Show Notes for Podcast #88
Fridge/Freezers and soft coolers for Overlanding

Summary:
Matt Swartz and Scott Brady discuss the key attributes of 12 volt fridges along with models we tested. We also dive into soft coolers and some of the best units on the market

Host Bios:

Matt Swartz

My name is Matt Swartz and I owe my love of the outdoors to my Grandfather, a PHD Ecologist, and photographer who was years ahead of his time. Every visit to his house was filled with hiking adventures where we’d collect and identify insects, or trips to a nearby creek to fish and look for water snakes. We’d also regularly sit on the couch together, pouring over the latest National Geographic while my Grandfather provided additional commentary, always getting deeper into the science. His knowledge was endless.

With those early childhood experiences in nature, it feels fitting that I’ve built a life full of adventurous outdoor sports, travel, photography, and writing. From my first camping experiences on the East coast to bigger adventures, like exploring the West coast of South America, or hiking from the border of Mexico to Mammoth, California, I find that time spent outdoors gives me an incredible sense of well-being.One of my biggest pieces of advice to the aspiring adventurer: passionately pursue your dreams, and don’t let society convince you that a high net-worth is more valuable than a life full of rich experiences. @m.b.swartz

Scott Brady

Scott is the publisher and co-founder of Expedition Portal and Overland Journal and is often credited with popularizing overlanding in North America. His travels by 4WD and adventure motorcycle span all seven continents and includes three circumnavigations of the globe. His polar expeditions include two vehicle crossings of Antarctica and the first long-axis crossing of Greenland. @scott.a.brady

This episode sponsored in part by

REDARC Electronics

 

Fridges:

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Click here for Arb Zero 

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Click here for Engle 

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Click here for National Luna

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Click here for Dometic

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Click here for Truma

 

Soft Coolers:

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Click here for Yeti 

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Click here for Pelican Day Venture

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Click here for Canyon Coolers Nomad Go

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Click here for Hydroflask Day Escape

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Click here for Orca

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Click here for Ice Mule

 

Full Transcript

Fridge/Freezer vs Cooler

Scott Brady: [00:00:00] Hello, and welcome to the Overland Journal podcast. I'm your host, Scott Brady. And I am here with my co-host Matt Swartz.

Matt Swartz: Hello.

Scott Brady: We're going to talk today about fridges and soft coolers. We're going to touch a little bit as well on hard coolers, but basically all things related to keeping our food cold or cool when we're out traveling because food is a big deal when it comes to remote travel. It's one of the joys of overlanding is that you can cook these great meals and, and have all this great food along with us when we're out and about. So what do you think of this whole fridge thing, Matt? I mean, you've been a backpacker for a long time, so what's this, how's this going with, like having cold beer at the end of the day?

Matt Swartz: I think having a refrigerator on board is like, it's a game changer. I mean, it elevates the entire experience. It enables so much more in terms of feeding yourself. And as you mentioned, I mean, having quality food on the trail is like, it's just a whole different ballgame. 12 volt fridges are fantastic. They work so well. [00:01:00]

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They really do work well. And, and it's just like getting at the end of a, of a dusty hot day and like breaking out an ice cream cone or, or having ice for your margarita. I mean, it's funny, the fridge thing has always been a point of humor around overlanding because it does seem so excessive to have a refrigerator in your car that is only an opinion that people hold that don't have one yet, or haven't used one yet. There probably are about five Ludite out there that are like super hardcore. And they wrapped their meat in like a brown paper bag or something like that. For the most part, if you've got a fridge in your truck at the end of the day to have, you know, a nice [00:03:00] piece of salmon ready to cook over the fire to have a cold drink anytime during the day, all of those things are a big deal. The reason why we tend to use 12 volt fridges as opposed to hard sided coolers is that the vehicle is already generating 12 volt electricity. They are a little heavier. Uh, sometimes they can be a lot heavier, but, um, hard sided coolers are heavy as well. And especially if they're well-insulated, but the advantages in the truck. We've got 12 volt electricity that we can use to run the compressor. Uh, but there are some other considerations around that too. So I think we're going to spend some time today going through, why do you want to use a 12 volt fridge? And then what are some things that we want to look for? What are some key attributes around 12 volt fridges when we choose to, to buy a particular model? And then after that, we're going to get into soft sided coolers and hard sided coolers a little bit because they also have their place very much so for remote travel as well. But when it comes to 12 volt fridges, not much has changed. In fact, in the test that we just did for Overland Journal, the [00:04:00] Engel fridge that's in that test looks exactly the same as the first 12 volt fridge I ever saw, which was an Engel uh, about 20 years ago. Like it is literally indistinguishable between the two. I'm sure they've done some things to improve it. And on this particular model, it is a dual, uh, compartment. So it isn't a dual zone. Like you can't change the temperature of one zone to the next, but the way that it separates the two areas of the fridge, uh, one area against the cold plate gets freezing, and then the other one ends up, you know, being, you know, 15, 18, 20 degrees warmer than that other section, which puts it right in the refrigeration category. So it's pretty, pretty interesting how, how they've solved a lot of those things.

Matt Swartz: Got it. Yeah. Having the two areas, being able to freeze items and have refrigerated things is really fantastic. The first, my, my first 12 volt fridge or the first one I had an experience with was an ARB 50 liter. And it was a single compartment. So I didn't have the ability to, I could dial it way down if I wanted to freeze everything [00:05:00] which actually did on one occasion, when I was at burning, man, I brought that along. We food prep for the whole week and we packed all our meals in vacuum bags and we put them in there and we dialed it all the way down to freezing. It actually worked great for that purpose. Obviously then you have to take things out. You have to let them thaw you can't have cold drinks. Having those two chambers is really kind of a game-changer.

Scott Brady: I think it is. And a lot of people choose those now, because then you can have frozen meat or reprep meals that you want to keep ice cream, et cetera, make ice along the way. That's just key.

Matt Swartz: That is very important.

Scott Brady: I would say so. And it's just such a fun way to travel because oftentimes when we're remote, we can be remote for three, four or five, a week or more. And so being able to have good quality food over that period of time and not having to just go with canned food or dried food that you can store. Now, I think it's important to compliment those things. So you always want to have enough food with you just in case things go wrong. So you're going to end up with pastas and rice and other things that aren't being refrigerated, but just the fact that [00:06:00] you can, for those hot days, you can start to feed drinks in to the fridge throughout the week, uh, get them cooled down and then just enjoy a cold beverage at the end of the day, or even throughout the day when you're out going out hiking to have cold water, um, just makes a huge difference in how much you're enjoying a hot hike.

Matt Swartz: I think so. And I think, you know, I think the fridge goes one step further than just being a luxury. Cause we're kind of talking about that, talking about it in that capacity, but, and I think you would agree, you know, on these longer trips, like some of our folks in the overlanding space who are full-timers, you know, traveling continuously. I mean, I think it's, you really need to have fresh food. Like we can't be eating dry goods and canned goods all the time. It's like, it's not great for our body to be subsisting solely on those things.

Scott Brady: Right.

Matt Swartz: So fresh food is really important for our morale on longer trips and for our health. So I think I would argue that also having these coolers or fridges in this case is like a necessity for longer trips.

Scott Brady: Yeah, I would agree. And also when we're traveling, we never know when we're going to come into an opportunity to get food like that. I remember when I was [00:07:00] crossing the Silk Road, I did not have a fridge because we were in a Suzuki, Jimny, very small vehicle. I needed fuel capacity. So I had 20 liter jerry cans, as opposed to the space that a fridge would be allocated to. It was very challenging. You know, we had a soft, cooler, a very small, soft cooler that we could put some meat in, but it was amazing how long you could go without actually coming across fresh food. Some of the places that we went in Russia, for example, the only meat that we could find was horse meat. So like you, and it was all frozen all in big freezers. So that kind of helped, you can have this frozen food and it would keep for a couple of days, it would slowly thaw out inside the soft cooler, but you don't know when you're going to be able to find fresh food. So if you can find, you know, veggies and salads and things like that, then you can put them in the fridge and then they can keep for a week or so, which would never work with a soft cooler. And it is surprising how difficult it is to find ice in most of the developing world, larger towns and that certainly, but sometimes it's even hard to find out where it's at. The fact that you've got a fridge, you can go to [00:08:00] the fresh market because most of these people are shopping daily or shopping every other day or so. Um, just for the, what they need for the next few days. So if you've got a fridge, you can stock up on all these fresh items that you can get at the local market and then keep them for a week or so when you're in the back country.

Matt Swartz: Definitely. And also getting back to those dual zone fridge, freezers, I mean, you can actually make ice in some of these places.

Scott Brady: That's right.

Matt Swartz: These which opens up a whole range of opportunities. Like margaritas.

Scott Brady: That's right. Which is very important. And in fact, that that is the fridge that I ended up using more often recently, uh, which is a Dometic CFX 55. And it's kind of a hybrid in the sense that it has a very large compartment for storing food at refrigeration temperatures. But then it has two ice trays that sit right on top of where the compressor compartment is.

Matt Swartz: I remember seeing that.

Scott Brady: Yeah. So it's not, it's not a complete two zone. It's an extremely lightweight fridge with a lot of interior volume for the exterior volume of it. And then you can still make ice. So if you wanted to put ice in a soft cooler for [00:09:00] going out and having a picnic or having drinks in the front of the vehicle, or if you want to have the margarita at the end of the day, um, I've not tried to like set ice cream bars right on top of that to see if that would work too. It probably would, but, um, I don't tend to have ice cream when I'm out traveling. Uh, even though I want it, but like I tried to avoid it. Making the ice is pretty key. Now that I've had that option, I don't think I would go with just the pure single zone that couldn't also make ice. So I think there are options out there, like these hybrids, like this Dometic, where you can have the capability to make ice, but then you just have this very large refrigeration compartment. So it's a little different.

