When the team decided that we wanted to run refrigerator systems in the vehicle this season we were met with the challenge of deciding where and how we wanted to mount said systems. We went with the iconic Engel MT45 for its stellar reputation in the overland community and its incredible efficiency ratings. For the 4runner we only have but so much room in the rear cargo area and we try to maximize space so that things stay orderly and accessible. With the cargo box/drawer built into the back already we felt a pull out fridge slide would be optimal and would allow us the ability to mount the fridge on top of the existing box.
With that decision process over we immediately thought of Tembo Tusk as a possibility for making our Engel fridge even better. We were in contact with Jerry shortly thereafter and soon enough had a pair of Extreme Duty Flat Slides with the cutting board attachment in our possession. The first thing noticed when we grabbed the box was the weight. It feels like you could drop this thing off of a building and it might maybe bend it a little. The material and production quality utilized is amazing and is obviously built for years and years of hard use over rough terrain.
At the heart of this system is a set of Accuride slides that I believe are rated at 500 pounds. They lock both in and out (which is nice on uneven terrain) and they are very smooth and easy to operate. If you check out the Tembo Tusk website you can see a picture of a man sitting on one of these slides with no failure, which is impressive. So filling an Engel Fridge/Freezer full of food and beverage and putting it on this slide is no worry at all.
Another very nice feature that Jerry included was the cutting board attachment, which slides out from under the fridge and gives a nice working surface for prepping meals, snacks, or mixed drinks. The board itself easily lifts out for cleaning or moving food around camp. At first we wondered if we would really use that feature much since we already have a pretty well thought out camp kitchen, but we have since found it indispensable and having extra food prep surfaces in camp is always good. It has been used for anything from chopping onions/peppers for fajitas to slicing limes for camp brew to chopping mint for mojitos. We wouldn't leave home without it now that we have that option.
Jerry has been an amazing guy to work with since day 1 and has been very supportive of our endeavors. His product is made entirely in the US and it is built to work...plain and simple. We also utilized the "buffalo straps" which are used to secure the Engel to the slide with webbing and a cam buckle. These are very handy and do the trick quite well. The fridge is certainly not coming off of that slide even in heavy off-road applications, trust me...we have tried. The only minor issue we had was the Engel likes to "walk around" some in the slide on rough and bumpy terrain which we fixed by placing a 1/4 inch rubber mat under the fridge which seems to have worked. This may not be the case for other brands of refrigeration and its really a nominal issue.
All in all we couldn't be more pleased with Tembo Tusk and their products. True American craftsmanship that fills a very important role in our overland travels. They also make the Skottle cooker (see previous blog post) as well, which is another amazing product we continue to use and appreciate time and again. (note: Blue Ridge Overland Gear also produces a Skottle Carrying Bag that you can get on the Tembo Tusk Site)