ICECO’s JP50 Portable Fridge For Camping & Overlanding: It’s Budget Friendly, But is it Better Than the Competition?
So, you’re in the market for a portable refrigerator and not sure where to begin. Between Dometic, Kacooler, ARB, Black Forest, Engel, and SnoMaster, the options, features and functions can vary… and so can the price. Where do you begin and what makes sense for you and best fits your overland setup?
If you frequent “the gram” as often as I do, you’re likely aware that sponsored ads are recurring and some of the same companies are starting to become familiar names. Since I follow Instagram accounts that feature 4Runners, Tacomas, overland builds, and yes, even some Jeep pages, I get ads that match these interests. One company that continues to appear in my feed over and over again is ICECO.
So, kudos to you ICECO; your product placement and marketing tactics lured me in! I started by perusing their Instagram page and, about 45 minutes later, I found myself placing an order for one of their more common portable fridges, the JP50. I’ll admit it… I’m a sucker for infomercials and Instagram marketing!
Now, I don’t normally make impulse purchases like this, especially for something like a portable fridge. Like many people, I’d been eyeing up Dometic for a few years but could never justify the price. So when I did my research and saw a fridge (that I had seen before in some popular overland builds) that came in at roughly half the price of some of the competition, with very similar features, I couldn’t help but jump on it.
Find it online
Initial Thoughts on the JP50 Portable Fridge
With more people swapping out their annual Disney vacations for outdoor adventuring, 2020 has slammed the industry. Not to mention, raw materials and manpower are a problem for many companies due to the COVID-19 pandemic. All of that said, you’ve likely seen some delays in shipping or inventory on backorder more than ever before.
So, I was pleasantly surprised that my ICECO JP50 and mounting slide shipped and arrived as quickly as they did (roughly one week after placing the order).
Unboxing the ICECO JP50 Fridge
The packaging for both the fridge and slide were well designed and all of the contents were thoroughly protected.
The slide is obviously constructed of metal and fairly heavy, so ICECO has done a pretty good job wrapping the unit in plastic and keeping all slide edges protected with dense foam padding inside the shipping box.
Included in the fridge packaging is:
- JP50 53qt Portable Fridge
- Handles & Necessary Install Hardware (Optional) (x2)
- Insulated & Protective Fridge Cover (x1)
- Removable Interior Basket + Center Divider (x1)
- 12′ Extended DC Power Cable (x1)
- 6′ DC Power Cable (x1)
- 6′ AC Power Cable (not pictured) (x1)
- All Necessary Operating Instructions
What’s Included With the Fridge Slide?
Included in the slide packaging is:
- Fridge Slide (x1)
- Tie-down Straps (not pictured) (x4)
- Installation Instructions
Find it online
Before I go into a full product review, let’s spend some time talking about common portable fridge features.
If you’ve started doing your research on which fridge in the market gives you the biggest bang for your buck, you know the data can be daunting. I did my best to build out a side-by-side comparison of the ICECO JP50 with comparable models from both Dometic and ARB. At the end of the day, you’re going to buy what you want and what you think best fits your needs.
Hopefully, this helps you make an informed decision.
|Feature/Function||ICECO JP50||ARB Fridge 50 Quart - Classic Series||Dometic CFX3 55IM|
|Single or Dual Zone||Single||Single||Single|
|Refrigeration Technology||Compressor (Secop/DanFoss)||Compressor (Secop/DanFoss)||Compressor (Secop/DanFoss)|
|Storage Volume (Liters)||50||47.32||53|
|Storage Volume (Quart)||52.83||50||56|
|Storage Volume (Cans/Crispy Bois)||72||72||83|
|Lowest Temperature (F)||-7||0||-7|
|Highest Temperature (F)||+50||+50||+50|
|Limited Warranty (years)||5||3||5|
|Noise Emission dB(a)||45||50||47|
|DC Cable Length||12'||6.6'||6.6'|
|AC Cable Length||6'||6.6'||6.6'|
|Insulated Cover Included||Yes||No||No|
|Lid Open Position||Front||Front||Side|
|Bluetooth||No||Yes* (w/Fridge App Connect Module)||Yes|
Now, you can’t help but notice the price differences. The ICECO comes in at roughly half the cost of the leading competitors and the differences between features really don’t vary that much (unless you truly can’t live without Bluetooth capabilities). Not to mention, the JP50 comes with an insulated cover and while the quality may vary between ARB and Dometics, ICECO included it in the price.
