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Industrial Revolution Lights Camps for 40 Years

Back in 1971, Industrial Revolution started making ski boot buckles and other outdoor gear in Redmond, Wash. The company soon had its first hit with the Original Candle Lantern. 

UCO candle lanterns, as they're now known, are still found at many a campsite, but Industrial Revolution has broadened its scope in the past 40 years. It now distributes a range of outdoor brands, including: Light My Fire of Sweden sporks and firesteel, Esbit stoves and cookware of Germany, Pedco tripods and clamps, PowerTrekk chargers, DAJO knives, Grilliput, and YayLabs (the ice cream ball makers).

At Outdoor Retailer last week, Ken Bathurst of Industrial Revolution showed us UCO's newest lantern, the UCO Arka LED Lantern.

compact, collapsible lantern that provides up to 180 lumens of light, the Arka can switch between lantern and flashlight modes, and re-charges mobile devices with a USB port. It also features a red-light mode to preserve night-vision.

Arka LED Lantern

  • Weight: 7.5 oz. / 213 g
  • Available: March 2013
  • MSRP: $69.99

Bathurst also demonstrated the Esbit 985 Alcohol Stove Set. Made from hard anodized aluminum, it includes a base for Esbit solid fuel tablets and a solid brass alcohol burner ($49.99, available now).

Do you use any of Industrial Revolutions products on or off the trail?

Anyone still have an original Original Candle Lantern?


Hi Alicia,

I'm not sure that the Industrial Revolution Candle Lantern is the first, though Bill S. would have a better idea. I had a French made( I think Wonder) one in the early sixties. I can't say I had it very long. The spring never pushed the candle up as it was supposed to, and the chimney and lens would get so hot that we used to say it was a Wonder it never burned the tent down. After I burned my hand, I never used it again. A friend had a little copper or brass one, very compact, that used a small tea candle and it worked well. Few may know that the little Esbit stoves were developed and used by the Wermacht in WW2.



I forgot the most important. I am totally in favor of a lantern with LEDs. No burnt fingers!

Erich said:

I'm not sure that the Industrial Revolution Candle Lantern is the first, though Bill S. would have a better idea.

You're right, Erich. There were certainly others before, but the Original Candle Lantern was Industrial Revolution's own first success. And it's probably the most common one around still.

I've got one, but I use an LED version instead (from Black Diamond).

I've a Uco candle lantern that I use virtually every trip. No, it's not the brightest thing going but I'm a fan of letting my eyes adjust to the dark and not using mega candlepower lights. I especially like the candle lantern in the tent for winter trips as it will raise the temperature by several degrees and really helps with the condensation. I have LED lanterns too but mostly shun the techy stuff, it doesn't have the romance/atmosphere of the candle.

Interesting, their "esbit alcohol stove" looks like a direct knock off of the Trangia...

Erich and Alicia,

I think that the "Original Candle Lantern" designation refers to UCO's original product, not a claim of being the first candle lantern in history. That is, it is UCO's first candle lantern, not the first candle lantern in history. After all, the ancient Greeks and Romans had wax candles as well as oil lamps, and in the mountain man re-enactments Barb and I participate in (1820s fur trading era), we use a kind of candle lantern. The spring-fed design (the spring raises the candle as the wick burns down into the wax) has been around since the late 19th century as well, though the UCO is a much-improved version. I have an REI candle lantern of similar design, though not as nicely made or of as high quality, that I got in the 1960s.

As for the Esbit stove being a knockoff of the Trangia, the Esbit stoves originally were made in England, with very similar designs spreading around Europe and North America very quickly in the 1920-30 era. I wouldn't consider the many versions around these days to be "direct knock-offs", since the folding designs and other versions have been around for so long - it is a simple, very basic design. We have a US Army version that Barb's parents picked up sometime in the 1940s, and Barb got a more sophisticated Esbit solid fuel/alcohol wicking burner version a couple years ago that is much the same design. Sterno, after all, is another variation on the same theme and has been around for close to a century now.