Matt Swartz: Did the ice making capabilities of that one work well, even though it was one chamber?

Scott Brady: It does. It does. The only thing I would say is that the ice trays are fairly small. Um, there may be five, six inches square and there's two of them. So you definitely end up with enough ice at the end of the day for a couple cocktails. But if you stay on top of it throughout the day and you take that ice and you put it into a Ziploc bag and you put it right on top of where the ice is being made, you can kind of [00:10:00] build up a little bit of inventory, which is what I've been been doing. So yeah, you don't end up with a ton of ice, but you definitely end up with the capability of making ice.

Matt Swartz: I would say in my experience with fridges that do that, that seems kind of par for the course. Like none of these have saved for a few, maybe have a big enough frozen section to fit like conventional ice cube tray. Usually you're getting a smaller one that's designed for these types of fridges.

Scott Brady: Yeah. And they're out there and they've got good lids on them so that they don't spill when you're at angles and rattling around in the back country. Uh, so let's talk through about the key attributes that you want to look for in a fridge. It's typical for us to want to have like all the gadgets with them. And I think that those are actually some of the least important things. Some of the most important things are around the efficiency of the fridge and the efficiency comes from two attributes that comes from, uh, how much power, the compressor pulls and then it comes from how well insulated the unit is. So you can have a fairly inefficient compressor, but a very well-insulated fridge. You would end up with a very efficient unit because the compressor wouldn't have to run very often. So for example, [00:11:00] with the Engel fridges, compressor itself is extremely efficient, also extremely robust. Uh, it's a very simple compressor that just kind of runs inside of a cylinder. Very few moving parts. It's the only one like it, for that reason it's extremely efficient and also very reliable. Like they've been known to run for 30 or 40 years.

Matt Swartz: Oh, wow.

Scott Brady: Yeah. So incredibly reliable units, very low amperage draw. And also what's important too is amperage start-ups. So a lot of times we'll try to plug in our fridges into the factory wiring of like, let's say a 4Runner. A 4Runner factory wiring at the 12 volt socket is not large enough diameter to be able to take the startup amperage loads of most fridges. So a lot of times they won't even start. They won't even work. So you've got to wire in a heavier wire. Whereas the Engel, if you're concerned about wire diameter, the Engel takes just a couple amps to get fired up. Whereas some of the Danfoss style compressors, those can take 8, 9, 10, 12 amps to start up. Um, and that can be more than what those circuits are designed to take.

Matt Swartz: I didn't realize that that those could [00:12:00] draw so much power on start-up. I know, you know, obviously like AC appliances, like think about like, uh, air conditioner, right?

Scott Brady: Right.

Matt Swartz: It can, it can draw like two to 3000 Watts initially on startup.

Scott Brady: Right.

Matt Swartz: And then it comes back down, but I didn't realize the fridges were it's the same.

Scott Brady: It's the same thing. It's it would be like an air conditioning compressor.

Matt Swartz: Right.

Scott Brady: Um, so it's that initial motor startup, uh, that pulls the most amps. So there are units that, that do a very good job of both, for example, The National Lunas are designed to have very efficient compressors and to have exceptional insulative qualities as well.

Matt Swartz: Are you aware of, um, I know with some, for instance, like RV air conditioners, you can get these soft startup modules that you can install that, um, they basically like ramp up the power somehow. I don't understand how they work exactly, but a deal with some of those issues of like high, uh, startup draw. Um, do you know if they make anything like that for fridges?

Scott Brady: That's an interesting idea. And yeah, all you would need is some kind of a capacitor because you're just basically [00:13:00] storing some capacity, um, after the 12 volt outlet. So it's just sitting there ready to take that quick surge, um, that high amperage load that could, that could work. I've never, I've never tried that or seen people try that. A lot of the vehicles that come from the factory, the wiring's just not quite up to the task, which is, which is unfortunate.

Matt Swartz: Yeah. So when you mentioned the Danfoss, so I remember this because when we were trying to select a refrigerator for our previous RV of the Cortez, you know, we did a lot of reading on this and the Danfoss is one that people mentioned over and over again. Uh, maybe not necessarily for its efficiency, but I think for its longevity.

Scott Brady: For sure, very reliable.

Matt Swartz: The ARB fridge, as far as the one that we had, and maybe they still do use the Danfoss compressor. So, but it sounds like, and that Engel, was it an Engel or a Dometic that you were mentioning?

Scott Brady: The Dometic uses the Danfoss style and the National Luna uses a dat Danfoss style. They don't use a Danfoss OEM anymore.

Matt Swartz: But it's based off the design?

Scott Brady: Yeah. They use an equivalent one that they have that they've [00:14:00] selected. Uh, but National Luna, their primary job is making fridges, and as a result, they have a wide variety of sizes and capabilities. It's funny. They actually make, I call them like a gamer fridge. So they actually make a few models that like they would send for typically send for a test where the insulation is like three or four inches in the sides. So it's literally designed to be the most efficient, fastest cooling fridge is out of spite props to them. I mean, it's, their job is to make really great fridges. And there's no doubt that if you needed a fridge in Saudi Arabia or something in the summertime, you would use a fridge like that. But if you were to put it into a test, it would just walk away and we have tested some of those National Lunas and they're unbelievably efficient. Once you get them cooled down to temperature, they hardly run at all. They just don't need to. And they're also injected insulation as well. So every single nook and cranny of the inside of the case is completely covered in this really high performance insulation, whereas a lot of the cheaper, uh, fridges they'll just have [00:15:00] like foam panels that they put inside there and they really don't do a great job of insulating. Yeah. So there's a bunch of different attributes that we've seen because we've done three full tests now of fridges through the years. And we've learned a lot in that process. So one of the things that we want to look at is that efficiency, because when you're parked on the beach in Baja for a couple of days, and let's say you have a small solar panel or no solar panel at all, you don't want to have to run the engine a lot. You don't want to have to have a really big battery bank because it adds weight and complexity and costs. So having an efficient fridge really helps when you're parked in a single location. Now, if you tend to move every single day and change camps, often, then the efficiency of the fridge is less, much less important because you're running the engine during the day, while you're driving on the trail, which is charging up the batteries and also keeping the fridge cold and a trick around that too, is if you tend to drive every day, when you first get into camp, turn the fridge up a little bit. It's temperature up a little bit it's thermostat. So that way the fridge doesn't run as often. It just kind of stays cold throughout the night. And then the next day, when you start back on the trail, again, get [00:16:00] it to the lower range of the refrigeration scale. So that way it gets everything super cold during the day. And then you don't, it doesn't have to run that often at night.

Matt Swartz: That's it? That makes me think like someone who's really clever with like Arduino programming or something. I wonder if you could build something that would sense the vehicle running.

Scott Brady: Oh yeah.

Matt Swartz: And it would automatically lower the temperature while the vehicles running to automatically do that so you don't have to worry about changing temperatures.

Scott Brady: That would be extremely clever. And we're starting to see some of that around the apps, so that wouldn't be very difficult for..

Matt Swartz: Ones that have apps already..

Scott Brady: For the app designer to include a schedule. Or you could do a couple if then little, little settings in there. If the vehicle voltage is over X..

Matt Swartz: Which would be a signal of the alternator running..

Scott Brady: Correct.

Matt Swartz: Then drop the temperature.

Scott Brady: Exactly.

Matt Swartz: Even like a time-based one, like your thermostat at home, you could just say, you know, at 9:00 PM, raise the temperature of five degrees and then at 7:00 AM, drop it down..

Scott Brady: That's a clever idea, and I'm sure somebody will, will eventually do something like [00:17:00] that cause it would really help. The apps are getting to be a lot more robust. So you can go in there, you can check the voltage, you can check the temperature of the unit. Um, and it's also, when we talk about that small diameter wiring that's in, in most of the vehicles, even if you can get the fridge to work properly with it, you do get a lot of voltage drop because there's so much amperage going through that small diameter wire that you may see 12.6 volts at the battery, and maybe you're at 12.1 or or 12 or even 11.8 at the fridge itself. And a lot of times that will trip the low-voltage disconnects that are in the fridges, which brings me to the next topic, which is along with efficiency. You want to have some kind of starting battery protection or house battery protection in the fridge. Most of the fridges didn't have that. So for example, an Engel of 20 years ago, it would run all the way down to nine volts. I mean, it would, it would, it's so efficient. It would just keep running and running and running and running that little swing style compressor in there. It would just continue to run until it bottomed out the battery, like basically down to nine [00:18:00] volts.

Matt Swartz: Now this is, this is a really interesting point. Um, I remember on a couple occasions, so again, in our older RV, we had a two battery AGM solar power system that we installed because it was AGM it was running fairly close to 12 volts. You know, it would be a little bit above that when it was at kind of peak charge and everything. But I remember on a handful of occasions when we were in places like Northern California in the winter, we didn't have the sunlight that we needed to really charge we're running our ARB full time, sometimes the battery voltage would get low enough that the fridge would actually kick off and stop working. And the workaround that I found was that was a, a two way. So it was DC and AC. And if I switched over to AC power, the inverter could invert the 12 volt power that was remaining down to a much lower voltage, still up to 120 to run the fridge, but it was a less efficient way to run the fridge.

Scott Brady: Yeah. A lot of parasitic loss in that process. For sure.

Matt Swartz: Right. So that's kind of, that's why I've found this interesting because, uh, some of these fridges do require a minimum voltage, so..

Scott Brady: Correct.

Matt Swartz: Are there any concerns around running these fridges [00:19:00] in vehicles that just have single starter batteries? Like would you recommend that most people at want fridge install a dual battery system?

