Out and about with the ice queen: What to expect from a cool box that costs 866 francs?
One look at the price tag sends shivers down my spine. 866 francs for a cool box? No doubt, the Dometic CoolFreeze CFX 40W is a high-end product. But is the investment worth it?
This queen is the heavyweight champion of cool boxes – and also features in my colleague Patrick Bardelli’s standard work Camping holidays from F to Z (in German). If you include the cardboard palace she’s wrapped in, this cooler weighs in at around 23 kilos. While I’m lugging this pricey piece up the stairs, the marketing slogan printed on the box appears to be mocking me – «mobile living made easy». I’m curious to see if she’ll make my life easier over the next few days.
The Queen demands power
After heaving the cool box queen out of her packaging and getting rid of all the wrapping, she’s finally standing before me. And I have to say, she looks solid. But that should go without saying considering the price. There’s no squeaking or rattling. Everything feels premium. I close the lid with a satisfying click. That’s all well and good but what else does this ice queen do to justify her price tag? Stop climate change? On the contrary. The queen wants power, albeit only humble amounts. After all, she’s labelled A++ for energy efficiency. The box she came in includes two cables. One with a Schuko plug and a Swiss adapter (100–240 V AC), the other for the cigarette lighter in your car (12/24 V DC). If you give her the power she wants, Dometic CoolFreeze not only cools but is capable of bringing temperatures down to a freezing −22 degrees Celsius.
The interior is divided: There’s a removable basket and a flat compartment that’s hiding all the technology beneath it.
I plug her in and press the button that wakes the sleeping beauty. The display says 24 degrees. I set the target temperature to −22. This gives me enough time to reminisce about my cooling career so far. Fond memories come to mind of an orange-coloured relic from the 1970s. A trusted holiday companion that would steal my mum’s leg space in the car and hold precious treats that were released whenever I whined for long enough. But one day, during a holiday in Italy, our loyal orange box started to develop blisters on its lid. Later in life, it was all about cooling beers – cheap cans were crammed into even cheaper cooling bags. Meanwhile, I use a model that will do for a day out with the family.
CHF 25.–instead of 50.–1
Icetime Plus (26l)
Voted best in test by Swiss consumer magazine “Kassensturz”!
This cooler with PU insulation is great for a day out or at the beach. The hard outer shell and sturdy handles make this box a reliable companion when it comes to cooling.
For an afternoon at the swimming pool or the lake, I use a small rucksack like the one below. It keeps the drinks cool for long enough and the sausages end up on a hot grill anyway.
Tropic Kühlrucksack Tropic (20l)
The Tropic refrigerated backpack has a capacity of 20L (offers space for 7 x 1.5L bottles) and is the perfect companion in your everyday life and in your leisure time during hikes or excursions.
Back to my first steps into the world of active cooling. In addition to models that need power from the grid or a car battery, some cool boxes feature a gas-powered cooling mode that kicks in whenever there’s no socket in sight. One of these is the Dometic Combicool ACX40 G.
Combicool ACX40 12/230V/Gas 50mbar (40l)
With this absorber cooler you are completely independent in your choice of picnic location. Energy supply is guaranteed everywhere.
From 24 to –11 degrees in 30 minutes
But it’s still the ice queen who thrones at the top of the cooling chain. And it is she who is now quietly purring away in my apartment and showing –11 degrees after a good half hour. After a full hour, she’s already down to –19. I’m surprised at the speed, but she does have everything she needs. Power, a flat and dry surface and a bit of air to breathe. She’s a compressor cool box, so she needs to release hot air in order to cool down so fast. The noise levels are totally acceptable and don’t bother me. There's a small LED light next to the dimmable temperature display that tells you when the compressor is running (green) and when it’s not (orange).
With 38-litres of storage space, you can cram an impressive amount of things into the box. The big basket can be taken out and the light goes on whenever you open the lid. She’s a top-loading fridge with an outdoorsy look and she can freeze stuff. Fast. Her natural habitat is that bit of tent awning you set up in front of your mobile home, a boat, a home-made camping bus or that mountain cabin you're staying in for the weekend.
A cool playground: The box is so sturdy, nothing but a Jeep would do.
The app for the box
What’s more, Dometic CoolFreeze CFX 40W is smart. Or at least she tries to be. In any case, she comes with a designated app. So I download it, switch on the wi-fi and connect to my cool box. The app lets me:
- check and set the temperature
- adjust the battery protection
- switch the display from Celsius to Fahrenheit
- enable the temperature alarm
- rename the wi-fi and change the password so nobody hacks my cool box
- switch off the cool box
Unfortunately, the app doesn’t include a butler service. I still have to get up and grab stuff myself. In other words: No progress for me, no progress for humankind. Out of all the gimmicks, I probably like the USB phone charger best.
Setting the desired temperature via the app's slide control.
The app is just a gimmick. What counts is the real thing: a weekend in the mountains. Four adults and four kids will want to be fed. I lift the box up by her sturdy fold-down handles and hoist her into the car. The cable is just about long enough to connect her to the cigarette lighter on the dashboard from the boot of the family car. If not, we would have been in trouble. After all, there’s nowhere else you could put the Dometic considering her dimensions. During the drive, I mention to my family that I can easily regulate the cooling temperature via the app. They're not impressed.
Out-of-control food shopping
I do ask myself if we’re lugging the Dometic CoolFreeze CFX 40W around for nothing and if the compact run-of-the-mill model wouldn’t have done. But then we go shopping. While I’m trying to stop my two-year old boy from throwing himself on the floor of the entrance area in a fit of rage, the shopping goes on without me. Some of those, a bit of that, better take two of those. Before I know it, the trolley is full and the cooler looks tiny in comparison. But behold! She swallows everything that needs to be cooled and I’m in awe of her power. She has impressive reserves and does not let me down.
The end of a chilling fairy tale
As soon as we reach the fridge-less mountain cabin, Dometic CoolFReeze CFX 40W is placed right beside the door and does what a cool box should. She keeps everything at hand for us and the kids can help themselves. Whenever we want things to be a little cooler, it only takes a few minutes until the desired temperature is reached. If it were my cabin, the cooling queen would live here permanently. And should I ever upgrade my camper van, this cool box is a serious option. But for now, I have to give her back with a heavy heart before my bank freezes my account.
Yep, she’s expensive. But with the Dometic CoolFreeze CFX 40W, there’s no compromising. She’s a fast and efficient cooler. She has impressive reserves that will not let you down, no matter how hot it is. She’s equipped with a three-step monitor that protects the battery from deep draining when the box is running on a battery. She sports a high-quality finish and will probably last for years. To be honest, I prefer that to a cheaper box that will probably end up rotting away in the cellar after just one or two years. In my opinion, the Dometic justifies her high price tag.
CoolFreeze CFX 40W (38l)
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