Looking for the best camping lantern out these days? Well, from lumens to LED’s, I took a deep dive into the camping lanterns on the market and was surprised at my findings.
Tag along, and let’s check out the best camping lanterns available today. Camping lanterns bring a much-needed element to the outdoors, ambient light.
While outdoor gear like headlamps and flashlights offer a great resource of direct light, a camping lantern will give the general area light needed to complete your tasks without being worried about pointing your flashlight (or your head) at your work area.
Types of Camping Lanterns
The OG of camping lanterns was the Coleman 220F Lantern. I can remember as a kid trying to start the Coleman lantern, the problem was, back then, all the lanterns ran off of a liquid fuel source such as Coleman Lantern Fuel or White Gasoline. These days, it seems almost humorous to lug around gas for your camp light. While I am partial to old-school toys, when it comes to my gear, I tend to like the more modern approaches.
These days, camping lanterns have changed. These are the most commonly found types of camping lanterns.
Solar Powered Camping Lanterns
Solar power has taken over the world, and that’s a good thing! For one, there is no need to lug around fuel. You don’t need to keep new batteries around or try and remember the last time you changed them.
Also, as long as the sun comes up, you have the ability to top off your power source.
While many Solar options do provide the needed power to keep your camping lantern running, the type and size of the incorporated solar panel should be considered.
Too small of wattage capability in the panel will greatly increase the time it takes to bring power back to your lantern.
Battery Powered Camping Lanterns
Lithium-Ion batteries offer a reliable way to power your camping lantern. Most are rechargeable by USB or a similar port that can be sourced via your portable power bank. More traditional battery options still remain a player in the camping lanterns market as well.
The problem these days is that it’s hard to justify a battery-powered lantern with so many solar devices out there on the market that is priced well.
I can’t tell you how many times I needed new batteries when camping. Now, that is a testament to my planning and packing, i get it. But, solar lanterns seem like the way to go.
Gas Powered Camping Lanterns
Although you would think the market of camping lanterns would be saturated by only LED lights, solar panels, and batteries, there is still a market in demand for gas-powered camping lanterns.
Many people like the nostalgia of it while others have yet to fully embrace modern ways.
One popular source of gas-powered camping lanterns is the Propane-powered lantern.
Propane-powered camping lanterns are popular as they incorporate a fuel source that most campers already have in their possession, propane.
Didn’t think so? Your Coleman Stove? The Buddy Heater? All run on the smaller green camping propane bottles and make for a great camping lantern to incorporate into the mix.
Another gas-powered camping lantern is the traditional unleaded fuel or branded Coleman Fuel.
How Many Lumens Should A Camping Lantern Be?
So, we know we need a lantern, but with so many details, what about the lumens? Do they matter? How many do you need?
Those are valid questions. From my experience, if you are solo camping and just working with your headlamp, something small like 250 lumens will work fine.
If you are out with family, friends, or just like your camping area to be well lit at night, then you will want to go for more lumen output to be able to light up areas beyond your lantern.
A 1000 lumen lantern would be best for those who want a lot of light from their camping lantern.
Essentially, its going to come down to your preference, however, if you only have one light or lantern, I would recommend going with a larger lumen rating just in case you need it.
How Many Lanterns Do You Need For Camping?
This may be the subject of some debate, but, in reality, you only need one lantern. With that said, the points below will greatly impact this decision.
Are you camping alone? Do you have kids? Do you get freaked out in the woods at night?
All of these details will impact your lantern buying when it comes to how many you buy. Overall, a solo camper with a headlamp is likely fine.
A headlamp will illuminate your immediate area and can also be hung from your tent canopy as a bit of a dome light in the tent.
If you have kids, you may want to consider getting a few lanterns, even one for each kid. These days most are solar or rechargeable and kids love to explore and run around with them at night.
As a general rule, if you are still not sure, grab one lantern and one headlamp, this will set you up for almost any camping scenario where you need a camping lantern.
Best Basic Camping Lantern
Coleman Dual Fuel Mantle Lantern
- Name: Coleman Dual Fuel Mantle Lantern
- Run Time: 7 Hours on One Tank
- Type: Classic – Glass
- Lumens: 700
- Fuel: Gas / Liquid Fuel
- Waterproof: No
I’m taking you back a few years here! Let’s fill this bad boy with gas and light up the room. There is something just cool about an old school styled gas lanterns.
These come with a 3-year warranty and can be had with (or without) a protective carrying case.
We definitely recommend the carrying case as the glass materials on the lantern are likely to take a beating over the years by the very nature of outdoor activities.