Scott Brady: Oh, that that's a great question. I oftentimes will not install a dual battery system. Um, I will install a high quality starting battery for the vehicle, and then I make sure that I have low voltage disconnects to protect it. So I'll have a low voltage disconnect at the battery. And then I'll also make sure that the low voltage disconnect on the fridge is set properly. A lot of them like a National Luna has three different settings for the low voltage disconnect. So you can always preserve starting power, uh, for, for the engine, which is pretty important. I do like having auxiliary battery systems. So like in the Scout camper, I have a Goal Zero Yeti in there, and that's what runs the fridge. And the Goal Zero does have not only does the Dometic have a low voltage disconnect, but the Goal Zero itself has internal protection for the lithium ion battery. There's a bunch of those systems in place to protect that.

Matt Swartz: Yeti also has a regulated 12 volt output. So I know it can draw down below [00:20:00] 12 volts and still what out over 12 so that it will still run appliances. They need a minimum of, let's say 12.1 or something.

Scott Brady: Yeah. And that's super helpful because the higher the voltage within a range, of course, there's an operating range, but if you're at 13 volts, the fridge will run so much more efficient than as benefits at 11.5. Um, so the less efficient it gets because of the voltage drop, the more amperage it consumes. We want to make sure that the battery, and that's why something like an AGM or a lithium ion is so helpful because an AGM will typically have a much higher float viewer to look at. A Odyssey battery um, it'll float at 13.2, 13.4 volts. So it's already going to be more efficient for the, all of those systems and the fridge will run more efficiently to begin with, but if you're going to be running a big fridge or you're running in really hot environments, or you're going to be camping for multiple days without solar, and you definitely want to make sure that you have a house battery to support that. I will typically just bring along the solar panel and I don't worry about it. I've got low voltage disconnects [00:21:00] plugging the solar, and then I'm making plenty of power off of the solar panels. Like I use kind of a semi flexible panel full from Overland Solar. I just put it right on the wind screen and it generates plenty of power. Now that I've got the Scout Camper 180 watt panel up top. So that's plenty of power to run, run the fridge.

Matt Swartz: Yeah. I see a lot of questions about this in forums and things like that. People saying like, I'm getting a fridge. Can I just plug it into my vehicle? And it's not just a simple yes or no answer, which is, I think kind of what you're getting at here.

Scott Brady: Yeah, definitely. You want to protect that starting voltage. So the, and the best way to do that, you just, you get into camp you unplug the fridge, just make sure that you're not drawing it down. And some of those factory 12 volt outlets their already ignition on anyways, so soon as you turn the car off, it shuts off the power to the, to the socket. So it's just making sure that you set it up for what your needs are for sure.

Matt Swartz: Yeah, that's smart.

Scott Brady: And then the, after we've taken a look at the efficiency and the electrical componentry and the like the apps, for example, of how to manage the fridge, then we really want to look at how [00:22:00] space efficient the fridges and the overall construction of it. We're going to be lashing down something that may weigh 40 or 50 pounds, just a fridge itself. But imagine when she loaded up full of food, especially a lot of frozen food, you could be pushing 80 pounds or more of weight. The fridge needs to be lashed down properly. So making sure that the fridge that you buy either comes with robust handles or with an accessory or an ability to heavy duty lashed down the fridge inside the vehicle. It's super dangerous if it starts flying around.

Matt Swartz: Totally. And there are a lot of ready-made options for this. And some of them go beyond just lashing it down. Like there all these fridge slides that you can get where the fridges physically attached to a slide, and that actually facilitates making it easier to access the fridge too. Right? Like..

Scott Brady: Totally.

Matt Swartz: Pull it out from your, the bed of your truck or from the rear seat of your truck.

Scott Brady: Totally. And some of them will even a tilt out and drop down or tilt down, uh, which really makes it easier. Especially if someone's a little bit shorter, it can be really hard to get in a tall vehicle. It can be very hard to get in to the food you end up needing a step [00:23:00] ladder or something to get in there. But those dropdown slides can really make a big difference. Talking with people in the community about how they work, how robust it's been. Does it rattle? There's the last thing you want to do is introduce a bunch of unnecessary weight and complexity with that. Making sure that it is lashed down properly is super important. You'll also find that the material that the fridge is made out of makes a big difference as well, and that all results in how it affects the weight of the fridge. So another reason why I use the Dometic in the Scout is because it's the lightest unit with those kinds of quality attributes. So it's a high performance fridge, but it's also very light, less than 40 pounds. So it's 15% or so lighter than most other fridges. And it uses a plastic case for that. That's where the majority of the weight savings comes from is the plastic construction.

Matt Swartz: That kind of, it feels like it makes sense for that use case though. You've got it lashed down inside the camper. It's not like it's in the bed of a truck where gear might be banging into it. So a plastic case is fine in that case, right?

Scott Brady: I think it's totally fine [00:24:00] in that particular instance, whereas something like a National Luna that's made it's skinned in stainless steel, it's dimpled, stainless steel. Um, I've used those for decades and they are unbelievably robust. They literally don't seem to care about what's rubbing up against them or whatever, and you can just polish it out. They're clearly designed for the most difficult use case scenarios, whereas any of the plastic fridges are going to get a lot of scuff and visible where if you've got stuff rubbing up against them.

Matt Swartz: Yeah, absolutely. Our ARB, after three full years on the road was it had, but we also covered it in stickers and stuff. So it, you know yeah.

Scott Brady: Which is a great way to solve the problem. Cause it's just cosmetic the Engel for example, it is a steel shell, but it's painted. So it's pretty easy for it to get scratched and scuffed and stuff like that. Now most of these manufacturers, they make transit cases for them or they make covers for them. And those can oftentimes add to the insult of properties of the unit and it protects the expensive fridge as well. Considering a cover is always a [00:25:00] valuable thought as well to the fridge.

Matt Swartz: Got it. Yeah. I was going to ask if you've used one and if you've noticed, does it enhance the insulating considerably or is it just marginal?

Scott Brady: I think it definitely helps. A great example of that is when you got direct sun coming in, I've noticed that like, if you've got a case. Like a soft or a canvas or fabric case, it's amazing. Like if you've got the case open on the top and it's just baking the top of the fridge, it can be like hot to the touch. Whereas if you've got the case over it, uh, outside of the case gets warm, but it's not, again, it's not a metal surface. It's just absorbing that. It's amazing. You can put your hand underneath there and it's, it's cool. I think it makes a really big difference when it's getting direct sun, but it adds complexity. You've got to unzip the cover and some of them are a little more clever than that, but there's pros and cons to all of it. But I do think that a cover is a good idea. If you're trying to maximize the Insulet of performance of it or protect the fridge.

Matt Swartz: I was going to say, do the covers that. Add some additional like filtration to the intake around the compressor? Cause I know like we operate these [00:26:00] things in really dusty environments often, and that could be consideration like dust getting in with the compressor.

Scott Brady: I've not seen that. That's an interesting thing. I've not seen it, any integrated filters in the covers. That would be really clever, but no, I've not seen that. They normally just have mesh around the intake or, or around the venting of the fridge. And that's another consideration as well as making sure that you don't put blankets and stuff like that. We've actually seen trailer manufacturers that will put fridges in unventilated boxes. And it's just like, it doesn't work. Like it's, it's gonna destroy the fridge.

Matt Swartz: Yeah. Cause they do, they pump out heat from those air compressor compartments considerably. Like I remember like in our smaller vehicle when we had it, I mean, it would, it would add heat to the cabin.

Scott Brady: It's, you know, there's the condenser and then there's the evaporator. Um, and the evaporator has a fan going as it needs to clear that heat out in order for it to be as efficient as possible. So making sure that you don't stick blankets and other things around those vents, make sure those vents are clear and that'll greatly improve the [00:27:00] efficiency and longevity of the fridge.

Matt Swartz: And the manufacturers from what I remember, they'll usually give you like a recommended clearance minimum that you need to maintain around those vents. So that's really important to pay attention to.

Scott Brady: That's super important.

Matt Swartz: Not jam these things right up into a corner where they can't get airflow so..

Scott Brady: Yeah, or it's easy, just like, cause the way that they're shaped, it's easy for like a blanket or something to fall off onto the one side of them. Or maybe you put the blanket there to keep it from banging up against the side of the vehicle. That becomes a real problem around the efficiency of the fridge.

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All right. So those are the main considerations around that. Um, let's go through real quick, the fridges that we tested, which represent kind of the current crop, there are some that we didn't test like a Snow Master, for example. Um, but we have tested those units in the past. The first one on the list is the ARB. Now this is their new Zero line, very similar, um, in fact, made in the same factory as the Truma. So what we say about the ARB also applies to the Truma and, and vice versa. Um, this is, uh, a very large fridge, a lot of interior volume. It is a dual zone, so it has a small freezer compartment that can also be disassembled. So that's kind of interesting. You can make it one big refrigeration [00:29:00] compartment by removing the freezer components of it. Um, the freezer components do rob a little bit of interior space. So, um, if you don't really need the freezer, then you can have one giant fridge.

Matt Swartz: And that's basically it, it was like an insulated hard plastic divider that slides in, right?

Scott Brady: Exactly. It just slides between the food baskets. I liked that. I liked the fact that it has a drain at the bottom drains are really helpful and..

Matt Swartz: Drain is key.

Scott Brady: It is true.

Matt Swartz: It's surprising how much condensation can accumulate in these. Like if you're keeping vegetables in there that are in sealed plastic.

