"The Ultimate Sprinter/Van Refrigerator Upgrade - Dometic CFX-35US"

by Rob Watt

July 2016 - A very hot day!

Over my lifetime I've endured melting ice in the cooler which makes food soggy and usually not very cold. If you're like me, you've loaded up your cooler for a weekend trip at the lake, camping in the mountains or just a family picnic in the park. The cooler stuffed with turkey meat, lettuce, tomatoes, eggs in the carton, bacon, bacon and more bacon, is then topped off with a bag of ice. Yes, I know the ice is going to melt and yes I know I'm not suppose to open the cooler until I need something. But really why does it melt so fast and cause my food to be soggy!

I recently purchased a Sprinter van to travel to rallies to sell my products.  With the amount of traveling I do to scout the Backcountry Discovery Routes it's just nice to have a vehicle to haul the bike, gear and I can just camp out of it.  When I bought the Sprinter, it was just a empty cargo van...  a blank canvas to fill up with all kinds of cool things to make my life on the road comfortable. 

One of the items I knew I wanted was a 120vAC, 12vDC Portable Refrigerator/Freezer.  But where do you start to find one?  I went to big box sporting good stores, Wal-mart, RV Stores and even a few big truck stops, thinking I'd find what I wanted.  What I found was, these guys don't stock a regular size (cooler size) portable refrigerators.  The only thing I could find were small ones that hold a six-pack and a juice box. What everyone was pushing were the high end coolers which start at around $300 to $900 and still they take ice.  I'd almost lost all hope.

My first big trip with the new travel lodge...that just sounds fancy, instead of "the van that looks like the Fedex guys"... was to the Overland Expo, just south of Flagstaff, AZ.  I knew I'd find something there because the Overland Expo always has some of the best Overlanding vendors with superior products.  It's funny that the first vendor I see as I pull in is Dometic, a US company which was started in 1968.  I saw it as a sign that my four weeks of searching had come to an end.  Dometic was a familiar name to me since I grew up in a family that usually had a camper or a motorhome which were usually equipped with Dometic products.  To be honest I hadn't thought about them to have a refrigerator/freezer in the size of what I was looking for.  They actually had the size I'd seen on other brands but their price was more in the budget.

I picked up the CFX-35US which allows me to choose to refrigerate or freeze.  It also is 120v or 12v, which is perfect for the Sprinter.  One benefit I really liked was a non-slip surface on the lid which allows me to put items on there while traveling down the road and they don't come off.

 It also has a USB outlet on the front which I've used to charge my cell phone and a portable light. 

The size of the CFX-35US allows me to slide it between the front seats of the van for easy quick access while driving.  My brother and I built a rack to hold the unit over the step by the sliding door which fastens down to the track in the floor. I use it there most of the time for easy access when camping.


I can't imagine ever going back to a cooler when I have a Dometic portable refrigerator/freezer. If you have a Sprinter, van or 4x4 and you're thinking about upgrading your cooler with ice to a portable refrigerator, then I highly recommend the Dometic brand.

To bring this back full circle to my opening... my food is now cold and not soggy.  I have cold water to drink.  I have fresh produce to cook and I have a smile on my face when I travel now.

Key Benefits

  • 35-liter/1.1 cu. ft. storage capacity
  • Soft-touch control panel with digital temperature display
  • Set temperature from -8°F to +50°F (-22°C to +10°C)
  • Quick-chill/turbo function
  • Beefy, durable latches, hinges, and drop-down handles
  • Memory feature maintains presets if the system is turned off
  • Runs on 120vAC, 12vDC power source
  • Battery circuitry protection, so you don't run down your main battery
  • Units proven in the Australian Outback where tough conditions mandate a tough product
  • Reliable US manufacturing and sales
  • Price point is better than most I found

Where to purchase