Any experienced camper knows that a quality camping lantern is one of the most essential tools for a successful outdoor adventure. Having a trustworthy lantern in your arsenal comes with a host of benefits, from lighting your way in the dark to providing much needed illumination during an unexpected power outage.
Traditionally, the classic campground lighting has been a gas-powered lantern with glass windows, but often these lanterns are bulky, noisy, and painfully hot to the touch.
Thanks to new advances in LED lighting technology, however, campers now have plenty of modern options to choose from. Unfortunately, the vast amount of lanterns on the market can make finding the right one for you more difficult than it looks.
Luckily for you, we’ve compiled a list of what we consider to be some of the best camping lanterns to suit a broad range of lifestyles and preferences. But before you start shopping, it’s important to take into consideration what type of camper you are, what type of trips you’ll be taking, as well as many other important factors.
Keep reading to learn how to choose the perfect lantern to bring your camping experience into a whole new light!
Types of Camping Lanterns
The first step to selecting the right camping lantern for you is to figure out which type of lantern is best suited for your camping style.
The three main types of lanterns are electric, fuel-burning, and candle lanterns. Each type has its own purpose and advantages, so knowing the specifics of each will help you narrow down the myriad of options available.
Virtually all electric lanterns are battery-powered and use LED, or light emitting diode, technology.
These lanterns were designed to be an improvement on the original gas-powered lantern and offer a host of advantages over their predecessor including a better light output, longer running time, less noise, and decreased amounts of exhaust. Since they’re heat-free, electric lanterns are also much safer to use around children and pets.
In addition to LED lanterns, the electric lanterns category also encompasses solar lanterns, battery-powered lanterns, and rechargeable lanterns. These types of lanterns are usually pretty durable, compact, and lightweight compared to older versions, making them the best options for the majority of campers (especially backpackers looking for something that won’t weigh them down).
The primary downside of electric lanterns is that they tend to require a new set of batteries pretty regularly, but a solar powered lantern is a good way to mediate this issue.
Fuel-burning lanterns are the most traditional type of camping lantern, and many experienced campers still swear by them today. They can run on a variety of different fuel sources including liquid fuel, propane, and butane.
The main advantage of fuel-burning lanterns is a light intensity that’s hard to beat. When you need to light up an entire campsite, there’s no topping the lumens put out by a gas-powered lantern. They’re also better for cold weather camping or car camping where weight and bulkiness isn’t an issue.
Unfortunately, fuel-burning lanterns do come with a lot of downsides that have turned many campers in favor of the more modern electric lantern. In addition to their bulky size and weight, these lanterns are extremely dangerous to use in tents or other small spaces without ample ventilation, as they emit toxic fumes. Since fuel-burning lanterns also generate quite a bit of heat, they aren’t considered safe to use around children or certain flammable materials.
With that being said, fuel-powered lanterns are still a great option for a lot of campers who require a brighter, more intense light source. They are also very effective as emergency lanterns.
Although many consider them to be rather outdated, candle lanterns still come with their own unique set of benefits relative to other lantern types. Candle lanterns generate their light using a candle located inside of the lantern body.
These lanterns create a soft, quiet light that’s ideal for close-up tasks or giving a pleasant sense of ambiance to your campsite. That being said, the light output is pretty minimal, and they run the same risks as fuel-burning lanterns in terms of generating an ample and potentially dangerous amount of heat.
Factors to Consider
Now that you’ve figured out which type of lantern may work best for you, it’s time to take other important factors into consideration. Determining what specific features and capabilities you want from your camping lantern is critical to finding one that will meet all of your needs.
Below are some of the ways in which camping lanterns can differ depending on how they’re made and what they’re made for.
Size and Weight
Depending on what type of camping you’re doing, a lantern that’s easy to pack and transport may be one of the most important factors.
Backpackers will want to opt for a smaller, more lightweight model that won’t slow you down with excess weight, but car campers who aren’t worried about space limitations may prefer a heavier lighter with greater light output.
Electric lanterns tend to have more compact designs, while gas-powered and candle lanterns tend to be heavier in weight and bulkier in size.
The primary purpose of a camping lantern is to provide adequate light output, and different lanterns offer differing levels of brightness. A lantern’s light output is measured in lumens, and more lumens means a brighter and more intense light.
However, a higher maximum light output often means decreased efficiency and shorter battery life or burning time. Most campers only require anywhere from 100 to 200 lumens, but larger groups may need up to 400 lumens to get enough light.
While fuel-powered lighters tend to shine the brightest, there are plenty of electric lanterns that work just as well without running the risk of catching fire or emitting harmful fumes.
An ideal camping lantern is one that can persist through even the most difficult and rugged conditions without leaving you in the dark.
It’s important to find a lantern made of strong, high-quality materials that are designed to withstand the outdoors. Many campers also require a water-resistant or even waterproof lantern that can get wet without being damaged. In the end, you want a lantern that will stay in top condition and last you as long as possible.
