Coleman is one of the most iconic brands in the cooler industry, having churned out premium product after premium product for several decades.
That said, whenever we hear that they’ve brought something new to the market we’re excited about it and have naturally high expectations of what the product is going to be like. That’s pretty much the feeling we have for this Coleman Steel Belted cooler review, although this one has been on the market for quite some time now.
In this case, the cooler in question is a retro-styled cooler reminiscent of the 1970s Coleman coolers. One might wonder why Coleman wants to dig up the past.
Well, since they’re going to produce something in response to the demands of their customer base, it means there are probably a lot of people out there with a strong bout of nostalgia that miss the good old camping days of their childhoods in the ‘70s.
These are likely the target market for the Coleman. We feel strongly about this because, after reviewing the Coleman, we found the aesthetics to overwhelmingly be its strongest suit.
But let’s not get ahead of ourselves, shall we? Cue the review!
Coleman Steel Belted Cooler Review
Materials, Design, and Construction
Okay, one thing we have to point out here is that this Coleman cooler isn’t made entirely out of metal like its predecessor from the 1970s. It is called “steel belted” for a reason.
Basically, the mold is plastic, and you can tell that it is because there are lots of places where the plastic is sticking out. A steel belt is then wrapped around that plastic mold to give it the familiar stainless steel look.
On the body, the steel isn’t one unified strip. Instead, it’s been wrapped around with a meeting point around the back of the cooler that forms a fault line.
As far as aesthetics are concerned, we found that a bit disappointing as it is a rather depressing reminder of the ‘steel belted’ aspect of the cooler.
The steel is also on the lid, giving it a strong stainless steel look. However, the lip of the lid is not touched in order to allow for proper closing and insulation.
Another thing worth pointing out is the fact that this ice chest is not rotomolded. Seeing as it is one of the cheaper coolers out there and it is designed to look and feel like a cooler from the 1970s, it is naturally not going to have the most modern construction on the market.
This will have implications on its insulation and ice retention capabilities, but for the given price, we’re really not surprised. The adage that you get what you pay for is true, after all.
Apart from the fact that the cooler is not rotomolded and that the steel is only in the form of a belt, this ice chest is actually pretty strong.
The hardware is all made out of stainless steel, which means you don’t have to worry about rust while using it. It also has strong stainless steel hinges that are going to last a long while before they finally give. And what’s more, even if they finally give, they are replaceable.
As for the latch on the lid, it is a single stainless steel latch with a cam hold that you rotate to hold the lid tightly by a good quality gasket. We’ll talk about the latch a little later but suffice it, for now, to say that it is pretty good quality.
One particular thing we don’t like about the steel belt is how it responds to impact. If you hit this cooler too hard against anything or throw objects at it, you should be prepared for some ugly dents. That’s what you get when you put a steel belt on a cooler. Apart from that, however, everything else is fine and dandy.
Well, for a 21st-century ice chest, the Coleman steel belted cooler sure doesn’t have a lot of features. But then again, that also isn’t a surprise when you remember that this really isn’t a 21st-century cooler.
It’s just a (not entirely complete) remake of a 1970s cooler that only just happens to be in the 21st century. Back in the ‘70s, they were rather minimalistic with their coolers and didn’t add a lot of features to them. All the same, the few features on this cooler deserve mention anyway.
We have the drain plug, which is a simple drain plug you use to empty the cooler of water. It’s not too fancy, but it’s functional.
We also feel the latch deserves to be called a ‘feature.’ When the Coleman steel belted cooler first came out, it had some bits of the latch made out of plastic, and a lot of users complained about it because not only was it not faithful to the original design of the cooler from the 70s but it was also terrible quality and the lid couldn’t be tightly secured, leading to poorer ice retention than you would expect, even from a non-rotomolded cooler.
Coleman made updates to the design, however, and now the latch is entirely made of metal and is a lot more secure than its predecessor. It isn’t a T-latch, like the more modern coolers and all those Yeti knockoffs, but features hooks that mate to hold the lid down.
A cam handle is then twisted at a 90-degree angle to firmly hold the lid down. The gasket does the rest in ensuring the lid is airtight, improving the insulation in the process.
Two other features that we thought we should mention are features that aren’t there. These are the cup holder and the bottle opener.
Not only are they common among modern ice chests, but they also happened to be there in the original model from the 1970s. We found it rather strange that they were missing in the remake, seeing as they are very useful.
The aesthetics of this cooler are just so remarkable that they deserve mention all on their own. This cooler has a decidedly classic look to it and a lot of users at Amazon, and other online reviews just love the retro look.
It brings back feelings of nostalgia, especially if you grew up in the 70s. You remember all those camping trips with your dad and those great coolers you would take with you.
We feel that, in an industry where a lot of cooler designs look the same, having something that looks so unique and good is a plus and great value for money.
In fact, it is on the strength of the aesthetics that we recommend this cooler. We are willing to overlook all of its shortcomings in other aspects. It’s that good!
The ice retention on this cooler is admittedly not as good as what you get with more modern coolers, even at the same price point. Coleman claim it will last up to 4 days, but our own tests show that with frequent opening and closing of the lid, even assuming you close the latch securely at every closing, it will last about 2 or perhaps 3 days (if you’re lucky). Again, nothing remarkable here, but it does the job well for light duty use.
