Ask Outside Interests! Portable Ice Maker

Gourmia Portable Ice Maker

A couple of readers have been curious about the portable ice machines they see in use at their neighbor’s trailers at rallies and campgrounds. How much ice do they make? Is it an option for boondocking? We can’t recommend any one particular brand, but RG Coleman used and reviewed the Gourmia “Ice Now!” Ice Machine Plus, so check out her thoughts below.

Coleman, who tows a 16-foot Design Within Reach Airstream, says, “It’s a great little toy for the glamper who likes to party and share the fun with others. It’s also handy if you have a tiny trailer and freezer space is at a premium, or you camp in remote locations where no bagged convenience store ice is available.” Rhonda goes on:

The Gourmia “Ice Now!” is a household item that operates like any other electrical appliance while you’re connected to shore power, and—as ice and hot sunny days go hand-in-hand—it also works well under solar power while plugged into a standard inverter.

Choices abound, so shop around. The Gourmia unit looks slick in your Airstream galley, but there are other considerations to make before you spend $200.

The unintuitive Gourmia manual tells you everything you don’t need to know and leaves out the most basic information; for instance, where is the “on” switch? (It turns out that “start” is the same as “on,” indicated by the little symbol of a snowflake on the LCD control panel on the front.)

The Gourmia is also little noisy if you’re planning to make ice during the night (the cubes drop into the holder with a clunk and a rattle), and a fan on the side produces hot air, so its footprint is wider than you think. Space next to the ice maker must be kept clear so that the circulation system can draw air through the intake on one side and expel it from the other.

When you’re desperate for a cold drink you’ll only need to wait ten minutes for a handful of barrel-shaped medium-size ice cubes; ten minutes later, the machine produces another handful of cubes and continues until the little basket is full. A beep lets you know when a full basket of fresh ice is ready.

Though this isn’t documented anywhere (again with the confusing manual), as unused ice melts inside the basket in the machine the resulting ice water drains back into the water reservoir. New ice is made from the recycled water, meaning you don’t need to keep pouring more into it to have fresh ice unless you use up all the cubes or transfer them to another container.

It’s alarming how tiny the apparatus is that plugs the drain: though it’s held securely in place with a screw-in cap, a small rubber insert about the size of your pinky fingernail is all that stands between your ice machine and a potentially soaked countertop.

You have a choice of ice cube size—small, medium, and large—and it comes with a cute little scoop. The basket holds a generous six cups. This is fun: a timer can be set to start making ice before you get back to the Airstream for happy hour.

By RG Coleman