While camping, the fun doesn’t always have to end when the sun sets.
If anything, there’re plenty of wonderful activities to do at night including making shadow puppets, going for a nighttime walk, making some bbq around the crackling fire, and so much more.
But as breathtaking the experience is, you can only do so much by the firelight.
Make no mistake; I know a crackling campfire is the classic symbol of camping, but we can all agree the embers alone may not be enough to light your way through the night.
You may choose to light your camp with a flashlight, but regardless of how powerful it maybe it’s not the right camping lighting tool.
Lanterns, on the other hand, are a quality-of-life upgrade at a campsite. This is particularly true if you’re accustomed to using only headlamps.
A good camping lantern will provide you with a reliable illumination and has sufficient juice to last through your camping trip. Additionally, the best camping lanterns are rugged enough to shrug off any abuse melted by Mother Nature.
Now, if you camped when you were a tadpole, I can only imagine I’ve rekindled memories of the old-school lanterns running on gasoline or propane.
While they worked perfectly, they were bulky, hot, and even posed potential fire hazards. Some couldn’t even be used inside a tent.
However, the modern camping lanterns we’re just about to introduce to you are a far cry from the traditional options.
Today’s camping lanterns are a different breed, some even running on battery or solar power. They also utilize LED lighting for cool, bright, and energy-efficient illumination. More importantly, they’re supremely lightweight and compact enough for portability.
Here is a list of the best camping lanterns.
Table of Contents
The Best Camping Lanterns For The Money
#1 Black Diamond Apollo - EDITOR'S CHOICE
The Black Diamond Apollo earns our editor’s choice award because it’s a functional and all-around awesome camping lantern.
It’s not a surprise because its creators are known for their innovation and quality manufacturing and the Black Diamond is no different.
The lantern might not be the brightest on our list, but it offers ample lighting for your camping adventures.
More importantly, it comes with a host of practical features, which along with the ease of use, durability, and extended burn time makes the lantern score high.
But is the Black Diamond, along with its features, the right option for you?
Features and Benefits
The Apollo employs quad power LEDs, generating a maximum of 225 lumens of bright, glare-free light. It works efficiently to light up a 4-person tent and will even work for a group of 5.
Black Diamond’s unique design, consisting of an opaque fiber cover, casts an even, neutral and warm light, so even at maximum brightness, the light is soothing.
Want to make the light stay long?
The softer mode, achieved by holding down the power button, extends the run time and could last as long as two nights.
And, there’s more.
The lantern returns to your last setting before going off.
Black Diamond has handy legs to keep it sturdy during illumination, but we find the lighting more efficient when it’s hanging overhead or placed on a shelf.
Generally, the lantern is a nice all-around lighting option, offering you the convenience and flexibility of moving around at your campsite.
Overall, the Black Diamond’s durability is super impressive, with the hard plastic shell shrugging off any abuse.
According to users, the lanterns came out just fine even after drops on the tarmac, though don’t expect it to hold up for the long drops.
Additionally, the foldable metal stands are built for longevity, while the rubberized ends promote greater stability.
The lantern has an impressive water resistance of IPX4. It may not survive full submersion in the water for long, but it will stand up to the heavy rains and occasional splashes, a fantastic feature for outdoor adventure.
The Apollo comes with multiple charging options for the ultimate versatility and ease of use.
First, it can run off a rechargeable internal 2600 mA battery, powered through a micro-USB cable.
At maximum brightness, the lantern will run for 6 hours and much longer with reduced brightness.
The other option is the 3 AA batteries, which the manufacturer claims can offer up to 18 hours of run time.
Either way, the multiple charging options gives you the best of both worlds while allowing you to extend your run time.
Apollo is among the compact and ultra-lightweight camping lanterns on the market.
Weighing less than a pound and with the ability to fold up to a nifty contraption, you’ll hardly feel its weight or even get fatigued when backpacking with the Apollo.
