One of the most established, effective and popular camping lantern is the propane lantern. Propane lanterns have been around for a long, long time, and they really have developed over the years to become a fantastic camping light source which is efficient to operate and offer a great lighting performance (as a guide a propane lantern can operate anywhere from 35 through to 240 watts of light).
Essentially a propane lantern works by “plugging” in pre-filled propane canisters, and utilize small mesh mantels which collects the propane and burns white hot, and thus produce light. Probably the best known manufacturers of propane lanterns is Coleman, who offer a great propane lantern range along with other types of camping lamps.
As with any camping lighting solution, using a propane lantern offers many advantages as well as disadvantages. For example they give off a great, clean light and are very efficient, however they burn hot and can pose more of a fire risk than other types of lanterns.
Pluses for using a propane lantern
- One of the most attractive features of a propane lantern is the ease of their use. They are a great plug-and-play solution. You simply screw on a propane canister, light it and you’re good to go.
- It’s easy to adjust the amount of light that your propane lantern puts out.
- Very cheap to run, while offering a bright, clean light.
- Typically a propane lantern will last a long while on a relatively small amount of fuel (for example 12 hours running from just 16.5 oz is not uncommon).
- Modern design and manufacturing such as porcelainized ventilators to prevent rusting, give a significant life to the lantern – in fact a well maintained propane lantern could last for decades.
Drawbacks to using a propane lantern
- A propane lantern uses a flammable fuel source, and burns hot when in use – this makes them a potential fire hazard, and perhaps not a suitable camping lighting source for camping with younger kids.
- Propane lanterns tend to be heavier than other camping lanterns and the propane canisters themselves can add to that weight – this makes them less suitable for lightweight camping activities such as backpacking, bush-walking expeditions etc.
- They are made with glass which makes them more fragile in certain situations, which again can cause further safety issues.
- In remote locations finding replacement propane canisters might prove difficult.
- You may need to carry replacement items other than just the refill canisters (such as extra filaments etc).
As mentioned, a good quality propane lantern such as a Coleman propane lantern can give you years and years of reliable use. By making it a habit to regularly clean your propane lantern (which is generally an easy process) you not only can lengthen the life of your camping lantern, but a clean lantern will cast more light and run more effectively and efficiently.
While perhaps not being ideal for many camping styles and activities, for general camping a propane lantern will be a good investment towards your camping lighting needs.
Along with Coleman, Brunton is also a major propane lantern supplier.