If you’re on the hunt for one of the best solar powered lanterns for camping, you’ve come to the right place. We’ve done the research, and we’ve created a list of the top models you can buy on the current market. But before jumping in, why are they ideal for camping?
Solar camping lanterns are more compact, lightweight, and user-friendly than ever before. You can feel good about using them because they operate with clean energy, which basically means they’re not harming the earth in any way. Solar lanterns absorb the sun’s rays and convert them into electrical circuits to power the light.
While you can use them on their own, you can also bring along a lamp with another type of light source, like a rechargeable lantern or other kind of popular camping lanterns.
It’s comforting knowing you have a device that doesn’t require any type of battery or charging mechanism in order to work. This is important for camping because it can be so unexpected – you never know if there’ll be a huge thunderstorm or if you’ll lose your power bank. What’s more, solar power is free! You can save tons in the long run.
Let’s get right into the reviews.
1. Goal Zero Lighthouse Core Solar Camping Lantern
Lumens: 430 max
Starting off we have the Core model from Goal Zero. It’s very small in size, making it ideal for those who have tight storage space in their camping pack. By itself it is charged using a USB cord that winds around the base. It takes 5 hours for a fully powered battery. For the solar effect, pair with a Nomad Solar Panel for a brightness level of 430 lumens.
Using the top large-sized dial, you can adjust the radiance, as well as the direction of the light. Choose either a 360° illumination, or 180° for a more direct effect. It’s equipped with a USB output which lets you simultaneously charge your phone or other small device. On its ultra-low brightness mode, you get 350 hours of runtime, and 4 hours at its peak.
- Double Charging Options – Solar or USB
- Built-In USB Port for Charging Devices
- 180° – 360° Illumination Adjustments
2. MPOWERED Luci Original Solar Inflatable Light
Lumens: 75 max
Last, but not least, is the MPOWERED Luci Original, for those who want something different to most designs on the market. While inflatable lanterns aren’t necessarily new, this model has such a unique and modern look. It’s completely clear and can be inflated with your breath. The panel is located on one side, making it easy to set up in the sun.
By pushing a button on the panel side, indicator lights pop up to show you battery levels. The power button controls brightness modes, alternating between bright, super bright, and flashing. Due to its expandable nature, it can be dropped from over 6ft, be submerged underwater, or float.
- 3 Luminosity Modes Including Strobe Light
- Inflatable & Compressible Design Weighs 4.4 Ounces
- Float or Submerge in Water with IP67 Waterproof Ratings
3. LuminAID Inflatable Solar Powered Lantern
Lumens: 75 max
This is one of the most unique devices we’ve seen, as it’s certainly not like your average lantern for camping. It’s basically a box of light that has 9 different glowing colors, as well as a white LED setting, and a multi-color mode that alternates all the colors. We think the white LED mode is great for camping, because it emits such a well-rounded and bright light.
Other uses for this include at parties, around the house for decoration, or even to float in a pool. The design flattens down to a tiny 1 inch, making it super portable. When inflated, it’s 4.75 inches on all sides. Leave it in direct sunlight for 10 hours or more for a full charge. Made with durable TPU material, it’s made to withstand rough environments.
- Long Battery Life of 3-12 Hours & Carry Handle
- Waterproof/Shatterproof & Floating Capability
- Solar & USB Charging Methods
4. Goal Zero Crush Solar Powered Camping Lantern
Lumens: 60 max
The Crush is an interesting looking device shaped like a cone. It’s a fully collapsible model that squishes down to a compact size. When it’s open, it’s still small, measuring just 3.9 inches in height and 4.95 inches in width.
This makes it very portable to take with you while camping, backpacking, to and from work, or anywhere else. It really won’t take up much space in your bag – plus we think you could attach a carabiner to it and hook it onto the outside of your gear.
The panel is located at its peak, so you can set it out folded or unfolded to charge. Another option is through a USB port, which takes 3 hours for it to work for 35 hours in one go. A small button at the top is all it takes to switch between modes. Click once for high brightness, twice for medium at 25 lumens, three times for low at 6 lumens, or hold it down for a candle flicker.