Scott Brady: Or one of your drinks freezes and explodes, you know, it's amazing the amount of stuff that leaks into the bottom of fridge. So it really helps with cleaning it. It also helps with draining that out. So that's a consideration, there were some things, so let's go through the pros and the cons, uh, great, uh, volume for large groups or if you've got a family with you. A really durable construction overall, I really liked the fact that it has stainless steel, actually lashing points and lashing accessories that really tie the [00:30:00] fridge down nicely. And one of the things that I like most about it was that it has a 12 volt input on both sides of the fridge, because you have to be able to see the monitor to get insights on how the fridge is performing. But sometimes that means you'd have you got to run the wiring around to the front where it can get caught on drawer systems or things like that. So you can either run it in the front where the handle is, or you can run it on the opposite side of the fridge. So that's, I think that that's a really clever solution overall.

Matt Swartz: Is it safe to assume that this one, it looks like it also has a reversible lid, so you can adjust which side the lid opens from?

Scott Brady: Yeah. And that's an important consideration as well. And thanks for mentioning that too, Matt, on the con side, it is less space efficient. It has a very thick insulation. I would not say that it's super thermal efficient insulation like a national Luna, but it is very thick insulation. And then it's also extremely heavy. Um, it was the heaviest unit, this and the Truma were both the heaviest units in the test. You got to make sure you got the payload for it. Um, and just average [00:31:00] performance overall. Um, the advantage of ARB is that you've got accompany company, ARB standing behind it. So if you need long-term service, so you need warranty, um, if you need access to parts or to getting the unit repaired, you've got a lot of support behind that um, of a quality brand.

Matt Swartz: That's, that's one of those things, I, I feel like I come back to it all the time. You know, people are, we're always struggling to meet that balance of, um, affordability in this gear, cause a lot of it's expensive, but the, the thing that's important to remember is if you skimp on price and go with a company that's kind of knocking off something, you don't often have the support in case you have issues down the road. So..

Scott Brady: Correct.

Matt Swartz: It can often make more sense to spend more upfront and to have less cost in the long run.

Scott Brady: Especially with something like a fridge. Cause you can just move it to your next vehicle and your next vehicle and your next vehicle.

Matt Swartz: Again, investment.

Scott Brady: Totally like those Engels that'll last you a lifetime, literally. So, um, the next one that we we're going to talk about is the Dometic. This was the total surprise of the test, uh, comes in at [00:32:00] 47 pounds for a 55 liter unit. They have units that go under 40 pounds depending upon the size. It's also a great performer. Overall, it's got the best display in the test. It's high up on the unit so it doesn't get obscured it's up by the lid itself, which is really nice. Oh, it was, it was definitely the editor's choice. And there's a few reasons for that. Again, it has that the best display in the test. Um, the best location of a display as well. I really like it up high on the unit. It also has a USB output output right there so you could charge your phone.

Matt Swartz: Oh, that's..

Scott Brady: Just really clever, um, to be able to do that charge any other device or GoPro or whatever, uh, right there at the top of the unit. And it has the best overall performance, excellent insulative performance. They're clearly using high efficiency insulation in the unit and then it has a really efficient compressor as well. And then it also is the lightest weight. And we talk about weight a lot on this, on this podcast because it's, it's really important. And it's also one of the most [00:33:00] cost-effective too. So it's this crazy combination of simplicity, overall performance, overall good user interface with the unit, has a good app as well. But there are a few cons. So it doesn't have a full internal freezer. It only has an ice, the ice trays on the inside. So if you need that, you'd need to go with one of their other units. They do have a dual zone system as well. And the plastic exterior is going to get a lot of wear and tear if it's not used in the right way or with the cover. They do make a really nice cover for them. When I use it in the Scout, because I'm paying attention to every pound, I don't use the cover inside that, but I just haven't had a situation where it got any kind of real, real wear and tear in that regard. It's just a great value high performer. We're going to go into the Engel next. So the Engel it's old school, cool. I mean, it is literally that was a pun wasn't old school.

Matt Swartz: Maybe that should have been the name of the article.

Scott Brady: We'll use that for the next time. So the Engels are the Engels of the real deal. They have been around forever. And they are so [00:34:00] well-proven, made in Japan, they have the lowest startup amperage. They have the lowest amp draw overall on the test. They also have the most space efficiency for the vault, for the exterior volume. And that's because the installation's fairly thin. And as a result of that, uh, during the warmup test, it does warm up faster than other fridges. When you have a super efficient compressor, you've got that balance between the two. On the con side, uh, the coil configuration definitely favors it being a dual zone. So all of the coils are in a pack to one side. So if you were to remove the dual zone componentry, and it's very easy to do you just slide out that little insulative barrier. You end up with one side of the fridge being cooled a lot more than the other side. So keep that in mind and they do sell just regular refrigeration units. But for this dual zone, you want to be mindful of the fact that all the coils are on one side. The handles are also not great for lashing down. So you want to get some kind of an aftermarket lashing. I think Expedition Exchange sell some that just screw into where the handles go. And you end up with a really robust stainless steel [00:35:00] lashing points. Overall kind of average cooling and warm-up performance right in the middle of it. A very affordable unit overall, extremely reliable. Just the design of it itself lends itself to being extremely reliable because of that Sawafuji compressor. Now let's move on to the National Luna. The National Luna has won all of our tests up to this point. Um, and it is not to take anything away from the National Luna in this particular test because they are the most like the Land Cruiser, the like the G Wagon of fridges. There's no question about it. The material qualities throughout are exceptional. Everything is designed by people who use these in the field in Africa, they're made in Southern Africa, they use the highest quality components. They have an entire team that's dedicated towards making the best possible fridges in the world. What's interesting about this. Uh, legacy dual zone is that it has some technology inside it that allows it to a portion of freezing and refrigeration capabilities [00:36:00] between the two compartments. It can actively cool one side or the other. And as a result of that, you get some inefficiency in the process. So if you've got the fridge full and it's just running as it should, you don't really notice any of that. But if you were. Like, let's say you had nothing in the freezer cause you consumed all of that food and now you just have fresh food you're to want to make sure that you make that now, uh, just a fridge compartment and not leave it empty because otherwise it starts directing a lot of the performance towards that.

Matt Swartz: Because there's no thermal mass in there to keep correct temperature.

Scott Brady: Yeah. That's something to keep in mind. It's actually, it's an advantage and a disadvantage to the unit. So it's just knowing how it's designed the pros again, super high quality material. It's a very attractive fridge overall. This dimpled stainless steel, the lid can be mounted in multiple directions as very precise and independent compartment controls, which is something that most of the other units uh, can't do as well. And it has the class-leading insulative of performance. So once you get [00:37:00] it to temperature, it takes a long time for it to warm up, which is what you want. You want it to stay cold for as long as possible.

Matt Swartz: I really like just looking at the photos that you took of it for the article. I'm really intrigued by the basket setup too, because most of the other cooler fridges, whatever they happen to be the food baskets. It's just one basket straight to the bottom, but this it's actually separated vertically so they can lift one out. Cause like one of the things that I always used to struggle with in the ARB was sometimes the thing you want is at the bottom and you always at the bottom, you have to pull everything out. And, and often with these small fridges, you have to like jigsaw it all in to get it to fit just right. Yeah. Trying to do four or five days worth of fresh food. So that, that design actually seems like, I feel like that would save me a ton of time with getting what I needed.

Scott Brady: It does and if you end up with tall items and you just don't put in the top basket.

Matt Swartz: Sure.

Scott Brady: Um, and then you can have a bunch of tall items and stuff in there.

Like if Matt Scott needs his, if Matt Scott needs his chilled rose I mean, it's, it's very easy to do that. Um, I'm calling out Matt, but there's nothing I love rose too.

Matt Swartz: He's not here to defend himself.

Scott Brady: [00:38:00] And yeah, exactly. Nothing wrong with rose. On the con side, it is a little bit slower to cool because of that technology that they use to a portion, the cooling effectiveness. Um, so it is a little slower than some of the previous models or some of the other models in the test. And then it has two latches to like heavy duty metal latches. So every time you open the fridge, if you want it to S to seal properly, this is something that a lot of manufacturers of fridges haven't figured out yet most of the cooling losses through the lid or through the seal around the lid.

Matt Swartz: And did you, did you gain this insight with that FLIR camera?

Scott Brady: Exactly. So we use the FLIR camera. And it was actually the reason why we saw performance difference between the ARB and the, and the Truma was because of the lid seals. So the ARB lid seal was not as effective as a Truma, and you could see it on the FLIR camera very clearly that there was a lot of cooling loss from the lid and the lid seal. So because of that, National Luna uses two steal clamping clasps. And that can take time when you want to open it up. So just keep that in mind and you know, what I do on my National Luna [00:39:00] is I just clamp one of them, and I don't worry about the fact that I've lost a little bit of efficiency, so it ends up really not being a big deal, but it's something to note. And then the last one is the Truma, which we did talk about the performance and the attributes around the ARB. They're similarly priced as well. They're slightly different in the handle design. So the handle on the Truma actually does kind of come out for, for lifting, whereas the ARB one is just integrated. So the Truma handles would be used for lashing. Whereas the ARB has the capability of kind of clamping in a stainless steel mounting bracket. The interior baskets are slightly different as well, but they're essentially the same fridge they perform essentially the same.

Matt Swartz: Yeah. Well, cool. That's a lot. Yeah.

Scott Brady: There's there is a lot to that. I think, I think. The value award, the value where did go to the, to the Engel deservedly so. So editor's choice was the Dometic and the value award was the Engel.

Matt Swartz: I remember it was really fun watching you work through this test in our, our lab lab, um, and just seeing, you know, the attention to detail with the data loggers and [00:40:00] I having seen this test go down, I can truly say that you thought very deeply about how to collect the data and it, it felt like the data you collected was really valuable. So I think this is a really valuable article for folks to find, and it is on Expedition Portal to find it there. So if you're in the market for a fridge it's a great resource to look at, but it doesn't cover everything. So there, there is, there is more out there too, right?

