Photo: Tony Carrick for Bob Vila
Being left in the dark during a power outage, after a severe weather event, or while on an outdoor adventure can lead to injuries and trigger anxiety. And while flashlights are great to have around, sometimes they’re not the right tool for the situation—you might need both hands free for cooking, changing a flat, or gathering essentials.
The best LED lantern provides bright, hands-free light while being convenient to carry, store, and use. To find the models that promise to be reliable in conditions created during everything from camping to power outages, we performed extensive side-by-side testing of several different LED lanterns. Find out why the following models tested as our top options on the market.
- BEST OVERALL: Lepro LE Super Bright LED Camping Lantern
- BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: Lepro LE Rechargeable LED Camping Lantern Flashlight
- UPGRADE PICK: Streamlight Super Siege Rechargeable LED Lantern
- BEST LIGHTWEIGHT: Black Diamond Moji Lantern
- BEST SOLAR-POWERED: Mpowerd Luci Outdoor 2.0 Inflatable Solar Light
- BEST BURN TIME: Coleman 390L Twin LED Lantern
Photo: Tony Carrick for Bob Vila
How We Tested the Best LED Lanterns
When deciding on our top picks for LED lanterns, we were careful to include a wide range of options across many categories, offering shoppers our favorites for a slew of different situations. Our list includes LED lanterns with a range of power options, from disposable batteries to rechargeable lithium-ion options. We even found an excellent solar-powered lantern. Our top picks come in a range of brightnesses since we know that not everyone needs a super-bright (and sometimes blinding) light. Some lanterns deliver a soft and gentle 75 lumens, whereas the brightest option uses an ultrapowerful 1100-lumen light to fully illuminate the darkness.
After selecting some of the top-rated LED lanterns on the market, we conducted hands-on tests to determine how well they each performed in real-life conditions. We took the lanterns into a near-pitch-dark wooded area and assessed whether they were bright enough for lighting tasks like cooking and setting up a tent. Since adjusting a lantern’s brightness to suit such different activities is important, we looked at the ability to dim each lantern as well as the quality of light they provided. To mimic the need for a lantern when electric lighting isn’t available, we also considered the battery life of each model, noting how long they stayed illuminated after a fresh charge or with new batteries. And since outdoor lanterns are often used in rugged conditions, we considered each lantern’s durability by repeatedly dropping them on a rocky area. We also splashed or submerged them in water to determine how well they lived up to the manufacturer’s water-resistance rating. Finally, we assessed the size and weight of each lantern to determine how convenient they were to store and transport.
Our Top Picks
We selected the following top picks according to portability, brightness, lighting modes, power source, burn time, and durability. Our list includes products with a variety of features 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.
If the measure of a good lantern is brightness, one would be hard-pressed to find a brighter option than the Lepro LE super-bright camping lantern. Its 1000-lumen LED bulb with 360-degree illumination provides bright light in every direction, making it excellent for camping, power outages, or lighting dim spaces during DIY projects. Even on an overcast, near-pitch-dark night, we had no problem illuminating a large area with the Lepro LE.
The lantern includes four light levels: cool white, warm, white-warm combination, and flashing. We loved the ability to change the color temperature to suit the setting, and the flashing mode is great if you find yourself stranded on the side of the road.
Along with the ability to change the light temperature, we also loved the ability to dim this lantern by simply holding in the button on any of the light modes. This made the Lepro great for task lighting while setting up a tent, cooking, making a nighttime trip to the bathroom, or pre bedtime lounging around the campsite.
The Lepro comes equipped with a hook at the top of the lantern, which was perfect for carrying it, and one under the base, which we found ideal for hanging the light from our tent ceiling. We particularly liked the fact that we could remove the plastic shade to create brighter overhead lighting.
This lantern is powered by two rechargeable lithium-ion batteries, giving it up to 12 hours of burn time. That’s impressive, given how bright it is. We also liked its USB port, which made a handy power bank for our smartphone. That said, we should note that the batteries are not removable, which means the whole lantern will need replacing once the batteries no longer hold a charge.