- Ultralightweight 3.2 Ounce Design
- Tightly Compact 4.95” x 4.95” x 0.6” When Closed
- Lengthy 35 Hour Operating Time
5. TANSOREN 2-Pack Solar Powered Camping Lanterns
Lumens: 60 max
Coming in a 2-pack, these have an LED internal light that produces 60 lumens at its highest capacity. At 1.4lbs it won’t weigh you down, making it effortless to carry with its wire handle. Each one collapses down to 4.88 inches in height, which turns off the light and makes it more portable.
In addition to sun charging, there are 2 other methods. You can plug it in with a USB or insert 3 AA batteries – ultimately you have 2 backups in case one doesn’t work. It also charges devices with its own embedded USB port. In terms of power life, it can last for up to 8 hours at a time, so you could shine it all throughout the night.
To endure the rigors of outdoor conditions, these are hand-built using military-grade plastic. It’s water resistant, so you can bring it in soft rainfall.
- User-Friendly Stacking Design for Convenient Portability
- 8 Hour Battery Life
- 3 Charge Methods – Solar, AA Batteries & USB
6. pearlstar Hanging Solar Powered Lanterns
Lumens: Not Specified
Venturing on the romantic side, these are some elegant hanging lights that create a relaxed and sophisticated atmosphere. We think these are ideal for glamping trips, because they go so well with canvas tents. That being said, they could elevate the look of any tent.
Despite their elegant appearance, these are built to last in an outdoor environment. An ABS plastic structure is windproof and shatterproof, plus it has an overall rating of IP44. This means it is tight enough to protect the bulb against splashes of water from all different directions.
The handle is nice and roomy so you can grab it seamlessly to hang it up or pull it down. One of the highlights we’ve noticed is the integrated light sensor. This detects when it’s daytime and nighttime, thus charging in the day and only illuminating when it’s dark.
- Decorative Vintage-Inspired Design
- Light Sensor Only Turns on When it’s Dark
- Weather-Resistant Build with IP44 Waterproof Rating
7. KYNG Collapsible Solar Powered Lantern
Lumens: 65 max
The KYNG light is another collapsible model that is one of the smallest we’ve seen. At its smallest, it can fit comfortably in the palm of an average adult’s hand, coming in at just 2 inches high. It’s a rather straightforward design with the panel on the top, a sole push button, and a light on the base when it’s closed.
25 lumens are emitted on low, and 65 on high. You’ll also find a flashing mode to use in emergency situations. Multifunctional elements include charging capabilities for your phone, as well as a rechargeable internal battery if you don’t want to use solar. You can attach a carabiner to it and hang it on your bag, or hang/hold it by its handle.
- 10 Hour Battery Lifespan on One Charge
- Dual Charging Elements
- 2-in-1 Lantern & Collapsible Light
8. JMADENQ 2-Pack Solar Powered Camping Lanterns
Lumens: 65 for Lantern & 20 for Torch
As well as getting 2 lamps in the same pack, these have a 2-in-1 design. You’ve got a traditional lantern, plus a flashlight. To use the torch feature, simple close the top lid and the light will emit from the base.
The lid also lets you adjust brightness stages. Each one can also be powered with a USB cable, taking 3-5 hours to last for 5-6 hours. There is also a USB output, and with 2 models, you can charge multiple devices at one time.
Leave under the sun for 10 hours for a 50% charge, or longer for a full charge. An indicator light shines red to let you know when it’s filling up with energy. It stays off during the day and turns on at night, so you don’t need to manually do anything. Other features include stainless steel handles on the top and sides, and a special button for the flashlight.
- Hard-Wearing ABS Material & Stainless-Steel Handles
- USB Input & Output Ports
- Lightweight & Portable Under 2lbs
9. Kizen Solar Powered Camping Lantern
Lumens: Not Specified
This Kitzen model can compress down to the size of a hockey puck, so you can slip it in your bag and barely feel that it’s there. When it’s collapsed, you can also use it as a torch, since it projects a more focused beam of light. Water resistance makes it splash-proof, so you can leave it out in light precipitation.
For such a small device, it’s packed with details. There are two USB ports, one micro, upper dual solar energy panels, a circle handle, one-press switch, and a charge indicator light. The lighting system gives you 3 modes, which are low, high, and an SOS strobe.