Scott Brady: No question. Yeah, there's other fridges that are available, many other different, um, sizes and models from ARB and Dometic and National Luna and others. But this kind of covers the, the newer units that are on the market, so we always try to make sure we're testing the newest stuff that's out there.

Matt Swartz: Cool.

Scott Brady: We've done the deep dive on the 12 volt fridges for sure. But there's other ways to keep our food cold. That can be a lot less expensive and oftentimes is the perfect solution. So you, you just did a recent test on soft sided coolers, so let's kind of rip into that.

Matt Swartz: Yeah. So that's, that's going to be in the Spring 2022 issue of [00:41:00] Overland Journal.

Scott Brady: Which is just now shipping.

Matt Swartz: Exactly. So if you're a subscriber you're going to get get a first look at that. Um, yeah, testing soft side of coolest was really fun. So this was, you know, what we call a best of breed test. So it wasn't quite as in-depth in terms of collecting data and being scientific about it, it was a little bit more just take them out into the field, use them, see how they perform, which we did. And I believe we had six or seven, seven units that, that we took out and they were, you know, a variety of different designs. We had some over the shoulder, kind of like tote bag, style coolers. We had some backpack style coolers. We had some roll tops, a bunch of zippers, so kind of a good selection and from, you know, all the leading manufacturers of these types of products. Um, and so, yeah, soft sided coolers, like the technology behind them and the materials that they're using for installation these days is, is very high quality, so much so that some of these performed almost on par with some hard sided coolers I've used. I mean, certainly these soft sided coolers are better than any kind of [00:42:00] bargain, harder, cooler that you're going to buy. Okay. If you're going to go and buy a, uh, top-notch hard sided cooler, you know, like, um, a Yeti or something like that, that that's a different story, but, um, I was really impressed with pretty much everything in the test, uh, in terms of its insulating abilities, uh, the only major differences that I saw between them, where some are just designed as lighter duty units. They're not really intended for like multiple days of..

Scott Brady: Sure.

Matt Swartz: Keeping ice. They're more of like for day trips, you know, obviously with anything like this, some of the components there's there is variation there. So some certainly had higher quality components. And mostly when I say that I'm referring to zippers, we had one zipper that broke during our test. Most of them held up pretty well, so.

Scott Brady: Now the question that I have is did you use the backpack coolers as backpacks? I mean, it seems like that's, to me it doesn't make a lot of sense. What was your thought on the backpack, like with the straps and everything?

Matt Swartz: So I think, I think it has its place and, and I, I see some value in it. Um, for instance, let's say you're, you're going to a destination and, and you're going to want to have [00:43:00] a picnic or, you know, leave the vehicle to take an extra little journey to somewhere special.

Scott Brady: Or maybe fishing or something.

Matt Swartz: You know, anytime you're going to be moving the cooler a longer distance or needing to carry it further, the backpacks are kind of nice because it frees up your hands to carry other gear.

Scott Brady: Chairs and things like that.

Matt Swartz: Chairs, a fishing rod, you know, kind of like you were just talking about, or like setting up camp right? You know, maybe if you're walking a hundred yards from your vehicle to set up a ground tent, um, and, and various camping gear, like you can throw the cooler over your shoulders and then you've got both hands free to carry a table and a tent and all these other things. When it comes down to the idea of carrying these things for like, like, I would never put a backpack style soft, cooler on and hike with it for an entire day of hiking on a trail. That's just not really something that I can envision doing. Also when it comes down to that, I think even the, with these backpack style carrying systems, none of them were particularly comfortable for [00:44:00] long distance carries, you know, short, short duration, sure. Carrying a full cooler like this all day, I wouldn't want to do that.

Scott Brady: The soft sided cooler I've used and I haven't tested the other unit, so this is I'm coming from a place of ignorance around it. So I've used this Yeti that you guys can see in the background here in the YouTube video um, it just has been the soft sided cooler that I've always used. Um, uh, I mean, I've used some before that, but this is the one I've used for the last few years and it does have a shoulder strap. So what I'll, I'll just kind of throw it over my shoulder, like a messenger bag, and then you can kind of swing the fridge back behind you, you know, just above your butt, basically. And then I do find that I can keep my hands free. And then what I use, I use that strap to put it around the back of the seat in the vehicle so that the cooler doesn't go flying around, it just kind of helps secure it in place. And then the strap is easily removed if you're being more sensitive around that. Yeah. I was just really curious on the, on the backpack thing. I can see if you're, if you're walking back into a lake or something like [00:45:00] that, fishing, or you're going and go do an, uh, a nice, you know, sunset picnic or something like that. I could see why that would be really helpful for sure. And like this Icemule that you've got behind you, it's got additional pockets for bringing other things, you know, chips or whatever.

Matt Swartz: Um, you know, a lot of the coolers, I think, I think it, might've not every single one. Most of the coolers in this test have these exterior pockets now that are not generally insulated, but, uh, oftentimes they are highly water resistant or waterproof and they give you a great place to stash, like your phone or car keys, or like you said, a sandwich, you know, like something small that you don't want to lose or misplace.

Scott Brady: Or cookies or chips or something like that.

Matt Swartz: Yeah. Anything you're not worried about keeping cold, it would seem like most of these products are designed to be used in places where water is present, just because of the, all of the exterior waterproof sippers. I mean, it makes sense for the main compartment to be waterproof because if you have ice or something inside, you don't want it leaking into your vehicle. But very often these, uh, these auxiliary [00:46:00] pockets on the outside are also waterproof zipper. So I think these are a lot of these are for lakes. They're for boats. They're for going to the beach, you know, they're for going places where you might have some, some water present, so.

Scott Brady: And what I use mine for is because there's not a pass through between the truck and the Scout, I will just kind of put a couple of drinks and some snacks in this small Yeti soft sided cooler. And I just keep it inside the truck. And then I can use the ice that the Dometic makes to keep it cold or use ice packs. It's amazing. Even just setting ice packs on top of the compartment where the ice has made, it usually gets it extremely cold or sometimes even frozen overnight. Um, and I do like to use ice packs for that. I don't prefer using a cubes of ice inside a soft sided cooler, because a lot of them do leak if they, if they tip over.

Matt Swartz: Yeah, they can. I actually, I was impressed. I didn't really have any experiences with zippers leaking on any of the models we tested, but, um, it, it can happen, you know, you have to make sure that you really securely pull the zipper [00:47:00] all the way to the end of its track.

Scott Brady: That's what's happened with me is you just, you kinda, you don't, you get a little lazy and like on the Yeti, for example, it's got to get completely set into this little rubber bushing at the end of it, or kind of capture at the end of it.

Matt Swartz: Yeah. And those, those beefy waterproof zippers can be, you have to exercise some force to really get that last little bit of closure. So, you know, that's important to keep in mind, but I like what you said. I mean, having food stay cold, but having it easily accessible in a vehicle, I think is one of the best use cases for these. So they're a great accessory to a fridge or for shorter trips. You know, if you're someone, you know, if you're like a weekend warrior and you're doing two and three day trips at max, these can be a great alternative to refrigerator because a lot of these coolers will hold ice for three days, plus.

Scott Brady: Sure.

Matt Swartz: Now there's some nuance to that. You know, like if you leave it in your vehicle with the vehicle closed in the sun and the vehicle gets up to a hundred degrees, that's not going to be the case. So there are some like concessions, you have to make, you know, maybe you want to be willing to take the cooler out of the vehicle and put it on the shady side of the [00:48:00] vehicle. If you're going to stay parked for a long period of time. Um, there are some things you have to consider like that.

Scott Brady: Yeah, that makes sense.

Matt Swartz: Yeah. But also the, the ice thing you mentioned too, you know, I think ice packs are a great alternative to cube or block ice because no one likes the wet mess inside the cooler. That's a big argument for a refrigerator instead. Cause you often avoid that.

Scott Brady: So you don't end up with the soggy sandwiches.

Matt Swartz: Yeah. One interesting thing I learned around that though, when I was doing research with this, I learned that it's actually more efficient to leave the meltwater in cooler or fridge with the ice.

Scott Brady: That has been a debate for decades of like what's better to pour out the ice water or leave it in.

Matt Swartz: Yeah. I mean, it's certainly, it's a nasty mess when it's in there with food, but, um, if you can figure out a way to keep the food out of that with like, you know, maybe one of those elevated wire racks. A lot of these companies have these resource sections on their websites, where they talk about getting the most efficient use of your cooler and across the board, they say that like, leave the meltwater in. It will warm up faster if you're [00:49:00] pouring that out.

Scott Brady: Interesting. Yeah. Cause you're removing that cold water.

Matt Swartz: So it's an extra thermal mass and it insulates better than the air does inside the cooler.

Scott Brady: So another thing I'll use the soft sided cooler for is oftentimes you go to the grocery store and you end up with just a few more items and you can fit in your fridge. So it just lets you, you put a couple items in the soft sided cooler until you've had a meal or two and you feed them back into the, to the main fridge. It does feel like a pretty nice compliment.

Matt Swartz: Yeah, it can be overflow space. And yeah, I mean, and if you're taking a cold thing, you know, like let's use ice cream as the example, if you go grocery shopping and you're just, you're not, you're a little over capacity putting frozen items in there. It keeps them cold for quite a long time.

Scott Brady: Yeah, it really does. Now, did you find that there was one closure type that worked better than the others? Like this Icemule that you've got behind you has a roll top, it seems like that would be pretty well sealed.

