Sunday, May 10, 2015

Gear Review: Coleman Steel Belted Coolers

If you have been reading this blog, you've probably some inkling of the affection I have for Coleman products. In particular, the older ones. These are products that were built to last. Lanterns to light the campsite, stoves to cook in all manner of conditions, but something needs to keep the food and drink cold. Coleman makes some excellent coolers for just such a purpose. So excellent that I once drove to green bay in something of a blizzard to buy one I found online. In the case of something like these coolers, the old ones are often as good or better than the modern ones. Coleman still sells steel belted coolers but I have reason to suspect that since being bought up and becoming a sub-brand of a larger company, that the quality has not improved. In particular, my mind is drawn to a friend's coleman tent that failed them after only a couple years of use until I repaired it.

So, my preference here is to seek out used coolers instead of brand new. My family has always gladly lent me the red steel belted cooler I grew up using, but I wanted to secure one of my own. Obtained it last year, same manner of cooler, but in green. You can see it with the lantern and stove here:

The aforementioned red one is the same, save for coloration. In addition to being rugged, effective coolers (I've had them keep food cold for a week with only modest re-icing needs) they're also pretty handy. If you forget to bring a bottle opener, no worries there's one built into one of the handles. there's also something satisfying about the metal latch on them. Feels a lot more secure to me than some of the plastic toggles I've seen. Some models of this cooler even came with optional separators and partitions, and those tend to fetch a higher price with collectors. Me, I'm not interested in all that. i just fill it with my provisions and dump my ice in.

I'm also fond of the drink coolers. Built of the same powerful, reliable and rugged steel belted construction, I've obtained two from local garage sales. I'm sure we had one or two of them when I was a kid, but no one has the slightest clue what became of those. So I picked up a small green gallon jug, and a red two gallon. I'm fond of using them to carry water when I'm likely to be out and need to refill one of my metal bottles or camelbak, but the 5 gallon jugs would be overkill.

Its also great for mixing up some lemonade or powdered drink mix for when plain water grows monotonous. The contents flow faster if you unfasten the cap a little bit when dispensing from the spout, just make sure to re-seal it before moving it around again. For just a couple of people, a full jug of lemonade can last for days, kept cool by the insulation. Particularly, if you add a bit of ice before sealing it. I'd only employ the larger one with a bigger group of people or exceedingly hot conditions. 

Would I recommend them? Yes, I would. The vintage ones are definitely buy-them-for-life gear, and even if the quality has waned a little in the newer ones, they're still an excellent option compared to other products I've seen. 

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