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Camping lantern in tent

Best Camping Lanterns: 10 Beams to Light Your Way in 2019

Because the night is dark and full of terrors…

Anyone who has ever tried to set up a tent after dusk knows the value of a great camping lantern. Or maybe you’ve tried tucking into your hard earned camping meal only to realise that you can’t actually see what you’re eating?! A headlamp can be an ideal way to put some light on the subject, especially when you’re moving about camp lots or need an intense beam of light for your personal use. But when you’re camping in a group, having multiple white lights blinding you over dinner is no fun. A good camping lantern, however, not only produces enough light for all to use, it also produces a welcoming ambiance around the camp.

So whether you need a lantern for a car camping trip with a group or even to create a nice atmosphere on your solo backpacking trip, you’ll be sure to find the perfect camping lantern in our list of favourites for 2019.

Summary of the best camping lanterns in 2019

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ProductFeaturesType of lanternMax lumensCost
Black Diamond ApolloRechargeableBattery LED250$$
Coleman Twin LEDGood battery run timeBattery LED390$
Goal Zero Lighthouse 400Rechargeable, very brightLithium battery LED400$$$
Streamlight The SiegeWaterproof, good valueBattery LED540$$
Coleman Quad LEDSeparates into 4Battery LED190$$
Black Diamond Voyager
Built in flashlight, compactBattery LED140$
Princeton Tec Helix BackcountryVersatile and adjustableBattery LED150$
Nite Ize Radiant 400Good battery run time, very brightBattery LED400$
Coleman Dual-Fuel 2-Mantle LanternSuper bright, long run timeUnleaded gasoline or liquid fuel1100$$$
Primus Micron LanternLightweight, good for backpackingButane360$$

FAQs when choosing the best camping lanterns

What is the brightest camping lantern?
If you’re looking for a battery powered camping lantern then the brightest option on our list is the Streamlight The Siege. When on full it puts out 540 lumens of powerful beams.

For something even more bright, however, take a look at the Coleman Dual-Fuel 2-Mantle Lantern. This is powered by unleaded gasoline or liquid fuel and puts out a whopping 1100 lumens.

What is the best LED lantern?
If you’re only concerned with how bright the lantern is then you’ll struggle to find anything that competes with the Streamlight The Siege. However, there are other things to consider too. Like portability, weight, versatility, whether it is rechargeable or not, and even ambience. An excellent rechargeable option that is also very bright is the Goal Zero Lighthouse 400.
What is the best rechargeable lantern?
The Goal Zero Lighthouse 400 is hands down the best rechargeable lantern for camping on our list. It is also one of the best camping lanterns full stop!
How many lumens do I need for a camping lantern?
In most camping scenarios you won’t often need a lantern with more than 100 lumens. And there will be times when the ability to adjust that to a lower level will be greatly appreciated. That said, if you are group camping or wanting to light up a large tent or communal area, having a very bright lantern can be really useful. Consider that your average 50W light bulb offers the equivalent of 400-550 lumens and then work back from there.
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The 10 best camping lanterns in 2019

Here are ten of our favourite camping lanterns organised by fuel type:

Battery-operated LED lanterns

Black Diamond Apollo

Black Diamond Apollo

Eco-conscious: Rechargeable battery

The recently updated Apollo lantern from Black Diamond is both battery-operated and rechargeable. It runs on internal rechargeable lithium-ion battery or 4 AA batteries. Plus, it has a USB port to rechareg handheld electronics. The Apollo is perfect if you are looking for a lantern to provide ambient light in a confined space. With a light range up to 250 lumens and a frosted globe cover, expect a softer light ideal for finding your way around without obscuring your view of the stars. Completely collapsible legs give you the option of hanging the lantern, setting it directly on a hard surface, or propping it up.

Pros

  • Rechargeable
  • Has dimmer control
  • Lightweight
  • Good for backpacking

Cons

  • It’s on the small side
  • Dimmer switch can be hard to use

Find the latest price on:
Amazon | REI | Backcountry


Coleman Twin LED Camping Lantern

Coleman Twin LED

Coleman’s Twin LED is one of the brightest LED lanterns on our list with up to 390 lumens at the highest setting, making it a great option for lighting large areas at night. On high, the light radiates up to 32 feet out in all directions! Seven different brightness settings let you adjust it down to provide a dim nightlight or to conserve battery life – the lantern’s eight D-cell batteries can last up to 300 hours on the lowest setting. The casing itself is water and weather resistant so you can hang it outside in all weather conditions without any loss of light.

