Gear Shed

Q:

What's the best portable, fuel-fed lantern?

I am looking for a portable, bright lantern that would do admirable service for hut-to-hut ski trips or sea-kayaking excursions. Is there one available that runs on liquid fuel? This would permit a modicum of fuel economy as I am still using my SVEA 123 stove, and avoid using throw-away canisters (recyclable though they may be). My Coleman 222 lantern just heaved its last gasp on a recent winter trip to the Gaspe and, sadly, needs to be replaced.
—Geoffery
Toronto, Ontario

The Classic 2-Mantle Lantern     Photo: courtesy, Coleman

The Classic 2-Mantle Lantern

A:Oh, sure, several good lanterns burn liquid fuel. Many, in fact. Probably the granddaddy of them all is Coleman’s repeatedly tried-and-always-true Classic 2-Mantle Lantern ($65). I just love these things—tying on the gossamer-like mantles, the ritual of pumping the gas tank, the hiss of the gas, the match, the explosi...no, no explosion! The sudden burst of light and that reassuring hissing sound, that’s what’s so great! A lot of light, and a lot of heat, too—they make great auxiliary heaters (in a well-ventilated space, of course). And you gotta love the four-hour-plus burn time on one tank of white gas. That’s pretty efficient. You even can get a version that burns both white gas and unleaded auto gas, the Exponent 229 Dual Fuel ($80).

So, you won’t go wrong with the Coleman. If you had bought one 50 years ago, you’d still be using it.

But, there are other choices. One that fascinates me is a lantern offered by Garrett Wade, a "Webalog" purveyor of high-end hand tools (tool porn, if you must know). They offer a lantern purportedly based on military-grade NATO lanterns used in Europe. The Very Best Pressure Lantern boasts a super-sturdy chrome-over-brass construction, with 11 hours of burn time on a tank of kerosene. The thing is just beautiful. And it has an optional reading shade that drops down over the lantern to throw light out with its reflective underside.

Or course, you pay for all this goodness. These things are on sale currently for...$239. Yikes! But you’d sure draw attention at your camp site.

Have fun! And thanks for reading!

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