Hey Bill,

Not sure we're talking about the same thing with the Trangia knock off. I'm talking about the alcohol stove in the second video just above, not the folding stoves for the esbit solid fuel.

Sorry I wasn't more clear in separating which of the variations I was talking about (usual non-communicability of internet posting). But yes, the Esbit stove in the video is similar to the model Barb got (added heat exchanger ring is the main difference). And I have a Trangia of an earlier era that has a related design. I did look at the one on display at the OR that Seth did the video of, so I did observe that it is similar to the ones that have been out for a couple years (couple of tiny tweeks, but essentially unchanged). Note that in the video, the rep specifically mentions the platform that the solid tablet can be placed on to burn. That basic design does go back many decades. Trangia did a number of variations over the years, particularly with pot shapes and capacities, plus the windshields that direct the flame close to the pot inside the windshield to improve heat transfer. The alcohol cup is essentially the same design as the various Coke can/Fosters can/etc home-maker alcohol burners use. Esbit's main difference is providing the platform to place the "solid alcohol" tablets on. Both Esbit and Trangia have long had bare-bones alcohol and tablet burners that fold up and/or leave the burner pretty much in the open and exposed to the breezes. Trangia and Esbit have been traded among several owners over the past 20-30 years, sometimes being under the same corporate umbrella, so I'm not sure you can say who copied who. Just like Primus was the first with the Primus-style roarer and silent burners in the late 19th Century, and later was linked with Svea and Optimus in various combinations of 2 of the 3 and all 3, with features of one appearing on the others at various times. Sigg was involved in the various combinations, as were Trangia and Esbit.


More history than I knew existed. Thanks for the lesson.

Bill,  The Esbit company was started by a fellow in Hamburg around 1936, and he made the stoves for the German army who used them during war. These were the little folding pocket stoves. The Esbit company still exists and is run by the same family. I've got one of the WW2 variations. Maybe they bought other companies, and certainly expanded their range, but their website and the research I've done seem to indicate that particular design is theirs and it is still in family ownership.

I don't doubt that there were english variations, much like volcano boilers. As well, the basic stove burner design(MSR, Optimus, Primus, etc.) we see today, goes back to the late 19th century when it was used in blow torches.

Yes, candle lanterns of one sort or another have been around for centuries.

And things like Kleppers gave rise to Nautirad, and Folboats.

Many people have taken an idea or design and spun their own version of it.

As a re-enactor, you probably know about the Green River Butcher knives. Although the Russell company started it, there are many companies which produced, and still produce a similar pattern. I have a sailor's knife made in Germany that is stainless, but the same pattern blade.

I have an Early Winters candle lantern I got in the mid 80's. I think they are a great design. I like the idea of not having to carry batteries for it, just the candles. Mine looks a lot like the UCO, but is silver instead of brass with a black plastic bottom.

I think I have one of the originals, another thrift store find, but it doesnt work well. I think the spring needs to be replaced, it wont push the candle up. I carry a cheap coghlans candle lantern now, it was six bucks and burns tea lights. since im not really in bear country, I carry a couple of scented candles to battle any b/o or other funky smells I encounter.


That connection explains some things I had been wondering about. Brand names and companies are continually being traded, purchased, combined, spun off, and otherwise evolving. My acquaintance with Esbit in particular had come from friends and fellow climbers from the UK who described it as a UK company. Plus I have seen it described as a UK company in a number of places over the years.

What I am guessing happened is something that goes back to WWI and happened again in WWII. A number of companies that were German or other Axis countries in origin had subsidiaries or closely related companies in other countries, like the UK, US, Canada, Australia, etc, and vice versa. When the Great War and WWII broke out, the subsidiaries were expropriated (don't remember if that is the correct term) by each country, often being controlled by the country's government in which they were located and maybe becoming private later on. One notable example was AGFA (the acronym was from their origin as a manufacturer of aniline dyes), the big German film and chemical firm. The US branch became ANSCO (which was taken over sometime in the 1960s, I think, by another film company). Branches of Krupp went the same way. I suspect the British Esbit that I knew of came into existence the same way.

