Because most of us live in cities we’ve lost track of just how dark it can get at night. But if you’ve ever spent any time camping in the great outdoors you know. At 3am in the woods it gets so dark you literally can’t see your hand in front of your face. Because of this the camping lantern you take with you on your outdoor adventures is crucial to a happy outcome. It ensures people aren’t tripping over the tent, that a quick visit to the outhouse doesn’t result in someone getting lost and that meals after sunset don’t end with food on the ground that could attract wildlife.
It can be frustrating shopping for a camping lantern online because you aren’t able to try them out before you buy one. So we’ve done the research for you and below are the results: our choices for the 12 best camping lanterns on the market today.
The Best Camping Lantern
When on the trail, it’s essential to have a reliable and luminous camping lantern that’s genuinely weatherproof, and the Vont 4 Pack LED Camping Lantern meets these requirements. It’s excellent value for money and also easy to carry, slipping comfortably into your backpack for easy access when you set up camp. It comes with 4 AAA batteries included, and while it doesn’t work on solar power, these aren’t too large that you’ll bulk up your bag with spares. With 60 lumen brightness, it’s also one of brightest lanterns you’ll find at such a price, which is great news for anyone who’s startled by the slightest snap of a twig when deep in the wilderness.
When the sun sets, it’s also easy to unfold, making it entirely hassle-free and helps get you organized when the rain pours down. Even if you’re not a camper, it’s an excellent backup light for the home during power outages or for kids’ sleepovers.Whether you want to have some late night discussions with your camping buddies, or have some light as you dive into a good book, this is a superb option that’s ultra dependable. The construction is robust, and the quality is high, proving you don’t always need to spend big bucks for the best results.
It is portable and lightweight
It is sturdy durable and waterproof
Constructed with military grade materials
Bright 360 light
- Weight1.6 ounces
Easy to unfold
Requires batteries over solar cell
The object of all the attention here is the Odoland Portable LED Camping Lantern and it comes in the form of a lightweight, low powered fan and light. The lantern itself is fitted with a whopping 18 bulbs that can light up an entire tent and proves useful around the campsite as well. The fan is a handy addition, fitted with high and low settings for all-around convenience. The fact that it can be placed in a number of positions takes it up a notch or two; there is a hook present to attach it to the ceiling. It can equally be placed on any flat surface inside the tent.
You would expect a product with so many features to be a tad bit clunky, but not the Odland lantern! It is as lightweight as they come and the hanging hook also doubles as a handle to carry it with. Its source of power is a humble pair of 2 D batteries, yet this lantern can last up to 37 hours on one set of batteries. When using both the light and fan, it lasts about 16 hours.
Fitted with 18 bright LED lights
Uses 2 D cell batteries instead of a charger
Doubles as both a fan and a lamp
It is lightweight and portable
- Weight1 pounds
LEDs have revolutionized not only residential and commercial lighting but camping lanterns as well. Today they’re the fastest growing segment of the camping lantern industry and it doesn’t look like that’s going to change any time soon. The Streamlight 44931 Siege Lantern may have an ominous name but the results it produces are beyond reproach. The Siege uses C4 LED technology to produce brilliant white or red light, has 5 output modes and is powered by alkaline batteries.
The Siege will crank out 340 lumens and there’s a flashing red SOS mode should you need it. If you want to create a softer atmosphere use the polycarbonate cover. The Siege is also truly waterproof and will float with that cover in place. It will even keep working if submerged under a foot of water. The Siege from Streamlight is the kind of camping lantern most outdoor enthusiasts will wonder how they ever lived without.
Functions in multiple light modes
Has an accompanying removable cover
It is powered by D cell alkaline batteries
It is waterproof and impact resistant
- Weight1.9 pounds
Continues to operate when fully submerged.
Polycarbonate lens is shock resistant.
Place it on the picnic table, hang it from a branch or take it into the tent.
The rubber base keeps it stable.
With those flashlight batteries in place it can be heavy.
Coleman pretty much invented the camping lantern many years ago and while there is still a case to be made for fuel-driven camping lamps the company has seen the writing on the wall and jumped into the LED camping lantern market with both feet. Their Twin LED Camping Lantern boasts a classic profile and pumps out an impressive 390 lumens when set on high. It’s also weather resistant so you don’t have to worry if it’s hanging out in the rain for a while.
