The Best Camping Lanterns for Your Next Outdoor Getaway

Our top pick, Biolite’s AlpenGlow lantern, has a host of fun features and can charge other devices through its USB port.

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best camping lanterns

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It’s crucial to take a lantern on every camping trip. A powerful light source is important for preparing meals after sundown and any other time you want to have your hands free in the dark or light the way on a nighttime excursion. Many camping lanterns also offer other helpful functionalities like power banks or mood-setting color options. 

There are many different kinds of camping lanterns to choose from. Some are battery-operated, while others are solar rechargeable or run on kerosene. They range in size from lightweight, miniscule models that are perfect for backpacking to stylish vintage designs that are powerful enough to illuminate entire campsites. Our all-around favorite camping lantern, the BioLite AlpenGlow, is splashproof, has five unique light modes, and adds another power source to your camping supply via a USB output. If you need other functionalities or are searching for a different aesthetic, check out more of our favorite lanterns.

These are the best lanterns to take camping.

Best Overall: BioLite Alpenglow Lantern

best camping lanterns
Courtesy of Amazon

Why We Love It: The BioLite AlpenGlow 250 and 500 have five light settings and double as chargers.

What to Consider: We wish this lantern could fold or collapse into a smaller size.

Available in two sizes, BioLite’s AlpenGlow USB Lanterns are fun to use, practical, and versatile. The lantern utilizes high-efficiency ChromaReal LED tech and has five settings, including dimmable cool and warm light, cycling color, and even one mode that mimics the flickering of a candle. Since it can charge other devices via a USB port, it’s extra handy to have around while enjoying the great outdoors. It features other thoughtful conveniences like a built-in loop to hang the lantern and an accelerometer that allows you to change modes with an up-and-down shaking motion. The splashproof construction means it can handle any rainstorms, and you can choose to use single-sided light when you need to conserve battery power. 

Power Source: 3200 mAh and 6400 mAh rechargeable batteries | Max Lumens: 250 and 500 | Runtime: 5 hours high and 200 hours low | Weight: 7.4 ounces and 13.4 ounces

Best Budget: Vont LED Lantern Pro

best camping lanterns
Courtesy of Amazon

Why We Love It: The Vont LED lantern provides unique features like a magnetic base for mounting and the ability to collapse it into a flashlight.

What to Consider: It is not clear that this lantern can use rechargeable batteries.

Don’t let the price fool you into thinking this is a cheap product. Vont designed a water-resistant, durable lantern in the size of a flashlight that emits up to 400 lumens. In lantern mode, you can adjust the brightness by collapsing the device to your desired light level. There are top hooks for hanging the lantern from your tent as well as side handles for carrying it like a flashlight. A magnetic base that allows you to mount the light on metal makes it even more versatile. The straightforward design includes a single button that toggles between lantern mode, flashlight mode, red night vision, and an SOS strobe.

Power Source: 3 AA or alkaline batteries | Max Lumens: 400 | Runtime: 100 hours on Alkaline batteries | Weight: 9.6 ounces

Best Spotlight: Snow Peak Spot Hozuki

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Courtesy of Amazon

Why We Love It: Bright and tough, these lanterns can be positioned in various directions and run up to 80 hours at a low setting.

What to Consider: The price is steep.

Snow Peak designed a beautiful spotlight that is easy to hang and bright enough for reading at night. They’re great for hanging in your tent as well as using at office desks when you’re not off the grid. You can also hang it on Snow Peak’s Pile Driver, a chrome-plated stainless steel pole that is staked into the ground. The brand also sells a rechargeable battery that’s compatible with its lanterns. Some cool features include a candle mode which flickers when the lantern senses wind or sound and an energy-saving sleep mode which turns the lantern off if there’s no surrounding sound.

Power Source: AA batteries or Hozuki 2.0 rechargeable battery | Max Lumens: 100 | Runtime: 8 hours high and 80 hours low  | Weight: 5.8 ounces

Related: The Best Camping Air Mattresses

Best for Backpacking: LuminAID PackLite Titan 2-in-1 Power Lantern

best camping lanterns
Courtesy of Amazon

Why We Love It: Innovative design based upon 10 years of user feedback includes inflation by twisting.

What to Consider: It takes 16-20 hours to recharge via solar power.

