Camp collectibles

Old stoves, lanterns lend traditional air to hunting, fishing


Photographs by Bryan Hendricks

The Coleman 413G stove is a larger, hotter burning version of the popular Model 425. Both have renowned culinary histories at American hunting and fishing camps.

When you think about the classic images of a hunting or fishing camp, there are a few traditional props.

Envision a rusty but seemingly invincible burn barrel, an invincible picnic table, well-worn travel trailers, and, of course, a Coleman stove and Coleman lantern.

In fact, Coleman's stoves and lanterns are part of North American hunting and fishing culture. Everybody has them. They've been cooking our meals, perking our coffee and lighting our way since 1914.

Coleman constantly upgrades its product line, but this article focuses on the traditional items that burn Coleman fuel. Namely, these are the lanterns, the Model 413, 425 and 426 multiburner stoves, and the 501 and 502 single-burner stoves. These were the company's flagship items until the late 1980s, when models powered by liquid propane began to overshadow the old line.

For nostalgia and endurance, the old stoves and lanterns are collectible, with their own collectors clubs and websites.

Here's a quick look into the quirky world of Coleman collecting and restoration.


Before the Coleman lantern became a recreational fixture, it first came to prominence on America's farms. Before 1914, when many farms didn't have electricity, a workday ended at dark. Kerosene lamps weren't bright enough for working lights, but the Coleman lantern allowed farmers and ranchers to work well into the night, increasing productivity.

It's a simple but timeless design consisting of a reservoir, a thumb-operated pump, a valve, generator and a mantle that snugs over a vaporizer.

Fill the reservoir about halfway with Coleman fuel, replace the cap, twist the pump cap two turns counter-clockwise to the left and pump 25-28 times. Turn on the valve and stick a large match, burning piece of paper or a long-stem lighter into the opening.

With a startling WHUMP, the vaporized fuel ignites and burns within the sheer fabric of the mantles.

If maintained, their lifespans are indefinite.


Coleman stoves employ an ingeniously simple design that with proper maintenance will last several lifetimes.

The number of models is vast, but the most common are the the 413, 425 and 426 "suitcase" stoves, so named because they fold into a compact case. The 413 and 425 are two-burner models. The 425 is the smaller of the two and provides 14,000 btus if one burner is used. If both burners are used, the right burner throws 7,500 btus, and the left burner throws 6,500.

The 413G, which I own, throws 17,000 btu with one burner in use, or 9,000 btu and 8,000 btu respectively with both burners in use. The 413 is wider, with "spiderweb" reinforcement in the portions over the burner that facilitate using iron skillets or iron pots.

The Model 426 is a larger version of the 413 and has three burners.

A fuel tank hooks to the front of the case. The generator tube, which carries the fuel to the burner, crosses the top of the right burner. The generator tip slips into the manifold sleeve.

The fuel valve to the secondary burner is the left side of the case. Close it by turning it clockwise.

Pressurize the tank, with the valve stem cleaning lever pointing up. This will provide a leaner fuel mixture. Open the main valve to supply fuel to the main burner.

Upon lighting, the flame will burn orange until it heats the fuel in the generator. Restore pressure in the tank by pumping 15-20 more times. When the flame turns blue, turn the generator tip cleaning valve down to enrich the mixture.

Now you can open the valve to the secondary burner and ignite it, if necessary.

Single-burner stoves

Coleman made and continues to make a wide array of single-burner camp stoves, including the defunct and collectible 502. It is essentially a Coleman lantern with a grill atop the tank instead of a lantern apparatus.

It's funny that the 502 was once marketed as a backpacking stove because it is extremely heavy and bulky compared to specialized backpacking stoves from MSR, Primus, Optimus and even Coleman. For a canoeing or car camping, though, it is peerless. The wide, heavy fuel tank provides a rock-steady platform, and the grill is beefy and stable.

My Coleman 442 Dual Fuel stove, in comparison, has three aluminum feet that always tilt the stove. Instead of a grill, it has two aluminum fins that form a cross-shaped cooking platform. The stove itself works wonderfully on Coleman fuel or unleaded gasoline, but it's too unstable to use anywhere but on a table.

I can use the 502 stove anywhere. It can handle any kind of cooking, but it is ideal for brewing coffee, tea or heating a cup of soup.

While a propane stove is quicker, more convenient and more efficient, cooking with a pump stove has a romantic, nostalgic quality that makes you slow down and immerse yourself in the experience.

I enjoy it so much that I keep one outside my kitchen window under a canopy. That's where I brew my morning coffee and read the paper.


The single-burner Model 502 and Feather 442 are similar designs, but the 502 (shown) has a broad, stable base and a wider, be... + Enlarge

It's the next best thing to camping.

Sports on 08/13/2017

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