Lanterns are an essential piece of camping equipment. They’re in charge of lighting the campsite, with which you can also light your way in case of an emergency. Some models can even emit distress signals.
To pick the right one, you should consider the type of camping trip, how much light you need, build quality, power source, brightness, and price. Keep reading for in-depth reviews of the best camping lanterns of 2019 and an extensive buyer’s guide with a FAQ section.
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Best Camping Lantern of 2019 - Comparison Table
Best Camping Lantern of 2019 - Reviews
Lanterns that are made for outdoor use should be robust. Aside from that, a good lantern should also be easy to use and adjust. If you’re looking for a set of adjustable and well-made lanterns, the Etekcity Portable LED Camping Lantern might be a good choice.
You get four of them in an order. Each lantern uses 30 small LED lights each and runs on 3 AA batteries. The batteries are replaceable and easy to swap out once they run out. Depending on the level of brightness, the lantern can work up to 12 hours between battery changes.
Each lantern weighs around 9.1 oz. and is around 5” tall when collapsed. Fully extended, the Etekcity lanterns are 7.1” tall. This makes them convenient for both traditional campers and backpackers. Though they’re mostly made of durable plastic, the Etekcity lanterns feature metal hangers on top if you need to illuminate the inside of your tent.
These lanterns are water resistant and can hold their own in the rain. However, you shouldn’t submerge them in water. The lanterns are RoHS and FCC certified and safe for use in various conditions. The emitted light is white and on the bright side.
Each lantern gives a 360° floodlight. The maximum brightness is 60 lumens, which is enough to light a tent or the tent entrance. You’ll probably need the entire 4-pack to properly illuminate a campsite. The brightness is adjustable by extending and collapsing the lantern.
What's to like about the Etekcity Portable LED Camping Lantern 4-Pack
The Etekcity is very affordable and well-built. The lanterns work up to 12 hours and are a breeze to adjust. They’re compact, lightweight, and collapsible. Also, they’re RoHS and FCC certified.
What's not to like about the Etekcity Portable LED Camping Lantern 4-Pack
On the downside, the Etekcity lantern is not too bright and can’t illuminate large areas on its own.
Some camping lanterns offer only basic lighting, while others pack quite a lot of power. If you’re looking for an affordable four-pack of lanterns with plenty of light, you might find the Gold Armour Portable LED Camping Lanterns interesting.
The Gold Armour lanterns give 350 lumens of brightness each. In total, that’s 1,400 lumens, enough to light a sizeable campsite. Aside from outdoor duties, the individual lantern can be used to illuminate the interior of tents.
Each lantern has 30 small LED bulbs. Gold Armour uses the modern chip-on-board technology for exceptional area coverage. The lanterns also give a comparably warm light.
The lanterns are compact and lightweight, making them suitable for both backpackers and regular campers. The Gold Armour lantern weighs less than a pound and is slightly under 5” tall when collapsed. When fully extended, it is 7.1” tall. The metal hanger on top adds 3.7” for a total height of 9.84”.
You can control the brightness by collapsing or extending the lantern. The more LED lights are exposed, the brighter the light. There are no control buttons or switches on the housing.
The lanterns use 3 AA batteries each and work up to 10 hours. They’re CE and RoHS approved and made of sturdy materials. The Gold Armour lanterns are water resistant but not waterproof.
What's to like about the Gold Armour Portable LED Camping Lantern 4-Pack
The Gold Armour is bright at 350 lm. The lanterns run on replaceable AA batteries and are water resistant. They’re also RoHS and CE certified.
What's not to like about the Gold Armour Portable LED Camping Lantern 4-Pack
On the flipside, The Gold Armour lanterns could be a bit sturdier.
If you’re looking for a heavy-duty camping lantern, you might want to check out the Streamlight 44931 Siege Lantern. It is a rugged lantern and the elastomer overmold adds to the sturdiness. It’s bright and long-lasting.
The Streamlight lantern is made for use in all types of weather. The polycarbonate housing can withstand 6-1/2’ drops. The elastomer overmold that covers all the critical points would be the first point of contact with the ground should the lantern fall.
The Siege Lantern runs on three D-cell batteries. The battery compartment is found on the bottom of the lantern. It is sealed with an O ring and is easily accessible. The cover has a vent on the outside and indexing posts on the inside. Finally, it is equipped with a D ring, allowing you to hang the lantern upside-down.
This lantern gives a maximum of 540 lumens of light, enough to illuminate the perimeter of the campsite. The Siege Lantern is IPX7 waterproof and can float on water. You can hang it upright or upside-down, thanks to the metal hanger and the D-rings.
The lantern has five lighting modes. It can work for 30 hours on the “High” setting (340lm), 70 hours on the “Medium” (175lm), and around 290 hours on the “Low” setting (33lm). In the “Red Mode,” the lantern gives a red light for up to 235 hours. Finally, in the “SOS” mode the lantern flashes S.O.S. signals in red light.
The recessed on/off button doubles as a battery indicator. It is green when the batteries are full and turns yellow when the battery level drops to 10%, and red when the batteries are near empty.
