This Dometic CFX 65W fridge was hand delivered to us at the top of a 12,000-foot mountain pass in southwestern Montana. If that is not the best way to start this story, we are not sure what is. Generally you have all of your gear set up in a vehicle before the start of a 5,000-mile road trip, but in this instance, we threw out the guide book and decided to do most of our outfitting at the destination. This allowed us an incredible opportunity of comparing two methods of keeping cold foods cold: the ice-filled cooler on the way there and the Dometic CFX 65W on the way back.
Running around with a cooler is a familiar experience for everyone, stopping every few hours for ice—most of us have lived this life. It is effective, but not always convenient or optimal for the situation, especially if you are in the middle of nowhere or your trip has you away from services for multiple days at a time. Suddenly, the idea of having to deal with ice goes from being the everyman’s solution, to another item on the list that is giving us anxiety.
Having a fridge is not something you will be able to say in the long run is cheaper because it will take a few years for the weekend warrior to recoup the cost of a portable fridge versus an ice chest and dollar bags of ice from the gas station. It does, however, make your life easier in three big ways.
We got ahold of our Dometic CFX 65W test fridge mid-adventure, moving onward from the blazing summer heat of the Midwest and Great Plains, before the long-awaited peaks of the Rocky Mountains cooled the air. Up until then, we traveled with an ice chest. As one would expect with ice chests, the tradeoff for the benefits of the chilling effect that they provide is reduced storage volume, soggy food, and required ice replenishment. People often forget that half the ice chest is filled with ice, which cuts the amount of food and drink you can chill in half.
Upon receiving the hand-delivered fridge trailside, we were able to route the 12V plug through the catacombs of the cabin into an auxiliary port to get it plugged in. We then transferred our meager contents into the Dometic CFX 65W’s cavernous insides, dumped the remaining ice and water and were on our way. The Dometic CFX 65W instantly sputtered to life the moment it was plugged in, with a faint 42-decibel whisper of the compressor working to bring its internal temperature down. Within 10 minutes, the fridge was well into the high 30-degree zone, heading for a target of a freezing 32 degrees.
Throughout the trip, the Dometic CFX 65W worked tirelessly throughout the day and night, our stock battery and electrical system not even flinching at the super-low draw of the optimized compressor, and its built-in low-voltage cutout keeping our battery safe. For the next several days, we were able to restock our perishable stores without much concern for remaining space or room for extras, and never a concern of buying a bag of ice. With such amenities, our buying confidence increased and even went as far as having fresh fruit on hand. When was the last time you had fresh fruit at your campground, if ever? We could not answer that question ourselves, and were blown away by our newfound grocery freedom.
3 Things to Consider
The biggest gain is the increase in efficiency of your space available. Everyone that has rocked an ice cooler knows the familiar pain of shoving your hand blindly into the hard-edged ice, hoping that the vague memory of the last can of your favorite soda in the bottom righthand corner under 5 pounds of ice, and whatever else you have in there, is accurate. It is pretty easy to lose items when you are trying to make the most of your space, especially if you load up on ice because you will be out for a few days in the heat.
Thanks to the wonders of technology, ice can be a thing of the past with the Dometic CFX 65W. Capable of cooling the interior all the way down to a balmy -7 degrees F, shelving ice forever means that 106 soda cans can fit inside its cavernous 65L interior space. Dometic claims that because the fridge cools without the need for space-hogging ice, their CFX fridge allows for a 60 percent increase in storage capacity over a comparable size ice chest. We experienced it firsthand because not only could we take a frozen pizza with us on the trail now, we did not need to worry about it getting water logged.
The second factor to consider is there is no longer the need to deal with ice. While ice may not be the biggest headache in the world, not having to be restricted on how far away from services you can travel, while keeping your perishables from not perishing, is a nice weight off your shoulders. Plus, the aforementioned concerns of waterlogging your food are totally gone, not to mention the possibility of leakage and wet floors.
The third thing is the fridge’s super-efficient compressor and electronics, despite the ability to turn your fridge into a sub-zero freezer, drawing less than one amp when running on 12V power with 90-degree ambient temperatures. The ability to take frozen goods with you on a trip is a game changer for meal prep, as well as keeping sensitive medical supplies chilled.
With these points in mind, the best fit for our application was Dometic’s CFX 65W. Priced at $1,130, the CFX-65W is the tallest and largest of the single-zone fridges that Dometic makes. Because we planned to place the fridge in our pickup truck bed, we did not have a height restriction. Those placing a fridge in a car, SUV, or Jeep will want to consider the fridge’s dimensions, as Dometic makes fridges in a wide variety of sizes and applications. The footprint of the Dometic CFX 65W fits perfectly in a multitude of places from the space between the rear-wheel arch and tailgate, to occupying the 40 side of the 60/40 rear bench seat. The unit’s settings can be controlled wirelessly via its built in Wi-Fi antenna and Dometic mobile app.
As the new centerpiece of our camping equipment collection, the Dometic CFX 65W has also found use in daily life, chilling our groceries and keeping drinks cool and on-hand during the sweltering summer months even when we are not at the campground. Built for rugged durability, efficiency, and ease of use, we have been thoroughly impressed with this unit. The Dometic CFX 65W is here to stay.
For more about Dometic’s fridges and other products, visit them at dometic.com.
Editor’s Note: A version of this article first appeared in the July/August 2019 print issue of Tread Magazine.