The Coleman Twin LED Camping Lantern provides 300 hours of illumination when set to low which is more than most people would need if they camped for a month straight. The Twin has a rubber base and 7 different settings. On high it will create an effective circle of light nearly 10 meters in diameter. Since the Twin’s LED lamps generate no heat it’s also perfectly safe to bring it into the tent.
It is powered by 8 D Cell batteries
Brightness settings can be customized ranging from high to low
Can run up to a maximum of 299 hours
It is water resistant
- Weight2.87 pounds
Fully adjustable to numerous brightness settings.
Won’t overheat and endanger your tent.
390 lumens will illuminate a circle more than 60’ in diameter.
Runs on standard flashlight batteries.
Using the ‘high’ setting will drain the batteries after 85 hours.
Looks clean and simple, but offers a massive amount of lighting and power behind every little feature. For one, you have a decent 1,000 lumen output (later explained in our buying guide), and four different lighting modes to choose from. If you end up bringing this in your tent at the end of the night, you don’t want it on the brightest setting: no problem, just simply switch between them.
On top of that, LE Dimmable LED Camping Lantern is water resistant. It’s going to hold up for a short while in the rain, so if you’re a walk away from your camp, it’s not going to get wrecked when the clouds start dripping down. You do have to use 3 D batteries, which get drained fairly quick, and make this a little less cost-effective to run. Overall, it’s inexpensive, gets the job done, and keeps you nice and safe by cutting through the dart, and igniting the night.
It can be used for a range of outdoor activities
The brightness can be adjusted for convenience
It is protected from water at all angles
It is long lasting and durable
- BrandLighting EVER
- Weight14.4 ounces
High level of water resistance
Outputs 1,000 lumens
Four different lighting modes to choose from
Uses 3 D-sized batteries
The Bolt Lite Solar Rechargeable LED Lantern is an excellent camping lantern you can hang or position in place to illuminate your chilled post-hike sessions with a cold beer and great company. It’s a highly versatile, providing both solar powered and USB charging capabilities, which is great for when the skies above are a murky gray with little chance of sunlight.
If you keep them charged, they’re also great in a power outage either at the cabin or around the house. The stable platform also allows them to stand confidently in the tent, on the picnic table, or even in the car if you’ve made of mess of the campsite reservations and you have to resort to your previously bohemian college practices. If you need overhead light, the attached hook lets you hang it from the roof of the tent so you’ll feel almost like you’re at home.
- BrandBolt Lite
- Weight6.4 ounces
Bright and warm light
Solar powered or USB recharge
Multiple light modes
Not as durable as other options
The Coleman Quad Elite 360l LED Lantern is less camping lantern than it is serious illumination tool. Nothing about it says ‘backwoods’ and yet when you take it there you’ll have all the high quality LED light you need to perform your after dark chores, secure the camp for the night or make trips to the latrine. The Quad is broken up into 4 panels that can be popped off and carried away to illuminate tasks like setting up the inside of the tent while others clean the pots and pans.
This is the real deal when it comes to versatile, effective, safe outdoor illumination. Because the LED lights produce no heat it’s perfectly safe to bring the unit into the tent. If there are multiple tents in your party each can take an individual panel and everyone is happy. The unit as a whole is weatherproof so you’ll be safe in the rain. One of the many great aspects of the Quad camping lantern is that once the individual panels are snapped back into place they automatically recharge.
- Weight2.15 pounds
Use all 4 panels together or pop them off and have 4 separate lights.
Panels recharge when snapped back into the base.
190 lumens of total light.
Effective range of 8 meters.
With 8 flashlight batteries on board this thing gets hea-vy.
Among LED lights the AYL StarLight Camping Lantern may be the brightest camping lantern on the market and will provide up to 600 lumens of LED light for your outdoor activities. Unlike some outdoor lanterns that are little more than big night lights the AYL StarLight Camping Lantern is made to be used outdoors. Also, if you’re in the woods for a long weekend and only have a single set of batteries with you don’t worry; you’ll get up to 6 nights of LED light from those batteries.
The designers of this lamp understood that when you’re in the deep woods light is your most important resource. As such you can use it to illuminate your whole site or bring it into the tent so you can read while in your sleeping bag. If your car breaks down the StarLight will provide a no-nonsense emergency light that will make sure you’re safe until help arrives. All in all a versatile, high energy camping lamp.
- Weight14.6 ounces
Rock solid, stable and sturdy.
Water resistant and shockproof.
High, low and SOS modes.
An incredible 600 lumens of light.