If you eventually purchase a fridge, you’ll go with the one that best fits your needs and setup. If you’re new to this space and don’t want to break the bank, you can probably tell that I’ll suggest the JP50 or another model from ICECO. You can’t beat the price, it’s proven to be pretty reliable, and for me personally… I don’t need a Bluetooth enabled fridge.
Now that I’ve covered all of the preliminary information above, you might be wondering what it’s actually like to run the ICECO JP50.
Let me start with a pro’s and con’s list:
#1. Fits the Cargo Area
It fits perfectly into the cargo area of my 4Runner. While it obviously should, I run the BOSS StrongBox and the storage drawers elevate the floor of the cargo area quite a bit. I didn’t want to compromise fridge size and with the JP50 being the tallest model ICECO offers in that series, it actually fit even with it mounted to the fridge slide. If you’re running a similar set-up, check out my installation post of the ICECO fridge slide onto the BOSS StrongBox.
#2. Slide is Smooth
The ICECO slide operates smoothly and locks into place whether it’s fully extended or not. We did a road test with the fridge loaded and empty and in both cases, we didn’t hear the fridge bouncing around on the tracks.
#3. Storage Space is Massive
For the past few years, I relied on my Yeti Tundra 45 to keep provisions cool. While it worked well, the amount of space it took up, the weight, and the lack of easy accessibility made it a paint point when overlanding. It also felt like it was never big enough to fit a few days worth of food and drinks. Given that the JP50 has roughly the same exterior dimensions, I was worried it too wouldn’t be able to contain the amount of food we take on the road. I was wrong. The actual fridge walls are fairly thin giving you more interior space for storage (see table above). On my first trip with the fridge, I was able to pack in 5 separate meals, 24 bottles of water, and yes, a can of whipped cream for hot chocolate cocktails!
#4. Keeps Food Cold
Let’s not forget, the fridge actually works and performed well! My 4Runner is all black and as a result, ambient heat gets in much faster than you white Storm Trooper Runners. So on a 5-hour trip to camp with a portion of the fridge in direct sunlight, it kept at the set 32-degrees the entire time. Upon arriving at the campsite, everything was cold and stayed at that temperature the entire weekend. I also did a quick test when it first arrived to see how quickly a room temperature bottle of water would freeze with the temperature set to 10-degrees. In roughly 3.5 hours, the bottle was frozen solid. So if you’re looking for this fridge to be a true freezer or need ice at camp, it’ll get you there in short order.
#5. Well Built
It truly is well built. It has some minor design flaws that I’ll mention below, but structurally it’s solid. An average-sized person can use the cooler for additional seating, the exterior plastic is durable and rigid and the handles are strong. Given that our fridge will sit in the cargo area, I have little concern that it will get marred in transit.
#1. Control Placement
The power and climate controls are on the rear of the fridge which makes it slightly difficult to adjust if it’s in your cargo area. Since ours is mounted so high up on top of our drawers, it’s even more challenging but nothing we can’t easily adjust by siding the fridge out.
#2. Lid Open Position
Like a few of the ARB models, the fridge lid opens from the front vs. the side.
This may not matter for your specific configuration, but I’m seeing more and more fridges on the market like Dometic’s side opening positions. The side lid open position still grants you the same amount of interior access as with the front lid open position, but it requires less aerial space.
Since my fridge is mounted so high up, the lid open position isn’t ideal when it’s mounted on the slide. Once I get to base camp and set the fridge on the ground, the opening position is irrelevant.
After running this fridge for about three weeks, I can say that all-in-all, I’m really happy with the JP50. It didn’t break the bank, it serves its intended purposes and the storage capacity is exactly what we needed.
If your preference is to go with only known name-brand products, you might be missing out on some significant savings. The ICECO JP50 utilizes the same Secop Danfoss compressor that Dometic and ARB use and it comes with a 5-year warranty.
Bottom line; you should seriously consider ICECO’s JP50 or any of their other models. The price point is spot on and a few of your fellow overlanders may already be running them.
Questions or Comments? Leaves them below!