When you're camping in the dark woods, you want the best camping lantern to light up the night. Camping lanterns are useful for adding ambiance around your campsite or even lighting up the inside of your tent when you want to read a book. Some are also compact and lightweight so you can take them with you when you hike down a dark trail or go backpacking.
Many camping lanterns are also versatile enough to be used for other purposes like extra backyard lighting or lighting up the house when the power goes out.
However, there are many camping lanterns on the market, so how do you know which one is the best camping lantern for your needs?
What Is a Camping Lantern?
Camping lanterns have been lighting up the night for centuries. They were first made with iron baskets and used wood to cast light, eventually progressing to whale oil as a fuel source.
Today's lanterns use electricity or batteries, kerosene, and other fuels to cast out campsite darkness. Some even use solar power, which is great when no electricity is available, or your batteries go dead.
Types of camping lanterns
The most common and best camping lantern today is the electric or battery-powered lantern. These lanterns feature LED lighting and are usually rechargeable via a USB port or rechargeable batteries.
They're also bright, have a long runtime, and are durable and lightweight.
People looking for a traditional lighting source can choose a fuel-burning lantern. These lanterns use kerosene, propane, or other types of fuel to operate.
They usually provide the brightest and warmest light to your campsite. There's also no need for batteries or electricity with these types of lanterns. However, they're dangerous to use even with protective coverings. So, take caution if you choose this type of camping lantern.
Solar lanterns rely on solar power to operate. While most solar-powered lanterns have alternative charging methods, many can charge fully using only solar power.
This is a great option when you're deep in the wilderness and have no other sources of light. However, solar lanterns don't have the best light output, so using them as a primary source of light isn't ideal.
Choosing the Best Camping Lantern
There are a few things to consider when choosing the best camping lantern.
How do you plan to use it?
Different camping lanterns have different uses. If you're planning to light up an entire campsite, you'll want a lantern with a high lumen output. You'll also want to consider how long you'll be camping and whether you have access to electricity to recharge the lantern.
However, if you're camping alone, then you can get by with a lower light output. But you'll want a lantern with longer battery life or even something solar-powered in case you run into any sticky situations.
How you choose to power up your light is an important consideration.
If you plan on using a battery or electric powered lantern, you'll need to check on how it operates. Some electric- and battery-powered lanterns are rechargeable using either a USB port or rechargeable batteries. However, other lanterns only charge via a change of alkaline batteries.
In addition, you'll also want to consider how many batteries are needed to operate the lantern. You don't want to get to your campsite and not have enough batteries. And the number of batteries will also determine it's portability, which means the more batteries it uses, the heavier it will be.
Using a fuel-powered lantern is easy enough. You only need to determine which type of fuel the lantern needs and make sure you purchase the right fuel source before you head out on your trip.
Plus, with all camping lantern types, you'll want to check the runtime so you know how long the lantern's light will last before it peters out. Remember, the light settings impact the runtime. So, if you always keep your lantern on the highest setting, your light will fade away sooner.
Brightness and quality of light
A lantern's luminosity is determined by its lumens. Higher lumens make brighter light. And while the most brilliant light may be perfect for some situations, a dimmer light might work better in others.
So, the best camping lantern will offer adjustable light settings allowing you to vary the light output according to your needs.
In addition, you'll need to decide on the quality of light you want. If you're looking for something variable, LED lights can give off everything from bright white light to a warm orange glow.
Fuel-powered lanterns can give off a bright light, but it's usually a softer and warmer glow.
Features and settings
The best camping lantern can come with many different features. Some offer settings that allow you to adjust the light to dim as well as the standard low, medium, and high output.
There are lanterns with lights that change colors and even some that feature SOS strobe lighting for emergencies. Plus, some lanterns offer hand-crank lighting options if all your other power sources are dead.
Other features to look for include the ability to charge your cell phone or other electronics, portability, and hanging options.
How We Chose Our List
Additionally, we researched each of the best camping lanterns to understand their unique features. Specifically, we chose items based on their light output, runtime, and customer rating.
