Gear

Night Lights: 8 Best Camping Lanterns

by Carissa Stanz

best camping lanterns

Ever tried to cook your camp dinner by moonlight? Skip the frustration and pack a camping lantern.

A dependable camping lantern is a must for any camping trip. Up high or down low, lanterns let you light up larger areas without messing around with flashlights. They’re great for when everyone is ready to dig into dinner and clutch for when you need to light up your tent in the middle of the night.

Sure, we all love our headlamps, but when you’re hanging around camp in a group the last thing anyone wants is to be blinded by your light. Do yourself and everyone else a favor, and invest in a solid camping lantern.

This doesn’t mean you have to spend a ton of money. Like your tent, camping lanterns come in a range of prices with a variety of features.

To make your purchasing decision easier, we rounded up a list of the best camping lanterns on the market. Whether you’re camping with the family or want something a bit more high-tech, there’s a lantern here for everyone.

Best Overall: Black Diamond Apollo

The Black Diamond Apollo is proof that good things come in small packages. Unlike that behemoth tabletop camping lantern you recall from your childhood, the Apollo lets you light up your area in a more useful manner.

The Apollo sports folding rubber-tipped legs as well as collapsible dual hang loops. This means you can hang it above the camp stove to cook up some dinner, then rest it on the picnic table so you can actually see what you’re eating — bug-free.

With 250-lumens, this LED lantern offers ample lighting for the immediate area without the annoying glare. Depending upon your situation, you’ll find the dimming and strobe mode come in handy.

Battery operated as well as USB-rechargeable, you’ll never have to be without a light source or a phone charger for that matter. Versatile in use and compact in design, this lantern is our favorite all around.

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Best Budget: Black Diamond Moji

Tent, sleeping bags, cooking stove, the amount you spend on camping gear quickly adds up. This doesn’t mean you have to be without a quality lantern. The Black Diamond Moji is an excellent compact lantern at a steal of a price.

Like a more compact version of the Apollo, its equipped with a battery saving dimming switch and a handy double hang loop.

If you forget it outside overnight and the summer storms start rolling in, you won’t have to worry. The folks at Black Diamond were clever enough to design this little guy with water protection.

At 100-lumens this frosted globe lantern gives you just the right amount of ambient light so you won’t get lost in the dark.

The Moji is available in several fun colors including a Vibrant Orange and Process Blue.

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Best Solar Lantern: Goal Zero Lighthouse 400

From solar kits to portable chargers, Goal Zero is known for producing some of the most innovative solar products around. This includes their Lighthouse 400 Lantern.

The Lighthouse 400 packs quite the punch with up to 400-lumens of adjustable light. Turn it on the full setting and you’ll get 360 degrees of illumination. Even on the half setting, you’ll still have more than enough power to light your way.

As for charging the internal lithium battery, you have three options: the sun, USB cord, or hand crank. Should you choose the hand crank method, you’ll have to put some muscle into it because for every minute of cranking you get 10-minutes of light.

If your devices are in need of a charge, plug them into the USB port. With a smartphone you’ll get up to 3 full charges while a tablet will get half a charge – not bad for a 6.5-inch lantern.

With folding legs, built-in handle, and a red emergency strobe light setting, this lantern practically has it all. The only downside you should know about is it’s not waterproof, so be sure to tuck it in the tent at night.

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Best For Large Groups: BioLite BaseLantern

Getting the entire gang together for the annual camping outing? You’ll want to consider packing the BioLite BaseLantern. This lantern combines useful features with functionality the whole group will appreciate.

From a single glance, you can tell this is not your typical lantern. Futuristic in style and innovative in design, the BaseLantern is the size of your PB&J and equipped with modern technology.

While most lanterns simply rely on the push of a button, this lantern takes it a step further and offers Bluetooth compatibility – granted you have the app of course. After a long day of outdoor romping, you’ll appreciate you can turn on the light remotely without everyone having to stumble around camp in the dark just to find it.

