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.
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.
Have a look at our 10 best lanterns for camping and see what you would want to buy. We made our choices based on the points listed in the buying guide below, as well as reviewer comments when available.
*Please note that these products were chosen after extensive research by mybest writers. The choices are not necessarily affiliated with or recommended by Pak Eugene.
LED Camping Lanterns
Tent Light With LCD
Packlite Max 2-in-1 Power Lantern
Carabineer Classic Personal Lantern
1000-Lumen LED Lantern
Solar-Powered Crank Dynamo
Camping Fan With LED Lantern
Deluxe Propane Lantern
Original Candle Lantern
Best Set of Lanterns for Overall Use
Best Lantern With Extra Features
Best Lantern for Backpackers
Best Waterproof Lantern That's Highly Portable
Best to Light up the Whole Campsite
Best Lantern With Removable Top
Best Lantern for Versatile Power Sources
Best Lantern for Summer Camping
Best for Winter Camping and Lighting Really Large Sites
Best Candle Lantern for Backup or Keeping Bugs Away
|Lumens||140||240||100||150||400||1000||180||Not specified; 12 LEDs||1000||-|
|Runtime||Up to 90 hrs.||Up to 500 hrs.||70 hrs.||Up to 50 hrs.||Up to 70 hrs.||Up to 25 hrs.||20 minutes of light per 1 minute of cranking||40 hrs. with fan only, 18 days with light only||Up to 9.25 hrs.||9 hrs.|
|Best for||Camping, emergencies, groups||Camping, emergencies, indoors||Hikers, backpackers, tent use||Backpacking, camping, hiking, water activities||RV camping, car camping, single-person use||Large groups, RV camping||Camping, emergencies, indoor use||Tent camping, car camping, warm weather camping||Winter camping, large campsites, rv camping||Emergencies, backup, RV camping, vehicle camping|
|Weight||7.6 oz.||0.88 lbs.||3 oz.||8.6 oz.||2.76 lbs.||14 oz.||1.45 lbs.||11.3 oz.||3 lbs.||6.4 oz.|
|Water resistance||IP44||IP65||IPX4||IP67||IPX4||IPX4||Water-resistant||Not specified||-||-|
|Additional features||Hanging hooks, collapsible||Carabiner clip, USB, reversible light||Collapsible hanging hook||Inflatable, USB charger, solar-power and USB-charging||Carabiner handle, rechargeable battery option||4 light modes, stepless dimming, bottom hook, top handle||Crank, USB charger, hanging hook||Hanging hook, fan, aroma diffuser||Foldable base, hanging hook||Twist lock base, carrying handle, hanging hook|
|Runtime||Up to 90 hrs.|
|Best for||Camping, emergencies, groups|
|Additional features||Hanging hooks, collapsible|
|Runtime||Up to 500 hrs.|
|Best for||Camping, emergencies, indoors|
|Additional features||Carabiner clip, USB, reversible light|
|Best for||Hikers, backpackers, tent use|
|Additional features||Collapsible hanging hook|
|Runtime||Up to 50 hrs.|
|Best for||Backpacking, camping, hiking, water activities|
|Additional features||Inflatable, USB charger, solar-power and USB-charging|
|Runtime||Up to 70 hrs.|
|Best for||RV camping, car camping, single-person use|
|Additional features||Carabiner handle, rechargeable battery option|
|Runtime||Up to 25 hrs.|
|Best for||Large groups, RV camping|
|Additional features||4 light modes, stepless dimming, bottom hook, top handle|
|Runtime||20 minutes of light per 1 minute of cranking|
|Best for||Camping, emergencies, indoor use|
|Additional features||Crank, USB charger, hanging hook|
|Lumens||Not specified; 12 LEDs|
|Runtime||40 hrs. with fan only, 18 days with light only|
|Best for||Tent camping, car camping, warm weather camping|
|Water resistance||Not specified|
|Additional features||Hanging hook, fan, aroma diffuser|
|Runtime||Up to 9.25 hrs.|
|Best for||Winter camping, large campsites, rv camping|
|Additional features||Foldable base, hanging hook|
|Best for||Emergencies, backup, RV camping, vehicle camping|
|Additional features||Twist lock base, carrying handle, hanging hook|
|Runtime||Up to 50 hours on low setting|
|Best for||Good weather camping and hiking, emergencies, and more|
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.
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