The Northstar is a propane-fueled car camping lantern that is very, very bright. It received the highest score of all the products we tested in the brightness category. It uses a single tube-shaped mantle and comes with a plastic base to set it in so that it doesn't easily tip over. Read on to see how it held up in the rain and wind, how durable it was, and about its fuel consumption. Looking for something that doesn't use fuel? Check out the MPowerd Luci, it's solar powered.
Coleman Northstar Review
Compare prices at 2 resellers Pros: Very bright, easy to light once the mantle is attached, easy to adjust light output.
Cons: Big, heavy, glass could break easily, loud.
Compare to Similar Products
Our Analysis and Test Results
Need something really bright for car camping? This is your product. It's a large, heavy propane lantern that is really bright and puts out some heat. The model we tested came with a plastic base that has stabilizing feet and a hard plastic carrying case that makes transporting it a breeze. It has a single mantle that attaches on both ends and glass dome that covers it. Protecting the glass dome is a wire metal cage with a handle attached and a metal lid that screws on and off so that you can remove the glass dome when the mantle needs replacing.
This product is bright. We lit campfires, cooked, played board games, had parties, and even chopped wood on moonless nights with this lantern. It's warm, too. During one of our parties we put the Northstar near Grandma when she was chilly. It was quite effective. The Northstar does make a bit of a hissing sound when it is lit, and when the fuel is about to run out it makes a rather loud whistling noise.
The Northstar was the brightest of all the lanterns that we tested. It is really, really bright, putting out 1540 lumens on the highest setting. On its brightest setting it does consume a lot of fuel. One 16 oz canister of propane lasts about four to five hours on high and and about eight hours on medium to low. It is fully adjustable and can be set on lower settings that don't use up as much propane, but on the lowest setting, especially if the propane canister is getting low, it occasionally makes a rather loud whistling noise.
Ease of Use
The Northstar has an InstaStart ignition that is awesome. It failed to light immediately only rarely during our seven-month-long testing period where we used it nearly every single night. Just turn the fuel knob and press the red button and it lights instantly. It was easy to initially assemble and installing the mantle wasn't too much trouble, but does take a bit of patience. The mantle does smoke a lot at first, but then it burns off and shines very brightly. After the initial installation of the mantle it doesn't smoke anymore when you relight it. During this testing period we only had to change the mantle once.
The Northstar doesn't have a lot of fancy features. It is a portable propane lantern with an instastart that works well, a long handle that does not get too hot to touch, even on the highest setting, and a large knob that adjusts the amount of fuel getting through to the mantle that makes it shine very bright or low and everywhere in between. The hard plastic carrying case has two sides that fold down so that the lantern can be easily packed for travel. The plastic base that keeps the Northstar from tipping over can be turned upside down and its feet folded in to protect the base of the lantern where the propane tank attaches when packed into its plastic case.
Weight / Size
This lantern is the largest and the heaviest product we reviewed. It is also the brightest. It packs into its plastic carrying case with ease once the propane canister is removed. The carrying case is light and closes securely.
The Northstar is best used for car camping, RVing, or cabin retreats. It does use a lot of fuel on its highest setting, so if you need a lot of light for an extended period of time we recommend purchasing a larger propane tank than the portable 14-ounce canisters.
This product is not cheap, especially if you purchase a case (which we recommend), but it is bright. It is made from quality parts and works well for car, RV, and cabin camping. We used it practically nightly for over ten weeks and didn't have any problems. The plastic base is not very durable nor does it stay on when you lift the lantern by its handle.
The Northstar is a single-mantle, bright, easy-to-use propane lantern with a glass dome inside a protective metal guard. It has a long metal handle that doesn't get hot to the touch when it is lit. It's easy to light once the mantle is installed. It does consume a lot of fuel, especially when it is on high. Coleman states that one 16.4 oz. canister of propane will fuel this product for up to 4.3 hours on high and 9.25 hours on the lowest setting. We found those figures to be accurate.
— Valentine Cullen