Thursday, July 28, 2011

A Field Test: Coleman Exponent F1 Lite Lantern.

This year I was looking for a small portable backpacking lantern. Something more to bring than just our headlights we typically use. Something that could brighten the campsite during the shorter days of Fall camping. A lantern that I could just throw in my pack and not notice its there. I had a couple “requirements” for this piece of gear.

1. Lightweight
2. Compact
3. Easy on gas
4. Not a lot of moving parts that could break in the field

I saw some of LED lanterns, while really nice require batteries and could not be used to give heat as well. Candle lanterns are classic, but don’t throw the light like I would prefer and alcohol lanterns are basically non-existent. Coleman makes a smaller white gas one, but they are still two big and breakable with the glass globe. I finally found a model, the Coleman Exponent F1 Lite Lantern. Though it has been discontinued you can still find them online no problem. The F1 is a wickedly small isobutane/propane-burning lantern. Instead of the typical glass globe, Coleman has replaced it with a stainless steel mesh. This mesh with a match hole on the side is very durable and breaks some wind if it needs to. Years back we bought a MSR pocket rocket and have about a half dozen canisters floating around, so I thought for the $30 I would give it a whirl and use up those canisters. One of the benefits of a canister lantern I found was that canisters are small, and can be recycled if punctured correctly. The lantern measures about 7.5” tall with regular size fuel canister. Coleman states that the burn time is 9hrs on high, again with regular canister. That’s pretty good for me, as I usually hit the sack fairly early while camping. It comes with a great carrying case lined with a medium duty hard plastic shell to protect the mantle and lantern. The case also has a tight drawstring to keep it all closed. I was quite surprised how much light it threw, filling up my moderate sized back yard with a bright warm light. The lantern is almost silent which is nice compared to the old Coleman lanterns I'm used to, that sound like locomotives. The stainless steal globe and body heat up plenty that you could definitely warm a shelter with it (never use lanterns in your tent etc). For the price and size of this lantern, I was kind of surprised it was discontinued. There are not a whole lot of small gas lanterns on the market. If you feel like you need or possibly want a backpacking lantern instead of a headlight, then I suggest you use your Google machine and find a dealer. I think you will be just as surprised as I was.


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