Matt Swartz: The roll tops are, are great. And you know, when you think about longevity of products, I mean, it's, there's less mechanical parts, zippers do wear out in the long run, you [00:50:00] know, even well-made zippers. So I think if you're concerned with that, a roll top design is clever. Yeah. And they do a great job of being waterproof. You know, it's like a dry bag that you would take in a raft or a kayak. Um, it rolls over and then it buckles. So the buckle hardware is easy to replace. If it breaks easier than a zipper, like your, if your zipper breaks on one of these, you're sending it back to the manufacturer and likely it's just going to be replaced for sure. Replacing the zipper. You know, I think you, you get into some other challenges with a non zipper opening, um, with how much of an opening you actually get. Um, you know, because keeping these efficient requires insulation to, to fully, um, come together on the closure. I found that some of the most convenient, uh, coolers to get into to load and unload were, was actually, we had a Yeti in the test and it was in that same category as this one you've got behind us. It was one of the backflip models. So it zips open and the lid flips completely back. And you have completely unrestricted access. And that was [00:51:00] huge for me. I mean, I really appreciate it.

Scott Brady: Yeah. That was one of the things that I noticed. We tested one of the earlier Engle soft sided coolers, and it had, it had a closure that snapped in place and then a zipper. So you'd unsnap it, you'd open up the zipper and then the installation came basically touched underneath the zipper, but the inside of the cooler was made of this rubber material that stuck to everything like an enormous amount of resistance. So if you wanted to feed things into, you needed a set a third hand, so like you needed two hands to open it up and then another one to drop the stuff in. So if you were just trying to get like a water bottle out of there, it would stick to that, to that rubber material and it just made it very difficult to get things in and out of the fridge or in and out of the cooler. For example, like it did an amazing job of keeping it cold. Like it was very well-insulated, but it was just the material choice on the inside had a lot of stiction to it that made it really difficult to get things in and out without it kind of being held up by the sides of the cooler.

Matt Swartz: Totally. And I [00:52:00] experienced that. I, it was interesting, some of the manufacturer's recommendation was actually wedged something in the opening. Oh, if you're an individual to make it work. Yeah. So they'll say prop it open and they would have like that, they'd be like take a Nalgene water bottle and just wedge it in and it will hold it open because you know, some, some of the most efficient ones, like you said the insulation comes right up together and it's almost like a, kind of like a taco style opening. So it wants to close together.

Scott Brady: For sure.

Matt Swartz: You have to use force to hold it open to get things in and out.

Scott Brady: So, so you found that the zipper top ones were just like the most easy to interact with, but it seems like very few of them are made that way.

Matt Swartz: Yeah. Yeah. The Yeti specifically, all of the zippers were these waterproof zippers that had quite a bit of resistance except the Hydroflask. It had almost like, um, it was like a Ziploc bag style.

Scott Brady: Oh, interesting.

Matt Swartz: And that one was actually very easy to open and close given that it was a waterproof zipper. I would say ultimately the roll tops were a little bit easier to manage, but I see, um, yeah, the Yeti in particular just sticks out because it was [00:53:00] so easy to load and unload with the full access. Um, you know, that was, that was kind of the favorite, but should I, should I kind of walk you through?

Scott Brady: Yeah. Let's, let's do that. Let's talk about what you liked and didn't like, and let's go through.

Matt Swartz: Yeah, well obviously we've been talking about it quite a bit. The opening, I think is one of the crucial parts that you would want to pay attention to when you're selecting one of these. So Yeti is the first one in the list, and I think it did the best job of, of that being easy to access the food inside it's it was a backpack style cooler. It's a bit taller than it is wide. It has these nice vertical walls. So using the interior space is easy, good amount of volume. It was 24 core capacity. So you could fit quite a lot in there not too heavy, you know, it's like.

Scott Brady: They're crazy light five pounds.

Matt Swartz: Yeah. Yeah. Super light. You're not going to have any issues with vehicle capacity when using stuff like this.

Scott Brady: For sure. Yeah.

Matt Swartz: The, and the Yeti was, was extremely efficient. I mean, it held ice for over five days in, in not desert environment. You know, I was, uh, I think I, well, actually, no, that's not true. I had it in Texas, like on the Texas, New Mexico border. [00:54:00] And so the nights would get cold, but the days would be warm and it held ice really well. It was one of my favorites. It was a little bit more expensive, so..

Scott Brady: Sure.

Matt Swartz: And just, design-wise the, outside's a nice kind of clean profile. Has some Daisy chains, if you want to clip stuff to the outside of it. Yeah. A bottle opener or a water bottle or things like that. Yeah, that was, that was a great one. I really didn't enjoy that zipper. Like I mentioned, it is, it's one of those zippers that can be a little bit difficult to use. You have to pull on it. They actually give you like a, it looks like a chapstick. It's like a lubricant.

Scott Brady: Yeah. Yeah. I saw that and I have used that and that really does help. And then it's got like a heavy duty rubber T handle that you can use for some leverage.

Matt Swartz: Yeah. Yeah. So I think overall design was really good on that one. And I wouldn't be surprised if we see that kind of stick around just because of how well it worked.

Scott Brady: Yeah, sure.

Matt Swartz: Yeah. So that was the Yeti. We also had a cooler from Pelican, which was kind of cool. They actually have a whole division of products that's like made for biomedical storage and transport. So although coolers might not be like the first thing you think of when you think of [00:55:00] Pelican, that's one of their key kind of commercial endeavors, which I thought was neat. So this was another backpack style cooler it's called the Dayventure. This is a unique one in, in the test in that it is, uh, there's a limited amount of insulation in it. This wasn't one that I would necessarily recommend using for multi-day trips to keep food that has to be cold, cold. This is more for like your day trips. I think, you know, your single night overnights. Uh, it also had a smaller capacity. It has, but it has two compartments, which is cool. I was the only one that had two compartments if I remember correctly. So as a lower section that fits a little more than like a six pack of beverages with a waterproof zipper and then it has an upper compartment with a roll top closure.

Scott Brady: Got it.

Matt Swartz: Yeah. So it was kind of like this hybrid thing and the upper compartment wasn't super well-insulated. I don't think it's really technically designed as an insulated food compartment. It's the lower part is for ice and hold things in the upper compartment is more of like a waterproof storage. You could put clothing in it, you could put food in it. I did..

Scott Brady: Sure.

Matt Swartz: With ice, and then it also has an exterior pocket that you [00:56:00] can put things in, but that is not a waterproof exterior pocket. And I, I learned that the hard way I was like walking up a river bed and I totally ate it, went in the water and all the things that were in that pocket got soaked.

Scott Brady: Oh, it's good to know.

Matt Swartz: Yeah. Um.

Scott Brady: It looks like the perfect kind of like picnic..

Matt Swartz: Yeah. I think that would be a good use case, you know, two people, uh, one meal, I think should be perfect. Again, that is a backpack style one it's it's tall and skinny got some exterior grab handles. Yeah, that was a good one. The next one in our test was from a company called Canyon Coolers. So they kind of came on the scene when it comes to hard coolers as a, like a major competitor to, you know, like Yeti, um, who was kind of one of the first big, premium, hard sided coolers. Uh, and Canyon was a little different because they did a totally vertical sidewall on the outside, which is actually pretty convenient for loading them in and out of like vehicles where, you know, you want to make the most efficient use of space.

Scott Brady: Sure. It probably nests in nicely with other gear.

Matt Swartz: Yeah. Those tapered designs of coolers I think I'm not going to say [00:57:00] they're poor design, but it seems like it's not the most efficient use of space all the time. And so they were like, we're going to make a cube. Like when you see they're hard coolers, they're just a cube shape. And so they're soft sided cooler that we tested. This Nomad Go, uh, is similar. It kind of just looks like a block and this one was extremely well insulated. It had kind of a, an interesting hybrid closure system, kind of like you were describing with the angle. It has a zipper and then it has two buckles on the sides. So you have a waterproof zipper and then you buckle the sides down. This one was one of the most difficult ones to get into. It had that slippery grippy, not slippery.

Scott Brady: It's like a, like a crazy rubber, right?

Matt Swartz: Yeah. The inside of it is really sticks to like plastic things.

Scott Brady: Sure.

Matt Swartz: So, and it had this really thick insulation that comes right up to the top of the closure. So this is one of the ones who are on their website. They actually say, try wedging a water bottle in it to hold it open so you can more easily get things in and out. It did have excellent installation, you know, multiple days is no problem for this cooler. And it's, I think from what I remember amongst [00:58:00] all these cooler, this, this had the thickest sidewalls. So it actually looks gigantic in size when you're carrying. But the inside space was not huge.

Scott Brady: So it's not super space efficient?

Matt Swartz: Yeah. No, it wasn't. It's a..

Scott Brady: 21 quarts, so yeah.

Matt Swartz: But it's not nothing. I mean, you can fit a good amount of food in there.

Scott Brady: No doubt.

Matt Swartz: And I sent this with my roommate down to Indian Creek in Utah and she took it on some climbing trips, had it in a desert environment and she had a really good experience with it.

Scott Brady: Nice.

Matt Swartz: It's a, it is a backpack style one. So you can carry it on your shoulders. It's got an exterior waterproof pocket so you can stash things like a phone or keys or, you know, papers, things you don't want to get wet.

Scott Brady: Is this the one that was kind of a dark gray?

Matt Swartz: Yes.

Scott Brady: It looked, it was a really nice looking cooler as well.

Matt Swartz: Yeah. Yeah. That's a, that's a good one and a little bit more affordable. It's like closer to the $200 price point. I think $230 is what it costs. And we've got the Engel which is the first one we're talking about in this lineup, that there was not a backpack style cooler. So this is kind of the sling style, you know, over the shoulder, if you need to carry it. I [00:59:00] really love this one for like vehicle trips, where I'm not needing to take it out where it's just like living on the floor, maybe in the backseat with our food for the day while we're driving. Had a good capacity, 22 quarts.