Available Colors and Sizes
Something rather unfortunate about this cooler is the fact that it only comes in one size: the 54-quart cooler. In the modern day cooler market you will want as much variety as you can find so you have more choices at your disposal. Having a single size is certainly going to alienate a lot of customers from this cooler.
That said, we’re willing to cut Coleman some slack, considering they’re trying to revive an old design that appeals to a particular segment of the market. That means the target market for this cooler is already set, which means trying to attract other groups isn’t going to be much help.
As for the available colors, Coleman redeems itself by offering quite a bit of variety. With this cooler, you get 7 options: Turquoise, Stainless Steel, Silver, Rose Pink, Black, Green, and Red/Black. You can see them all here at Amazon.
The stainless steel is the most expensive option since the steel is exposed and it has the most ‘classic’ look among them. The rest, however, come at a lower price point.
The Coleman steel belted cooler comes with a 6-month warranty from Coleman. It’s nothing spectacular, to be honest, as most rotomolded coolers now come with 5 years or more warranty. But again, given Coleman’s price point, we’re not that surprised.
Who is it for?
This is something that definitely deserves mention for this particular cooler. This cooler seems to have been made purely for its nostalgic value. It’s not a heavy duty performance cooler, and so you shouldn’t take it along with you if you’re a hunter or angler or that sort of outdoor person.
Instead, it’s great for chill camping or an afternoon out with friends or anything else that doesn’t pit the cooler against the harsh elements or force it to retain ice for anything more than 3 days at a time.
Coleman Steel Belted vs. Yeti Tundra
As usual, we have to compare the cooler of the day against the industry giant. Yeti is well known for their dedication to making premium and high performing products, and so is Coleman. So how does this particular Coleman cooler square up against its closest competitor the Yeti Tundra 45?
As far as variety is concerned, you’re getting a better deal with the Yeti. The Coleman only offers the 54-quart option while the Yeti offers plenty of size options for those looking to get some variety.
When it comes to performance, Yeti still comes out on top. Yeti coolers are known for having some of the best ice retention times in the industry. They can go for a week or more very easily. Meanwhile, you’ll be lucky if you get 3 days out of the Coleman.
One area in which the Coleman comes out strong is the aesthetics department. No matter how good that Yeti looks, it’s pretty hard to beat the nostalgia-inspired retro design of the Coleman.
Another thing about the Coleman is that it is meant for a specific target market. It’s meant for nostalgic consumers without heavy duty uses that just want an adequately performing but beautiful cooler. Yeti isn’t interested in that segment of the market.
Coleman Steel Belted Cooler vs Yeti – Verdict
Yeti is Yeti, as always, which means that they are an industry leader in many aspects. However, in this particular case, it feels a bit like comparing apples and oranges. The Coleman steel belted and the Yeti Tundra are designed for different users and different purposes.
The Yeti Tundra would feel like overkill for the customers that would be attracted to the Coleman steel belted while the Coleman steel belted would feel like nothing more than a non-functional mantelpiece for the kind of customer that would be attracted to the Yeti.
We still recommend that you get the Coleman steel belted cooler though, even if just as a cheap second cooler, for no other reason than that it is a beautiful cooler.
Other Coolers like the Coleman Steel Belted Worth Looking At
Igloo SuperTough STX
This fantastic cooler from Igloo also comes with a 54-quart option and has a similar price point, and ice retention to the Coleman steel belted cooler. As for the design, it certainly does look unique, though a lot more modern than the steel belted cooler.
Check out Igloo SuperTough STX Coolers at Amazon
This Coleman X-treme is a 70 quart alternative from Coleman that performs a little better than the steel belted cooler. It is also around the same price point. Basically, if you’re looking for a larger sized cooler and still want to buy Coleman, then this is the cooler for you.
Check out Coleman X-treme Coolers at Amazon
Seavilis Coolers (formerly Milee)
The Seavilis Coolers, formerly Milee, is a little different from the others on this list. For one, it’s rotomolded, which already puts it in premium cooler territory.
It has more variety than the steel belted when it comes to size. It also looks decidedly sleek and modern and performs significantly better than the steel belted and has a lot more features.
It’s also more expensive than the other coolers on this list (but when it comes to roto-molded coolers, it’s actually cheap). Given its impressive qualities, it’s a steal at its price.
Check out Seavilis Coolers at Amazon
Where to Buy the Coleman Steel Belted Cooler
You can buy the Coleman stainless steel cooler at their website as well as lots of other third-party online stores. You can also buy it physically at any of their approved retail outlets.
When it comes to buying the cooler online, however, we recommend you make your purchase at Amazon. It is probably the world’s most trusted online marketplace.
You get lots of perks, like buyer protection if you don’t like the product, real reviews by other users who have used the product before, and even free shipping, especially if you’re a Prime member.
Coleman Steel Belted Cooler Review – Bottom Line
- Ice Retention
And with that, we end our Coleman steel belted cooler review. Do you feel the nostalgia? We certainly do! This is a fantastic cooler, and we think it’s definitely worth having in your collection, even if it’s just to look at!
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