Fire Up! Two No-Brainer Colemans For Car Camping
Perhaps you stashed away your Coleman stuff after your hippy days and there it sits on the top shelf in your garage. Maybe you gave your set to Goodwill in a mad moment. Or you planned for a life tripping in hotels but now think camping is way more fun…
What are you looking for? A gas-fired Coleman stove and lantern, two must-haves no self-respecting car camper can do without.
Aaaand, if you can’t get your hands on one or both and you’re not sure you want to buy a new stove and lantern (getting older and all that…) consider they offer the added bonus that you can bequeath them to your great grandchildren. No kidding: see here at right “Fred’s Grandfather’s Camping Stove”. May as well be new. They’re that sturdy.
Here you go…
Coleman stoves and lanterns
#1 Coleman Stove
Muddy Boots received a two-burner Coleman stove as a gift two generations ago (or so it seems). It has never failed. Wintry blasts (though this does present challenges) in Oregon’s high desert, kayak adventuring in the Adirondacks, or a foggy overnight at a National Seashore. Been through it all.
A Coleman stove is indispensable for fixing your dinner at camp and genius for saving money on lunch (or breakfast or the mid-morning coffee) while on a road trip.
If you ever see someone at a rest area picnic table frying up bacon, tossing scrambled eggs, flipping blueberry pancakes, inhaling a fresh cuppa, or filling a thermos for later, you’ve likely zoned in on Yours Truly or a DCMB reader. It’s that cost effective to gas up a stove and fix a feast.
Coleman makes stoves with one burner, two, or three. But the two-burner is the most popular for car camping, since you can make your coffee and fry the sausages at the very same time without creating more dirty dishes than you need to.
#2 Coleman lantern
Ohh the pleasure of a gas-fired lantern! Set it on the picnic table, and it will light up your space with a bright glow. You can see it from afar—think, when you’re returning from the “facilities” or a chat with the camp host—and it can light up your card game with enough glimmer to peek at the other guy’s hand.
Best fabulous bonus of a gas lantern? It emanates warmth enough to relax your face and take the nip out of cool night air.
Next best plus? A lantern will save you a fortune in flashlight batteries.
About the gas….
Coleman offers car camping stove and lantern models based on two different types of fuel. For our purposes here, the two gas types are propane or white gas. Each has advantages.
Propane models are “plug and play”. All you do is attach the propane canister to your lantern or stove, fire it up, and you’re good to go.
Propane is packaged either in heavy green metal canisters (cheapest at Walmart) or in large tanks connected to the stove via an add-on adapter. The green canisters don’t have to be Coleman brand.
The canisters can’t be recycled at most campgrounds, but things are improving.
White gas costs significantly less than gas canisters. However, a stove or lantern that uses white gas is more finicky to fire up. You fill the little tank with liquid fuel, pump the little pump about 30 times (not a big effort at all) until the gas aerosolizes, and then light up. Every once in a while, you give it a few more pumps to keep the pressure steady.
Liquid gas containers are generally easy to recycle. Muddy Boots buys white gas in 1-gallon containers at Walmart.
An important upside to liquid fuel devices: if you camp internationally, several liquid-fuel stoves come in a multi-fuel (e.g. gasoline or kerosene) variant. This means you can get fired up even in Mongolia.
Coleman makes spare parts for these items provided you’re not rehabbing antiques. You buy them direct.
♦Never ever ever take a flame-fired device into an enclosed space, including your tent. Almost every year someone dies from carbon monoxide poisoning in a tent.
♦Never let your lantern or stove freeze if you use liquid gas. Freezing will distort the fuel pump and cause flames to shoot up unpredictably. Muddy Boots’ experience.
♦Never ever ever surround the gas source of a lit stove or lantern with a windscreen. This will increase the pressure in the tank and you very well could have an explosion or flying bomb. Muddy Boots has seen the results. Let’s not cause “death while camping”.
♦Being smart, you will light your lantern on a surface clear of woody debris. A campground road or car pad is ideal. If your first go round fails to light the mantle, you can drop the match without starting a forest fire. This is helpful.
♦Keep a spare set of mantles and extra camping gas in your grab ‘n go box; you’ll regret it if you’re in the back of nowhere and have to empty your wallet to get a new supply.
Photo credits. Featured image and top, Camping on the river: CC BY 2.0 by Rickpilot 2000 via Flickr. Top, Fred’s Grandfather’s camping stove: CC BY-SA 2.0 by Reuben Strayer via Flickr. By the lake: ©DustyCarMuddyBoots.com. All rights reserved. Wine and a good read by lantern light: CC BY 2.0 by Nancy McClure via Flickr. Night camp: CC BY-ND 2.0 by C Harvey via Flickr. Camping by lantern light in Mongolia, FV7A1079: CC BY-SA 2.0 by Sunrise Odyssey via Flickr. Caution sign: CC BY 2.0 by Michael Kroepfl via Flickr. Making breakfast: CC BY-ND 2.0 by Flare via Flickr.