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The Ultimate Guide to Choosing A Camping Lantern or Light

A camping light, whether that’s a lantern or torch will make nights time’s so much easier night times easier when camping.
Space Saving Lanterns
OUTWELL Mira Light
Outwell Mira Light
Family Lanterns
Coleman Duo Pro 2000032683 LED Lantern 2 take-along flashlight panels
Coleman Duo Panel Light Lantern

Other retailers available, see review for list of stockists.

Budget Friendly Lanterns
Vango Star 85 Lantern
Vango Star 85 Lantern​

Other retailers available, see review for list of stockists.

How We Found the Best Lanterns for Camping

Experts Interviewed

Real Users Opinions

Products Tested

The Best Camping Lanterns

Whether you choose to visit larger campsites with plenty of amenities and activities for the children, smaller sites that offer you stunning views, just the basics when it comes to amenities, and a real opportunity to truly get back to nature.

However, no matter what the facilities on-site, some pieces of equipment are vital to ensuring the success of your camping trip.

One such piece of equipment that many campers often completely forget about until night falls and they find themselves in a pitch-black tent is the humble camping lantern.

A carefully chosen lamp can also prove very handy when it comes to that middle of the night dash to the toilet across an unfamiliar field.

It can save you from the likelihood of tripping over someone else’s guy rope, an unsuspecting tree root or of course the large muddy puddle that you had forgotten about.

After all, there really is nothing worse in the middle of the night than getting your shoes full of cold, muddy water.

There is a range of different camping lamps and lanterns available to buy, and they offer a selection of various features that you may, or may not, find useful.

Read on to take a look at some of the features that you may want to look at in a camping lamp so that you can select the one that is most appropriate for your camping requirements.

Selecting a camping lantern

Many years ago, the only camping lanterns that you could buy were the type that used a mantle and a flame in order to produce the kind of light necessary to give you the light needed on your camping trip.

Fortunately, this type of lantern, while still available is no longer the only option – naked flames and tents really aren’t a good mix for a safe camping trip!

Thanks to advances in the technology of both the LED type and also the battery technology variety, the humble camping lamp has been significantly improved over the years.

Electric lanterns are by far the most popular type of camping lantern around, and this includes those with solar capacity, LED lanterns and those that use batteries and rechargeable lamps.

There are also, of course, wind up lights that are well worth considering in your quest for the perfect source of lighting.

Things to take into consideration when selecting a lamp should include battery life, the weight of the lamp, the brightness and scope of the light they provide, ease of use and adjustability.

If you are backpacking and using a smaller tent, then there is a good chance your requirements from a camping lantern will be very different to those of a family loading up a car and sticking to one campsite.

After all, they may even splash out for an electrical hook up for their tent.

How We Chose

We grouped them into 3 different categories:

  • Family Lanterns
  • Space Saving Lanterns
  • Budget Lanterns

Family Lanterns

The key here light output (as several people will need to use the light) and runtime as likely to be on for longer.

Editors Pick: Best Family Lantern

Coleman Duo Pro 2000032683 LED Lantern 2 take-along flashlight panels

Coleman Duo Panel Light Lantern

One of the most popular family camping lanterns on the market and there is a reason for it.
Pros
  • Very versatile design
  • Various different brightness settings
  • Durable base unit
  • Handy USB port for charging your phone
Cons
  • Has a relatively short runtime on full power meaning either rechargeable batteries are required or multiple sets of heavy batteries.

Why we chose it

Stats:

  • Light output – removable panels 100 high / 25 low / 100 flashing, lantern 400 high / 40 low.
  • Distance of beam for lantern 13 high / 6 low / 40 flashing (in meters)
  • Runtime – removable panels 3 high / 14 low / 3 flashing, lantern 20 high / 200 low (in hours)
  • The lantern is water-resistant at a level of IPX 4
  • Requires 4 x D batteries

The Coleman Company have been making quality camping equipment for many decades, and camping lamps since they were established in 1900, so it isn’t surprising that their lanterns are amongst some of the most popular around.

The duo panel light lantern is a large lantern with an intelligent, innovative design.

There are two individual lanterns attached to either side of the main unit which can be detached and used on their own without the need for extra batteries.

The base unit has a further two panels that do not detach; meaning you can use the lantern without the removable panels for a lower lighting mode as well.

The removable panels have magnets built in so you can attach them to any surface and supports so you can prop them up if you prefer.