What's to like about the Streamlight 44931 Siege Lantern
The Siege Lantern offers sturdy construction and an excellent waterproof rating. It gives up to 540 lumens of light and can work up to 290 hours in the “Low” mode. Also, it can float on water and send out distress signal should disaster strikes.
What's not to like about the Streamlight 44931 Siege Lantern
The only downside to this otherwise great lantern is that the instruction manual isn’t all that clear on how to activate the “Red Light” and “S.O.S.” modes.
If you need plenty of light but you don’t want to sacrifice portability, the Lighting Ever Portable LED Camping Lantern might be the one for you.
The Lighting Ever Portable LED Camping Lantern offers up to 1,000 lumens of light. This puts it among the brightest battery-powered camping lanterns out there. It runs on three D-cell batteries and beams 360° of light.
This lantern has four modes, accessible through the power button. The first mode gives 700 lm of white light, the second 300 lm of warm white light, the third 1,000 lm of white light, and the fourth 1,000 lm in flash mode. You can also dim the lantern by long-pressing the power button.
While nothing to write home about, the IPX4 waterproof rating is sufficient for light rain and splashes from any direction. However, don’t leave it outside in a stormy night and make sure it doesn’t fall into any body of water.
The Lighting Ever lantern is made of plastic and the base and the plastic cap are O-ring sealed. It has a metal hanger on top and a D-ring on the bottom. The battery compartment is found on the bottom, not unlike many other battery-powered lanterns.
What's to like about the Lighting Ever Portable LED Camping Lantern
The Lighting Ever lantern offers up to 1,000 lumens of brightness and has four working modes. It can be dimmed using the power button. Also, it is IPX4 waterproof and there’s a detachable cap.
What's not to like about the Lighting Ever Portable LED Camping Lantern
On the flipside, the Lighting Ever Portable LED Camping Lantern saps the batteries quickly when working at full capacity.
Battery-operated lanterns are easier to use than their gas-powered siblings. However, you might get stranded when the batteries run out. That’s where solar-powered lanterns come in. If you want to skip the entire hassle with buying and replacing the batteries, you might want to give the LuminAID Packlite Nova USB a chance.
The LuminAID Packlite Nova USB uses sunlight as the power source to charge its built-in battery. It takes between 10 and 14 hours for the Packlite Nova USB to fully charge, depending on the amount of sunshine during the day. When fully charged, it can give 10 to 24 hours of light.
The lantern has two modes – standard 50 lumens and the “Turbo” 75 lumens. While not nearly sufficient to light the campsite, the LuminAID lantern is more than a good reading light. It can also come in quite handy if you need to repair something during the night.
This lantern measures 4.75” x 4.75” x 4.75” and weighs less than 5 oz. When fully collapsed, it is less than 1” thick. It is IP67 waterproof and can float on water. Additionally, the Packlite Nova USB has a USB output for charging your device. There is a plastic strap on the top, so you can hang the lantern on a hook or a tree branch.
What's to like about the LuminAID Packlite Nova USB
The Packlite Nova USB is solar-powered. When the built-in battery is fully charged, it can give a more than decent 24 hours of light in standard mode. It is collapsible and super lightweight.
What's not to like about the LuminAID Packlite Nova USB
On the other hand, this lantern isn’t bright enough to illuminate a campsite.
Best Camping Lantern of 2019 - Buyers Guide
When shopping for a camping lantern, there are several things to consider. First, you should decide what type of a lantern to get. After that, you should consider the size and the weight, as well as the power source. Finally, you should consider the brightness and how long it can stay on. Let’s see what separates the best camping lantern from the rest.
Camping lanterns can roughly be divided into three categories – backcountry camping lanterns, front country lanterns, and emergency lanterns. Let’s take a closer look at each type.
Backcountry camping lanterns tend to be lightweight and compact. They’re made of sturdy plastics and some models have rubber coating for extra protection. These lanterns have a long battery life and are at least water resistant.
Front country lanterns tend to be larger and heavier than their backcountry counterparts. Some models use gas or liquid fuel instead of batteries. These lanterns are brighter and have less built-in features.
Emergency lanterns are usually a combination of the above. They are small enough to fit in a backpack but powerful enough to light up a tent or a room. Emergency lanterns are also sturdy and weatherproof.
The size of a lantern is typically connected to its light output. Generally, bigger lanterns give more light. However, there are small lanterns that are capable of outputting plenty of light, as is the existence of bulky lanterns that offer less than impressive lumens.
If you plan to go on a backpacking trip or camp in the wild, you should go as light as possible. Consider getting a battery-powered lantern as they’re lightweight and compact. You might also consider a solar-powered lantern if you only need basic lighting.
If your plan is to camp in an organized camp or in your backyard, you might opt for a bigger lantern that runs on butane, propane, or liquid fuel. They are considerably bigger than battery-powered lanterns, but still compact enough to fit in the trunk of a car.
In terms of power, camping lanterns can roughly be divided into four types – electric lanterns, fuel-burning lanterns, candle lanterns, and solar lanterns. Here’s a word or two about each type.
