The best camping lantern 2018: these lamps really shine

Not sure what to do about lighting on your next camping trip? Allow us to shed some light on the best options out there

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Light sources tend to be few and far between in the great outdoors, and unless you eat an awful lot of carrots or are happy to navigate by the light of the moon, that can be a problem – after all, what fun would camping be if festivities stopped when the sun went down? Luckily, that’s where the best camping lanterns really shine.

With names ranging from the rugged and outdoorsy – HeroBeam and Black Diamond, for instance – to the downright cute – looking at you, Mr Beams! – there’s very little these camping lanterns give away about themselves on first glance, so we’ve made a note of what each one most excels at to help you find the best one for your trip.

As general guidance, the most important things to acquaint yourself with pre-purchase are the respective weights and power sources of the lanterns you’re interested in. If you’ve got to attach it to your pack, it makes sense to go as light as possible, so take a look at featherweight picks like the Black Diamond Apollo. If you’re taking the car with you, you can not only afford to think heavier, you can also use it to charge some of our more high-tech options, like the Regatta Helia

The best camping lantern

1. Coleman Battery Lock Twist Lantern

This clever Coleman lantern gives as good as it gets

Specifications
Best for: Features
Type: Battery (rechargeable)
Weight: 1.05kg
Lumens: 300
Burn timer: 75 hours
Reasons to buy
+Ability to charge smartphones+Clever battery lock-out system

Forget about packing a separate portable smartphone battery, because this winning lantern comes with a USB cable that both recharges its own integral battery and offers you a means of juicing up your phone, and it looks good while doing it. 

Said battery is alleged, by happy reviewers, to be a corker – they say a single charge keeps it going for days – and it can even be locked out to prevent it being drained when not in use and lessen the risk of acid leaks. It’s ingenious, it looks good, and it gets our top spot.

Black Diamond Apollo Lantern

2. Black Diamond Apollo Lantern

Its small, but it shines bright – like a diamond, actually

Specifications
Best for: Bright ambient light
Type: Battery (rechargeable or 3 x AA)
Weight: 220g
Lumens: 225
Burn timer: 90 hours
Reasons to buy
+Extremely lightweight+Bright, glare-free light

At under a quarter of the weight of our first pick, this little lantern is ideal for stowing in a backpack for long camping trips. From a body the size of a tin of soup, it gives off a maximum of 225 lumens, projecting through a neat frosted globe for an ambient tent light that’s bright, but never glarey, and it packs in a handy dimming function too, as well as charging your handheld device over USB. When it runs out of juice, you can charge the internal li-ion battery or pop in a few AAs.

If you want that light to go a little further, you can pop up the folding legs for maximum height, or even hang it from the ceiling. Very versatile, and cute to boot.

HeroBeam LED Lantern

3. HeroBeam LED Lantern

A hero product for all budgets

Specifications
Best for: Brightness
Type: Batteries (AA)
Weight: 220g
Lumens: 200
Burn timer: 90 hours
Reasons to buy
+Inexpensive to buy and run+Very bright COB LEDs

Don’t let the high-end, Gtech-esque looks fool you – this HeroBeam LED lantern is the most budget-friendly of the lot bunch, both at the outset and continually thanks to their using inexpensive AA batteries. Not that you’d know it, because you get a pretty impressive package for that small price. 

The latest COB LEDs are brighter than your average and run the full 360 degrees of the lantern, while the actual lighting mechanism is among the handiest we’ve seen – simply lift the top to activate, rather than fumbling in the dark for a tiny switch.

Lighting Ever LED Lantern

4. Lighting Ever LED Lantern

Give everyone their own light with this shape-shifting lantern

Specifications
Best for: Families
Type: Batteries (D & AAA)
Weight: 721.2g
Lumens: 600
Burn timer: 10 hours
Reasons to buy
+Features two detachable flashlights+Three ways to charge

Part lantern, part Autobot, the Lighting Ever LED Lantern is actually three lamps in one, meaning no one person is left in charge of the light source and, by extension, that this is a great one for family camping trips. 

It packs two fixed lights and two detachable torches, so the kids can take their own into their compartments to read by, or light their way on night-time adventures. 

For added versatility, it has two power supply modes: a rechargeable battery with USB and car charger included, or in a pinch, D batteries. All very impressive, and surprisingly inexpensive.

Varta LED Camping Lantern

5. Varta LED Camping Lantern

A long-lasting lantern that keeps going, and going, and going, and going...

Specifications
Best for: High performance
Type: Batteries (D)
Weight: 422g
Lumens: 300
Burn timer: 150 hours (low) or 72 hours (high)
Reasons to buy
+Very rugged build+Incredibly battery life

The combination of high-level lumens, impressive battery life and a formidable build is what earns the Varta lantern its place in our list. 

Built for hardcore trips, it has a durable ABS and rubber base and a grippy rubberised handle for zero slip-sliding on uncertain surfaces or in wet weather, a water-resistant hook in the base, and up to 150 hours of runtime in low mode (or an equally impressive 72 hours on full blast). 

Its full 300 lumens offer tent-filling light, but there’s also a dim mode for moodlit evenings, and even a strobe mode for party time.

Mr Beams UltraBright Lantern

6. Mr Beams UltraBright Lantern

This little lantern stays beaming through the wettest of weather

Specifications
Best for: Wet weather
Type: Batteries (D)
Weight: 399g
Lumens: 260
Burn timer: 30 hours
Reasons to buy
+Weather- and water-resistant+Charges mobile devices

The adorably named Mr Beams is tougher than you might expect. As well as being ultra-bright, he’s certified weatherproof and water-resistant for use both inside and outside the tent, so no need to worry if it’s a bit drizzly on the way to the toilet block, and the high-quality LEDs inside are engineered to provide 30 hours of light on a single set of D batteries. 

But perhaps most excitingly of all is this lantern’s ability, like that of our first choice, to charge smartphones and other mobile devices, and for a good deal less initial outlay.

Regatta Helia 36 Solar Lantern

7. Regatta Helia 36 Solar Lantern

A rugged lantern with a surprisingly soft side

Specifications
Best for: Durability
Type: Solar
Weight: 0.96kg
Lumens: 80
Burn timer: 6 hours
Reasons to buy
+Mains, in-car and manual chargers+Integrated solar panel

Outdoor brand Regatta know a thing or two about gearing up for the backwoods, so it stands to reason that they’d know their way around a lamp, too. 

It comes complete with a mains and in-car charger, but its other charging methods give it green credentials and make it ideal for longer or car-less trips: simply power with your own elbow grease using the wind-up attachment, or pop it outside and let the integrated solar panel soak up some rays. 

Admittedly, 80 lumens is far from the brightest output on our list, but for a bit of ambient lighting, and as our cheapest-to-run lantern, it’s great.