How exciting can a camping lantern really be? While most of the lamps in our best camping lantern guide are very capable, they're really only as exciting as having light when previously you did not have light can be. (If you're still able to get joy from that, good for you.)
For those who want to take their tent illumination up a few notches, BioLite's AlpenGlow range has you covered. I took both the mini AlpenGlow 250 and the bigger, brighter AlpenGlow 500 on a camping trip in the summer, and let me tell you, they will be accompanying me on all holidays going forward.
Let's start with the basic stuff. (I'm going to focus on the 500 here; the 250 has similar capabilities but not exactly the same). If you just want regular illumination, let's say to cook or read by, it does that and then some. You can choose from cool or warm light, illuminate both sides of the lantern for 360-light or just one half to save battery when you just need directional light. You can also amp the brightness up or down by holding the button on the top of the lantern.
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Enough of the boring practical stuff! This lantern has modes to spare, for every mood and situation. Feeling romantic? Activate the candlelight flicker. Want to jazz things up? Pick a colour. Pick two colours! Opt for cycling colour and watch the lantern shift smoothly from shade to shade!
Really want to party? Time to deploy – wait for it – DISCO MODE. (I'm not sure if this is the official name or I've made it up). This GIF doesn't really do it justice.
Even the way you activate the different modes is fun: you shake the lantern. If I had one minor complaint, it would be that there are so many modes it's quite difficult to remember which combination of button presses and shakes will get you to your specific desired lighting style. So it's not unlikely to end up, for example, on a jazzy pink and green ombre when you actually just want a dim warm light to read by.
There are a few more handy touches. You can sit it on its base or flip out the hook and hang it from the ceiling. And you can charge your phone on it in a low-battery emergency.
Finally, it's perhaps not what you'd typically buy a camping lantern for, but as an aside these are also excellent for entertaining young children. My 5 year old nephew and 2 year old niece joined us for some of the trip and you could literally hand them a lantern each and they'd play with it for upwards of 20 minutes, which is longer than any game I've devised has lasted.