Lanterns have been a camping essential ever since, well, camping. Fumbling around outdoors at night and trying to figure out what exactly is going bump in the night can be scary stuff without a good camping light. And, like hiking boots and other gear, camping lanterns have come a long way from the days of the heavy gas-powered lantern (although those still exist and are very much still useful).
Today’s camping lanterns are smaller, lighter, safer and multi-functional. With summer vacation season now in full swing, it’s a great time to stock up on your outdoor lighting. Headlamps are a must, but you will definitely want to back those up with a lantern or two to make sure you don’t get stranded outdoors in the pitch black. Remember what we said about things going bump in the night? Be prepared with picks from this great list of the best camping lanterns.
1. LuminAID PackLite Max Phone Charger Lantern
This unique lantern is the result of a successful Kickstarter campaign, and it’s one of the best camping lantern options for camping or backpacking. It weighs less than half a pound, inflates easily once you arrive at your campsite, and deflates for storage and transport. The LuminAID also charges phones and other USB ports, which comes in handy when you’re out in the middle of the wilderness. The most unique feature of this lantern is that it floats, so you can take it out on the water.
2. Rechargeable LED Camping Lantern by Energizer
This is a camping lantern that lets you say “bring it” to the darkest and most foul conditions possible. Energizer’s rechargeable LED camping lantern is IPX-4 rated for wet conditions, is impact-resistant up to a meter and, best of all, delivers an amazing 1000 lumens of light with 360-degree coverage. The Energizer Rechargeable LED Camping Lantern has multiple light modes for every task, so it won’t be blinding you at all times. It’s easy to see why this is one of the top-rated camping lanterns on Amazon.
3. Black Diamond Moji Lantern
This little portable light is easy to pack or hang on a backpack strap for easy access. Illuminating up to 100 lumens, the Black Diamond Moji Lantern packs a punch with visibility. Three AAA batteries will keep it shining for 70 hours. It lacks prongs to hold itself up but this may be part of its appeal: it’s mobile and easy to move around. Another unique feature is its memory: It holds the same level of brightness from the last time you turned it on so you don’t end up blinded when you power up again. It’s a steal for under $25, so catch the Moji Lantern before they sell out.
4. BioLite FlexLite 100
Nobody said camping lanterns have to be big, or even lanterns at all. Small sources of light that are easily packable come in handy almost as often as the big super-bright ones, and the BioLite FlexLite 100 gooseneck lamp is definitely small — only 56 grams — and easily packable. It runs off of any USB source and is great for small tasks or as a reading light. The gooseneck design makes it ideal for illuminating small spaces too, and at under $15 it’s a great inexpensive add to your camping kit.
5. Eventek Rechargeable LED Camping Lantern
This is another good one from the small-yet-mighty selection of camping lanterns. The Eventek Rechargeable LED Camping Lantern is amazingly bright with a max output of 1200 lumens, and it doubles as a 20,000 mAh power bank with two USB ports for phone charging. It has four different light modes, and a separate SOS strobe light in case of emergency. Eventek added a carabiner that hooks onto the metal frame if you want to hang the light in your tent or from your backpack. Best yet, it’s currently 22% off on Amazon, which makes it an absolute steal.
6. Coleman Dual-Fuel 2-Mantle Lantern
If you’re looking for a more old-fashioned style lantern, the Coleman Dual-Fuel is lit by white gas or unleaded gasoline, not LED power. Weighing in at three pounds, this is a great option for car camping but not backpacking because of the extra weight you’ll end up carrying for the gas canister. This light is a great option for the modern car camper and will light up any campsite with a warm yellow glow for up to eight hours on high or fourteen on low.
7. Coleman Twin LED Lantern
If going old school scares you, this 390-lumens powerhouse is all of the Coleman with none of the combustible liquid fuel. Two LED bulbs controlled by an adjuster knob give you a range from 100 lumens on low to a beautifully bright 390 lumens on high. It does take a whopping and heavy eight D batteries to run, but even if you crank it up to high the whole time (unlikely), you’ll get 85 hours of life before you need to change the batteries. Everything else is pure Coleman quality, from the water-resistance against rain and splashing to the five-year warranty.
8. KodaQo Rechargeable Camping Fan with LED Lantern
Tents can get hot and stuffy, and strapping a box fan to your backpack would be ridiculous. A rechargeable fan combined with an LED lantern would be a million-dollar idea, but it looks like somebody beat us to that goldmine. KodaQo’s version comes complete with a hanging hook for your tent, but also stands on its base for use at home or in the office after your trip is over. It runs for four to eight hours, depending on what level of fan and light you use, and fully recharges in three to four hours, and has an output charging port for your phone or other USB device.