It is hard to keep track of the real ownership of companies these days. Over the past 20 years, Primus has gone from an independent Swedish company, to being a part of Optimus, to being sold to Sievert (a Swedish welding gas company), to now being a part of some other company (I didn't figure out at their OR Show booth which of the several brand names was the parent company, but Brunton is part of the group). Brunton went from being an old US company (famous for the Brunton Pocket Transit, an easily portable survey-grade instrument) to being bought by Silva of Sweden because of Johnson Worldwide Associates holding the North American rights to the Silva name (Silva compasses sold in North America were made by Suunto, the Finnish company for a while, but now are made in SE Asia), to now belonging to the same holding company as Primus and a couple others.

Coleman has collected a number of other stove manufacturers (and is itself part of Johnson Worldwide), like Camping Gaz (Bleuet).

There are a couple of websites that try to keep the outdoor product ownerships straight. But that has really become challenging over the past few decades. Barb picked up a small solar-powered light intended for camping use at the OR. The label has directions and other information in English and Spanish, plus a small print notice "Made in China". A Big Name jacket I looked at at the OR is labelled as "Made in Vietnam".

A topic for "Off Topic" is "what is the nationality of a product sold with a corporate name headquartered in the US, assembled in Mexico from components made in Bengladesh, Thailand, and Korea?"

You are no doubt, correct, Bill. Carl Nyberg originally founded Svea, which made many things, including stoves. Max Sievert bought him out in the twenties, and then Sievert sold the stove end to Optimus in the late 60's. We often think today that companies are pioneering international factories, yet in the early 20th century, Rolls Royce and Austin, were both making cars in the US. Austin 7's were built under license in many parts of the world.

You last comment reminds me of a Modernist pepper grinder I had, that rather complexly said, "Made on the third planet in the solar system of..."

And now Minis are made by BMW, along with Rolls Royces, and Bentleys are made by Volkswagen. Volvo cars were made by Ford for a while, and then .....Tata of India is making ... (etc etc)

HAHA! The new Minis aren't mini at all. I had a Morris Cooper. John Cooper and Alec Issigonis must be rolling in their graves, to have a car called a Mini that is bigger than the Austin Maxi!

We had an Austin Mini Cooper S. Fun car, even though you had to have an Andy Capp attitude and overhaul everything (esp the Lucas electrics) every 1000 miles or so.

Well, we are way off-topic here. So enuf fer now!

I have an "Original Candle Lantern" and use it in winter only.
Not for the light so much, but for the heat!
It's a great way to warm frozen fingertips to prevent frostbite.

I love the design of the candle lantern. I have one I bought at REI back in the early 80s for a trip to the Sierras. It's called "Northern Lights" and it has been on most all of my trips since. It comes in handy in power outages as well. Something about the flicker of the flame I like!

I used the UCO candle lanterns for years although now not so much. I found them OK to use except for the dark shadow directly under the lantern, usually in the spot where you actually wanted the light. Campmor had the Candle Lantern Reflector, a 2 piece reflector that attached at the top of the light and solving the problem. We still carry it although I rarely carry the candle lantern anymore favoring LED lights for most trips. I do use the lanterns in my backyard under my canopy. They creat a nice low light for nightime cigars and  baseball on the radio in the backyard.


"Coleman has collected a number of other stove manufacturers (and is itself part of Johnson Worldwide), like Camping Gaz (Bleuet)."

Coleman is owned by Jarden and has nothing to do with JWA.

Not sure where I got the association between Coleman and Johnson Outdoors. Johnson lists as its current outdoor brands JetBoil, Eureka tents, Silva compasses, plus a bunch of fishing, boating, paddling, and diving companies.

