One of the most exciting aspects of camping begins when the sun goes down, and the stars come out. By the warmth of the campfire, you can toast marshmallows to make the most epic S’more while listening to the lovely sounds of nature.
But beyond the campfire glow lies the dark of night, and what you can’t see can often ruin a good time. Luckily, camp lanterns can save the day — or rather save the night – by illuminating more of your campsite and providing a valuable backup light source in the event of an RV power outage. Not only for RVs, camp lanterns also prove handy to have for the home as an essential part of any storm kit.
From lanterns that double as bug zappers (like the Personal Mosquito Zapper with LED Lantern) to Bluetooth speakers that look like lanterns (like the iJoy Lumina Light-Up Lantern Speaker), you have plenty of options to light up your campsite and let the good times continue as long, and as late, as possible.
Not sure which camp lantern is best for you? No worries. Check out this guide to camp lanterns and let Camping World light the way.
The Brightness of Your Camp Lantern
Before choosing a type, ask yourself how bright you want your camp lantern. Lumens, which measure and determine how bright a light is, are the metric to look at in terms of a lantern’s light output. The higher the number of lumens, the brighter the light will be.
Do you want to illuminate the entire campsite around you? Or do you just want to light up your immediate surroundings? Maybe you want the option to switch between modes?
For example, a 100 lumen lantern might be enough to light up your camp table for dinner. But if you’re looking for something that can illuminate your entire site, you’ll want a lantern that can produce 500 lumens or more.
Many camp lanterns have multiple light modes that allow you to alternate how much light you use. Using a higher setting that produces more light usually drains the battery quicker than a lower setting with a dimmer light output.
It’s important to note that light diffusion also influences your camp lantern’s light. If you choose an option with a frosted globe, expect the light source to be more diluted than the light you’ll receive from a clear glass lantern.
The Power Source for Your Camp Lantern
Most camp lanterns these days are powered by disposable or rechargeable batteries. While you can still find propane and gas lanterns, the evolution of battery-powered lanterns provides a more convenient option for RV and car camping.
With disposable batteries, you simply remove the old batteries and replace them as needed. Alkaline batteries (i.e. AA and AAA) are easy to find and easy to keep a stock in your RV or home. Maintaining a stock of replacement batteries keeps you prepared when your lantern starts fading.
The biggest advantage of a lantern that runs on disposable batteries is not having to remember to charge it between uses. However, you’ll be creating more battery trash, which is a less eco-friendly option.
With rechargeable batteries, you can essentially treat your camp lantern as you do your cell phone. Simply plug it into a power source through its USB to charge and kick off every camping trip at 100 percent. Lanterns that use rechargeable batteries tend to outlast the competition in colder conditions.
Their downside is that you’ll need to wait for them to recharge if you failed to plan, rather than simply installing a new set of batteries. But you’ll be doing your part to reduce battery waste.
As a third alternative, some camp lanterns offer solar charging, which is great for boondocking. Many solar lanterns also contain rechargeable batteries and can either be placed in the sun or plugged into an AC outlet to charge. However, if they run out sooner than you’d like, you may be unable to recharge them until sunrise, leaving you in the dark.
The Weight and Portability of Your Camp Lantern
Another factor to consider when choosing your camp lantern is how you intend to use it. Are you planning on using it primarily at your summer campsite as a more permanent outside lamp? Or are you looking for a lantern to light your path from the tent to the bathroom?
Keeping function in mind is important if you want to avoid navigating unintentional dark corners. If you’re lighting a large area, opt for a lantern with a higher lumen output, which will most likely be larger and heavier. But if you’re trying to light a path, you’ll probably want a smaller, lightweight lantern.
There are camp lanterns that can hang from a tree or stake and others with legs that can stand on their own. Some fit inside your coat pocket and operate almost like a flashlight; others have handles for easy carrying that fold down when not in use.
Shopping for a camp lantern is much easier once you establish where you’ll use your lantern and how you want it to work for you.
The Best Camp Lanterns from Camping World
When it comes to lighting the night, a few camping lanterns stand out from the rest. Here are a few of the best camp lanterns from Camping World to add to your camping gear:
Coleman 600-Lumen LED Lantern with BatteryGuard
Battery Type: Disposable D-Cell batteries (x3)
This impact-resistant, water-resistant lantern features BatteryGuard technology that reduces battery drain so you’ll have power when you want it. With two modes and 600 lumens, the Coleman LED Lantern will run up to 30 hours on high and features a beam distance of up to 12 meters.
Battery Type: Rechargeable via USB
Combining both music and light, your campsite will become the place to be with the EcoLantern. With a 360-degree sound speaker and bright bi-directional glow, you can enjoy up to 20 hours of battery life with 400 lumens of white light. Plus, it’s waterproof and shock resistant.
MPowered Luci Pro Outdoor 2.0 Inflatable Solar Light
Battery Type: Rechargeable via USB and Solar
Designed to reach a full charge in as little as two hours, the Luci Pro Outdoor Inflatable Solar Light not only lights up the night but also includes a USB port for you to charge your phone simultaneously. It featured small solar panels on top that can charge your phone without draining its own 50-hour run time or sacrificing its 150 lumens of brightness.
See the (Camping) Light
Whether you’re looking to light up your entire campsite or need visibility of the paths around it, there’s a camping lantern out there to tackle the job. But don’t stop at lanterns! There are plenty of string lights and patio lights or flashlights and headlamps to help illuminate your space.
By following this guide, you’ll be positively glowing on your next camping adventure!
What do you look for in a camp lantern? Tell us in the comments below.