Being left in the dark by a power outage, surprised by severe weather, or setting out unprepared for an outdoor adventure can lead to injuries, cause fear, and trigger anxiety. And sometimes, a flashlight isn’t enough. You might need both hands to cook, change a flat, or gather essentials.
The best LED lantern lights up a large area at the desired brightness and for the required time. Read on to learn about the features to consider as you shop for an LED lantern, and find out why the following models are considered among the top options on the market.
- BEST OVERALL: LE LED Camping Lantern Rechargeable, 1000LM
- BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: Vont 2 Pack LED Camping Lantern
- BEST FOR POWER OUTAGES: CORE 500 Lumen CREE LED Battery Lantern
- UPGRADE PICK: Streamlight 44947 Super Siege 120V AC, Rechargeable
- BEST LANTERN & FLASHLIGHT: LE LED Camping Lantern Rechargeable
- BEST LIGHTWEIGHT: Black Diamond Moji Lantern
- BEST SOLAR-POWERED: MPOWERD Luci Outdoor 2.0: Solar Inflatable Light
- BEST BURN TIME: Coleman LED Lantern | 390 Lumens Twin LED Lantern
What to Consider When Choosing the Best LED Lantern
Knowing how, where, and when you’ll likely use an LED lantern will help determine which model to choose. Are you creating an emergency kit for severe weather conditions, preparing for the next power outage, or packing for your next outdoor adventure? All of these scenarios require different levels of brightness, durability, and burn times. Keep reading to learn about these important factors—and more—to consider when selecting the best LED lantern for your specific scenario.
Size and Weight
A compact, lightweight lantern makes an ideal choice for backpacking. Collapsible or inflatable lanterns don’t take up much room but still provide plenty of light. Many of these lanterns weigh less than half a pound, so you’ll barely notice any extra weight.
For camping out of a car or an RV, you’ll still typically want a portable model, but the weight and size won’t matter as much. A tabletop lantern that doesn’t collapse will likely be suitable because you won’t need to carry it far—from van to campfire and back, for example.
Particular weight and size considerations also aren’t as much of a factor when purchasing a lantern for emergencies around the house or illuminating the backyard.
The light an LED bulb emits is measured in lumens. The number of required lumens in the best LED lantern depends on where, when, and how you intend to use it. For backcountry backpackers and campers, a lantern with 800 lumens and 360-degree light coverage is optimal. This will provide enough light to alert you of possible dangers.
When reading or playing cards inside a tent, 800 lumens would blind you, whereas a lantern with between 40 and 100 lumens would be more suitable for a contained space. For extra versatility, consider a lantern with dimmable features so you can adjust the brightness to fit a variety of situations.
An LED lantern with 100 lumens will light most campground spaces, while between 250 and 550 lumens is an appropriate range for a power outage. While 250 lumens is more than enough to illuminate a room, a lantern with higher lumen output will likely be more useful if you need to move outside for any reason.
Sitting around a campfire in the deep woods, cooking at dusk, reading at night in a tent—all of these activities require different brightness levels. As mentioned above, a lantern that can only emit 800 lumens might be too much for some situations.
For this reason, an LED lantern with different lighting modes or dimmable features is extremely handy. Some LED lanterns provide two, four, and even six lighting modes that include white, warm, combination white and warm, super-bright, and emergency SOS modes. LED lanterns with a dimmer switch to adjust the lumens from zero to full brightness offer the most flexibility to suit just about any setting.
LED lanterns feature two primary power sources:
- Disposable batteries make an excellent choice when going off the grid and finding a main supply to plug in an AC adapter is unlikely. On average, disposable batteries provide about 10 hours of light. Make sure to keep extra batteries on hand in case of unforeseen circumstances.
- Rechargeable batteries offer longer battery life. On one charge, a quality LED lantern can last several nights—up to 20 hours on a high setting and 100 hours on a low setting.
- Some LED lanterns allow for both types of batteries, which is great for longer excursions.
LED lanterns that include a solar panel and even a hand crank for recharging batteries help to ensure you’ll never be without lighting due to a dead battery.
LED lanterns can run continuously for an average of 15 to 100 hours, depending on the model. If planning a camping trip, calculate your anticipated needs. Take the estimated amount of usage time per night and multiply that by the number of days you’ll be gone. If the estimate is 4 hours a night for four nights, you’ll need 16 hours of burn time.
