The world's most in-depth and scientific reviews of outdoor gear

Coleman 42 Can Review

If you’re looking for easy food and beverage transportation at a reasonable cost, this might be the cooler for you!
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Price:  $41 List
Pros:  Easy to pull on wheels, large capacity, very low cost
Cons:  Low insulation value, not waterproof, less durable construction
Manufacturer:   Coleman
By Maggie Brandenburg ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  Jun 5, 2018
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44
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#9 of 11
  • Insulation Value - 40% 2
  • Durability - 20% 4
  • Ease of Use - 20% 7
  • Portability - 20% 7

The Skinny

The Coleman 42 Can soft cooler would not be our top pick for insulation, as it essentially failed our ice test, rising above 40 degrees almost immediately. However, it's a great way to bring a lot of food and/or beverages a short distance. It has a carry-on suitcase-style wheel and handle system that makes transportation over smooth surfaces a breeze and at a much lower cost than most the other coolers in this review. If you're looking to take your snacks with you and don't need to keep them cool for long, this cooler might be just what you're looking for!


Compare to Similar Products

Our Analysis and Test Results

As far as coolers go, this one didn't blow us away in how well it was made or kept our beers cold. However, it does have a few features we appreciated, which made it easy to use and rather portable. To learn more, read on!

Performance Comparison


Roll this cooler along to your picnic - but not across really uneven surfaces!
Roll this cooler along to your picnic - but not across really uneven surfaces!

Insulation Value


Compared to most the other coolers in this review, the 42 Can from Coleman has pretty poor insulation. The only other cooler that scored as low on insulation was the other Coleman model, the 16-Can, as they have essentially the same insulation; just a thin fabric wall, lined with something not quite waterproof, and with a large removable plastic bucket inside. That's it for the 42 Can from Coleman. The insulation is about the same as a thick wetsuit.

The zippers aren't waterproof, and neither is the fabric. Sitting empty in the the rain for several days, this cooler took on quite a bit of water. When subjected to our standardized ice retention test, the 42 Can was unable to maintain a temperature below the FDA-recommended 40 degrees, spiking up to 50 after just 24 hours, and losing all cold-keeping capabilities entirely in less than two days. Comparatively, our Editors' Choice award-winner, the Engel HD30 maintained proper temperatures for nearly four full days! If you're looking to keep things cold for a full weekend of camping, we do not recommend the 42 Can Coleman cooler.

The Coleman is far outcompeted in insulation capacity with this thin layer and plastic box.
The Coleman is far outcompeted in insulation capacity with this thin layer and plastic box.

Ease of Use


The Coleman is relatively easy to use. The top flips open, making loading and unloading a breeze. There are two side mesh pockets for extra items, a large front zippered pocket, and even an interior mesh pocket on the inside of the lid. The plastic bucket is easy to remove to set on the kitchen table and load with food before placing it in the cooler. This also makes it simple to set it in the sink to clean it after you return home. However, the tall, spindly design of this cooler means that to reach items in the bottom, you have to unpack a lot of other things to get there. It also is not overly stable when rolling, due to its square-ish shape; in fact, small bumps sent this cooler flipping to its side in the middle of the path!

The removable liner sure makes cleaning up a breeze!
The removable liner sure makes cleaning up a breeze!

Durability


The 42 Can is covered on the outside by a nylon canvas. This material is not waterproof and is not particularly durable. The zippers are also large and clunky, and not very high quality, which may lead to failure over time. We also feel the same way about the elastic bands across the top of the cooler, which are also sewn into place, leaving you unable to replace them if they do eventually lose their elasticity. The roller handle also didn't give us a lot of faith. A small amount of pressure brings this handle up from the cooler and sends it back down, depressing little pegs in the extendable bars. We also found there to be a lot of wiggle room in the components of the handle, which we felt didn't bode well for the longevity of this cooler.

Coleman didn't wow us with this regular zipper and sewn-in top bungees.
Coleman didn't wow us with this regular zipper and sewn-in top bungees.

Portability


We enjoyed being able to wheel our picnic rather than carry it! With a carry-on suitcase style of handle, the Coleman could wheel along behind you; we couldn't have cared less when we threw in an extra bottle of champagne or packed more hot dogs than we thought we could eat. The obvious downside to this, is of course anytime you want to cross non-flat surfaces. We had a much harder time rolling this cooler full of food down a dirt path crisscrossed with tree roots and across a sandy beach. But taking the 42 Can to our favorite bench in the park was easy breezy!

With wheels designed for smooth surfaces  take the Coleman elsewhere at your own risk!
With wheels designed for smooth surfaces, take the Coleman elsewhere at your own risk!

Best Applications


The 42 from Coleman is a great cooler to cart things to the family picnic. It fits a LOT of stuff inside and can be easily rolled as far as your smooth surface will go. Though it's not our top pick for rugged terrain or keeping things cool for long periods of time, we feel confident that if what you seek is to bring ALL the meat to the reunion in the park or provide all the beers for tailgating, the Coleman will get you there.

Value


You get what you pay for with the 42 Can. While it's not an ideal cooler for keeping things cold long term, it can be an excellent and inexpensive solution to carting a relatively large amount of food and beverages with you to be immediately consumed. If you seek transport over insulation, then the value of the Coleman is sure to please.

You get what you pay for with the 42 Can soft cooler from Coleman.
You get what you pay for with the 42 Can soft cooler from Coleman.

Conclusion


While the Coleman 42 Can isn't winning any awards from us for its insulation value or durability, this cooler is very easy to use and incredibly portable over flat surfaces. The Coleman is a great way to bring goodies to the barbeque, beers to the tailgate, or snacks to the pool. It won't keep things cold forever, but it will get them there, and that might just be enough for you.

Though not the best insulator  the Coleman sure makes it simple to take your food and drinks along  with handy wheels.
Though not the best insulator, the Coleman sure makes it simple to take your food and drinks along, with handy wheels.


Maggie Brandenburg