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Coleman 16-Can Review

Although the design of this model is tried-and-true, it's not very insulated or durable.
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Price:  $30 List | $23.03 at Amazon
Pros:  Lightweight, easy to use, tried and true design, inexpensive
Cons:  Small size, not very insulated, less durable
Manufacturer:   Coleman
By Maggie Brandenburg & Andrew Schurr  ⋅  Mar 23, 2016
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42
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#12 of 12
  • Insulation Value - 30% 2
  • Ease of Use - 25% 8
  • Portability - 25% 4
  • Durability - 20% 3

Our Verdict

The Coleman 16 is the tried and true over the shoulder beverage caddie. Simple and easy to use, it can hold enough frosty cold ones to get you through the game, and it comes in a compact size at an accessible price. With this model, as opposed to other soft coolers in a similar category, like the AO Coolers 24 Pack Canvas Cooler or the Polar Bear Coolers 24 Pack Soft Cooler, you have a removable rigid liner providing shape and a wider full zip opening making it easier to get things in and out. You do, however, lose significant "stay cold" power with less insulation. Testers found that the Coleman 16 kept ice for significantly less time than others tested, and as the name implies, it has a much smaller capacity. It may be perfect for a short afternoon out for one or two, but it just doesn't stack up when a more significant day is in the works.


Compare to Similar Products

 
This Product
Coleman 16-Can
Awards  Editors' Choice Award  Top Pick Award Best Buy Award 
Price $23.03 at Amazon$199.99 at Amazon$299.99 at Amazon
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$99.95 at Amazon$117.99 at Amazon
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Pros Lightweight, easy to use, tried and true design, inexpensiveVery 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 Small size, not very insulated, less durableZippered 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 Although the design of this model is tried-and-true, it's not very insulated or durable.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 Coleman 16-Can 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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Durability (20%)
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Specs Coleman 16-Can Engel HD30 YETI Hopper Two 30 IceMule Pro Homitt 30 Can
Style Lunch-box Shoulder Bag Shoulder Bag Backpack Shoulder Bag
Capacity 16 cans 48 cans 24 cans 24 cans 40 cans
Measured Weight (lbs) 1.7 lbs 5.9 lbs 5.3 lbs 3 lbs 4 lbs
Exterior Fabric Light nylon canvas Abrasion-resistant fabric YETI "DRYHIDE" heavy duty rubber Mule SkinET 1000D ripstop tarpaulin/vinyl/nylon 840D TPU
Handle/Strap Design 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? Exterior front pocket 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? Yes No No No No

Our Analysis and Test Results

Almost everybody remembers having a lunch box at some point in their life. The Coleman 16 is reminiscent of that. Simple, no frills, no extraordinary claims, just a simple cooler made for simple uses. With the Coleman 16-Can, what you see is what you get.

Performance Comparison


The lunchbox-style Coleman 16-Can.
The lunchbox-style Coleman 16-Can.

Insulation Value


The Coleman 16-Can is one of the smallest coolers we reviewed in this category. You can fit 16 cans in there, barely, but it also barely holds the standard seven-pound bag of ice. To our not-surprise, we found that this cooler performed the worst out of those tested in our head-to-head ice retention test. Holding ice for less than 24 hours, this was the first cooler to allow seven pounds of ice to melt completely. However, we should note that this is also the least expensive option, and it doesn't boast any lofty claims.

The Coleman 16-Can ready for the ice test.
The Coleman 16-Can ready for the ice test.

Ease of Use


The Coleman delivers when it comes to ease of use — it does what it was designed to do. It carries well over the shoulder, the front pocket is big enough for silverware and a bottle opener, and the large zippered top gave testers plenty of space. For an easy afternoon out, or to carry your lunch and a 6-pack, this little package works great. The plastic insert makes washing easy, providing the cooler has been upright, and no residue has made it underneath the insert, but it does raise durability questions. There are also some additional features that puzzled testers. There are several mesh pockets, one on each side and one under the lid, which aren't big enough for much more than wrappers. There are also some bungees on the top of the lid that don't seem to have much more than an aesthetic purpose. These features don't make anything easier or harder to use, but they don't add much.

The lunchbox style Coleman 16-Can has some interesting features.
The lunchbox style Coleman 16-Can has some interesting features.

Portability


The Coleman does have one thing going for it: it is exceptionally portable. If you are moving small foodstuffs or a few beverages around, it is easy to grab this thing and go. The shoulder strap, while not remarkable, works just fine, and the cooler is small enough to be kept on an easy-to-get-to shelf.

The small-sized Coleman 16-Can Soft Cooler is easy to carry.
The small-sized Coleman 16-Can Soft Cooler is easy to carry.

Durability


Regarding durability, the Coleman 16-Can is another "you get what you pay for" situation. It has a light nylon canvas exterior and a plastic liner. It seems to be only a matter of time before the liner breaks or a tear in the canvas would develop. While it should be understood that this cooler isn't for hard use, it would be nice to have a little more confidence in its construction.

The Coleman 16-Can's removable plastic insert.
The Coleman 16-Can's removable plastic insert.

Best Applications


This inexpensive personal cooler may not keep your lunch cold for days in a hot car, but it will certainly get you through rush hour and to the office. Highly portable, it can also help you get things from here to there a bit cooler than they might in a plastic grocery bag or sitting open in the back of your truck. But don't plan on it keeping things cool for too long, as its insulation powers are nothing to boast about.

Value


The Coleman 16 is the least expensive soft cooler we tested. At $20, it provides a small and easy to use package with few bells and whistles.

The Coleman 16-Can is a tried and true package that delivers what you pay for.
The Coleman 16-Can is a tried and true package that delivers what you pay for.

Conclusion


If you are looking for something small, simple, easy, and inexpensive, the Coleman 16 may be for you. If you want something that will offer you more insulation and larger capacity for either longer trips or bigger groups, it may be wise to see what else is out there. The Polar Bear Coolers 24 Pack Soft Cooler or the Homitt 30 Can both offer you a larger, higher quality, more versatile package for not much more cash.

Review lineup: From left to right; the Polar Bear 24 Pack  AO Coolers 24 Pack Canvas Cooler  the Ice Mule Pro  the Yeti Hopper 30  and the Coleman 16-Can.
Review lineup: From left to right; the Polar Bear 24 Pack, AO Coolers 24 Pack Canvas Cooler, the Ice Mule Pro, the Yeti Hopper 30, and the Coleman 16-Can.


Maggie Brandenburg & Andrew Schurr