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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
Coleman 16-Can
Photo: Coleman
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Price:  $30 List | $19.99 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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43
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#15 of 15
  • Insulation Value - 30% 4
  • Ease of Use - 25% 4
  • 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.

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Coleman 16-Can
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Coleman 16-Can
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$100 List$78.95 at Amazon$80 List
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Pros Lightweight, easy to use, compact, plenty of extra pockets, inexpensiveDurable design, comfortable to carry when full, good capacity, relatively inexpensiveWatertight fabric and zipper, good insulation value, great size to capacity ratio, convenient top handle, great valueSimple and easy to use, decent insulation, folds flat for storage, duffel handlesComfortable to carry, convenient design, good features, tons of dry storage
Cons Smaller than it looks, not very insulated, less durable, not leakproofLearning curve for best use, not 100% leakproof, no extra pocketsNo external storage options, plastic D rings twist, doesn't come with zipper lubricantShoulder strap a little short, zipper and exterior fabric are not waterproof, less durable materialsZipper 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 durableThis backpack-style cooler is our favorite model to carry over longer distancesA watertight cooler that's convenient to use, with above-average insulation for a below-average priceA solid performer that's simple to use, easy to carry, and costs less than mostThough 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 IceMule Pro Igloo Reactor Porta... 24 Pack Canvas Cooler Cool Trail Split Pack
Insulation Value (30%)
4.0
7.0
7.0
7.0
4.0
Ease Of Use (25%)
4.0
8.0
7.0
8.0
9.0
Portability (25%)
6.0
9.0
7.0
6.0
9.0
Durability (20%)
3.0
6.0
8.0
6.0
5.0
Specs Coleman 16-Can IceMule Pro Igloo Reactor Porta... 24 Pack Canvas Cooler Cool Trail Split Pack
Measured Capacity (qt) 9.5 qt 25 qt 26.5 qt 24 qt 13 qt
Measured Capacity (cans with no ice) 16 cans 39 cans 30 cans 39 cans 16 cans
Carry Style Lunchbox Backpack Messenger Bag Duffel Bag Backpack
Internal Maximum Height (in) 8.5" bin
11" lid
17" fully closed
23" max
9.5" 11" fully closed
12.5" max
11" flex
Fits Standard Wine Bottle Standing Upright? No - can squeeze it in but too much zipper strain Yes No - will fit on side Yes - some flex required, no zipper strain Yes - some flex required, no zipper strain
Shelf Life of Food (Measured Hours Below 40ºF) 27 hr 52 hr 51 hr 55 hr 32 hr
Days of Cold Beverages (Measured Hours Below 50ºF) 31 hr 55 hr 54 hr 63 hr 37 hr
Measured Weight (lb) 1.7 lb 3.0 lb 3.1 lb 2.7 lb 2.4 lb
Exterior Fabric Light nylon canvas Mule SkinET 1000D ripstop tarpaulin/vinyl/nylon Unspecified water resistant polyester exterior, nylon interior 1000 x 1300D heavy duty polyester with vinyl coating Recycled ripstop nylon outer/polyester inner
Closure Method Zippered flip top Roll-top Zippered flip top, watertight zip Zippered top Zippered flip top, dry storage cinch and clip
Handles and Straps Shoulder strap Backpack straps, sternum strap Shoulder strap, end handles, top handle Shoulder strap, duffel handles Backpack straps, top handle, sternum strap
Additional Storage Yes; exterior front pocket, 2 mesh pockets, top shock cord No; exterior shock cord panel No Yes; 1 very large zippered exterior pocket 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.
Photo: Andrew Schurr

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 among the worst out of those tested in our insulation testing.

Comparing results during insulation testing of models 20L and...
Comparing results during insulation testing of models 20L and smaller. The REI Pack Away 24 fits in this group because we tested it in its most convenient configuration -- a cube -- which we measured just under 20L.
Photo: Maggie Brandenburg

Lasting 27 hrs 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 not much longer (31 hrs). However, we should note that this is also 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.
Photo: Andrew Schurr

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...
Pockets adorn three of the four sides and the top has some bungee straps.
Photo: Maggie Brandenburg

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.
Photo: Derrick Krause

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

Value


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

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

Maggie Brandenburg