Scott Brady: Crazy light, too.

Matt Swartz: Super light. Yeah. Yeah. Only three and a half pounds. Same deal with the entry on this one. It's kind of that hybrid. It's got a zipper that's waterproof and then it's got two buckles on the side. So you kind of zipper it shut and then buckle the sides down. And it takes its most compact form uh, that way. This also had this really interesting vacuum valve on it, um, which we had, uh, there were two coolers, the, some of, one of the Icemule coolers in our test had something similar and..

Scott Brady: Is that for elevation to, for expansion?

Matt Swartz: So I think that's the best purpose for it, you know, like these coolers they're all, they're like RF welded plastic. So you've got basically like an inner chamber and an outer skin and there's insulation and air trapped between the two. So when you go up in elevation, some of these do puff up a little bit and they'll like, it it's kind of funny. And so I found that valve really [01:00:00] handy if we were traveling around in the mountains of Colorado, which we did a lot last year, if you went up and it was all puffed up and out of shape, you could open that valve and let some of that excess air out.

Scott Brady: Interesting.

Matt Swartz: But the idea of that it is called a vacuum valve. The idea is that you can use a vacuum and suck out the extra air in there to try and increase the thermal efficiency.

Scott Brady: That makes sense.

Matt Swartz: It does make sense. I think.

Scott Brady: Nobody will probably do it, but it definitely makes sense.

Matt Swartz: Exactly. Yeah, that was, that was kind of my takeaway. It was like, I'm never going to go to the trouble of going and getting my vacuum out of the right, you know, closet to get that extra 2% of efficiency, just didn't feel necessary to me.

Scott Brady: Interesting.

Matt Swartz: But for the gearheads that are really looking for like the maximizers, it came with a bottle opener, it has a exterior pocket, um, it's got some grab handles, a well-rounded cooler and 200 bucks, so..

Scott Brady: And made by a company that specializes in keeping food cold. So it's probably well-insulated overall good design as far as that goes.

Matt Swartz: Absolutely. And, and they Engel was another one that had this great resource on their website that was it's called like keep [01:01:00] ice longer. And they give you a whole list of things that you can do with any soft sided cooler or hard cooler for that matter to get the most out of your ice, like rechilling it before you load food into extra ice and not emptying the water out and things like that. So there's some little tricks you can use to get the most out of these.

Scott Brady: Very cool.

Matt Swartz: Hydroflask we, we, I kind of mentioned this one before.

Scott Brady: It's cool that they're making coolers.

Matt Swartz: Yeah, definitely. I mean, they're super popular in the water bottles, the stainless water bottles. So they're, they're cooler this Day Escape, soft cooler, this is kind of a light duty, single day cooler. In my opinion. It's, it's really lightweight.

Scott Brady: Only three pounds.

Matt Swartz: The insulation is very light, so it's not going to keep ice for like days and days and days, but totally 24 hours or a little bit longer. No problem. This one's a great looking cooler. This like nice two-tone blue. So it's kind of like their water bottles. Like it's really design-y, you know, and it had this cool feature. It has these kind of like molle panel attachment points. They make a bunch of these waterproof, almost like Ziploc bag style [01:02:00] attachments that you can get in various sizes and you can attach them to the front or not. And it's a good place again, for a phone or, you know, something that you want to keep dry in a wet environment. So that was kinda neat. Um..

Scott Brady: And then this looks like this one has a zippered closure.

Matt Swartz: This was a zippered closure and it was, but not a conventional zipper. It didn't have teeth. It was more like a Ziploc bag. And so this one was out of all the zippered style closures, this was the easiest to manipulate. And I got feedback from a bunch of people that used it. They were like, yeah, this one was, it was easy to get the zipper open, opening closed. It's got some grab handles. It has like a mesh pocket on the side for non waterproof storage of extra things like car keys. And as you can see, it's also a backpack style color. So you can throw it over your shoulders, see how both your hands free.

Scott Brady: Do the backpack straps come off?

Matt Swartz: They were not removable.

Scott Brady: Some of them aren't removable. I noticed that. That was interesting.

Matt Swartz: Yeah. And one other thing I think it's important to point out is any, any heavy thing that's got backpack straps that you're going to carry around for a long time, really you should be looking to see if it has a waist belt too, because it's uncomfortable to carry heavy loads [01:03:00] on backpack straps directly on your shoulders. Anything that's designed to be carried for a long time, should have a pretty robust waist belt. And ideally you buckle that, cinch it down. And what it will do is transfer the load to your hips instead of your shoulders.

Scott Brady: Sure.

Matt Swartz: So some of these had waist straps, but they're like, just like to keep it from shifting around..

Scott Brady: Probably an afterthought.

Matt Swartz: Yeah. They're not really designed to take the weight off the shoulders, so..

Scott Brady: Yeah, that makes sense.

Matt Swartz: Kind of like you were saying, like, are these backpack style things really that valuable? And I think they can be helpful. It shouldn't be a thing where you're like, I need to have backpacks. I think the shoulder strap that's removable, like on the Yeti, is good enough.

Scott Brady: You're walking into an all-day concert from the parking lot, it's probably helpful for that. Yeah.

Matt Swartz: So that's the hydroflask. We tested a cooler from a new company called Orca, or they've been around for a little while, but they're kind of newer to me, I should say. I wasn't familiar with them before this test.

Scott Brady: Yeah, they started in 2012 it looks like.

Matt Swartz: I like this one a lot, actually. I think it had some really great attention to detail in terms of design, it had nice colors. The exterior fabric was like a [01:04:00] really nice kind of almost textured like woven material. I liked that one.

Scott Brady: I remember seeing it, it was really handsome.

Matt Swartz: If you want something that looks good, this is a good option, but it was also a good cooler in terms of insulation. You know, I think definitely could hold ice for a handful of days, no problem. It did have a zipper closure, which again, you know, there's like a little bit of lubricant that they give you to maintain that. It had a really nice grab handle on the top that I thought..

Scott Brady: I see that.

Matt Swartz: The ergonomics of that were nice. It had these kinds of like molded plastic, two pieces that had magnets in them. And so the two handles when it was zipped up a kind of magnetised together. And then you have this rounded hard plastic handle to hold, which is a lot more comfortable when you're carrying this by the handle than let's just say a webbing strap.

Scott Brady: That's biting into your hand.

Matt Swartz: Digging in your hand, if it's fully loaded up, it had a shoulder strap that was removable. It had a nice, really robust material on the bottom of it that, you know, gave me a lot of confidence to just put it on the ground anywhere, not worrying about like rocks or anything like that.

Scott Brady: So it looks like a nicely thought out cooler and it doesn't it look like it [01:05:00] was about the same size as some of the others? Cause it looks like they don't have a volume for it.

Matt Swartz: Yeah. They, they didn't, they, they talked about volume in terms of how many cans it could hold. So they say it holds 18, 12 ounce cans. So yeah, I mean..

Scott Brady: It's a party.

Matt Swartz: Comparable. It is a party. Comparable volume to everything else. And again, $200, like pretty good price point, at least in this roundup. The last one that we've got is the Icemule. It was the Traveler that we tested. The one next to me is called the Boss. And actually it did..

Scott Brady: It's huge.

Matt Swartz: It is giant. So, so we didn't test that one in this article. We'll, we'll definitely share some information about that at a later point, but the Traveler was a really interesting cooler in the mix. It was like, I kind of had this love, hate relationship with it. It came down to, I thought like the volume was great. You know, it actually had quite a bit of volume, you know?

Scott Brady: 26 quarts.

Matt Swartz: Yep. And a good form factor, it's this nice cube shape. So it's not like an awkward size. It packs, well, it had a really interesting carrying system. It's kind of like a, like a hybrid backpack. Like if you've ever [01:06:00] seen firefighting line packs that kind of sit on the lower back.

Scott Brady: Right.

Matt Swartz: It's kind of like that.

Scott Brady: It's clever.

Matt Swartz: It was weird to set up, like I had a hard time figuring it out, but it was actually the most comfortable of the backpack style carries because it placed it right against your lower back, which was just comfortable. It also had a really interesting opening. It had these two metal rods in the lip that when you unzipped it and hold them out, they would kind of pop into place and hold the opening open for you.

Scott Brady: Solve that problem.

Matt Swartz: It did. It's really clever. I think it was one of the most kind of innovative features that I saw in any of these soft sided coolers, when it comes to loading and unloading, it just makes that way easier. It had the lowest quality zipper out of all of the products that had a zipper, which actually broke during testing.

Scott Brady: I remember that.

Matt Swartz: Yeah. Which was kind of a bummer. Now, Ice Mule's pretty good when it comes to customer service, I didn't warranty it for the purposes of this, but they do offer a warranties for stuff like that. Um, I've no doubt they would have replaced that, but also along those lines, it had some [01:07:00] interesting like proprietary plastic hardware on the closure. So it has the zipper and then it has two buckles on the sides, but they're weird. Complex. It's like a pinch thing and it wasn't, it's not a traditional buckle. There's like a little plastic ball and it kind of clamps onto that. Those didn't break. But I do worry when I see things like that, that I've never seen before when it's something like plastic that I think could break, because I don't know where you would find a replacement, one other from Ice Mule. If you break it on the road, you might not be able to replace it until you get back from your trip.

Scott Brady: Oh, that makes sense.

Matt Swartz: Yeah. But, um..

Scott Brady: It's like a nice looking cooler too. I mean, it looks like a simple form factor. It would be a nice compliment. And that big, big volume too.