LuminAID’s inflatable solar lanterns make perfect trail companions. The brand’s origin story begins in an architecture school in New York City, where founders Anna Stork and Andrea Sreshta were inspired to design sustainable, off-grid light and power after a devastating earthquake in Haiti. The PackLite Titan 2-in-1 Power Lantern can charge two to three cell phones or one phone two to three times with its built-in 4000 mAh internal power bank. Waterproof, dustproof, and collapsible, it’s a wise addition to an emergency kit because it can hold a charge for up to two years in storage. LuminAID made its latest model easier to inflate with a twist instead of requiring air from your lungs. The Titan’s red light mode is great for stargazing and night vision or reading in the dark.

Power Source: Built-in rechargeable 4000 mAH battery and solar | Max Lumens: 300 | Runtime: 5 hours on high and 100 hours on low | Weight: 12.5 ounces

Easiest to Use: Black Diamond Moji R+ Lantern

best camping lanterns
Courtesy of REI

Why We Love It: It has a rechargeable battery and a simple design.

What to Consider: The hook hangers can be difficult to open.

With two buttons, the Black Diamond Moji R+ can power 200 lumens of white light, strobing, rainbow spectrum, dim, and a campfire setting. It has four magnets and a collapsible double-hook loop that make it easy to hang in your tent or attach to metal. The splashproof, lightweight lantern isn’t just great for camping — I keep one in the car, one in my backpack, one in my garage, and one in the kitchen. It comes in four colors, including dark laurel and azurite.

Power Source: Built-in 1500 mAh Lithium-ion rechargeable battery | Max Lumens: 200 | Runtime: 5 hours high and 100 hours low | Weight: 2.75 ounces

Best Rechargeable: Goal Zero Lighthouse 600 Camping Lantern

best camping lanterns
Courtesy of Amazon

Why We Love It:  The hand crank is incredibly helpful in situations when there is no power or solar energy.

What to Consider: The charging cord is short.

Goal Zero’s Lighthouse 600 is lightweight at 1.1 pounds and has a built-in handle for easy carrying. You can take advantage of its 360-degree illumination or use only half of the light to save power. There are three ways to recharge a Goal Zero Lighthouse: with a USB source in six hours, using a solar panel like the brand’s Nomad 10, which also takes about six hours, and via the hand crank, which gives you 10 minutes of light for every one minute of cranking. 

Once charged, the lantern can power your phone, tablet, or other devices via a USB output.

Power Source: Batteries and solar | Max Lumens: 600 | Runtime: 10 minutes per one minute of hand cranking to 320 hours if one side is lit at low power | Weight: 1.1 pounds

Best String Lights: Big Agnes mtnGLO Tent and Camp Lights

best camping lanterns
Courtesy of Amazon

Why We Love It: Big Agnes designed a strand of lights that can either be hung or zipped up inside a pyramid-shaped bag and set on a table like a lantern. 

What to Consider: It doesn’t get bright enough for reading.

Available in three colors (blue/green, red, and white), the mtnGLO Tent and Camp Lights are each 100 inches long. They are made of LED lights encased in a nylon tubing that can either be hung or zipped up inside a 5.5-inch, pyramid-shaped bag and set on a table like a lantern. The lights aren’t powerful enough to read with, but they are great as a nightlight or mood-setter to string up inside your cabin or tent. There are three light modes: off, white, and disco. 

Power Source: 3 AAA batteries | Max Lumens: Not specified | Runtime: Not specified | Weight: 2 ounces

Related: The Best Camping Coffee Makers

Highest Lumens: Ledlenser ML6 Lantern

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Courtesy of Amazon

Why We Love It: It fits in the palm of your hand but is still powerful enough to pump 750 lumens.

What to Consider: It takes five hours to recharge.

If you’re looking for something that can easily light up a large campsite, the ML6 is a great pick. Ledlenser specializes in LED flashlights, headlamps, area lights, and power banks. The ML6 utilizes micro prism technology to ensure glare-free lighting. There are three settings: solid white light, solid red light, and blinking red or white, including a dimmer. It’s lightweight and has a detachable magnetic base and a hook for easy hanging.

Power Source: Rechargeable lithium-ion 18650  | Max Lumens: 750 | Runtime: 4 hours high and 70 hours low | Weight: 9.88 ounces

Best Ultralight: Solight SolarPuff Collapsible Solar Lantern

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SolarPuff Solar Latern

SoLight

Why We Love It: Weighing only 2.6 ounces, this lantern can also be collapsed down to a size that fits in your pocket.

What to Consider: The brightness isn’t strong enough for reading and it takes a long time to recharge.

