BougeRV Rocky Portable Refrigerator Review: Just Chill

This powered cooler is built for overlanding and camping but works equally well anywhere you want to use it.

Image Caption: Photo Credit: Kraig Becker

BougeRV has been an interesting company to watch evolve over the past few years. Early on, it manufactured portable power stations and solar panels that offered solid performance at a good price. But, in the months that followed, the company has expanded its catalog to include a line of excellent products squarely aimed at the camping and overlanding space. Those include a line of powered coolers, a portable air conditioner, a camp water heater, and an interesting looking lantern. But perhaps its most promising product is a rugged portable refrigerator aimed squarely at the overlanding and off-roading market.

The new Rocky Fridge looks and feels more premium than BougeRV’s previous entries into the portable refrigerator space. That’s due in part to its stainless steel exterior, which is designed to resist the elements and the scuffs and scrapes that come with travel. It’s also fingerprint resistant, which helps keep it looking great even as it’s used extensively.  But this line of powered coolers has so much more to offer than just good looks. It also provides impressive performance that should have some of the more well-known brands a little concerned.

BougeRV Rocky Fridge review

Photo Credit: Kraig Becker

Tech Specs

Our test unit was the Rocky Fridge 40, which is the smallest model in BougeRV’s lineup. The cooler has a storage capacity of 41 quarts (or 39 liters), which equates to about 55 canned beverages. But because it doesn’t need ice to keep its contents cold, you can actually store more items inside than you could with a standard cooler with the same capacity.

The refrigerator weighs 40.6 lbs, which is about on par with models from the competition of a similar size and build quality. Some coolers do weigh a little less, but generally speaking, they’re likely to lack the stainless steel cladding that gives the Rocky its distinctive looks and rugged design. A traditional cooler will also weigh less, but once you add ice to the mix, the gap narrows substantially.

The refrigerator’s compressor can maintain a constant temperature ranging from -4ºF to 68ºF, which is fairly typical for a product like this one. As with much of the competition, the Rocky Fridge supports two independent climate zones, meaning users can set different temperatures in each zone to keep food and drinks cold or frozen as needed. A removable divider can be used to adjust the size of those zones or taken out completely to maximize internal space. The cooler comes with two removable baskets for keeping its contents organized and separated, too.

BougeRV Rocky Fridge review

Photo Credit: Kraig Becker

Cold Drinks and Fresh Food on the Go

In real-world use, the Rocky Fridge proved to be fast, efficient, and extremely quiet. The cooler did an excellent job of maintaining its internal temperature, keeping everything we put in it at the desired temperature. Even when used outside in hot conditions, it still managed to keep our drinks frosty and our food fresh, even if it was without power for a while. That’s a testament to how well the portable refrigerator is built and insulated.

Of course, the Rocky Fridge needed to be connected to a power source to stay cold for extended periods. The unit comes with cords that allow you to plug it into a 120V AC outlet—like the ones found in your home—or a 12V DC port in a vehicle. Either option works well, as does a portable power station or gas generator.

Owners can also opt to add a detachable battery pack that allows the cooler to run independently of any other power source. BougeRV says that when using the battery alone, the Rocky Fridge will run for up to five hours, depending on its temperature settings. Attaching a solar panel to the battery further extends its life, but our test setup didn’t include these optional add-ons, so just how well they work remains a bit of a mystery.

What I can say is that the portable fridge performed admirably under a variety of conditions, including being plugged into a power station, a home outlet in the backyard, and a vehicle’s 12V port. Our drinks were always chilled to perfection, and we even managed to keep ice cream frozen even while the Rocky Fridge sat out in the hot sun.

BougeRV Rocky Fridge review

Photo Credit: Kraig Becker

Settings and Controls at Your Fingertips

If you’ve ever used a portable refrigerator before, you’ll find the Rocky Fridge’s built-in controls simple and easy to understand. An integrated control panel along one side of the cooler includes several buttons, while a small digital display shows the current temperature in each climate zone. The buttons allow users to adjust temperature settings and cycle through “eco” and “max” cooling modes. The former sacrifices cooling speed in favor of energy efficiency, while the latter allows the unit to cool down extremely quickly when needed.

BougeRV even went through the trouble of printing instructions on how to use the controls on a sticker applied to the side of the Rocky Fridge. This is a surprisingly nice touch and was appreciated more than once while testing. Even after you know how everything works, it’s always nice to have a quick reminder close at hand when you need it.

BougeRV also lets you monitor and control the Rocky Fridge remotely via a smartphone app. This is becoming a more common feature on portable refrigerators, but not everyone offers it as an option just yet. Here, the implementation works well and comes in handy, especially when carrying precious cargo that could go bad if the temperature were to rise above a certain level. The company’s app is both informative and intuitive, making it easy to use even for the technology-challenged.

BougeRV Rocky Fridge review

Photo Credit: Kraig Becker

Other Features

Other noteworthy features of the Rocky Fridge include internal LED lights to illuminate the cargo area and a built-in bottle opener. The design includes cup holders integrated into the lid and a drainage hole to allow excess moisture to escape. The lid is also removable and reversible, allowing owners to adjust how they access the interior, even in tight spaces. This is an especially great option for RVers thinking of permanently mounting the refrigerator in their vehicles, as it provides more versatility as to how and where it is installed.

We’d be remiss if we didn’t mention just how quiet the Rocky Fridge is when in use. BougeRV says it produces less than 45dB of sound, which ranks well below the level of a normal chat conversation. The reality is that the unit barely makes any sound at all, to the point that I had to check it multiple times to ensure that it was actually working. That means you can run the fridge in or out of your RV without it creating controversy with friends, family, or nearby campers.

The Rocky Fridge’s built-in handles are also worth nothing. Some portable refrigerators we’ve used recently offer shallow handles that make it difficult to carry them around, particularly when loaded with cargo. But the handles found here are incredibly rugged and highly functional, flipping out from the sides when needed and dropping back into place with a reassuring “thunk” when you let go. They also make it much easier to lug around a fully loaded cooler, especially over longer distances.

BougeRV Rocky Fridge review

Photo Credit: BougeRV

Built for Brave Souls

BougeRV’s marketing says the Rocky Fridge is “built for brave souls” who enjoy overlanding and other outdoor adventures. That may be true, but you don’t have to wander off the beaten path to appreciate what these portable refrigerators bring to the table. They look great, are built for the outdoors, and offer excellent performance. Whether you’re hosting a gathering in your backyard, camping at a remote destination, or tailgating with friends, this powered cooler will keep your food and drinks cold and fresh for as long as you need it.

The Rocky 40 that we tested is priced at $549.99, which is highly competitive with the competition, especially everything it brings to the table. The portable fridge is also available in 55QT, 69QT, and 81QT sizes, which cost $599.99, $699,99, and $799.99, respectively. The optional battery pack will set you back an additioanl $199.99.

To learn more about the Rocky Fridge and the entire line of BougeRV products, visit the company’s website.

Interested in buying a Rocky Fridge of your own? Use the discount code AFF20 at checkout to receive 20% off.

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