The Best Camping Lantern to Help You See in the Dark
Although we numbered our picks, it does not signify a ranking.
1. Atomic Beam Lantern
The Atomic Beam Lantern is a powerful lantern perfect for camping offering 360-degrees of bright LED light to break through the darkness. You can easily adjust the light output by merely pulling up or pushing down the unit to the desired brightness.
In addition, it's collapsible and only weighs 8.6 ounces making it easy to carry around. It also features a magnetic base so you can stick it on any metal surface, or you can hang it three different ways.
- 350 lumens
- Uses 3 AA-cell alkaline batteries (not compatible with rechargeable batteries)
- Not waterproof
The Atomic Beam Lantern received a 4.7 out of 5.0-star rating from Amazon customers.
2. Bell + Howell Taclight Lantern
The Bell + Howard Taclight Lantern is a compact and portable lantern that casts a bright LED light in even the darkest of places. It boasts a runtime of 120 hours and requires 3 AA batteries to operate.
In addition, you can adjust the brightness by pushing up or down on the unit. It's also waterproof and will still run after being submerged in water. And if you drop it the campfire, it can withstand the heat.
- Chips on Board (COB) LED lights with a 100,000-hour lifespan
- Weighs 2.9 pounds
- Visible up to 2 nautical miles away
Amazon customers give the Bell and Howard Tac Light Lantern 4.3 out of 5.0 stars.
3. Black Diamond Apollo Lantern
With the Black Diamond Apollo Lantern, you can light up your campsite with soft white, glare-free light. The lantern has adjustable light features so you can make your camp as bright or as dim as you want. It also has a strobe setting for emergencies or just as an easy way to let your friends and family know where you are.
It runs for up to 24 hours on low, and you can choose between two power sources: an internal rechargeable lithium-ion battery or 3 AA batteries. In addition, you can use a USB port to charge your cell phone or other handheld electronics.
Plus, it has a power meter for both power sources, so it's easy to tell how much juice you have left.
- 225 lumens
- Double-hook hang loop
- Collapsible folding legs
- Includes USB cord
- Weighs 12.1 ounces
- Comes in 3 color choices
This lantern has a 4.8 out of 5.0-star rating from Amazon customers
4. Suaoki Foldable Solar Camping Light
You'll never be left in the dark again with the Suaoki Foldable Solar Camping Light. This unique clover-shaped lantern is a solar-powered LED light with a battery that automatically charges through its built-in solar panels. You can also recharge the battery via a micro USB port to your phone or another power source.
It's an excellent unit for inside your tent and provides plenty of adjustable light for all your activities. It even has an SOS flashing option for emergencies.
Also, it's easy to carry around and store because it folds flat.
- 680 mAh/3.7V lithium built-in battery
- Up to 4 hours runtime on low or flashing mode
- 18 white LED beads
- Hanging hook
- Weighs 5.92 ounces
This lantern received 4.4 out of 5.0 stars from Amazon customers.
5. Coleman 390L Twin LED Lantern
If you're looking for an LED lantern that offers cozy lighting, the Coleman Twin LED lantern has got you covered. It casts its beam 32 feet on high and 19 feet on low, shedding light anywhere you need it.
The light is adjustable and even features an ultra-low setting. However, it's a beast that's over a foot tall and heavier than other lanterns. But it's durable housing is weather-resistant, so when it starts pouring, it'll still work.
- Up to 390 lumens
- Operates on 8 D-cell alkaline batteries
- Runs 85 hours on high and 299 hours on low
- Lifetime LEDs
- 3-year limited warranty
Amazon customers gave this lantern 4.5 out of 5.0 stars.
6. Goal Zero Lighthouse 400 Lantern
The Goal Zero Lighthouse Lantern will light up your life with 360-degrees of bright, fully adjustable light. Plus, its Dualight Directional Lighting feature allows you to save power and extend run time by illuminating only half the lantern.
The lantern runs on an internal lithium battery that can be charged up via its USB port. No alkaline batteries needed. You can even charge your electronics from the unit.
