Included in this guide:
The best camping lanterns shrug off the coming of winter. Longer nights are here and with them many a dark hour in the tent. Whether you're camping in the off season or heading out on an expedition, a good camping lantern is crucial for getting through the night.
After all, there's something undeniably cosy about retiring to a sleeping bag, switching your lantern on and diving into a good book. Even before you settle down for the night, the long dark of winter may mean you're cooking and socializing in what would otherwise be pitch black conditions. Having a lantern or two for the table or when setting up the campfire is a must.
The best camping lanterns give you a broad light source that won't move around with you or blind your campmates every time you look at them, unlike a headlamp. Better still, most come with latches that allow you to attach them to tent hooks and the like, making it easy to illuminate your entire tent, just like your bedroom at home.
We’ve tested out the best camping lanterns across various sizes and specifications, to bring you different designs ranging from dinky pocket-sized lights perfect for a wild campers' one-person tent, to big, bright storm lanterns that will be the pride of any glamper’s bell tent, plus clever hybrid lanterns that can charge your phone or even play your favourite tunes. There’s a design here to suit every kind of camping enthusiast.
The best camping lanterns for multiple purposes
Lava Brightsounds 2
This marvellous multifunctional speaker-lantern-charger hybrid is a camping must-have
RRP: $55 (US) / £40 (UK) | Charging method: Rechargeable lithium-ion battery / USB | Lighting modes: One, with dimmer (ranges from vivid glow to calm hue) | Lumens: N/A | Max Burntime: 32 hours | Waterproof rating: IPX4 (splashproof) | Weight: 620g/22oz | Dimensions (HxWxD): 19 x 9.5 x 11cm / 7.5 x 3.75 x 4in | Compatibility: A brilliant companion for camping holidays with friends
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 favourite. 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.
This torch/lantern combo is super versatile and will also charge your devices on the go
RRP: $80 (US) /£65 (UK) | Charging method: USB | Lighting modes: Two | 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) | Waterproof rating: Unknown | Weight: 210g/7oz | Dimensions: 5.64 x 13.39 x 2.92cm / 2.22 x 5.27 x 1.15in | Compatibility: Suitable for any kind of camper, and handy for workshops and sheds, too
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/torch combo to rule them all, this is a great quality choice.
The best small camping lanterns
Black Diamond Moji Lantern
The small, simple and super-handy Moji makes a great addition to the wild camper’s kitbag
RRP: $20 (US) / £20 (UK) | Charging method: three AAA batteries | Lighting modes: One (dimmable) | Lumens: 100 | Max Burntime: 10 hours (max settings) | Waterproof rating: IPX4 (splashproof) | Weight: 122g / 4.3oz | Compatibility: Ideal for wild camping and smaller 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 Lantern
This versatile little lamp is lightweight, compact and versatile – the backcountry explorer’s new best friend
RRP: $96 (US) / £70 (UK) | Charging method: USB (built in Lithium Rechargeable batteries) | Lighting modes: 3 (including red), plus dimmer | Lumens: 150 | Max Burntime: 24 hours | Waterproof rating: IPX6 (powerful water jet) | Weight: 155g/5.5oz | Compatibility: A fantastic choice for lightweight camping and shorter forays into the backcountry
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 nightvision, 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).
Harness the power of the sun with this nifty solar powered light, a useful lamp for pretty much anywhere you pitch your tent
RRP: $20 (US) / £18 (UK) | Charging method: USB or solar | Lighting modes: 1 (dimmable) | Lumens: 100 | Max Burntime: 50 hours | Charge time: Solar charge in 7 hours or micro USB charge in 2 hours | Waterproof rating: IPX4 | Weight: 100g /3.5oz | Dimensions (HxWxD): 8.5 x 8.6 x 2.3cm / 3.35 x 3.39 x 0.91in | Compatibility: A very versatile little lantern that’s happy wild camping and at festivals alike
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 lantern
Mountain Warehouse Wind Up Lantern
No more faffing with batteries – this sturdy lantern winds up by hand and is perfect for camping holidays
RRP: $40 (US) / £30 (UK) | Charging method: Wind up | Lighting modes: 3 | Lumens: 45 | Max Burntime: 1 minute of winding = 20 minutes of light | Waterproof rating: Water resistant and weatherproof (no official IP rating) | Weight: 600g/ 21g | Compatibility: Great for longer camping trips, as well as for having handy at home
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 camping lanterns with classic aesthetics
Life Under Canvas Ocean Lantern
This handsome lantern was designed with glampers and family campers in mind, and works well at home, too
RRP: $67 (US) / £49 (UK) | Charging method: Rechargeable | Lighting modes: 2 (warm/cool), plus dimmer | Max Burntime: 75 hours | Charge time: 7 hours | Waterproof rating: Unknown | Weight: 1kg /35oz | Dimensions (HxWxD): 30 x 20 x 20cm / 12 x 8 x 8in | Compatibility: A smart addition to glamping holidays and family camping adventures
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
This solar lantern is great for big family tents, and you can charge it in any weather
RRP: $33 (US) / £30 (UK) | Charging method: Solar or USB (built-in rechargeable 2000mAh lithium ion battery) | Lighting modes: 1 | Lumens: 250 | Max Burntime: 3.5 hours | Charge time: 4 hours | Waterproof rating: Unknown | Weight: 540g/18oz | Compatibility: Useful for shorter camping trips and larger tents
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.
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 large tent or your cooking area.
Following are some of the factors you should consider when purchasing the best camping lantern for you.
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.
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 family 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.
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.
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