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AO Coolers 24 Pack Canvas Cooler Review

This option is easy to use and cheap, but it doesn't keep ice as well as other models.
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Price:  $79 List | $69.95 at Amazon
Pros:  Easy to use, good price, packs well
Cons:  Doesn't hold ice for very long, leaks from the zipper slightly
Manufacturer:   AO Coolers
By Maggie Brandenburg & Andrew Schurr  ⋅  Jun 5, 2018
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SCORE


RANKED
#10 of 12
  • Insulation Value - 30% 5
  • Ease of Use - 25% 7
  • Portability - 25% 6
  • Durability - 20% 5

Our Verdict

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, 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.


Compare to Similar Products

 
Awards  Editors' Choice Award  Top Pick Award Best Buy Award 
Price $69.95 at Amazon$180.80 at Amazon$299.99 at Backcountry
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Pros Easy to use, good price, packs wellVery durable construction, excellent insulation, useful handles and features, comfortable shoulder strapExtremely durable, easy to use, great insulationDurable design, comfortable to carry when full, good capacity, relatively inexpensiveLid opens fully for easy access, very stable, excellent insulation, comparatively very low cost
Cons Doesn't hold ice for very long, leaks from the zipper slightlyZippered exterior pocket not waterproof, very largeVery expensive, awkward to carry when full for longer distancesLearning curve for best use, not 100% leakproof, no extra pocketsBoxy construction is less comfortable to carry, zipper is very hard to pull
Bottom Line This option is easy to use and cheap, but it doesn't keep ice as well as other models.If you’re looking for the best soft cooler on the market today, look no further than this outstanding model from Engel.If you're ready to step up your cooler game and you're willing to shell out the money required, this is a good choice.A very different design than most, but by far our favorite to carry over long distances.If you’re on the prowl for a cooler that will keep your drinks cold for days and not clean out your bank account, you’ve found a winner!
Rating Categories 24 Pack Canvas Cooler Engel HD30 YETI Hopper Two 30 IceMule Pro Homitt 30 Can
Insulation Value (30%)
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Ease Of Use (25%)
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Portability (25%)
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Specs 24 Pack Canvas... Engel HD30 YETI Hopper Two 30 IceMule Pro Homitt 30 Can
Style Shoulder Bag Shoulder Bag Shoulder Bag Backpack Shoulder Bag
Capacity 24 cans 48 cans 24 cans 24 cans 40 cans
Measured Weight (lbs) 3.25 lbs 5.9 lbs 5.3 lbs 3 lbs 4 lbs
Exterior Fabric Heavy Canvas Abrasion-resistant fabric YETI "DRYHIDE" heavy duty rubber Mule SkinET 1000D ripstop tarpaulin/vinyl/nylon 840D TPU
Handle/Strap Design Carry strap and shoulder strap Carry handles and shoulder strap Carry strap and shoulder strap Ventilated backpack strap Carry strap and shoulder strap
Backpack Carry? No No No Yes No
Other Pockets? Yes, small exterior Yes, 1 larger exterior zippered (meant to be waterproof but isn't) No No; exterior shock cord panel Yes, 2 small exterior; one mesh, one waterproof zip
Removable Liner? No No No No No

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.

Performance Comparison


The AO 24 next to others for the ice retention test.
The AO 24 next to others for the ice retention test.

Insulation Value


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 isn't a match for the Engel HD30, Homitt 30 Can, or the IceMule 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 pretty easy to use. The wide mouth zipper and external front pocket are very self-explanatory. We think it is slightly easier to fill than the Yeti Hopper Two due to the pliable material used in construction. The external pocket doesn't seem 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 is packed full and tight, the pocket is useless. The top zipper also proved to be a weak link in the chain. On the one hand, it is easy to use, provides a large opening, and performs well. But when full of water or melty ice and tipped on its side, it is prone to small leaks, especially at the terminal end of the zipper.

When not folded and clipped down it has the familiar shoulder bag triangular shape with the top zipper.
When not folded and clipped down it has the familiar shoulder bag triangular shape with the top zipper.

Portability


When it comes to portability, the AO was about on par with other coolers we tested of a similar carry style. 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 IceMule Pro - our Top Pick for Long Distance Carrying - it matched many the others in this category with its shoulder strap and carry handles. The shoulder strap is a little less comfortable with only an un-padded rubber piece, but ultimately when used as intended (short distance carries from car to destination) it was a solid OK.

Durability


On the durability front, we aren't overly impressed. For everyday use, the AO 24 holds up just fine, but we got 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 feels a little fragile and is showing some wear from just common everyday usage.

The AO 24 with the corners secured down.
The AO 24 with the corners secured down.

Best Applications


The AO 24 is quite easy to use, and not 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 our Best Buy award winner, the Homitt 30, which will keep things much better insulated and last you much longer.

Value


If you are looking for a simple, practical soft cooler option, the AO 24 pack fits the bill without breaking the bank. While not nearly as rugged and significantly less insulating than our choice for Best Buy, the Homitt 30 Can ($100), it's a less expensive option that is a solid buy for the average consumer. The similar Polar Bear Coolers 24 Pack Soft Cooler performed a bit better and is only a bit more. If you're game for a backpack cooler, the Igloo Outdoorsman Gizmo is a surprisingly useful and insulative model for just $60.


Conclusion


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 IceMule offer you a more usable and higher quality product for only a marginally higher cost.


Maggie Brandenburg & Andrew Schurr