Also, the lantern comes with a solar panel that you can connect if you're ever without a power source. It also features a hand crank so that you can produce light in even the toughest of weather conditions. However, reviewers state the unit doesn't hold up well in wet conditions.
- 400 lumens
- Runs for 2.5 to 48 hours depending on the setting and side usage
- 10 minutes of light for every 1 minute of hand cranking
- Weighs 1 pound, 2 ounces
- 12-month warranty
This lantern received 4.3 out of 5.0 stars from Amazon users.
7. LuminAID PackLite Max 2-in-1 Phone Charger and Lantern
Shark Tank sometimes features some nifty items, and the LuminAid PackLite Max 2-in-1 Phone Charger and Lantern is one of those items.
It's a cool-looking solar inflatable lantern that features phone charging capabilities. The lantern provides up to 50 hours of bright LED light that is fully adjustable. It even features a flash setting when you need it.
Also, the lantern is waterproof, dustproof, and shatterproof. It even floats and can be submerged in water for a short time. Plus, it's lightweight and collapsible so that you can tuck it into your backpack for easy carrying.
- Up to 150 lumens
- Recharges via solar light or micro USB port connected to a power source
- PVC free
- 9.4 ounces / 266 grams
This lantern received 4.3 out of 5.0 stars from Amazon customers.
8. Coleman's PerfectFlow Lantern
Traditionalists will love the Coleman PerfectFlow Lantern. It casts a warm, natural light on your campsite using a two-mantle propane-powered lighting system. And it's easy to use because you only need matches to set your world aglow.
The light is also fully adjustable so you can set your campsite mood to whatever you desire. Plus, it has a folding base for stability so you can place this lantern anywhere.
- 1,540 lumens
- Stays lit for up to 13 hours on low and 7 hours on high
- Powers up with a single 16.4-ounce propane cylinder
- Replaceable mantles
Amazon customers gave this lantern 4.5 out of 5.0 stars.
9. UST 30-Day Duro LED Lantern
If you're looking for power and longevity, then the UST 30-Day Duro LED Lantern is it. This little lantern casts bright, continuous light for up to 30 days. So, if the world ends while you're camping, you won't be in the dark.
You can choose from four different light settings, including an SOS flashing strobe that runs for 15 days. Plus, it's rugged featuring a plastic housing that makes it impact resistant and water-resistant.
In addition, it even has a removable globe so you can have forward-area light when needed.
- Up to 700 lumens
- Runs on 3 D-cell alkaline batteries
- Hanging hook in the base for overhead lighting
- Weighs 1 pound, 13 ounces
- Comes in 3 color choices, including glow in the dark
This lantern received a 4.6 out of a 5.0-star rating from Amazon customers.
10. Streamlight The Siege Lantern
Streamlight'sThe Siege Camping Lantern will make your campsite look like a sporting event with its powerful 540 lumens of LED light output. And the fantastic thing about it is that it runs on only three D-cell alkaline batteries. You can even remove its cover to light up a larger area, if you want.
Plus, there are four different brightness levels, including a flashing red emergency light. Yep, it's red instead of white, which will really make you stand out in a crowded campsite. And you can even use the red light in steady-mode so you can get up to use the bathroom without waking anyone else up.
In addition, the lantern features hanging rings on both the top and bottom so that you can hang it in a tree or at the top of your tent for an overhead glow. It's also waterproof, water submersible, and impact resistant.
- 540 lumens
- Runs for 12 days on the low light setting
- Weighs 1 pound, 15 ounces
- Not rechargeable
Amazon customers give this lantern 4.7 out of 5.0 stars.
Light up Your Night with the Best Camping Lantern
Living it up in the dark is part of the camping experience, but you don't have to stay in the dark if you have the best camping lantern with you. Camping lanterns can light up the night so that you can navigate through your campsite safely. Plus, they can give your campsite an extra dose of ambiance to make you feel like you're in a world all your own.
So, whatever your needs, there's sure to be a camping lantern for you.
Do you have a recommendation for the best camping lantern? Tell us below!