- Splash-Proof & Durable Build
- Doubles as Flashlight When Compressed
- Fast-Charge Option with USB
10. Blazin’ Rechargeable Solar 600
Lumens: 600 max
The Blazin’ lamp is a classic looking model with pale yellow and black accents. A single touch button at the front lets you choose a brightness setting, ranging from high at 600 lumens, low at 300 lumens, and a blinking SOS light. The panel covers the entire top part, making it easy to tell if it’s dirty or covered by debris.
While it’s absorbing the rays of the sun, you can plug your phone or tablet in with a standard USB cable and charge them at the same time. If sunlight isn’t charging it as fast as you’d like, attach the provided USB cable to energize it that way. Made from a hard-plastic material, the sides and base have ridges for easier grip and stability. To hang or carry it around, there’s a long metal hook at the top.
- Twin Power Options
- Simultaneous Device Charging with Built-In USB Outlet
- Long 12 Hour Runtime on Low & 5 Hours on High
4 Pro Tips to Get the Most Out of Your Solar Lantern
- Preservation is key – Our first tip is to keep up with maintenance, which will drastically preserve the quality of the lights. Well-kept lights will last so much longer than if you were to leave them alone. Keep it stored away properly when not in use (we’ll get to that later), keep it clean using a clean rag and no chemicals, and keep tabs on the batteries as you may need to change them out.
- Sun is best – While solar works with daylight, sunrays are the best and fastest way to power up your lantern. This means that while charging, you shouldn’t position the light under any type of artificial lighting – this can include streetlamps, LED torch lights, or any kind of illumination in your home. It won’t absorb enough natural light to generate at its full capacity. Another great tip is to make sure the panel isn’t obstructed by anything. Avoid anything that can shield it like plants, your tent, gear, and so on.
- Positioning matters – During cold conditions when you need to charge it, try and do so in an indoor environment. This will extend its battery lifespan and allow it to sustain an uninterrupted charge, because it won’t be affected by cold temperatures.
- Don’t forget to turn it off – When your lamp is not in use, remember to switch the power off. This will typically be the case when there’s heavy rains or a storm outside, as you’ll want to preserve the battery’s lifetime as much as possible. Especially if it’s made from glass or another fragile material, you’ll want to protect it by bringing it inside. Once you’re back from your camping trip and need to store it away over a period of months, take any batteries out. Just keep in mind to wipe away dust build-up that may have formed while it was packaged away.
Do solar powered outdoor lights work in winter?
Solar power works in winter and on cloudy days, as you’ll see in the FAQ below. During snowfall, most panels will work even with a light covering of snow. However, try and wipe it off as soon as possible with a dry cloth to get the best effect.
The main difference between cooler and warmer months is the amount of time that passes from the sun rising and setting. In winter, it’s less time, and in summer, it’s much longer. One of the best things you can do is to steer clear of obstructions, like from plants or your tent, to get the most light.
Can solar lanterns get wet?
Depending on the model and construction of the lantern, the large majority are water resistant, and some are fully waterproof. You’ll need to check with the manufacturer if this is a feature that is highly important to you.
Water resistant means it can withstand light to moderate levels of rain, while waterproof means they can endure higher levels of moisture. Again, you’ll need to check with the product’s description as to whether it can be submerged. An IP rating of IPX7 or IPX8 means it can be immersed in water, but anything less will not survive that.
Can solar lanterns charge on cloudy days?
Yes, they will charge and work in cloudy weather. Even if the most intense rays are shielded by clouds, there is still a large amount of sun that can penetrate through. Solar runs on daylight, not necessarily light from the sun. The only effect this might have is that the solar might generate a lower level of power, possibly leading to a slightly dimmer glow or shorter duration.
Conclusion on Solar Camping Lanterns
Solar powered lanterns are a vital part of camping because they don’t need any other external power source – the sun will never leave! They save you heaps of money as time goes by and can produce a decent amount of light with lumens ranging over 600.
Even though they won’t give as much of an intense glow as some rechargeable or battery-powered models, remember that solar camping lights are fully energy-efficient and use clean power that won’t damage the environment. We also like that many models have multi-charge options for added convenience. We’ve chosen a range of compact designs to suit different camping styles, so hopefully you’ve discovered the best model for your next outdoor venture.