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Solar light in tent

Solar Camping Lights: 10 Solar String Lights and Lanterns in 2019

If you don’t feel like eating in the dark on your next camping trip, or you’d like to make your outdoor experience a little greener, a portable solar light is the perfect alternative. Actually, a solar rechargeable camping lantern in one of the best replacements for a kerosene lantern or battery powered camping light.

Solar camping lights are no longer the oversized and unreliable machines that they used to be. Purchase the right one and you’ll never need to buy a disposable battery again. Even if there’s no sunlight, most solar camping lights give you the option of charging by the mains too.

Here you can find our list of the best solar lights for camping and a guide to choosing the right make and model for your trip.

Summary of solar camping lights

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ProductType of lightFeaturesBest forCost
MPOWERD Luci Lux Pro Inflatable Solar LanternLanternCollapsible+ lightweightBackpacking + lightweight camping$$
Goal Zero Crush Light LanternLanternCollapsible+ lightweightBackpacking + lightweight camping$
BioLite SunLight Portable Solar LightLantern/lightFast re-charge timeCamping$
Suaoki Collapsible Solar LED Camping LanternLanternCompact + versatileBackpacking + lightweight camping$
LuminAID PackLite 2-in-1 Phone ChargerLanternCollapsible + lightweight with USB chargerBackpacking + lightweight camping$$
Goal Zero Torch 250 FlashlightFlashlightVersatile + lightweight with USB chargerCamping$$
MPOWERD Luci Solar String LightsString lightsHighly waterproofCamping$
GigaTent Camping Solar String and Flash LightString lights with flashlightHas charging unit for other devicesCar camping$
Brightech Ambience Pro Solar LED Outdoor String LightsString lightsHighly weatherproofCar camping and glamping$
HKYH Solar Panel Lighting KitString lightsHas charging unit for other devicesGlamping and RVing$$$$

Solar camping lanterns and lights

MPOWERD Luci Lux Pro Inflatable Solar Lantern

MPOWERD Luci Lux Pro Inflatable Solar Lantern

Solar recharge time: 14 Hours
Average runtime: High: 6 hours, Medium: 12 hours, Low: 50 hours

The MPOWERD Luci Lux Pro is a practical choice for wet weather camping or water sports such as kayaking. Its high waterproof rating means it can be submerged in water of up to 1 meter for up to 30 minutes.

The Luci Lux Pro has an inflatable design which weighs in at just 4.4 oz. Its pack size is super compact and the top and bottom straps let you attached it your backpack or hang it above your camp. Its 10 warm white LED lights provide a natural glow which can be set to high, medium, low, or flash. Unfortunately its solar recharge time is not the fastest. However, the two-way USB does give you the option to recharge in just two hours or use the lantern to top up your phone battery.

Pros

  • Compact pack size
  • Multiple lighting settings
  • Two-way USB
  • Waterproof

Cons

  • Slow solar recharge time
  • Not as sturdy as other lanterns

Find the latest price on:
Amazon | REI | Backcountry


Goal Zero Crush Light Lantern

Goal Zero Crush Light Lantern

Average runtime: High: 3 hours, Medium: 6 hours, Low: 35 hours

The Goal Zero Crush Light Lantern has a collapsing accordion design which lets it pack flat. Weighing in at only 3.2oz, you can certainly tuck this solar rechargeable camping lantern into your backpack without it feeling heavy. Despite this, the Goal Zero crush Lantern is a durable product. It’s made from a combination of silicone and ABS Plastic. The maximum light output is only 60 lumens, however it does offer 3 lighting settings and a maximum runtime of 35 hours. An extra feature is the ‘Flickering Candle’ mode. You can feel like you’re sitting by the fireside whilst inside your tent.

Pros

  • Compact and collapsible
  • Lightweight
  • Durable materials

Cons

  • Lower light output

Find the latest price on:
Amazon | REI | Backcountry


BioLite SunLight Portable Solar Light

BioLite SunLight Portable Solar Light

Solar recharge time: 5-7 Hours
Average runtime: High: 3 hours, Low: 50 hours

The BioLite Sunlight is another lightweight solar camping light which is ideal for backpackers and family camping alike. It doesn’t fold or collapse but the SunLight is already compact enough to fit inside your bag. It features a 360 kickstand so you can hang the light or stand it on the ground.

Another clever feature is its built-in sundial which helps you position the light for a faster recharge. The 5-7-hour recharge time, or 2 hours with USB, is already faster than most solar camping lanterns on this list — impressive! On a low brightness setting the battery can run for 50 hours. On full power the BioLite SunLite offers a 100-lumen light. It also comes with a red light mode, a multi-coloured party mode, and an affordable price tag.

