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Reviews > Lighting > Lanterns > Coleman 4AA Pack Away Lantern > Owner Review by Richard Lyon

Owner Review by Richard Lyon
October 30, 2007

Personal Details and Backpacking Background

Male, 61 years old
Height: 6' 4" (1.93 m)
Weight: 200 lb (91 kg)
Email address: rlyon AT gibsondunn DOT com
Home: Dallas, Texas USA

I've been backpacking for 45 years on and off, and regularly in the Rockies since 1986. I do a week long trip every summer, and often take three-day trips. I'm usually camping in alpine terrain, at altitudes 5000 to 13000 ft (1500 - 4000 m). I prefer base camp backpacking, a long hike in with day trips from camp, but I do my share of forced marches too. Though always looking for ways to reduce weight, I'm not yet a lightweight hiker and I usually choose a bit more weight over foregoing camp conveniences I've come to expect.


The Coleman exponent 4AA Pack-Away Lantern is an LED lantern powered, as might be expected, by four AA alkaline batteries. Its distinguishing feature is its small size; when packed up it's about the size of a pack of cigarettes. Coleman achieves this by designing the product so that the user may push the top portion of the Lantern, which includes the bulb and reflector, down into the lower "metalized" plastic case for compact and secure storage.

When extended for use, by pushing a button on the top plastic piece the Lantern will go through four settings, in the following order: high, low, strobe, and off. According to Coleman the Lantern features a "Cree XLamp XR-E LED" bulb than generates 95 lumens of light on the high setting. The top section includes a small handle that folds down into a slot cut for it. Both button and stowed handle lie flush with the top. The top section, with the bulb, slides up easily when I pull on the top; it's not necessary to use the handle. I've done it one-handed with mittens on. There's a faint hydraulic sound when the Lantern is opened or closed.

Pack-AwayManufacturer: The Coleman Company, Inc. Quotations in this review, and the photo at left, come from this website.

Year Purchased: 2007
, listed: Closed: 3.2 x 2.7 x 1.9 in (8.1 x 6.9 x 4.8 cm); Open: 4.875 x 2.7 x 1.9 in (12.4 x 6.9 x 4.8 cm)

Size, measured: Closed: 3.1 x 2.7 x 1.8 in (7.9 x 6.9 x 4.6 cm); Open: 4.75 x 2.7 x 1.8 in (12.1 x 6.9 x 4.6 cm)
Weight, listed: 8 oz (227 g) with batteries
Weight, measured: 8.25 oz (234 g) with batteries
Illumination time, listed: 12 hours on low or 5 hours on high
MSRP: $34.95 US (including four AA batteries)


I have taken the Lantern on two week-long trips, one in the Scapegoat Wilderness, Montana, in early August and a trek from the Lone Star trailhead to the Bechler Ranger Station in Yellowstone Park, Wyoming and Idaho, in mid-September. On the Scapegoat trip conditions were warm, with temperatures ranging from about 40 F (5 C) in early morning to 90 F (32 C) during the day at about 6500 feet (2000 m). In Yellowstone our first day and night were cold, a high of about 40 F (5 C) and a nighttime low of 12 F (-11 C). Typical autumn weather for the Park returned the next day and stayed with us for the balance of our trip: sunny and clear during the day, with highs about 70 F (21 C), and clear and cold (~25 F/-4 C) at night. Elevation ranged from 8500 to 7500 feet (2700 2200 m) as we gradually descended through the Bechler River Canyon and meadows.

I took the Lantern on a solo overnight in southern Oklahoma at the beginning of September. Mild elevation, maybe 1000 ft (300 m), and temperatures from 60-95 F (16-34 C).

On each trip I camped by myself in a two-person tent and mostly used the Lantern in two ways. I clipped the Lantern to the interior poles of my tent with a small carabiner for overhead illumination in the tent, and when I was ready for some bedtime reading I'd place the Lantern on my open book, placing it on the page that I wasn't reading to keep the book flat and to provide enough light to read without my glasses. Occasionally in the early morning, and once in the early evening, I placed the Lantern on a nearby surface for extra illumination when I was working in the camp kitchen in low light. One such morning was at the 12 F (-11 C) low in Yellowstone, and the Lantern performed without any delay or reduced output.

I also used the Pack-Away for emergency light when I lost power for a few hours at my house.


cup, fuel canister, Pack-Away, 0.6 L bottleFirst and best of all, this lantern is indeed small. I don't have a special place for it in my pack, it just goes in wherever there's space. The corners are slightly rounded, so I needn't worry about scraping or denting adjacent objects. Its size alone has changed my thinking about packing a lantern. Almost all of my tents are not fire-retardant, immediately ruling out gas or candle lanterns. I've shied away from electric lanterns because of bulk, figuring that I could get all the light I needed from a headlamp and that convenience didn't justify the extra weight. Not any more. The Pack-Away is now a regular and welcome part of my backpacking kit.

A second reason for this change of mind is the Lantern's illuminating power. The LED bulb sits atop a cylindrical metal reflector with a shiny cone-shaped feature at the bottom, and this combination generates ample bright white light for dressing, packing, and other "bedroom" activities. If I've brought my reading glasses I can leave the Lantern hung from the tent dome for bedtime reading, even at the Low setting. On High my tent is brightly lit. The reflector causes streaks or fingers of light, rather than the uniform glow of a standalone incandescent bulb or gas mantle, requiring some care in placement when I place the Lantern on my book for reading.

The batteries are seated in the lower section of the Lantern, in a chamber accessed by turning a small screw on the bottom. The screw has an indentation into which I place a coin or the screwdriver blade of my knife and turn clockwise. The lid fits very tightly and I couldn't unscrew the compartment without an implement.

I've used only the batteries supplied by Coleman, which are everyday alkaline AAs, not anything special. Though I haven't been keeping time I strongly suspect I've exceeded the five hours' capacity on high beam, without any noticeable dimming.

It's easy to turn the Lantern on in the dark. I stash the Lantern (in the open position) in the tent pocket closest to my head. Though the button lies flush with the top I can find it by feel in complete darkness. I haven't yet tried to change the batteries in the dark.

The Lantern has a suicide feature the light goes out automatically whenever I push the top section back into its nest.

So far I've had only one issue with the Lantern. Once in a while the light will go out when I move the Lantern slightly or knock it over, requiring that I re-push the button. After this happened a couple of times I re-seated the batteries, which seemed to solve the problem for that evening. But not permanently, as the same thing happened the following night. Perhaps something's slightly out of place inside.

What I Like

Small size makes it easy to pack.
Light weight.
Power it packs a wallop.

What I Don't

Occasional failure when jostled.


If the hook were on the bottom instead of the top I'd get more light when the Lantern's hanging in my tent. That might, however, require inverting the reflector.


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Reviews > Lighting > Lanterns > Coleman 4AA Pack Away Lantern > Owner Review by Richard Lyon

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