Best camping lantern 2022: rechargeable, rugged, and versatile

We rank the best camping lanterns to keep your camp reliably illuminated

best camping lantern: Coleman 360 Light and Sound camping Lantern
(Image credit: Coleman)

Primarily, the best camping lantern simply provides convenient and reliable illumination in or around your tent. Features like long battery life, flexible charging options and powerful, adjustable light levels can elevate a regular lamp to a great lamp.

There are a few different types on the market, but the defining feature of a camping lantern is that it's designed to illuminate a large area without the need to be held – most can be balanced on a camping table or hung from a hook. If going hands-free is not so important to your needs, we have separate best head torch and best torch guides.

In years gone by, the only option for a camping lantern was a pressurised paraffin lamp, which is atmospheric, but heavy and maintenance-intensive. Now the options are legion, from tiny clip-on LEDs to substantial lights that incorporate charging, solar and even speakers. We think the best camping lantern is the Princeton Tec Helix Backcountry rechargeable lantern, a great all-rounder with a clever design that makes it ultra-versatile. However, we know that won't suit everyone, which is why we've included a wide range of lanterns in our guide, at a variety of price points. 

How many lumens do I need for a camping lantern?

Lumen count (or brightness) is an important factor to consider when choosing the best camping lantern. 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. Jump to the bottom for more advice on what specs to look for.

The best camping lanterns 2022, reviewed

Princeton Tec Helix Backcountry lanternT3 Best Buy badge

(Image credit: Sian Lewis)
The best camping lantern overall

Specifications

Power: USB rechargeable
Weight: 155g / 5.4oz
Max lumens: 150
Max burn / run time: 18 hours
IPX: 6

Reasons to buy

+
Can be attached / placed on a range of surfaces
+
Dimmable light
+
More waterproof than most

Reasons to avoid

-
Pricier than competitors

Topping our list of the best camping lanterns to buy now is the small but mighty Princeton Tec Helix Backcountry (available as battery-powered or rechargeable – we're focusing on the latter here). This lantern has a clever design that includes tripod/claw foot style legs as well as a top hook that together mean it can be hung from, attached to or perched pretty much any surface. The concertina-style light section folds down to about the size of a coffee cup, and the flexible rubber is nice and robust too. It's dimmable from 150 right down to 30 lumens, and water resistant if you get caught in a shower. The camping lantern is pricier than other options on this list, but we think for keen campers it's an excellent investment. Head to our full Princeton Tec Helix Backcountry rechargeable lantern review for more info.

GoalZero Lighthouse Mini Lantern

(Image credit: Mark Mayne)
The best small lantern – A versatile and powerful little lantern that punches above its light weight

Specifications

Power: USB rechargeable / Li-NMC battery
Weight: 227g / 8oz
Max lumens: 210 lumens
Max burn time: 500+ hours
IPX: not stated

Reasons to buy

+
Compact size + excellent mounting options
+
Powerful beam and long life
+
Extra USB charger

Reasons to avoid

-
Performance limited by size
-
Removable battery may be hard to replace

A tiny but powerful rechargeable LED lantern, the GoalZero Lighthouse Mini offers easy controls and decent performance as well as some unexpected extras. It knocks out up to 210 lumens, which is very bright - more than ample for reading by in a tent. It’s as powerful as a mid-range headtorch, but with a less-focused beam - ideal for general indirect lighting. The runtime is fantastic, requiring very little in the way of recharging - one charge will easily last for a camping trip - which is a major bonus.

Topped with a lighthouse-style opaque shield, this lantern has a well-thought out design with a wide range of hanging, standing and attachment points. A hook pops up out of the top, which also features a deep loop that could be threaded with a range of cord or slim rope to suspend from a tree or in a tent. The base conceals another range of options, not least a pair of wire legs that click out to elevate the lamp above a table enough to eat or read easily. There’s also a magnet, which is very useful for attaching to vehicles and metal tables, and finally even a screw-thread mount for a tripod or similar. 

The other obvious feature of the GoalZero Lighthouse Mini Lantern is the central control knob, which allows for easy tweaking of light outputs up to the maximum 210 lumens. A removable Li-NMC battery lurks within, offering a total power delivery of 11.84Wh (3.7V, 3200 mAh), which translates to between 4-500+ hours run time, and can be topped up from any USB socket (including solar panels) via the incorporated cable, which neatly latches onto a magnet when coiled up. 

As well as being a useful light source, the GoalZero Lighthouse Mini Lantern has another superpower: it’ll also serve as a spare battery for other small USB devices, such as phones or cameras, and it can charge as well as discharge, allowing solar panel owners to chain it with another device and leave the whole lot to get topped up at once while they’re out for the day - very handy for camping holidays. 

