Introducing The ICECO APL55: A Dual-Zone Fridge Packed With New Functionality & Designed Purely From Overlander Feedback – Complete Overview & Feature Breakdown
This isn’t my first time buying and reviewing an ICECO fridge. And, it probably won’t be my last.
Back in 2020, I was at a point where I was fairly content with my 4Runner build. With that, I shifted my focus more toward camping/overlanding accessories. Naturally, a portable fridge was the first thing that came to mind. After years of using a YETI cooler, it just wasn’t meeting the need for consistent, long-term cooling.
At the end of a trip, we found ourselves fishing through ice water for any remaining beers and lunch meat that wasn’t drenched. Before you comment, yes, we always “primed” our YETI coolers.
So, I picked up ICECO’s JP50 with the price point as a motivating factor. It also had me intrigued since it was a newer company (at the time). I was so impressed, I wound up writing a review on this site. In it, I included a side-by-side comparison against comparable ARB and Dometic fridges.
With ICECO coming in at ~50% of the cost (compared to the competitors), you really can’t help but scratch your head on why you wouldn’t consider ICECO. But hey, some people shop solely by the brand.
About a year after purchasing it, I was still pretty happy with its performance. In fact, we wound up buying a house in the meantime and unfortunately, the refrigerator in our new home wasn’t working. This was during the appliance crisis brought on by the pandemic. That resulted in us waiting two months before our new appliances arrived. As you might predict, the JP50 wound up being our primary refrigerator.
While it’s great and it helped us weather the storm for two months, we were pumped when the real stuff arrived. However, it worked flawlessly for two months straight.
A few camping trips later, we decided to upgrade from the JP50 to the ICECO VLPro75D, which sported an overall larger capacity with dual zones for cooling and freezing. Yet again, I was happy with its performance. You know what they say; two zones are better than one! That’s a saying, right?
Now, ICECO is celebrating its 4-year anniversary with a newly designed fridge that was completely inspired by overlanders and the RV community. The ICECO APL55 definitely packs a punch, so let’s get into it.
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The ICECO APL55 looks and feels like it’s something out of a Star Wars prop room. It looks like it would be sitting next to the Mandalorian as he rips through the galaxy in his Razor Crest. I say this as a compliment because it just looks badass and rugged.
Enhanced Visual Controls
Over the years, ICECO has progressed nicely from basic, step-above analog controls, to nicely displayed digital visuals. They’re much easier to navigate while prominently displaying the most important part of your fridge, the temperatures.
One of the things I didn’t pick up on at first was which zone was being cooled by the left and right visuals.
The far left degree visual is cooling the front of the fridge while the far right degree value is cooling the rear of the fridge. Each icon underneath the degree reflects the zone of the fridge. If you’ll notice, the left-sided value has a snowflake in a stepped box; this indicates the front of the fridge as that zone occupies space right above the compressor.
Spring-Loaded Side Handles
This is a fairly common feature on most portable fridges nowadays. However, it’s worth calling out because they’re stout. Each side of the APL55 has slightly knurled spring-loaded retracting grab handles making it easier to tote the fridge around camp. Or, you can use it as an additional tie-down point.
In addition, the handles are completely removable.
While you can use the handles as a tie-down point, especially if you’re using a fridge slide for your APL55, the fridge lid also comes with 4 additional tie-down hooks.
I see pros and cons with this feature:
- Pros – These are additional points where you can tie down the fridge, whether it’s on a slide or not. If your fridge is in the trunk and not packed in with other cargo, it has the potential to shift or tip if you’re hitting some aggressive trails. So, these tie-down points can be beneficial. You could also throw a strap or two along the top of the lid and use it as a MOLLE of sorts.
- Cons – If you’re strapping the fridge down to a slide or any other point in the vehicle, you’re restricted from opening the lid while in transit. I would have preferred to see these mounted to the body of the fridge vs. the lid itself. If you disagree and think it’s another way of keeping the lid from popping open, it comes with lid-locking handles.
For those of you who overload your fridge and need to smash it down before heading out on an adventure, the lid-locking handles are a nice feature to prevent it from popping open.
This was never an issue on the JP50 or the VLPro75D because the lids locked into the body. The APL55 design actually gives even more peace of mind that it won’t fly open mid-journey.
Insulated Slow-Close Lid
Accidental lid closure is a potential finger-breaking issue on other fridges, coolers, and previous ICECO models. The lid is obviously a critical insulation component to any cooler or fridge and so generally, they’re not light. While it hasn’t happened (yet), a lid accidentally slamming on already cold fingers sounds like a nightmare. So, this slow-close lid is definitely a great feature.
Multiple Power Inputs
One of the things I disliked about the JP50 was that the controls were behind the lid opening section. It just wasn’t conducive to our setup. Fortunately, the power inputs were on the rear and when it sat on the fridge slide in our trunk, the DC line was essentially hidden.
With these newer fridges, we’re starting to see more flexibility in terms of configuration and where the power supply inputs are. For the APL55, they put a DC and AC supply on the “front” of the fridge (where the controls are). as well as two USB ports for device charging.
There is also a DC port on the rear with an additional two USB ports. The APL55 comes with both DC and AC charging cables.
Large Storage Capacity
The ICECO APL55 offers 58 quarts (55 liters) of storage capacity; hence the name, APL55. In comparison, the JP50 came in at 50 quarts and the VLPro75D came in at 89 quarts.
For comparison, a 50-quart fridge can hold 72 cans of soda or beer. You just need to weigh out how much drinking you’ll want to do on your trip vs. actual eating!
The real difference here is what you need for the types of adventures you go on. For example, the JP50 is smaller in size than the VLPro75D. The JP50 weighed less, but it didn’t offer dual-zone cooling whereas the VLPro75D did. The APL55 sits between the two and in my opinion, offers the best of both worlds for the weekend adventurer.
Single & Dual Zone Functionality
One of the other big benefits of the APL55 is that you might not always need to have two zones in use. If you’re throwing a party and want a fridge sitting on the deck just to hold beverages, you can remove the inner baskets and the insulated divider to convert the fridge to a single zone.
ICECO has put out yet another great fridge at a competitive price. ICECO uses almost all of the same inner components as Dometic, ARB, and other leading fridge manufacturers (most notably, the Secoop compressor).
If you were comparison shopping in the past, one could make the argument that some of the competition fridges looked cooler than ICECO’s. For example, Dometic has a huge following in the overland community despite its higher price point. Plus, they’ve been around for a while and have a significant presence in the RV world.
However, the APL55 is ICECO’s 4-year anniversary fridge as they become a staple in the off-grid/adventure lifestyle. The price is more competitive and the features are in line with the competition. It’s modular and looks straight-up cool and rugged.