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Reviews > Base Camp Gear > Campsite Gear > Propane Appliances > Coleman Portable Oven > Owner Review by Jerry Goller

COLEMAN PORTABLE OVEN
BY JERRY GOLLER

Coleman Portable Oven


OWNER REVIEW

November 01, 2009

TESTER INFORMATION

NAME: Jerry Goller
EMAIL: jerrygoller@backpackgeartest.org
AGE: 62
LOCATION: Salt Lake City, Utah, USA
GENDER: M
HEIGHT: 5' 11" (1.80 m)
WEIGHT: 220 lb (99.80 kg)

I started camping with my father at age 6 or so. I’ve backpacked and truck camped, off and on, all of my life. Even in the Marine Corps, I was in the Infantry. I consider myself a light weight backpacker with an average dry pack weight of 10 to 15 pounds (4.5 to 7 kg), depending on the season and terrain. I backpack year round. Most of my trips are 2 to 5 days long and in Utah. I also, from time to time, take much longer trips lasting one to two months or more. These trips are usually on the Appalachian Trail or the Pacific Crest Trail.

PRODUCT INFORMATION

Manufacturer: The Coleman Company
Year of Manufacture: 2008
Manufacturer's Website: WWW.COLEMAN.COM
MSRP: US$129.99
Listed Weight: N/A
Measured Weight: 17 lbs 3 oz (78 kg)
Oven Interior Dimensions:
Listed:
14" (35.5 cm) Wide
12" (30.5 cm) Deep
5" (13 cm) High
Measured:
Wide and Deep were as listed. High: 6.5" (16.5 cm)
Can handle most 13" X 9" (33 cm X 23 cm) pans.
6,000 BTU
Capable of 500 F (260 C) temperatures
The Coleman Portable Oven is basically a propane powered camp toaster oven. It is powered by either Coleman 16.4 oz (465 g) disposable propane cylinders or, with an accessory adaptor hose, bulk propane cylinders. It comes with one of Coleman's propane regulators, the only piece that has to be attached for operation of the oven. It mates the oven to the gas cylinder or bulk cylinder hose.
It has a built in thermometer on the top of the oven that reads in Fahrenheit and Celsius. It reads from 100 F (38 C) to 600 F (316 C).
The oven uses Coleman's InstaStart™ system to light the oven. InstaStart is Coleman's piezoelectric igniter. Just push the button and the burner lights. Matches or lighters are not required.
The door handle is designed to stay cool to the touch when the oven is operating.


Oven Inside

Inside the Coleman Portable Oven

Thermometer

The thermometer mounted on the top of the Coleman Portable Oven

Temp Control

The temperature control knob and the InstaStart push button on the side of the oven.


FIELD USE

I'm one of those people that want things to always be the way I expect them to be. I don't like surprises. Virtually all the surprises in my life weren't good. When I fix breakfast I want it to always be what I am used to, what I expect. I'm that way even when I am fixing breakfast at a campsite. One of my favorite breakfasts and, indeed, one of my favorite snacks, is toast and coffee. Good old toast and coffee. Toast, bacon, and coffee is just heaven. It never fails to satisfy me, unless, of course, it doesn't turn out like I expect it to. Then I just can't eat it. It starts off my day on the wrong side.
That has been my camping situation for most of my life. I tried every toast making device I've seen. None of them made toast like my electric toaster at home. I went so far as to make up a converter and battery setup to run an electric toaster at my campsite. It worked but the 100 pound battery pack proved to be a bit unhandy.
Then I tried the Coleman Portable Oven. Eureka! It not only made toast as well as my home toaster, it made it better! Every slice came out perfectly toasted. Now, granted, I have to keep somewhat of an eye on it. It toasts the bread as fast, if not faster, than my home toaster but it doesn't, of course, pop the toast out. But it is easy to check on the toast by opening the door and taking a peek. I've done it often enough that I just know when to check. Although the oven door has a glass section for viewing the baking area, I make toast on the top rack setting and so I can't see the top of the toast very well.
The toaster also does a bang up job on bacon, as well. Bacon prepared in an oven doesn't curl nearly as badly as it does in a skillet. The grease also drips off the bacon on the rack so the bacon isn't so bad for me. Well, that's what I tell myself, anyway. All in all, it makes a perfect Jerry breakfast. The coffee turned out to be another problem but that will have to wait for another review.
The nice thing about the Coleman Portable Oven is that it also toasts or bakes just about anything else that will fit in it. I've made frozen waffles, corn bread muffins, blueberry muffins, turnovers, cookies, and even brownies. The only caution I would give is that all portable camp ovens I've seen have no way to regulate their temperatures. In other words, the operator has to continually monitor the baking process and make any necessary temperature adjustments manually. The Coleman is no exception. All this means is that one must keep an eye on the baking items and possibly adjust the temperature up or down or the bake times longer or shorter.
I've used this oven many times on many trips from 2,000' (600 m) or so up to around 10,000' (3,000 m). It has performed well in temperatures from the low 20s F (-6 C) up to the 80s F (28 C). The only difference I've noticed is the InstaStart gets a little tricky at low temps. I usually carry a long propane lighter, like the ones for starting fireplaces, as a backup.
There is a bit of a learning curve for this oven. I've used it for over a year now and have gotten pretty good at it. Virtually all my baking and toasting has been done with the temperature adjustment knob very near its lowest setting. This oven can get very hot and there is a bit of a lag time after making temperature adjustments. I start out with the flame at the lowest setting that the burner will stay lit and go from there. Temperatures around 350 F (177 C) can be a bit tricky to maintain. Make very small adjustments and try not to micromanage the temp during baking. It seems to bake surprisingly close to the times listed on the products I've made in it. But I would still start checking on it a few minutes before you think it should be ready. It is much easier to check too often that to try to "unburn" the item.
It seems to make toast best between 450 and 500 F (230-260 C) with the rack set in the highest slots.
As you may have noticed from my pictures, my present oven is nice and clean. That is because it isn't the original one. On my last family camping trip I discovered that my multitasking skills aren't up to backing a gear trailer, keeping track of all the gear stacked for loading, and my very active 2 and a half year old son. I refer to this as The Unfortunate Trailer Backing Incident. Fortunately, the only casualty was my beloved Coleman Portable Oven. It had become such an indispensible part of my base camp gear that I had to immediately replace it. The pictures are of my nice shiny new one.

THINGS I'D CHANGE

I think the burner tube is too big/and or long. It puts out too much heat for this size oven. Virtually all baking is done at the very lowest settings and it can be very tricky to maintain stable flame levels. It is very easy to over adjust the flame lower and have it go out. The settings I have used most are in the lowest 5% of the temp dial and none above 10%. By lowering the output of the burner I think the user would have a more stable flame level for the desired temperature range.

I had a problem with the small screws holding the door to the door hinge. Coleman promptly sent me replacement screws but I found the old screw holes to be stripped out. I had to use much larger self-tapping screws to replace the missing screws. I think the oven hinge would be better served with larger screws. The present ones just seem too small for holding the oven door on, particularly through repeated opening and closing of the oven door.

This report was created with the BackpackGearTest.org Report Writer Version 1.5 Copyright 2009. All rights reserved.

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