Coleman Soft Cooler Reviews
Last Updated by Brandon F. on June 19, 2019
Coleman has come out with several popular soft coolers over the past few years. They can range quite a bit in size and application, starting from small 9-can coolers and going all the way up to 75-can collapsible sports coolers.
No matter which size you decide to go with, Coleman promises a simple and effective soft cooler for a reasonable asking price. Below are a few of our favorite Coleman Soft Coolers. We will break down the product lineup and its pros and cons in greater detail below.
- 1 Coleman Soft Cooler Reviews
- 1.1 Coleman Soft Cooler Models
- 1.2 Coleman Soft Cooler Ice Life
- 1.3 Coleman Soft Cooler Price
- 1.4 Coleman Soft Cooler Review
Coleman Soft Cooler Models
It is easy to become overwhelmed when looking at all of the Coleman Soft Cooler models available. However, they are essentially grouped into a few cooler series that simply vary in size.
Coleman Messenger Bag Cooler
One of the smallest models is the Coleman Cooler Messenger Bags. These simple, square coolers can hold up to 12 cans and are really designed to compete with traditional lunch cooler bags or for other adventures that don’t require a lot of storage space. As you might expect, the limited size also means that they will be on the lower end of ice life.
For features, you will find a soft grip handle that makes holding it quite comfortable. You will also find a front pocket and also side mesh pockets to store more items that don’t necessarily need to be kept cool. The zipper is quite large relative to the size of the messenger bag, with it basically opening up ¾ of the face when open. And you have two zippers instead of one which we definitely prefer.
As for build quality, Coleman has you covered thanks to their heat-welded seams and the inclusion of antimicrobial properties built into the lining to help fight off mold and mildew (which can equal a stinky soft cooler!).
Color options are a bit limited, being available in green, silver, and blue.
Coleman Soft Can Cooler
One of the most popular lineups of Coleman Soft Coolers is their “Can Coolers”. These soft-sided coolers simply go by how many cans of coke/beer they can hold to determine their name designation. The options start with the small and mobile 9-can models and also include 16-can and 30-can examples. To add to this are also specialty models that have a removable liner (available in the same can choices).
Ice performance is bumped up a notch with these, thanks to their thicker walls with a small layer of insulation. And the fact that they come with a hard liner makes them much better supported. This allows for you to be able to fill them with ice or other heavier objects (such as cans) without losing the rigidity you need to transport them.
For carrying, you will find an adjustable shoulder strap that should be able to meet everybody’s needs no matter what their size is. Additional storage comes in the way of a front zippered pocket and two mesh pockets on the sides.
Probably our favorite feature is on the models with the removable plastic liner. This plastic liner provides essential rigidity but can also be a burden when you are simply trying to find somewhere to store your Coleman Soft Cooler. Having the flexibility to do either is a nice plus.
As is standard on most Coleman soft coolers, heat-welded seams and built-in antimicrobial additives come standard. These things greatly help to extend the life of the cooler and help your money to go much further.
These models also come with some helpful side bungee cords that not only look great but provide additional structure and storage capabilities.
Color options are a bit more varied with the Coleman Can Soft Cooler Models. Depending on which size and model you go with, you will potentially be able to choose between blue, silver, green, camouflage, and red. However, if you decide to go with a removable liner model, you are limited to just red and attractive orange and brown color scheme.
Coleman Rugged Lunch Cooler
The Coleman Rugged Lunch Cooler is part of their larger Rugged Cooler Series that includes hard-sided coolers as well. These soft coolers come in a slightly different design that the Soft Can Coolers. They are available in 10-can and 14-can options. They also come in Rugged Lunch Boxes but they are essentially the same as the 10 can models and 14 can models of their respected size.
Ice performance will be on par with the other Coleman Can Coolers. This is attributed to having a similar material thickness, similar storage volume, and similar zipper design.
The main benefit of the Rugged Soft Coolers over other Coleman Soft Coolers is in their ease of access. These models are much wider and deeper while not being as tall. What this means is that you don’t have to stack items as much. Rather, they will all be easily obtainable once you open the top flap.
And speaking of the top flap, it is huge! The double zipper configuration allows for opening and closing this large top flap.
