Camping lanterns are an essential tool when you are living off the grid.
Though campfires generate a ton of light, the downside is that they are localized and can’t help you in pitch black situations when you need to leave your campsite.
Outdoor lanterns allow you to bring light (and in some cases, power) everywhere you go, making them an extremely underrated outdoor accessory.
Lighting your way in the wilderness has never been as easy as it is now with our camping lantern buyer’s guide.
Are Gas Lanterns Inefficient now?
While electric lanterns are extremely popular, gas lanterns can do things their counterparts cannot.
Emitting a very high lumen count, warming up your hands when it gets cold, and eliminating your dependence on batteries or a campsite’s electrical outlets are all ways that gas lanterns excel over LED ones.
Best Lanterns for Camping Reviewed
1. Streamlight Super Siege 1,100 Lumen Lantern
The Super Siege from Streamlight is a solid rechargeable lantern with multiple light modes and a bright 1000+ lumen output. With 5, C4 LEDs (4 red, 1 white), you can control your light output with various levels of white light, or use the red bulbs to preserve night vision.
Housed in rugged polycarbonate thermoplastic, this portable light is designed to withstand anything you might throw at it.
The 10,400 mAh lithium-ion battery gives you a full charge in about 7 hours and returns anywhere from 5 – 36 hours of power depending on your application. SOS flashing and USB device charging are also included.
- Multiple Color Options
- Red Light/Night Vision Mode
- Extremely Durable
- Rechargeable and Portable USB Charger
2. Coleman Multi-Panel LED Lantern
Compact and versatile, the Quad Pro from Coleman is a great LED option that gives you a ton of brightness (up to 800 lumens) as well as some pretty cool features.
With 20 hours worth of light in high usage mode (400 hours in low usage mode), this camping lantern can be used as a single light, or four, as the panels are removable and double as portable flashlights.
Each panel is waterproof, magnetized for attachment to metal objects, and also includes a kickstand to prop them up. The base doubles as a beacon light and has a USB charger on it as well.
While it takes 8 “D” batteries, investing in rechargeable ones will help keep your bills down as you will want to use this a lot.
- 4 Lights In 1 Versatility
- High Lumen Output
3. Tough Light LED Rechargeable Lantern
While not the cheapest lantern on the market, the price is more than fair for when you look at what it can do.
Standing 7 inches tall and coupled with a rugged build, made out of military-grade rubber, the unit is drop-resistant, waterproof, and can charge your devices on the go.
Top of the line Cree LED lights provide around 200 hours of illumination, the 6000mAh Li-ion battery holds a charge for a ridiculously long time, and the Tough Light also has emergency beacon/flashing hazard lights built-in.
Charging the lantern can be done through any USB connection, and an assortment of hooks round out the features on this unit.
- Holds Charge For a Long Time
- High-Quality Bright LEDs
- Versatile Charging Options via USB
4. UST Portable 700 Lumen Lantern
This is a really well made lantern from UST. Boasting a lifetime LED bulb that will never burn out, a rugged housing, and almost unmatched durability, you can literally run this for 30 days straight on the low setting using only 3 “D” batteries.
The output mode also includes medium, high, and SOS (which can run for 15 days), the unit itself is splash-proof, and it emits around 700 lumens.
Available in various color options, the unit glows in the dark, has a removable globe if you quickly need a forward area light, and various practical hooks are also included on this 7” tall gem.
- Excellent Bang For Your Buck
- Lifetime LED Bulb
5. Coleman Twin LED Lantern
With its retro aesthetics, this LED lantern from Coleman could easily be mistaken for their famous gas lantern at first glance.
Getting about 85 hours of high output usage and 300 hours of low output usage, you get very respectable runtimes out of the 8 “D” batteries it requires.
4 powerful LEDs brighten up the night at distances between 19 and 32 feet with up to 390 extra-bright lumens of blinding white light.
A rugged build gives it stability and durability, the dial on the front conveniently regulates your power output, and the lantern is also waterproof for any downpours you may encounter.
- Retro Look
- Deceptively Bright LEDs
6. Sinvitron LED Camping Lantern
Standing 5 inches high, under 1 lb. in weight, and created with military-grade construction, Sinvitron’s LED camping lantern might look small but it packs a big punch.
One of the only lanterns on the market that include a display screen with a clock and power consumption-tracking capability, the LEDs are bright (but dimmable), and you can get over 500 hours of use in its low function mode.
