If you have ever gone camping in Australia, you should be familiar with the term “Bushman.” However, how does this modest Australian brand stack up against the big names in camping fridges such as Evakool, Brass Monkey, and the popular Dometic range? Is it up to the task of accompanying you on your adventures? Everything is revealed in our Bushman fridge review. We also have an article on the best camping fridges in Australia.
Firstly, let’s look at some background information in more detail.
Who Is Bushman?
Bushman is an Australian-owned company that has been operating for over 35 years. Furthermore, this brand puts its expertise into manufacturing portable fridges, fridges for off-grid use, compressor RV fridges, and a folding solar panel.
It is clear that Bushman puts a great deal of thought and care into their products. Unlike many other portable fridges, which are made of polypropylene, almost all Bushman fridges have a strong steel exterior. It means they’re tough and dependable in Australia’s roughest environments. They stand the test of time, hail, rain, or shine.
Steel has a number of advantages and disadvantages, the most notable of which being its extraordinary strength. It does, however, mean that they are likely to be heavier than its plastic equivalents… We’ve discovered that some clients (particularly farmers and tradies) prefer steel cabinets because they can take a beating in the back of their vehicle or truck.
Let’s have a look at two of the Bushman fridges to see whether they are worth it or not:
- 35-52L Portable Fridge Freezer
- Roadie 15L Fridge Freezer
35-52L Portable Fridge Freezer
The 35-52L unit, which is one of the originals is a fascinating beast. It does not have a fixed volume, unlike all other portable refrigerators. Instead, an extension collar and a dome cap can be added or removed to change the internal volume.
This allows you to choose between four different volume options: 35L, 42L, 45L, or 52L. If you’re short on space in your automobile, you can reduce the volume to save some room. This also makes the fridge function more effectively because you are not letting in as much warm air every time you open it.
This is especially beneficial for longer trips. You can gradually downsize the fridge volume as you munch your way through your goods over the duration of your journey to make it more efficient and decrease energy use. When you’re trying to get the most out of your remaining battery power, this is quite useful!
The Bushman Fridges handbook contains more information.
Both refrigerators have adequate height to hold upright bottles of soft drinks or wine.
These Bushman fridges, unlike most others, come with transit coverings that assist in insulating the fridge (saving energy) and protecting it from scrapes and bumps while travelling.
These models can be tuned to temperatures ranging from 10 to -18 degrees Celsius. This is a fairly typical selection of portable camping refrigerators.
Because they are single-zone machines, they can only be used as refrigerators or freezers, unfortunately not both.
You may separate your food into various baskets and take advantage of the fact that refrigerators are cooler at the bottom than the top due to the 35-52L unit’s unique internal architecture. People can arrange their food in such a way that your meat stays very cold and your fruits and vegetables stay a little warmer.
The temperature of the 35-52L device is controlled by a digital LCD monitor.
The 35-52L fridge requires both 12V and 240V power. As a result, the 35-52L unit may be used at home as a backup fridge in the garage or anywhere 240V power is available.
This 35-52L portable fridge uses roughly 0.67 Ah/hour at a fixed temperature of minus four degrees and an ambient temperature of 25°C, which is also quite low when compared to other competitors.
Varying refrigerator manufacturers test their machines at various ambient and set temperature settings, making it challenging to compare apples to apples; however, we can tell that these Bushman fridges appear to be quite efficient.
The unit consumes between two and 4.5 amps when in use.
While the refrigerator includes a low voltage battery protection system, there is only a single state system, as opposed to a three-stage system on practically all other models.
Multi-stage systems have the advantage of allowing you to adjust the low voltage cut-out point depending on whether you’re using your vehicle battery or a separate second battery. When powering the fridge off a motor vehicle battery (you do not want a flat battery! ), a high cut-out point is preferable. When it comes to a solitary battery, a lower cut-out point is acceptable (you don’t mind if it dies).
The cut-out point for the 35-52L Bushman fridge is 10.4V. Engel fridges also have some interested power features.
Roadie 15L Fridge Freezer
The 15L Roadie is designed to fit securely in the center console of most automobiles and is completely black. On the top, there are two can or cup holding slots. A huge central knob on the top of the device allows quick access to the thermostat.
A tie-down kit and a shoulder carry strap are included with the 15L unit to keep it from falling over while travelling.
Remember that some of the features that are becoming more popular on newer models, such as Bluetooth control and USB charging ports, are not available on earlier devices.
The Bushman refrigerators are built for dependability and fundamental performance over frills.
