While camping can be a very welcome escape from the luxuries of day to day life, there are a few simple luxuries many people believe are important to bring with them. One of the most important luxuries is light.
Fumbling around a campsite tripping over guy lines and lawn chairs or rummaging around in your backpack for a shirt and later discovering that it wasn’t your backpack or shirt at all is not the picture of enjoyment and relaxation most people envision when think about going camping. It is for reasons like these that we suggest bringing some sort of artificial light with you on your trip.
Many people choose to bring an assortment of flashlights on their trips. Flashlights come in very handy when moving about from one place to another. For me, a flashlight is a must-have for my many midnight trips to the campground’s makeshift bathroom.
Although flashlights are handy at times, they struggle to meet some other needs you may have regarding light. What about the dreary rainy days you spend inside your tent, barely able to see the card game you are trying to play?
What about those midnight discussions inside your group-sized tent or the s’mores you struggle to make by the fire using only the fire’s light and a flashlight held by a child who doesn’t understand what “Point it this way” means? These are the types of situations in which camp lanterns are extremely helpful.
A lantern can light up a much larger area of space than a flashlight. It allows you to disperse light throughout a larger area, instead of focusing it in on one small area. On this page, we will look at the lanterns which are popular on today’s market and discuss their various benefits and drawbacks.
If you need some basic information about lanterns to help you decide which type is best for you, you can scroll further down this page to the buying guide.
What Are the Best Lanterns for Camping?
Even though I only selected the best lanterns for inclusion on this website, there are always those among the best which are superior to the rest.
These three lanterns are the best of the best, so to speak. Among the most popular, top-rated lanterns on today’s market, these three have risen above the rest in their respective categories and have called for your attention.
On the off chance that one of these lanterns does not fit your needs, or in case you simply feel like comparison shopping, I have included reviews of five other impressive lanterns at the bottom of this page.
1. Streamlight 44931 The Siege: Best Overall Camp Lantern
This multifunctional lantern has received the best reviews of all the lanterns included on this list. Consumers simply could not stop raving about its reliability and superior function. Of course, that told me I must include it on this list.
When making your purchase, you can choose between a model which runs on three D batteries or one which relies on three AA batteries. I really am not sure what difference it makes, but it is nice to know that you have the choice if you have a preference.
Four bright white LED lights allow for up to 340 lumens of light when the lantern is set to “high”. Unlike most bulb-based lanterns, this one has three main settings: high, medium and low. When set to medium, the lamp emits 175 lumens of light. When set to low, it shines 33 lumens of light. Choosing the medium or low options allow you to extend the battery life.
This Streamlight even has you covered in the case of a major emergency. It comes equipped with a red trouble light which can be set to blink an SOS pattern. To switch between these various modes, simply continue pressing this lantern’s one and only button.
D-shaped rings on both the top and bottom of this lantern which will allow you to hang it in whichever direction you please. Light up the top of your tent with a soft glow for a relaxing ambiance, or flip the lantern upside down and remove its shade to focus light downward on the area in the center of your tent.
2. Luminoodle Portable LED Light Rope with Lantern: Best Waterproof
In my opinion, the Luminoodle is one of the coolest camp lighting systems I have ever seen. Also, it is quite fun to say. Focusing more on its specifications than its fun name, however, this is a very unique and impressive lantern – if you can really call it a lantern at all.
The Luminoodle is actually a string of LED lights. The string is slim and coated with a clear rubbery material which makes it fully waterproof. You can leave it outside in a rainstorm for days on end without a single worry.
Leave the lights as a string and string them along branches, walkways, and tent doors to provide guiding paths for everyone in your campsite. String them up around the roof of your tent to illuminate it in its entirety at night. Easy-to-use, reusable rubber ties come with the Luminoodle so that you can attach it to any slim object, such as a tent pole, a string, or a small branch.
Need to walk somewhere and require the assistance of some light? No problem. Simply stuff the string of lights inside nylon bag which comes with the Luminoodle and carry it around as if it were a lantern. You may expect that this type of lighting system would not emit as much light as a traditional lantern, but you would be wrong.
The Luminoodle boasts 180 lumens of light and can run for up to six hours on a single charge. Oh yes, I almost forgot to tell you – this lighting system is rechargeable. Unlike most other battery-operated lanterns, you won’t need to carry a bag full of spare batteries around with you, because you can charge these lights inside your car or at any electrical outlet you find nearby.
3. Coleman Premium Dual Fuel: Best Fuel Based Lantern
Capable of achieving an extremely bright 861 lumens, this Coleman lantern competes with many of the best and brightest LED lanterns on today’s market.
Such brightness is made possible by two separate mantles. Mantles are the part of the fuel-based lantern which actually light up. The mantles also contribute to this lantern’s ability to light up an entire 360 degree area.
