There's no doubt that a lantern is essential for a camping trip. Whether you sit down for card games at the campground or inside a tent, or you're indulging in some cooking spree, a lantern will be a significant help. Also, if you're moving around your campsite in the darkness, it can be handy as a flashlight!
That's why we searched e-commerce sites like Amazon for both freestanding and hanging lantern types for camping. Our favorite pick is the Vont LED Camping Lanterns. With a power pack of 30 LED bulbs illuminating the lantern, each runs for 90 hours. Check out even more great options in our 10 best list, and read on until the end for some things to keep in mind while browsing on your own.
My name is 박 (Pak). I am a first-generation Korean American who has worked in the outdoors for 6 years as a guide. Now I'm enjoying traveling around with my bicycle and spending time outdoors with my dog Gaara.
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Choosing a camping lantern is not always simple. Different lanterns serve different purposes. For example, big lanterns are better for car camping whereas smaller lanterns work for backpackers who like to pack light. And that's not the only criteria to look for when buying a camping lantern.
While you can't expect the focused beam of light a flashlight throws your way, a lantern is essential for tasks in and around your tent and campground. If you're planning to buy one, read on!
The most common types of lanterns for camping are the electric, but it's not uncommon to find models that run on fuels like kerosene or ones that use candles. Each model has different perks and drawbacks to consider when you make your choice.
Electric lanterns are operated using alkaline batteries, lithium batteries, rechargeable batteries, or an external power source, like solar energy. Electric lanterns are safe, ideal choices for camping with kids and pets. They are quiet, have a significantly high light output, and are safe to use indoors.
Single-use alkaline batteries are popular, inexpensive power sources, but they will need frequent replacements as they die out. Also, alkaline batteries could lose their power capacity while camping in below-freezing temperatures. Lanterns with lithium or lithium-ion batteries perform much better in colder climates.
A lantern with removable and rechargeable batteries will be more convenient if you're camping in your car or RV. You can use your vehicle to charge your lantern's batteries. Many electric lanterns have USB ports to charge other electronic devices.
They're safe for children and pets and are more eco-friendly than propane or oil lanterns. Solar-powered lanterns are also chargeable via USB or batteries in the event that the solar panel malfunctions or you're dealing with a string of cloudy, rainy days.
Fuel-powered lanterns operate on fuel sources like liquid fuel, propane, and butane. They use cloth mantles to emit light.
Though most fuel-powered lanterns aren't as bright as electric lanterns, they can burn rather bright. Kerosene burns the brightest, but it can produce a pungent smell when burned. Fuel-powered lanterns also emit noise and heat during their operation. They're made of glass and metal instead of plastic, making them heavier and more fragile. A fuel-powered lantern may not be ideal for rough terrain.
These lanterns shouldn't be operated near flammable materials or inside compact spaces that lack ventilation. They aren't the safest option when camping with kids and pets. But, they're great for use while camping in cold weather! They make great lanterns for camping during winter if used carefully.
Candle lanterns are a traditional light source with a soothing glow. They are silent, and the light emitted is soft, which won't be sufficient for some tasks at a campground.
This type of lantern also generates heat and shouldn't be used near flammable materials. They can be hot to touch, especially when used for a long time. With their minimal lumen output, they work best for small tasks within the camp. Some campers use these to create a relaxing atmosphere around the campsite.
There are also electric candles that can be used for your lantern. These emit similar lighting without the danger of using real candles. Most of the time, these come in bulk packs and can be used until their battery runs out. There are also electric lanterns that have a setting that mimics lighting similar to a candle source.
The light output of a lantern is measured in lumens. The higher the lumens, the greater the brightness of the lantern will be. Higher output also means that the lantern has a shorter run time or battery life.
Most lanterns have a low setting and a high setting so you can adjust the output. The output for propane, candle, and oil lanterns depends on the size of the candle, amount of fuel, and wick length.
For individuals, a lantern with 100 to 200 lumens will be ideal. This range is also great for lighting up tents. However, for large groups and campsites, you need a lantern with 300 lumens or more. Or, large groups can use multiple smaller lanterns to light up their camping ground.
Gas lanterns have their light duration measured in burn time, and electric ones measure it in run time. The light duration tells you how long you can expect your lantern to provide light.
Most gas and battery-operated lanterns come with adjustable light intensities that help save power. Electric lanterns tend to have a longer runtime than candle or gas lanterns. Typical runtimes are about seven hours on high settings and 30 to 70 hours on a low setting. Some lanterns can last for as long as 500 hours!
The size and weight of a lantern are directly proportional to its light output. Try to find the best balance for the kind of camping you do. For single campers, backpackers, and hikers, small and lightweight lanterns are ideal. Any lantern that weighs around half a pound and is collapsable or inflatable is best for campers that need to keep their loads light. Low-output lanterns give just enough light to read inside a tent or eat meals.
