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Best camping lanterns 2022: illuminate up your camping trips to the backcountry

best camping lantern: camping couple at a table lit by lantern
When the sun sinks, a lantern gives you a broad, consistent light source (Image credit: Getty)

One of the best camping lanterns is a piece of adventure gear that you don’t know you need until you’ve got one. These portable, rechargeable lights make a huge different to camp life, whether you’re reading past bedtime, cooking up a gourmet treat on your stove or socializing into the early hours.

The best camping lantern options give you a broad, soft light that doesn’t move around with you, doesn’t blind your campmates and fills the space you are in without disturbing those trying to catch 40 winks next door. Pretty much every tent worth its weight in fabric features loops from which to hook your best camping lantern, so it can be hung and fulfil the job of your overhead lighting at home.

For us, there’s not a lot that’s more idyllic than settling down in our best sleeping bag under the light of the lantern and reading a good book with the sounds of the wind stirring the tent and owls hooting in the trees for company. Nothing can ruin this quicker than a lantern that runs out of battery just as the big plot twist is about the reveal itself. This is why burntime is such an essential quality for the camping lanterns we’ve reviewed.

However, you may be a wild camper who is more interested in shaving off every gram than gaining every last second of light. With this in mind, we’ve also featured some of the best lanterns for fast and light missions, though we wouldn’t recommend these replace your best headlamp in your backpack but two lights are better than none. Whatever your camping style, there’s a lantern for you here.

The best multi-purpose camping lanterns

Lava Brightsounds 2 camping lantern

(Image credit: Lava)

Lava Brightsounds 2

This marvellous multifunctional speaker-lantern-charger hybrid is a camping must-have

Specifications

RRP: $55 (US) / £40 (UK)
Charging method: Rechargeable lithium-ion battery / USB
Lumens: N/A
Max Burntime: 32 hours
Weight: 620g/22oz

Reasons to buy

+
Warm light
+
Multifunctionality
+
Great built-in speaker

Reasons to avoid

-
Heavy

Lava’s Brightsounds 2 isn’t the only lantern on the market that doubles up as a speaker, but we reckon it’s one of the best. We’ve been able to test this model over a few years of camping adventures, and it’s become a firm favorite. Charge the Brightsounds 2 up via USB and it’s ready to work both as a lantern and as a speaker – the white bottom part of the lantern emits a soft warm glow that can be dimmed, and the top is a nifty speaker that you can connect to via Bluetooth or aux cable.

The Brightsounds 2 also doubles up as a phone charger, which is very handy when you’re camping far from the nearest plug. We’ve used our Lava Brightsounds everywhere from in our van to in our kitchen to play music when it isn’t working as a lantern in tents or just set up in the back garden. A great gift for the camper who has everything.

Biolite Powerlight camping lantern

(Image credit: Biolite)

Biolite Powerlight

This torch/lantern combo is super versatile and will also charge your devices on the go

Specifications

RRP: $80 (US) /£65 (UK)
Charging method: USB
Lumens: 250
Max Burntime: 72 hours (lantern on low); 6.5 hours (lantern on high) / 22 hours (lamp on low); 4 hours (lamp on high)
Weight: 210g/7oz

Reasons to buy

+
Works as a torch or a lantern
+
Charges devices
+
Long burn time
+
360° S-Hook for hanging

Reasons to avoid

-
Expensive

Versatility is the name of the game with Biolite’s Powerlight. This clever, flat torch works as two different lights: as a lantern, emitting a warmer, softer light; or as a powerful hand-held torch, with a max lumens of 250 and a range of 100 metres. The Powerlight’s versatility (and its dinky pocket-friendly size) makes it perfect for outdoor adventures as well as camping trips, and therefore worth its price. The Powerlight is USB rechargeable, and will also recharge your devices when you’re on the go, charging up to three smartphones when fully juiced up. Once charged, the softer lantern will burn for up to 72 hours. It has a 360° S-Hook, so you can hang it from loops in your tent or branches of a tree, or angle from any direction.

At just 210g and in a compact size, the Powelight works for lightweight backpacking trips as well as traditional camping, and is useful for working outdoors or sticking in workshops and garden sheds, too. If you want one lantern/flashlight combo to rule them all, this is a great quality choice.

