The 7 Best Camping Lanterns in 2024 - Best Lanterns for Camping

Go for some glow with these reliable and portable light sources.

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The 7 Best Camping Lanterns in 2024 - Best Lanterns for Camping

Sleeping outside—whether alone, or with friends or family—can be one of the most peaceful and satisfying experiences. And while the stars overhead provide a gorgeous atmosphere, they typically aren’t much help with seeing well in the dark. You’ll need a reliable light source to find that warm beanie buried in your backpack, slip out of your tent to answer the call of nature, or illuminate the camp stove as you’re fixing dinner. And that’s why you should always pack a good camping lantern.

Read on for important aspects of camping lanterns to consider, followed by our full reviews of the best.

The light output of lanterns is quantified by lumens. Models around 100 lumens only provide enough light for personal use and ambient light; larger groups will want something in the 400 range. Almost all of the camping lanterns here have adjustable brightness, and we noted their max lumen output, which can be dimmed to a lower output.

The size and weight determine the portability of your camping lantern. A large, heavy model won’t suit a backpacker who’s trying to keep a light load and changing campsites every night. Our Best for Backpacking (the Goal Zero Crush Light Chroma) pick weighs only 3 ounces and collapses for easy packing or hooking onto your backpack. If you’re a car camper who has plenty of room for supplies, however, a hefty lantern is just fine.

Camping lanterns can run off of propane, disposable batteries, and rechargeable batteries. The Goal Zero Lighthouse 600 even gives you the option to mechanically power it using a hand crank if you’re in an emergency. Battery life will depend on how bright you set the lantern, and we listed the maximum and minimum battery life depending on setting to help guide you.

Some models powered by rechargeable batteries can also power small electronics like a phone or earbuds. They aren’t powerful like dedicated power stations, but it’s a nice option to have in a pinch.

Some people just want a two-setting lantern to keep it simple while others may opt for a color-changing model to add some fun to a group campout. Built-in hooks for hanging and fold-out legs add convenience, but backpackers looking to shave ounces may find this hindering.

We researched a range of camping lanterns and examined qualities like brightness, weight, battery, and design. We chose models that excelled past just providing some extra light and referenced reviews from casual campers and backpacking enthusiasts for insight into different priorities. Our list is pared down to camping lanterns that don’t go overkill on features, have functional designs, and will effectively illuminate your next adventure.

The Alpenglow 500 is as functional as it is fun, with multiple white and color light settings. Use the impressive 500-lumen output to navigate through the campsite in the dark and then seamlessly switch to a soft yellow glow to come down after a day hiking.

It has an impressive runtime with a battery that can double as a power bank that allows pass-through charging, meaning you can charge another device off of the Alpenglow while it charges. The USB ports have rubber covers to keep out dust and dirt but aren’t USB-C compatible, unfortunately; the input port to charge the lantern is micro-USB, while the output port to charge other devices off of the AlpenGlow is USB-A.

The flip-out hook on the bottom lets you hang the AlpenGlow inside a tent. And it has a sleek look with only one button to toggle between settings, though you can also switch modes by shaking the lantern.

Different lighting modes include a flickering candle, changing lava lamp, and three-color display. You can also turn on only one side of the lantern to have it serve as reading light if your bunkmate has already gone to bed. While brighter and more tactical options exist, the AlpenGlow is feature-rich and gives you the light you need and the mood you want.

If you’re looking for a bit more versatility, the practical features of this lantern include hand-crank power and collapsible legs, making it good for both camping and emergency blackouts.

Its highest setting can illuminate an entire campsite, but you can adjust it to your needs with the dimmer knob. You can also choose to light just one side of the lantern. The battery indicator lets you know how much power it has left, which is a nice warning.

The attached USB charging cord neatly wraps around the base of the Lighthouse, making it easier to keep track of, and a USB port allows you to charge other devices. The collapsible legs keep this compact when you need to transport it, and they’re coated in runner for some extra traction. The Lighthouse isn’t water-resistant because of the the exposed charging wire and USB port, so throw it in a tent or under a tarp if it rains.

Coleman’s rechargeable lantern is a classic and straightforward option. It’s user-friendly thanks to its simple dial control and two light settings—low and high.

While it may look like old-school camping lanterns, the plastic casing is impact-resistant and can hold up to light rain or splashes. You can store the charging cord and charger in the base so you don’t lose it or misplace it in some backpack compartment. There’s a mico-USB port for you to charge other devices, though with the lantern’s small battery, don’t expect to fully juice them.

On its highest setting, the Duro will put out about as much as your car headlight, so works great for setting up camp after dark. It has two dim modes when you need less light and is simple to use thanks to its one-button control.

It has a built-in hook on the bottom for easy hanging, and the sturdy top-handle is grooved for a comfortable grip. And the plastic top unscrews to expose the bulb, giving the lantern additional use as an area light.

Unlike most other lanterns here, the Duro is powered by six D-batteries housed in the base. Both the base and dome are made of heavy-duty plastic, lending the Duro durability while also making it cumbersome. This is best suited to car camping and is a good option for power outages because of the long battery life.

The Chroma is fully collapsible, barely takes up space in a backpack, and hooks onto any bag via a carabiner looped through its large handle. You can recharge it using the included USB cord or, for all the weight weenies out there looking to spare every possible gram, leave it out and let its solar panel soak in the rays.

This lantern can run up to seven hours on its brightest setting, and different color options to give your campsite some ambience. There’s also a “candle” mode that mimics a flickering flame. It’s IPX4-rated for water-resistance, and that handle also facilitates easy hanging in a tent.

While this isn’t the brightest option, it’s enough to get your sleeping bag ready for bed or provide more light on the table.

Low-tech but reliable, a propane lantern is a classic option to light up your campsite. Cold weather can sap batteries, so Coleman’s lantern is also good if you’re brave enough to go winter camping. It has a bright 8oo-lumen output when both mantles are lit. Use the knob to dial in the brightness.

While this propane lantern is a durable workhorse, it’s also bulky and not the most convenient. Take the need for liquid fuel and how that means it won’t charge other devices. Still, a propane camping lantern has its place with traditionalists and survivalists and has stood the test of time.

The rechargeable battery in the Orbiter doubles as a power bank to charge other devices. So why is this lantern Best for Charging Devices and not either of the other two above? Because it has both USB-C and USB-A charging ports, distinguishing it from many other models that have only USB-A despite many electronics, including modern iPhones, requiring USB-C.

Other than that, the Orbiter puts out a high number of lumens and can switch between multiple light and color settings. Folding, slip-resistant legs keep it stable lighting your camp kitchen setup, and the hanging hook can light up your tent or loop through a daisy chain on your pack.

Danny Perez is a Commerce Editor for Popular Mechanics with a focus on men's style, gear, and home goods. Recently, he was coordinator of partnership content at another product journalism outlet. Prior to that, he was a buyer for an independent men's shop in Houston, Texas, where he learned all about what makes great products great. He enjoys thrifting for 90s Broadway tees and vintage pajama sets. His spare time is occupied by watching movies and running to impress strangers on Strava.

Paige Triola is a freelance writer based in Boulder, Colorado, who covers a range of topics in the athletic and outdoor recreation sphere. She spends much of her time cruising the trails on foot or by bike, testing out the newest gear designed for playing outside. Paige has written articles and product roundups for a variety of publications including Runner’s World, Bicycling Magazine, Gear Junkie, and Trail Runner Magazine. 

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The 7 Best Camping Lanterns in 2024 - Best Lanterns for Camping

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