Whether you want to avoid tripping over your equipment, keep the kids feeling safe at night, or find your tent in the distance after an evening stroll, there are endless benefits to owning a camping lantern.
We've put together a comprehensive guide to the features you'll need to consider before making a purchase, and rounded up the top 10 best performers across a range of categories, to give you all the info you need to make the right choice.
If you'd like to get an overview of all the attributes of a good lantern, keep right on reading.
For a quick check on how the lanterns we've chosen stack up against each other, or to see the reviews for each lantern, jump ahead from the table of contents right here.
The 6 Top Things To Consider Before Purchasing A Camping Lantern
For hundreds of years, humans have used lanterns for the purpose of illuminating their indoor and outdoor activities. Evolution and technological advancement has seen the fuel for traditional lanterns progress from simple sources such as animal fat and kerosene, to today's camp lanterns where electricity is the most common power source.
Still, before purchasing any lantern to brighten up your camping trips, you'll need need to consider a range of features such as design, weight and durability to help you decide which one represents the best use of your money. There are contrasting features to consider, which we have helpfully outlined for you below!
The run time of the battery charge is the first, and for many people most important, factor to keep in mind. Expert campers like to understand how many hours of darkness the light source will last before another charge or energy top up. Moreover, being sure of when your light will run out goes a long way to giving you the desired camping feeling of comfort and security at night, not to mention your own safety when you’re stumbling over guy ropes in the dark.
LED lights will of course consume less power than traditional lamps, so look out for these when buying for a longer battery life.
A lantern with changeable batteries, including common types like AAA batteries, will generally be cheaper to buy, but you may earn in the long run by purchasing a light with a built in rechargeable battery that can be charged from your preferred mobile power source, or even with a portable solar panel. Nothing beats that happy green feeling of storing up the sun's rays by day and releasing them in a burst of solar powered brilliance at night.
You do not want to go for a lantern that is too bulky. Remember, many tents have fixings to hang lights from, and you don't want to pull the ceiling down! Besides, who wants extra weight when hiking?
Even though certain lanterns could come off as too appealing, you may be torn between avoiding it for its heavy size or going for its amazing looks. Do not make the wrong decision in terms of deciding the potential weight. Keep in mind that a heavy lantern could be troublesome to the stability of your tent – especially in poor terrain. On the brighter side, you can still choose a heavier one and use it to weigh down any flapping bits of tent.
Today's camping lanterns have been designed to serve several lighting purposes. For example, when it comes to the specific handles of each lantern, they are designed for either carrying or hanging up in the air. Others can be readjusted to fit the purposes of a flashlight by turning the light to the highest setting and concentrating the beam in a tighter area.
Additionally, others have unique mobility and utility functionalities such as radial properties and stationary lights. Certain lamps can be converted into smaller versions to fit tight tents or small places that lamps cannot access. Do you want a lantern to sit or hang in a fixed place in camp, or would you like to be able to carry it around like a flashlight?
Light output is generally described in lumens. Lumens are a unit of measurement of the brightness of a light source. In most cases, the light from a single lit candle equals to one lumen. Understanding this will equip you with the required knowledge to help you make the best brightness decision.
One of the most impressive features of premium lanterns is the number of lumens they can produce. Before buying any lantern, be careful enough to understand the distance which the light can cover in all methods of illumination. When you understand how many lumens you need, you can be able to make an informed decision about the number of lanterns that you’ll need to fit your camping requirements. Keep in mind that the quality of light varies according to the power source. For example, an LED lantern can last longer but have a white light casting effect.
In terms of the lumen output range to expect, think between 100-1000. 1000 lumens is a lot of light, 100 lumens might leave you squinting in the twilight.
The final thing to consider is the durability of the lantern. For your best camping lantern, it is recommended you go for one that can survive all kinds of risks.
For example, many lanterns wil advertise their water resistance level: a key thing to know when you may be leaving it outside overnight. Here, you may be tempted to settle for a beautiful and classy lantern yet it can barely survive harsh weather when you are camping. For you to be certain that you've selected the best camping lantern for the task at hand, go for one that has rugged composition.
Common Types of Camping Lantern
- Battery Powered - The most common. Modern LED bulbs mean that battery performance goes a long way nowadays. These can either feature rechargeable or single use batteries.
- Wind-Up - Always popular due to their lack of requirement for external charging. Have a coffee, wind it up to charge the battery, and light up your life!
- Plug In - If your lantern is plugged in to another power source you'll know it won't run out of battery. However the trailing cables and access to external power mean these aren't the most practical choice.
