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photo courtesy Jason Ippolito, 5/29/2010. Photo was taken from: https://www.flickr.com/photos/jasonippolito/

If you’ve been tent camping for any length of time, you’ve found that there are a few items in your equipment list that stand out as being both indispensable and indestructible. Sometimes it might be a tent that’s gone through every weather pattern imaginable. Or maybe it’s an article of clothing that you just love to wear whenever you camp. In my case, I have a Coleman dual fuel gas lantern that I’ve owned for over 20 years, and it comes with us on nearly every trip we take. Without fail it lights up and adds to our enjoyment of tent camping. But how did this common item come to be bestowed with this title of “most trusted equipment”?

History of My Lantern

The story of my lantern begins at the beginning (that’s usually the best way to start these things!), which happens to be in the year 1995. That year was a whirlwind of activity for myself, my two brothers, and especially for my parents. In 1995, myself and my two brothers – we happen to be roughly three years apart in age – all decided to get married, and to do it approximately three months apart from each other. Similar to the order in which we were born, the oldest of us got married in June, the middle brother got married in September, and myself, the youngest, got married in December. Needless to say, my parents were overwhelmed with helping out at three weddings in the same year for all three of their boys. Saints my parents are for having the ability to put up and survive these trials in the year 1995.

As I mentioned, my oldest brother got married in June of 1995. He had asked myself and our other brother (the middle one) to be groomsmen in his wedding party. Of course I said yes (and both of my brothers were groomsmen in my wedding party), and as a gift to me for helping make his wedding day special, he got me a single mantle, dual fuel Coleman lantern. At the time, I was still in college, engaged to be married, and really didn’t have much of an equipment list for tent camping. Money was at a premium as well, so this gift from my brother was especially welcome for me. At the time, he was working at Gander Mountain as a store manager (now Gander Outdoors since Camping World purchased the business), and had placed a sticker on the base of the lantern. I loved it, and loved that he knew me well enough to get me this piece of equipment that would get used many times in the coming years.

photo courtesy Shelby L. Bell, 10/9/2016. Photo was taken from: https://www.flickr.com/photos/vwcampin/

My Lantern Today

And used many times it was! I’ve now had this Coleman single mantle, dual fuel gas lantern for over 23 years and it’s still going strong. This has been part of my tent camping gear for all of that time as the primary (and in the beginning, the only) lantern that I use. Along with the lantern, my brother also gifted me with a hard plastic carrying case to protect it. I believe that due to being stored in this case, I’ve only had to replace the glass globe once in the 23 years that I’ve owned it. The case is very nice because in the well that is formed in the base when it was molded, I can store additional mantles as well as flints for the one addition that I’ve made to the lantern: a sparker for ignition.

Several years ago, at a local flea market, I happened to stumble upon an incredible deal. I was able to add a mate to my venerable single mantle lantern in the form of a double mantle, dual fuel gas lantern that also had a hard plastic case. In a moment of clarity, the case for this new double mantle lantern was the same green color that my single mantle is in, so I now have a matching pair of Coleman gas lanterns. Both of these now have the lantern sparker for easy ignition in windy or rainy conditions or when you don’t have a match or other flame source. They truly are self-contained lights that will run for hours and hours.

How I Use And Maintain My Lantern

I always use the Coleman branded liquid fuel (sometimes referred to as white gas) to power my lanterns as well. I can fill up one of my lanterns before an extended weekend of tent camping, and I will run it for hours each night without needing to refill it until I return home. The single mantle lantern is very efficient with the fuel and provides a strong light that will cover your entire site. Something that you might consider is a lantern hanger that will work on trees and other poles. This provides you with a small chain to wrap around the tree or pole, with a bracket held against the tree/pole with the chain. You can then hang the lantern from this to provide light over a wider area. Another option is to look at tall shepherd hooks, which you can put anywhere in the ground that you want to hang your lantern.

Coleman lanterns are very easy to maintain. There is very little that you need to do to ensure that they continue to work well for you, year after year. Coleman has done great engineering over many decades to arrive at these models that really haven’t changed much in the last several decades. When the mantles show a tear, replace them (they really are super cheap). The morning after you use your lantern, take off the screw that keeps the hood on and take that off and remove the glass so you can blow out any debris or bugs that may have made it in near the mantle. NOTE: do not blow on the mantle, as it’s very fragile and you’ll have to replace it. Keep it in a carry case when you aren’t using it, and be sure to let your lantern cool down before you pack it away. If you don’t abuse it, your lantern will last for decades as mine have. But even with two working lanterns, I still keep my eye out for a good deal on another one. Then I’ll have one to gift to a friend or relative as they get into tent camping, giving them a piece of equipment that I know will last them for years and years.

photo courtesy David Prasad, 11/6/2012. Photo was taken from: https://www.flickr.com/photos/33671002@N00/

Wrap Up

As you can hopefully see, I’m very partial to the lantern that my brother got me so many years ago on his special day. From time to time when I’m out camping I look at that lantern and think back to that special day, and I compare the hard working lantern to my brother’s marriage: strong and long-lasting. Coleman lanterns are a great investment to make for your tent camping gear, and might be something to hand down to your kids when they get old enough to start assembling their own tent camping gear set.

Got some feedback on this topic? I’d love to hear from you! Comment below, send me an email or share it on social media! Happy Tent Camping!

Featured Image photo courtesy Zhang Yu, 5/6/2012.  Photo was taken from: https://www.flickr.com/photos/yeekeer/

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Comments Section

4 replies
  1. Lynn Marner
    Lynn Marner says:

    The 2-mantle white gas Coleman lantern has been tried and true for me and my husband Andy as well. Such a simple machine – we’ve replaced the pumping mechanism and that’s been it. We purchased this lantern in 1975 and it isn’t showing any wear and tear at all. It’s a bit nostalgic for Andy, since he grew up Amish and this is the same lantern model that his parents used at home and carried to the barn to do chores. The Amish still use this model predominantly — it’s a keeper!

    Reply
    • Darren Kirby
      Darren Kirby says:

      That’s a great piece of camping equipment! Thank you for sharing some of the history of your lantern.

      Reply
  2. Laurie Mackeson
    Laurie Mackeson says:

    My Seeping Bag and Backpack and I are have a few interesting stories of Our own too 😊 None would be as well written as this piece of yours Darren 🌈 It was/is a great reminder to buy only what I really need AND maintain them for years longer than “the average person” would consider normal, healthy, necessary or sane 😂Love checking in on The Tenting Life! 🎓

    Reply
    • Darren Kirby
      Darren Kirby says:

      Thanks Laurie, glad you are enjoying the posts here!

      Reply

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