There are many cases today that the adage “you get what you pay for” really applies. However, it seems the only time that logic applies is when you are contemplating a pretty expensive purchase. Hence this review of the ARB 50 quart Fridge Freezer.
As a Jeeper, I must say that having an actual refrigerator (or freezer) has been “offroad life changing.” I am no longer running out to get extra ice, or dealing with soggy food, or having water sloshing in the back of the Jeep.
As a vegan, however, my actual life has in fact been really changed by this amazing fridge.
Primarily, when we go camping or offroading, we must bring just about all our food with us for the trip. This includes meat analogs (think Tofurky dogs, Beyond Meat strips, Veganaise, Earth Balance, etc, etc.). The ARB lets us easily bring all the vegan necessities with us, and still offers plenty of room for the microbrews.
Second, when in town we can stock up on the frozen items we need and still go out for dinner on our way home, with hard frozen foods ready to unpack when we get home.
Last, when we have a party at the house it serves as an additional fridge for the beers out in the yard or even in the living room.
When I think about my life before the ARB, the pretty significant investment seems like one of the best purchases I have ever made.
When the box from Northridge finally arrived, I was a little taken back by how small it looked. Once I opened it up, my initial concerns were realized – it was on the smaller size of what I expected a 50 QT fridge to look like.
However, these concerns were quickly questioned when we packed it up for the first time. Coolers need to be big, to accommodate the food/beer AND ice. Not the ARB – there is obviously no need for ice. So I was surprised to see just how much stuff we could fit inside. Ever since, I have never run out of room.
The outside of the fridge is very well made, cleans off easily, and has withstood some good abuse with no damage. The buttons on the outside are sealed and function perfectly.
The removeable lid is a really nice feature when packing the fridge, or trying to reach inside when you can’t open the lid all the way. The LED light inside is a nice touch, when fishing out a cold beer in the dark of the Sierras.
I really like the placement of the handles and the fact they are part of the frame of the unit. This lends additional confidence when lifting a $900 fridge full of $300 vegan goodies over rocks to the tent.
Overall, this is a really well-made high quality fridge that is clearly built for camping and offroading.
IN THE JEEP
I found the ideal spot for the ARB was in the rear cargo area of my JKUR. This is an obvious spot; but the factory location of the 12 volt receptacle is perfect. The only issue I came across was the placement of the rearward facing, driver side tie down. The ARB-supplied tie down was too short to reach, so I used a cheap strap from Harbor Freight, cut it down to size, and it works like a charm. I also like having one tie down as a ratchet to really tighten things up when on the trail.
The forward-facing straps work perfectly with the child seat anchor points on the rear of the back seat.
When you order your ARB, I HIGHLY recommend the offroad tie down kit. This includes two brackets that sit over the handles, and provide various positions for tie down straps to slip through. It also includes 4 straps. I would not take the ARB camping or off road without this kit, lest it be at risk of damage or frothy beer.
ON THE TRAIL
There are times that I wish the 12v cord was a bit longer, so we could pull the fridge out to the campfire and have beers a little closer. But then again, the thought of coiling it all up to fit in the Jeep when we hit the trail has me thinking they chose a good length.
The single most important feature of the ARB is the battery level meter. This is an integral part of the fridge, and it constantly reads your batteries’ charge. If your Jeep’s battery gets too low (where it will not start) the fridge will simply turn off. This ensures you will not be stuck somewhere in the woods to hike your way out. We have used this fridge on the Rubicon, throughout Moab, and all points in between and have never had a single issue.
Once the fridge is tied down and plugged in, it simply does it’s job and does it remarkably well.
The ARB has a pretty high price tag when you are shopping around for a cooler. However, that is not an apples-apples comparison. A cooler keeps stuff cool, and requires a lot more work. Ice and water is heavy, messy, and gets everything soggy.
The ARB fridge is easy to clean, well-made, and has more than paid for itself in the convenience of ownership and the way it supports our vegan lifestyle.
This is by far one of the best purchases I have made.
NOTE: Remember to use coupon code OFFROADVEGAN at Northridge to save 5% off and free shipping! You will also get a cool t shirt!