The Lepro LE super-bright lantern is built for outdoor use. It has a water-resistance rating of IP44, which means it can survive being splashed with water, and a thick rubberized coating around the base and top of the lantern protects it from damage and makes it easy to grip. It lived up to its water-resistance rating during our splash test and survived multiple drops from chest height onto our concrete driveway, suffering little more than a few scratches.
Read our full review: Lepro LE Super Bright LED Lantern
- Max brightness: 1000 lumens
- Power source: Rechargeable battery (USB)
- Dimmable: Yes
- Extremely bright 1000-lumen light is capable of illuminating a larger area
- Can set it to multiple color temperatures to suit the mood
- Comes equipped with a USB port that can be used as a power bank
- Has up to 12 hours of burn time on a single charge
- Battery cannot be removed from the lantern and therefore is not replaceable
Get the Lepro LE super-bright LED lantern at Amazon, Walmart, or Lepro.
The versatility of this lantern makes it a great value as an all-around light for home use and outdoor adventures. It consists of two separate light sources: a lantern side and a flashlight side with four light modes and two brightness levels. The 500-lumen white light boasts a 360-degree range up to 1,151 feet, and the 250-lumen white light provides a 180-degree range up to 656 feet. There’s also a red-light mode that will either stay on continuously or flash.
We liked the dual-function aspect of this lantern. A hook on top of the lantern is useful for hanging it from a tent ceiling, and the lantern’s handle works equally well when wielding the unit as a flashlight. We used the lantern side and its many dimming options for ambient and task lighting while hanging out at the campsite, then changed over to the flashlight function with the push of a button for a late-night hike in the woods and a trip to the bathroom.
Its compact size, measuring just 6.61 inches long by 3.54 inches wide by 3.23 inches high (in flashlight position), makes it well suited for short nocturnal hikes. The flashlight side doesn’t get as bright as other models we tested, but it’s sufficient for guiding you through dark woods or a dark home.
Though not as tough as some of the other lanterns we tested, the lantern feels durable enough thanks to its thick plastic construction and the heavy rubber coating around its base. It lived up to its IPX4 rating by enduring splashes from water, and it survived our drop test unscathed.
The Lepro’s battery life was a little disappointing, given the long runtime of some of the other rechargeable flashlights we tested. The 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. Neither is exceptionally long compared to the other rechargeable lanterns we tested. We did like the LED battery gauge, which shows the lantern’s remaining charge.
We found the USB outlet that let us use the lantern as a power bank to be a nice extra feature for charging our smartphone, though we don’t know how often we’d use it given the lantern’s limited battery life.
- Max brightness: 500 lumens
- Power source: Rechargeable battery (USB)
- Dimmable: Yes
- Has dual functionality as both a lantern and a flashlight
- Capable of serving as a charger for mobile devices via a built-in USB port
- Versatile lantern with many dimming options and light modes
- Flashlight switch is hard to press, and flashlight is on the dim side
Get the Lepro LE rechargeable LED lantern at Amazon or Lepro.
The Super Siege LED lantern from Streamlight is built to withstand harsh conditions and boasts multiple light modes with different runtimes to suit a variety of circumstances, giving this lantern tremendous versatility.
We love the broad range of modes on the Streamlight. With dimmer settings that range from 125 to 1100 lumens, we could use the Streamlight for task lighting while cooking, then dim it down for ambient mood lighting while winding down for sleep. We also liked the red-light mode, which functions as an effective night light or a useful emergency light when set to flashing. The lantern also comes equipped with a removable shade, which we found helpful for navigating through dark woods.
The Super Siege’s hefty rechargeable battery provides a runtime of almost 6 hours on high, 36 hours on low, and up to a whopping 140 hours with the red light. It charged in about 7 hours via the included AC charger and had a USB port that allowed us to power other devices.
Thanks to its heavy-duty high-grade plastic and rubber construction, the Super Siege is designed to take a licking and keep on lighting. It can withstand drops of about 6.5 feet, and its IPX7 rating means it can survive a plunge to depths of up to 3.2 feet for 30 minutes. It survived our drop tests and a dunk in a bucket of water. And, since it floats, there was less of a chance of losing it should we drop it in a lake or stream. We also liked the recessed power button, which ensured it didn’t accidentally turn on when we packed it away to head back to the house.
