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Product review: Waeco CFX-65

A few years back, a mate and I toured the Central Kalahari. Just before entering the reserve, we pulled into a dusty dorp, looking for ice.

I’ll never forget our frantic search – we drove from one shopkeeper to the next, staring at blank faces that read: “You want ice in the Kalahari? Where the temperature is 45° C and we have no electricity? Are you normally this stupid, or is the heat getting to you?” We learnt two things that day: ice is a luxury in Africa, and a portable fridge / freezer is invaluable! This is particularly so for South African overlanders, where a single tank’s mileage can take you way beyond the boundaries of civilisation – with its supplies, and the prospect of keeping food fresh.

As many of us trek deeper into Africa for longer periods, portable fridge / freezers are becoming one of our most vital travelling tools. But, with so many models to choose from, it’s not easy to pick the right one, especially when they’re presented with tons of specifications.

So, what makes one fridge better than the next? In the past, I thought the only thing that mattered was a spec-sheet comparison; but, having lived with the new Waeco CFX-65 for the last six months, I now realise that there’s more to this subject than just degrees, amps and insulation. A fridge needs to be functional, too.

Ergonomics

The layout of a fridge is an often overlooked quality, but it’s a hugely important feature – and it’s where the CFX-65 really shines! Consider the fact that most overlanders pack their fridge lengthways in their 4×4, as this allows access to the fridge’s grab handle, and also conforms to the way most fridge slides operate – lengthways to the vehicle. It then makes perfect sense that the CFX’s controls are mounted on the leading edge of the unit; in other words, on the side that’s accessible when viewed from the boot.

What’s more, by mounting the CFX’s control panel high up, it allows access to the panel through the side hatch of a bakkie canopy. It also protects the control panel from any stored items packed against the fridge, whose movement during travel could otherwise lead to a broken display or damaged buttons.

The Waeco CFX-65 boasts several more functional features, including a rotatable lid (you can mount the fridge on either side of your 4×4’s boot), drop-down handles that stay out of harm’s way, and the fact that the power cable neatly plugs in at the rear – allowing maximum cable length when the fridge is pulled outwards.

Lastly, the CFX-65’s breathing vents are positioned on the same side as the control panel, and because you’re unlikely to pack items that will limit access to the control panel, you are reducing the risk of suffocating the compressor and overheating the unit.

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