If that wasn’t enough, each of the panels has a bright flashlight mode and a broader panel light as well.

This light is very versatile and can be used to add plenty of light to a larger tent. It is so useful you may even find yourself using it around the home as well as for camping trips.

Specifications

  • Size – 12 x 12 x 19 cm
  • Weight – 0.62kg

Also Available from the following retailers

Prices can change daily and while we try and keep the cheapest retailer above, its worth checking all the retailers. Some retailer might also have offers on around free delivery or other promotions.

Runner up in Family Lantern

GOAL ZERO Lighthouse 400 Lantern & USB Power Hub

Goal Zero Lighthouse 400 Lantern & USB Powerhub

Charge by USB meaning its a great for long nights away
Pros
  • Versatile lighting source with adaptability for hanging or standing at various heights
  • Legs fold in around body for handy packing
  • Very light lamp
  • Hand crank offers a great alternative option for lighting when charging options not available
Cons
  • Takes a while to charge using USB, and longer using the solar panel
  • When not in use should be kept plugged in or charged every 3-6 months to keep it running

Why we chose it

Stats:

    • Charge time – 7-14 hours using the solar panel, 5 hours using the USB
    • Run time – 48 hours low and 6 hours high with one side lit, 24 hours low and 2.5 hours high with both sides lit
    • Cranking at 130 RPM 1 minute of crank gives 10 minutes of light
    • Cell type – Li-ion NMC with a capacity of 16.3 Wh

This cleverly designed lantern from Goal Zero is rather different from some of the more traditional camping lights on the market and offers a whole host of rather clever features.

It is the ideal choice for a simple camping trip and perfect for those campers looking to go a little off-grid.

The lantern offers 360° of light and also has a useful USB charging point that will give you enough power to charge a phone, tablet or even speakers.

It gives out 400 lumens of completely adjustable light and has an integrated lithium battery.

Its clever design means that it can be hung overhead or placed on a surface, and the legs can be adjusted to the appropriate height.

The lantern is easily recharged either by using the Goal Zero Nomad solar panel, the built-in hand crank (which charges it instantly) or by using a USB charger in the mains.

Specifications

  • Size – 11.4 x 12.7 x 16.5 cm

  • Weight – 0.498kg

Family Lanterns

CAMPINGAZ LumoStar Plus PZ Camping Lantern

Campingaz LumoStar Plus PZ Camping Lantern

Gas Powered camping Lantern
Pros
  • Offers very good bright light
  • Can be used as a hanging or standing lamp
  • Handy storage box for easy transportation
  • Lights very quickly and easily due to the piezo ignition
Cons
  • Requires both replacement mantles and gas canisters in order to work

Why we chose it

The Campingaz LumoStar is a little different to many of the other camping lanterns out there.

It relies on a gas cartridge (which needs to be purchased separately) in order to work.

It is surprisingly simple to use and lightweight.

Thanks to its built-in piezo ignition there is no need for matches or a lighter.

The gas cartridges are very easy to change and simply click into place.

The lamp is supplied with a sturdy plastic storage case to protect it while travelling and there is a handy suspension chain which can be used for hanging the lantern or for carrying it.

It is suitable for use either as a hanging lantern or a table lamp.

The light it gives off is a very bright white light, and it can effectively light up quite a large area.

It also has the added bonus of giving out some heat as well.

This is a lantern best suited to a camping set-up in a larger tent, and works best as a table style lantern where it can be very useful in the evening.

In addition to purchasing any extra gas canisters, it is also essential to buy additional mantels for this lantern.

Specifications

  • Size – 12 x 10.7 x 19.6 cm

  • Weight – 0.381kg

Space Saving Lanterns

If you space is an issue whether thats because your carrying all your gear, or your boot isn’t quite big enough, then these are great lanterns for you to take camping.

Editors Pick: Best Space Saving Lantern

OUTWELL Mira Light

Outwell Mira Light

Not a traditional lantern, but still a great option for those limited on space
Pros
  • Folds down very small
  • Easy to open and assemble
  • Offers a soft, gentle light
  • Has an integrated dimmer
Cons
  • Cannot be moved easily once it has been hung up
  • Cannot be used on a table. This is a ceiling hanging camping lantern only.

Why we chose it

Stats:

  • Has 230v plug
  • 5-metre cable
  • 8 Watt light (300 lumens)
  • Made from silicone

Okay, we have to start by saying that you could be forgiven for thinking this was not a camping lantern, and it certainly isn’t in the conventional sense.

