Best camping lantern 2020: rugged LED lanterns and portable lights for your tent

Light up your basecamp and inside your tent with the best LED camping lanterns to suit a range of budgets and needs

best camping lanterns: Vango Lunar 250
(Image credit: Vango)

One of the best camping lanterns is a must-have bit of kit for any trip. The latest camping lanterns are hi-tech, compact and durable, packed with features such as shatterproof glass, water-resistant certifications and even solar panels – for that inevitable moment the batteries run flat.

Camping lanterns are portable outdoor lights designed to either sit on a flat surface or clip to part of your tent to enable you to illuminate a large area at once, whilst keeping both of your hands free. They're ideal for multi-person camping trips, making things like cooking, eating and socialising much easier. If you're looking for a direct light, try our guide to the best head torches or the best torch in general. 

There are many shapes and sizes to choose from, with a variety of run (burn) times, weights and power types. In this guide, we'll run through what we think are the very best camping lanterns available right now, for a range of different scenarios. 

In a hurry? You'll find out top pick below, or read on for more buying advice, and an in-depth look at all your different options.

The best camping lantern: our top pick

Our pick for the best camping lantern right now is the Vango Lunar 250 Eco Recharge USB lantern. It boast a high lumen count and stable design, and a hanging hook and folding handle provide flexible options for placement. There's also a solar panel to keep it juiced up when the weather is sunny. 

Looking for something more high-tech? Try the Biolite BaseLantern, which can be programmed to different colours and light settings via a dedicated app. Or if you're short on space, the Biolite Powerlight Mini offers illumination in a super-slimline design.

How to choose the best camping lantern

There are a few things to look for when picking your camping lantern. First things first: power and run time. For an extended run time, opt for an LED light, as older bulbs eat batteries for lunch. Whether you go rechargeable or battery-powered is down to the length of your average trip. Rechargeable models boast enormous run times thanks to improved lithium batteries. 

If you're embarking on a longer expedition that's off the beaten track, standard batteries make sense as you won’t be near a mains supply to top-up your rechargeable camping lantern. You could also opt for an eco-friendly power option such as wind-up power or solar panels, but it's worth hunting out a model that has the capacity to take batteries as a backup (ideally the same type as your other camping gadgets). 

Second, consider the weight. Chunky camping lanterns that provide illumination whilst charging multiple gadgets are jolly handy when car camping, but lugging them off to a wild camp in the Trossachs will be a pain. If you're short on space or carrying your own kit about, keep an eye out for an ultra-lightweight model.

Lumen count (or brightness) is another important factor to consider. The average household torch will have around 50 lumens, so for lanterns, which require a greater spread of light over a larger area, we'd consider looking for a minimum lumen count of 100. However, you'll also want to factor in the size of the lens – a bigger lens can provide a larger area of illumination at a lower lumen count. 

When it comes to additional features, consider which ones really count. Many of the best camping lanterns incorporate a USB-power port so that you can charge devices like phones and action cameras, which can be super-handy. A 3,000mAh battery should give one older phone a full charge (roughly), so adjust this according to the number of devices and charge time. Keep in mind that extreme cold and heat losses involved in charging multiple devices will reduce the battery’s overall output.

Simple add-ons, such as carrying handles, will prove more useful than you might imagine. We also suggest taking a second to think about water-resistant ratings. You're unlikely (we hope) to leave your lantern out in the rain, so a minimum rating of IPX4 should cut it. This will allow it to stand up to light showers.

If you're tight on space, you might be tempted by more flexible, multi-purpose designs. Some lamps have straps that can be used to hang them from support poles, while also acting as handles, so the lantern can also be used as a torch. There are also collapsible designs that can be used as either a lantern, table lamp or torch. Before making a purchase, think about the scenarios you're shopping for – when it comes to lanterns for camping trips, view added extras as exactly that, and bear in mind that some features, such as a stable base, rugged design and reliable power sources are likely to prove much more important.

