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An essential item on any survivalist’s packing list, a camping lantern is your main source of light in the unplugged world of the Great Outdoors. Today, LED lanterns come with the latest energy-saving technology; while gas lanterns remain unchallenged in terms of light output. If you opt for the former, you’ll need to decide whether you want a lantern powered by disposable batteries or one that recharges via mains electricity (or even the sun’s rays). In this article, we review a range of categories in our search to find the best camping lanterns.
Our Top Picks
Best Overall: Etekcity 2-Pack Portable Outdoor LED Camping Lantern
Incredibly well-priced, the Etekcity Portable Outdoor LED Camping Lantern is made from military grade ABS plastic. It’s water-resistant and designed to withstand the rigors of life outdoors. The collapsible design has two major benefits. Firstly, it’s a space saver - when collapsed, the lantern measures just 3.39 x 3.5 x 5.59 inches, making it small enough to tuck into your hiking pack or keep in your car for emergencies. Secondly, you can easily control the lantern’s brightness by adjusting its height.
The lantern features 30 individual LED bulbs designed to last longer, save energy and provide 360-degree illumination. It comes with AA batteries included, which provide enough power for 12 hours of continuous use. After making camp, use the foldaway handles to hang the lamp from a tree or to carry it with you on your way to look for firewood or use the ablution block. Best of all, the lantern comes in a pack of two and includes a 10-year warranty.
Runner-Up, Best Overall: AYL Starlight 330 Ultra Bright LED Lantern
The AYL Starlight 330 Ultra Bright LED Lantern uses LED bulbs to provide a combined output of 600 lumens. It is powered by three D batteries and is capable of running for six full days. Made from durable plastic with molded rubber accents, it’s shockproof and water-resistant - meaning that you can use it to navigate around camp in the rain. The foldaway hook located on the bottom of the lantern allows you to set it up wherever you like.
Use the switch to alternate between three different lighting modes, including low, bright and flashing strobe. The lantern’s convex reflector cap offers diffuse 360-degree illumination, but can be removed to reveal a more focused beam. A green LED indicator makes the lantern easy to find even when it’s not switched on. Available in forest green, it measures a compact 7.2 x 4 x 4 inches and weighs just .9 pounds. It includes a lifetime warranty, but batteries must be bought separately.
Best Budget: 2-Pack E-TRENDS Portable LED Lantern Tent Light
For under $10, the E-TRENDS Portable LED Lantern Tent Light package provides you with two bulb-style lanterns. Both are made from 100 percent weatherproof ABS and fitted with LED beads that boast a lifespan of over 50,000 hours. These quirky lanterns measure 4.6 x 2.1 inches, making them ideal for slipping in your daypack or stashing in your glovebox. They are surprisingly powerful for their small size, providing ample illumination for your camp table or tent.
A button allows you to switch between three different modes - including high, low and flashing. The lanterns use three AAA batteries each (your first ones are included) and provide up to 20 hours of light per battery set. Use the versatile hook at the top of the bulb to hang the lanterns from a washing line or tree branch (or to decorate your porch when you get home). Colors include blue, red and yellow.
Best Splurge: Streamlight Siege 540 Lumen Work Lantern
For those with cash to spare, the Streamlight Siege 540 Lumen Work Lantern is the superior choice. It features C4 LED technology and a detachable lighting globe that can be used to create a diffuse, 360-degree glow or removed to illuminate a larger area. With the lighting globe in place, the lantern floats and is fully waterproof up to one meter. Its rubber molded base provides stability on slippery surfaces and increases its impact resistance.
The lantern has five lighting modes: High, Medium, Low, Red (for preserving night vision) and Red SOS flashing. The Low mode allows for an extended run time of 295 hours. Check the battery level on the indicator built into the on/off button. Other highlights include the lantern’s ergonomic handle and the D-rings attached to the top and bottom. It takes three D batteries, sold separately.
Best Gas Powered: Coleman Deluxe PerfectFlow Lantern
Gas-powered lanterns remain the best option for trips that require a lot of light. The Coleman Deluxe PerfectFlow Lantern is powered by a propane canister (sold separately) and can be lit with the flick of a match. It comes with two mantles and has a dimmer knob for full control over the light output. On its highest setting (967 lumens), the lantern can run for seven hours on a single tank of fuel.
Best of all, it’s pressure regulated for consistent performance in extreme weather. The base includes foldable feet for added stability and safety; while the porcelain ventilators prevent rusting and increase the lantern’s lifespan. Be aware, though, that this isn’t a lightweight choice. It measures 11.31 x 6.25 x 7.81 inches and weighs 3.5 pounds without the propane canister.
Best Re-chargeable: SUBOOS Ultimate Rechargeable LED Lantern and Powerbank
The SUBOOS Ultimate Rechargeable LED Lantern has two power options: two rechargeable 2600mAh lithium-ion batteries or three rechargeable AA batteries, both of which are included. It can be recharged via any USB port (either on your laptop, in your car or at the wall). The lantern has its own built-in 5200mAh power bank and cable, allowing you to re-charge any device with a universal micro-USB connection.
Once fully charged, the lantern can be used on its brightest setting (it has four) for 11 continuous hours. Its maximum output is 185 lumens. Available in black or blue, the compact collapsible design allows you to turn the lantern on by pulling it open or turn it off by pushing it closed. Hang it up using the foldaway handles and the included clip.
Best Solar Powered: Kizen Solar Powered LED Camping Lantern
With its in-built solar panel, the Kizen Solar Powered LED Camping Lantern negates the need for batteries, re-charging or trying to find a power source in the wilderness. If the sun fails you, however, you can top off the charge using the included USB cable. Fail-safes prevent overcharging and discharging, and if your phone dies while camping, you can use the lantern as a power bank to generate enough charge for an emergency call. It has three light modes (High, Low and SOS). Its plastic accordion globe folds into the lantern’s base so that the entire thing is barely bigger than a hockey puck when closed. Choose blue or yellow.