Thursday, December 7, 2017


My friend Forrest was cleaning out his shop this summer and asked if I wanted this Coleman Sport Cat catalytic propane heater. It was missing the base, but…

Sure, I thought. My Mr. Heater Portable Buddy is kind of overkill for me because I’m seldom in really cold places. A small heater might do the trick. All I had to do was get a bottle of propane and wait for chilly weather so I could test it. The opportunity came last night.

The knob on the Sport Cat has curious markings. Light bulbs? Turn the knob clockwise and it moves out. Turn it counterclockwise and it moves in, which is backwards of screws and seems to have no relation to the markings. So I winged it, held the lighter to the mesh, and whoosh. Okay, it was lit.

I waited.

The specs say the output of the Sport Cat is 1,500 BTUs. For comparison, the low setting on the Portable Buddy is 4,000 BTUs. So I knew the Sport Cat wouldn’t be a blast furnace.

I held my hand over the heater. Mmmm, it seemed to be putting out heat. I moved my had closer. Yup, heat.

I waited some more.

How long would it take to warm more than the column of air directly above it when the van was (let me check) 56°F?

I waited some more.

I did some reading.

After about a half hour there was no noticeable change in the van’s interior temperature. This might explain why Forrest was willing to part with it. Hey, it was free.

I originally thought I’d pass the Sport Cat along if I met another van dweller who needed heat, but now I think it would be kind of cruel giving someone false hope.

Of course, a sample of only one unit isn't scientific. This heater might have been bad while all the others work great. Still, this one is going to the big landfill in the sky with all the other discontinued Coleman propane products.


  1. Make a pot of soup or stew, the heat generated in the process will warm you on the outside and then later on the inside too. Dual purpose fuel ;)

  2. My experience w/ the Coleman Cat was same as yours. It didn't make any difference in temp inside the van.

  3. I’ve only had good luck using it in a tent. I wonder if it’s efficient days are over as it’s 10 yrs old?