The best camping lanterns to buy now

best camping lanterns: Vango Lunar 250

(Image credit: Vango)

1. Vango Lunar 250 Eco Recharge USB

A lightweight but durable lantern with a built-in rechargeable battery and solar panels

Specifications
Best for: Eco-friendly light
Power type: Rechargeable battery and solar panels
Weight: 535g
Lumens: 250
Burn / run time: 3.5 hours
Reasons to buy
+Solar panels +High lumen count +Doubles as a phone charger

In you're after a good all-rounder, we think the Vango Lunar 250 Eco Recharge USB is the best camping lantern right now. Solar panels make this lantern a brilliant option for campers keen to make the most of mother nature, while a rechargeable battery ensures the lights stay on should the sun go into hiding. Its ultra-stable design, teamed with a hanging hook and folding handle, makes it perfect for a wide range of situations, whether you're looking for a lantern for a weekend of wild camping, or a versatile light which will double as a table light as well as a torch. A high Lumen count (250) makes this a brilliant option if you're camping in remote or rural areas.

best camping lanterns: Biolite Powerlight Mini

(Image credit: Biolite)

2. Biolite Powerlight Mini

A super-compact lamp with a wide range of beam options

Specifications
Best for : Backpackers
Power type: Rechargeable battery
Weight: 80g
Lumens: 35
Burn / run time: Up to 52 hours
Reasons to buy
+Super compact and slimline+Can be used as a power bank for phones+Multiple settings, including strobe
Reasons to avoid
-Doesn't provide 360-degree illumination

The Biolite Powerlight Mini is compact slimline light that was unveiled in early 2020. It shouldn't let you down, whether you're braving that middle-of-the-night expedition to the toilet block or simply looking for a light to use inside your tent. Although its lumen count could be higher, for a light designed for use either inside your tent or on short hikes in fading light, it's more than capable. It also doubles as a power bank, and with an impressive 52-hour battery life, you're unlikely to find yourself left out in the dark.

Best camping lantern: Goal Zero Lighthouse 400 Lamp and USB Power Hub

3. Goal Zero Lighthouse 400 Lamp and USB

A built-in hand crank means this lantern is ready for emergencies

Specifications
Best for: Off-grid flexibility
Power type: Rechargeable lithium battery
Weight: 753g
Lumens: 400
Burn/run time: 48 hours (low), 6 hours (high)
Reasons to buy
+Infinite power+Off grid expert+USB charger
Reasons to avoid
-On the chunkier side

The Goal Zero Lighthouse is a traditional looking camping lantern that knocks out a decent number of lumens for its weight. The big sell here is the built-in hand crank. Because of this, even in the darkest, most remote, electricity free situation, you can rapidly crank that handle and get some light in your tent. 

The Lighthouse also has robust legs and a hook to hang from, and an ingenious arrangement whereby you can select 360 or 180 degree light; the latter saves on battery power. Finally, this cute camping lantern boasts a 4,400mAh lithium battery with a 1.5A USB output. This should keep a couple of phones juiced up for a day or two. So it's a jack of all trades, really, and luckily it's pretty darn good at all of them.

Best camping lantern: Biolite BaseLantern XL and Power Bank

4. Biolite BaseLantern XL and Power Bank

The best camping lantern for enjoying smart lighting in the wilds

Specifications
Best for: Luxury lighting
Power type: Battery rechargeable
Weight: 1kg
Lumens: 500
Run time: depends on usage
Reasons to buy
+App-controlled smart lighting+Programmable settings+Custom light colours+USB charger

The Biolite base lantern is perhaps the most techno of all camping lights. While others may simply incorporate smartphone charging, the Biolite has its own app, so you can program the button light settings (kitchen, reading, bedtime, etc), as well as set the colours. By connecting other ‘nanogrid’ light units these can also be controlled from your phone, or set as proximity lights, or timed. The ‘nanogrid’ range includes strings of fairy-light style devices, downlighters and overhead lights, so your Glasto campsite will be the envy of all, as well as a magnet for moth like visitors. Stainless steel legs for durability and a solid 12000 mAh rechargeable powerbank battery make this the ultimate base camp lighting system - go off grid in style!

best camping lantern: Coleman 360 Light and Sound Lantern

(Image credit: Coleman)

5. Coleman 360 Light and Sound Lantern

An ultra-tough lantern with a built-in speaker

Specifications
Best for: Off-grid camping trips
Power type: Rechargeable batteries
Weight: 620g
Lumens: 400
Burn / run time: 40 hours (speaker: 20 hours)
Reasons to buy
+Built-in speaker+IPX4 water-resistant rating  +360-degree lighting 

