The budget-conscious, trend-dodging version of myself would never have expected to write a rave review on an electric-powered cooler. Like some readers here, I never understood how the benefits could possibly outweigh the upfront cost. But, I’d also never thoroughly tested one!
I smile at the sight of a pile of ice in the dirt at the end of a weekend of camping, recalling fond memories at KOA with my parents as a kid in our large green army canvas tent, waking up to smells sizzling from a Coleman camp stove. Yet, after a 3-week road trip testing the new Anker EverFrost 43L Powered Cooler, I am ready to say goodbye to those clunky bags of ice forever.
Note: I am not an expert in electric coolers; rather, I’m a newbie. That being said, on a multiweek trip, I tested it into the ground.
In short: This is a beast of a cooler. It’s bigger and heftier than it’s electric cooler competition, but that’s OK. Despite the size and weight, the inside volume is well worth it, and Anker adds a few more features that make using, accessing, and moving this cooler around camp more manageable. The pros include: a smart interior design, extra batteries, and bonus portable power. The cons? It might not even fit in your car.
Anker EverFrost Powered Cooler Review
Over the years, I’ve battled the inevitability of ice melting with various tricks of the trade. I finally invested in a large YETI cooler on day one of a road trip years ago when I noticed a sopping wet carpet under my partner’s cooler.
I’ve frozen large water bottles the night before a weekend trip, and pre-cooled the inside before adding food contents. I’ve bought that yellow plastic reusable egg carton. And I’ve learned to pack food strategically and protect certain items inside Tupperware containers. But I’ve never felt comfortable traveling with milk or yogurt, and I’ve opened the lid one too many times to discover vegetables floating in water-logged bags.
Fresh, Refrigerated Goods on the Go
As a (mostly) vegetarian, to say that this electric cooler has changed my life is not an exaggeration. While traveling through California, Oregon, and Washington, into British Columbia and Alberta, Canada, our cooler held large trays of cubed melons, multiple bell peppers, a cardboard carton of almond milk, and yogurt. So much yogurt. We ate yogurt every day, and it kept for weeks! I’d never experienced this while on the road.
You can use this cooler the same way as your fridge at home, with the same confidence. But what about freezer items? Well, you can lower the temperature to turn it into a freezer. Moreover, Anker offers one model with a fridge side and a freezer side, to run two sections of your cooler at different temps.
I only tested the single temperature option. Still, once we finished the ice cream, we turned the cooler temp back up to protect our precious veggies.
Charge All Your Gadgets With EverFrost Optional Batteries
We purchased the 43L EverFrost option that includes a battery, plus a backup battery. These two batteries provide multi-faceted benefits. First, we have 84 hours (or 3.5 days) of cooling at 39 degrees Fahrenheit, even when not running the vehicle or when we don’t have access to power outlets.
The second benefit is for those with numerous gadgets, who forget to charge their headlamp, or who still like to post on the ‘gram while out in the woods. The batteries also have USB ports to use as battery banks.
My partner and I were packing for a week-long cycling tour, but still camping. We had lightweight battery banks, our mobile phones, six total rear and front bike lights, headlamps, cameras, and more, to charge for our trip. The Anker EverFrost batteries fully charged all our gadgets for our adventure ahead.
We saved a lot of money some might spend on the road on stopping at motels or Airbnbs to recharge things like this. And, we saved money and space needed to also bring along a full-fledged power station.
We also put the battery life to quite an extreme test, with pretty satisfying results. Before embarking on a multi-day cycling trip, we’d left the car, cooler, and a few food items behind for 7 days.
Although the batteries had clearly run out sometime before we returned, the bread, bell peppers, dip, and cheese did not go bad. After a smell and taste test (all in the name of gear testing), we could still consume some of the items. (Note: We don’t condone eating food from the cooler after a week on one battery!)
Electric cooler competitors, like Dometic, don’t offer a battery with the cooler. You can purchase one as an upgrade, but it costs about the same as the cooler itself. Also, these Dometic batteries don’t fit within the cooler body, like they sleekly do on the Anker.
How It Stacks Up Against Others: Smart Interior, Removable Rack
Lifting the cooler without food or drinks packed was doable, but not comfortable — it’s 55 pounds empty! So, I knew I wouldn’t want to lift it into the back of the vehicle after it was filled.
While it was cooling down in the back of the car — which it does in 30 minutes (or less, in my experience) — I took the removable basket inside, filled it with all our food and drinks, and then carried it back out and gently slid it into the cooler. This feature is pretty essential given the base weight of the cooler. Otherwise, I can see many folks not wanting to use it given the weight and size.
The coolest (pun intended) use of this feature I noticed when we stayed in an Airbnb on the last 2 nights of our trip, feeling like a king and queen with luxuries like a couch after weeks of only Therm-a-Rest Z-Light sleeping pads.