The GoalZero Lighthouse Mini Lantern offers a lot of lighting options in a compact package, and it can be used as an emergency USB charger to boot. It might not be the most powerful lantern around, but it's mighty handy for it's size.

Vango Lunar 250 camping lantern hanging from air beam in a tentT3 Approved badge

(Image credit: Vango)

2. Vango Lunar 250 Eco Recharge USB

The best solar powered lantern

Specifications

Power: rechargeable battery and solar panels
Weight: 535g
Lumens: 250
Max burn / run time: 3.5 hours
IPX: not stated

Reasons to buy

+
Charge with the sun or USB
+
High lumen count 
+
Doubles as a phone charger

Reasons to avoid

-
Not dimmable
-
Low run time

In you're after a good all-rounder that's also eco-friendly, the Vango Lunar 250 Eco Recharge USB is one of the best camping lights around. 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.

Biolite AlpenGlown lantern on a rock by the seaT3 Approved badge

(Image credit: BioLite)

3. BioLite AlpenGlow 500

The best camping lantern for glamping

Specifications

Power: micro USB
Weight: 380g
Max lumens: 500
Max burn / run time: 200h
IPX: 4

Reasons to buy

+
Dimmable warm or cool light
+
USB charger included
+
Loads of colourful light options

Reasons to avoid

-
Not for your average expedition
-
So many modes that controls can get confusing

Hands-down the best camping lantern for glamping-style trips is the BioLite AlpenGlow. We've had both sizes in to test out, and they're both functional and about as much fun as you could ever hope to have with a camping lantern. If you just want to be able to see things, this lamp will deliver cool or warm light, with a sliding scale of brightness up to 500 lumens. You can also save battery by just opting to have one half lit up, if that's all you need. There are some more handy features too: a built in USB charger for dead-phone emergencies, and an IPX4 water resistance.  

Move beyond the practical stuff though, and the AlpenGlow really outdoes itself. This lantern has modes to spare, for every mood and situation, from candlelight flicker to single or double colour modes to cycling ombres. These are activated by shaking the lamp. Sure, unleashing disco mode would probably earn you some funny looks on a hardcore offroad expedition, but for family or friends camping, or even use in the back garden for summer soirees, the AlpenGlow is a stone-cold champ. It's also available in a smaller 250-lumen version, which offers most of the same features.

Black Diamond Moji camping lantern hanging on a hook outsideT3 Approved badge

(Image credit: Sian Lewis)
The best budget camping lantern

Specifications

Power: 3x AAA batteries
Weight: 122g (4.3oz)
Lumens: 100
Max burn / run time: 70 hours (10 hours on max)
IPX: 4

Reasons to buy

+
Compact size
+
Decent 100 lumen bulb
+
Easy to hang

Reasons to avoid

-
There are brighter options

If you're after a basic lamp that'll do the job without breaking the bank, the best camping lantern for you could well be the Black Diamond Moji camping lantern. For a bargain price, this little lantern offers a cheery, dimmable light that'll last up to 70 hours. The compact, splash-proof body is great for slinging in your backpack, and will illuminate smaller tents with ease. The hooks make it easy to hang where you need it, or it'll stand on a flat surface either way up. This one is powered by AAA batteries, which aren't very environmentally-friendly but are useful if you're going off-grid (there is a pricier rechargeable ReMoji version available if you prefer, too). Head to our Black Diamond Moji camping lantern review for a closer look.

Vont LED camping lantern, open and closedT3 Approved badge

(Image credit: VONT)

5. Vont LED camping lantern

The best camping lantern for backpacking

Specifications

Power: 3x AA batteries
Weight: 10oz / 293g
Lumens: 140
Max burn / run time: 90 hours
IPX: not stated ('water-resistant')

Reasons to buy

+
Collapsible for portability
+
Robust construction

Reasons to avoid

-
Battery powered

The Vont LED camping lantern is a great all-rounder, and especially good for backpackers, due to the fact that it collapses down to just 4.8x3.4". The Vont lamp is also designed to be pretty much indestructible – it's made from aircraft-grade materials, should survive a 10ft drop, and is water resistant, too. So it'll be fine getting bashed around in your hiking backpack. It has a clever, button-free activation mechanism: you travel with the lantern collapsed down, then when you need light, you pull the lid upwards to reveal the bulb section, and this automatically switches the lamp on. It's battery-powered, which is not ideal, but it should last around 90 hours. Slightly oddly, it's typically sold in multi-packs.

Goal Zero Lighthouse 400 Lamp and USB Power Hub camping lanternT3 Approved badge

(Image credit: Goal Zero)

6. Goal Zero Lighthouse 400 Lamp and USB

Best camping lantern for emergency light

Specifications

Power: rechargeable lithium battery
Weight: 753g
Max lumens: 400
Max burn / run time: 8 hours
IPX: N/A

Reasons to buy

+
Infinite power
+
Off grid expert
+
USB charger

Reasons to avoid

-
On the chunkier side
-
No waterproofing

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. There's no waterproof rating listed, so you might need to mind out for unexpected showers.