Pros

  • Lightweight and compact
  • Multiple lighting and colour settings
  • Faster recharge time

Cons

  • None that we can find!

Find the latest price on:
Amazon | REI | Backcountry


Suaoki Collapsible Solar LED Camping Lantern

Suaoki Collapsible Solar LED Camping Lantern

Average runtime: High: 2 hours, Low/Flash: 4 hours

The compact folding design makes the Suaoki Collapsible Solar LED Camping Lantern a versatile choice for campers. Its three panels can be opened to 90 degrees and placed flat for a wide flood light, or closed to function as a flashlight. Alternatively, the built-in hook lets you hang the light from above.

As the runtime is only 2 to 4 hours this lantern is best for short camping or backpacking trips. It is, however, able to charge by USB or sunlight. Plus, its folding design allows you to position the panels for maximum sun exposure.

Pros

  • 3 solar panels
  • Compact folding design
  • Adjustable brightness and beam

Cons

  • Short runtime

Find the latest price on:
Amazon


LuminAID PackLite 2-in-1 Phone Charger

LuminAID PackLite 2-in-1 Phone Charger

Solar recharge time: 12-14 hours
Average runtime: Turbo: 3-5 hours, Low: 44-50 hours

The LuminAID PackLite is another compact inflatable solar camping light. When inflated it’s 6 inches tall but its pack size is just 6 x 6 x 1 inches. Though it weighs a lot more than most compact solar lanterns, this product does double as a power bank for your mobile phone. The heavy-duty TPU fabric is highly durable but also shatterproof, weatherproof, and waterproof up to 1 meter. It even floats! Meanwhile, the PackLite offers 5 lighting settings with a maximum light output of 150 lumens and a maximum runtime of 50 hours.

Pros

  • Compact inflatable design
  • Strong TPU fabric
  • 5 lighting settings
  • Two-way USB connection
  • Waterproof

Cons

  • Heavier than most collapsible lanterns

Find the latest price on:
Amazon | REI


Goal Zero Torch 250 Flashlight

Goal Zero Torch 250 Flashlight

Solar recharge time: 24 hours
Average runtime: 7-48 hours

If you’re looking for something multi-functional the Goal Zero 250 Flashlight is one of the best solar lights for camping out there. With three different ways to charge you’ll never need to buy batteries again. This water-resistant flashlight features a built-in solar panel but you can also recharge using the hand crack or connect to an electric supply. The two-way USB port lets you charge your other devices, too. Recharge time is fairly slow, even by USB, but its Lithium-ion battery can run for up to 48 hours.

Aside from 3 charging methods, the Goal Zero Torch 250 offers multiple lighting options and a maximum light output of 250 lumens. You can choose between a flood or spot beam, lantern or flashlight, or use the red-light mode for a softer light. It’s not the most lightweight nor the cheapest item on our list, but it’s certainly the most versatile.

Pros

  • 3 ways to charge
  • Multiple lighting settings
  • Can recharge a mobile phone

Cons

  • Slower recharge time
  • High price tag

Find the latest price on:
Amazon | REI | Backcountry


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Solar string lights for car camping and glamping

MPOWERD Luci Solar String Lights

MPOWERD Luci Solar String Lights

Solar recharge time: 14 hours

If you want to add a little sparkle to your camping area then we recommend the MPOWERD Luci Solar String Lights. The 20 LED string lights can be stored neatly inside the base compartment which is topped with a built-in solar panel and flashlight. The on/off button lets you choose between the flashlight and string lights. Meanwhile, the 2-way USB port offers faster recharging or the option to charge your mobile. Additionally, the base has a high waterproof rating so you can leave the solar camping string lights outside even in the rain.

Pros

  • 2-way USB port
  • Easy storage
  • Waterproof

Cons

  • Only one brightness setting

Find the latest price on:
REI | Backcountry


GigaTent Camping String Light

GigaTent Camping Solar String and Flash Light

This camping solar string and flashlight is a multi-functional and portable kit from GigaTent. The freestanding solar panel is weather resistant and comes with a compact battery pack. This doubles as a rechargeable flashlight and there’s also a USB port for recharging small electronics.

The maximum light output is 450 lumens, but for dimmer light you can use the flashlights 4 brightness settings. If you need a brighter or wider light then the battery panel is fitted with 4 ports for connecting string lights. There are 3 LED bulbs included with the set as well as a 10-piece USB charging cable.

