Getting away from the light pollution of the city and stargazing at the unspoiled night sky is one of the best things about going camping. Dispersed camping areas will offer the best night views but as breathtaking as it is to actually set eyes upon the Milky Way, you can only do so much by firelight, and you need some way to light up your campsite so you’re not stumbling around in the dark after the sun goes down.
Along with camping tents, sleeping bags, first aid kit, and camping meals, a good light source is an indispensable part of your camping kit. You likely already own a flashlight (and that’s another great thing to have in the field), but a camping lantern takes things a bit further by flooding a 360-degree area with light so you can see in the dark while keeping both hands free. This is especially useful for illuminating a camp kitchen or even the inside of a tent where a flashlight’s directed beam isn’t as helpful.
If you went camping when you were a tadpole, you may remember your parents firing up one of those old-school fuel lanterns that ran on propane or gasoline. While they worked, those gas-burning incandescent lanterns were hot and heavy, and as a potential fire hazard, could not be used at all inside a tent. Today’s camping lanterns are a totally different breed, running on batteries (some models are also rechargeable) and utilizing LEDs for bright, cool, and energy-efficient illumination – no clunky propane canisters or risk of fiery death involved. This is a crowded market, but whatever sort of camping lantern you’re looking for, we’ve got it. These are the best portable lanterns available on the market now, from ultralight backpacking LEDs to ones you can display inside your tent, and everything in-between.
Given that battery power has all but replaced gas lamps, LED camping lanterns can be found pretty much everywhere today. Most typically offer one or two days’ worth of continuous illumination, but what sets our top pick, the UST Duro, apart from the herd is its sheer longevity: The Duro camping lantern can deliver up to 30 days (that’s 720 hours) of light at its lowest setting, pretty much guaranteeing you won’t need to lug around extra D batteries.
At its highest setting, the Duro camping lantern can put out a whopping 700 lumens – another area in which this lamp outperforms most others on the market – and UST boasts that its LED bulb lasts for a lifetime (although obviously we couldn’t test that). Not bad at all for 50 bucks. There’s also afor around the same price if you’re so inclined, just be aware that it’s considerably larger.
Streamlight is a titan in the flashlight market. Its compact Siege camping lantern is no slouch, either: This portable LED lamp measures just over seven inches tall, yet puts out an impressively bright 540 lumens. D-rings on the top and bottom make it easy to hang the lantern up at a campsite or inside a tent, and the LED cover can also be removed, letting the Siege camping lantern throw light in a wider area when it’s hung upside-down.
Its durable housing has an IPX7 waterproof rating and it’s drop-tested to six feet, so it’s built to handle the spills and bumps that come with camping (as you’d expect from Streamlight gear). What might be our favorite feature is the red LED mode that preserves both battery life and your night vision. The Siege camping lantern rings in at just $35, but if you’re willing to spend a bit more, you can upgrade to an even beefier 1,100-lumen rechargeable model for $100.
If you want a rechargeable camping lantern and don’t want to shell out a Benjamin for the 1,100-lumen Siege, then a more cost-effective upgrade pick is the Lighthouse 400 from Goal Zero. Its 400-lumen output isn’t as powerful as that of some of our other picks, but it still delivers plenty of illumination for most peoples’ needs and is quite impressive given the Lighthouse’s relatively small frame (made even smaller thanks to its fold-up legs).
Along with its rechargeable design, the Goal Zero Lighthouse camping lantern pulls double duty as a charging hub, giving you a USB port for juicing up a smartphone or other portable device. When fully primed, the Lighthouse can run for up to 48 full hours – that’s as good as or better than some LED lamps that are considerably bulkier – and a built-in hand crank lets you top up the lantern’s battery when no other power source is available for charging.
Black Diamond makes a number of portable lamps, but the little Moji camping lantern is the one that stands the tallest among them (figuratively speaking, at least). This baseball-sized light weighs in at about three ounces with batteries installed, and its globe-style LED cover throws 100 lumens of light over a pretty wide area. That might not sound like a lot of lumens, but the Moji is surprisingly bright – it’s using LEDs after all – and it’s very power efficient as well, offering a very generous 70 hours of continuous run time on just three AAA batteries.
