LAST UPDATED: October 18, 2020
Best Camping Lanterns (Review & Buying Guide) in 2021
Enhance your outdoor adventures with a bright and reliable camping lantern.
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PUBLISHED ON October 18, 2020
We love going outside and enjoying the world around us. A starry sky is the best view to have as you fall asleep, and camping is a fantastic way to get in touch with the natural world. There’s still a lot of fun to be had after sunset, though, and camping lanterns can transform your campsite into a wilderness oasis. At home, they offer reliable light and security during power outages and natural disasters. They’ve even been known to work well for pillow forts and story time if we’re being honest. Which camping lantern is best? That depends on how you intend to use it, and we’ve searched the internet for lanterns that can satisfy any budget. Whether you prioritize rugged construction, versatile features, portability, long life, or affordability, there’s something for you.
With several settings, this lantern offers both red and white lights. The prominent handle and waterproof design optimizes outdoor function.
- Resistant to both moisture and impact
- Long battery life helps for long trips
- Handle doubles as a hanger when needed
- Cover doesn’t offer shade when the lamp is held below the eyeline
- Over time, electrical components are subject to wear and tear
Coming in a set of three, these affordable lanterns are very bright. Three settings let you select intensity. These lanterns feature multiple modes to select light intensity.
- LED light bulbs are long-lasting
- Compact enough to travel light
- Lets you use both hands and move around
- Lanterns have an SOS function
- On/off button is subject to damage with ongoing use
- Though handy, the D-hook can corrode with exposure to moisture
This LED lantern runs on eight D-cell batteries and is 13.6 by 7.2 inches. It comes with a five-year limited warranty.
- Lantern has a run time of 299 hours on low and 85 hours on high
- Dimmer switch
- Weather-resistant housing
- You must purchase the batteries separately, and they add a bit of weight to the lantern
- Light is also a little pricey
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All of our reviews are based on market research, expert input, or practical experience with most products we include. This way, we offer genuine, accurate guides to help you find the best picks.
Benefits of Camping Lanterns
- They help you stay safe outdoors. Not only do lanterns light up the area and stop you from bumping into fellow campers, they actively deter wildlife from coming to visit. Most critters want to avoid human interaction, and lanterns alert them to your presence.
- You can see better. Tripping over firewood and tent spikes isn’t fun. Since lanterns provide a wide lighting range (instead of a focused one), you can see everything around you. This way, you won’t trip on the way to your car tent.
- You want to save space when packing. Lanterns are fairly compact, and definitely easier to pack than multiple flashlights and batteries. Since a lot of lanterns are rechargeable (either with a crank or connector), you don’t have to struggle with excess supplies.
- Lanterns are designed to withstand years of wear and tear. With a strong exterior, you don’t have to worry about them breaking easily. This means you can illuminate your surroundings time after time, trip after trip.
- They’re easy to use. Instead of fidgeting with small controls and struggling with grip, lanterns are really user-friendly. They feature prominent controls and an accessible handle. Plus, lanterns are low-maintenance enough to let you set them down when you are staying still.
Types of Camping Lanterns
Certain lanterns run on batteries which eventually must be replaced. This means you need to travel with extra batteries to ensure that you don’t run out of power. Rechargeable lanterns let you plug in via USB or with a 12-volt adapter. It creates downtime, though doesn’t require manual battery changes. You'll save money on batteries.
Electric vs. Gas-Powered
Electric lanterns are ideal for when you’re on the move. Typically, these lanterns are lighter and more compact, making longer treks more feasible. Conversely, gas-powered models are more heavy-duty. Often, they can illuminate a larger area for a longer period. The tanks are usually compact, though they can be fairly heavy. Gas-powered lanterns are quite sturdy and reliable.
A well-known name in the camping gear industry, Coleman has a wide range of products that includes lanterns. With multiple options, both electric, gas-powered, and hybrid, it’s a popular brand. A leading product is the Coleman Twin LED Lantern.
