AO Coolers 24 Pack Canvas Cooler Review
Cons: Shoulder strap a little short, zipper and exterior fabric are not waterproof, less durable materials
Manufacturer: AO Coolers
Compare to Similar Products
AO Coolers 24 Pack Canvas Cooler
|Price||$78.95 at Amazon||$100 List||$80 List|
Check Price at REI
|$45 List||$50 List|
Check Price at REI
|Pros||Simple and easy to use, decent insulation, folds flat for storage, duffel handles||Watertight fabric and zipper, good insulation value, great size to capacity ratio, convenient top handle, great value||Comfortable to carry, convenient design, good features, tons of dry storage||Lightweight, lots of features, inexpensive||Flexible body is comfortable and convenient, folds flat, external pocket is large, easy to use, very lightweight|
|Cons||Shoulder strap a little short, zipper and exterior fabric are not waterproof, less durable materials||No external storage options, plastic D rings twist, doesn't come with zipper lubricant||Zipper not leakproof, thin insulation, less durable, loose sternum strap||Not rugged, not spillproof, noticeably inexpensive||Leaks easily, smaller than expected, unimpressive insulation|
|Bottom Line||A solid performer that's simple to use, easy to carry, and costs less than most||A watertight cooler that's convenient to use, with above-average insulation for a below-average price||Though not as hardy as some others, this design combines cooler space and dry storage for an all-in-one pack||A simple cooler that functions well without a high price tag||An easily stored cooler that leaks readily but is comfortable and useful enough to be a good solution for casual and infrequent usage|
|Rating Categories||24 Pack Canvas Cooler||Igloo Reactor Porta...||Cool Trail Split Pack||Titan Deep Freeze Z...||REI Co-op Pack-Away 24|
|Insulation Value (30%)|
|Ease Of Use (25%)|
|Specs||24 Pack Canvas Cooler||Igloo Reactor Porta...||Cool Trail Split Pack||Titan Deep Freeze Z...||REI Co-op Pack-Away 24|
|Measured Capacity (qt)||24 qt||26.5 qt||13 qt||21 qt||19.5 qt (cube)
34 qt (flat)
|Measured Capacity (cans with no ice)||39 cans||30 cans||16 cans||30 cans||32 cans (cube)
50 cans (flat)
|Carry Style||Duffel Bag||Messenger Bag||Backpack||Lunchbox||Messenger Bag|
|Internal Maximum Height (in)||11" fully closed
|9.5"||11" flex||10.5" total
(3" above shelf)
|Fits Standard Wine Bottle Standing Upright?||Yes - some flex required, no zipper strain||No - will fit on side||Yes - some flex required, no zipper strain||No - will fit on side||Yes|
|Shelf Life of Food (Measured Hours Below 40ºF)||55 hr||51 hr||32 hr||40 hr||26 hr|
|Days of Cold Beverages (Measured Hours Below 50ºF)||63 hr||54 hr||37 hr||48 hr||32 hr|
|Measured Weight (lb)||2.7 lb||3.1 lb||2.4 lb||3.4 lb||1.6 lb|
|Exterior Fabric||1000 x 1300D heavy duty polyester with vinyl coating||Unspecified water resistant polyester exterior, nylon interior||Recycled ripstop nylon outer/polyester inner||840D polyester||Polyester|
|Closure Method||Zippered top||Zippered flip top, watertight zip||Zippered flip top, dry storage cinch and clip||No-zip flip top||Zippered top|
|Handles and Straps||Shoulder strap, duffel handles||Shoulder strap, end handles, top handle||Backpack straps, top handle, sternum strap||Shoulder strap, end handles||Shoulder strap, duffel handles|
|Additional Storage||Yes; 1 very large zippered exterior pocket||No||Yes; top half of pack, brain pocket, 2 mesh side pockets||Yes, 2 zippered and insulated external pockets, 2 mesh pockets, top shock cord||Yes; 1 medium zippered exterior, 2 daisy chains|
Our Analysis and Test Results
The AO 24 Pack is a messenger style cooler with over-the-shoulder carry and duffel handles that can be bundled together. It's a fairly straightforward design without extra features but great value. It also comes in several other colors and both smaller and larger sizes than the 24 can model we tested.
Though it doesn't look as imposing as many of the hefty laminated soft coolers we tested, the AO still holds its own when it comes to insulation, achieving above-average performance among models we tested. Just under an inch of polyurethane foam is encased in a waterproof TPU liner covered by heavy-duty polyester. AO claims this bag "is guaranteed to hold ice for 24 hours in 120-degree weather."