For a campground, car, or RV, you need a larger lantern with powerful light output to illuminate a wider area. A suitable lantern that weighs two pounds or more could be ideal. These lanterns may also use heavier batteries or require you to carry extra fuel, which will be easier for those camping with a vehicle.
If lanterns aren't enough of a light source, another alternative is using "fairy lights" or string lights. These can provide more light in a greater range but will be dimmer overall compared to a lantern that has concentrated light.
Some lanterns can malfunction when they're exposed to moisture or icy weather conditions. A water-resistant lantern will be most suitable for all weather conditions. Completely waterproof lanterns can be fully immersed in water without damage.
A lantern's water resistance is measured as per Ingress Protection standards (written as "IP") and followed by a number. It indicates how much protection the lantern can offer against solid objects as well as water.
An IPX0 rating means that the lantern offers no protection against water. IPX1 indicates the lantern offers protection against dripping water. If it offers protection against solid objects like sand, the "X" will be replaced by a number up to 6. If there's no protection, it will be listed as X or 0.
For casual camping needs, an IP44-certified lantern is sufficient. It offers protection from splashing in all directions. A lantern with IPX8 can be immersed in water deeper than one meter. If a lantern has IP68, it offers total protection against the ingress of solids and water.
But it is best practice to not leave your lantern out in adverse conditions as the moisture can destroy the internal mechanisms or eventually corrode the battery. Either of these are best avoided to keep your lantern running as long as possible.
Lanterns may have additional features to make their use easier. This can include legs or hooks to place them safely around your campsite or tent, an adjustment feature for light output, and a display for extra information like remaining runtime.
One of the other essential features to look for is a hanging loop or a hook to hang your lantern. Most lantern models have them, regardless of how they're powered. Some inflatable and solar-powered models only have a thin loop or don't have a hook at all.
Most models are also freestanding with a wide, flat base for support. However, there are some that have adjustable or pop-out legs to place on uneven ground. Other models have hooks built into the base so they can be hung upside down, as well.
A light-adjustment button on a lantern helps you to control the brightness level. This is a great way to save power and increase the run time of the lantern. Most battery-operated lanterns don’t have a varying adjustment feature and instead have an on-off switch.
Lanterns with adjustable settings will have a control knob or preset settings built into the lantern. The light intensity of fuel lanterns can be controlled by adjusting the mantle. Also available are lanterns that can double as a flashlight and strobe. Some lanterns even have a red SOS feature in case of an emergency.
Many electric lanterns also have a spectrum of colors from red all the way to purple. These options are great for different scenarios; for example, red light can provide a great source for when you're with others as it won't blind anyone as white light would. Other color lights can be great for not attracting bugs to your light source.
Some lanterns feature an LCD that displays time, temperature, battery level, and more, though these aren't as common. These models often have USB ports to charge your other electronics. Make sure to set the time before first use, and check the temperature display with other devices to ensure that it is correct before heading out.
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Best Set of Lanterns for Overall Use
Tent Light With LCD
Best Lantern With Extra Features
Rechargeable LED Camping Lantern
Best Lantern for Backpackers
Solar Powered LED Lantern
Best Waterproof Lantern That's Highly Portable
Flame Light Vintage Lantern
Best to Light up the Whole Campsite
1000-Lumen LED Lantern
Best Lantern With Removable Top
Compact Camping Lantern
Best Lantern for Versatile Power Sources
Premium Dual Fuel Lantern
Best Lantern for Summer Camping
Best for Winter Camping and Lighting Really Large Sites
LED Lantern With Fan
Best Candle Lantern for Backup or Keeping Bugs Away
This set of two Vont's LED Camping Lanterns' brightness can be adjusted by collapsing and expanding the lanterns. The lanterns are able to survive 10-foot drops and rough treatment. With an IPX44 rating, they're also waterproof and able to withstand being temporarily submerged.
A few reviewers feel that the light is too blue and should be frosted, and they also feel that the lanterns aren't completely waterproof. However, many people feel that these lanterns are easy to operate, bright, and are great for emergencies. They also love how lightweight and compact they are.
Sinvitron's LED Camping Lantern has many features that you will love. The LED display tracks the time, temperature, and battery level, and it has a power bank for charging devices. This lantern has an output of 240 lumens with a few light modes, including a red SOS mode for emergencies.
Some reviewers note that the display for the temperature was off several degrees when compared to other devices. They also say that the lantern’s design is better suited for hanging. However, most reviewers love that this product is very bright with a long-lasting charge. They love that a USB cable is included, as well.