There’s also a handy watertight storage compartment that provides a safe place for small items, like a USB cable or a lighter. While the Super Siege is built like a rock at nearly 2 pounds, it also feels a little like one. This is the heaviest lantern we tested, making it best suited for car camping, cabin life, or home use.
- Max brightness: 1100 lumens
- Power source: Rechargeable battery (AC)
- Dimmable: No, but it has 3 brightness settings (low, medium, and high)
- Numerous light modes and the red color option make it very versatile
- Doubles as a charging station with its built-in USB port
- Rubber base and heavy-duty ABS plastic construction offer excellent durability
- Bright 1100-lumen light is capable of illuminating a large area
- Rechargeable battery is not replaceable
Get the Streamlight LED lantern at Amazon, Walmart, or Cabela’s.
With its compact design and versatile dimming ability, Moji’s Black Diamond is the ideal choice for overnight camping trips in the backwoods. With a weight of just 2.55 ounces (without batteries), the Moji lantern won’t add much heft to a pack. It also measures just 1¾ inches high by 2⅞ inches in diameter, so it fits easily inside a backpack side pocket or even a pants pocket.
We were amazed by the power and versatility of this lantern. Despite the fact that it’s small enough to fit in the palm of your hand, it gets astonishingly bright. This 200-lumen lantern emits enough ambient light to serve as task lighting while cooking or setting up camp.
But what we loved most about this lantern was its dimming switch. To dim, simply turn on the light and hold the button until the lantern dims to the desired brightness level. This easy operation gave us much more control over the lantern’s light level than the lanterns we tested that had only one or two fixed brightness settings. We could brighten the lantern to its max of 200 lumens when moving around camp, then dim it to as low as 10 lumens when winding down for bedtime. Three AAA batteries (not included) provided a good burn time of 10 hours on the high setting and up to 70 hours on the low setting.
The collapsible double-hook hang loop made it easy to attach to our backpack without the need for an extra carabiner and is also great for hanging the lantern upside down in a tent. We only wish the Moji was a little more rugged. While its IPX4 rating means it can withstand the splashes of rain or sleet, it’s not ideal for boating or other situations where it could get submerged.
- Max brightness: 200 lumens
- Power source: Rechargeable battery (USB, sold separately) or 3 AAA batteries (not included)
- Dimmable: Yes
- Compact design and light weight make it ideal for backpacking trips
- Can dim to any level between 200 lumens and 10 lumens
- Built-in hook handy for hanging from a tent ceiling or backpack
- IPX4 rating will stand up to rain and sleet but not full submersion
Get the Black Diamond LED lantern at Amazon or Black Diamond Equipment.
This novel lantern design from Mpowerd inflates to create a solar-powered light, then collapses to a flat, compact disc when not in use. It consists of ten LED bulbs inside a lantern body about the size of a large can of corn (when inflated). The lights are powered by a rechargeable lithium-ion battery that turns on and off via a small power button on the lantern’s top. This same button allows you to cycle through three different brightness levels and a flashing mode.
The 75-lumen lantern features four modes with various associated burn times: High lasts 6 hours, medium and flashing last 12 hours, and low lasts 24 hours. The battery charges in about 7 hours via a solar panel located on its top. When inflated, we found the lantern to be bright enough to serve as ambient lighting for moving about the campsite, but it was not bright enough to be effective for cooking or other tasks in which visibility is key.
While this lantern took a little more effort to set up, it was worth the extra effort when weight and space savings were crucial. Weighing just 4.4 ounces and only 1 inch thick when collapsed, the Mpowerd inflatable lantern was lightweight and small enough to clip to the outside of our backpack with the attached straps.
This lantern held up to dusty and waterlogged rugged outdoor adventures with its IP67 rating and ability to withstand 150 pounds of pressure. However, since it’s inflatable, we were worried about its susceptibility to punctures from sharp objects, especially with it dangling off the back of a backpack.
