How To Choose Your Coleman Lantern

How do you know if you should buy a propane stove or a butane model? A gas lantern or a Powermax™? There are differences in cost, convenience and performance with each fuel type. We’ll walk you through the respective advantages so that you can make an educated purchase decision. But the most important consideration is how you’ll be using the appliance you’re thinking of buying. Will you be heading into remote high country? Or pitching a tent at a campground in a national park? To a certain extent, how you’ll use the appliance will dictate which you should buy.

Powermax™ Fuel

Coleman’s exclusive high-performance propane/butane blend dramatically extends the operational range of outdoor appliances. High altitude and incredible cold don’t phase this fuel. It’s delivered via a liquid withdraw system that ensures consistent output, even when the fuel level in the canister is low. No fighting the drop-offs you get with propane and butane, which rely on vapor pressure. Each Powermax cartridge has a resealable connection so that you can detach the cartridge to pack it, then reattach it later. No fuel goes to waste. And canisters are recyclable. You’ll either need to look for Powermax Fuel in specialty stores or order it.

Main advantages: easy to use and reliable.

Coleman® Fuel

Also called liquid fuel or white gas, you can’t beat it for camping in the winter or at high altitude. Burns hot even at subzero temperatures. And unlike butane and propane, output doesn’t falter as temperatures drop. Coleman Fuel contains fewer additives than unleaded gas and has a considerably longer shelf life. It’s relatively inexpensive and not difficult to come by. Coleman fuel is sold in one-gallon steel cans, so if toting them on long trips doesn’t cramp your style, you’ll be in good shape. You don’t have the disposal considerations you do with empty propane or butane cylinders. But unlike appliances that use those fuels, you do need to fill liquid-fuel appliances. And for steady output, they need to be pumped occasionally to maintain pressure within the fuel tank.
Main advantages: heat output and economy.


More campers use this fuel than any other, probably because of convenience and ease of use. No pouring. No priming. Just attach the fuel cylinder to the appliance and you’re in business. Coleman equipment is pressure-regulated at 15 psi (pounds per square inch) to ensure steady output throughout the life of the cylinder. Propane offers great overall reliability, but be aware that it operates less effectively at subfreezing temperatures than liquid fuels. Cold will cause a pressure drop in the cylinder and output will diminish as a result. Cylinders weigh two or three pounds, so propane isn’t the lightest weight option. Nor is it the least expensive. However, if you tend to set up camp and stay for days or weeks, investing in a refillable bulk tank will significantly reduce the overall cost of fuel.
Main advantages: convenience and availability.

Butane/Propane Fuel

Butane-fueled appliances are lightweight and simple to use. Canisters are featherlight, so if you’re a backpacker who counts ounces, a butane appliance might be a consideration. To purchase this fuel, you’ll need to find a sporting goods store that carries it. Downsides are that butane canisters can’t be recycled, and in subfreezing temperatures, butane does not perform well. Or at all. It’s definitely a fair-weather friend. Cold temperatures affect the pressure in the canister.
Main advantages: convenience and light weight.

Unleaded Gasoline

Our DualFuel™ appliances are made to accommodate automobile fuel. Coleman’s modified valving even allows for differences between summer and winter blends. At 1/10 of the cost of propane, unleaded gas is the cheapest of all appliance fuels. And it’s available everywhere, of course. In an emergency, you can siphon gas from the tank of your RV or car to use in a DualFuel lantern or stove. Although it’s the most economical fuel to use, you’ll extend the life of your appliance by using purer Coleman™ Fuel most of the time.
Main advantages: availability and low cost.


Used less now that other fuel options are available, kerosene is economical to use, readily accessible and dependable. Disadvantages are that it’s smoky and has a strong smell. Also, kerosene appliances do require priming with a preheat fuel.