Throwback Thursday Gear style: An inexpensive, light, reliable stove that put out a lot of heat. But Coleman discontinued it.
In 2015, and for quite a while now, Coleman is more associated with car camping gear rather than backpacking activities.
The Coleman camp stoves and lanterns are classic mainstays for many camping trips. The car camping tents are palatial palaces for many families. And the sleeping bags, though heavy and bulky, make decent budget options for the kids when at the KOA campground.
However, Coleman did make some backcountry gems that just never caught on for whatever reason.
The Coleman “X” series stoves, for example, was a canister stove that worked well in winter, was light, and efficient. Alas, it did not catch on. Partially because it used a non-popular canister type. Partly, because I think that Coleman is not associated with winter backcountry activities, the Coleman name, and its association with camping vs. backcountry activities, hurt sales, I suspect.
Another little gem that did not catch on is a little more surprising.
The Coleman Exponent F1 Ultralight Canister Stove weighed under 3 ounces. It used the Lindal valve and associated canisters and inexpensive a $30, worked well in the wind, and put out a fantastic 16400 BTUs. As a comparison, the more popular and similarly priced and weight MSR Pocket Rocket puts out 8200 BTUs and is worse in the wind. The Jetboil stove, of course, puts out similar heat and is much more efficient, but is arguably not as versatile. The Coleman stove does not have a piezoelectric starter, but I find these starters often fail anyway, and you should not rely upon them.
When I do take a canister stove, it is what I bring. I’ve had it for seven or eight years now, and it works well for three-season or even shoulder season backpacking.
Would I recommend buying it?: Maybe. Coleman discontinued the stove for a while now. If you can find it on clearance or kicking around online for a reasonable price, why not? It is better than similar canister stoves in its class (e.g., the Pocket Rocket or the SnoPeak Giga Power) in terms of heat output or wind protection.
There are lighter stoves now (if with less pot stability; more for solo cooking) and very inexpensive Chinese stoves flooding the market that seem to work well enough if weighing a bit more and aren’t quite as efficient. The Jetboil and the MSR Reactor are popular stoves for those who want sheer speed and efficiency, of course.
But for a light, versatile, inexpensive, and all-around good canister stove, it was a stove that should have done better in terms of sales. But it did not. And that is why it is now throwback gear.