The temperature of the 15L Roadie is adjusted via a knob on the top of the machine and ranges from 10 to -18 degrees Celsius. This is a single-zone portable fridge, meaning you have to use it either as a fridge or a freezer.
The 15L fridge requires only 12V electricity. Thus, the 15L unit is really only appropriate for use in the car or with a 12V twin battery system.
One of the best features of the Bushman refrigerators is their efficiency. The 15L fridge only consumes roughly 0.58 Ah/hour, which is good and low, according to testing done at 25°C ambient temperature with the appliance set at four degrees.
The unit consumes between two and 4.5 amps when in use.
Furthermore, the Roadie 15L has a low voltage battery protection system, which is a single state system like the 35-52L. You can expect a cut-out point of 9.6V for this particular Bushman appliance.
Additional Features on the Bushman 35-52L Portable Fridge Freezer and Roadie 15L Fridge Freezer
It is a pain in the neck (and actually a pain in your lower back if you do it numerous times!) to reach deep into your boot to take out your fully-loaded fridge. A fridge slide makes it simple to get the portable fridge in and out of the boot.
The slide is only required for the 35-52L unit because the 15L already has tie-down straps.
These coverings are fantastic and serve two roles.
To begin with, they add insulation to the fridge, helping it stay cooler for longer, lowering the load and cycling of the compressor, so extending the life of your batteries and reducing the frequency with which they must be charged.
Secondly, the coverings protect the appliance from the inevitable bumps, knocks, and scrapes that happen when it is used on a trip.
Mesh panels are included in the transit coverings to allow the ventilation process to work properly.
12V Battery – Power Consumption
When it comes to charging your refrigerator while on the road, you usually have two alternatives. Use your car’s battery or invest in a second 12V battery.
It is totally fine to operate your fridge off the car battery while it is running. If you plan on having the fridge running on your car battery overnight, the fridge may shut down when the car battery voltage hits the cut-out point.
This may be alright for an overnight or short vacation, but for a prolonged travel, you may end up with debatably refrigerated beverages.
If you take longer excursions, you may want to consider purchasing a second battery as a power supply for your fridge when the car is not in use so that you have more efficient power consumption management.
Warranty and Build Quality
The build quality of the Bushman refrigerators is one area where they really shine. They have a solid reputation for producing very dependable refrigerators that survive the test of time.
Their fridge freezers are all constructed in Australia and are built to last for many years. The 35-52L model, for example, has been around for more than 20 years and is widely recognized as one of the best refrigerators available.
A three-year warranty is included with the 15L Roadie unit.
The 35-52L model comes with a five-year warranty, which is unusual for camping fridges, especially considering the amount of wear and tear they endure in daily use.
These lengthy warranty durations demonstrate Bushman’s confidence in their items.
It is rare to hear from anyone who has had to deal with the warranty claim procedure, thus we cannot speak on how effectively the warranties are honored.
However, their customer service appears to be fairly decent in general, so we doubt they would attempt to fight customers over a legitimate warranty claim. Overall, you can trust the services Bushman provides.
The CoolPower RAPS battery is going to last you until you return home if you have availability to mains electricity overnight when camping or just go on weekend getaways.
If you’re going to be away from the grid for a lengthy period of time, you may want to invest in a few solar panels to keep the battery charged and the fridge running.
Our preference is for the Dometic portable solar panels. They’re collapsible, come in two sizes (120W and 180W), and feature adjustable feet (to get the proper angle).
If you’re planning any long vacations when you are off the grid, have a look at these resources.
The Pros and Cons
- They offer high-quality and durable fridges
- Bushman offers the well-known Danfoss compressor
- The camping fridges have a five-year warranty
- These fridges are manufactured to be powerful as they are made out of steel
- Bushman also offers a range of off-grid gas fridges
- It is expensive
- No dual-zone protection – both models are a single-zone
- The fridges only offer single stage battery protection
- There is no 24V operation
- It does not contain a USB port or Bluetooth control
- The 15L model only has 3.5cm thick insulation
The Final Verdict
Both the Bushman Roadie 15L and the Original 35-52L are great camping refrigerators. These are particularly appealing options because of their exceptional quality, Australian manufacturing, unusual multi-volume design, and control panel.
They are, however, rather pricey, have only single-stage battery protection, and are just single-zone units.
If these are not deal-breakers for you, we believe both of these refrigerators are excellent choices for portable camping refrigeration.
As you can see from our Bushman review, these Australian-made refrigerators have a lot to offer. Ultimately, what distinguishes this brand is its emphasis on simplicity and dependability. Bushman provides the ultimate fridge for you if you are searching for a sturdy and reliable fridge with no frills.