Hands-on Gear Review
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Pros: Nostalgic Design, solid construction
Cons: Fiddly latch, no wheels.
Best Uses: Backyard barbecuing.
The Coleman Steel Belted was a test favorite for aesthetics. Overall, especially when comparing all the other coolers, aesthetics played a very small role in our review. Testers simply didn't care too much one way or another how a cooler looks. However, the Steel Belted consistently earned positive comments. "That looks cool." "This reminds me of camping with my folks when I was a kid." Following form, function was totally adequate. The Editors Choice winning Yeti Tundra 45 and equally insulating Pelican 45 Elite crush the field in insulating value and durability. But in the second echelon, the Steel Belted holds its own. The simple, lightly tapered shape and full size lid make packing this cooler a breeze.
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OutdoorGearLab Editors' Hands-on Review
Coleman's Steel Belted is a solid piece of traditional cooling technology. The nostalgic look takes you back.
In our head to head ice retention test, the Steel Belted came out smack in the middle. The much more expensive boxes from Pelican and Yeti far out performed the Coleman. But as compared to those at a more similar price point, the Steel Belted does just fine.
Ease of Use
This cooler is simple in design, with a wide-opening lid and solid lid latch. The lid latch takes some getting used to, and one must occasionally get down and visual with it in order to assure that it is secured. The latch is a two-part contraption that remains secured to the main box portion. Hooks on the latch and lid mate to secure the lid, while an articulating cam pivots to pull the lid and press the gasket tight. This results in a solid, insulating seal. However, again, it occasionally takes a little fiddling to get it just right. In short, this is a very small issue.
Credit: Jediah Porter
If the legion of similarly designed coolers still in active use after 30 or more years is any indication, this is a very durable design. Our testing supports the same. We had no problems with the overall structure or hardware.
The Steel Belted cooler is light and has effective and comfortable handles. A cooler of this size, even completely full, is readily transported by any healthy adult, even without wheels.
On a test roster that includes $330 coolers, the price of the Steel Belted model seems downright affordable. However, for the insulating value, something like the Best Buy winning Coleman 62 Xtreme Wheeled cooler is a far better deal. One will pay a bit of a premium for the nostalgic and easily cleaned steel construction of the Steel Belted cooler.
The primary appeal of this insulator is its nostalgic value. Sit in your aluminum-and-mesh lawn chair, prop open your Coleman Steel Belted, and pull out a glass-bottled, ice cold coke. Its like you're in an episode of the Wonder Years. Function and durability support the form, and won't disappoint.
Other Versions and Accessories
The Steel Belted model comes in red and green. One can also purchase it in matte black or Stainless Steel Belted for an additional $40. All are the same size and overall construction.
— Jediah Porter
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OutdoorGearLab Member Reviews
Most recent review: March 24, 2015
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