PROVEN: Coleman Two-Burner Stove

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Before I was a backpacker, I was a camper. At the age of four. And maybe credit goes to this piece of gear, the Coleman two-burner stove. As a very little kid I can remember the smell of Coleman Fuel (this wasn’t called “white gas,” in my family it was Coleman Fuel, in a red can). My father would emerge from some dusty corner of the garage toting the green stove and I’d be tailing him, delighted at the idea that the family was about to go on a road trip, sleep outside, get stung by mosquitoes, and see…who knows what? A bear? A giant sequoia?

It didn’t much matter where we were going, only that we’d be piling into the Ford Country Squire and sleeping in the woods somewhere and that my mother would be cooking on the Coleman. I asked her about that the other day, what she remembers about cooking on one of these when her three children were children. She said making chicken curry on a picnic table and all the other campers around us coming over with great curiosity to see what the smell was. That’s my mom, making Indian food for the family at a KOA in the 1970s when the rest of America had barely gotten past the idea that something called fettucini could be food.

Ever since childhood I’ve come to think of the Coleman two-burner as a kind of touchstone. Merely seeing one conjures warmth, the smell of a canvas tent, the squish of down, firewood, s’mores — all of it rises in my memory when I see this green chunk of tin and metal and the simplest regulator and fuel system on earth.

After 50 years in service, the Coleman is still sold. It’s not quite as romantic. Now you can get them to run on canisters or dual-fuel (gasoline/white gas). But the lid and sides still serve as wind blocks, and if you go with a white gas model it still just takes about 50 pumps of priming to fire it up in colder weather. It’s fickle when simmering, as it always was, and it still gives off the smell of fuel. And it’s still useful for making childhood memories.

Proven is stuff that stands the test of time.

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{ 12 comments…read them below or write one }

  • Craig Rowe

    Same thing. We used to camp in Canada. The entire tarp attached to the Coleman pop-up would shake when my mom would pump the tank. Pancakes were next. Or maybe some oatmeal.

    Awesome.

  • Fred

    Dude. The Coleman two burner is f*cking rad. In this day and age when everything is ultralight and ultra bright and shiny there’s a lot to be said about the big and bulky two burner action. After a summer spent cooking over a whisperlite the simple pain free nuclear wattage of one of these is rad!
    Ditto on the Eureka Timberline. If you ain’t no weight weeny or if you’re base campin’ in one for summer with your honey bunny, hell yeah.

  • Stephen

    My son’s boyscout troop has several and its a blast to watch them come up with meals to cook. I got one as a wedding present.

  • dennis

    We’ve taken our 3 1/2 yr old son camping many times over the last 2 summers. Our two burner Coleman comes with us everytime. Works like a charm every time.

  • Ryan

    Ah. Memories.

    We actually still use a Coleman lantern if we’re camping out of the car. I think my wife’s parents bought it in the 60′s (ish?). Still works like a champ!

  • Donald

    My 20 year old Coleman is still working like a charm. Unfortunately Coleman’s quality has taken a big drop in the past few years. The 2 burners we use in our rental program got 3 years of mild use before crapping out when our last batch lasted a decade of rental use. It is sad to see a pillar of the American outdoor experience take a dive. Hopefully my 20 year old stove will keep going for another 20.

  • Owen

    I have always been a fan of coleman stoves. I’ve used one on every camping trip I’ve been on. I also happen to have a svea 123 with the sigg tourist cookset, I noticed that was on the stove in the picture, and it works like a charm for backpacking.

  • Canadian

    The Canadian Army still issues them. Many will find lighter alternatives, but the Coleman is a classic. If you need to light it in the cold, you don’t need 50 pumps, just let some raw naphtha spray out of the regulator straight onto the burner, then light it. Once it warms you are good to go. Same as lighting a whisper light etc… However we learned it when the only options were the old Coleman or a Primus.

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