Best Camping Lanterns (Review & Buying Guide) in 2021
Enhance your outdoor adventures with a bright and reliable camping lantern.
The Drive and its partners may earn a commission if you purchase a product through one of our links. Read more.
BY Corrina Murdoch / LAST UPDATED ON March 21, 2021
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
Why Trust Us
Our reviews are driven by a combination of hands-on testing, expert input, “wisdom of the crowd” assessments from actual buyers, and our own expertise. We always aim to 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
- 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!