The Best Camping Lanterns for Lighting Up Your Campsite

The best camping lantern is a must-have for any escape to the woods. This guide sheds some light on some of the top products on the market.

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The Best Camping Lantern Options

Photo: depositphotos.com

A crackling campfire in the woods is the classic symbol of camping. But those embers alone may not be enough to light your way through the night. For seasoned campers and newbies alike, the best camping lanterns are an outdoor gear necessity.

The best camping lantern will help you avoid tripping over rocks or roots. They can allow you to sort through your gear after sundown or curl up with a book in your sleeping bag. A camping lantern that’s portable, bright, and long-lasting can make your wilderness getaway safer and more enjoyable.

  1. BEST OVERALL: Streamlight 44931 Siege Compact Hand Lantern
  2. BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: Vont 4 Pack LED Camping Lantern
  3. BEST SOLAR: HISVISION Solar Powered LED Camping Lantern
  4. BEST GAS: Coleman Deluxe PerfectFlow Propane Lantern
  5. BEST LED: LE LED 600 Lumens Camping Lantern
  6. BEST STRING LIGHT: Brightech Ambience Pro String Lights for Camping
  7. BEST WATERPROOF: LE LED 280 Lumens Camping Lantern
  8. BEST PORTABLE: MPOWERD Luci Outdoor 2.0: Solar Inflatable Light
The Best Camping Lantern Options

Photo: amazon.com

Types of Camping Lanterns

Not all camping lanterns are the same. The difference lies in which fuels they use to produce light. The best camping lantern for your campsite depends on how remote your site is, what you bring with you, and how much light you need.

Electric

Camping lanterns that use electricity directly from an outlet are by far the easiest to use and the most reliable. Plug them into the electric outlet at your campsite or on your generator, and they’ll produce light quickly and easily for as long as there’s power.

One drawback is that electric lanterns work only if you’re at a campsite near an outlet. You can’t turn these lanterns on while you’re hiking through a national park or wandering through the woods. They can also be a challenge to pack.

Fuel-Burning

If there’s an old standby in the realm of camping lanterns, fuel-burning lanterns would be it. These lanterns use propane, butane, kerosene, or a blended fuel called “white gas” to produce a bright light that can last quite a while. They’re great on top of a stable picnic table and hanging from a lantern hook. They don’t need an electrical outlet, batteries, or solar power to work, making them a great choice if you’re car or RV camping in a remote or shady area.

The challenge with fuel-burning lanterns is that they can be messy and potentially dangerous. You’ll have to keep tanks of fuel on hand to keep your lantern running. Also, falling while carrying a lit lantern through the woods can have catastrophic results. They’re best for stable campsites.

Candle

Candle-powered lanterns house a candle inside of a glass surround and produce enough light to read by. They won’t light up your whole site. However, if you use a citronella candle, the game will also drive bugs away.

Obviously, anytime you’re using an open flame for light, you need to be careful. Dropping a candle in the woods can cause a disaster, so be cautious with these lanterns.

Solar

By far, the most convenient power source for a camping lantern is a solar-powered battery model. These lanterns have photovoltaic panels on top to absorb the sun’s rays and turn them into stored power. In most cases, they’ll start charging as soon as you set them out.

In order to make solar lanterns’ stored energy last as long as possible, manufacturers use LED lights. They’re incredibly safe, as they produce barely any heat at all, making them an excellent choice for camping. But if the stored power doesn’t last through the night, you can’t recharge till morning.

Battery

Battery-operated camping lanterns can be a great choice for campsites in various locations from large RV parks to wilderness spots. These lanterns can produce hours of light on a fresh set of batteries or a single charge. Like solar-powered lanterns, battery-powered lanterns typically use LEDs to produce plenty of light on less energy. This also makes them safe for use in the woods, inside your tent, or anywhere else you need some light.

It’s worth noting that not all camping lanterns use disposable batteries. Some charge with USB adapters. That means you can charge them wherever you charge your phone—like in the car on the way to camp.

What to Consider When Buying a Camping Lantern

Choosing a camping lantern doesn’t have to be complicated. The fuel sources alone should give you an idea of what to look for. Below is a list of a few other considerations to keep in mind when exploring the best camping lanterns on the market.

Size and Weight

Size and weight aren’t always a big deal, but if you’re hiking into camp, they can be deal-breakers. You need a lantern that fits in your pack and doesn’t weigh you down on the trails.

When storage and weight capacity are considerations, choose a lightweight lantern that packs up into a small package. Many of the best camping lanterns collapse into compact cases and weigh less than a pound. Most of these lanterns are solar, though you can find battery-powered options that pack nicely, too.

