No matter how lovely a balmy summer night out in your local woods might be, at some point, the dark of the night starts to creep in. Attempting to pitch a tent or find your food stores in that darkness is no fun, making a good camping lantern a vital bit of your camping gear.
Camping lanterns offer more light than a campfire and can cover your entire campsite at once unlike a flashlight. They make a critical part of an emergency preparedness kit but also just good basic gear to have any time you go camping.
Given the importance of good light, how do you choose what kind to bring? Let’s take a look at the types and which situations they work best in.
Camping Lantern Types
For a functional lantern, you’ll be looking at either a fuel-burning option or an electric one. There are also candle lanterns, but they don’t produce enough light to do much buy. This makes them a less practical option to consider.
Fuel lanterns include those running on butane, propane, gas, or kerosene. Electric lanterns can be LED, solar, rechargeable, or traditional battery-operated.
When you’re out in the big, bad woods, electrical outlets for running your camping lights are in short supply. Traditional lanterns burning some kind of fuel make sense for many campsites, and hold the edge in brightness over LED lanterns.
These lanterns are a good choice when you need more light and aren’t concerned about weight. Fuel sources come in liquid fuel and propane.
Liquid fuel provides the absolute brightest light out there. While it’s not quite flood lighting, it can light up an entire campsite, and the light amount is usually adjustable. Unfortunately, they’re also the heaviest lamps out there.
Propane lanterns are cheaper and lighter. They’re also easier to use than liquid fuel options since the propane comes in a canister.
There are some downsides, including camper safety, but it’s not because the burning fuel in your lantern can set your tent on fire. The big problem is that these lanterns emit fumes like carbon monoxide that can kill you when they become trapped in your tent with you. These aren’t meant to be used in enclosed spaces and should be kept in well-ventilated areas.
All of your electric choices are lightweight, durable, and bright. The long battery life is good for multi-day trips, and because nothing is burning, they’re safe inside your tent.
These lamps come in a range of sizes from some small enough to fit in your pocket – perfect for a survival kit – to others as big as a milk jug. They can be powered by alkaline batteries or rechargeable power packs that plug into a power source to charge. Additional power options include USB power packs, solar panels, and hand cranks.
These don’t provide as bright a light as fuel lanterns but are perfect for backpacking. Batteries don’t work well at low temps, either, so they aren’t a good option for winter hunting trips.
Light Up the Night
Picking the right camping lantern for you isn’t really that difficult as long as you focus on the power source and light output and pair them well with your type of camping. From there, you can consider factors like size and weight if you’re backpacking or run time if you’re staying put.
If you found this article helpful, check out our others on travel, camping, and all the camping gear you need.