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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 | $29.99 at Amazon
Pros:  Lightweight, easy to use, compact, plenty of extra pockets, inexpensive
Cons:  Smaller than it looks, not very insulated, less durable, not leakproof
Manufacturer:   Coleman
By Maggie Brandenburg ⋅ Senior Review Editor  ⋅  Nov 15, 2019
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SCORE


RANKED
#11 of 11
  • Insulation Value - 30% 3
  • Ease of Use - 25% 5
  • Portability - 25% 6
  • Durability - 20% 3

Our Verdict

The Coleman 16-Can 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, 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 keeps 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 Best Buy Award Top Pick Award  
Price $29.99 at Amazon$181.96 at Amazon$86.95 at Amazon$113.95 at Amazon
Compare at 2 sellers
$79.95 at REI
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Pros Lightweight, easy to use, compact, plenty of extra pockets, inexpensiveVery durable construction, excellent insulation, useful handles and features, comfortable shoulder strapGood insulation, easy to use, simple design, convenient size, affordableDurable design, comfortable to carry when full, good capacity, relatively inexpensiveComfortable to carry, convenient design, good features, tons of dry storage
Cons Smaller than it looks, not very insulated, less durable, not leakproofZippered exterior pocket not waterproof, very largeFrustrating zipperLearning curve for best use, not 100% leakproof, no extra pocketsZipper not leakproof, thin insulation, less durable, loose sternum strap
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.Great durability and insulation power at a relatively low price.A very different design than most, but by far our favorite to carry over long distances.Though not as hardy as some others, this design combines cooler space and dry storage for an all-in-one pack.
Rating Categories Coleman 16-Can Engel HD30 RTIC SoftPak 20 IceMule Pro Cool Trail Split Pack
Insulation Value (30%)
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Portability (25%)
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Specs Coleman 16-Can Engel HD30 RTIC SoftPak 20 IceMule Pro Cool Trail Split...
Carry Style Lunchbox Messenger Bag Lunchbox Backpack Backpack
Measured Weight (lb) 1.7 lb 5.9 lb 3.0 lb 3.0 lb 2.4 lb
Exterior Fabric Light nylon canvas Abrasion-resistant fabric Thick nylon shell Mule SkinET 1000D ripstop tarpaulin/vinyl/nylon Recycled ripstop nylon outer/polyester inner
Closure Method Zippered flip top Zippered top, watertight zip Zippered flip top, watertight zip Roll-top Zippered flip top, dry storage cinch and clip
Handles and Straps Shoulder strap Shoulder strap, carry handles Shoulder strap, carry handle Backpack straps, sternum strap Backpack straps, carry handle, sternum strap
Additional Storage Yes; exterior front pocket, top shock cord Yes; 1 larger exterior zippered (meant to be waterproof but isn't) Yes; small exterior No; exterior shock cord panel Yes; top half of pack, brain pocket, 2 mesh side pockets
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 this cooler, 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 tested in this category. You can fit 16 cans in there if you don't want any ice, but it also barely holds a standard seven-pound bag of ice. It also has just a regular old zipper on top - not a leakproof zipper by any stretch of the imagination. Not surprisingly, we found that this cooler performed the worst out of those tested in our insulation testing. Lasting just 23 hours at the USDA food-safe temperatures of 40°F or below, the Coleman isn't the best choice for your raw food storage. It also only maintained optimal beer temperatures of 50°F or less for barely longer than a day - 25 hours. However, we should note that this is also by far the least expensive model we tested, 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 is simple and straightforward - it does what it was designed to do. It carries just fine over the shoulder, the front pocket is big enough for silverware and a bottle opener, and the large zippered top gives plenty of space to load and unload. It's a bit narrower than we would like, which may restrict you from putting certain sandwich boxes or water bottle-other drink combinations easily inside. The plastic insert makes washing easy, providing the cooler has been upright, and no residue has made it underneath the insert. It's important to note that this cooler is only waterproof if you use the plastic insert. Without that box, the fabric of this little bag easily takes on water.

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.

Pockets adorn three of the four sides and the top has some bungee straps.
Pockets adorn three of the four sides and the top has some bungee straps.

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. It's lightweight, weighing just 1.7 lbs empty, and has a pretty low profile for carrying. And because it's so small, you can't put too much into it that would weigh it down and make it awful to carry. Despite that this is the smallest cooler we tested; it's actually not our favorite personal model to carry - but it's fine.

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 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.

Even without considering the seriously intense competition  the Coleman doesn't impress us with its durability.
Even without considering the seriously intense competition, the Coleman doesn't impress us with its durability.

Value


The Coleman is the least expensive soft cooler we tested, by far. It's a fairly straightforward option that provides some insulation, but it isn't the ideal option to keep things fresh in a baking car all day. If you're just after something to stuff under your office desk until your lunch break, this is a great choice.

If you're after a super simple  super cheap lunchbox  this is that. If you're after solid performance  look elsewhere.
If you're after a super simple, super cheap lunchbox, this is that. If you're after solid performance, look elsewhere.

Conclusion


If you are looking for something small, simple, easy, and inexpensive, the Coleman 16-Can may be for you. It's simple, easy to use, and doesn't hold any surprises. It's a solid choice for an indoor lunchbox, but if you seek a midsummer adventure partner, we recommend looking elsewhere.

If you just want a little cooler for a few picnic beverages  the Coleman suffices for a much lower price tag.
If you just want a little cooler for a few picnic beverages, the Coleman suffices for a much lower price tag.


Maggie Brandenburg