Even if you’re not hiking, you may still appreciate a light, compact lantern. Some gas-powered lanterns pack up into carrying cases, but they’re far bigger than many of the other options on this list. They also require extra fuel, which means more to pack and lug. When storage is at a premium, smaller is the more practical choice.

Brightness

Brightness is measured in lumens. Simply put, lumens are a measure of the total amount of visible light from a lamp or light source. More lumens means brighter light.

On a campsite, you don’t have walls or ceilings to reflect the light, so you need a lantern that’s bright enough to illuminate the site on its own. At the same time, you don’t want to bathe your neighbors’ campsites in unwanted light. Choosing a lantern that produces between 400 and 600 lumens is best.

Adjustability

If your lantern produces a ton of lumens, check to see if the light is adjustable so you can lower the output and save your energy source. Many battery-powered options have this feature.

Fuel-burning lanterns have valves to control your fuel output. These valves allow you to dim your lantern until it’s barely lit or crank it up high. Some of these lanterns produce up to 1,500 lumens—far more than you’d need for a game of cards after dark. Adjustability can make a big difference in comfort and fuel consumption.

Power Source

Choosing a lantern that uses a convenient power source for your needs is important. If you’re a backpacker or hiker, carrying a fuel-powered lantern and extra fuel will wear you out. But if you’ve got an off-grid cabin, a propane or kerosene lantern could be just the ticket.

Generally speaking, battery- and solar-powered lanterns are a great choice for most campsites. They’re general-purpose lights that produce enough lumens to light up most sites sufficiently, and they usually pack down small.

Run Time

The best camping lanterns should have a long run time. Camping often comes with unexpected adventures, so you need a lantern that can stay lit all night if needed.

Thanks to LED technology, some lanterns can last 50 hours on a single charge or fresh set of batteries. That’s four or five nights on one charge. Solar-powered options don’t last as long, but most will get you through the night until the sun comes up again.

Regardless of the power source you choose, it’s always a good idea to keep backup supplies on hand. An extra propane tank, some spare batteries, or a battery bank can go a long way when the light goes out.

Water Resistance

Getting wet on a camping trip can be miserable. When the skies open up, most campers sprint to their tents. Leaving a non-waterproof lantern outside could leave you in the dark for the rest of the trip.

If you choose a waterproof or water-resistant lantern, you won’t have to grab it on your 100-yard dash to the tent. It will be fine until the clouds pass and the sun shines again. And if you have to step outside on a rainy night, a waterproof lantern is vital. Otherwise, you’ll get soaked trying to find your tent in the dark.

Our Top Picks

Now you’re ready to shop for the best camping lantern for your next wilderness trip. The following list contains the best camping lanterns in their respective categories. From waterproof to budget-friendly, there’s a great option on this list for your campsite.

Best Overall

The Best Camping Lantern Option: Streamlight 44931 Siege Compact
Photo: amazon.com

If you’re looking for a good all-around, rugged camp lantern, the Streamlight Siege Compact might be right for you. This battery-powered lantern uses three D-cell batteries to produce up to 295 hours of light, perfect for long trips. This waterproof, impact-resistant lantern gives off up to 540 lumens from its five LEDs. You can stretch your batteries as long as possible when you switch between the three lumen levels: 540, 275, and 55. The red-light mode is easier on your eyes, and the SOS mode alerts others if you’re in trouble. You can hang the Streamlight Siege inside your tent from the lantern handle or the built-in D-rings.

Best Bang for the Buck

The Best Camping Lantern Option: Vont 4 Pack LED Camping Lantern
Photo: amazon.com

Light up your entire campsite without breaking the bank with this four-pack of LED Camping Lanterns from Vont. Each of the lanterns has 30 LED bulbs, which produce up to 140 lumens. They each use three AA batteries to provide up to 90 hours of light. These waterproof and shock-resistant lanterns weigh less than 11 ounces without batteries and collapse to less than 5 inches high for easy packing and storage.

When you partially collapse these lanterns, you block some of the light. That means you can give yourself just enough light to read by in your sleeping bag without waking your tent-mates.

Best Solar

The Best Camping Lantern Option: HISVISION Solar Powered LED Camping Lantern
Photo: amazon.com

The HISVISION Solar Powered LED Camping Lantern weighs just under 6 ounces and collapses on itself to pack up small and light. Choose from four modes: high, low, flashlight, and SOS. On high, this lantern produces 400 lumens of light for about three hours.

Weather-resistant and waterproof, the HISVISION can stand up to rain. It recharges in the sun or with the included USB cable. The fully charged lantern will also charge your devices—a nice feature for off-grid adventures.

