Brightly light your Vanlife journey with the best lanterns for camping
But it’s a beautiful night and you’d like to sit under the stars and play a game of cards or enjoy a glass of wine with your partner, study the map, plan the next destination…
That’s just one scenario where the best lanterns for camping shifts from optional gear to an absolute necessity.
Like so much of the outdoor gear developed over the last decade or so, lanterns have advanced massively, as you’ll see in our product recommendations.
Personally, I still prefer real flame for lighting my campsite so for my purposes the best lanterns for camping are gas fired.
But some of the LED and other electric lanterns available are so great, I now carry both a gas lantern and a couple of electric models.
Gas lanterns for camping
As mentioned above, I prefer gas powered lanterns for their quality and abundance of light. One well placed white gas lantern will light an entire picnic area with a warm glow that lasts for hours on one tank of fuel.
So my top pick for the best lanterns for camping is the Coleman Premium Dual Fuel Lantern with Hard Carry Case.
My father had this lantern when I was a kid, so I’m totally comfortable with it’s operation, set up, repair and quality.
My only reservation about this lantern is the need to carry and deal with liquid fuels. If you’re not careful, the smell of white gas can become an issue in your van. But the hard carry case minimizes this issue substantially (we didn’t have this when I was young).
I carry the Coleman Premium Dual Fuel on any trip where I want to spend quality time outside at night or anticipate needing to cook outside after dark.
- 700 lumen max output
- Fully adjustable for perfect light level
- Runs either white gas unleaded gasoline
- Run time of 7 hours on one tank at full brightness
- Dual mantle
- Hard carry case makes for easy storage and keeps the lantern safe during travel
Another source of bright, natural light for your campervan adventures is the Primus Micron Lantern which takes advantage of easy to find, inexpensive butane canisters for fuel.
Features full brightness adjustment and can be cranked up to a phenomenal 360 lumens!
At a weight of only 4 ounces (without butane canister) it takes up very little precious campervan space.
Coleman is also in the pressurized gas lantern game with a couple of very highly rated items. The Coleman Compact Propane Lantern is a both a bargain and a huge hit with campers.
- Compact, easy to store size
- Propane canister, single mantle, easy to light (with matches) system cranks out the light!
- Get 12 hours of light fromo one sixteen ounce propane bottle(sold separately)
- Metal guard with built-in stabilizer protects globe
My favorite of the propane fired lanterns for its 1500 lumen capacity and easy to light, InstaStart Push-Button Ignition.
- EverBrite for great light in any condition
- PerfectFlow System delivers consistent fuel in any condition
- High temp globe resists cracking from heat
Battery powered lanterns for camping
Only a few short years ago I wouldn’t have bothered with a battery powered lantern. They weren’t very bright and they’d blow through batteries so fast that the over all cost was astronomical.
But advancements in bulb and lens technology, power consumption, rechargeable systems, durability and other cool stuff means some of the best lanterns for camping are now powered by electricity.
Imagine 50,000 hours of use or the equivalent of over 6,200 batteries. That’s the value of the Tough Light LED Rechargeable Lantern.
This is our top pick for battery powered lanterns for camping.
- It offers 400 lumens and a 6000 mAh li-ion battery that can be charged from any USB charger or any powered USB port.
- So the same charger that you use for your phone will charge this lantern for up to 200 hours of light!. It includes 2 Tough Light USB cables.
- Amazingly, this lantern holds a charge for up to 9 months when not in use!
- The Tough Light features an SOS beacon that lasts up to for 265 hours AND Red Hazard Flash for over 500 hours.
- The battery can be used to charge your cell phone or cameras.
- It’s water resistant and build tough with military grade rubber, plastic and o-rings for IPX-6 water resistance.
- They offer a 2 year warranty and a 30 day money back guarantee (click below to see more details).
I keep one of these in my glove box at all times. Flashlight in the door pocket, lantern in the glove box. That gives you an idea of how compact this unit is (7 ounces!) and why I consider it among the best lanterns for camping.
- It features a telescoping frosted globe and 3 watt LED with dual reflectors.
