How to Pick and Choose the Best Lantern

A lantern is one of those things every camper should have on hand. Sure, a flashlight is great, but there are things a lantern can do that a flashlight simply can’t.

Perhaps you want to light the dinner table after the sun has gone down, or maybe you need a light in a bathhouse with no electricity. In cases like these, a lantern is the way to go, and this is why a good lantern is a must-have item.

Any lantern is better than no lantern, of course, but having a high quality lantern is sure to make lighting your way during camping trips a more pleasant experience. Besides, a high quality lantern is much more likely to last through the rough-and-tumble of camping.

For these reasons, we are using this article to focus on helping you find the very best camping lantern for your needs.

Photo by Tony Webster

How to Choose a Lantern

If you’ve never really used a camping lantern, shopping for one can be a bit tricky. After all, you probably have no idea what you’re looking for. Let’s take a look at the things you will want to consider when shopping for your new lantern.

Usage

First, you will want to ask yourself what you will be using this lantern for. If you’ll only be doing RV camping and using the lantern to light the table while you play cards, something less bright and durable might be just fine. Meanwhile, those who plan to take their camping lanterns on backpacking trips may want to be a bit more picky about what they choose.

Power Source

Lanterns for camping come in two main types: gas and electricity. Both have their pros and cons, but we feel electric lanterns tend to be the best option in most cases. This is because electric lanterns are quiet and exhaust-free, safe around kids, and can handle rugged use. Meanwhile, the biggest advantage of gas camping lanterns is the brightness of the light they produce.

If you do choose an electric lantern, you should know that there are two types of batteries: disposable and rechargeable. We highly recommend the rechargeable type, which might be charged via a USB cable (that can be plugged into a wall outlet or a car), a hand crank, a solar panel, or any combination of these things.

Brightness and Light Duration

No matter which type of lantern you pick, you will want to make sure you look into the brightness and light duration of any model you are considering. These two attributes are what you will notice most while your lantern is in use.

Brightness

The brightness of a lantern is measured in lumens, and a lantern’s lumen output should always be listed on its packaging. The higher the lumen output, the brighter your lantern will be. That said, it is important to keep in mind that a super bright lantern will likely burn through batteries or fuel pretty quickly.

Light Duration

That brings us to the second attribute: Light duration refers to the amount of time you can expect the lantern to last on one fuel tank or set of batteries while turned on. This information should be available on the lantern packaging, making it easy to compare models.

Features

Lastly, you will want to look at the features each contender has to offer.

Rechargeable batteries are one feature we highly recommend looking for. Additionally, those wishing to use their lantern on long backpacking trips will want a solar or hand-crank recharge option.

Other great features to look for include the ability to dim the light, attachments for hanging the lantern, color-changing options, and Bluetooth connection to your phone.

What is the best lantern for camping?

Some people don’t care for shopping around and just want us to tell them which is the best camp lantern so they can go out and buy it. Unfortunately, there isn’t really a single best lantern for camping. That said, there are a few lanterns we really like. If you’re stuck trying to figure out what to buy, try these on for size.

Streamlight the Siege Lantern

Streamlight the Siege Lantern is a bit bulky, weighing in at right around 2 pounds. That said, it is nice enough that we forgive its weight.

This lamp runs on disposable batteries and offers three main light settings. It also gives a night vision option (which is a red LED) as well as a flashing SOS option.

Black Diamond Apollo Lantern

The super cool looking Black Diamond Apollo LED Lantern is easily one of the best backpacking lantern options out there. It’s small—weighing a mere 0.75 lbs—but offers a good amount of light considering its size.

The lantern features a rechargeable internal battery as well as a disposable battery option. Between the two, one can get a full 24 hours of light.

Black Diamond Moji

Another small, lightweight option is the teeny tiny Black Diamond Moji. This little lantern offers a 100-lumen LED light bulb which gives off a soft and wide light under the frosted plastic rounded cover. Best of all, this lantern is quite affordable, meaning you can invest in a couple of them in case of an emergency.

What is the brightest lantern for camping?

Looking for the brightest camping lantern on the market? Offering up to 1,200 lumens, we’re pretty sure UST 60-Day Duro Lantern can claim that position. Honestly, this is a good, solid lantern in all respects, making it an awesome option for any camper, and one of the best LED camping lanterns around.

What is the best lantern for power outages?

If you think you’ll mostly be using your lantern when the power goes out, you might be looking for something that can be recharged without a wall outlet. This is where the AGPtek Rechargeable LED Lantern steps in.

This awesome little lantern can be recharged in a variety of ways, including solar power, hand cranking, and a car charger. It will also run on disposable batteries if you prefer, and the USB outlet on the side of the light allows you to charge small electronics using the power stored in the lantern battery.

Camping Lantern FAQ

Have questions about your lantern? Below are some of the most frequently asked questions, as well as our answers to each one.

How do I maintain my camping lantern?

Electric lantern maintenance is incredibly easy. If you use your lantern at least once a week, all you’ll need to do is ensure it stays charged and wipe it down once in a while. If you will be storing your lantern for long periods, you will want to make sure you remove disposable batteries and charge rechargeable batteries every few months.

Gas lanterns require a bit more maintenance. You will want to clean your lantern with warm water at the end of each camping season and store it in a sealed bag. You’ll also want to remove as much fuel as possible from the tank before storing.

When the next camping season rolls around, be sure to clean the lantern again and oil the pump cup on the tank’s pump plunger twice a year.

How often should I clean my lantern?

Lanterns should be cleaned at least twice a year or whenever they develop a build-up or become dirty.

Are camping lanterns safe?

Electric lanterns are very safe to use. This is especially true of LED lanterns, as the bulbs do not become hot to the touch no matter how long the light is run. That said, when used properly, gas lanterns can also be perfectly safe. Just be sure your gas lights are only used outdoors, by adults, and in well-ventilated areas.

How do I light a lantern for camping?

Obviously, turning on an electric lantern is as easy as pushing a button. That said, those who wish to use a gas lantern may wonder how to go about lighting one. This article has excellent instructions on how to do so safely and efficiently.

Have your lantern picked out? Make sure you have the rest of your must-have items, find a rental RV, and get ready to visit one of these awesome destinations.

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