The 10 Best Camping Lanterns
This wiki has been updated 29 times since it was first published in April of 2015. Never again worry about what's lurking in the shadows, thanks to these camping lanterns. They feature mighty LED lighting that will brighten up everything around you, while also boasting a variety of power options that ensure you'll always have juice when you need it. Best of all, there's nothing flammable to deal with, so you can take them to Burning Man without becoming a burning man yourself. When users buy our independently chosen editorial selections, we may earn commissions to help fund the Wiki.
June 06, 2019:
Although they'll set you back a little more than some no-name brands, we think the Goal Zero Lighthouse 400 and Black Diamond Apollo are both options that are worth investing in. They're known for durability as well as wide-ranging functionality, so you can take them along on just about any kind of adventure. The Lighthouse 400 is especially handy for off-grid scenarios thanks to a crank (60 seconds gets you 10 minutes of light) and the ability to charge it via solar panel. You'll need to purchase this separately, however, adding to the overall cost. But it's not totally necessary, as you can charge it via USB, as well. If you've got your sights set on something a bit less spendy, there's the MalloMe Camping, which is sold as a pack of two. They're great for camping but also for emergency preparedness on a budget, but don't expect to receive the same rugged construction.
We're also happy to see that the updated MPowerd Luci has a more robust strap on the bottom. Across various versions of the Luci, the strap has been criticized, mainly because it can be slightly tough to use without breaking. But do note that it, as well as the rest of the light, aren't as rugged as some hard plastic options, so you'll want to treat them with care.
BioLite BaseLantern XL The BioLite BaseLantern XL claims to be the first flatpack lantern, so if you love shiny new and unique gizmos, you should definitely check it out. It's also completely controllable via Bluetooth thanks to the free app that's compatible with both Android and iOS. bioliteenergy.com
Alpkit Trinity Torch Packing a lot of punch for its small size, the Alpkit Trinity Torch is a flashlight/lantern combo that will make your campsite more cozy and your walk to the bathroom a little easier. It needs four AA batteries to run, but unfortunately, it's not compatible with all rechargeable varieties. alpkit.com
Ideas For Establishing An Ideal Campsite
And remember, a great campsite is one where all your needs can be met as easily as possible, yet that is free of most of the clutter of our normal everyday lives.
Whether you are setting up a bivouac to get you through a cold night in the midst of a mountain climbing expedition or you are establishing a campsite for your family to enjoy for a week of relaxation in the woods or by the river, a proper campsite should provide you a few basic creature comforts at the minimum. And it should feel like a home away from home whenever possible.
Your campsite helps you to meet one of the most important basic needs for survival, which are generally described as water, food, and -- the operative in this case -- shelter. A campsite offers you a place to take refuge from the rain or to stay warm when the temperature drops or cold winds blow. It is a place to rest in relative comfort and it is a place you and your traveling companions share, so that a sense of security is developed.
And of course a campsite is the spot where those who love being outdoors in nature have some of the most enjoyable times of their lives. It's a good idea to minimize the amount of work you need to do other than enjoying your campsite and your camping companions by taking the time to establish a good campsite as early as possible. The first order of business is always establishing your shelter, so set up your tent (or scope out your cabin) as soon as you arrive; there's no telling when the weather may change.
Next, establish a reliable source of water; whether that means taking stock of the water you brought along or identifying a stream, lake, or spring from which you can draw and then purify water. Then you should figure out where you will do your cooking and, if need be, set up your camp stove, and organize your food stores, which often means tucking them into an animal proof canister and placing the food a good distance away from your camp.
Finally you should make sure you have at least two reliable sources of light. Once the sun has set, you will be dependent on yourself for any illumination beyond the pale light of the moon and stars, so make sure you have good devices at the ready, complete with backup batteries charged. One of the best combinations of light to use at a campsite is a headlamp that offers both a flood and beam option and a camping lantern that can fill a tent or an outdoor area with a plethora of light.
And remember, a great campsite is one where all your needs can be met as easily as possible, yet that is free of most of the clutter of our normal everyday lives. When possible, it's a good idea to leave behind (or at least leave switched off) the phones, computers, and other devices that dominate life on a daily basis and simply enjoy the great outdoors.
Camping Lanterns For The Static Campsite
If you are setting up a campsite that will base your base of operations -- as opposed to a site you will use for one night then break down and continue on your way -- then you have a wide latitude when it comes to choosing the right camping lantern. Especially if you are reaching your campsite by car, canoe, or after only a short overland hike, weight is not much of an issue, so go ahead and consider a large, bright lantern. Even one requiring a separate power source, such as liquid fuel or batteries, is a fine option when you don't have to worry about weight.
These lanterns are safe and put out minimal fumes and almost zero smoke, but are still not safe for the close confines of a tent.
And in fact though solar lanterns tend to be lighter in weight and require no energy source other than sunlight, these benefits might not outweigh the drawbacks such options face in a fixed camping location. While many solar charged lanterns glow brightly for a few hours, few will last throughout a night, while many gasoline or battery powered lanterns can burn for hours on end without the need for refueling or new batteries. Camping lanterns that use liquid fuel or batteries also tend to be brighter than solar powered lanterns, making them good for illuminating larger areas.
If you are looking for a camping lantern that you will use in your tent, consider one that can hang from the top of the tent illuminating the whole "indoor" area. And do take note that fuel burning options are not viable for use in a tent. These lanterns are safe and put out minimal fumes and almost zero smoke, but are still not safe for the close confines of a tent. Using them in a larger cabin with decent ventilation should be fine, as of course is outdoor use.
A Camping Lantern For The Hiker
When you are carrying your gear on your back, every ounce matters. Fortunately, there are many camping lanterns out there that weigh only a few ounces. Some of the lightest weight lanterns available are solar charged options with LED bulbs. These lanterns tend to provide many hours of light, provided they have been able to charge for many hours in direct sunlight. If you can clip your lantern to the exterior of your pack during the day's hike, then they may be viable.
Fortunately, there are many camping lanterns out there that weigh only a few ounces.
Some of the most compact but bright camping lanterns available run off of AAA batteries, which add minimal weight as long as you are only going for a two or three day trek. Add many more days to your journey, and the weight of the batteries will start to add up, though.
Your and your team are establishing campsites simply as places to eat, sleep, and shelter along the way of a longer journey, then ultimately a lightweight solar camping lantern is your best bet. Chances are that you won't be spending long hours sitting around reading or chatting anyway, as sleep will be imperative for a successful journey the next day, so even if your lantern only provides a few hours of light, you'll be turning it off before that long each night anyway.