9. BioLite AlpenGlow 250 Lantern
There’s no rule saying camping lanterns have to all give off the same whitish light. BioLite’s AlpenGlow 250 Lantern is an outdoor party waiting to happen, with a selection of steady or rotating colors and lighting modes like Color Party, half cool/half warm, and full candle flicker. It’s not just a novelty, either — the AlpenGlow 250 maxes out at 250 lumens spread over 360 degrees, runs for five hours on high and a crazy 200 hours on low, and fully recharges in three hours via micro USB.
10. Vont 2 Pack LED Camping Lantern
Constructed with aircraft-grade materials, this ultra-bright two-pack portable lantern was designed for a longer lifespan and carries 360 degrees of luminous light while saving energy. Constructed with convenience in mind, this extremely lightweight lantern allows you to take it on the go with ease. When not in use, collapse the lantern to a smaller size to store it effortlessly in your luggage or backpack.
11. Goal Zero Lighthouse 600 Lantern and USB Hub
REI has been among the best and most trusted experts of all things outdoorsy forever, so when they give their Co-op Editors’ Choice Award to a camping product, it is well worth noticing. The Goal Zero Lighthouse 600 Lantern & USB Power Hub earned that honor with a combination of modern and classic tech coming together to create a great camping light. It delivers 600 lumens of light via two LED bulbs and can recharge your phone or small USB device, and it can be recharged via USB, solar (panel not included), or built-in hand crank. (Yes, hand crank — sometimes old school is best!)
12. BioLite PowerLight Mini Wearable Light and Power Bank
There’s so much to like in this tiny package from BioLite. Walking trails in the dark while carrying gear can be fraught, but this little 135-lumens light clips onto your clothes or pack and helps you see and be seen. If you’re biking to your destination, it’s an ideal safety light. The clip doubles as a stand so you can use the BioLite PowerLight Mini as a reading light or for small tasks. And it’s also a reliable rechargeable power bank for your phone or any other small USB device.
13. Outdoor Equipment LED Camping Lantern & Headlamp Set for Kids
BEST FOR KIDS
Here’s a fun way to put an end to the “I wanna hold the lantern!” pleas that can turn a family camping trip into a bundle of frayed nerves in a hurry. Give the kids their own lantern and headlamp to keep them both amused and safe — the lantern owl’s body holds six LEDs for omnidirectional light, and the eyes have bright directional LEDs. The on-off switch also toggles between lighting modes and is easy for kids to use. This is a great way to keep the kids amused and help them ward off the nighttime frights.
14. LED String Lights by Coleman
BEST STRING LIGHTS
Give your tent a warm and inviting ambiance with these portable tiny LED camping lanterns. These versatile string lights also add a fun and charming touch to any outdoor festivities and BBQs.
15. StarLight LED Lantern by AYL
Boasting six full days of power, it’s no surprise this lantern is deemed the most reliable lantern on the market. It uses LED bulbs with an output of 600 lumens, guaranteeing you crystal clarity and over 100,000 hours of use. Lightweight, shockproof and water-resistant, you can rest easy knowing your campsite will remain lit no matter the weather conditions.
16. Black Diamond Charging Apollo Lantern
Like all the best camping lanterns, the Apollo from Black Diamond provides enough illumination to keep your campsite bright after the sun goes down. The Apollo contains a 225-lumen LED light that runs on a rechargeable lithium-ion battery. This collapsible camping lantern can be used in two ways. First, the metal hook on top makes it easy to hang this from a tent, vehicle or rope. There are also three folding legs so that the lantern can be placed on the ground.
Updates: This article was updated on June 14, 2022. The following products were no longer available and removed: BioLite BaseLantern XL Bluetooth Lantern and Power Hub, Collapsible Clover Style Camping Tent Lantern by Suaoki, and 3-Mode LED Camping Lantern by Cedar. We added: Rechargeable LED Camping Lantern by Energizer, BioLite FlexLite 100, Eventek Rechargeable LED Camping Lantern, Coleman Twin LED Lantern, KodaQo Rechargeable Camping Fan with LED Lantern, BioLite AlpenGlow 250 Lantern, Goal Zero Lighthouse 600 Lantern & USB Power Hub, BioLite PowerLight Mini Wearable Light and Power Bank and Outdoor Equipment LED Camping Lantern & Headlamp Set for Kids.