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Coleman Steel Belted Review

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Coleman Steel Belted Review
Credit: Coleman
Price:  $200 List
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Manufacturer:   Coleman
By Jediah Porter ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  Mar 24, 2015
  • Durability - 20% 7.0
  • Ease of Use - 20% 8.0
  • Insulation Value - 40% 8.0
  • Portability - 20% 7.0

Our Verdict

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 Yeti Tundra 65 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.
Nostalgic Design
Solid construction
Fiddly latch
No wheels

Our Analysis and Test Results

Coleman's Steel Belted is a solid piece of traditional cooling technology. The nostalgic look takes you back.

Performance Comparison

coleman steel belted - the classic and reliable coleman steel belted cooler.
The classic and reliable Coleman Steel Belted cooler.
Credit: Jediah Porter

Insulation Value

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.

coleman steel belted - even with thin walls and "old school" construction, the steel belted...
Even with thin walls and “old school” construction, the Steel Belted performed fairly well in our head-to-head ice retention test.
Credit: Jediah Porter

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.

coleman steel belted - detail of the camming latch on the coleman steel belted cooler.  the...
Detail of the camming latch on the Coleman Steel Belted cooler. The left shows the latch secured but not yet tightened down. Another 90 deg of rotation snugs the lid down and presses the rubber gasket between body and lid.
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.

coleman steel belted - the light and mobile coleman is easily transported by one person....
The light and mobile Coleman is easily transported by one person. When completely full of ice, the 60 quart volume does add a fair amount of weight.
Credit: Viren Perumal


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.

coleman steel belted - detail shot showing interior space of both the coleman steel belted...
Detail shot showing interior space of both the Coleman Steel Belted cooler and our Editors Choice Yeti Tundra 45. The external dimensions are essentially the same, while the interior volume clearly differs. The Yeti insulates better, but the Coleman
Credit: Jediah Porter

Jediah Porter