A Cheap, Efficient Lantern Case

For years I tried to find a lantern case that would protect my old Coleman Model 200A lantern. My father gave me this lantern over forty years ago, and it is dated as being made in 1957. The original metal cases are hard to come by, and expensive. The plastic cases of today do not adequately protect this model, and the flimsy tab locks are known to cause the case to come apart, dropping the lantern and breaking the globe. I tried packing the lantern into a cardboard box, but most of the places I hunt are off roads so rough that the mantles always broke.

Any 5-gallon bucket will work.

About thirty years ago, I came across the perfect solution to protect both of my Coleman lanterns: a 5-gallon plastic bucket. Any plastic bucket with a secure lid will work, as long as it has enough room for the lantern and padding.

I use a closed-cell foam, also known as gym rubber, but any open- or closed-cell foam will work. You can also use an old blanket or other material, such as an old quilted mattress pad, which I used for a while. Trim the foam so that it fits the height of the inside of the bucket and forms a complete circle around the inside. Then cut two more pieces for the top and bottom, trimming them to fit inside the outer foam. Place one on the bottom, put the lantern into the bucket, and place the other pad on top so that when the lid is snapped on it puts enough pressure to secure the lantern in place.

Other items that I put into the bucket are matches, extra mantles, a fuel funnel and newspaper for starting a fire in my tent wood stove or campfire; and the bucket makes for a handy seat or small table in camp.

I’m often asked why I still use these old lanterns, as opposed to battery-powered or the newer Coleman double mantle/dual fuel models. To be honest, these older models put out more than enough light, and use much less fuel, but the real reason is nostalgia. Knowing that my father used my oldest one while hunting deer in Wyoming, Colorado, Utah, and California long before I was born brings me closer to him. My only regret is that he is not here to share a campfire with me and the old Coleman lantern hissing away as the night creeps upon us. Some things are meant to keep us tied to our past, and my old Coleman lanterns do just that.


About the Author:

T. J. Conrads is the Editor, Publisher and Founder of Traditional Bowhunter Magazine. He has written many articles over the years, and has also written two excellent books: The Traditional Bowhunter's Handbook and Campfire Reflections.


  1. TODD SMITH October 18, 2017 at 8:33 am - Reply


  2. Paul Stone October 18, 2017 at 8:37 am - Reply

    Great idea T.J. I too have an old Coleman I still use, mine is a ’67 mfg., but still gets used from time to time as does the 2 burner stove especially when the power is out. Properly cared for and maintained these units provide good service and last for decades, lots of memories with both of them.

    • T.J. October 18, 2017 at 9:33 am - Reply

      Very true, Todd; The old Coleman products are virtually indestructible, and you can still find parts—or damn near new ones of that era—on eBay for a fair price. I do miss my old Coleman two-burner, white gas stove, but not filling it all the time. I am looking at a new one that I can hook a 5-gallon propane tank to. The Camp Chef one, which I dearly love, is made for a huge camp and burns way too much fuel for what I do with it most of the time.

  3. Zan D. D Christensen October 18, 2017 at 8:53 am - Reply

    “Some things are meant to keep us tied to our past, and my old Coleman lanterns do just that”. Amen to that, TJ. As does my old Coleman gas stove of 45+ years as well. I wouldn’t camp hunt without either of my Coleman’s, they conjure up many memories to reminisce on and share around the fire in camp. ~Zan

  4. T.J. October 18, 2017 at 9:34 am - Reply

    Hi Zan. Indeed, the old Coleman camp wares were built to last, unlike what today passes as “durable goods.”

  5. Kevin Steele October 18, 2017 at 10:10 am - Reply

    There I am scouring the internet for suitable Coleman case(s) for two of my older lanterns and here you are keeping it simple, functional, and frugal. Thanx!

  6. H Corrigall October 18, 2017 at 10:24 am - Reply

    Always great ideas come from this site! Thanks

  7. John O. Edwards October 18, 2017 at 10:31 am - Reply

    Great idea TJ. I have an older lantern that I like to keep in my truck to use if I need a light to track a wounded deer after dark, best light I have found, will get a new bucket today. Thanks

  8. Jim October 18, 2017 at 2:43 pm - Reply

    A great idea ! Useful and appropriate.
    And a wonderful reason for the tip.

  9. David Cartwright October 18, 2017 at 5:50 pm - Reply

    Great idea TJ
    I have a couple of the regular sized Coleman lanterns and also a couple of the small 400 series “backbacker” models that get used regularly at the cabin or with the scouts. I will have to find smaller buckets for them.
    I still use my single burner stove for all my backpacking and canoe trips and have not found anything better to replace it with. I just carry which ever size fuel bottle serves my needs for the length of the trip and it is refillable. What a concept in our throwaway age.

  10. Val October 22, 2017 at 8:52 pm - Reply

    Great idea. I love it. I use my dads old lantern as well. He left this world way to early. That old lantern burns plenty bright.

Leave A Comment