Coleman Stainless Steel Cooler
54 quart size
Intermediate to premium-priced
Pros: Very attractive look, Metal components
Cons: Limited features, Only one size, Somewhat expensive
Rubber grips, stainless steel handles, twist-to-close latch system
Coleman Stainless Steel Cooler Review
For those looking for a more rugged and visually-appealing ice box, Coleman has lined their popular 54-quart sized product in stainless steel along with metal hardware. This metal design is intended to last for many years and not only be break-resistant but also rust-resistant. It comes with two carrying handles for carrying and is plastic with a steel outer lining. It is made of stainless steel, carries 54 quarts, and comes in a few different colors, with the conventional metallic being the most popular.
Insulation ability –
Recent updates to this model have improved the insulation, but it is still by no means industry-leading. The cooling performance will come thanks to its semi-thick insulation. It is worth noting that Coleman has not included their effective Xtreme Insulation Technology in this cooler which likely explains why its performance is a bit below its Xtreme Cooler Series.
The most effective feature for assisting with ice life is actually the sealing gasket on the lip of the base. Most non-premium coolers don’t have this sort of gasket and it is sort of a necessity here. This is because the closing latch mechanism is very simple and doesn’t create a lot of force to squeeze the lid to the body. This gasket alone probably adds another half day (if not more) to the cooler’s performance.
Also, the steel outer surface does actually provide some additional help with insulation. It, combined with the inner insulation, creates a sort of “double-layer”. We still feel that a thicker insulated layer would be helpful, but the overall performance isn’t terrible.
Coleman states that you can keep items cool for up to 4 days. We tested this theory by filling the cooler with ice, leaving it outside, and opening it every few hours. This was done to emulate what a real-life use would be like. The results are as follows:
You will notice that, as expected, ice life goes up with the inclusion of more ice. Also, ice seems to perform better than ice packs (although the relative volume of 4x medium ice packs is less than 1/2 full of ice). In addition, there was a pretty wide range in potential ice life. This is because it seems that the thinner insulation material is more sensitive to opening and closing than thicker, traditional insulation.
In other words, if you happen to open the cooler a lot, your ice life is going to drop much faster.
Finally, compared to Coleman’s 4-day statement, our results were quite a bit lower. However, it is worth noting that we measure “ice life”, not “keeping items cool”. Even cold melted ice (AKA water) could still keep items cold for quite some period of time.
Mobility and durability –
While the Coleman Stainless Steel Cooler isn’t solid steel (rather, it is “steel-belted), it is still quite heavy, weighing nearly 20 pounds empty. After you load it up with ice and other items, it can be a lot of work for one person to carry. On top of that, there is no option for wheels so you will have to carry it manually.
The handles that are present are quite small and don’t have the robust and comfy Easy-Grips that other Coleman Coolers have. However, they serve their purpose and should hold up to typical wear and tear for quite some time.
We also really like that all of the hardware (along with the outer shell, of course) come in metal. This is a big upgrade from the plastic components that many other budget coolers have. Being stainless steel, it should also offset rust and corrosion for much longer than cheaper steels.
All in all, this is a solidly-built cooler. It comes with Have-A-Seat technology which allows a person to use the lid as a temporary seat. Specifically, it can hold up to 250 pounds. And the Coleman Stainless Steel Ice Chest comes with a 6-year limited warranty.
As for convenience features, it is a bit lacking. The only ones worth noting are the quick drain plug that allows you to empty the water out without having to tip the cooler. That closing system is very easy as well. You don’t have to pull down on a tough rubber T-Latch. Instead, you simply rotate the closing mechanism to shut the cooler.
Visual Appeal –
This is a very good looking ice box. The steel external shell and glossy metal hardware and hinges give off a very premium look and feel. There aren’t any cup holders or any unique feature such as built-in bottle opener (which was in the older design) but these are minor complaints. The overall look comes together nicely and should be an attractive addition to any garage or camper.
You actually have several different colors to pick from including red, gray, and of course the popular exposed metal look. It is worth mentioning that you will pay a bit extra for the traditional exposed metal as the other colors are actually called “steel-belted”.
The true gloss stainless steel cooler shown is in the premium price category. There are other non-gloss steel-lined examples that can be had for a bit cheaper and will dip into the intermediate range. This is pretty expensive given the performance. Yes, they look great but we still have to consider how well the cooler performs when looking at the asking price.
Compared to other Coleman Coolers at this size range, these are likely one of the most expensive you will find. And you can purchase higher-performing coolers from premium brands near this price point that will outperform the Coleman Stainless Steel Cooler in ice life and toughness. But for people wanting a truly unique-looking and very attractive cooler, the bump in cost is worth it.
Overall Rating –
The Coleman Steel Cooler is an attractive product that is trying to emulate the historically popular and proven conventional Coleman stainless steel cooler. While these newer coolers may never reach the overall toughness and “feel” of the old, solid-steel examples, the recent updates to this cooler make it much better. The insulation is adequate for most people’s needs and the toughness is certainly present thanks to stainless steel hardware. You won’t find a lot of additional features and the sizes are limited to just the 54-quart example, but for those after a stainless steel cooler, this is certainly a competitor.