Two D-rings on top are perfect for hanging the Moji up inside your tent or even off of your pack, and its IPX4 water resistance rating means it’ll stand up to water splashes (just don’t submerge it, which is generally a good piece of advice for any lantern). At just $20 a piece, you can buy enough Moji lanterns for your whole camping party, and these are also handy to have around the house for emergencies and blackouts.
All of our picks offer some degree of impact- and water-resistance, which only makes sense given that these lamps are meant to be used outdoors. If you’re the type of adventurer who is unreasonably hard on your stuff, though, then you might want to consider a more over-built camping lantern like the aptly named Tough Light. This sturdy unit is drop-tested and boasts a boosted IPX6 water rating thanks to internal rubber O-rings, while putting out 400 lumens of light at its highest setting (and at its lowest output, it can run for up to 200 continuous hours).
The Tough Light isn’t just rugged, however; it also packs a few other very nice modern features. Its internal battery is rechargeable – no heavy, costly D-cells required – and it charges up via USB, allowing you to employ the same charging methods (including 12-volt DC car adapters) that you likely already use for your mobile devices. That same USB charging port also lets the Tough Light serve as a power bank for other gadgets. It’s somewhat pricey at $65, but the Tough Light offers a lot of bump-proof bang for your buck.
While not true “camping lanterns” in the traditional sense, these little all-plastic E-Trends light bulbs have become quite popular with the camping crowd lately. It’s not hard to see why given that they might be the most ingenious in-tent lighting solution we’ve ever seen. Their simple battery-powered design could not be easier to use, simply hanging up inside your tent (or anywhere else you’d like some light) and turning on and off with the press of a button.
Dead simple as they are, the E-Trends LED light bulbs actually do offer “high” and “low” settings as well as a strobe function. There’s also no reason you can’t grab one and use it as a flashlight in a pinch (such as when nature calls in the middle of the night). Better still is that the E-Trends LED bulbs are super affordable: At around $8 for a pair, you can easily and cheaply outfit an entire campsite with these things.
When going on a camping trip, it’s best to be prepared for unexpected circumstances. By prepared, we mean to have a source of light the whole time. This LED Portable Camping Lantern from Vont is equipped with a super bright 360-degree light that can easily illuminate the entire tent for over 90 hours during the stormiest, dimmest nights. It also features a collapsible design that increases and decreases the light as you collapse or expand the lantern.
This is a popular choice for many, now we see why. From $18 for a pair, this heavy duty lantern is light and compact that you can easily fit in your backpack or emergency kit for an on-the-go camping trip. This is the perfect gift for your family or friends if you want to save them from unpredictable situations like hurricanes or the zombie apocalypse.
Sometimes you don’t need bright lights to illuminate your night during camping trips. If you are someone who simply wants to enjoy the amazing sky at night but still needs enough light source, the Lighting Ever Dimmable Camping Lantern is a great option for you. It is dimmable and features 4 light modes — 700lm cool white, 300lm warm white, 1000lm cool white, and 1000lm flash mode — to meet the brightness you need.
For only $20, this Dimmable light is also packed with other convenient features suitable whether you are camping, hiking, fishing, or simply walking the dog. It is portable with two hooks as well as waterproof while still able to provide enough brightness to accompany you throughout your whole trip.
Eveready proves to be a reliable brand when it comes to electric battery products and this 360 LED Camping Lantern is no different. Specifically designed to brighten any area of your room or tent, it features a super bright LED lantern that offers 360-degree illumination to any area or can be used as a flashlight for directional lighting. How? Well, it is equipped with 4 awesome light modes: 360-degree lantern mode, directional flashlight mode, red night vision mode, and flashing red strobe/SOS mode for emergencies.
This camping lantern can be mounted as it has a strong magnetic base or you can simply hang it inside the tent with the convenient base hook. From $20 for a pair, you can enjoy 16 hours of continuous runtime in lantern mode, and up to 9 hours in flashlight mode.
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