#2 Ultimate Survival Technologies 30-Day Duro Glow - Best for Extended Run Time
The UST 30-Day Duro Glow is a practical camping lantern offering the longest illumination lasting for 30 days on its lowest setting.
That’s not the only draw on the UST Duro Glow.
It also has a high brightness of 700 lumens for a brighter experience.
And like the Apollo we’ve reviewed above, it’s also a sturdy, reliable, and easy to use camping lantern.
The only issue we had with the lantern is the bulkiness, and at 29 ounces, it might not be a backpacker’s dream by any stretch of the imagination.
But is heftiness enough to make you look away?
Features and Benefits
If we were to rank our lanterns on brightness alone, the UST could easily top our list.
First, the lantern produces a blasting 700 lumens on a high setting and will do 22 hours.
Despite the brightness, the frosted dome ensures the light is softer, ideal for reading a map or even a book.
The medium-light gives 140 lumens, still a decent brightness, and will last for up to 106 hours.
At the lowest setting, the lantern gives 30 lumens-same as the SOS modes. Here, the lantern will glow for 24 hours a day and keep going or a whole month.
The only issue with the lighting on this lantern is it lacks dimmability, as it goes from super bright 700 lumens to dimly 140 and 30 lumens. It skips a lot of spectrum in between.
Nonetheless, the longevity of the overall lighting makes it worth keeping around.
UST Duro Glow is housed in a rubberized case, offering the durability and strength to take any punishment from Mother Nature.
The folks at UST claim the Duro Glow is water-resistant but not waterproof. Nonetheless, users claim the lantern remains operational even when submerged in water.
We feel the only feature that might fail the lantern on the durability is the hanging hook, which feels a bit flimsy. This is particularly true, considering the lantern is quite heavy.
Away from the normal high, medium, and low modes, Duro Glow has an additional SOS strobe mode.
The SOS strobe is a handy lighting mode, especially when you’re in danger outdoors.
Ease of Use
Duro Glow is fairly easy to use.
For instance, a simple press of the buttons successively cycles through each of the lighting modes.
The lantern is also easy to set, and though it lacks feet at the base, the gripping rubber makes it easy to set it on the ground without fear of knocking it down.
#3 Coleman Premium Dual Fuel Lantern - Best Gas Lantern
Third on our list is the Coleman Premium Lantern, a fuel-powered camping lantern.
It’s easy to brush off the lantern, but before you do, understand it has considerable improvements over the traditional propane lanterns.
First, it’s a versatile option. It’s also a budget-friendly lantern.
And lastly, it comes with a fuel-carrying case.
But that’s not all.
It’s a practical option too, and the only fuel option on our list is unique.
But is it the right model for you?
Feature and Benefits
As with many propane lanterns, size and weight are always of concern, but the Coleman isn’t to be doubted when it comes to lighting performance. If anything, it’s bright as any camping lantern can be.
The Coleman boasts of 700 lumens, tying with that of the UST.
According to the manufacturers, the lantern can effectively throw light as far as 16 meters.
And that’s not all.
A nifty control knob makes it easy to adjust the light depending on preference.
Durability isn’t the strongest point of the Coleman, and it scored rather poorly in this department.
Of course, it comes with a sturdy built, but the glass dome means you’ve to handle it with extra care.
It’s also not water-proof, meaning you don’t want it to get into contact with water.
Dual Fuel Design
The dual-fuel design is a handy feature, especially when you don’t want to add weight to your backpack by carrying extra fuel.
More importantly, the dual fuel feature allows you to run the lantern on gasoline or liquid fuel.
Ease of Use
In truth, using the Coleman isn’t simple-especially when compared to the “one-switch” electric or battery lanterns.
Using this lantern will require some effort, and if you’re not familiar with fuel lanterns, it might be a problem at first.
However, for the seasoned campers confident with propane lanterns, then Coleman is a breeze.
The other issue we found with the Coleman is the overall weight. It’s a bit hefty and not something that you would pack in your backpack.