Coleman lists several brand names of lanterns, stoves (including Camping Gaz), tents, coolers, flashlights, and "tailgating" gear. Jarden has "over 100 brands", which include things like playing cards, Ball (the canning jar name, but all sorts of containers and an aerospace division that my old company subcontracted to), a bunch of snowsports products (5150Snowboards®, Atlas Snow Shoes®, Full Tilt®, K2 Alpine Touring®, K2 Skate ®, K2 Skis®, K2 Snowboards®, Karhu®, Line®, Madshus, Marker®, Morrow®, Ride®, Tubbs Snow Shoes®, and Volkl®), Marmot, Ex Officio, and a lot else.

Since I have a bunch of Kelty packs, I took a look there and found that Kelty is part of American Recreational Products (part of Sun Capital Partners, which also owns Royal Robbins, Sierra Designs, Slumberjack, and others).

Hard to keep track of who owns who anymore, with all the trading around. Who woulda thought 20 years ago that VF Corp, formerly called Vanity Fair (the women's lingerie company), would be the owners of The North Face, JanSport, Timberland, Eagle Creek and other outdoor brands, plus Wrangler and Lee jeans, selling the underwear division to Fruit of the Loom.

While I understand the globalization of manufacturing, as well as the economics of buying out weaker competitors, I often regret the loss of independent companies. Karhu is no more, and some of its products were incorporated into the Madshus line, Atlas and Tubbs were once competitors in New England. Competition breeds development, and the user is the beneficiary of improved designs. As I see so often at outdoor shows, much of the material in outdoor clothing comes from one or two manufacturers. The difference comes in the labeling and where the pockets and zippers are. I am thankful that a few companies still remain independent.

A topic for "Off Topic" is "what is the nationality of a product sold with a corporate name headquartered in the US, assembled in Mexico from components made in Bengladesh, Thailand, and Korea?"

The state of confusion...

Erich said:

... Atlas and Tubbs were once competitors in New England. Competition breeds development, and the user is the beneficiary of improved designs. As I see so often at outdoor shows, much of the material in outdoor clothing comes from one or two manufacturers. The difference comes in the labeling and where the pockets and zippers are. I am thankful that a few companies still remain independent.

 Actually, Atlas originated literally right next door to me. Perry was a grad student under my next door neighbor (an engineering prof at Stanford) and developed the Atlas snowshoes as his graduate project. The company was headquartered in San Francisco for several years, eventually joining Tubbs as part of K2. I understand Perry joined Timbuk2 (the bag manufacturer), but have heard comments that he didn't do so well with that company. Timbuk2's custom bags (made in San Francisco) look pretty good to me, though their overseas-made bags don't seem to have the same quality. I have had several discussions with my neighbor about the advantages and disadvantages of outsourcing and understand what drives the choices. Still, .....

If it wasn't Atlas, then my memory is fading. Who was the other manufacturer in New England, the competitor to Vermont Tubbs? I remember that they were a bit more expensive, and where the Tubbs Yukon had only two heavy pieces running from the toe bar, this other maker had four. They used a bit finer babiche, whereas the Tubbs was a bit clunkier. 

Filson is having some of their gear made overseas, and I don't think the quality is up to the standards of the domestic product. The latter is their classic stuff, wool jackets, tin cloth stuff.

Some funny stuff in this thread.

I have 3 of these candles and one is painted bright red and was marketed from Early Winter's. That one also has a red fuzzy stuff bag, a clip in mirror and has a lamp oil candle with is interchangeable with the real paraffin wax candle for those who would carry lamp oil(s).

 I still manage to find use of fire, and completely understand the ideas behind light is energy, and energy makes heat in most cases when  there is fire.

At this point in life heat seems to be a good thing too!

I am 100% sure Bill S is correct and these lamps were not the first lamps, and that Bill is probably old enough to know personally too :D LOL

You are right Bill S? I only go back to the early rush lamps myself, or at least that's as far back as i am willing to admit.

( Oh boy are some people here going to regret the day i can up load the pictures i would like to up load LOL )

Slight hint check out my profile. 

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