Also, the carrying method is totally different. Rather than use a shoulder strap, Coleman Rugged Coolers have an overhead carrying handle made of rigid rubber instead. This does mean that you will have to sacrifice a hand rather than a shoulder to transport it.
For additional storage, you will find side mesh pockets as well as a front Velcro pocket (most other Coleman soft coolers will have a front zipper pocket). You can also use the bungee strap on top to hold down additional items but, of course, they won’t benefit from the insulated interior.
Color options are a bit lacking. The 10 and 14-can Rugged Coolers are only available in blue. The 10-can and 14-can Rugged Lunch Boxes are available in an attractive black and neon color scheme. And the 10-can is available in an additional color that is a red and silver color scheme.
Coleman Collapsible Cooler
As the name suggests, the Coleman Collapsible Cooler does not come with a hard-liner. This takes away structural rigidity but does result in a soft cooler that is very easy to fold up and store when not in use. It also means that even when using, any volume that isn’t occupied by objects can be pushed down to reduce how much space it has taken up.
The product sizes are quite large in size but lacking in choices. You can pick between a 40-can and a 75-can model. These are among the largest soft coolers that Coleman sells. So if you enjoy Coleman Soft Coolers and need as much storage space as possible, then look no further!
You do take a small hit in the ice performance department as the fabric and liner used is rather thin. However, being a larger cooler, you do benefit from the added storage volume. You will really see a nice boost in ice life if you are more liberal with your ice and ice packs that you mix in.
As for features, we really like the quick-access top flap on the 40-can model. This allows you to reach into the cooler without having to unzip the larger flap. It is quicker and also minimizes how much ice is directly exposed to the warm air outside, boosting performance.
The 75-can model also has a really intuitive feature. It has a semi-hard top lid with 4 built-in cup holders. This gives you a valuable spot for your drinks, making it perfect for a picnic or park outing.
For transportation, both models come with overhead adjustable shoulder straps. They are much more viable than a carrying handle but do keep in mind that, when full of ice and drinks, these models can be quite heavy!
The color options available on the Coleman Collapsible Coolers are limited to red on the 40-can model and an attractive gray and blue color scheme on the 75-can model.
Coleman 24-Hour Soft Cooler
Last but not least are the most capable soft coolers that Coleman offers: their 24-Hour models. These units are packed with thicker insulation and a more robust zipper system. These combine to result in up to 24 hours of ice performance (According to Coleman).
They are based on their popular Can Soft Cooler Series discussed above so size options are the same (9-can, 16-can, and 30-can). Coincidentally, they will be a similar size (although a bit larger and heavier due to the thicker material used).
The features are a bit different than the traditional soft can cooler models. The front zippered compartment is replaced with a simple pocket flap. In addition, the side mesh compartments have been removed altogether. There is a quick-access top flap which we really like, however. And the adjustable overhead shoulder strap remains.
The decision to remove certain features was due to size constraints as well as Coleman simply acknowledging that people interested in their 24-Hour coolers will have ice performance as a top priority and be willing to sacrifice other features for it. Also, the build quality we like to see is still present here thanks to the heat-welded seams and rip-stop fabric.
The styling of the Coleman 24-Hour Coolers is also a bit more progressive. You will find the fabric and general curves more aggressive and the look comes together quite nicely. You are limited in color choices, however. You can only pick between a black/blue and black/red color scheme.
Coleman Soft Cooler Ice Life
Ice performance is always a top consideration in any cooler. While Coleman Soft Coolers won’t compete with the best in terms of ice life, there are still clear-cut winners and losers within their lineup. Below we show our estimated ice life for each model and size.
Coleman Soft Cooler Price
Overall, Coleman Soft Coolers come in at a reasonable asking price. Not having many of the exotic materials and construction methods that premium cooler brands have helped to keep their price competitive. That being said, if you look at it from a dollar to storage quart basis, they typically will be bumped up some. Specifically, we tend to find these models falling into the intermediate price range.
As is expected, models with more features will cost a bit more than the base models. For instance, if you decide to go with one of the Coleman 24 Hour Soft Cooler models, you will be a slight surcharge then compared to going with a simple Messenger Bag Model.