When looking at the maximum burn time of an LED lantern, keep in mind that this time period represents usage at the lowest lumens for models that offer different lighting modes. If you enjoy bright lights and use the highest lumens, then the maximum burn time will shorten.
Lanterns need to endure falls, bumps, and inclement weather—unless you’re only using one at home. Lanterns constructed with durable materials that include bumpers or rubber padding will protect them against falls and rough weather. You can verify the product specifications to see if the manufacturer performed a drop-test on the lantern—this identifies the height from which the lantern can survive a fall.
An IP rating will reveal the dustproof and waterproof qualities of an LED lantern, if any.
- Dust-resistant vs. dustproof: The first number in the IP rating explains the ability to repel dust. Any number between 1 and 5 is considered dust-resistant, and a 6 is dustproof. If a manufacturer uses an X in the place of a 0, it is confident the device can at least withstand a bit of dust.
- Water-resistant vs. waterproof: The second number in the IP rating explains the ability to repel water. Any number between 1 and 6 is water-resistant—from dripping water to strong water jets. Waterproof is denoted by a 7 or 8. For example, you can safely submerge an IPX7 device in 1 meter of water for 30 minutes and an IPX8 device in 3 meters of water for 30 minutes.
Our Top Picks
These top picks were selected according to the criteria detailed above. They include products in a variety of categories to suit unique needs. Read on to discover some of the best LED lanterns on the market today for reliable lighting at home and on the go.
This LED lantern from Lighting EVER is excellent for camping, power outages, or lighting up dim spaces during DIY projects. The 1,000-lumen LED bulb with 360-degree lighting provides bright light in every direction.
The lantern includes four light modes—white light, warm light, a white-warm combination, and flashing. Use the hook at the top of the lantern for carrying or hanging, or remove the glass dome and hang the lantern upside down to light a more extensive area.
The lantern is powered by two rechargeable lithium-ion batteries (included) that supply 12 hours of burn time. With the included USB cable, it can also act as a power bank for charging mobile devices in an emergency. The IP44 rating makes it suitable for the outdoors—it’s both dust resistant and water resistant. It measures 3.5 by 3.5 by 7.2 inches and weighs 19 ounces for easy portability.
These two LED lanterns from Vont work great for power outages, emergencies, or campsites for a budget-friendly price. Each lantern has 30 bright LED bulbs that emit 140 lumens and cover 360 degrees to split through the darkness. The LED lights collapse into the lantern for easy storage or packing. To turn on the lantern and adjust the brightness, simply unfold the handles and pull up on the lights, stopping at the desired lumens.
Each LED lantern boasts up to 90 hours of burn time and runs on 3 AA batteries (included). The IP44 rating makes this an ideal pick for outdoor activities as it’s both dust resistant and water resistant. Plus, these lanterns can survive a 10-foot drop. Each lantern measures 7.6 by 5.4 by 3.8 inches and weighs 3.2 ounces, though they are about the size of a smartphone when collapsed.
Users can prepare themselves for power outages with this LED lantern from CORE. The 500-lumen setting covers a 45-foot radius with bright lighting, while the 200-lumen setting covers a 32-foot radius with soft lighting. The lantern uses 3 D batteries (not included) and has a burn time of 19 hours at 500 lumens and 65 hours at 200 lumens.
The IPX4 rating means this lantern is water resistant, so it’s suitable for inclement weather. The lantern is also impact resistant and shatter resistant—having passed a 1-meter drop test—making it an ideal choice for camping excursions as well. The sturdy steel handle allows for easy carrying and hanging. This lantern is also plenty portable at 4.2 by 4.2 by 7.2 inches and 12.28 ounces.
The Super Siege LED lantern from Streamlight boasts multiple light modes with different runtimes to suit a variety of circumstances. The white light mode provides three settings that range from a high of 1,100 lumens at 5.75 hours of burn time to a low of 125 lumens at 36.25 hours of burn time. The red light mode features two settings that range from 2.7 lumens at 140 hours of burn time to 1 lumen at 348 hours of burn time. This red light mode also includes a flash SOS setting with 2.7 lumens at 320 hours of burn time.