The best small camping lanterns

Best camping lanterns: Biolite

(Image credit: Biolite)

Black Diamond Moji Lantern

The small, simple and super-handy Moji makes a great addition to the wild camper’s kitbag

Specifications

RRP: $20 (US) / £20 (UK)
Charging method: three AAA batteries
Lumens: 100
Weight: 122g / 4.3oz

Reasons to buy

+
Simple
+
Bright
+
Small and lightweight
+
Available in various colors

Reasons to avoid

-
Reliant on batteries 
-
A tad small for big family tents

We find ourselves reaching for the small but perfectly formed Moji lantern again and again – this dinky little light is perfect for wild campers, backpackers and anyone else who travels fast and light. We like taking our Moji lantern wild camping, as it’s so small and light (150g and about the size on an orange) that it fits in any backpack (or indeed, in any pocket). Once you’ve set up your tent, the lantern’s unfolding hooks will easily hang off a ceiling loop and offer a welcoming warm glow that, at 100 lumens, is still bright enough to read by or to help you see when you’re getting your sleeping bag or your supper sorted. Brightness is adjustable, and the Moji will shine bright for days on the juice of three AAA batteries. Simple but brilliant.

PrincetonTec Helix Backcountry camping lantern

(Image credit: PrincetonTec)

PrincetonTec Helix Backcountry Lantern

This versatile little lamp is lightweight, compact and versatile – the backcountry explorer’s new best friend

Specifications

RRP: $96 (US) / £70 (UK)
Charging method: USB (built in Lithium Rechargeable batteries)
Lumens: 150
Max burntime: 24 hours
Weight: 155g / 5.5oz

Reasons to buy

+
Great versatile design
+
Good dimmable lightsource
+
Nightvision mode

Reasons to avoid

-
USB charged (pick the battery-operated version for longer backcountry trips)

Bound for the wild? Take along the perfect companion in the form of PrincetonTec’s Helix Backcountry lantern. There’s a lot to love about this little lantern – it may only weigh 155g and pack down to the size of a coffee cup, but it’s a very useful light source. Dim the light from a bright 150 lumens down to a more ambient 30 lumens, or switch to the red light mode when you want to locate something without blowing your night vision, or if you’re flying under the radar on wild camping trips.

We love the concertina-style lamp, which is easy to erect or fold down on the fly. The lantern has sturdy tripod-style legs for use on the floor, or can be turned upside down and hung from a branch or a tent loop – it’s is also water-resistant if you encounter stormy weather. This lamp is USB chargeable – if you’re going to be gone on an adventure for days at a time, consider PrincetonTec’s Helix Basecamp version of this lantern instead, which is charged with AA batteries (so you can take along some spares).

Biolite Sunlight camping lantern

(Image credit: Biolite)

Biolite Sunlight

Harness the power of the sun with this nifty solar powered light, a useful lamp for pretty much anywhere you pitch your tent

Specifications

RRP: $20 (US) / £18 (UK)
Charging method: USB or solar
Lumens: 100
Max Burntime: 50 hours
Charge time: Solar charge in 7 hours or micro USB charge in 2 hours
Weight: 100g /3.5oz

Reasons to buy

+
Solar or USB powered
+
Small and lightweight
+
Great power

Reasons to avoid

-
The coloured light options may be overkill unless you’re partying

Come rain or shine, Biolite’s Sunlight has got you covered – this sturdy square lamp can be charged with solar power using a large panel on the back, or if the skies are grey it can also plug in via USB. The clever 360 swivel arm lets you attach this block of light to tents, tables or trees, or tie it to the back of your backpack if you’re hiking and want to make the most of the sun’s rays. At just 100g and a pocket-friendly size, the Sunlight is supremely packable.

This is a bit of a party option too, with three coloured LED light versions in case you want something a bit different when you’re heading to a festival or tenting it with friends. 100 lumens is more than enough to illuminate the inside of a tent, and works brilliantly around the house, too. We were also surprised by how affordable the Sunlight is – this is the cheapest lantern in our round-up and offers great bang for your buck.

The best wind-up camping lanterns

Best camping lanterns: Mountain Warehouse Wind Up Lantern

(Image credit: Mountain Warehouse)

Mountain Warehouse Wind Up Lantern

No more faffing with batteries – this sturdy lantern winds up by hand and is perfect for camping holidays

Specifications

RRP: $40 (US) / £30 (UK)
Charging method: Wind up
Lumens: 45
Max Burntime: 1 minute of winding = 20 minutes of light
Weight: 600g

Reasons to buy

+
No batteries required
+
Very eco friendly
+
45 lumens is enough to light a tent up nicely
+
Keeps the kids occupied