This sturdy torch won't just keep the darkness at bay – it will keep the beats blasting too, thanks to a built-in Bluetooth speaker, allowing you to create your very own sound and light show. It's built to last, too, with a shatterproof polycarbonate lens, a rechargeable Lithium-Ion battery and IPX4 water resistance. It's also got a 360-degree beam which – especially when combined with its 400-lumen output – makes this durable lantern one of the brightest on the market.

best camping lantern: Discovery Starlight Lantern

(Image credit: Discovery)

6. Discovery Starlight Lantern

The best camping lantern for kids

Specifications
Best for: Camping with kids
Power type: 4 x AA batteries
Weight: 80g
Lumens: Not stated
Burn/run time: Not stated
Reasons to buy
+LED light and star projector in one+Doubles as a nightlight +Great for kids
Reasons to avoid
-Not the brightest

The Discovery Starlight Lantern is an LED camping lamp and star projector in one. While it won't light up the entire campsite Las Vegas-style, but what it will do is spark kids' interest in the night sky, while providing them with a compact comforting light source they can keep next to their sleeping bag during the night, or use to help light the way when they're walking short distances. The lantern switches between two modes – in lantern mode, four LEDs will bathe the immediate area in soft light. Switch to star projector mode and nearby surfaces will be overlaid with detailed constellations. It's also worth pointing out that its slightly softer light should be seen as a big plus – should your little darlings wake up in the middle of the night and turn on the light for reassurance, their bedfellows won't necessarily be disturbed. 

Best camping lantern: OutXE rugged camping lantern

(Image credit: OutXE)

7. OutXE 3-in-1 Camping Lantern and Flashlight

A versatile camping lantern if you're short on space

Specifications
Best for: When you need to pack light
Type: Battery (rechargeable)
Weight: 187g
Lumens: 200
Burn/run time: 30 hours
Reasons to buy
+Compact and lightweight+Built-in LED flashlight+Waterproof

Compared to some of the other stylish models in our best camping lanterns round-up, this waterproof, 200-lumen light from OutXE is no looker, but it’s perfectly fine if you're on a tight budget or want something very small, streamlined and lightweight. It can be used as a compact handheld light or sat on a flat surface for use as a more traditional camping lantern. Even better, it has a magnetic base so can be hung upside down from metal surfaces. You can choose the type of light it emits too. There are five lighting modes in total: Normal, Bright, Flashlight, Red Flash, Red SOS. 

OutXE's rugged outdoor light can also be used in LED flashlight mode, casting a decent beam to see what’s ahead of you. This is useful when walking after dark on unknown terrain. Maximum battery life is up to 30 hours, and it takes around 2.5 hours to charge fully. 

Best camping lantern: Outwell Opal

(Image credit: Outwell)

8. Outwell Opal Lantern and Wireless Speaker

Cut down on your pack load with this outdoors light and speaker in one

Specifications
Best for: Ambient lighting and sound
Power type: rechargeable
Weight: 370g
Lumens: 50
Burn/run time: 8-16 hours per charge
Reasons to buy
+Soft, ambient light+Doubles as a wireless speaker

When car camping, you can pretty take as much camping gear as you can fit into your car, van or camping trailer. If you're wild camping or travelling by foot and public transport, you might be looking for more versatile pieces of camping kit that pull double duty on certain functions...

Outwell's cheery Opal Lantern and Speaker is a great choice if so, as it not only bathes your sleeping area in a cosy, ambient glow, it also acts as a wireless speaker. Sure it isn't powerful and is certainly no rival, in terms of audio quality or functionality, to dedicated outdoors speakers, but for a two-in-one job it's perfectly decent. It's relatively lightweight too, so won't add too much carry weight. It would be brilliant if Outwell had developed it to be collapsible, but we still love it for smaller tents and minimal camping setups.

