Way back when I was seven years old, my dad and stepmom got married. Their whacked-out idea of a romantic honeymoon was putting all of us in Nana and Grandad’s RV and driving us to Disneyland, where we spent a week at the KOA campground just outside of the park.
Oh, did I mention that my dad’s parents came along too? The only thing that has to be less romantic than a honeymoon with your kids is a honeymoon with your kids and your parents. Grandma and Grandpa were the best. So much fun. But no. That is just not romantic.
Being new campers themselves at the time, Dad and Stepmom went out and bought some gear. One of these items was a Coleman lantern – a now old-school one that you have to fill with fuel and then pump. When you’re ready to light, just hold the match to the mantle and hope the lantern doesn’t explode and blow off your face. So far, this hasn’t happened to me, but if I know my luck, it will.
I hated this damn lantern at first, but loved that my dad had engraved his last name in all caps into the base. It felt like an heirloom. A fussy heirloom. So complicated! Why can’t I just turn it on and turn it off? What’s with all the pumping? Who has time for this?!
And then I was like, “O-h-h-h-h. I have the time.” Because I’m camping. It’s not like there’s anywhere to be. So much wisdom there is in me…
This lantern reminds me to slow down, because your patience will be rewarded when you use it. It gives off such a beautiful, bright and natural light that can’t compete with modern LED lanterns.
And that’s why I love it.
Obviously, we don’t use it in the tent (I’m assuming we’d asphyxiate ourselves?), so you still should have an LED lantern or two. Plus, they just light more quickly and if you do happen to be in a rush, you’re not going to want to fuss with the filling and the pumping and the lighting.
Mantles (the little white things that illuminate when you light the lantern) are super cheap, so stock up to be sure that you never run out. They only last for a few uses, and if it has been a while since you last lit the lantern, you should swap them out for new ones. I believe that packages of two cost around $2 to $4, depending on the store. Oh, and you want the ones with the clips. It’s so much easier.
Refillable fuel lanterns seem to be getting more and more scarce – people love their LEDs. However, you can get lanterns that take a Coleman propane tank to save yourself on the filling and pumping efforts and save space on a fuel can. This one subs nicely.
If you go for a refillable lantern, we use the Coleman fuel that comes in the red metal container.
If you can get your hands on one of the older ones, I highly recommend it. It’s already more than 30 years old and I feel like our lantern is going to last for as long as we want it around!
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