I got a fridge!! More importantly, I got an IRONMAN4x4 fridge. The new M Series IceCube 43L (ifridge43lmk). I opted for the smaller of the three models they offer. I did this for several reasons; I do not have a large truck or a large area to put the fridge, I knew I did not want my fridge in the bed, though I know it can withstand the elements, I just don't like the idea of it, and, my bed cover and bed rack system would not really allow it. I wanted the fridge inside, in the back seat. My thought process on this was that if it's inside it should stay cleaner, and hold up better. Unlike previous models offered, it does come with a bag (a bad ass bag). The inside of the truck is usually temperature controlled, so on hot days as I blast the AC it should help keep the fridge cooler, hence keeping power consumption lower. I have literally no scientific data to back this up. I'm not a fridge scientist. That's just how my brain sees it.
I received the fridge about a week before our trip to Johnson Valley for the King of The Hammers event and it felt like it was Christmas all over again. After unboxing it, I immediately plugged it in and filled it with “drinks”. I just sat there, with a gleam in my eye, watching the temperature drop. I couldn't wait to use it on a trip. The next day, before work I loaded it in my back seat. It fits perfectly, exactly how I imagined it. We have a regular kitchen fridge at work where we keep our lunches and drinks but I insisted on keeping everything in my new fridge, for testing purposes. It took one day before I realized, “I LOVE THIS FRIDGE!”
A week goes by and it's time to prepare for our trip. My wife and I always like to bring the pre-made sandwiches from the deli at our local grocery store. It's just less hassle to have sandwiches ready to go. Normally we would spend some time double or even triple ziplock bagging the sandwiches individually before going in the cooler. Au contraire, mon frère. Not this time. We brought the fridge inside to load it up. I put a layer (or two) of “drinks' ' in the bottom, a couple waters, some taco meat, salsa, shredded cheese, creamer, condiments, tortillas, and other snacks first. As I was reaching to grab the sandwich my wife said “you gotta bag those up first!” I turned my head slowly with a grin to say “NO I DON'T BABY, we don't gotta do that no more” After all that we still had lots of room left. Most of our trips consist of two to three nights max. The 43L has more than enough room for us and what we bring. Which is another reason I opted for the smaller fridge. It fits what I need for my trips without taking up too much space.
The fridge takes up almost half of my back seat. It’s unfortunate but it’s because the cab of my 2nd gen frontier is small. It still leaves room for one passenger (I rarely have a passenger in the back) or some gear. It does not affect how I would normally have my driver seat adjusted. There is plenty of room to lift up the lid while it is in the truck and access everything inside. While driving around I barely hear it, if I hear it at all. I have the fridge hooked up to a battery pack (which we will discuss in another blog) that sits just below the fridge on the floor of the truck.
We set out and hit the Johnson Valley desert. We did not stop for ice, crazy, I know. I even had the feeling driving out, thinking about “did we pack everything, crap we forgot ice” and then I remembered. It was a force of habit to think about the ice. I can't tell you how comforting it is to know you don't need to spend money on frozen water. This was a colder trip but on hot trips I would go through a lot of ice. The experience of using the fridge the entire trip was just easy. Like peace of mind easy. You just reach in and grab what you need. Everything is kept cold, and most importantly the sandwiches are dry and the beers are cold. I have eaten cold soggy sandwiches, it's not good, and it's not fun.
Over the years I have acquired many different overlanding creature comfort pieces of gear. An RTT, 270 awning, fridge, power pack are the main and most recent ones. We have a lot of discussions about what gear you would be willing to give up and what you would absolutely not give up. All of our answers are the same. “I will not give up my fridge”. It truly is the biggest game changer out of all the things I have added to my repertoire. Peace of mind, ease of use, versatility, convenience, cool factor (literally and figuratively). If you are on the fence, considering it, or not sure you need one, YOU DO. Even day trips and day to day use. It comes in handy. I keep mine plugged in and full of snacks and drinks every day. If you consider how much ice you will buy in the course of a year, two years, it pays for itself. So go buy one, join the club, come to the dark side and bask in your fridges glory. You wont regret it!