A conveniently labeled knob allows you to dampen the flame so that the lantern emits only a soft glow. Personally, I love that fuel-based lamps are so much more customizable in terms of brightness. I also love their warm glow. The light from this lantern is no different. When set to high, this lantern is capable of burning for up to seven hours. Of course, if you set it just a little bit lower you can extend the life of your fuel.
What is different about this lantern is that it does not run on propane or alcohol like many of the other popular fuel-based lanterns on today’s market. Even better, it has the ability to run on two different types of fuel, Coleman’s own liquid fuel or unleaded gasoline. Of course, you should be sure to use only one or the other and to thoroughly clean the lantern before switching between the two.
Runners Up Battery Lantern?
Hours of research and years of personal experience led to the birth of this page filled with information about some of today’s most popular, top-selling camp lanterns. I couldn’t justify all of that work by only including three actual reviews on this page.
Also, I think that you are worth more effort than that. What if one of those lanterns I listed above does not meet your very unique and particular needs? If that is the case, you don’t have to worry. I have included an additional five lanterns on this page for your convenience.
Though I do not believe that these five lanterns are much competition for the three listed above, each has received very positive consumer reviews and has been determined to be very popular based on sales statistics.
4. 2 Mantle Propane Lantern with Case
This propane-powered lantern is made specially to fit atop a small 16.4 ounce propane canister. In fact, once a small stand is attached to the bottom of the canister, the canister becomes the lantern’s base.
I absolutely loved that aspect of this lantern. I hate fussing around with pouring fuel into the bottom of a lantern, especially when I am camping and lack adequate places to clean the fuel off of my hands after I inevitably spill it on myself. This solution is much simpler and requires you to carry less stuff with you, since the canister itself becomes part of the lantern.
Carry everything in the well-fitted hard plastic case which accompanies the lantern to ensure that it stays in peak condition for years to come. The large loop handle on the top of the lantern allows you to carry it without burning your fingers or to dangle it without worrying that the heat it produces will affect anything nearby.
An easy-to-use knob allows you to dampen the flame so that the light will be dimmer and the propane will last longer. When on high, a single 16.4 ounce canister will afford you up to eight hours of light.
A specially designed “perfect flow” system ensures that the propane maintains a steady flame even in damp conditions and at high altitudes. The porcelain ventilator on the top of this lantern is completely rust-proof, unlike the rust resistant steel caps attached to some fuel based lanterns.
5. Portable Outdoor LED Camping Lantern: Etekcity 2 Pack
This slim, plastic lantern is powered by three AA batteries and can run for 12 full hours on full power. Unlike most battery-operated lanterns, this one allows you to adjust the level of light it emits to a very precise degree.
Whereas other battery-powered lanterns usually have you adjust the light setting by pressing buttons and selecting between preset levels, the top part of this lantern (the part with the light bulbs inside of it) collapses down into the base which covers up some of the lights.
A total of thirty LED lights have been spread out in groups of ten along three separate faces, allowing for full 360-degree light coverage of any area.
By collapsing the top portion of the lamp down into the bottom portion and folding its handles down to its sides, you can easily create a compact version of this lantern which is perfect for storing in small spaces and backpacks. In fact, when collapsed, this lantern is barely bulkier than a soda can.
Perhaps the best thing about this lantern is that it really isn’t one lantern at all. Etekcity sells these lamps in packages of two so that you can always leave one behind in your tent while carrying the other off to find firewood or visit the campground restroom.
6. Ultra Bright Camping LED Lantern by Divine LEDs
This plastic, cylindrical LED lantern is very similar to the lantern discussed above. In fact, they actually look like the exact same products with different company logos stamped on their fronts.
Both feature dual foldable handles and can collapse within themselves for easy storage and to reduce the amount of light emitted.
Both rely on the light of three faces of LED lights with 10 lights per face, allowing for full 360-degree lighting. When closed, this compact lantern measures only 4.8 inches in height and 8.8 inches in diameter. When open, the diameter remains the same, but the height extends up to 10 inches.
The only major differences I have found between this lantern and the one described above are in terms of price, claims, and popularity. This lantern is considerably more expensive than the lantern listed above.
However, if its claims hold true, I can understand why. It claims to be much brighter than all of the competition. Interestingly, I haven’t been able to find an exact lumens measurement to back up that claim, but actual consumers have reported being very happy with the amount of light it emits.
It also claims to be 100 percent waterproof, whereas the lantern described above is only rated as water resistant. Again, no solid proof has been found to back up these claims, but a large lack of consumer complaints does work in this lantern’s favor.
7. Supernova 500 Lumens Ultra Bright
Boasting a super bright 500 lumens of light, the Supernova Ultra Bright LED Lantern will keep your campsite lit up like a disco party, minus all the colors disco parties are known for.
Also, although this lantern will not be shimmering and glittering like a disco ball, you can hang it from the roof of your tent.
