Hands-on Gear Review

Coleman 16-Can Review

Price:  $30 List | $15.08 at Amazon
Pros:  Lightweight, easy to use, tried and true design, inexpensive
Cons:  Small size, not very insulated, less durable
Bottom line:  Although the design of this model is tried-and-true, it's not very insulated or durable.
Editors' Rating:   
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Style:  Lunch-box
Capacity:  16 cans
Exterior Fabric:  Light nylon canvas
Manufacturer:   Coleman

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 easy 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.


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Our Analysis and Test Results

Review by:
Maggie Brandenburg & Andrew Schurr

Last Updated:
Wednesday
March 23, 2016

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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 was one of the smallest coolers we reviewed in this category. You could fit 16 cans in there, barely, but it also barely held the standard seven-pound bag of ice. To our not-surprise, we found that this cooler, along with the other Coleman cooler we reviewed, the Coleman 42 Can Removable Liner, 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, it should be noted 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 delivered when it came to ease of use — it did exactly what it was designed to do. It carried well over the shoulder, the front pocket was big enough for silverware and a bottle opener, and the large zippered top gave testers plenty of space to work with. For an easy afternoon out, or simply to carry your lunch and a 6-pack, this little package worked great. The plastic insert makes washing easy, providing the cooler has been upright, and no residue has made it underneath the insert, but it did raise durability questions. There were also some additional features that puzzled testers. There are several mesh pockets, one on each side and one under the lid, which weren'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 didn't make anything easier or harder to use, but they didn't really add much.

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

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 seemed to be only a matter of time before the liner broke or a tear in the lining would develop. While it should be understood that this cooler isn't made 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.

Portability


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

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

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 insulatory powers are nothing to boast about.

Value


The Coleman 16r is the least expensive soft cooler we looked at. 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

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Most recent review: March 23, 2016
Summary of All Ratings

OutdoorGearLab Editors' Rating:  
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 (3.0)
Average Customer Rating:  
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