Pros

  • Very bright and powerful
  • Good for lighting up group areas
  • Lots of light settings

Cons

  • Not rechargeable and takes a lot of batteries
  • It’s large and heavy

Find the latest price on:
Amazon


Goal Zero Lighthouse 400

Goal Zero Lighthouse 400

Eco-conscious: Rechargeable battery

The Goal Zero Lighthouse 400 offers the convenience of a battery-operated lantern without the cost and difficulty of replacing the batteries after every few outings. This is thanks to a lithium-ion battery that recharges via an included USB cable. When the lantern isn’t charging, the USB port and cable can also be used to charge your phone or tablet on the go. Plus, on the occasions when the battery has completely drained, there’s a handy wind-up function to adda bit of juice! Another convenient feature is the ability to turn on only half the light to keep light from shining in your eyes, and to conserve battery power.

For more information read our full review of the Lighthouse 400.

Pros

  • Very bright and powerful
  • Has USB port to charge devices
  • Rechargable

Cons

  • Collapsible legs could be more stable

Find the latest price on:
Amazon | Backcountry


Streamlight The Siege

Streamlight The Siege

The Siege lantern by Streamlight puts out a whopping 540 lumens with only three D-cell batteries — the most popwerful of the battery operated lanterns on our list. In addition to the convenience of taking less than half the batteries of many comparable camping lanterns, The Siege has tons of customisable features. These include hanging rings on both the top and bottom, four levels of brightness, a flashing red emergency light, and the ability to remove the globe cover entirely for a smaller lantern. It is also the least expensive waterproof model on our list with waterproofing up to one meter.

Pros

  • Mega bright
  • Lots of features make it highly versatile
  • Waterproof

Cons

  • Not rechargeable
  • A little on the heavy side

Find the latest price on:
Amazon


Coleman Quad LED camping lantern

Coleman Quad LED

With one of the most unique lantern designs on our list, Coleman’s Quad LED is made of four separate LED panels around a lantern base. Each of the panels can be removed to function as individual, portable lights with over an hour of run time between charges – perfect for sending part of the group on evening excursions or trips to the bathroom while keeping plenty of light around the campsite. Any LED panels left on the base while the lantern is on will recharge and provide light around camp with up to 190 lumens with all four panels attached.

Pros

  • Versatile — splits into 4!
  • LED’s last a lifetime
  • Great for families

Cons

  • Not rechargeable and take a lot of batteries
  • It’s large and heavy

Find the latest price on:
Amazon | REI


Black Diamond Voyager camping lantern

Black Diamond Voyager

As with the Apollo lantern from Black Diamond, the Voyager features a frosted globe cover for a gentler, more diffused light with all the efficiency benefits of LED. This makes the light easier on the eyes, especially if you plan to use the lantern in your tent at night. The Voyager may be the only light you need in your tent at all thanks to a high-beam flashlight built into the base. Compact design and the ability to run on only 4 AA-cell batteries make this a great option for trips where size and weight matter.

Pros

  • Lightweight and small
  • Good if want an ambient light
  • Has built-in flashlight

Cons

  • Not rechargeable
  • Not as robust as the Apollo

Find the latest price on:
Amazon | Backcountry


Princeton Tec Helix Backcountry

Princeton Tec Helix Backcountry

For a completely unique design, look no further than Princeton Tec’s Helix Backcountry. With collapsible, removable, and folding legs, the Backcountry can serve as a spotlight, a hanging dome light, or a stand-alone lantern of multiple heights. The lantern itself comes in four different color combinations and features a button-free control panel. Each leg comes with its own built-in hook for hanging. The LED light runs on three AAA-cell batteries and is adjustable from 30-150 lumens in either white or red.

Pros

  • Versatile
  • Button-free control panel
  • Unique looks!