Best Gas

The Best Camping Lantern Option: Coleman Deluxe PerfectFlow Propane Lantern
Photo: amazon.com

The Coleman Deluxe PerfectFlow Propane Lantern is a good choice for stable lodging. Think off-grid cabins, fishing shanties, or RV campsites. It produces up to 1,500 lumens of light. That’s more than enough for most camping scenarios. One green Coleman propane bottle will power the PerfectFlow for up to four hours on high and nine hours on low.

This lantern lights easily with a push-button ignition. The pressure regulator controls gas flow and light output. The glass globe has a metal guard to protect it from everyday impacts common during camping trips. Collapse the base to pack it away in the included plastic carrying case.

Best LED

The Best Camping Lantern Option: LE LED 600 Lumens Camping Lantern
Photo: amazon.com

The LE LED Camping Lantern gives off up to 600 lumens of light from its several lighting modes. This useful tool is part lantern, part flashlight.

At over 8 inches high and 1.25 pounds without batteries, it’s not the lightest or smallest lantern on the list. But this guy earns its keep. First, it’s water-resistant so you can put it to work on a rainy or starry night. You can use the detachable flashlights on their own or locked into the main lantern. The LE LED has multiple power sources. The core lantern can run on the built-in rechargeable lithium-ion battery or three replaceable D-cell batteries. Each flashlight can run alone on three AA batteries. When you attach the flashlights to the lantern, they pull power from the lithium-ion or D-cell batteries and conserve their own batteries. This setup almost ensures that you’ll have plenty of light throughout your excursion.

Best String Light

The Best Camping Lantern Option: Brightech Ambience Pro
Photo: amazon.com

String lights are a mainstay of RV camping. The Ambience Pro string lights from Brightech are a good candidate for the job. Each of the 10 LED bulbs produces 135 lumens of soft white light. They’re over 24 feet long, so you can string these lights across your RV awning, from tree to tree, or between tents.

Though these lights are portable, they do require a power source. You can plug into a 110V electrical outlet or a 5V USB charger on a portable power bank. Run time will depend on your power bank.

Best Waterproof

The Best Camping Lantern Option: LE LED 280 Lumens Camping Lantern
Photo: amazon.com

The LE LED 280 Lumens Camping Lantern makes a great camp companion. At about the size of a coffee mug and under half a pound, this lantern is small and lightweight. It can sit on a table or hang in your tent from the built-in hooks or magnets. It produces up to 280 lumens of power on high and 140 lumens on low for up to 11 hours on a full charge.

This waterproof lantern with USB port doubles as a charger for your devices. The built-in USB cord for charging the light stores on board. The battery level indicator lets you know how much battery life you have left.

Best Portable

The Best Camping Lantern Option MPOWERD Luci Outdoor 2.0
Photo: amazon.com

When it comes to portability, the inflatable MPOWERD Luci Outdoor 2.0 has a lot going for it. To start with, the solar-powered device charges during the day, so you won’t need batteries. On a full charge, it can run for up to 24 hours. When not in use, it collapses down to roughly an inch thick. When inflated, it’s around the size of a coffee can.

The Luci Outdoor 2.0 has four lighting modes: high, medium, low, and flashing. On high, it produces 75 lumens of light—enough to light the way on a dark trail or campsite. This tough lantern is waterproof and withstands up to 150 pounds of pressure.

The Advantages of Owning a Camping Lantern

Proper lighting on your campsite can help keep you safe. Campsites are rarely perfectly flat, and most have roots and rocks that create serious fall risks. The best camping lanterns will illuminate these hazards in the dark.

The best camping lanterns can extend your day while you gather with friends and loved ones even after the sun goes down and the fire goes out. Lanterns light the way while you prepare food, play games, or relax and swap stories.

Camping lanterns can also help during emergencies. Since these lanterns are rugged enough for the great outdoors, they can double as backup lights and power sources during major storms and other natural disasters.

  • Camping lanterns can illuminate rocks and roots on a dark path.
  • You can extend your day with friends and family with the best camping lanterns.
  • A camping lantern can act as a backup energy and light source during a power outage or storm, even when you’re not camping.

FAQs About Your New Camping Lantern

The following is a list of the most commonly asked questions and answers. If you still have questions after reading through this section, check with your lantern’s manufacturer.

Q. How many lumens do I need for a camping lantern?

Lanterns that produce between 400 and 600 lumens are ideal, though even a 75-lumen light can help you avoid falling on a trail at night.

Q. How many lanterns should I bring camping?

If you’re heading out into a remote section of the woods, it’s a good idea to bring two lanterns in case one fails. If you can’t bring two, make sure to have a backup flashlight with you.

Q. How long do batteries last with LED camp lights?

Batteries can last more than 50 to 60 hours in LED camp lanterns. Most lanterns have lighting modes that let you reduce their output, which can significantly extend the amount of time the lantern will run.