A lantern is a vital tool to have if you are going camping, without it you are pretty much risking your life and putting yourself and others in danger. When night time falls and light becomes more scarce, you’ll need a light source that will let you see things in your camp as well as around it.
Lanterns can help you in the worst of times when you need a decent light source – but it can also be used for the trivial and casual things such as going to the toilet at night.
Cooking, navigating around the campsite and eating are some of the most basic things where a camp lantern comes in handy. It is something every camper should not forget at home.
Common Camp Lighting Solutions
By no means is the lantern the only option when you’re out camping. There are a number of other lighting devices you can choose from, each of which have their advantages and disadvantages.
- Lantern – they are the largest of the three types listed here. Due to its size, it isn’t always the best choice for backpackers where space is a valuable commodity. However, where they do excel is brightness. They offer more illumination compared to flashlights and headlamps. The light they produce also allows multiple individuals to see a larger space. See camping lanterns on Amazon.com.
- Flashlight – every homeowner has one. This makes it the simplest choice if you’re looking for a light source. Just pick it up from your cabinet, stuff it into the backpack or camping bag and you’re set. Flashlights are very convenient but also offer lower amounts of illumination. They typically offer light that’s enough for one or two individuals depending on how big the bulb is on the flashlight. See camping flashlights on Amazon.com.
- Headlamp – headlamps are similar to flashlight but offer the extra advantage of being hands-free. You strap the headlamp on your head and it shines light wherever you are facing. The distance and wideness of the illumination will depend on the size of the lamp you have. Both flashlights and headlamps are favorites among campers, hikers and backpackers thanks for their small sizes. They easily fit into your pack. See camping headlamps on Amazon.com.
Lanterns for Camping we recommend:
- Streamlight 44931 The Siege Lantern (our favorite)
- Supernova 300 Lumens Ultra Bright LED Camping and Emergency Lantern
- Ultimate Survival Technologies Brila Mini Lantern
Features to Consider
Before deciding on the best lantern for camping, there are some features that you should consider. This makes the difference between getting a product that fits you specific need and one that isn’t useful.
- Brightness – the main purpose of lanterns is to provide lighting. So what you’re looking for is how much brightness a product can emit. You can check this in the number of lumen that it has. Lumen is the unit used to designate brightness. For a small group, one with 100 lumen will be sufficient. Along with lumen also not the amount of watts it consumes. The higher the wattage the more power it consumes, which means it can run through batteries or your gas tank much quicker.
- Light Duration – the available run time of camping lanterns refers to how long it takes to finish a set of batteries or a full tank of fuel. Many lanterns will let you switch between high and low intensities which let you control this to a degree.
- Durability – as with any product, longevity is important. The longer it works or functions as it is expected the more you get out of what you paid for. Some items are built for more rugged use while others are specifically made to be waterproof. Choosing one that suits what environment you will use it is important here.
- Ease of use – don’t you hate it when you turn on the light switch and no light comes on, or it flickers for a long time before coming on. It’s the same with lanterns. You want something that is easy to turn on. Also one that can be set down easily and will sit there balanced and stable. Finally one that’s easy to carry and hang.
- Size – these lighting equipment come in varying sizes. There are small, portable lanterns available and those that are larger, heavier duty. Choosing one that fits you backpack or bag is important. Just as important is looking at the size of the lantern’s base.
- Features – finally additional features. Some products will offer the basic features while others come with remote control ability and even be waterproof. Others have flashlights built in with them and let you hang them is a variety of ways. How many features you want will depend on your needs.
Types of Camping Lanterns
There are four main types of lanterns to choose from and it’s important that you choose the right one for you or you could experience problems later on down the line. The four main lantern types are: liquid fuel, gas fuel, battery, and candle. We’ll go into the pros and cons of each lantern type below.
It’s important to note that liquid fuel lanterns can take three different types of gas. These are: Coleman fuel, unleaded gas, and kerosene. Don’t place too much emphasis on the type of gas that you choose as they are all relatively the same. Kerosene is most peoples’ preferred choice because of the low cost.
These are classic style lanterns that are readily available in most stores that you walk into, they produce a very bright light so they are excellent for their purpose. In addition to that, they are also inexpensive and can double as a heat source.
On the other hand, there are a few cons to this type of lantern. You will find that the top of the lantern will become very hot when in use and this is hot enough to cause burns. For this reason, it’s probably not the best type of lantern to use if you are camping with family.
Gas lanterns are extremely portable and lightweight, making them great for small trips and outings that don’t require a lot of resources. In addition to this, you will find that the gas lanterns produce a very bright light.
There are quite a lot of disadvantages however, the main one being that these lanterns – as well as the fuel – are quite expensive. There is a slight noise when the lantern is in use and the top will become very hot just like the liquid fuel lantern.
Battery lanterns are very different from the two types of lanterns described above, they are almost opposites. There are a few different types of battery lanterns including: LED, self-charging, rechargeable, non-rechargeable, and fluorescent.
These lanterns are easy to operate, reliable, and the self-charging types don’t require gas or batteries for operation – negating the need to bring those items with you on the trip. The lantern also doesn’t get hot and there is no flame, so these are safe to use indoors. This is perhaps the best camping lantern if you are camping with family and if you’re looking for convenience.
Candle lanterns should generally be kept for special occasions, they aren’t really the best choice out of the four for the majority of camping trips. Even though they are economical to use, they can be a fire hazard if used incorrectly and they’re not as bright as other types that you will come across.
However, these lanterns produce zero noise and certain candles can be burnt which will keep bugs away. In that sense, it’s a double-win situation.
Camping Lantern Remarks
The best lantern for camping is based on a number of factors, most important of which is what use you plan for it. If it is primarily for lighting camp then a simple one that offers sufficient, non-glaring brightness so everyone can see will work. But if you plan to take exploring or on adventure expeditions, a more rugged one that can easily be hung on branches will work better. For use within the tent, we prefer LED lanterns as they are non-hazardous and much safer to use in closed areas.
Whether it is sitting around the ice cooler telling stories and drinking cold beverages or relaxing in the tent later at night, the lantern is one of the essential night time equipment for your camping trip.