Cons

  • Not rechargeable
  • A little on the heavy side for backpacking

Find the latest price on:
Amazon | REI | Backcountry


Nite Ize Radiant 400

Nite Ize Radiant 400

With settings ranging from 30-400 lumens, the Radiant 400 from Nite Ize can light the entire campsite or just the interior of a small tent. On the lowest setting, three D-cell batteries will last for up to 800 hours of light. One intuitive feature is the power button. Each click cycles through the brightness settings. Once you settle on a setting for five seconds or more, however, a single click of the power button shuts off the lantern – meaning no more clicking through every setting just to turn off the light. The Radiant 400 is impact resistant up to one meter.

Pros

  • Very bright when on full power
  • Long run time
  • Lots of brightness settings

Cons

  • Not rechargeable
  • Not as robust as other options

Find the latest price on:
Amazon | Backcountry


Liquid- and gas-fuelled camping lanterns

Coleman Dual-Fuel 2-Mantle Lantern

Coleman Dual-Fuel 2-Mantle Lantern

Don’t let the price tag scare you – Coleman’s Dual-Fuel 2-Mantle Lantern is the most expensive lantern on our list but is also one of the most versatile. It comes in as the brightest lantern on this list by far, with over 1,100 lumens of light. Yet it can be dimmed to any brightness level (as opposed to LED lanterns, which can only be dimmed to certain settings). Running on either unleaded gasoline or Coleman Liquid Fuel, this lantern is more efficient than propane and can operate at full intensity for 7 hours. The option to use unleaded gasoline is convenient for times when you need to refill the tank without making a special trip to the store.

Pros

  • Mega bright
  • Easily adjustable
  • Very fuel efficient

Cons

  • Can’t take it inside a small tent due to fire risk
  • Can get a little too hot to touch

Find the latest price on:
Amazon | REI


Primus Micron Lantern

Primus Micron Lantern

The only lantern on our list powered with butane fuel is the Micron Lantern from Primus. Designed specifically for backpacking and outdoor use, the globe around the flame is made from sturdy mesh instead of glass. The mantles are also extra durable to lower the chance of either breaking in your pack. If you would rather use propane fuel to power the light up to 360 lumens, butane-to-propane adaptors are available for around $20 online and at most outdoor stores.

Pros

  • Mega lightweight
  • Very compact

Cons

  • Can’t take it inside a small tent due to fire risk
  • Gets hot

Find the latest price on:
Amazon | Backcountry


What to look for in the best camping lanterns

Before you decide which one is best for your needs, it’s important to take a minute to familiarise yourself with the features of camping lanterns and the different types that are available.

Type of fuel

Most camping lanterns were powered by butane or propane until LED lights hit the market.

LEDs take less energy to put out bright light and are usually cool to the touch as well. LED lanterns are usually powered by batteries – easy to use but wasteful, and it’s very easy to forget your spares! Some LED lanterns, like the Goal Zero Lighthouse 400, however, eliminate both of this problems and come with rechargeable batteries instead.

Propane and butane-powered lanterns have advantages too, however. The flame is fully adjustable and the fuel is convenient to store long-term. For even more versatility, the Coleman Dual-Fuel 2-Mantle Lantern can use either Coleman Fuel or regular unleaded gasoline.

Brightness of the light

Lantern light is measured in how much light is emitted (known as lumens). A good rule of thumb to remember is that an average 75W light bulb gives off 1100 lumens of light. But when it comes to camping lanterns, bright is not always best. Although a high-lumen light can be useful for lighting the entire campsite, gentle lighting is easier on the eyes late at night. So if it’s atmosphere you’re after, the best option may be a dimmable lantern like Princeton Tec’s Helix Backcountry. There’s also a lot more to brightness that just a number, so for more information on lumens and their effect on the brightness of a light, take a read of our headlamps article.


Whether you are looking for a light, collapsible model for a backpacking trip or larger model bright enough to light an entire campsite, one of the lanterns on this list is sure to be the perfect fit for your upcoming camping and backpacking trips.

About the author

author-kimberley

Kimberly Mays is a writer and editor living in Western North Carolina, where she spends weekends in the garden and hiking with her husband and children.

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