While the presence of fuel can help with portability, it only adds to your overall luggage. We wouldn’t recommend the Coleman for backpackers, but it would be a fantastic option for the RVers, who don’t have to bear the fuel and lantern’s weight.
#4 MPowerd Luci Solar String Lights - Most Portable
The Mpowerd Luci is a great addition to a country camping set up. In particular, they’re a worthy choice for looking for a lightweight, portable and practical way to illuminate their camping site.
But is the Mpowerd Luci, alongside its features, the right option for you?
Features and Benefits
Mpowerd Luci surrounds your tent space with a nice, even glow, with the strings giving out 100 lumens.
At face value, the brightness might not seem impressive-after all, it’s possible to find a headlamp with multiple lumen output.
However, when you consider the fact that Mpowerd Luci is a string lantern, generating light in lots of spaces instead of a concentrated space, you’ll see that it has the effect of illuminating a large area.
Beyond the illumination amount, the quality is also fantastic as it offers an even glow, which feels more like natural light.
Mpowerd Luci has mixed performance on the durability element as the durability of the cylindrical casing is different from that of the lights.
The former is quite sturdy and will take a beating, even when dropped repeatedly. This is not the case with the lights as they’re a bit flimsy and will easily break down on the slightest attempt.
Nonetheless, the lights perform superbly in the rain, with the ingression protection of IPX4 allowing them to repel water splashes.
Mpowerd Luci has photovoltaic cells that transform solar energy into light.
A full charge, which may take up to 16 hours, gets you 20 hours of light on the lowest setting and five on the highest, which we feel is sufficient to get you throughout the night.
Along with solar power, the lantern has a USB, which can fully charge the light under six hours.
Ease of Use
Mpowerd Luci is fairly easy to use. Specifically, turning on the light is a cinch, thanks to the single power button, which can be pressed successively to cycle through the different modes.
The only issue with Mpowerd Luci is setting up. It’s a bit challenging to install the lights, especially the right place for securing the base.
#5 Goal Zero Lighthouse 400 Lantern - Best Rechargeable Lantern
Last on our list of the best camping lanterns is a sophisticated option, the Goal Zero Lighthouse.
It’s a practical solution, and like many other lanterns on our list, it has a decent light output, and the overall performance is also quite impressive.
Features and Benefits
The overall design of the Goal Zero Lighthouse speaks volumes about the quality and sophistication.
Goal Zero features a super-clean design, complete with folding legs and a sturdy loop for hanging.
Goal Zero is a medium-class lantern, offering a generous output of 400 lumens.
It’s not the brightest, but not the dim either.
We found it strong enough for general camping use, including illuminating your tent for reading, meals, and even heading out.
But that’s not all.
The light’s quality is impressive too, and we love how the lantern emits a warm and soft glow through either one or both sides of its bulb.
The quality of the light is easy to the eyes and won’t distract your neighbors either.
And the best part?
Adjusting the brightness is a doodle with the conveniently-placed dimming switch making it easy.
Goal Zero is the only lantern on our list employing solely rechargeable power-both a blessing and a curse.
It eliminates the need for fiddling with batteries, but you’ve to remember charging the lantern before every trip to avoid getting blackened out.
The Goal Zero lantern’s battery life is also fantastic, offering up to 48 hours of burn time on the lowest brightness setting.
At maximum setting, the lantern offers a measly 2.5 hours, which we feel is a bit limiting. However, it does come with a hand crank for emergency power, but it’s only reserved for emergencies.
Beyond the illumination performance, the Goal Zero Lighthouse also doubles up as a battery pack for recharging your phone and other electronics.
The 44oo mAh battery is remarkably robust, offering a fantastic recharging process.
Best Camping Lanterns Buying Guide
With such plenty of options to choose from, picking the right camping lantern is difficult, but it doesn’t need to be so.
In the comprehensive buying guide below, we shall share everything you need to know about choosing the right camping lantern for your needs.
But before I share the buying tips with you, let’s look at the different types of camping lanterns in the market.