With six different light modes (red, white, purple, blue, yellow, and green) and low (60 lumens) and high (90 lumens) brightness levels, this ultralight solar-powered lantern is perfect for camping and backyard lighting. The durable, waterproof lantern has an attractive cube-shaped design and can even float to add some pizzazz to your pool. The SolarPuff is also an environmentally friendly choice since it’s made of recyclable materials. 

Power Source: Solar and 1000 mAh battery | Max Lumens: 90 | Runtime: 10 hours | Weight: 2.6 ounces 

Best Vintage: Barebones Forest Lantern

best camping lanterns
Courtesy of Amazon

Why We Love It: Romantic and a reminder of the past, this lantern is both functional and stylistic.

What to Consider: It’s not compact.

A replica of those nautical, metal-caged lanterns that used to protect delicate glass globes, the Barebones Antique Bronze Forest Lantern was one of those rare purchases where I fell in love with the product before reviewing its specs. Made of stamped steel, plastic, and rubber, the lantern is quite durable and has survived many years in our playroom and tent as an important prop to aid our kids’ imagination. The lantern recharges within four to six hours and is lightweight and easy to use. It also has an integrated USB cable built into the bottom of the base for recharging. There is a USB port for charging other devices as well.


Power Source: Rechargeable 4400mAh battery | Max Lumens: 220 | Runtime: 3 hours high and 80+ hours low | Weight: 1.5 pounds

Tips for Buying a Camping Lantern

Choose a portability level carefully

Size, weight, and collapsibility are particularly important if you will be carrying all of your gear on a backpacking trip. If you’re car camping and portability is not as much of a concern, you may want to choose a lantern that is bigger but has other features that make it convenient for on-site use, such as stylized light modes.

Consider runtime and the power source

You should always examine runtime and how easy it is to recharge your lantern’s power source. A good lantern should have enough juice for at least supporting you through one night in the woods. At a lower lumen setting, some of the lanterns we researched performed up to 300 hours. If you are backpacking, we recommend picking a lantern that is able to be recharged with solar power. 

Know the pros and cons of using a gas lantern

Gas-powered lanterns can be helpful for also generating heat but be aware they can be heavy,  expensive, and difficult to use. For example, I tested the Coleman Northern Nova Propane Lantern because it produces 3000 lumens and can cast light over 100 feet away, but I found the design difficult to use and was worried about using this propane lantern around my kids and in areas prone to fires. Therefore, I didn’t recommend any gas-powered lanterns in this roundup but instead narrowed our scope to electric lanterns powered by alkaline or rechargeable batteries, USB power packs, or solar panels. But if you do still prefer a gas-powered lantern, choose a lantern that can be powered by the same fuel as your stove for convenience.

Frequently Asked Questions
  • How many lumens will I need?

    The amount of lumens you’ll need depends on what you intend to use your lantern for. 

    100 and below = lumens needed inside of a tent averaging 60-70 square feet.

    200 = lumens needed to sit outside after dark.

    300+= lumens needed to light an entire campsite.

  • Are lanterns waterproof?

    Some of the lanterns reviewed are waterproof and designed to float. Most of the time, lanterns are at least water-resistant and designated with one of the following International Protection Marking ratings: 

    IPX-0 =no water ingress protection

    IPX-2 = protected against dripping water when tilted at 15 degrees

    IPX-3 = protected against spraying water

    IPX-4 = protected from splashing

    IPX-5 = protected against water jets

    IPX-8 = maintains functionality after and during full submersion 

  • Do lanterns work in the cold?

    Electric lanterns do not work well in the cold because the electricity-producing chemical reaction that occurs in batteries has difficulty in cold temperatures. Alkaline batteries lose half of their capacity when temperatures drop below freezing. Meanwhile, lithium batteries perform  better in cold temperatures.

Why Trust Travel + Leisure

Leslie Hsu Oh has decades of experience testing and reviewing outdoor, accessories, apparel, culture, smart phones, water and snowsports, technology, and travel gear. Her reviews have been published in Backpacker Magazine, Outside Magazine, Popular Mechanics, REI, Runner’s World, Sierra Magazine, and Travel+Leisure. She believes that having a great experience outdoors depends on the quality of your gear. Known for the extremes with which she adventure travels, she’s tested an iphone and Sea-to-Summit waterproof case deep inside of the Devil’s Cave in Brazil, fly fishing gear beneath a waterfall in Iceland, canyoneering kits in Jordan’s Wadi Mujib and Old Town and Ocean Kayak pedal kayaks in Puerto Rico’s bioluminescent waters.

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