Matt Swartz: It held a lot. I remember I was using this one in Colorado and we were up at like 11,000 feet and we had a bunch of drinks I wanted to ice down, but I hadn't picked up ice. So we just found a big snowbank that was leftover from the winter and I brought a shovel over and just shoveled ice into it until it was full, and then just stuffed the cans in there.

Scott Brady: That's perfect.

Matt Swartz: So that's it. Yeah. That's, those are all the coolers we tested in the soft [01:08:00] sided cooler test.

Scott Brady: That was very comprehensive. And it's been fun to see a lot of innovation come into that space. I think, I think when the hard side coolers all kind of took off and they found ways to make a better, hard sighted cooler than the one that we had all been using forever. Um, you know, when they finally came out with something that was going to keep ice for longer. It really opened up the whole space, including the soft sided stuff. On the hard sided coolers, you know, I don't think we'll spend a lot of time on that today, but they definitely have their place. It used to be the argument that they were a lot less expensive, but that's not necessarily the case you can spend, you can spend as much money on a hard sided cooler as you can on a fridge. So it's really just about buying the solution that best meets your needs. But there is something about, you know, pulling a cold drink out of a tub full of ice that's it can be pretty nice when you've got a big group of people. And I think that the hard sided coolers are oftentimes just a great compliment in a larger group to having individual fridges.

Matt Swartz: I like them too. They offer a little bit of extra utility, like on the well-made ones, like you can stand on them and sit on them, you know? So like, [01:09:00] bam, you've got a little step stool to get up to the rack on top of your rig.

Scott Brady: Totally.

Matt Swartz: Or you've got an extra seat for someone which is pretty handy. Those are two things you often need in the field, so..

Scott Brady: There's a lot of places where they're really appropriate. Like if you don't want to have the additional complexity of, of the wiring or the vehicle isn't well set up for that, or it's a vintage vehicle. I think the Defender has like a 40 amp alternator. It like, it just isn't well set up from the factory to take the loads of a fridge or other things like that. Like old Land Cruisers just don't lend themselves well to that, old Land Rovers and things like that. Or like, for example, in my sailboat, I use just a standard hard sided Yeti cooler because I have access to ice in the marina and it's really easy to drain the water out into the lake. I just have not decided to go with a, with a 12 volt fridge yet, because also I don't have to worry about bigger batteries are draining the power down in the boat when I, cause you're not, you're not generating alternator power from sailing. So you really start paying attention to what consumes power. So I think it really is for the older vehicles, I think a [01:10:00] traditional hard sided coolers is a great choice.

Matt Swartz: Yeah. And I mean, we've talked about it in many different categories of overland travel, but simple sometimes is better. You know, the less things you have that can break in the field, the less chance there is of something going sideways that you didn't plan for and all you gotta do for us, a hard sided cooler is put ice in it of some sort, you know, there's no electronics to fail. There's, there's nothing like that. So, and, and as you mentioned, like design on them has gotten really good. You know, a lot of them have these built in drain plugs that sort of solid-state emptying. Some of them have shelf systems that you can add to, to allow you to, you know, easily, maybe put dry ice in the bottom. If you're really trying to extend your, your food storage time and keep the food off of it above. So it doesn't freeze. Um, or you can swap it and you can put dry ice on top of a divider that will allow it to freeze things below it. And those dividers can also keep your food up out of water if you're using traditional ice. So they've got some clever designs and I've also seen, I've seen some pretty cool innovation in some of the Yeti ones in the closure systems to where you don't have to use all this force now to stretch those.

Scott Brady: Yeah.

Matt Swartz: Old school elastic things. Now they have these super like cam [01:11:00] lock designs that are super easy to open and close, but they're really secure, so..

Scott Brady: And Yeti now makes this one stainless steel cooler that it looks, it looks like an old school Coleman, but, but like on steroids. So it is, uh, like full disclosure, it is expensive, but it is, I mean, it's up on the shelf behind us right now. And it is, it's like the most handsome hard sided cooler you've ever seen. It's got a little cover that slides over it so you don't scratch your $900 cooler, but it's pretty amazing. I mean, if you want to go fishing with your buddies and or whatever, I mean, it's just really cool, hard sided cooler, and they definitely have their place. Of course, there's a lot more options on the market now that do a good job of cooling, uh, keeping things cool, uh, but are less expensive so they can run the whole gamut of cost as well. Because as we always talk about in this podcast, we just don't want people to think that they need to buy a fridge. Cause it's not the case. There's ice available all up and down, Baja all over the, all over North America, you can find ice easily and it can be a lot less expensive than buying a fridge, making sure that we [01:12:00] spend our money on the experience first, as opposed to all these cool gadgets.

Matt Swartz: I never want to let the gear be the reason that you don't go and take the trip, you know, and, and you shouldn't need to. I think there are options out there, I mean, look, even if you're using that ten-year-old Coleman, that doesn't do great. Like just..

Scott Brady: It works.

Matt Swartz: Go take the trip. That's the important thing.

Scott Brady: So what's your favorite, Matt? I mean, of the, of the units that you've tried, the soft sided ones, like what are some of the ones that stand out to you as your favorites?

Matt Swartz: I mean, definitely the Yeti it's called the Hopper Backflip. It was, it was a backpack style, one with the full zipper and the lid that flips all the way open. Because it's just, it's a great combination of high quality materials, uh, great installation and easy loading and unloading of food.

Scott Brady: For sure.

Matt Swartz: And I think all of those things are important, being consistent across quite a few of them. I think the opening is really the thing that is most important to me. So yeah, I really liked that one and it's, it's just simple. It doesn't have tons of exterior pockets. It doesn't like..

Scott Brady: Just clever.

Matt Swartz: It just works. I use that one a lot in testing with the other ones, but I found [01:13:00] myself going back to that one multiple times. And when I had multiple choices wanting that one.

Scott Brady: Is that what you use in the Ram? So when you're pulling the Airstream. You load up your food for the day and the truck, what do you use in the Ram?

Matt Swartz: That's a good question. You know, we have to be so conscientious of space, even though we have a lot of it, but it is our full-time home, so we actually, we're not, we're not using a soft sided cooler at all, but we also have like almost what I would consider like a full-sized refrigerator and freezer in the Ram.

Scott Brady: Oh, in the Ram or in the Airstream?

Matt Swartz: Oh in the Airstream. Excuse me. Yeah. Often we'll just make lunch and..

Scott Brady: Sure. It's true. You do have your house behind you.

Matt Swartz: Like we can always stop if we need to.

Scott Brady: Sure.

Matt Swartz: But when we're being smart about it, like if we have a big driving day, let's say we're trying to do 500 miles, you know, we need to be efficient with stops. So we get in before it gets dark and get set up at camp before dark, we will usually just make food. And we, we, we have like a totally collapsible Costco insulated food shopping bag.

Scott Brady: Perfect.

Matt Swartz: And we'll just use that, you know, cause we're talking about like needing stuff to stay chilled for a matter of hours, and usually that's [01:14:00] sufficient, but we did, we, we liked, I liked the tote style coolers for the truck. Uh, just because, you know, if I'm not going to be carrying around, I don't need to backpack straps. So the Engel was a great one for that. We use that one quite a lot, but my, like my editor's choice would be the Yeti.

Scott Brady: Cool.

Matt Swartz: Personally, what about you?

Scott Brady: Yeah, I think, I mean the Yeti, I don't know, I think that is probably the hopper style as well that I've been using. I've been, I've literally been wearing that thing out. You can see all the use on it because. It's just kinda my go-to now it's it works so well. And then I definitely have the Dometic in the, in the Scout. In most of my vehicles I've run the National Luna, um, inside the vehicle. That's been my choice for decades now, but they're, they're all really good. That's the nice thing is that they're, they're all really well made.

Matt Swartz: It's kind of hard to go wrong.

Scott Brady: Exactly. Exactly. So you're basically buying based upon features or the way you like it looks or whatever. How light it is. So those are definitely factors, but it's nice to see lighter weight fridges. Now that's something we have not seen that has come from Dometic. So to have a lighter weight, fridge is a big deal.

Matt Swartz: And one that just arrived the other day that I'm excited to try [01:15:00] out, came from GoSun. I'm not really sure what my first impression is installation wise. It seems like it's going to be less so than most fridges. But the interesting thing about this one is it has an integrated 12 volt battery. I think it's like an 87 watt hour battery, so you can charge it up, get it cold at home, load it up and throw it in your rig, and it doesn't need to be plugged in. Now an 87 watt hour battery is not going to last too long.

Scott Brady: Maybe it bridges the gap of the overnights. So it's chart it charges the 87 amp hour battery during the day and runs the fridge during the day you shut the car off and then it just runs off of that interior battery at night.

Matt Swartz: Absolutely. And it's got a reversible lid and it's got some of these features that we think of as being kind of important and standard. And it also has integrated wheels for rolling around easily. So it's kind of like a cooler meets fridge. So that'll be interesting to test out.

Scott Brady: This is a fun topic. It's a very cool topic. I got to use it one more time.

Matt Swartz: Totally.

Scott Brady: Having great food in camp is a big deal and these are some excellent solutions to do that. You can read both of these [01:16:00] tests in Overland Journal. Um, one of them is available in the Winter 2021 issue and then the soft sided coolers is in Spring of 2022. When you subscribe to Overland journal, it obviously makes a huge difference. It's what makes this podcast possible. So we do appreciate everybody's support in allowing for independent journalism to continue. So we appreciate all of you being subscribers. Awesome. Well, thank you Matt, for another great discussion.

Matt Swartz: Of course, Scott. Thank you.

Scott Brady: Right on. And we will talk to you all next time.