100 years ago Coleman produced it’s first gas lantern in 1914 and today it remains an icon with over fifty million sold worldwide.

 

No company has been more renowned for producing outdoor recreation and camping equipment than Coleman. For generations of Americans the brand is a coat of arms heralding Summer vacation and good times in the Great Outdoors. For me it is no different. As a kid, getting the camping gear out of the attic was one of my cherished duties each Summer. Of all the items, the Coleman Lantern was my favorite.

 

Looking back it is easy to see why I hold it in such high regard.  Beyond a great excuse to play with fire it alludes to adventure and nights spent outside. Camping in the forest, on a beach or in the desert you rely on it to push back against the darkness of night and in doing so the quality of light cast by the lantern evokes ancient scenes reminiscent of times before electricity. More than an essential outdoor tool,  to the ever present child in me a lantern is a time machine and a symbol of venturing into the unknown- an evolutionary step in man kind’s primal quest for fire.
The Coleman Lantern I use today is 288b series purchased about eight years ago for $65.  It is not dissimilar to my father’s 220 series that I enjoyed in my youth. With two mantles it shines at around 860 lumens wide open. It will do so for around eight hours on a full 1.3 pint (.6 liter) tank.  At lower settings it can run up to fourteen hours before needing a refill. While these lanterns are not light weight for hiking they are perfect for road trips and camping out of the car. For over a century they have been tried and tested in every condition and I wouldn’t be without one.  

 

Pros:

  • Price. At around $65 it is unbeatable.
  • Design. The simple design of the Coleman lantern keeps it reliable and easy to use.
  • Parts. Should you need parts for your lantern spares are cheap and easy to come by.
  • Fuel Economy. Coleman fuel a.k.a. white gas is cheaper than propane or butane
  • Size. It’s big.
  • It’s a damn classic.

 

 

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Cons:

  • Size. It’s big and it’s not going in your pack.
  • Noise. The pressure of the fuel often causes the the lantern to make a whistling noise while operating.
  • Mantles. Messing around with fragile mantles can seem like a pain when compared with the simplicity of LED lanterns.

 

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Review by Ernie Little