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best camping lantern: Snowpeak Hozuki Lantern

(Image credit: Snowpeak)
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best camping lantern: Snowpeak Hozuki Lantern

(Image credit: Snowpeak)
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best camping lantern: Snowpeak Hozuki Lantern

(Image credit: Snowpeak)

9. Snowpeak Hozuki Lantern

A brilliant blow-the-budget option for those who prefer glamping over camping

Specifications
Best for: Cooler camping
Power type: 3xAA batteries
Weight: 164g
Lumens: 100
Burn / run time: Up to 80 hours
Reasons to buy
+Super stylish +Can be used as a lantern, table light and torch+High Lumen count
Reasons to avoid
-Not rechargeable

For all-out style, go for a Snowpeak Hozuki Lantern. Treat your tent to this work of art and you'll be the coolest camper for miles around. However, it's another light which shouldn't be underestimated, thanks to its 100-lumen output and a battery life of up to 80 hours, depending on mode. It's designed for use in multiple scenarios, too – it can be hung from your tent or from the underside of parasols, used as a table light (its hanging hook doubles as a base) or as a lantern – the extendable cord it would otherwise hang from can be folded up and used as a carrying strap. 

There are some clever extra features too: an LED Candle Mode for a realistic flickering 'candle' light, and an intelligent energy-saving Sleep Mode, which automatically turns off the lantern when the area becomes silent, to conserve battery. It's also got a water-resistant rating of IPX4. This doesn't mean it's waterproof, to be clear, but light rain showers and the odd misdirected Super Soaker water blast certainly won't be a problem.

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best camping lantern: Black Diamond Orbit Lantern

(Image credit: Black Diamond)
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best camping lantern: Black Diamond Orbit Lantern

(Image credit: Black Diamond)

10. Black Diamond Orbit Lantern

A pocket-sized camping lantern that packs a punch

Specifications
Best for : Style and substance
Power type: 4 x AAA batteries
Weight: 84g
Lumens: 105
Reasons to buy
+Collapsible+Double hanging loop for more versatility+Multiple lighting modes 
Reasons to avoid
-Not rechargeable

If you're looking for a good all-rounder, try the Black Diamond Orbit Lantern. Space is often at a premium during camping trips, which is why we love both the Orbit's small size (14cm) and the fact that it's collapsible. But don't make the mistake of thinking it's not up to the job – 105 lumens and a beam-enhancing dual reflector system drenches the immediate area in light, and lantern, flashlight and dual modes allow you to adapt its output to suit the task in hand. Our one gripe is that it needs fiddly 4 AAA batteries, but it's still a brilliant option for those keen to keep the weight down on camping trips.

Best camping lantern: Coleman Twist BatteryLock Lantern

11. Coleman Twist BatteryLock Lantern

A clever option for preserving battery life on longer camping trips

Specifications
Best for: Preserving batteries
Type: Battery (rechargeable)
Weight: 1.05kg
Lumens: 300
Burn/run time: 75 hours
Reasons to buy
+USB charger+Battery preservation system

Forget about packing a separate portable smartphone battery, because this lantern comes with a USB cable that both recharges its own integral battery and offers you a means of juicing up your phone. The real interesting feature here is BatteryLock, which helps to preserve power. By twisting the base of the lantern, you can disengage the batteries from their connectors. This action prevents the batteries from draining when the light is off, and keeps the lantern safe from acid leak erosion. 

In terms of lighting clout and performance, it pumps out 300 lumens on the maximum setting and 50 lumens on the low setting, which is ample for nighttime lighting. The beam distance is 8m on the highest setting, and 2m on the lowest. Coleman's water-resistant Twist BatteryLock Lantern is quite rugged too, and should survive a few bumps and knocks on the way to the campsite. 

Best camping lantern: HeroBeam LED Lantern

12. HeroBeam LED Lantern

A cheap camping lantern with a user-friendly design

Specifications
Best for: Ease of use
Power type: Batteries (AA)
Weight: 220g
Lumens: 200
Burn/run time: 90 hours
Reasons to buy
+Budget friendly+Decent lumen output

A trio of COB LEDs ensures this budget-friendly camping lantern provides a bright pool of illumination inside and outside your tent. The no-frills design means it's easy to use too: simply lift the top to activate, then push it down to turn off the light. The water-resistant design keeps it safe during rainy walks to the toilet block at night, and its compact size (5-inches tall and 3.5-inches wide) won't take up much space in your backpack. If you need a camping lantern but don't have much money to spend on one, and are happy with a basic light that's very simple to use, the HeroBeam is worth the money.