Founded with a focus on modern technology, Lighting EVER continues to expand its product lines. By enhancing illumination and responding to customer feedback, this brand has crafted a lot of popular lanterns. One of their leading selections is the LE LED Battery-Powered Camping Lantern.
With products rooted in innovation and technology, Vont looks ahead by crafting smart lighting devices. Focusing on outdoor needs and travel supplies, this brand is favored for high-functionality and ease of use. A top example is the Vont Four-Pack LED Camping Lantern.
Camping Lantern Pricing
- Under $30: These lanterns are usually battery-operated. Typically, they have sufficient lumens for a small or medium-sized area. Usually, they are either handheld or attachable with a clip. Though some have different light modes, not all lanterns in this price range will.
- $30 and up: Models in this price range are often gas-powered, though it can include high-lumen electric options too. Generally, they are durable and last longer. Usually, they also feature more lighting modes like an SOS setting which you can pair with your emergency road flares.
Handle and Base
How you hold and place the lantern should match your camping style. If you plan to hang around your campsite most of the trip, something with a sturdy base goes a long way. Should you like to move around, a lightweight option with an easy-grip handle is helpful. Some models latch onto belt loops and backpacks. Opting for something that you can move around with and set down is a good way to go.
Many lanterns have multiple light settings. This lets you choose the intensity of the light, and often the color as well. Plus, you won’t over-brighten your camping tent. Different light modes also let you preserve battery power for longer camping trips. Some double as a safety item too, with an SOS setting.
Some lanterns run on batteries while others are powered by a propane tank. Certain selections are a hybrid that let you switch between fuel sources. The ideal power source depends largely on your access to replacements. Usually, the power source doesn’t impact the number of lumens. Battery-powered options are generally more portable than their propane counterparts.
- Brightness. The number of lumens represents brightness. The higher the number, the brighter the lantern. Most lanterns use LED light bulbs, which are bright without causing overheating. The requisite brightness depends on the size of your campsite and how far away you need to see.
- Ease of Use. From prominent controls to accessible handles, it’s important to be able to control your lantern. Too many light settings on a single control can be overwhelming. Conversely, not having enough settings can leave your area too bright (or too dim). Choosing something that is easy to move around with and turns on and off quickly is helpful.
- Weight. If you plan to stay at your campsite, something that is bottom-heavy is useful. Find something that won’t tip over in the wind or due to a clumsy camper (or nosy critter). On the other hand, if you are moving around, you probably want a lighter option that won’t weigh you down.
- Waterproof Abilities. When camping outdoors, precipitation is always a risk. Know this: There's a big difference between water-resistant, and waterproof. If you are in an area that is prone to drastic weather and quick changes, choosing a waterproof lantern fosters longer performance and ensures that you won’t be in the dark if your lantern gets wet.
- Durability. All camping gear is subject to wear and tear. By choosing something crafted with high-quality materials, you can make your gear last longer. This is especially important when it comes to the case surrounding the light source; it should balance transparency with heat-resistance. Additionally, the handle should resist oxidation to prevent issues when you move around.
- Performance Duration. Some lanterns last longer than others. Generally, those that are brighter drain batteries more quickly. Typically, the lantern description indicates an approximate lifespan before the power runs out. The same is true with propane-powered lanterns. Ensure that the power isn’t so high that you will run out of light mid-trip.
Best Camping Lanterns Reviews & Recommendations 2021
The Streamlight 44931 Siege Lantern is packed full of useful features and boasts a price tag that makes the investment easy. This lantern uses hefty materials that provide two-meter impact resistance and a waterproof rating of one meter. With the top portion secured, it even floats. A handle at the top and clip ring on the base allow this lantern to be suspended from either end. The frosted upper portion can be removed to expose the 540-lumen LED for extra light in open areas, and brightness can be adjusted to several settings. Choose from white light for normal situations and red light when extra battery life and preserving night vision is required.