Reasons to avoid

-
Requires regular winding
-
Light isn’t warm
-
Brightness is limited

Have you ever thought fleetingly about what you’d do in an apocalypse (or failing that, a power cut)? A wind-up lantern requires no batteries and runs on elbow grease instead, making it a brilliant choice for emergencies, but also great for camping trips and other adventures in the wild where you won’t be able to charge devices. Mountain Warehouse’s lantern has three settings and offers up to 45 lumens of light, which we found more than enough to illuminate any size of tent. Mountain Warehouse reckon it takes one minute of winding to get 20 minutes of light, although we found the lantern worked on a lower setting for three hours at a time after a few minutes of winding. Either way, it’s well worth picking a hand-cranked lantern for the lack of battery faff, and also as an excellent eco-friendly option. Children often like the challenge of creating energy that can be turned into light. It’s a pity the light the lantern gives off isn’t a tad warmer, but it’s still a great choice for car campers, and a good backup lantern for the home, too.

The best classic-style camping lanterns

Life Under Canvas Ocean camping lantern

(Image credit: Ocean)

Life Under Canvas Ocean Lantern

This handsome lantern was designed with glampers and family campers in mind, and works well at home, too

Specifications

RRP: $67 (US) / £49 (UK)
Charging method: Rechargeable
Max burntime: 75 hours
Weight: 1kg /35oz

Reasons to buy

+
Great looks
+
Dimmable light 
+
Made from sustainable materials
+
Rechargeable 
+
Long burn time

Reasons to avoid

-
Heavy
-
Pricey 
-
Long charge time

Who said the best camping lanterns had to look boring and functional? Not Life Under Canvas, who stock this beautiful Ocean Lantern. This lantern emits a warm glow that’s far nicer and more ambient than cheaper models, and the light can easily be dimmed to suit your surroundings. This may look like a vintage number you picked up in a flea market, but the Ocean’s lithium batteries are actually rechargeable.

This lamp is too heavy at 1kg to work for backpacking getaways, but it’s perfect for glampers or owners of large family tents who want lighting that creates a cosy atmosphere and looks the part, too. This retro-look camping lantern is made from hemp rope, metal and bamboo, so it also scores well in the sustainable rankings. The Ocean Lantern is also handsome enough to get regular use in your house or garden when you aren’t on a camping adventure, which makes its expensive price point much more reasonable.

Vango Lunar 250 camping lantern

(Image credit: Vango)

Vango Lunar 250

This solar lantern is great for big family tents, and you can charge it in any weather

Specifications

RRP: $33 (US) / £30 (UK)
Charging method: Solar or USB (built-in rechargeable 2000mAh lithium ion battery)
Lumens: 250
Max Burntime: 3.5 hours
Weight: 540g/18oz

Reasons to buy

+
Eco friendly
+
Solar or USB chargeable
+
Easy to hang 
+
Impressive 250 lumens

Reasons to avoid

-
Runtime is only 3–4 hours

If you’re after a simple and sturdy camping lantern for casual trips with family or friends, you can’t really go wrong with Vango’s Lunar 250 Eco. The eco in the name is due to the fact that this lantern can be recharged in sunlight, and if it’s a grey day it can also connect via USB to charge from the mains.

Once charged, the Lunar 250 goes up to a very bright 250 lumens, which will illuminate some of the landscape around your tent if needed. A handy hook on top of the lantern makes it ideal as a central light in a large family tent. The only downside is that, on test, the lantern’s runtime was only 3–5 hours, so you’ll need to recharge it regularly, making it less useful for multi-day holidays if you don’t have electricity available and the sun decides to hide.

Best camping lanterns comparison table
LanternRRPWeightLumensMax burntime
Lava Brightsounds 2$55 (US) / £40 (UK)620g / 22ozN/A32 hours
Biolite Powerlight$80 (US) /£65 (UK)210g / 7oz25072 hours
Black Diamond Moji Lantern$20 (US) / £20 (UK)122g / 4.3oz10010 hours
PrincetonTec Helix Backcountry Lantern$96 (US) / £70 (UK)155g / 5.5oz15024 hours
Biolite Sunlight$20 (US) / £18 (UK)100g / 3.5oz10050 hours
Mountain Warehouse Wind Up Lantern$40 (US) / £30 (UK)600g / 21g451 minute of winding = 20 minutes of light
Life Under Canvas Ocean Lantern$67 (US) / £49 (UK)1kg / 35ozN/A75 hours
Vango Lunar 250$33 (US) / £30 (UK)540g / 18oz2503.5 hours

Testing

How we test the best camping lanterns

At Advnture we endeavor to test every product we feature extensively in the field. That means one of our team of reviewers and writers – all experienced outdoor specialists active across the US, UK, Europe and Australasia – taking it out into the terrain and climatic conditions that it’s designed for. If, for any reason, this isn’t possible, we’ll say so in our buying guides and reviews.

