Why You Shouldn’t Use a Camping Fridge Slide

 


There is a good chance that if you’re reading this, you’ve seen our hitch mounted ARB Elements camping fridge in our pictures and other posts. But if not, here is what our setup looks like in it’s finished form:

When we set about planning our pickup truck camping build we looked at a variety of camping fridge options, and they all had one thing in common: they were all mounted on a fridge slide in the back of the truck bed or the cab.


We just couldn’t get past the HUGE amount of usable space this would take away from our truck camping sleeping platform and storage space.



*(This post contains affiliate links. This means we may receive a small commission, at no additional cost to you, if you make a purchase through a link. See our full disclosure.)



So we set out to find an alternative to the traditional fridge slide.


First we chose to use the ARB Elements Camping Fridge* because of it’s unique weatherproof design enabling it to withstand extended exposure to the elements.


We knew this could help us forgo the fridge slide and save us that precious interior space in our truck shell camping build by allowing us to mount the camping fridge on the exterior of the truck.


The only question was...how?


We found that Kuat makes the Pivot hitch adapter which fits in any standard 2in. hitch receiver, and its pivoting hitch receiver also accepts a 2in. hitch, giving whatever is mounted the ability to swing out 90 degrees from the bumper.


But what about weight? The Pivot has a load capacity of 250lbs which would be more than enough for our 70lb ARB fridge, even once loaded with food & drinks!


Now we were getting somewhere!


By using a common hitch mount cargo carrier installed into the Kuat Pivot, and then mounting our fridge to the cargo carrier, we could have the camping fridge on the back of the truck OUTSIDE the vehicle and out of the way.


Wala! No need for a fridge slide!


Plus the Kuat Pivot can be used for other things - like a bike carrier - when we’re not traveling or truck shell camping.


Hello, All! Lindsey popping in here to add some thoughts from a female perspective. Patrick already touched on the additional interior drawer storage this approach allows us, and the extension of sleeping space.


But there have been some unexpected perks as well:

  • Even when our truck is closed up, we can still easily get to snacks and drinks

  • On the swing out, the fridge sits lower as compared to being at truck bed level, making it so much easier to access and use

  • When using a traditional fridge slide, it pulls out over the tailgate. By mounting off the hitch, that entire section of tailgate can be used as a work space when preparing meals.


Mounting our fridge off the hitch (well, and just having a fridge in the first place) is a huge part of what sold me on the whole truck camping idea, because it makes our camping kitchen really feel and work like a real kitchen.

camping fridge mounted to hitch of truck camper with slide out stove

Interested? Here’s what you’ll need to ditch the fridge slide:

Optional: ARB Fridge Wiring Kit *

Here’s what you won’t need:

  • Fridge slide - $350-370

  • Drilling/screwing into your vehicles body/bed - $Priceless

  • Appx 8-12 cubic ft of interior space - also $Priceless

Total cost to build and assemble the exterior fridge mount: $350-$400 (basically the same as a fridge slide!)

Here’s How You Can Hitch Mount a Camping Fridge In 4 Easy Steps Yourself:

Step 1:

Mount the Kuat Pivot to your vehicle’s hitch receiver

 
close up of kuat pivot mounted to truck hitch receiver
 

Step 2:

Assemble your preferred Hitch Mount Cargo Carrier (see note below) and insert it into the Kuat Pivot’s hitch receiver

—Note: For our application we used the “Hypertough 2-in Folding Hitch Mounted Cargo Carrier” from Walmart, but we modified the width of the cargo carrier down from 60” to 35” during assembly to better match the width of our ARB camping fridge.


This did require some cutting and drilling of the metal, but this is not necessary and was done only for aesthetic purposes.


You may find it useful having a wider cargo carrier to transport things in addition to the fridge, provided you stay well under the Pivot hitch adaptor weight restrictions and can find a way to balance the weight.

Step 3:

Mount your camping fridge and secure it to the center of the Hitch Mount Cargo Carrier using the factory tie downs

 
camping fridge secured to cargo carrier with tie downs on swing arm hitch mount
 

Step 4:

Plug it in!

 
camping fridge plugged in to arb 12 volt outlet on underside of toyota truck camper
 

We chose to use the ARB Fridge Wiring Kit and installed the supplied outlet to the passenger-side bumper mount for easy access, but you can run the power however you see fit to meet the needs of your build. The kit does include enough 10/2 AWG gauge wire to run from your engine bay to the bumper on your vehicle and has a built in 15amp fuse.


We liked it so much that we actually used two more of these kits in our build to run power from our starting battery to our Inergy Kodiak dual battery setup and from our solar panel to the Inergy Kodiak.

The only real caveats we’ve noted are that this setup will limit your departure angle off-road so you have to be mindful of that extra length with the fridge sitting back off the rear bumper, and the extra weight it adds to the rear of the vehicle.


With that said the fridge slide certainly has its place, but we’re incredibly happy with the gain in interior space and overall flexibility our solution provided to our pickup truck camping build. And we hope it benefits you in yours as well!


Tag us on social media if you decide to hitch mount your camping fridge!


As always, thanks for reading! And don’t forget to SUBSCRIBE for more truck camping tips and updates on our adventures!


Related Posts:

Want to come back to this later? Pin it!

 

If you’re impressed with Patrick’s ingenuity, share this post using the buttons below!

(No, Patrick didn’t write that part!)