The lantern has an IPX7 rating, making it fully waterproof at submersions up to 1 meter for 30 minutes; however, this product will also float. The watertight storage compartment provides a safe place for small items, like a USB cable or a lighter. This lantern also withstood manufacturer drop tests up to 2 meters due to the durable polymer construction.
The recessed power button ensures the lantern won’t accidentally turn on. Users will find the lantern easy to carry with the ergonomic handle and easy to hang with the incorporated bottom ring. It measures 4 by 4 by 7.3 inches and weighs 30 ounces. The lithium-ion battery (not included) charges via the included AC charger.
For more targeted lighting, this LED lantern from Lighting EVER features a headlight torch that is useful as a searchlight. The lantern also includes four light modes and two brightness levels. The 500-lumen white light boasts a 360-degree range up to 1,148 feet, and the 250-lumen white light provides a 180-degree range up to 656 feet. The red light will either stay on continuously or flash—a suitable warning light when needing assistance.
An IPX4 rating makes this lantern water resistant. The included lithium-ion battery provides a 3- to 6-hour burn time for the headlight torch and a 2.5- to 4.5-hour burn time for the lantern, depending on the brightness level. Users can charge the lantern with the included USB cable, and it doubles as a power bank for mobile devices in an emergency. It’s also lightweight and portable, measuring 6.6 by 3.5 by 6.6 inches and weighing 5.47 ounces.
Campers looking for a lightweight lantern to fit inside or hang outside a backpack won’t need to look much further. The Moji LED lantern from Black Diamond weighs just 4.3 ounces with batteries and measures 3.15 by 4.72 by 4.72 inches. The collapsible double-hook hang loop can attach to a backpack without needing an extra carabiner, and it’s also great for hanging the lantern upside down in a tent.
This 100-lumen lantern emits a soft white light through a frosted plastic cover. The three AAA batteries (not included) provide a burn time of 10 hours on the high setting and up to 70 hours on the low setting. The adjustable dimmer allows users to set the brightness according to need—even as low as 4 lumens for a nightlight. The IPX4 rating ensures water resistance.
Users can inflate this LED lantern from MPOWERD when requiring a bright light, then collapse it to a mere 1.5 inches thick and 4.4 ounces when not in use—small enough to clip to the outside of a backpack with the attached straps. While this lantern does include a built-in rechargeable lithium-ion battery, it will also charge via the solar panel in 7 hours and last for 24 hours on a single charge.
The 75-lumen lantern features four modes with their associated burn times: High lasts for 6 hours, medium and flashing last for 12 hours, and low lasts for 24 hours. It also includes a battery-level indicator and a 2-second quick shutoff. This lantern can hold up to dusty and waterlogged rugged outdoor adventures with an IP67 rating and the ability to withstand 150 pounds of pressure.
This Coleman LED lantern boasts a burn time of up to 299 hours at 100 lumens or 85 hours at 390 lumens—up to 3 days of continuous light at the highest setting. A dimmer dial allows users to change the brightness from high to ultralow. The lantern can reach a distance of about 32 feet on the high setting and 19 feet on the low setting.
An IPX4 rating makes this lantern water resistant. This is a larger and heavier lantern compared with other items on this list; it takes eight D disposable batteries (not included), measures 7.09 by 7.09 by 12.99 inches, and weighs 2.87 pounds.
FAQs About LED Lanterns
Still need more information about LED lanterns? Check out these answers to some of the most frequently asked questions.
Q. How many lumens do I need for a camping lantern?
If you’re camping in the backcountry with no one else around for miles, 800 lumens is a good place to start. Being able to see a full 360 degrees all around the camp can alert you to any dangers.
Q. What is the best lantern for power outages?
An LED lantern that emits between 250 and 550 lumens is ideal for power outages, with 250 lumens suitable to light the house and 550 lumens necessary if you need to move outside. The CORE 500 Lumen CREE LED Battery Lantern is an excellent pick for power outages.
Q. How long will my LED lantern last?
Some LED bulbs never burn out. If you take care of the lantern, it can last well beyond 10 years.
Q. How do I charge my LED lantern?
It depends on the specific LED lantern. Some LED lanterns are powered by rechargeable lithium-ion batteries that charge via a USB cable. Other options include solar-powered lanterns and models that charge via a hand crank. Finally, some lanterns use disposable alkaline batteries.