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A Left Coast Birder's Viewpoint

Oh the Coleman Lantern…

Okay, I admit it first time we went camping we used a Coleman Lantern… that was the first and last time.  We all make mistakes – and we have to learn from them.

I have an issue with the Coleman Lantern.

It’s too damn bright!  I’m not talking about "in the dentist chair with a light in your face" bright; I’m talking about mini nova bright!  It is unnecessarily bright.  The point of camping (at least for me) is to escape to fluorescent lights at work to enjoy nature… natural surroundings…  The lantern creates a dome of artificial illumination and creates blackness beyond that.  Your eyes get too adjusted/too dependent on the bright light so they can no longer dilate to let in the natural moonlight.

I understand when there’s not enough light to move around the camp site without hurting yourself, you need a head lamp or at least a flashlight.  But use those, not the lantern.  The lantern blinds other campers – I see it as being inconsiderate of others.  Just as playing a stereo too loud is considered rude (noise pollution) – so is using a Coleman Lantern (light pollution).

On a trip to the Steen Mountains in Oregon, a couple pulled up in their truck with their dog.  I was pretty excited to see they had gear similar to ours and even the same tent – we probably had a lot in common… then came the Coleman Lantern…  changed pretty much everything.  The moon was almost full so just by the light of the moon in combination of our very modest fire (unlike their bonfire), we could see comfortably enough to walk around the campsite without even a headlamp – and still not trip on many of the ground squirrel holes.  The couple also used their headlamps when they were away from the Coleman Lantern (see the lantern messes your vision up – you depend on artificial light).

The Coleman Lantern from 200 feet away.  Their bonfire - not in view - casts a red glow on the tree.
The glow of a small fire less than 10 feet away. (Same exposure time for both pictures.)

My plea to other campers: give up the Coleman Lantern and open your eyes!

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page updated: 3/8/08