The lens looks a bit plasticky.
The next item on our list is a true classic. The Coleman Deluxe PerfectFlow Lantern. The PerfectFlow is propane powered and extremely bright at nearly 1000 lumens. A single 16 oz propane tank will provide 7 hours of flat out operation. If flat out isn’t required you have the option of dimming the light level to your heart’s content. The whole apparatus sits firmly atop the customized 4-footed base and can be transported from location to location via the top handle.
This is an updated version of the classic Coleman propane camping lantern and one that is bound to occupy pride of place in your campground. The control knob works as a defacto dimmer switch providing you with optimal control over light levels. If you run it on low you’ll get as many as 14 hours of use from a single propane canister. It’s hard to argue with either the very stable, extremely effective design or the fact that the PerfectFlow will light the bejeezus out of your campsite.
- Weight3 pounds
Output is completely adjustable.
PerfectFlow regulation means you have a nice even light all night.
Highly durable construction.
Limited lifetime warranty.
No denying it’s bulkier than most LED camping lanterns.
The general consensus here was that the Hillmax Camping Lantern could use a bit of work in the design department but there was also a consensus that it’s an outstanding camping lamp no matter what it looks like. On the whole the HillMax LED camping lantern is extremely portable and very efficient. Whether you’re a hunter, camper, climber or even auto repair technician you’ll appreciate the compact size and bright light the HillMax brings to the table.
This is a very reliable, lightweight, easily to carry piece of camping kit. It sports the classic barrel design of most camping lamps and can be either hung or set flat. The fact that you can power the HillMax with either AA or AAA batteries is a major plus from a convenience standpoint and the ability to adjust it to either cool light or warm light settings also gives it a leg up on the competition.
- Weight7.2 ounces
The HillMax utilizes innovative LED strips.
Powered by either AA or AAA batteries.
Can emit either cool or warm light.
Can emit either cool or warm light.
100 lumens is good but not great.
E-Trends takes a different approach to LED camping lights with their Portable LED Lantern & Tent Light. While the inverted light bulb design may look a bit gimmicky they’re actually well-constructed and bright as can be. They’re also energy efficient, water resistant and light so you can bring 2 in your backpack and hardly know they’re there. These handy LED camping lanterns can be hooked just about anywhere and use 3 AAA batteries.
Well built, bright and easy to take with you the E-Trends Portable LED Lantern & Tent Light is the kind of kit that can make a real difference on your next camping trip. The kids are going to love having these hanging in their tent and you’re going to love how easy they are to carry around. You’ll also love the ability to dim them as you see fit.
- Weight1.6 ounces
Each lamp generates 150 lumens of clean LED light.
Water resistant so they won’t fail when the weather turns foul.
Bright 360 degree light can be dimmed to your liking.
Bright 360 degree light can be dimmed to your liking.
Bringing up the rear on this best lantern list is the Suaoki LED Camping Lantern. Like the Bigfoot Solar Camping Lantern reviewed above the Suaoki can be effectively recharged by leaving it out in the sun and by doing so, it frees you from having to tote around propane or a mass of alkaline batteries. A unique feature of this solar camping lantern is the smart chip that protects against overcharging or excessive discharging.
Charge the Suaoki rechargeable camping lantern either via the USB port or using the built in solar panel. Hook it to the MOLLE straps of your backpack alongside your tomahawk and you’re ready for whatever comes down the trail. The solar power system at work here is compact and effective and represents a real breakthrough in everyday camping technology.
- Weight6.7 ounces
1 hour of solar charging provides up to 30 minutes of light.
Can generate up to 65 lumens.
3 lighting modes: high, low and SOS.
Can be used to recharge your mobile devices.
It’s inexpensive and looks like it.
Camping Lantern Buyers Guide
There are all types of things to consider when buying a camping lantern. Here are some of the most common.
Gas or battery – There are those who swear by gas powered camping lanterns and others who gladly gave theirs to their brother in law when LED lanterns came along. The case against gas powered is that the camping lanterns can be cumbersome and you’re carrying volatile gas in your backpack. The case against batteries is that they’re batteries.
Type of batteries required – Flashlight batteries are more expensive and heavy than AA or AAA batteries which is something to consider if you’re hiking a long way.
Brightness – If you want the outdoor lantern to illuminate your entire campground you’re going to want a propane camping lantern or one of the more powerful (600 lumens and up) LED lamps.
