Gadling goes camping (win free Coleman stuff!)

Every once in awhile, when the writers over at Gadling get tired of the same old motorcycle rides across Asia and space flights, we just want to travel “simple.” And that’s when a camping trip can be great. Most of us, no matter how large or small the city we live in, are within a few hours’ drive of some great unspoiled wilderness where we can pitch a tent, get a nice fire going and spend the night gazing up at the stars.

With that instinct in mind I set out on a camping trip of my own last month to the great New England state of Vermont. But it also goes without saying that I am not really the camping type – leave me alone in the woods for a day or so and I would probably end up squatting in a ditch with nothing but a few strategically-placed leaves to wear as underwear. It soon became clear that I would need some good camping gear for my trip. But how does one pick appropriate gear for camping? If you work for a travel site, you just make a few calls. Soon I was chatting with Dawn at Coleman, who generously provided me with a few products to test out during my trip.

How did these products hold up in the wilderness of Vermont? Would my camping trip end with me trapped up to my neck in a sleeping back unable to get out? Read on to see what happened…Coleman Propane Grill Stove
Don’t get me wrong, sitting around a roaring campfire represents the quintessential camping experience. But when it comes to cooking, camping novices are not going to want to waste their time with anything more than hot dogs or s’mores on a big open flame. The fire either burns everything to a crisp or doesn’t cook it well enough.

That’s where a portable stove like Coleman’s unit came in handy on my trip. Combining an open stove-top burner with a grilltop, it’s just what you need to make yourself a halfway decent meal out in the open. I was quite pleased with the stove’s open burner, which quickly boiled water and made short work of sautéing some vegetables. But the grilling side? Forget it. It barely ever got hot enough to burn my hand. It’s best to keep to simple easily cooked items – so leave the soufflés at home.

Coleman Dynamo Lantern
I live in New York City, so the concept of total darkness is quite foreign to me. Out in the woods though, when the sun goes down, forget trying to find your way around by the light of the moon. You’re going to need a flashlight or a lantern. The nice thing about the lantern I brought was it was powered by hand-crank – you just pull out the handle and crank it around a few times to give it a charge. That’s both a positive and a negative – any time I needed it, I would crank my lantern for a good minute or so and be reward with a small match-size flickering beam. It’s enough to find your way back to your tent but don’t count on it to read Call of the Wild.

Interestingly enough, Coleman’s lantern has another feature – it apparently charges cell phones. My problem with this? Neither me nor any of my friends was able to find a compatible phone among the 5 of us. Best check your phone model before counting on this baby to give your handset some juice.

Coleman Cool Zephyr Ceiling Fan with Light
Perhaps I’m just naïve when it comes to camping (the answer is yes) but this little unit was a godsend. Clipping easily to the roof of my tent with a magnet, this hanging unit not only provides a powerful light beam to illuminate your tent interior – it also has a built in fan to keep things cool. Trust me, when the sun hits your tent at 7am, and the huge down sleeping bag and nylon tent you’re inside turn you into a human baked potato in a convection oven, you’re going to want some ventilation. This unit is fairly small, inconspicuous but still highly useful.

Wrap-Up (and a contest!)
So did I discover any truths about the universe while I was out communing with nature and my new camping gear? Not really, unless you count the 20-30 mosquito bites I got as some sort of perverse, itchy knowledge.

What I did learn however, is that we like to give things away here at Gadling. Want to do some camping of your own? How about a portable stove, hand-crank lantern or light/fan unit to get your trip started right? Just leave an entry telling us about your favorite camping experience in the comments below and we’ll draw a lucky winner by Friday, August 29th.

Now get out there and commune with nature!

  • To enter, simply leave a comment below telling us about your favorite camping experience.
  • The comment must be left before Friday, August 29th, 2008 at 5PM Eastern Time.
  • You may enter only once.
  • Three winners will be selected in a random drawing.
  • Three Grand Prize Winners will be randomly selected to receive one of the following: a Coleman Propane Grill Stove, Coleman Crank-Powered Lantern or a Coleman Interior Tent Light/Fan
  • Open to legal residents of the 50 United States, and the District of Columbia who are 18 and older.
  • Grill-Stove is valued at $79.99, Dynamo Lantern at $34.99 and Ceiling Fan with Light at $19.99.
  • Click Here for complete Official Rules.

WoodGas Camp Stove: Smaller, Lighter, More Efficient

WoodGas Camp StoveThe WoodGas Camp Stove is more clever than its name suggests. A revolution in outdoor cooking, this tough stove starts quickly and easily; weighs only 2 pounds; uses 90% less fuel than ordinary stoves; and burns almost any plant-based fuel. You can even burn wet plant material.

Using a small (battery- or solar-powered) fan to draw fresh air into the unit’s dual stage combustion chamber, the WoodGas stove effectively burns fuel twice — allowing for a cleaner, hotter, more efficient stove.

Developed by a scientist with more than 30 years experience in biomass energy, the compact Stove is perfect for backpacking, hiking, camping, tailgating, hurricane preparedness, or making s’mores in the backyard. Get yours for $50. Bearded, woodsy, avuncular man not included.