There’s no place for warm beer and wet sandwiches in any backcountry adventure of mine. For that reason, very early in my 4×4 modifying days I set about making sure I’d never the the victim of such calamity – by installing a refrigerator in my 4Runner. Since the summer of 2011 a 50 QT ARB Fridge/Freezer has accompanied me on every camping adventure, tailgating escapade, and many an impromptu happy hour.
Normal folks (the ones that don’t read DirtRoadTrip) are usually a mix of astonished, impressed, and concerned when they learn the 4Runner is equipped with a fully-functional refrigerator. But here’s why I’d recommend you consider one, and based on my own experience, consider an ARB Fridge:
So, why run a fridge versus just pack a cooler? For most of the trips we do, we rarely go more than 2 days away from civilization (and Reddy Ice), so yeah, a fridge is definitely a luxury. However, if you compare an $855 ARB 50QT to a $440 YETI 45 QT Tundra cooler, we’re talking a $400 difference, which isn’t all that crazy if you consider that the YETI is much more bulky and less space efficient (have to take up space with the ice). With the ARB, you can fill it to the brim with your choice of food and drink – it’ll accommodate 72 cans.
What do I need to run the fridge in my truck? Most of the “Expedition Outfitters” will recommend installing a dual battery setup that dedicates one battery to starting the truck and the second to powering accessories like fridges. Because the system separates the batteries from each other when the truck is stopped, it is a pretty safe way to go, and allows you to run the second battery down pretty low. However, you don’t need dual batteries to support a fridge. While I run dual batteries now, I ran my ARB for quite some time on the single starting battery, which I had swapped out for a Sears DieHard Platinum combo deep cycle/starting battery. The ARB fridge has an adjustable voltage cutoff, which will prevent the fridge from completely draining you starting battery.
Why shouldn’t I get a fridge? There are few reasons I can imagine why a regular cooler would be better than a fridge:
- You don’t want to spend the $$$ (again it is a luxury and you don’t need one)
- You need something that can pull double duty both in and outside the truck (like on canoe float trips)
- You like warm beer and wet sandwiches.
Why do you like the ARB? I did a little comparison shopping back in the day on fridges, but ultimately went with ARB because I trusted the brand and there were many, many positive reviews. Since installing the fridge in 2011, it has spent 99% of its time installed in the truck, and probably 2.5 out of 5 years running continuously. It has performed flawlessly and held up well. The only complaint I had with it is the supplied quick power disconnect, which wasn’t all that secure. I solved that by direct wiring the fridge to an aux Blue Sea fuse box I installed for accessories. Bottom Line: If my current ARB Fridge stopped working today, nearly 5 years after purchase, I’d gladly go out and get a new one without hesitation. No turning back for me.