However, if you are going to put it in a library, it won’t matter.
Best Budget Camping Lantern:
LE LED Lantern
- Name: LE LED
- Run Time: 12-25 Hours
- Type: LED
- Lumens: 1000
- Fuel: Batteries (3, D sized)
- Waterproof: Yes, IPX4
So this comes in an incredible value. For less than the price of pizza these days, you’re getting a whopping 1000 Lumens of the LED light.
Not to mention, this delivers all that light for a duration of 12-25 hours. Did I mention its waterproof too? IPX4 Waterproofing.
This has 4 light modes of flashing at 1000lm, plus a mode for 300lm and 700lm, dimmable as well.
Now, I could go on and on about how great I think this is, but don’t take my word for it, take the word of the over 8,000 Reviewed left on Amazon. People seem to love this one.
Best Backpackers Camping Lantern:
Goal Zero Crush
- Name: Goal Zero Crush Croma
- Type: LED
- Lumens: 60
- Fuel: Solar + USB Charging
- Waterproof: No
This is a sweet little light that “crushes” to a flat position for easy access anywhere your heart desires.
The easy-to-carry loop on top makes this great to hang in the tent or on the hanger hook of the car when car camping. Because this crushes flat, this little guy is ideal for backpackers.
Pair this with a headlamp and you’ve got all the light you will need on your trip. The Goal Zero Crush Croma also can change colors in six different color schemes.
With the incredible 35 hour runtime, this little camping lantern packs a powerful, and packable punch.
Best Lantern for Car Campers:
Black Diamond Remoji
- Name: Black Diamond Remoji
- Type: USB Rechargeable
- Lumens: 100
- Run Time:
- Fuel: Lithium-ion Battery
- Waterproof: Yes IXP4
When size matters, consider the Black Diamond Remoji. This small but functional camping lantern delivers. With magnetic plating, it can be placed on any metallic surface and held in place. Leave the tangled up 550 cord in your back, this thing sticks!
Perfect for those overlanders and truck campers as the vehicle surface created endless mounting opportunities. Just remember to grab it before you hit the road again,
Best Solar Camping Lantern:
LuminAID Packlite Max
- Name: LuminAID Packlite MAX 2-in-1
- Type: LED
- Lumens: 150
- Run Time:
- Fuel: Solar and a 2000 mah Battery with USB Recharge
- Waterproof: Yes
Well, they thought of it all. The only thing this camping lantern cant do is massage my feet after a hike.
This lantern shares the same “crushing” feature as the Goal Zero Crush above, however, this one also has an internal 2000mah battery, a solar recharge panel, is waterproof AND it’s a portable phone charger. Easy there LuminAID! We can only take so much awesome!
Best Battery Camping Lantern:
Energizer LED Camping Lantern
- Name: Energizer LED Camping Lantern
- Type: LED
- Lumens: 500
- Run Time: 650
- Fuel: Battery
- Waterproof: Yes- IPX4
With a safe name in the battery game (see what I did there?), it’s hard not to trust an Energizer product. With its durable plastic body paired with IPX4 waterproofing, this lantern should last a long time.
In the world of camping lanterns, this beast can run for a staggering 650 hours. I had to read and re-read that when I was researching. That’s a long time, we see you, Energizer.
Top Choice Overall:
Goal Zero Lighthouse 400
- Name: Goal Zero Lighthouse 400
- Type: LED
- Lumens: 400
- Run Time: up to 48 hours
- Fuel: Solar and USB Charging and a Hand Crank
- Waterproof: Yes
So, we’ve looked at quite a few camping lanterns here. I feel like Goal Zero balanced all the wanted features well enough that this lantern eeks out our top pick overall as the best camping lantern.
With a price at $50, this lantern delivers in all areas that the others do, but also steps above with the hand crank feature.
So, while a solar panel and USB charging is great (which this has) both of these charging methods rely on something (sunlight and power sources).
The hand crank method gives this lantern a method beyond traditional methods and truly makes this the Off-Grid, Jack-of-all-trades camping lantern. Well done, Goal Zero.
So there you have it! You are all up-to-date on the Camping Lanterns scene. Doing this research I was impressed with how far these lanterns have come.
While the camping lantern is just one item on your packing list, it’s an important one. For Ideas on other essential items on your next camping adventure, check out this helpful write-up here.
Mike is a Colorado resident, a combat veteran, and a former Police Officer, and an avid outdoorsman. Mike has camped, hiked, and Overlanded all over the United States. From backpack Elk Hunts on Public Land, solo truck camping to Multi-week Overlanding adventures with his family, Mike is very familiar with these outdoor topics.