Once on, this lantern will provide enough light for a crowd with its powerful 500-lumens. Get the party started and cycle through the color mode until you find one to suit the mood. If directional light is what the group requires, you can opt to light up a single side.

Considering you’ll want your phone charged and ready, this lantern offers two USB outputs. It’s also water resistant just in case someone gets a little tipsy lounging around camp.  

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Best Compact Lantern: MPOWERD Luci Outdoor 2.0

MPOWERD Luci Outdoor

When it comes to packability, it doesn’t get any better than the MPOWERD Luci Outdoor 2.0. Super lightweight and incredibly compact, this lantern is nothing short of impressive.

Unlike other lanterns, the Luci Outdoor 2.0 is inflatable making it one of the most compact lanterns on the market. This doesn’t mean it skimps on features. Quite the contrary, the Luci Outdoor 2.0 is fully waterproof, floatable, and more durable than you’d imagine.

Powered by the sun, you can get up to 24 hours of light on the lowest of the four settings available. On the high setting, the full 75-lumens offer up to a 100-square foot radius of visibility. This is more than enough to move around in the dark.

With the adjustable straps, it’s easy to hang it up high and use it to cook, eat, or search around the campsite. When you head off for the day, clip it on your pack and take it with you just in case. At less than 5-ounces, it hardly adds any weight making it an excellent option for both car camping and backpacking alike.

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Best Fuel Lantern: Coleman Premium Dual Fuel

While solar, battery, and USB seem to be the prime method of charging lanterns these days, for old school enthusiasts it’s all about fuel. Fuel lanterns can output a terrific amount of light along with a noticeable amount of heat. If this type of lantern is right up your alley, you can’t beat the  Coleman Premium Dual Fuel Lantern.

On the highest setting, this lantern can produce 700-lumens worth of bright light for up to 7-hours on a single tank. Use the dimmer knob to adjust the setting to your liking.

Made for four seasons, you can camp in the rain, snow, or dry conditions and not worry about the reliability of your light source. Oh, and if you’re worried about the glass globe, Coleman made sure it could withstand the high heat without cracking.

This light is compatible with Coleman liquid fuel or unleaded gasoline.

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Best Hybrid Lantern: Black Diamond Zip

 Black Diamond Zip Lantern

Why pack a lantern and a flashlight when you can have the best of both worlds in a single device? Part lantern part flashlight, the Black Diamond Zip is a multifunctional light that blends two into one.

Whether you need to set up camp or looking for a spot to do your business in the dark, you can turn the Zip to flashlight mode and utilize the bright directional light. When you’re ready for lantern mode, place the Zip on a flat surface and let the frosted globe provide ambient light.

Powered by AAA batteries, this LED light has a minimal design that’s foolproof. Simply push the button to get to your mode of choice and you’re all set. With the addition of a small loop, you also have the option to hang this light.

Lantern on the top and flashlight on the bottom, you can have both lighting sources at a fraction of the price with Black Diamond Zip.

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Best For Family Camping: Coleman Twin LED

Let’s face it, you don’t need all the fancy features to light up camp. All you need is a quality lantern the whole family will enjoy. That’s why we recommend the Coleman Twin LED.

When it comes to family camping, Coleman is one of the most recognizable brands around. They’re known for producing functional gear at a decent price and this lantern is no exception.

The Coleman Twin LED has all the features you need in a camping lantern. Turn the adjustable knob and find the brightness setting of your choice. On high, your visibility will extend to up to 32-feet while on the low setting you’ll see up to 19-feet.

Operating for 85-hours on high and 299-hours on low, you’ll have more than enough light for a weeks worth of family fun. Battery operated and water resistant, this lantern is sturdy on the base so no need to worry about a flimsy construction toppling it over.

At an affordable price, this classic style Coleman lantern will light your way, letting you make the most of your family trip.

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For more recommendations on camping gear, take a look at the Best Folding Camp Chairs, Best Camping Hammocks, and the Best Camping Hatchets.

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