Now you know what to look for, have a look at the 10 best camping lanterns that we've found and reviewed for you:
Lantern Quick Comparison Table
|Lantern||Lumens||Battery Type||Price||Best For||Product Link|
|AGPTEK Solar Lantern||60-120||Internal rechargeable/AAA||$$||Feature versatility at this price point||Check Price!|
|LE LED Camping Lantern Rechargeable||1000||Internal rechargeable||$$||Best brightness in a multi-function light||Check Price!|
|Vont 4 Pack LED Camping Lantern||140||AA||$$||Value for money||Check Price!|
|Energizer LED Camping Lantern Flashlight||500||AA or D||$$$||Simplicity||Check Price!|
|Goal Zero Lighthouse 400 [BEST BUY]||400||Internal rechargeable||$$$||Best rated overall||Check Price!|
|Northpoint 12-LED Lantern Vintage Style||150||D||$||Adding a hint of style to your camp||Check Price!|
|Vango Lunar 250 Eco Solar Camping Lantern||250||Internal rechargeable||$$||All round performance at a good price||Check Price!|
|Internova Monster LED Camping Lantern||800-1500||Internal rechargeable||$$||Reliable, powerful lighting in bad weather||Check Price!|
|Streamlight 44931 Siege Compact||540||D||$$||Kids' night light||Check Price!|
|FOGEEK Portable Camping Lantern||200||Internal rechargeable||$||Low price USB hub||Check Price!|
Best Camping Lantern Reviews
The AGPTEK Solar Lantern is the first light on our list, and it comes with a strong range of features . You can power it with batteries, use the built-in solar panel to charge it by day, or plug it in if you have an AC or 12v power source. In addition it comes with a hand crank to charge the battery mechanically when all else fails (or if you just like the exercise!).
The 36 LED super bright light has two light modes - one for normal activities like reading, and a super bright one for when you need that little extra boost.
Lastly it has a USB port for charging your smart phone or other mobile devices, and the LEDs are pretty efficient, giving a decent run time.
Exploring all the features available on premium lanterns, at an affordable price point
The LE LED Rechargeable Camping Lantern is one of the most popular camping lanterns on our list, and it won't take you long to see why. This lantern comes with a rechargeable battery so that you never have to buy external batteries for it, and it has a long run time of up to 12 hours.
You get 360 degrees of 1,000-lumen light on the highest setting, making it perfect for large tents and outdoor activities. 4 light modes are on offer, changing the colour temperature between 3000-6000k depending on your preference, plus dimming and flashing modes for a bit of extra versatility.
If you want to hang the lantern inside your tent there are hooks on both the top and bottom depending on how widely you want to distribute the light - a nice design aspect. The light is IP44 rated so it can be safely left out in a rain shower, and LE even back that up with a 2-year guarantee, so they're confident in their product quality.
Best brightness in a light of this versatility
Not one, not two, but four lanterns in one handy, wallet friendly pack! For the same price as most single camping lanterns, you get a whole 'survival pack' that will give you the best camping experience after dark. Let's look at the benefits:
You won't be worrying about losing light in the darkest hour before the dawn - each one of these lanterns lasts 30 hours on a set of AA batteries. That's nearly twice as long as the average competition.
Portability is made easier by the collapsible functionality. These compact down to the size of your phone, easy to store in transit or while out on a late hike.
They're not going to break in a hurry thanks to aircraft-grade construction materials. The manufacturers boast of their ability to resist 10-foot drops, temporary submersion in water, and rampaging children!
This pack can't be beaten on sheer value for money
Energizer are a renowned brand in the lightweight electrical market, known for their batteries and LED lights. No surprise then that their LED Camping Lantern Flashlight is one of the best camping lanterns on our list.
Unsurprisingly, this is a battery powered light. You have an interesting choice: use three D-sized batteries for the maximum light output (500 lumens) or three AAs for a lower intensity light. The super bright LEDS will give enough brightness for pretty much any situation so this is a good one to keep handy when you get back from your camping trip - it's perfect for any domestic blackouts.
Switching between the three available intensity settings is helped by a glow-in-the dark button. The general construction is also solid, rugged, and water resistant. Rounding out with up to 650 hours of low light from a set of batteries, this is one of the best contenders in the list.
Straightforward bright, long-lasting light
For the demanding camper with high standards and a budget to match, comes the Goal Zero Lighthouse 400. This light has all the features you'd expect from a premium lantern, and more. The internal rechargeable battery functions as a 4400 mAh usb hub - in the real world that means you'll get a couple of smartphone charges, half a tablet charge, or multiple recharges of your head torch or Go Pro from the usb outlet.
If you're completely off grid it's another lantern with a hand crank, enabling you to quickly spin up a few more
hours of power.
Alternatively it can be recharged with Goal Zero's own solar panel, the Nomad. Either way this makes the Zero Lighthouse one of the most versatile lanterns in our list for charging options.