Light duration – How long the camping lantern will operate on a full charge, full tank of fuel or new set of batteries is crucial. Obviously the longer the better.
Size – Generally the larger the camping lantern the less appropriate it will be on long treks.
Types of Camping Lanterns
Battery powered – The battery operated lantern has been around a while but has become increasingly popular following the advent of affordable LED technology. Today they’re the fastest growing segment of the outdoor lantern market.
Fuel powered camping lanterns – There are a number of different types of fuel powered camping lanterns including:
- Propane – Propane powered camping lanterns enjoyed widespread popularity in the past and are still very popular mainly because you have more precise control over the amount of light and they shine like the sun if that’s what you want.
- Butane – Butane powered lanterns are not huge sellers because they don’t always perform well in cold weather. They do have the advantage of lighter fuel canisters than propane and they’re typically self-igniting.
- Kerosene – Kerosene lanterns are old-school at its best. Typically made of metal with a heavy glass lens they can weigh quite a bit. On the other hand you have a lot of control and they’re very dependable.
Wind ups – Wind up lanterns use a crank system to charge a battery that powers what are typically LED lights. They’re great because they never run out of power.
Solar – The solar powered rechargeable lantern is a favorite of environmentalists seeking a more sustainable way. The only drawback is the obvious one: cloudy days.
Camping Lantern FAQs
Q: How to Maintain Camping Lanterns?
A: You’ve got a fairly easy task when it comes to maintaining your camping lantern. There’s very little damages that occur (apart from dropping it), so following these steps will keep it in out-of-the-box shape from day one, to day one-thousand.
Clear Dirt from Base - Bits of dirt and dust are going to find their way inside your camping lantern. Simply detach the lens, clean out anything that’s fallen in, and ensure to clean the exterior. People don’t often correlate general cleanliness with maintenance, which is exactly how things get damaged far quicker than they ever should have.
Clean Interior of Lens - If you get a simple lens cleaning rag or individual lens wipes, you’ll be good to go. Take the lens off during disassembly and general cleaning, and wipe down the inside and out. Light eventually bleaches/damages plastic lenses, which are most common among camping lanterns. You can slow that effect immensely by doing this, which will keep things nice and bright as time goes on.
Q: How Often Should I Clean my Camping Lantern?
A: Every time you go to put it away, it should be wiped down first. If you’re one of those gents who throws your camping gear into a bag in a hurry and heads home, you’re bringing the great outdoors in, and nobody wants that. Clean your lantern right before you put it away to head out, and it’ll stay looking next to perfect.
If you just use this in the backyard or have it set for emergencies, you should check them out every six months to clean off any dust or dirt that’s gathered. Give it a little test as well; nobody wants to reach in for emergency supplies, only to find that their light source is toast.
Q: What are Lumens?
A: In short, lumens equal brightness. If you’ve ever thought that a higher wattage on a home light bulb meant it was bright, it’s simply not the case: it uses up more electricity to run. Lumens are affected by way too many factors to count, but primarily dictate how bright your light source is going to be.
Thanks to new light bulb labeling standards and laws, it’s actually a lot easier to determine how energy-efficient a light bulb can be. You take the lumens (listed on packages) and divide by the watts that the bulb or light source takes. You’re able to get a figure of watts per lumen, and on portable light sources like these camping lanterns, it gives you a better idea of how quickly you’re going to run through the battery source.
More lumens, more light; this is especially useful for your campsite. In a moment ,we’ll discuss how many lumens you’re actually going to need. Too many lumens can be a bad thing, mind you. If you take a look at our tactical flashlight buying guide, high outputs of lumens are used to temporarily blind and distract your adversaries in a survival scenario. High lumens can damage your eyesight, so be careful.
Q: How Many Lumens do You Really Need?
A: You want to light up the campsite, but you don’t want to burn your retinas out. For the indoors, you’ll want 5,000 lumens per 250 square feet. Since there’s no real way to measure the outdoors (don’t go eccentric on your campsite layout), you’re left with a loose formula to determine what you’re going to need. Nothing is worse than premiering this on the campsite, and finding out that there’s not enough light to go around.
For one, determine how many people you’re going to have on your camping trip. If it’s you and three mates, envision a 1,000 square foot space, requiring about 20,000 lumens. You’re basically left with the need to light up a big-ass apartment or enormous connecting living room in an open floor plan. Keep in mind, this is a rating for widespread, non-concentrated light, and not realistic for the outdoors.