Now that we have gone over a big picture of the various Coleman Soft Coolers, we provide our detailed review and ratings below.
9, 10, 12, 16, 30, 40, 42, 50 and 75 cans (app. 16 to 70 quarts)
Plastic and fabric composition
Pros: Look great, a lot of places to store items, plenty of sizes to choose from
Cons: Air easily escapes, exaggeration on how much you can actually store
Removable plastic liner, takes both ice and ice packs, front zippered pocket, 2 side mesh pockets, adjustable padded shoulder strap
Coleman Soft Cooler Review
The Coleman Soft Cooler is a more mobile solution for those looking to keep a few drinks or a lunch cold for a little while. It has multiple places to store water bottles, extra snacks, and other small items. There is a removable hard liner in some models which means that storage is a breeze.
They are available in a host of different colors including camouflage and several multi-color configurations. In addition, there are both strapped as well as wheeled choices. The sizes it comes in include 9, 14, 16, 30, 40, 42, 50, and 72 can options (or approximately 16 to 70 quarts) and are primarily made of plastic and fabric.
Insulation ability –
Since these soft ice boxes don’t have thick, air-tight plastic shells the insulation ability is not nearly as impressive as conventional coolers. Your best performance will be with the 24-hour models as they come with thicker insulation and a more ice-friendly design.
In some models, there are choices to store items with the hardliner or remove it and simply use the soft liner for extra room. There are also multiple places to store items although your best bet for maximizing cooling time is inside the enclosed container.
The hardliner may do a slightly better job of insulation but, more importantly, will also help to avoid moisture from melted ice and ice packs from running out of the bag. With soft coolers, there are also the options of going with ice or use ice packs. The ice packs will provide much longer cooling times so we recommend using these if you can.
Depending on which model you go with as well as what type (and how much) of ice you use, your results will vary. However, we have found that the maximum ice life you can expect across all models to be under a day. The smaller models could dip under 12 hours as well so plan accordingly with extra ice or ice packs.
Mobility and Durability –
All of these soft shells are quite mobile and will be much smaller and much lighter than a typical plastic cooler. However, in the larger sizes such as the 50 and 72 cans they can become quite heavy when they are full.
We wonder Coleman didn’t include wheeled choices for these sizes and rather only have them available on the 42 can. That being said, don’t let the “number of cans” labeling fool you: these are all gross exaggerations of what you will actually be able to carry in a bag.
If you hope to have any room for ice and other items then you will need to anticipate having less than the posted number of cans inside. For instance, the 16 can size is good for putting a 6 pack of bottles, ice, and maybe a couple of sandwiches in it.
The construction of these coolers is pretty good. It utilizes heat-welded seams and antimicrobial material properties to ensure long life. The bungee cords used are relatively strong and well-fastened as well. You can expect these models to last for a few years without any major issues. The fabric is of good quality and relatively waterproof.
Visual Appeal –
These are very attractive carrying ice boxes and give off a feeling of being quality products. There are multiple metal accents and color choices for most models. We also like the inclusion of the camouflage schemes as they are perfect for hunters and outdoorsmen. The multiple compartments available also show that these weren’t simply thrown together and actual thought was put into the design.
We do wish that there were a few more color choices available on certain models. In particular, expanding the color choices on the Collapsible Cooler Bags would be a nice touch.
Depending on where and what size you buy, you can expect to generally pay in the intermediate price range. While this won’t be a bank-buster for most people since the Coleman soft coolers are still reasonably priced, for the raw performance we can’t get too excited here.
They are simple and proven models but the small storage size is what drives these up into the higher price tier.
Overall Rating –
The Coleman Soft Cooler lineup is well-made, attractive, and should last for several seasons no matter which model you go with. There are multiple compartments and the removable hard shell is a nice touch. Insulation ability is somewhat lacking (outside of the 24-hour models) but that is to be expected for this type of cooler.
Shop around since prices vary a lot on these soft coolers. If you can find one on the lower end of the spectrum, it is an acceptable buy. Just don’t expect to be able to actually fit the advertised number of cans in one while being able to keep the stored items cold at the same time.