When I graduated from rock crawling to overland exploration, I realized the small portable cooler I used for day trips needed to be retired. With most of my overland adventures lasting up to a week, my instinct as a Jeeper was to find something suitable at the best price.
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That philosophy lead me to a 60 quart brand name 7 day cooler. “Keeps Ice for 7 Days” it said on the label. Wow, that could hold a bag or two of ice and all my cold stuff for a week. A bargain at $50! Or not.
I suffered with that cooler for nearly a year. Might keep ice for three days, leaving you a few cubs in a sea of icy water that leaks into “sealed” plastic bags and sloshes around on back roads. There needed to be a better solution. I’ve tried those thermo-electric coolers but in the heat of summer, you might as well put your food in a cooler without ice. So I followed some advice and got a 60 quart “famous” name fridge/freezer retailing for $1400. It’s heavy and as big as my cooler and I realized that I really didn’t need that big of a unit but it was already taking up ¼ of the space in my off-road trailer and it has worked great so there it has stayed.
But not all of us have or need an off-road trailer. My latest project, “The Ultimate Overland ZJ,” was built with the desire to leave the trailer at home. Being able to load the Grand Cherokee with all the equipment and gear for a one week trip was job “one.”
I needed a smaller fridge, something around 40 quarts, but I didn’t want to spend a small fortune. A fellow Jeeper told me to check out the EdgeStar FP430. It was the size I was looking for, the specs more than met my needs, and it was on sale for under $400. A price that can fit everyone’s budget!
A few clicks of the mouse on the Compact Appliance website and my new fridge was on the way. Since Texas is only two states away from Arizona, a two day journey by truck found my new fridge in the driveway and ready for me to see if the $400 bargain was up to the challenge of overland travel.
Before I put it in the back of my Jeep I needed to test it at my house. I felt the best test to begin with was to see how fast it would cool down. Filling it with frozen food from my freezer and pushing the button for “fast freeze” seemed to be a fitting inaugural. Twenty minutes later I looked at the control panel and it said the temp was -6 degrees. Upon opening the lid, frosty air came forth and it was good. I know it can get cold and keep frozen things frozen and am pretty confident that I can make ice on the trail too.