In our insulation tests, we didn't quite reach 120ºF, and the AO lasted an impressive 55 hours maintaining USDA recommended food-safe temperatures of 40º F or less. It then continued to keep temperatures under 50º F (desirable for many beverages) for an additional 8 hours after that for a total of 63 hours of chilled beverage time. Though this might not sound as impressive as some of the other coolers' performances under the same conditions, for a cooler that's not airtight and lacks a waterproof exterior, this is a solid performance.
While the tag on our cooler claims that it's "guaranteed not to leak", we're pretty sure they're talking about the inner liner, because the zipper is not waterproof. If the AO gets tipped so that meltwater can touch the zipper or set down on a wet surface, the zipper won't stop it from leaking and the exterior won't prevent it from soaking up water. However, if you can avoid tipping the AO, the inner liner is waterproof and won't leave your backseat wet.
While we're pretty impressed by the overall insulation of this unassuming little cooler, we do find it a bit odd that it's only available in medium and dark colors. For something that will probably be used outside and likely will be exposed to sunlight, we'd prefer lighter colors that help reflect that extra heat. All in all, though, we're quite happy with the insulation performance of the AO, which is better than we expected.
Ease of Use
When it comes to packing and unpacking the AO 24 Pack, it's pretty darn easy. Though it isn't quite as gaping on top as a flip-top model, with the ends unclipped, it stays open easily. The inside is one large space. Though the looseness of the inner liner is a bit odd, it doesn't detract from its ability to hold cold items. This is one area where we appreciate the flexibility of the body of the cooler. It comes in handy for being able to easily conform to the shape of whatever we want to bring with - like extra tall champagne bottles and large potluck dishes. And as much as we love watertight zippers, they're a pain in the neck to wrangle. In contrast, the standard zipper of the AO glides easily over its teeth.
This cooler is listed as holding 24 cans and 14lb of ice. We went ahead and measured it, to learn it comfortably carries 39 cans if you don't put anything else in with them, and has a 24 quart (23 liter) capacity. It's a very useful size. The AO also has one large outer pocket, stretching the entire length of half of the bag - from mid-seam on one end, all the way down the long side, to mid-seam on the opposite end. It's not an insulated pocket, but we think this giant option is more useful.
To create a more compact, easy to tote package, the ends buckle down to the sides and the duffel handles can be held together with the attached velcro bundler. The only real knock against this cooler's ease of use is that the baggy internal liner can be harder to wipe clean and takes longer to dry after you're done using it.
Up against small, lunchbox-style models and handy backpack coolers, the messenger-style AO doesn't initially appear all that impressive. Its single-shoulder carry style with a full load is hard to enjoy for long distances. And while our smaller testers can wear the shoulder strap crossbody, most average and up users find the strap to be a little short for their liking. It does feature asymmetrical attachment points for the shoulder strap, helping to keep it from swinging violently as you walk.
For a fairly large messenger bag, it's not totally awful to take to the party. The 24 can size we tested is a pretty excellent capacity to size ratio. That is, it's large enough to be able to bring just about anything we're willing to carry on one shoulder. We also appreciate the long, comfortable duffel handles and their ability to attach together. Without contents, the AO weighs just 2.7 lb, making it one of the lightest coolers we tested. So while we aren't likely to be taking this cooler on a hike anytime soon, we don't mind carrying it a few blocks to the park.
This is another metric whereby the AO seems unimpressive - because we've matched it up against some seriously intense competition. And while it's true that the AO doesn't shine brightly among laminated coolers with waterproof zippers, it's still a pretty solid option. Lack of a waterproof zipper means no lubricant to apply (and reapply…). And its heavy-duty polyester canvas exterior is nothing to scoff at either. Welded seams help reinforce an already strong design, making this cooler a strong contender for years of picnics.
It also comes with instructions for use, care, and storage (as well as best insulation practices). According to its tag, this cooler is tear and heat resistant, UV protective, and anti-mildew. We can't vouch for any of those, though we didn't have any issues with any of these things during our several months of testing. AO Coolers also offers a limited lifetime warranty on the inside liner and top zipper. So though it's not on the same level as some of the more intense coolers we tested that seem almost "bombproof", the AO is a quality piece of gear.
In a sheer breakdown of performance vs. price, the AO Cooler offers exceptionally high value. Sure, it may not be as attractive or feature-laden as some of the models we tested that can hold ice for upwards of four days, but for what it brings to the table, it's still a pretty low price. This cooler is good enough for most average users and has a relatively low price, making it a high-value item.
The AO Coolers 24 Pack Canvas Cooler is a competitive cooler that offers good performance at a lower-than-average cost. We appreciate its simple design that's easy to use and just works. If you're after the optimal intersection of performance and price, you can't really go wrong with the AO.
— Maggie Brandenburg