Ugly Yellow Box 9 year test – Like a fine nine-year-old scotch, my Evakool Fridgemate has gotten better with age.
Paul Simon’s Graceland has a line that goes, “My travelling companion is nine years old, he is the child of my first marriage” which sums this review up perfectly. Nine years ago, my ex (we weren’t married, and yes I kept the fridge) and I bought the most reliable and useful camping product I’ve ever owned. Basically, I was sick of using an Esky and decided to bite the bullet and drop close to $1,200 on a 55L Evakool Fridgemate after doing weeks of research. It was delivered on a Thursday. I remember the feeling well as I was going away that Friday. I knew from that moment forward I would never have an Esky or ice box in the back of my vehicle again. I’ve since had this same Evakool Fridgemate fridge/freezer in ten 4X4s (I’ve bought 15 4X4s in the last 14 years) but I refuse to give up on this Evakool. Simply because it has refused to give up on me. And selfishly I like the stickers I’ve put on my ugly yellow box… priorities right?
WHAT’S GONE WRONG?
Early in the piece, I messed up and selected the wrong auxiliary battery and the fridge wasn’t staying cool. One N70 Deep Cycle later, and I can last a full weekend comfortably… so not the fridge’s fault there. One real problem however was learning how to open the elastic side latches without smashing my thumbnail. It seriously hurts! Thankfully these moments are rare now. One of the plastic support studs that holds the internal baskets off the fridge floor has snapped off too; but again it really isn’t the fridge’s fault… as I must confess to having it loaded to the top, driving some particularly nasty tracks in an old HiLux one ANZAC Day weekend. Truthfully I could order a replacement part for a few bucks – but it still works fine with three-out-of-four studs in place. Lastly, the original supplied power cable is still in use but it has seen better days. I’ve chopped, modified and fixed it a few times now. Perhaps for its 10th birthday I’ll treat my fridge to a new cable.
WHY I LIKE IT
Firstly, the reliability has been exceptional. It has fired up every single time I have used it over the last nine years and I have done zero maintenance (well, other than wiping out the interior when the forgotten food inside started to grow limbs). I love the internal baskets too; meaning I can lift the fridge into vehicle, and then add the loaded baskets to save my poor old back. The internal space is abundant, and there’s the option to install a supplied divider so you can run this as a proper fridge/freezer. The compressor isn’t whisper-quiet, but it certainly doesn’t roar intrusively as it clicks to life each cycle. The cabinet is extremely durable and thick, resulting in a very efficient fridge, and this also has the advantage of retaining cool temperatures to the point where I switch it off overnight now. This is a no-fuss unit, with just a temperature dial, circuit breaker and Normal/Economy mode switch to play with – and that is just the way I like it. Sorry, I can’t report on exact power consumption figures. I’ve been far more interested in the contents of the fridge.
These days, I don’t think you can even buy an ugly yellow box (sorry good people at Evakool, I mean it in an endearing way). You can still buy the Fridgemate, but it has evolved and now boasts more features such as digital temperature control. These days the colour is whitish-grey.
Funnily enough, these units still retail for $1,199. Exactly what I paid nine years ago.
Check them out here if you are looking for a new fridge: evakool.com