Electric lanterns are light and compact and run on batteries. AA and D batteries are the most common. They have a good light output and can take a beating. They’re quiet and don’t generate much heat at all. Depending on the model and the working mode, electric lanterns can run for a long time.
There are three types of lantern fuel – butane, propane, and liquid fuel. Butane lanterns use disposable canisters and are compact and simple. Propane lanterns use refillable tanks and are more energy-efficient than the butane variety. Liquid fuel models can use white gas or regular gasoline and are pretty efficient.
Candle lanterns use candles instead of fuel and batteries. They’re environment-friendly, but potentially a fire hazard if not handled properly. Also, they are not as bright as the previous two types.
Solar lanterns have recently become popular. They use sunshine to recharge their built-in batteries. Some models might include USB outputs and other modern accessories. Solar lanterns are lightweight, though they can’t offer much more than the basic lighting.
When it comes to the weight of a lantern, you should consider the type of camping trip you’re planning. If you’re going on a backpacking trip, you should go as light as possible. Battery-powered and solar lanterns might be your best options.
On the other hand, if you’re going on a car-camping excursion, the weight shouldn’t be a problem. You can also consider a fuel-powered lantern. Despite being considerably heavier than the battery lanterns, they give superior light.
Brightness or light output is measured in lumens. Needless to say, this is a hugely important aspect of a lantern. For example, electric (battery) lanterns have the biggest range from under 100 lumens through to 1,000 lumens and over. Most electric lanterns are in the 150-350 lm range. Many battery lanterns have adjustable brightness and multiple lighting modes (easy to put in a circuit board). Some can even send out distress signals.
Fuel-powered lanterns, on the other hand, tend to offer more brightness. They also tend to cost more and need more maintenance. The candle variety is the dimmest and can’t really offer anything more than basic lighting. Solar lanterns max out at around 100 lumens.
How to light a lantern?
There are two ways to light a battery lantern – by pressing the power button or extending it (if it is a collapsible model). If you have a solar-powered lantern, it will most likely have a standard power button. To light a candle lantern, you’ll have to place a candle in the holder and light it with a lighter or a match.
Here’s how to light a liquid fuel lantern:
- Check the fuel level and the mantles. Add fuel or replace the mantles if needed.
- Remove the fuel cap.
- Turn the pump handle a couple of turns to the left. Pump it 30 to 40 times to build up the air pressure.
- Rotate the cleaning lever to remove any debris from the generator tip.
- Open the main fuel valve and wait for the gurgling sound.
- Light the lantern.
How to hang lanterns?
Modern battery and fuel lanterns are usually equipped with metal hangers and D-rings. These metal hangers are designed for hanging from a hook or a tree branch. Some lanterns also have D-rings on the bottom, allowing you to hang them upside-down in your tent.
Solar-powered lanterns might also feature plastic straps instead of metal hangers. You wouldn’t want to hang plastic straps from tree branches, as they’re mostly made for tent interiors.
What is a lantern?
In a nutshell, a lantern is a lamp with a transparent case around the light source – usually a candle or a light bulb. Fuel-powered lanterns might have small fuel tanks and generators in the base. On the other hand, electric lanterns have battery compartments in the base.
You can hang lanterns by their handles and hooks. They mostly use candles and light bulbs (mostly LED). The power sources include electric, butane, propane, liquid fuel, candles, and even solar.
How much are lanterns?
Camping lanterns start at below $20 and can go well over $100. Electric lanterns, the most popular type, usually fall under the $50 mark. An electric lantern with a built-in rechargeable battery might cost you less in the long run than ones that use disposable batteries. Of course, this would depend on whether you actually put the lantern to good use.
Gas-powered lanterns tend to be more expensive for they’re built larger. You should also factor in the fuel expenses and occasional replacement parts. Butane lanterns tend to be the most expensive, followed by the propane variety. Liquid fuel lanterns are the most affordable in this regard.
How many lumens do I need for a camping lantern?
You will need 50 to 100 lumens of light for your tent interior. An additional 100 lumens is needed to illuminate a tent site. If you’d like to light up the entire campsite, you might want to go for more than 300 lumens from one or multiple lanterns.
We’ve reached the end of this exercise and it’s time to declare the best camping lantern of 2019.
If you need a rugged and very bright lantern, you might want to take a look at the Streamlight 44931 Siege Lantern. It offers long battery life, five working modes, and up to 540 lumens of light. Also, it can send S.O.S. signals.
In case you need extra brightness, the Lighting Ever Portable LED Camping Lantern might be your best bet. It gives up to 1,000 lumens of light and has 4 modes. It is dimmable and IPX4 waterproof.
If you’re on a tight budget, you might want to consider the Etekcity and Gold Armour, both come in 4-packs. The former gives 60 lm per lantern. The lanterns run on AA batteries and are water-resistant. The latter gives 350 lm per lantern. The lanterns are highly adjustable and use AA batteries.
Finally, the LuminAID Packlite Nova USB is there for environmentally conscious campers. It gives up to 75 lumens and uses sunlight to recharge. Rated at IP67 waterproof rating, it has a USB port.