The Black Diamond Moji Lantern produces 100 lumens through a frosted globe, the perfect ambient light for your tent, hiking, or backpacking trip. At three ounces, it's lightweight, and it has a collapsible hook to hang from tents, trees, and other spots. It's available in six colors.
Some reviewers comment that the product dies quickly, even after putting in fresh batteries. That being said, many users say this lantern is durable and very bright for its size. They also love the dimming feature and find it useful for adjusting lighting while on the go and in their tents.
LuminAID's Packlite Max Power Lantern is inflatable and flattens for easy portability. This compact solar-powered lantern can be taken anywhere: hikes, backpacking trips, tents, fishing, and even underwater. The shatterproof thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU) has a rating of IP67, making it submersible.
Some reviewers comment that the lantern does not charge devices well and the solar panel does not help much. However, most customers love how bright it lights their surroundings and find it perfect to use in remote locations. They often buy multiple lanterns and give this product out as gifts.
Coleman's 400-lumen LED lantern casts powerful beams of light for up to 70 hours on its low setting, giving you nearly three days of light. The carabiner handle makes it easy for this lantern to be hung on tents or trees, with a stable base to place nearly anywhere. You can use D batteries or a rechargeable CPX 6 power cartridge.
A few reviewers say that rechargeable cartridges don't fit in the battery compartment and that the compartment broke after they tried to replace the batteries. On the other hand, most customers find this product to be lightweight, powerfully bright, and durable. They also love the convenience of the carabiner hook.
Lighting Ever's LED Lantern has a brilliant 1000-lumen output that illuminates a wide area. It's great for camping with a car, RV, or large group. This lantern is splashproof from all angles and can be hung upside down and used with the cover off.
Some reviewers remark that the batteries can be difficult to install or remove, and the D batteries make the lantern too heavy to use for hiking or backpacking. However, most people find that this lantern is very bright and sturdy. They also love the hook on the base and that it is heavy enough to prevent tipping.
The Dynamo Solar-Powered Lantern by Whetstone has four options for charging: solar, battery, AC adapter, or hand crank. This versatility makes it great for nearly any situation. Use it indoors, while camping in remote locations, or during emergencies.
Some reviewers comment that the runtime isn't very long and sometimes, their electronic devices do not receive a charge. However, many customers feel that this product is well-constructed and charges well in sunlight. They also say it lasts for years and serves well during power outages.
This battery-operated camping fan with LED provides ample light and a refreshing breeze for hot, sticky summer days. The lantern and fan have three settings, so you can adjust both to a comfortable level for reading, use in the tent, or around your campsite. A hook makes it easy to place anywhere you need.
Several reviewers comment that the product is smaller than anticipated and has short battery life. On the other hand, most customers love that this lantern is bright, and report that it works best on a lower brightness setting. They also appreciate that they can rotate the fan 360 degrees and it has a strong power output despite its small size.
The Coleman Deluxe Propane Lantern produces 1,000 lumens and plenty of heat for those dark winter nights. This lantern can light up an impressive 25 yards. Its light and heat output are adjustable with a control knob.
Quite a few customers find the necessity for a lighter or matches inconvenient. They also comment that the base doesn’t properly fit and this lantern produces a lot of noise. But, many customers say that this lantern is bright and easy to use and travel with. They also say that it is surprisingly durable despite being made of glass.
UCO's Original Candle Lantern is slim and collapsible with a spring-loaded candle chamber. The candles provided burn for nine hours, perfect for situations where you can't charge an electric lantern. UCO includes three extra candles with the lantern and also offers citronella or beeswax alternatives.
A few reviewers say that the product is not durable and much smaller than they expected. However, many users say that it is a great lantern for emergencies, backpacking, hiking, and cold weather camping. They love the ambient light and find that sometimes, these candles burn longer than the nine hours.
This electric solar light is the perfect lantern to use. Since it's inflatable, you can store it easily in its non-inflated state Not to mention, it can charge it via solar while providing a 2000 mAh battery so you can charge your electronics with it. It has a IP67 water rating and has a wonderful handle so you can hang it around camp.
The urge to get out in nature doesn't go away, no matter the season. That's why we have some great recommendations for a nature getaway without having to compromise any homey comforts.
Interested in looking into more options? Check out Amazon's list of bestselling electric camping lanterns below!
This expert reviewed the contents of the buying guide for accuracy and provided factual corrections when necessary. They did not participate in the product selection process, nor are they affiliated with any of our choices unless explicitly stated so.
No. 1: Vont | LED Lanterns
No. 2: Sinvitron | Tent Light With LCD
No. 3: Black Diamond | Rechargeable LED Camping Lantern
No. 4: LuminAID | Solar Powered LED Lantern
No. 5: Coleman | Flame Light Vintage Lantern
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