Much like the Polar Bear 24 Pack Soft Cooler, the AO Coolers 24 Pack Canvas Cooler uses the familiar shoulder bag construction style with a top zipper opening. It has a similar feel and is about the same size as the Polar Bear model. However, you run into a significant difference when it comes to performance. The AO falls short in keeping things cold for extended periods of time, and testers discovered a slight tendency to leak from the zipper if inverted or on its side. The shoulder straps and handles felt solid and performed well, but it just didn't seem to have the same oomph as its competitors when lined up head-to-head.
AO Coolers 24 Pack Canvas Cooler Review
Cons: Doesn't hold ice for very long, leaks from the zipper slightly
Manufacturer: AO Coolers
Compare to Similar Products
Our Analysis and Test Results
The AO Coolers 24 Pack is a moderately priced all-around average-performing soft cooler. It is more at home carting beers to a picnic or a ball game than heading out on an adventure. It served testers as a good companion on short road trips and as a beverage caddie but fell short when compared to other offerings. For its size and shape, similar to the Coleman 16-Can, this is another you get what you pay for situation.
When tested head-to-head, the AO 24 Pack held ice for about 24 hours in warm conditions. It beat out the Coleman 16-Can but wasn't a match for the Engel HD30, Homitt 30 Can, or even the Ice Mule Pro. Compared to the only other cooler tested that is a similar size and style, the Polar Bear, the AO didn't hold up. The Polar Bear retained nine ounces of ice after 72 hours while the AO was down to only four ounces by 48 hours.
Ease of Use
The AO 24 is easy to use. The wide mouth zipper and external front pocket are very self-explanatory. Handles and a shoulder strap make carrying it short distances, from the car to the beach, or out to the bleachers at the city softball league game relatively easy. While it is not nearly as easy to carry as the backpack style Ice Mule Pro, it matched all the others in this category with its shoulder strap and carry handles, and was slightly easier to fill than the Yeti Hopper Two due to the pliable material used in construction.
The external pocket didn't prove to be of much use as it is tight fitting and small, but you could keep little things in there, like a bottle opener or silverware. That said, when the cooler was packed full and tight, the pocket was basically useless. The top zipper also proved to be the weak link in the chain. It is easy to use, provided a large opening, and performed well, and it was durable enough. But when full of water and melty ice and inverted or on its side, it was prone to small leaks, especially at the terminal end when closed.
On the durability front, testers were not overly impressed. For everyday use, the AO 24 held up just fine, but get a little rough with it, and it started to fail a little. The plastic clips used for the shoulder straps were easy to break; testers broke one within the first few hours of use and had to improvise. The exterior canvas also felt a little fragile, showing some wear from just common everyday usage.
When it came to portability, the AO was about on par with other coolers we tested of a similar carry style, except for our Top Pick for Portability, the Ice Mule Pro. It was easy to carry short distances and packed away easily when empty. The shoulder strap was a little less comfortable with only an un-padded rubber piece, and as mentioned above, failed when it came to durability, but ultimately when used as intended (short distance carries from car to destination) it was a solid OK.
The AO 24 is quite easy to use, and not terribly expensive. It could come in handy taking hot things or cold things to a new location, but won't do you much good after sitting for too long. For not that much more, you could get a much better insulated cooler like the Polar Bear or better yet, the Best Buy, Homitt 30, which will keep things better insulated and last you much longer.
If you are looking for a simple utilitarian soft cooler option, the AO 24 pack fits the bill without breaking the bank. While not as solid and significantly less insulating than our choice for Best Buy, the Homitt 30 Can ($100), or the similar Polar Bear Coolers 24 Pack Soft Cooler ($90), it's a less expensive option that is a solid buy for the average consumer. If you are looking for something more rugged or with more usability, testers recommend the Homitt or the Ice Mule Pro. Or, for not much more and with much better insulation and a slightly more rugged build, the Polar Bear 24 Pack fits the bill at only a slightly higher cost.
If you aren't looking for anything special and want to save a few bucks, the AO 24 Pack cooler is a decent option. It performs fine for what it is built to do and is easy to use; just don't expect anything special. What you see is what you get, and you get what you pay for. Other options in this category such as the Homitt, Polar Bear, and the Ice Mule offer you a more usable and higher quality product for only a marginally higher cost.
AO Coolers offers a deluxe version of the 24 Pack Canvas Cooler that has two large external pockets. For an additional $10, the added storage would be a great addition.
— Maggie Brandenburg & Andrew Schurr