The first thing you’ll think when you lay eyes on the Coleman 54-Quart Steel-Belted Cooler is, “Where have I seen this before?” And the déjà vu will come rushing back as you realize you’ve seen one exactly like this in an old garage, battered and dented and covered in dust. But it still works.
Coleman has been the king of outdoor gear since the 1950s, so that ancient steel cooler you’re flashing back to was probably keeping food and drinks cold for beach days and summer picnics in your grandparents’ youth. And in 2020, when high-end retro-looking gear is very much in vogue and carrying price tags deep into the hundreds of dollars, Coleman’s retro revival is right on time. The popular outdoor brand has brought back the steel-belted cooler, and it’s the perfect alternative to a $400 Yeti cooler.
The Coleman steel-belted cooler is still frosty, still great-looking and comes at a fraction of the price of those johnny-come-lately cooler brands.
The modern-day iteration of the Coleman steel cooler will hold ice for up to four days in 90-degree heat. The cooler has comfort-grip steel handles to allow easy carrying even when full, and all the stainless-steel hardware, from the hinges to the latch and handles, are rust-resistant. Finally, a bottle opener securely fastened to the front is a nice added touch.
Oh, about that bottle opener: The one which comes with the cooler is plastic. It works just fine, but if you really want to trick out your cooler and double down on the retro look, grab one of these cast-iron zinc-plated Coleman cooler bottle openers and slap it on in place of the plastic one. The screws won’t compromise the integrity of the cooler’s body or performance, and it looks awesome.
The interior of the Coleman is a generous 25.1 x 17.5 x 17.2 inches, which holds three cases of cans plus one additional six-pack of your favorite craft beer. The leak-resistant channel drain lets you empty the melted water without having to pick up the whole thing and tip it over.
The Coleman Steel-Belted Cooler comes in six colors, and the dark green model is on sale for $120 on Amazon right now. But, call us indulgent or nostalgic or whatever, the turquoise version rocks the retro look the hardest, and we’re willing to pay the extra $40 for the aesthetics.
Plus, even with the extra dollars, this cooler is a serious bargain when you consider the similarly-retro-looking Yeti cooler will ding your credit card to the tune of $800. Yes, it’s a great cooler, but the brand-name inflation is nuts. Four days’ worth of ice retention, sturdy rustproof exterior and hardware, and Coleman’s six-year warranty makes that choice dead simple.
Years from now — many, many years — someone may happen upon your much-used and well-loved Coleman retro cooler in a garage or yard sale somewhere, and decide to drop a couple bucks and give it a go. Odds are, it’ll still hold ice for four days.