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.