Our reviewers test camping lanterns in a range of outdoor scenarios – car camping, backpacking, base camping – assessing their value and performance against the claims of the brand in terms of illumination, weight, battery consumption, robustness and features.

What to look for when buying the best camping lanterns

There are many different kinds of lighting solutions out there, with lanterns, headlamps and flashlights all competing for your attention. While headlamps are great for when you're out on the trail and, along with flashlights, are great for producing a focussed beam, a lantern is probably your best bet for lighting up a larger space, such as a family tent or your cooking area.

Following are some of the factors you should consider when purchasing the best camping lantern for you.

Design and weight

From traditional storm lamps to minimalist orb and square-shaped lights, the best camping lanterns come in all shapes and sizes. What design you pick is up to you – the only factor we’d recommend thinking carefully about is weight and packability. It’s simple – if you’re a wild camper or bikepacker, you’ll need a light that’s as small and as lightweight as possible, to avoid it taking up too much of your pack. We’ve included lanterns in our round-up that weigh just 100g and fit in your pocket, so you’re covered there. Family campers, car campers and glampers will be lighting up a bigger space and will have more room for storage and transportation, so they can pick a larger, heavier lamp.

best camping lantern: man making a brew

If you're car camping, there's no problem with a bulkier lantern (Image credit: Getty)

Lumens

You’ll see lanterns and flashlights with either LED or Xenon bulbs on the market, and we found both worked well on test. The key is the amount of lumens they emit – for a lantern you may want to use as a torch, we recommend going above 150 lumens for decent brightness. For lighting up a 4-person tent, the fireside or even allowing you a bit of reading light in your hammock, 100 lumens should be more than enough. Many of the best camping lanterns are dimmable, too, which is a handy feature for controlling ambient light.

best camping lantern: man reading by lantern light

Enjoying a spot of reading by lantern light (Image credit: Getty)

Burntime

The burntime is how long a lantern will stay lit before its fuel runs out, which in the cast of an electric lantern, is its battery. This is a crucial consideration if you plan to use your lantern for many hours on end. When camping in the off season, it gets dark much earlier than in the height of summer. It's likely you will be cooking and socializing with help from the light of your lantern. If you then retire to your sleeping bag and have a decent session with your latest book, it's likely you'll be stretching your best camping lantern's capabilities.

Charging

There are lots of different ways to charge camping lanterns – some take batteries, others can be recharged via USB, some are solar and some can even be hand cranked. 

The best charging option for you depends on how far you like to head into the wild on your camping trips. If you’re camping for just a night or two or have somewhere to charge devices, a USB lantern is great (and is a more eco-friendly choice than using batteries). If you take a power pack along or a solar charger, you will be able to juice up your lantern multiple times, even in the backcountry. 

Having said that, battery-powered lanterns are also good idea for wild campers and backcountry adventures, as long as you carry lots of spares (we prefer to use rechargeable batteries when possible). Solar lanterns are brilliant if the weather is looking good, and we like the ease of hand-cranked lanterns, which need nothing but human power to run - guaranteed to appeal to your inner prepper.

best camping lantern: lantern on table with moth

Of course, a light in the backcountry will attract all manner of insects (Image credit: Getty)

Electric vs gas powered

These days, electric powered lanterns are the norm and most contain batteries that charge just like your phone, using a USB. The advantages of electric lanterns are that they are quiet, lightweight and are less likely to set your tent on fire. You can carry a power bank to give your lantern more juice on multi-day trips. However, power may be at a premium when backpacking and you may want to prioritize other items like your mobile phone, watch or headlamp when it comes to recharging. Cold temperatures also reduce the performance of batteries.

Traditional gas-powered lanterns are better suited to freezing conditions, giving you a bright flame with a long burn time. Of course, they require ventilation to work and must be kept away from flammable materials. 

An award-winning travel and outdoors journalist, presenter and blogger, Sian regularly writes for The Independent, Evening Standard, BBC Countryfile, Coast, Outdoor Enthusiast and Sunday Times Travel. Life as a hiking, camping, wild-swimming adventure-writer has taken her around the world, exploring Bolivian jungles, kayaking in Greenland, diving with turtles in Australia, climbing mountains in Africa and, in Thailand, learning the hard way that peeing on a jellyfish sting doesn’t help. Her blog, thegirloutdoors.co.uk, champions accessible adventures.