We still had food in the cooler, but we also had 2 nights with a full-sized fridge and a full kitchen. So, we grabbed the basket and slid it directly into the house refrigerator, without unloading individual items. After a long day’s drive, this ease of transferring our food and drinks was a welcome relief.
Leave the Camp Table Behind
If you’re like us, you often pack a camp table (ours is the Coleman Roll-Top Aluminum Camping Table) but don’t always use it. For those that are constantly moving from one camp to another, getting up early to hike or bike, maybe prefer to stay at campgrounds that already have picnic tables, or make most meals from the tailgate or back hatch, the Anker EverFrost has got your flat surface needs covered. The lid is flat, and it also has a pull-out extension table (which doubles as the handle when rolling the cooler).
For lunches or post-hike snacks, the cooler was all we needed to slice sausages and cheese, or splay out some fruits. We also have the low-to-the-ground Helinox camp chairs — leaps and bounds more comfortable than a metal picnic table bench after a day of adventure. Rolling out this Anker Cooler to use as our meal surface worked well for us — no need to pack a separate table.
Although other electric coolers also have mostly flat surface lids, the wheels to roll anywhere in camp or at the beach, plus the extra extension table, are features unique to Anker.
Roll Your Food & Drinks, Rather Than Lift Them
We’ve all done the awkward waddle from the vehicle to the table, or the bear box, while tightly gripping those side or YETI rope handles. Waddle no more with the Anker EverFrost. It has a stagnant handle on one side and an extendable handle on the other for easy rolling. If you’re balking at the cooler because of the weight, consider how much your bike or suitcase has weighed.
Wheels make a huge difference, which Anker offers above some competitors (Dometic, Engel, ARB, and some models of ICECO). We found the wheels rolled easily on a variety of dirt, gravel, and pavement. If you think you’ll be moving the cooler in and out of the vehicle, these wheels were made for you.
A Note on Volume
One of the cons (again, the weight of this massive cooler) is also a pro when you consider its volume. It took us weeks on the road before we utilized the total capacity of the 43L Anker EverFrost. We specifically chose this size and volume capacity because it was the most comparable to the nonelectric YETI cooler we’ve been using for years.
However, our YETI always had some ice, blocks, or ice packs taking up some of the internal volume. If you’re loading a 30-pack on every trip in addition to food, you may not find as much room. But for us, it felt like one of those trick magician bags where you could fit never-ending items inside.
If you prefer to prepare your own food while traveling, have many mouths to feed, or want to bring along larger or bulk-size refrigerated items, this cooler will bring relief.
You also will find comparable volume capacities on the market, like with the Dometic CFX3 46L, which boasts a slightly larger internal space, with a decently smaller footprint dimension.
A Trusted Electronics Brand, Shifts to Outdoor Market
Now, is Anker the top brand for performance electric coolers? No. In the outdoor industry, that’d likely be Dometic, maybe Engel. But, does Anker’s shift to a battery-powered cooler product make sense? Sure. Anker makes power banks and power stations, and a whole lot of other battery-powered devices.
From portable Bluetooth speakers, computer port adapters, charging cords, and noise-canceling headphones, we have Anker products littered around the house. For me, one thing has remained consistent: its products are reliable, sturdy, long-lasting. We took a bit of a gamble investing in a familiar (and for us, a favorite) brand over an already-vetted electric cooler player (ahem, Dometic) when it came to investing in a powered cooler.
Every product has room for improvement, and the Anker EverFrost electric cooler is not immune.
First, the value-added wheels don’t have brakes, or any stabilizing mechanism, for when it’s packed in your vehicle while you’re driving. Wheels are great for transport, but loaded down, any cooler still needs a way to anchor.
We needed to stop the car, get out, and secure the cooler within minutes of departing. It was easy enough to wedge the right items in place, but it was not apparent that we needed unmovable objects in either direction of the wheels until we were on the road.
Second, this cooler does take up a significant amount of space. If you’re traveling in a smaller vehicle, or with a full car of people, this could add some challenge. Other things will need to go, potentially, if you are bringing the EverFrost (which offers portable power, charging, refrigerator, and freezer functions).
If you’re like me, you prefer to live the simple life on the road, and the opportunity to have all the groceries under the sun for days on end far outweighs those extra few items of clothing, or other camp accessories. Of course, if you want to make a direct comparison, yes, Dometic’s electric CFX coolers are more compact.
Finally, the 43L Anker EverFrost rings in at $849, compared to the similar capacity Dometic 46L at $949, or the similar dual temp, fridge-freezer combo ARB Classic at $1,062 (more expensive and heavier).
Like any other piece of gear, we all are coming to the outdoors with different priorities and pocketbooks, and that’s okay. If the benefits listed above are top priorities for you and your crew, and you have the money to invest, or you see the savings that will add up, I highly recommend adding the Anker EverFrost to your gear depository.