Mountain Warehouse Wind Up camping lanternT3 Approved badge

(Image credit: Sian Lewis)
The best wind-up camping lantern for emergency light

Specifications

Power: wind-up
Weight: not stated
Max lumens: 45
Max burn / run time: N/A
IPX : Not stated ("water resistant")

Reasons to buy

+
Never run out of power
+
Sturdy and water resistant
+
Low price

Reasons to avoid

-
Cold light
-
Bulky

While there are fancier and better quality lamps on this list, if you want a basic, great value option that ensures you never run out of light, Mountain Warehouse Wind Up camping lantern is our pick. This simple lamp will give you 20 minutes of light for a minute's cranking, making it a reliable choice for emergencies. It's studier than you'd expect for the price tag, as well as being water resistant and easy to hang or perch whenever you need it. The light's a little cold, and it's too bulky and heavy to be a good backpacking option, though. Head to our Mountain Warehouse Wind Up camping lantern review to find out more.

Before you buy, check our Mountain Warehouse discount codes to pick up a saving. 

HeroBeam LED camping LanternT3 Approved badge

8. HeroBeam LED Lantern

The best camping lantern for occasional campers

Specifications

Power: AA batteries
Weight: 225g
Max lumens: 200
Max burn / run time: 90 hours
IPX : 4

Reasons to buy

+
Budget friendly
+
Decent lumen output

Reasons to avoid

-
Not rechargeable
-
Not dimmable

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. While the design isn't dimmable, some buyers suggest pushing the casing part-way down when to lessen the brightness. 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.

Biolite Solarhome 620 camping lantern systemT3 Approved badge

(Image credit: BioLite)

9. Biolite Solarhome 620

Best camping lantern system for going off-grid

Specifications

Power: rechargeable battery
Weight: Control box 550g, lights 300g (each), solar panel 720g
max lumens: 100
Max burn / run time: depends on usage
IPX: Not stated

Reasons to buy

+
Home-from-home lighting rig
+
Solar-powered 
+
USB chargers

Reasons to avoid

-
Heavy and bulky

If you're after the best camping lantern system to illuminate your whole tent, and weight isn't a concern, the Biolite Solarhome 620 is well worth a look. It provides an impressive array of lighting functions for off-grid camping. The basic premise here is a 6 watt solar array that feeds a central console, which in turn runs up to three hanging lights with independent switches. For larger tents and basecamp-style situations, this will be handy indeed, especially as the console includes its own light, backlit control screen and an FM radio and MP3 player. 

It'll even charge two other USB devices from the integrated 3300mAh battery, and packs down into a shoebox-sized package. For longer periods off-grid and under canvas this offers real comfort and utility, which for longer trips is something to be valued very highly indeed. 

Coleman 360 Light and Sound camping LanternT3 Approved badge

(Image credit: Coleman)
The best lightweight camping lantern with a built-in speaker

Specifications

Power: rechargeable battery
Weight: 620g
Max lumens: 400
Max burn / run time: 40 hours (speaker: 20 hours)
IPX: 4

Reasons to buy

+
Built-in BlueTooth speaker
+
IPX4 water-resistant rating  
+
360-degree lighting 
+
Different brightness settings

Reasons to avoid

-
You're paying for the integrated speaker

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.

Primus Micron camping LanternT3 Approved badge

(Image credit: Primus)

11. Primus Micron Lantern

The best camping light for the traditionalists

Specifications

Power: gas
Weight: 155g
Max lumens: 235
Max burn/run time: depends on usage
IPX: not stated

Reasons to buy

+
Old school
+
Basically indestructible
+
Compact

Reasons to avoid

-
You'll need to buy gas to power it

If you're yearning for some old school lantern-lighting then this modern take on a 1800's Tilley lamp is what you're looking for. Running on screw-in gas canisters (which you'll have for your stove anyway), this will never run out of battery, can't really be damaged (short of physically smashing it to bits), and puts out a whopping 235 lumens in a stainless steel mesh version. A more breakable glass version amps that up to 360 lumens. 

Primus have used their gas stove expertise to create a burner that really sips on the gas, giving epically long burn times, while an ‘EasyTrigger' piezo ignition system makes lighting it a doddle. An integrated steel cable enables you to hang it up, although keeping it clear of flammable tent material is a must for obvious reasons. That robustness is a key factor though, for rough-and-tumble trips off into the wilds kayaking or similar, this is a bit of a modern gem. 

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.

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.

Mark Mayne has been covering tech, gadgets and outdoor innovation for longer than he can remember. A keen climber, mountaineer and scuba diver, he is also a dedicated weather enthusiast and flapjack consumption expert.