In fact, you can hang it from its handles or you can choose to hang it upside down. Hanging it upside down allows you to focus the light toward the living area of the tent instead of the roof. You can also choose to remove the bulb cover when the lantern is hanging upside down to focus the light even more precisely. I find this option very helpful with playing board games or card games, or when reading a book.
Although you cannot make it flash multiple colors for a fun-filled disco party, you can set it to pulse. Of course, the pulse mode should be used only in the case of an emergency to let others know you are in need of help. It should not be used for actual disco party purposes.
Three D-sized batteries can keep this lantern running for up to three full days. Since you shouldn’t really need to run the lantern during the day, you should be able to score between 5 and 6 nights of light. If you don’t plan to leave your lantern running for the entire night, you can make it last even longer. I think that this lantern has the longest battery life of all the battery-operated lanterns on this list.
8. AYL Starlight 600 Lumens UltraBright
If you thought that the 500 lumens of light the lantern above emits was a lot of light, think again. The AYL Starlight boasts 600 lumens of light and guarantees that its bulbs will only burn out after 100,000 hours of work.
Three D-sized batteries keep this powerful lantern running for up to six full days. Since you will only be using it at night, you can extend that to about 12 nights.
Superior water resistance means that you shouldn’t have to worry about using this lantern in the rain. In fact, AYL created this lantern specifically for use in hurricanes. Obviously, you won’t be camping in a hurricane, but it is nice to know that it has been built to such high standards. Use the handles to hang this lantern from the top of your tent or a sturdy tree branch.
Flip the entire lamp upside down and hang it from the D-shaped hook on the bottom for more precise light control. Remove the cover for even more precision lighting. Removing the cover also makes the entire lantern shorter, which will allow for more headroom in your tent if you hang it from the roof.
One simple, soft touch button allows you to cycle through various light settings. A dim low setting is good for late night conversations and romantic atmospheres. The bright high setting is perfect for activities which require you to see well, such as playing cards, reading, or writing. A distress setting flashes the light repeatedly to call attention to your location in the case of an emergency.
Longest Lasting Camping Lantern
Well, that concludes our reviews on camp lanterns. I hope you were able to find something that meets your needs and which will keep your camp environment well-lit when you need it most.
Before you go away to buy a lantern, remember that it can be helpful to define the specifications which denote a good lantern and to identify the different specifications you would prefer, based on your own needs and intended uses for your lantern. Here’s what you should think about.
How Would You Like It Powered?
Although there are actually multiple options for powering your camp lantern, the lanterns on this page all fall into one of two categories: battery-operated and fuel-operated. Both options have their benefits and drawbacks.
My personal preference is a battery-operated lantern, because I can choose to set it anywhere I like without worrying that I will accidentally catch anything on fire. I can fall asleep with my battery-operated lantern on and remain safe throughout the night. I can also choose to hang my battery lantern upside down – an option one simply does not have with a propane or liquid fuel lantern.
With all these benefits of using a battery-operated lantern, why would anyone ever want to use a fuel-based lantern in the first place? Well, there are two major reasons why you should consider a fuel-powered lantern.
Firstly, you can dim a fuel lantern much easier than a battery lantern. When working with propane or liquid fuel, simply turn a dampener dial which reduces the amount of fuel supplied to the flame, and watch as the flame grows smaller and the amount of light diminishes. While some battery-operated lanterns allow you to reduce the amount of light as well, most do so by cutting out entire bulbs and do not allow you to make as precise an adjustment.
The second upside to using a fuel-powered lantern is that the light it emits is much softer and more natural than the light given off by a battery lantern. Many people find the light of a flame much more relaxing and peaceful and, thus, prefer this type of lantern.
How many lumens is good for a camping lantern?
First of all, what are lumens? In case you are unfamiliar with the term, lumens is a word used to describe the brightness of a light. Obviously, the higher the number of lumens, the brighter the light. Lumens are used to describe the brightness of a light because newer bulbs (such as LED bulbs) require less wattage than older bulbs to create the same amount of light therefore, they cannot be labeled the same way.
This is especially helpful when comparing LED and other bulb-based lanterns to fuel-powered lanterns, which use no wattage at all but obviously create light of their own.
To give you an idea of your range of possible choices, I will let you know that the lanterns featured on this page range from about 180 lumens to 861 lumens. There really is no difference between battery-operated lanterns and fuel lanterns in terms of lumens – both can be very dull, very bright, or somewhere in between.
Other Important Considerations
One major difference among the fuel lanterns on this page is that some of them feature metal tops whereas some feature porcelain tops. Although the porcelain tops are much more fragile than the metal tops, they can handle wet and damp conditions much better.
Some lanterns have hooks to hang from the top of your tent or from branches, whereas others do not. Some battery-operated lanterns even feature hooks on their undersides so that you can flip them upside down, remove their covers, and focus light into the very center area of your tent.