The built-in SOS will keep you safe during emergencies, and the 15,000mAh battery doubles a power bank. For indoor or outdoor use, this versatile option can be hung with the provided carabiner, and will withstand below-freezing temperatures, as well as hotter environments.
- Powerful Battery Life
- Robust Design
- Lightweight Survival Lantern
7. LuminAID PackLite 2-in-1 Phone Charger Lanterns
The PackLite charging lantern is a really cool LED cube lantern that allows you to bring power and light to any situation that requires it.
Harnessing the sun as its fuel source, this battery-less, 6-inch solar-powered unit collapses flat to a single inch so you can pop it into your pocket or backpack and go.
Constructed with durable thermoplastic polyurethane and offering multiple brightness settings as well as an SOS function, this lantern is also waterproof and charges devices via USB.
An incredibly forward-thinking and technologically-advanced option which eliminates the need for lugging around batteries and bulky lanterns.
- Multi-Functional Survival Lantern
- Extremely Compact and Lightweight
- Provides Light and Power
8. Coleman Deluxe PerfectFlow Propane Lantern
This lantern gives you the hands-on experience that propane lantern enthusiasts enjoy at a price point that won’t break the bank.
With ultra-bright output at 1500 lumens, this lamp has an adjustable dial, and can be used in harsh conditions with the utmost confidence in its performance.
Built to withstand high temperatures, the globe has a metal guard to avoid breakage, and the feet stabilize it well. A bail handle is included for carrying or hanging, and you get anywhere from 4-9 hours of use out of a single propane cylinder.
- Ultra Bright Output
- Consistent Performance
- Durable For Years of Use
- Free Carry Case
9. Vont 4 LED Camping Lantern (4 Pack)
These are great collapsible lanterns from Vont that are roughly the size of a smartphone and contain 30 small LED lights for full 360-degree illumination in the darkest of conditions.
Boasting an indestructible and waterproof design with aircraft-grade materials, 3 “AAA” batteries ensure about 30 hours worth of use, making this one of the top choices when it comes to longevity.
Backed by a multi-year warranty, not only does it function well as a camping lantern, but it is also a serious option for any type of survival situation.
- Handheld Size
- Ultra-Bright Light
- 10 Year Warranty
10. Odoland Portable LED Camping Lantern with Ceiling Fan
For the camper that has a tendency to overheat or spend their time in warm climates, this circular camping lantern is a hybrid light/fan that is about 6.4 inches in diameter.
Operating on 2 “D” batteries, the fan and light offer versatile options, working in unison or independently of each other in both high or low modes.
Depending on what functions you are using, you can get anywhere from 5-15 hours of fan usage coupled with 20 hours of light, and the entire unit can be hung or oriented in a variety of positions to maximize your comfort levels.
At an attractive price point, its a cool little gadget to add to your adventures.
- 2 in 1 Fan + Light Combo
- Low Power Consumption Provides Long Hours of Use
- Can Be Positioned in a Variety of Configurations
How To Choose a Camping Lantern?
The top of the line camping lanterns come in a wide assortment of looks, sizes, and include a number of different features.
Here is everything you need to know when you are searching for an outdoor lantern.
Gas / Propane vs. Battery-Operated Electric Lanterns
Camping lanterns are available in two choices: gas/propane lanterns, or battery-operated LED lanterns.
While gas lanterns are still used, battery-operated lanterns are usually the preferred choice.
- uses LED lights
- eliminates the need for fuel
- endless use due to recharge-ability
- power output is adjustable
- minimal safety concerns
Gas / Propane:
- uses gas and fire for the light source
- need to carry fuel with you
- can equal or beat battery-operated lanterns in brightness
- old school appeal
- potential safety issue/fire hazard
Having an adjustable light level is important when you are using your lantern.
The electric lanterns make this feature extremely simple to use and can even include a strobe or SOS effect for those rare emergency situations you may find yourself in.
Gas lanterns require you to manually brighten/dim the lantern by regulating the amount of gas, and the only way to block light is by forging some sort of shield.
The limits of gas lanterns can be a bit cumbersome to deal with when you are scrambling around in the dark.
Flame vs. LED Lights
Aside from the obvious safety concerns that gas lanterns pose, you can get a bright light source from both options. However, LED lights offer a bit more flexibility for light levels, and in case of emergencies.
LED bulbs are also more compact, and power-efficient than some older technology models that use incandescent bulbs.