However, it does make a very good camping light for a family-sized tent with a living space, especially when you are looking to recreate that “home style” feeling.

If you are looking for a lantern that will offer more of a traditional lighting feel in your tent, then this bright little light is a perfect choice.

If, however, you have a smaller tent, then you should probably look for something different!

The Outwell Mira collapsible light is a circular lamp that looks somewhat like a home interior light shade.

It can be folded flat for easy storage and transportation.

It gives a slightly soft ambient lighting to your tent rather than the harsher, bright light you get with a more traditional camping lantern.

Specifications:

  • Size – 26.5cm x 26.5cm (height x diameter)
  • Folded size – 26.5cm x 5cm
  • Weight – 0.899kg

Runner up: Best Space Saving Lantern

BIOLITE Sunlight

Biolite – Sunlight

Great lantern for going off the grid.
Pros
  • Incredibly compact in size
  • Very lightweight for backpacking
  • Easy to charge using the sun or USB
  • Lasts 50 hours when charged
  • Water-resistant
Cons
  • This camping light really is very small, so while it does give off a good amount of light, it may not be enough for more than one camper in a small ten

Why we chose it

Stats:

  • Has 230v plug
  • 5 meter cable
  • 8 Watt light (300 lumens)
  • Made from silicone

If you want to take your camping completely off-grid, then you need a camping light that can cope.

That means something that doesn’t need plugging into the mains for recharging and doesn’t require copious quantities of extra batteries to keep it running.

The Biolite sunlight is the solution to any off-grid camping trips lighting issues.

This is a solar-powered light which offers the user a healthy 52-hours of glare-free, natural light.

And because not everyone who camps does so in the sunnier climes, or even months, it comes with a handy mini USB cable which means it can be used in the frequently changing British weather.

This adjustable light can be hung up overhead or used on a surface such as a table thanks to its 360-degree swivel arm.

Another amusing little feature of this incredibly tiny lamp is that it can also be used in what the manufacturers have termed “party mode”. This means that the light can be turned to blue or red!

Specifications:

  • Size – 26.5cm x 26.5cm (height x diameter)
  • Folded size – 26.5cm x 5cm
  • Weight – 0.899kg

Also Available from the following retailers

Prices can change daily and while we try and keep the cheapest retailer above, its worth checking all the retailers. Some retailer might also have offers on around free delivery or other promotions.

Something Different: Best Space Saving Lantern

LUMA Luci Outdoor 2.0 Pro Inflatable Solar Light

Luma Luci Outdoor 2.0 Pro Inflatable Solar Light

Inflatable light
Pros
  • Very compact when deflated
  • Very lightweight for backpacking
  • Simple to charge
  • Lasts 50 hours when charged on a lower light setting, less on brighter modes
  • Waterproof
Cons
  • Incredibly lightweight so should be used outdoor with care as it may be prone to being moved about by the wind
  • Could become punctured

Why we chose it

Stats:

  • Two-way 1A USB Port
  • 1m USB to USB cable
  • Ten warm white LEDs, 150 lumens
  • Four modes of lighting low, bright, super bright, 1-sec flashing

Camping lanterns do not have to be boring, and this clever little number from Luma certainly isn’t.

Inflatable and lighting are certainly not two words that we would have expected to see in the same sentence, but somehow this rather unique lighting solution works, and works quite well too.

The Lima Luci is a great light for anyone who wants all the equipment but has little space in which to put it; so the perfect solution for any backpacker.

 

The truly clever design of this lantern means that it can be deflated for storage and then blown up when you get to your destination.

It is waterproof and has a two-way USB which means that if you fully charge it before you head out on your adventures, you should be able to use it to top up your battery phone and then still have enough energy left for a couple of hours of light.

It can be charged using solar power during the day.

Fourteen hours of sunlight will give you 50 hours of light, and it even has a handy safety feature of a 1-second flashing mode should you find yourself in a situation where you need to attract someone’s attention.

Specifications:

  • Size – 12.7cm D x 10.8cm H inflated (12.7cm D x 3.8cm H deflated)

  • Weight – 0.156kg

Budget Camping Lanterns

Camping can get quite expensive and not everything needs to be top of the range with all the cool gadgets. Here are some of the best lanterns on the market which won’t cost you an arm and a leg.