Types of Camping Lanterns
There’re different types so camping lanterns, and generally, they’re classified on their source of fuel.
The five common types of camping lanterns are:
The electric lanterns use electricity directly from an electric outlet.
They’re a convenient and reliable option, but their limitation is they’re only usable in a camp connected to the electric grid.
They can also source their electric energy from a generator.
Traditionally, fuel lanterns have been the de-facto camping lanterns.
The fuel lanterns use propane, kerosene, or butane to generate light.
The challenge with the propane lantern is they’re messy and potentially dangerous. You need to keep fuel on hand to keep running, and falling with a lit lantern in the woods can be catastrophic. They’re suited for the stable campgrounds.
Candle-powered lanterns house a candle inside of a glass surround.
They offer limited lighting but can be handy in driving bugs away.
The solar lanterns are by far the most convenient power source. These lanterns use photovoltaic panels to absorb the sun’s rays and convert them into stored power.
The solar lanterns are also safe, barely producing any heat.
However, if the stored power isn’t sufficient to last you through the night, you’ll have to wait until daybreak for charging.
Battery-operated camping lanterns are suitable for off-grid camping.
They generate hours of light from a fresh set of batteries.
And like the solar options, they generate more light and less heat energy, meaning they’re safe to use, even inside your tent.
Factors to Consider when Selecting a Camping Lantern
Now that you’re aware of the different types of camping lanterns, let’s look at some of the critical features to consider when making a lantern purchase;
Size and Weight
Size and weight aren’t always a big deal for the camping lanterns, but if you’ll be backpacking or hiking, a heavy lantern can be a deal-breaker.
Ideally, you should pick a lightweight camping lantern that easily packs into a small package.
Fortunately, many camping lanterns weigh less than a pound and can collapse into compact cases.
Even if you’re not hiking, you can still appreciate a light, compact lantern.
Brightness is measured in lumens. Lumens are a measure of the total amount of visible light; generally, the more the lumens, the brighter the light.
On a campsite, you need a lantern bright enough to illuminate the site, but at the same time, you don’t want to bother your neighbors with unwanted light.
We would recommend you choose a lantern producing 400 to 600 lumens.
It will also help if your lantern has adjustability on the number of lumens it can generate.
The adjustability of the energy output plays a crucial role in determining energy’s overall comfort and usage.
For example, when studying a map, you wouldn’t want to do it at 1,500 lumens since it may even blind your eyes to seeing what’s on the map.
It’s always a good idea to choose a lantern using a convenient power source for your need.
For instance, if you’re planning to go off-grid, an electric lantern should be off your packing list.
Generally, the battery and solar-powered options are fantastic options for most campsites since they generate enough power to sufficiently light most campsites and normally pack down small.
Run time refers to the amount of time a camping lantern can last before going out.
Ideally, the best camping lantern should have a long run time.
And thanks to the LED technology, some lanterns can even last for up to 50 hours on a single charge.
Solar-powered lanterns won’t last you for long, but they may hold up for the entire night until the day breaks.
Either way, regardless of the type of lantern you choose, it’s always a good idea to have a backup plan. For the battery-powered options, for instance, having an extra set of battery sets can go a long way when the lights go out.
Sturdy and Rugged
The best camping lantern should be sturdy enough to take any punishment from Mother Nature.
They should be rugged to withstand the drops, knocks, and dings.
Additionally, they should also be waterproof so that if you’ve to step out on a rainy night, you won’t have to worry about their integrity.
Wrap Up: Our Choice
Black Diamond Apollo does plenty of things across the board.
It’s not the brightest on our list, but we feel the 225 lumens on this option is still a decent brightness for your camping needs and should be more than adequate.
The Black Diamond Apollo also has different light modes, all helping to add flexibility and ease of use.
Additionally, this lantern is a lightweight option, so you’ll hardly feel its weight while backpacking.
Finally, the Black Diamond Apollo has an extended run time of 90 hours, sufficient to take you for several days in the wild without the worry of recharging.