Even though camping lanterns are primarily used to emit light, a lot of modern lanterns can come equipped with a host of other features that are equally useful.
These can include light adjustability, hanging hooks, additional light settings, and even USB ports to charge phones and other devices. If you’re looking for something a bit more high-tech, then these features may inform your decision just as much as the factors mentioned above.
Last but certainly not least, your budget can be arguably the biggest determining factor when choosing a camping lantern. Lanterns come in a pretty large range of price points, from as little as $10 to well into the hundreds.
This can depend on brand reputation, with more expensive brands often offering extended warranties and better return policies than cheaper brands. That being said, a lot of smaller brands make lanterns that are just as good for a fraction of the price.
Our Favorite Camping Lanterns You Can Buy
Hopefully, we’ve been able to help you narrow down and figure out exactly what type of camping lantern you’re looking for.
If you’re still a bit unsure, then this list of our favorite camping lanterns should point you in the right direction.
Read below to what we think are the 7 best camping lanterns currently on the market!
1. Biolite BaseLantern Lantern and Power Bank
This 500 lumen edge-lit lantern is easily one of the best camping lanterns out there with a bright and even light output contained in a compact and easily packable design.
The rechargeable power bank is perfect for charging phones, tablets, and any other devices you may need on your trip. The Biolite BaseLantern even features a low-energy Bluetooth app to provide incredible features such as sleep timers, battery feedback, and proximity activation.
2. Black Diamond Apollo
The Black Diamond Apollo Lantern is a favorite among campers everywhere by emitting a quad power LED light with 225 lumens.
This lantern runs on rechargeable lithium-ion batteries and boasts a collapsible design and hang loop to offer a variety of lighting options.
In addition to being extremely lightweight, this electric lantern is super durable and perfect for rugged camping conditions. You’ll enjoy a pleasantly warm light that will illuminate the entire campsite with no trouble at all..
3. Coleman Premium Dual Fuel Lantern
If you’ve decided a fuel-burning lantern is what you need, then the Premium Dual Fuel Lantern from Coleman is one of the best you can get. With a maximum light output of 700 lumens and a tank that lasts up to 7 hours, this lantern ensures you’ll have full visibility even on the darkest nights.
The ultra-strong design is ideal for frigid weather, and it even comes with a hard carrying case to make sure your lantern stays in pristine condition for many trips to come. Best of all, Coleman offers customers a 3 year warranty to help put your mind at ease.
4. Goal Zero Lighthouse 400
In addition to an adjustable 400 lumen lantern, this device from Goal Zero also comes equipped with a USB power hub to keep all your gear charged up and ready to go.
The collapsible legs allow this lantern to stand for maximum light dispersion and fold in for super convenient packing and transport. You can even adjust the illumination to extend the running time for as long as you need it.
The best part about the Goal Zero Lighthouse 400 is the built-in hand crank. Even in the darkest, electricity free situation, you can rapidly crank the handle and get some light in your tent. Honestly, what more could you want from a camping lantern?
5. Snowpeak Hozuki Lantern
This LED candle lantern is made for the camper who prefers luxurious glam-style camping over a more primitive outdoor camping experience.
Designed to capture the beautiful romance of the sacred Hozuki plant, the Snowpeak Hozuki Lantern offers a warm ambiance guaranteed to class up any campsite.
It features an innovative candle mode that allows the LED light to respond to sound or wind with flickering light, and you choose from a variety of lighting settings depending on how much illumination you need.
With a 100 lumen output and 80 hour battery life, we promise you’ll be the coolest camper around with this top-quality lantern.
6. Nite Ize Radiant 400
Nite Ize Radiant 400 is an intensely bright LED lantern that is the perfect outdoor or emergency lighting device.
The impressively long battery life runs for almost 800 hours on low mode, and the drop-proof design is extremely durable and weather resistant. Additional features include an integrated clip for easy overhead hanging as well as a carrier bag that actually doubles as a light diffuser.
While it doesn’t have the most compact or lightweight design, the incredibly affordable price more than makes up for it.
7. Coleman Twin LED
Featuring a 390 lumen light output, the Coleman Twin LED lantern is praised as being one of the best quality outdoor camping lanterns available. This lantern allows you to see far and wide with four premium LEDs that provide efficient, energy saving light and never need to be replaced.
With adjustable brightness levels and an exceptionally long running time, this lantern features a classic and water-resistant design that is durable enough to withstand rougher conditions.
The base even unscrews to offer quick access to the battery chamber so you can change them anywhere and anytime. If that’s not enticing enough, Coleman includes with this lantern a 5 year warranty to soothe any worries.
Have Fun Exploring The Outdoors With Your New Lantern!
Now that you know how to choose a camping lantern, and have a few suggestions for products you can buy right now, it’s time to start planning your next camping adventure! Have fun exploring the great outdoors, and stop worrying about not being able to see at night, with your new lantern.