Back in college, I spent one of my first federal student-aid checks on camping gear. I bet I could make a pretty convincing argument that spending the money on outdoor equipment was a better investment than paying my tuition. Or, at least, that’s how I rationalized it at the time. I will say, much of what I learned in college has been long forgotten, but I still use some of the gear today, including my trusty Coleman Dual Fuel 2-Burner Stove.
This old metal stove has been a faithful companion over the years, frying lots of bacon, simmering plenty of beans and boiling gallons of water in the mountains, on beaches, and on a tailgate or two. I like the ritual of unpacking the stove, setting up the windscreen and silently counting the pump strokes it takes to pressurize the fuel tank. When the stove comes out, good food and good times are sure to follow.
I didn’t take much time deciding on what brand of stove to buy. My dad and his dad both had green Coleman camp stoves, and so would I. But what took up a lot of pre-purchase thought and research was which model I would choose: the classic Dual Fuel or a propane-powered version. While the latter boasted both convenience and a more affordable price, I went with the versatility of the former, thinking if I ever found myself out of white gas, I could still make breakfast with kerosene or even a liter of unleaded. Besides, I’ve always had a deeply rooted suspicion that the minute I bought something that required a special canister, they’d soon stop making the thing.
Twenty years later, a gallon of white gas (or Coleman fuel as we’ve always called it) is harder to find than the now ubiquitous one-pound propane bottles sold everywhere. Just a month ago, I stopped in a lakeside tackle shop looking for some gas for my Dual Fuel Lantern (bought with the same student loan check) and the lady behind the counter barely knew what I was talking about. She did, however, have plenty of propane bottles on hand.
Coleman still makes the Dual Fuel stoves, though you don’t see many of them around anymore. Many outdoor stores don’t even have them in stock. Instead, everyone has the propane version. Well, they can have the flimsy things. I’ll take my smelly, messy, metal suitcase any day of the week. I may not remember anything from Historical Imperatives of the Frontier 301, but I’ll never forget that it takes 25 strokes of the pump before sparking up my Coleman Dual Fuel stove.