Editors Choice: Best Budget Lantern

Vango Star 85 Lantern

Vango Star 85 Lantern

All round good light
Pros
  • Uses AA batteries which last quite a while
  • Small size, and lightweight
  • Comes in a range of colours
Cons
  • Does not fold down for storage
  • More suited for close up tasks than lighting a larger space

Why we chose it

Stats:

  • Two settings, 40 lumens and 85 lumens
  • Uses 4 x AA batteries

For shorter camping trips, or when you have older children who would prefer a lantern of their own in their sleeping compartment of a family tent, there are so many great budget-friendly camping lanterns out there.

Many of these do a very good job of providing enough light for reading at night or just sitting and chatting.

While it is true they may lack some of the more intelligent features of other camping lanterns out there; they do the job they are needed for and are gentle on the pocket.

Vango is well known in the camping field, and their Star 85 Lantern is a perfect example of a good lamp at a great price.

This is a versatile lantern that can be used on a surface of hung up with the attached hanging hook to offer a soft illumination.

Specifications:

  • Size – L11.5 x H14.5 x W11.5cm (approx.)

  • Weight – 0.135kg

Also Available from the following retailers

Prices can change daily and while we try and keep the cheapest retailer above, its worth checking all the retailers. Some retailer might also have offers on around free delivery or other promotions.

Runners Up: Best Budget Lantern

EUROHIKE Krypton Focusing Lantern - Large

Eurohike – Krypton Focusing Lantern – large

All round good light
Pros
  • Carry/hanging handle
  • Powerful bulb
  • Comes in a range of colours
Cons
  • Does not fold down for storage
  • Cannot be charged so a change of batteries will be needed

Why we chose it

Stats:

  • Multi focus beam
  • Uses 4 x D batteries

This large lamp from the Eurohike range is another excellent choice for the budget-conscious camper. Simple to use, it is suitable for hanging or for merely placing on a handy surface, and it even comes in a couple of different colourways.

It has a powerful Krypton bulb that offers a surprising amount of light and thanks to the adjustable stand it can be set up for a variety of angles

Specifications:

  • Size – 10cm diameter x 14cm height (not including handle)

Lightweight: Best Budget Lantern

Hi-Gear Collapsible Silicone Solar Lantern

Great for backpacking on a budget
Pros
  • Can be collapsed for easy storage
  • Very easy to charge during the daytime in the sunlight
  • Very lightweight making it a good backpacking choice
Cons
  • When used on a brighter setting, the runtime is reduced and may not be enough for the evening when the nights start to get darker earlier
  • While this lantern does have a handle, it is a little short for hanging overhead

Why we chose it

Stats:

  • Three operating modes, low, high and flash
  • Dimmer function included
  • 80 lumens of light

When it comes to budget camping lanterns, you may fear you wouldn’t be able to find something compact.

However, some budget options are reasonably priced and compact tool.

If you are looking for something budget-friendly that will work for backpacking trips, then this clever collapsible offering from Hi-Gear is a good choice.

It offers a variety of light options, can be powered using a USB or in the sunlight and a full charge provides up to 6 hours of runtime, which is perfect for any overnight camping trip.

This is a compact and lightweight solution that offers you plenty of light without weighing you down.

Specifications:

  • Size – 17 x 9.2cm (not collapsed)

  • Weight – 0.225kg

To sum up

One thing that most campers will agree on is that a camping lantern is something of a necessity.

However, what they won’t always agree on is which type is best.

Personal preference, the type of tent you have and even the type of camper that you are will play a huge part in your decision.

If you are looking for a camping lantern to take on your backpacking adventures then obviously the lighter and more compact the better – if of course, the light that it provides is sufficient for your needs.

Otherwise, you are just wasting valuable space packing something that won’t do the job properly.

If however, you are going on a family camping holiday with a larger tent, you may want to invest in a couple of camping lamps.

There is a good chance that you will want something to hang from the ceiling to light up the whole living area of your tent and something more portable for those late-night trips across the field to the toilet blocks that children seem to love and adults are less keen on.

There is nothing wrong with buying a couple of different camping lanterns that will offer you as much flexibility as possible.

If you are new to camping, you may almost certainly want to try this in order to find out what works best for you and your circumstances.

Remember though, if you have children, as they get older they may want small lanterns of their own in their sleeping pods so that they can read once they are curled up in their sleeping bags.

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