Coleman 16-Can Review
Cons: Smaller than it looks, not very insulated, less durable, not leakproof
Compare to Similar Products
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.
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 the least expensive model we tested, and it doesn't boast any lofty claims.
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.
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.
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.
The Coleman is the least expensive soft cooler we tested. 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 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.
— Maggie Brandenburg