- Four AA batteries or Black Diamond NRG Recharge Kit powers the device for up to 60 hours of bright, even light at up to 80 lumens.
- Control light with the dimmer switch and the battery-life indicator means you’ll never be in the dark.
Pocket sized brilliance for anytime available bright light. Considered a “work light”, but we use it for all sorts of lighting from evening engine checks to an extra boost in a dark corner of the van to a picnic table companion at dinner time. This is a must have and definitely one of the best lanterns for camping.
- Soft, even 360 degree light distribution created by the removable cover with glare reduction and makes for comfortable use in close quarters.
- Mil spec corrosion resistant aircraft aluminum with unbreakable, polycarbonate lens.
- IPX4 water-resistance build
- Impact resistance tested to 1 meter
- Fits in your pocket with a pocket clip that keeps it in place
- Push button switch
- Brief or always on options
- Powered by two AAA batteries (included)
- Includes tear-resistant nylon holster
Goal Zero is the leader in rechargeable battery power with a focus on outdoor life and we’ve found their products indispensable for Vanlife.
The Lighthouse 400 Lantern is one of the best lanterns for camping.
- Four, 400 mAh Lithium batteries for run time of 2.5 hours to 48 hours, depending on use.
- 1.5 Amp USB output to power and recharge phones and tablets while off grid.
- Easy to hang, stand up and store with built in handle and collapsible legs that stand for taller light and fold in for easy storage.
- 360 degree of bright LED light, or illuminate only half the lantern to extend run times
- Weighs 1.1 lbs with dimensions of 4.5″ x 5″ x 6.5″
A four pack of camping lanterns for under $25?!
These are some of the best lanterns for camping trips if you have a brood of kids, friends… or maybe you have a larger van, RV or trailer with lots of storage, nooks and crannies to keep extra safety gear on board.
No nonsense, basic build that collapses for super tight storage. I like to keep a four pack of these in the Sprinter, scattered around in easy to access locations, ready to light up any situation.
- 30 low powered LED bulbs for a longer, ultra bright lifespan
- Compact, lightweight, easy to carry
- Up to 12 hours of continuous use on full batteries
- 90-day return refund guarantee, 2-year warranty and lifetime supported by Etekcity
An inflatable solar lantern?? Okay, we had to investigate.
- It’s a highly durable, solar, LED lantern, fully powered by the sun.
- Inflatable, collapsible and lightweight at 4.4 ounces.
- Waterproof, submersible with an ip67 rating.
- 4 lighting modes: Low, bright, super bright, 1 second flashing.
- 10 powerful white LED’s.
- Rugged, durable build for outdoor use.
- Straps on top and base for clipping to a pack, hanging in a van or wherever you need a light.
Another take on the lantern-with-power-bank, we love the compact design, price, charging features, dimming,strobe…
- 200 lumen lantern or 250 lumen flashlight
- 4400 mAh USB charger power bank
- Charger can charge 3 phones or run the light for up to 72 hours
- Dimmable lighting mode and emergency strobe
- Powerbank battery is USB rechargeable from an outlet or BioLite charging products
A great little lantern at a great price with huge ratings from customers, ready to light your van, tent, picnic area, evening beach walk…
- LED light system emits 100 lumens at highest setting
- Bright, ambient light from frosted globe
- Convenient brightness adjustment and power savings with the dimmer switch
- Powered by three AAA batteries
Another great little rechargeable camping lantern, the Suaoki can be recharged via the solar panel on top of the unit or by the micro USB port.
- Ultra portable and packable, it folds down to a compact size for easy stowage.
- Choose high, low or SOS blinking mode for recreation or emergency.
- The built in smart chip protects the lantern from overcharge, discharge or over-circuit.
This very unique, powerful lantern features Coleman’s Intematix® technology, which produces an even, warm, light comparable to gas powered lanterns.
- Twenty five percent more efficient than standard white LEDs
- Omni directional light results in a bright lantern with even light distribution
- Choose 4, D cell batteries or the Coleman CPX 6 rechargeable pack for power
- Dimmer switch
- Water resistant
- Impact resistant
Thanks for reading!
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We’d love to hear your Vanlife lighting stories, ideas and adventures.
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