In emergency situations, this lantern can be used in SOS mode, which activates a red flashing light that lasts up to 430 hours. Three D-cell batteries need to be purchased separately for operation.
When it comes to portable lighting on a budget, check out the FengChi LED Camping Lantern. This affordable lantern comes in packs of three for an incredible value. Shaped like a light bulb, but water-resistant and built to survive the outdoors, each unit offers 150 lumens on the brightest setting. Low-brightness and SOS modes extend the battery life. A D-clip hook allows each lantern to be suspended from a tent, tree branch or even your backpack. Each lantern requires three AAA batteries.
Even though they don't provide as much light or as many features as the other lanterns on our list, the price, size, and durability make these lanterns an easy choice to throw in your backpack, car, or closet for the next time you need some extra light.
The Coleman LED Lantern is an efficient and energy-saving lantern that includes super-bright Cree Xlamp XR-E LED bulbs that provide 390 lumens of light. Measuring 13.6 by 7.2 inches, the lantern includes a dimmer switch and has a 299-hour run time on low and 85 hours on high using eight D-cell batteries. The lantern produces an even beam pattern with a distance of 32 feet on high and 19 feet on low. It has a weather-resistant housing and is backed by a five-year limited warranty. Overall, it's an excellent lantern to have on hand for camping or during a power outage when you require general illumination.
One downside is that you have to purchase the batteries separately, which can drive up the cost. The batteries also add a bit of weight to the lantern.
If you want one light that can do everything, the EULOCA Rechargeable Multi-Function Camping Lantern is a great choice. This light can function as a stand-up lantern or handheld flashlight. The body features a white lantern on one side and a flashing red emergency beacon on the other. In searchlight mode, you’ll be able to project a 650-lumen beam of white light up to 500 meters. The output is switchable between full and low brightness. The battery is recharged using a USB port that can also transfer power to your mobile device.
We love that this camping lantern provides a power indicator–four blue LEDs show how much battery life is left, so you can plan accordingly. At approximately 6 inches by 8 inches, this lantern also doesn’t take up a lot of space. If you plan on moving around at night, it’s the one to have.
The Vont 2 Pack LED Camping Lantern does a fantastic job of providing big illuminating power in a small package. While it lacks some of the features and versatility you’ll find in other options on our list, this lantern also collapses to an impressive 3.4 inches by 4.8 inches when not in use, and weighs a mere ten ounces. Once expanded, the 30 LEDs project 140 lumens of white light 360 degrees. Batteries can last up to 90 hours. Raise or lower the top portion to control brightness. The metal body is built with aircraft-grade materials and is rated to withstand a 10-foot drop and provide water resistance.
You can also buy with confidence, thanks to a no-questions-asked, lifetime warranty. This lantern requires AA batteries.
Battery-powered camping lanterns certainly have their advantages, but we can’t deny the lighting power of the time-tested Coleman Deluxe Propane Lantern. Adjustable brightness, capable of casting 1,000 lumens up to 23 meters, just can’t be touched by any of the battery-powered options. On its lowest setting, this lantern can run off a 16.4-ounce propane canister for more than nine hours. A built-in pressure regulator manages gas consumption for safe, consistent light at any altitude. You’ll want to handle this lantern with more care than the rugged, battery-powered alternatives, but the stainless steel body and glass globe create a quality item that’s built to last.
This camping lantern requires propane fuel, and you’ll occasionally need to replace the wire mesh mantles (used in place of light bulbs).
Especially if you plan to camp somewhere prone to drastic weather, the LE LED Rechargeable Camping Lantern is a good way to go. Since it incorporates a backup power source, you don’t have to worry about running out of light. This power bank lasts for a long time without adding excessive bulk to the lantern. It also lets you recharge it via USB, making it easy to manage in between trips. When in use, the four settings help to preserve energy. Facing an emergency? Use SOS mode. Want to save battery life? The dimmer setting is great for that. With 1,000 lumens at full strength, this lantern powerfully illuminates your surroundings.