- Max brightness: 75 lumens
- Power source: Solar
- Dimmable: No, but 3 brightness settings (low, medium, and high)
- Collapses into a compact size for easy transport in or on a backpack
- Solar-powered rechargeable battery lasts up to 24 hours on a single charge
- Multiple light levels and a blinking light option for emergencies
- Battery level indicator clearly displays how much charge remains
- Set up requires you to blow it up with lung power before use
- Not as durable as lanterns made from hard plastic
Get the Mpowerd LED lantern at Amazon, Walmart, Mpowerd, or REI.
This Coleman LED lantern is an ideal main light source for long camping trips. It boasts a burn time of up to 299 hours at 100 lumens or 85 hours at 390 lumens, equating to over 3 days of continuous light at the highest setting.
In addition to its long runtime, we liked the easy ability to control the brightness of the lantern. Unlike lanterns that offer a fixed number of brightness settings, the Coleman has a dimmer dial that allowed us to change the brightness from high to ultralow. We set it to higher light levels as the sun went down during dinner, then reduced it to a lower level for ambient lighting. And unlike the cool white light most lanterns emit, the 390L produces a warmer light that’s easy on the eyes. This warmer light temperature and the easy-to-use dimmer make the Coleman an ideal main light source for a campsite.
The 390L is large, so it’s not a lantern to take on a hike in the woods or even on a walk to the campground restroom. It measures 8.25 inches long by 7.38 inches wide by 13.9 inches high and weighs over 5 pounds when loaded with batteries. We should also note that it requires eight D batteries, which can make powering this lantern a bit spendy. Even though it has an excellent runtime and the LED bulbs should last a lifetime, it cost us over $16 to load the Coleman with budget-priced batteries.
We also wish the Coleman was a bit more durable. It has an IPX4 rating, which means it can only endure splashes of water. To avoid damaging it, you’ll have to be mindful about storing the lantern in a dry place when wet weather threatens.
- Max brightness: 390 lumens
- Power source: 8 D batteries (not included)
- Dimmable: Yes
- Batteries can last for several days, even on highest setting
- Equipped with a dimmer dial that allows for fine brightness adjustments
- Eye-friendly warm color temperature and good light diffusion for reduced glare
- Can be expensive to operate as it requires 8 D batteries
- Bulky size and weighs more than 5 pounds when loaded with batteries
Get the Coleman LED lantern at Amazon, Walmart, or Coleman.
What to Consider When Choosing an LED Lantern
Knowing how, where, and when you’ll likely use an LED lantern helps 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 and other important factors to consider when selecting the best LED lantern for your specific scenario.
Photo: Tony Carrick for Bob Vila
Size and Weight
A compact, lightweight lantern is 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.
You’ll still typically want a portable model for camping out of a car or an RV, 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 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 provides 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 emits nothing less than 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, including white, warm, combination white-and-warm, super-bright, and flashing 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. A quality LED lantern can last several nights on one charge—around 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, the maximum burn time will shorten.
Lanterns for outdoor use need to endure falls, bumps, and inclement weather. Those constructed with durable materials, including bumpers or rubber padding, will be protected 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.
A lantern’s IP rating reveals its dustproof and waterproof qualities, 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 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.
Still need more information about LED lanterns? Check out these answers to some of the most frequently asked questions.
Q. How many lumens do you 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 Lepro rechargeable LED lantern is an excellent pick for power outages, and it also doubles as a flashlight.
Q. How long will my LED lantern last?
Some outdoor LED lights never burn out. If you take care of the lantern, it can last well beyond 10 years.
Q. How do you charge an 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 or AC adaptor. Other options include solar-powered lanterns and models that charge via a hand crank. Finally, some lanterns use disposable alkaline batteries.
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Meet the Tester
Tony Carrick is a freelance writer specializing in home improvement, landscaping, technology, home security, and design. His articles have been featured on such sites as Angi, Popular Science, Futurism, 360 Reviews by U.S. News & World Report, Domino, and more. Carrick has conducted rigorous product testing on everything from power tools to home-security systems to backyard grills. With each review, his goal is to help readers determine whether a product meets their needs and if it is or isn’t worth its price tag.
Additional research provided by Tiffany Lewis.