Lumens are how a light source’s brightness is measured. If you have a big area to light up, you need a high lumens rating, whereas a small area requires fewer lumens.
Tents can get away with a few hundred lumens, but a full campsite needs something in the 700+ lumens range. In some cases, multiple lanterns maybe your best option to keep the area well-lit.
Lantern size is to be taken into consideration as you will potentially be carrying it for long periods of time.
Obviously, the smaller the lantern, the less room it will take up in your backpack or car, the lighter it will be, and the happier you will be.
The best lanterns will be well-built to give you years of use no matter what you may throw at it.
Tools get knocked around a lot when you are camping, so a rugged and durable lantern should be on the top of your shortlist.
Gas lanterns can be more delicate, so if you are not one who obsesses over the state of their tools, you might want to look at the LED options.
With dollar value in mind, manufacturers are always trying to find ways to include new features in their camping lanterns.
In addition to rechargeable battery lanterns, some have solar panel options, while waterproof lanterns are very popular for when you encounter rainy nights, and there are even ones that float in case you drop your lantern while out on the lake.
For the tech-savvy camper, there are lanterns with built-in GPS, and some lanterns can even re-charge via USB so you never have to stay disconnected.
Frequently Asked Questions
Headlamps vs. Lanterns?
Headlamps come in very handy when you need something small to light up what is directly in front of you.
Some LED lanterns can concentrate the light source to a specific point, but the advantage of headlamps (besides being uber portable) is that anywhere you look you have light.
Lanterns will be something you need to keep repositioning, or carrying, depending on what your next task is.
Do Lanterns Preserve Night Vision?
Our eyesight gets tricky when no light is present. While your natural night vision will adjust over time, going from full spectrum to zero light makes it harder to see in the dark.
A lot of LED lanterns aid in this by including a red night vision light to act as a bridge, making the transition easier and ensuring you have good vision at all times.
How To Charge a Rechargeable Camping Lantern?
As some campsites charge a premium for electrical outlets, USB batteries will be your friend if you want to keep your lantern shining. Battery power packs are the most portable option, but car battery jump packs also work well.
Additionally, if you are in a pinch you can always boost it using your car’s battery with a cigarette lighter USB adapter.
Your car battery will hardly get drained and you will have lots of charges with this option.
Can I Backpack with a Lantern?
Unless you are on an epic journey to destroy The One Ring in the fires of Mount Doom, backpacking with a lantern, for the most part, is unnecessary.
For the amount of time you need a light source, lugging around a lantern on your back isn’t really justified.
Headlamps, or even your phone flashlight can work very well in giving you a temporary, quick light source when backpacking.
What is the Brightest Camping Lantern?
The brightest camping lantern is the one with the highest lumens rating.
From our list, the Coleman Deluxe PerfectFlow Propane Lantern with its massive 1,500-lumen rating would be the winner.
How Many Lumens are in a Camping Lantern?
Camping lantern lumens range from 100-200 to illuminate small areas, to 700+ lumens for larger camp sites.
Can you use a Camping Lantern Indoors?
LED camping lanterns can be used both outdoors and indoors.
Gas-powered lanterns are advertised as being safe for indoor use, but anything that requires gas, should only be used in a well-ventilated area.
The potential as a fire starter is another reason to restrict gas lanterns to outdoor use.
How To Light a Camping Lantern?
Turning on an LED lantern is quick and easy but gas-powered lanterns require a bit more know-how.
- Remove the gas cap on the base of the lantern and top it up with the recommended fuel.
- Replace the gas cap and make sure it is tight as the lantern is pressurized.
- Pump up the lantern using the pump lever. Usually, 30 pumps are the minimum amount for a full tank. If you have less fuel in the tank, you will need to pump more.
- Clean the generator using the cleaning lever, 3 to 4 revolutions will usually do the trick.
- Turn “on” the lantern using the regulator knob to begin the flow of gas into the globe.
- Using a long BBQ lighter, slide it into the lantern’s globe and light.
- Adjust for brightness using the regulator knob.
There is no shortage of camping lantern options, and no shortage of features they pack into the current models.
While gas lanterns have their nostalgic qualities, the future is really geared toward environmentally efficient, multi-function LED lanterns that can crank out bright lumens while delivering flexible technology and device charging capabilities.
Add in some basic safety functions like red-light SOS blinking and its no wonder why gas lanterns are starting to become obsolete.