Tough against water and impact, you can rely on this quality lamp. Ideal for camping and survival alike, this is a favorable option.
Looking to add a bit of flair to your campsite? The Blazin’ Sun 1500 Lumen LED Lantern touts a bright light and stylish design. With 1,500 lumens, you can light up massive areas. This is ideal for open campsites that lie beneath tree canopies which block out the moon. If you don’t need that much brightness, the settings go as low as 200 lumens. This helps keep it working for longer trips. With a clear exterior, nothing stops the light from getting through. Radiating in all directions, it brightens everything around you.
The structure itself is made out of high-quality materials that balance style with function. The teal hue is bold and unique, letting you add a splash of modern color to the great outdoors.
For outdoor enthusiasts who spend every second they can in the great wide open, the Energizer Camping Lantern is a fantastic choice. The controls are simple, with a single button that protrudes distinctly from the base. Even though it’s stable, with a wider bottom than top, it is lightweight. With a thick handle made out of tough plastic, you don’t have to worry about rust or breakage. Though the casing is frosted, you still get a full 500 lumens of light at the highest setting. It’s compatible with triple-A batteries, making a power source highly accessible. Plus, a single charge can offer hundreds of hours of run time. Using LED bulbs and a durable construct, this lantern offers lasting benefits in all parts of its design.
Planning on traveling in a group? The Eveready Outdoor Camping Lantern Set lets you equip the entire crew with effective lighting. Whether you opt to hang these lanterns at the corners of your campsite or move around with them, the handles are accommodating. By including both a magnetized base and easy suspension method, you can put them just about anywhere. Very bright at full power, these lights let you choose different settings. The red light improves night vision while the flasher is ideal for emergencies (like someone lost in the woods). The lights run for roughly nine hours, making it easy to see throughout the night. Since it comes in a set of four, all powered by double-A batteries, all your campers can stay safe.
- Use the appropriate light mode for the situation at hand. When it gets darker, you can switch it to a lower setting. Lower settings help you preserve power and prevent wear and tear. And it’s easier on the eyes.
- Bring backup power to ensure you don’t end up in the dark. Identify the power source and bring an extra set of batteries or propane tank on your trip.
- Find a flat surface to set your lantern down. Instead of risking it tipping over, move some dirt around and place it safely. Choose somewhere away from wind and off the walking path.
- Avoid impact damage by carrying it with the proper part. Use the handlebars every time you pick it up and try not to drop it. This will prevent damage to the circuitry and other breakage.
- Keep it away from water. Even waterproof models are only rated to a certain depth.
Q: Which is the best rechargeable camping lantern?
The optimal rechargeable lantern lets you use a USB cord or a 12-volt adapter to refuel it. This way, you can power the lamp off the battery in your vehicle and ensure light throughout your trip. In between uses, you can also charge it by using your laptop. This helps you both be eco-friendly and prevent excess spending on batteries.
Q: What is the brightest camping lantern?
If your focus is brightness, then choosing a lantern with the most lumens is the top priority. Some lanterns feature thousands of lumens and are able to light up massive areas. Bear in mind that the more lumens a lantern has, the faster it drains power. Some models are very bright and can run for hundreds of hours. Also, opt for something with a clear (not translucent) case to get the most out of its LED bulbs.
Q: How many lumens do I need for a camping lantern?
Since, on average, a flashlight supplies 20 lumens, a lantern should have at least 100 lumens. The requisite amount depends on the size of your campsite. To ensure brightness, you can opt for something with a few hundred to over a thousand lumens. If you’re worried about things being too bright, pick something with multiple modes to reduce the light when needed.
We chose the Streamlight 44931 Siege Lantern as our Best Overall for its affordability and features. Our budget pick, FengChi LED Camping Lantern, offers a three-pack of lights for those whos desire value while on a budget.
Excited about your new lantern? Be sure to leave us a comment with your feedback — happy camping!