The best camping lantern is one that can be moved effortlessly around your camping spot - in that regard the Zero Lighthouse 400 meets the bill admirably. Its collapsible legs fold into the body for ease of storage, it has a hook for hanging inside a tent, and the light can be adjusted to only work on one side if you don't need full 360 degree illumination. As camping lanterns go this one certainly warrants careful consideration.
The Goal Zero Lighthouse 400 is the most highly rated lantern, on the whole, by other testers online
Sometimes all the features and numbers in the world can't beat pure style. Northpoint's offering makes our list because it offers a hint of Old West ambiance in a budget-friendly package.
The basics are all there: 12 powerful LEDS, decent run time from a set of D batteries, dimmer switch, hanging ring. However it's the looks that win out here, and the lantern comes in a wide range of colors that give the budding interior designer a chance to take their skills to the outdoors. Given the low price and weaker light output you might want to invest in a few of these and dot them around for the best camping aura at dusk.
Adding a touch of vintage style to your basecamp
Vango have made a name for themselves with their range of high quality tents that perform well for their price. In the same vein this camping lantern is well equipped for its pricepoint.
The internal battery outputs a respectable amount of light for long enough to get you from dusk til bed. Charging is done via the built in usb port or with the solar panel on the lantern's top. It's light enough to hang safely inside the flimsiest tent, and well constructed enough to survive the general activity on most camping trips.
Nothing really stands out, but there's not much to dislike either, we consider this to be deserving of a best camping lantern list because it does the job, and won't let you down when it matters.
The best all round performance at this price
Monster by name, monster by nature - everything about this camping lantern is big and bold. It's a whopping 50% brighter than the next best on our list, with a high capacity battery to keep every corner of your tent illuminated for up to five hours.
As far as features go it has four brightness modes and the usual hanging hook, but the Monster stands out for sheer rugged durability. Water resistance and stability are key components of its design, with a sturdy rubber and plastic molded base giving it the non-slip edge. Even snow should be no match for the Monster, it really is one of the best camping lanterns out there.
Internova back up their claims with a 5 year warranty too - so you can take this into Sasquatch territory safe in the knowledge that you're covered for any accidental stampings!
Reliable, powerful lighting in bad weather
The Streamlight 44931 Siege Compact is a simple and powerful lantern. It has probably the best light output versus run time here, with a promised 30 hours at 540 lumens. That's from a set of three 'D' batteries - no rechargeable option is offered yet.
Its got respectable construction specs so should be able to deal with knocks. bumps, and a bit of rain. However what makes this camping lantern worthy of consideration is its multiple light modes. Apart from the usual white LED it also has a red light option, very useful for a low level, long lasting over night light.
Furthermore it can be customised to fit your requirements, with a removable bulb cover that reduces the size of the lantern. This makes it easier to hang or stand in less accessible areas, out of the way of the rest of your gear. With the cover on, Streamlight promise that it will even float if you drop it into a body of water.
Kids' night light, particularly if you use the red light mode
Last but certainly not least we have Fogeeks's lantern. As camping lanterns go this one is a bit of a Swiss army knife, ticking all of the feature boxes you'd expect, plus a few more. In fact, for sheer performance across the board it could be the best camping lantern in our list.
For a small lantern it pumps out a good amount of light at 200 lumens. Lighting modes include a range of 6 brightness settings across warm or cool white color temperatures, plus additional strobe or SOS modes for when you're at risk of beng swept away in a storm.
Somehow the internal lithium batteries keep up a low degree light for up to 100 hours. Then again the 5200 mAh battery is also intended to act as a charger for your other devices, with its usb output port.
The small size and weight make this the best lantern to keep in your backpack when you're away from camp too. It will withstand a rain shower while you're out, and on a hot day it'll keep the dust out of its innards too. When you're setting in at night it's easy to hang from your tent or a tree branch with the included hook and D rings, but best of all (and uniquely in this list) it also features a magnetic base.
Never mind the light, this holds its own as a low price USB hub
Rounding it all up...
Camping is a fun and relaxing experience that everyone should try at least during the summer. In the past, camping meant giving up some of life's luxuries, but that no longer has to be the case.
In summary, you want to be looking for:
- LED lights
- Construction quality to meet the weather conditions you'll be expecting
- Good battery life
- Enough lumens that your whole group can see in the evening
- A versatile lantern that will fit the space and uses you have planned
With modern LED lighting, colors across the whole spectrum, materials that offer protection from all types of weather conditions, and batteries that can keep the juice flowing for ages, today's adventurer can enjoy the simplicity of the outdoor life without breaking the bank, or their back!
We hope our guide has given you enough helpful information to weigh the factors for a lantern purchase, and you can rest assured that one of the camping lanterns in our list will be just what you need to enjoy the nights on your next camping trip.
Don't forget to head back to our homepage for more tips and reviews on all things outdoor and gadgety.