one compartment for storing food and drinks. As you can probably infer from the name, the Basecamp has two separate storage compartments, and you can control the temperature of each one individually. Either one can be set to a low Fahrenheit, which means you can bring frozen food along on your trips and keep beverages and other food at normal refrigerator temperatures at the same time—Or, you could set one side colder for food and the other slightly warmer to keep your favorite IPA at serving temp.
I love being able to bring ice cream camping as much as anyone, but to me the real beauty of the dual zone temperature control is how it allows you to stay off the grid for longer. I was out on a two-week elk hunt earlier this Fall before I had the Basecamp, and tried to bring a bunch of frozen meals with me to last the whole trip. Unfortunately, I didn’t have enough freezer space and several of those meals ended up thawing too quickly in the fridge I was using. I managed to squeak by with just enough food, but definitely ate some questionable things that were likely a bit past their expiration date. If I’d had the Basecamp, I could have transferred the frozen meals over to the refrigerated side at the right times and that would have never been an issue. Being able to control the zones through the app on a phone makes the process even easier.
The Power System
The thing I love most about the Basecamp, though, is the power system. Sure, the extendable handle and removable wheels make transporting it a lot easier, but the built-in battery and solar port are true gamechangers. Most portable fridge/freezers need to be plugged into something, like a GoalZero battery or your vehicle’s 12v outlet, to operate. The Basecamp will run off of those things, too, but it also runs for up to six hours on its own battery. You can charge the battery at home, or plug a portable solar panel into the port on the back and charge it via the sun. You can even buy spare batteries separately and swap them out when one gets low, which means you have a ton of options for making sure it doesn’t run out of juice.
Having a built-in battery makes the Basecamp an incredible value, because unlike most fridges, you don’t have to spend extra money to be able to power it outside of your vehicle. It also makes it incredibly easy to set up a camp kitchen wherever you want without needing to worry about where to plug in the fridge.