Pros

  • Bright light output
  • Versatile lighting
  • Reasonable price
  • Able to charge electronics

Cons

  • Not fully waterproof

Find the latest price on:
Amazon


Brightech Ambience Pro Solar Lights

Brightech Ambience Pro Solar LED Outdoor String Lights

Solar recharge time: 6 hours
Average runtime: 6 hours

The Ambience Pro Solar String Lights from Brightech are built to withstand even the toughest weather. Thanks to WeatherTite Technology, these lights can withstand rain, humidity, extreme temperatures, and even 50 mph winds. The strong plastic bulbs are tough enough to be ported to and from your campsite too.

The 12 bulbs are powered by a single solar panel which can be hung or staked to the ground. You’ll need 6 hours of direct sunlight to fully charge the lights but they offer a warm white glow for approximately 6 hours. You don’t even need to turn the lights on as the built-in sensor will turn them on after the sun goes down.

Pros

  • Weather proof and durable
  • Classic Italian style lighting
  • Built-in sensor
  • 3-year warranty

Cons

  • No brightness settings

Find the latest price on:
Amazon


HKYH Solar Panel Lighting Kit

HKYH Solar Panel Lighting Kit

Solar recharge time: 6 hours
Average runtime: 2x2W bulbs: 13-14 hours, 3x2W bulbs: 10-12 hours, 4x2W bulbs: 9-10 hours

The HKYH Solar Panel Lighting Kit is designed for luxury camping and RV’s. The solar DC system comes with 4 separate LED bulbs and a flexible solar panel, which can be stood on its base or mounted on the roof of your vehicle or tent. The large panels enable the kit to fully recharge with 6 hours of direct sunlight. It’s also fitted with 5 USB ports for connecting the bulbs or charging mobile devices. The base itself is water resistant and can be left outside in light rain. The kit includes mobile charging cables too, and altogether the kit weighs in just under 10 oz.

Pros

  • Lightweight kit
  • Fast charging
  • Includes 4 bulbs, cables, and solar panel

Cons

  • Not fully waterproof

Find the latest price on:
Amazon


Solar powered camping light

What to look for in a solar camping light

Light output

One of the most important things to look for in any camping light is its output. This is measured in lumens and indicates the brightness and power of a lantern. For most camping activities (i.e. cooking and playing cards) a 50-100 lumen output will be sufficient. For activities like night hiking or lighting a picnic area, however, you’ll want a solar camping light with an output of at least 150-200 lumens.

Battery runtime

A solar lantern which only stays on for an hour after the sun goes down won’t be much use on an overnight trip. If you only use your light for short periods then a short runtime shouldn’t be a problem. If you like to stay up late then you’ll want one with a long battery life.

Typically, camping lights with high lumen levels come with shorter battery runtimes which is why we suggest that you choose a lantern with at least a high and a low/eco brightness setting.

Recharging sources

Ideally, you want to charge your solar light with the sun alone but if you happen to be out on a rainy day then you’ll need an alternative method. Most lanterns can be plugged directly into a mains power outlet but for longer trips, you might want to choose a lantern which can charge via a USB port. Backpackers might also want to consider a solar bank which can be charged by a hand crank in case of emergency.

Size and portability

Consider the size and weight of your lantern in relation to how you’ll be using it. Some are fully collapsible or ultra-lightweight which is a useful feature for backpacking. But this does limit the size of the solar panel. Others are only semi-collapsible or do not fold at all.

If you’re car, van or RV camping then the weight of it won’t be a big concern. You might, therefore, want to swap an ultra-compact lantern for a larger solar panel with a portable battery pack.

Durability

The best outdoor solar lanterns should be able to withstand a short drop and hold up to light rain. We like lanterns which are made from durable materials such as silicone, ABS plastic, or PTU. Not all lanterns are fully waterproof so remember to check the IPX rating before making your purchase (read more about that in our headlamps guide). Another good sign of a durable product is a manufacturer’s warranty of at least one year.

Functionality

If you want your portable solar light to be as multi-functional as possible then you can look for models which double as a power bank to charge other devices. We also look for lanterns with multiple brightness settings and special lighting modes such as SOS, flash, or red light.


Opting for a solar camping light over a battery-powered lantern or fairy lights is an excellent way to make camping more sustainable. Choose high quality solar lights and you’ll not have to replace them for years.

For more ideas on how to be a more eco-friendly camper read our green camping guide.
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About the author

author-beth

Originally from the UK and currently based in Turkey, Beth Carter is a full-time adventurer, former scout, and vegan traveller. When she’s not hiking long-distance trails with an oversized pack on her shoulders, you’ll probably find her peddling up and down scenic roads, or pitching a tent in a far-off mountain range. On the odd occasion, you might even see her sitting at a keyboard, coffee at the ready, typing about her latest outdoor pursuit.

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