How that light travels is different. You’ll have tents set up, the bumper of your car blocking some light, your equipment: you want to illuminate the space without having too many shadows getting in the way. For this, we personally recommend grabbing two of the same lantern, and placing them strategically on your camping grounds.
20,000 lumens in a single camping lantern is impossible to find, andy ou don’t want to feel like you’re in a literal spotlight while you’re out there, so don’t go crazy on the light source. The last thing you want is to attract wildlife from far-reaching spots in the great outdoors. Stick with a couple of lamps in the 1,000 lumen+ range, and you’ll have plenty of low-bearing light in numerous areas of your campsite.
Q: I’m Grabbing This for Emergency Situations, Does That Change my Lumen Needs?
A: Absolutely. Without being grim, power outages often bring a lot of scared feelings, like being looted during a widespread blackout from a horrible storm of hurricane. You don’t want to look like a source of major energy for others to get the wrong idea about. It doesn’t take very long for people in adverse conditions to resort to extreme actions.
In this case, you’re going to want to stick to about 5,000 lumens at most. This will keep you relatively invisible, so long as you strategically place your lantern. These are great little numbers to have in case of an emergency. Take into consideration how long it takes for devastated areas to get power back: three weeks, ten hours of night each day, means about 310 hours of light that you may need. Get a long-lasting, low lumen lantern for emergency scenarios.
Lantern vs. Headlamp
The main difference between the two is light output. You can have a lantern of a headlamp with the same lumens, but how that light is directed will change everything. Headlamps traditionally shine the beam of light all in one direction, giving you the ability to light up one specific target instead of just emitting a light source all around you.
Lanterns are more often used for camping, because your campsite isn’t this narrow little strip of ground. If you’re with friends, you’ve got two or more tends, possible a small area where you dumped all of your backpacks, maybe even a car. Think about this: you wouldn’t want the headlight of a car to be your primary nighttime light source around the campsite.
Another reason lanternas are preferred is the dimming effect. As that light source expands, the light strength lowers since it’s being focused on a 360-degree space. Headlamps focus that light, so you’re going to damage your eyes. It’s like having a little sun just staring you in the face if you want light.
Now, headlamps aren’t all bad. If you’re travelling in the woods at night (we’re not sure why you7 would be, but rock on), a lantern is going to help with your personal surrounding, but not with what’s up ahead. If you had to abandoned the campsite due to a bear, you want both: a proximity around you and your friends, and a clear beam of light looking straight ahead so you’re not walking into trouble.
Last but not least, camping lanterns tend to emit less heat, while headlamps can often heat up and become alarming to touch the wrong spot. If you had to grab a lantern by the lens, you’d feel heat, but you’d still be able to grab it without burning yourself or injuring your hand.
Q: Can Your Camping Lantern Get Hot Enough to Cause a Fire?
A: We’ve ready just about every dumb story online that you possibly could think of, and we’re convinced that you could use just about anything to start a fire. If you’re using propane or butane, be sure to pack your common sense. You can 100% avoid the outbreak of a fire if you keep your placement smart, don’t put flammable items nearby (the casing can get hot enough to light paper on fires), and make sure to turn it off before hitting the hay, then you should be all good.
Other Features to Look For
Weight - Camping lanterns should be relatively lightweight. You’ll see an average of one to two pounds, and rarely more than three. You’ll be holding your lantern slightly elevated, so you don’t want too much weight making your arm tired while you’re travelling.
Portability - This usually comes down to weight distribution. If a lantern is awkwardly heavy on one side, or doesn’t possess a large enough handle, it’s not very portable. There are some models where you’re just expected to put them down, turn them on, and that’s it.
Type of Usage - Are you intending to illuminate the campsite, or do you have non-camping needs? These are rated for outdoor use, so if you’re looking for an indoor alternate light source that runs on batteries, this isn’t your go-to list. However, these lanterns are often reviewed by those who need emergency lighting in dangerous situations, so that’s a plus.
On-Board Battery - If you’re rocking a rechargeable model, one of the most attractive attributes is the ability to charge your smartphone or other micro USB devices right from the lantern’s power supply. If you’re fully charged and just hitting the site for a day or two, it’s not a bad idea, but don’t rely on this too heavily, or you’ll quite literally be left in the dark.
We hope you found the above camping lantern reviews helpful in determining which is the best camping lantern for you. Be sure to stop by on a regular basis for informative product reviews from the experts at GearHungry.