Getting stuck outside in the dark while you’re camping isn’t just uncomfortable, it’s dangerous! Feel safe and secure at your well-lit campsite by bringing along the best camping lantern.
The Three Best Camping Lanterns
After ten years of scouting, taking annual family camping trips, and even leading my church youth group on camping trips, I’ve had my fair share of camping successes and mishaps. I’ve learned that being prepared with the right gear will make or break your camping experience. Through trial and error, research and experience, I have curated a collection of premium camping gear- including the best camping lantern.
What makes a camping lantern the best? It’s all about illumination strength, functionality, and durability. In this guide, which is similar to The Best Hiking Backpack for Kids, I’ll explain my pick for best camping lantern, and share other top picks for high-quality camping lanterns that are worthy of your consideration. Choose the best camping lantern for your needs, and camp with confidence!
The Best Camping Lantern Winner: Coleman Quad LED Lantern Special Edition
The Coleman Quad LED Lantern Special Edition is my number one pick for best camping lantern. This trusty lantern works its wonders in multiple ways, and has saved the day on many camping occasions! Whether I’m camping for one night or one week, this is the one piece of gear I can’t go without.
This super-powered lantern boasts 190 extra-bright lumens. It is literally a beacon of light, radiating 26 ft in every direction! You won’t have to move it from spot to spot at the campsite. Simply put it in a central location and you’ll get plenty of light in the entire area.
The Coleman Quad LED Lantern Special Edition is designed with a unique panel system. Four panels snap off the lantern, and each panel has 47.5 bright lumens. This feature is great for when you want slightly softer light, spread out. For example, you wouldn’t want your lantern to overpower the ambiance of your campfire. My husband will simply snap off a panel and use it to light the music that he’s sharing with friends as they play guitar fireside.
With this lantern, you can get incredible illumination strength, or take it down a notch by using single panels. When you’re out in the wilderness, it’s always better to have more light than not enough!
The Coleman Quad LED Lantern Special Edition lights recharge on its base, which holds 8 D-cell batteries. It also works well and is compatible with Polaroid D Batteries. The LED lights will never need to be replaced. They can last for life!
When fully charged, the Coleman Quad LED Lantern Special Edition can run for 75 hours! I’ve never needed to recharge it on a trip. My routine is to recharge it when I get home, making sure it’s ready for my next adventure.
The panels on the Coleman Quad LED Lantern Special Edition can each run separately for one and a half hours. This came in handy when my husband and I took our kids on a caving expedition. We each took a panel with us, and I was very impressed with how long and strong the light from the panels lasted. It was more powerful than a flashlight, but also more light-weight. The LEDs are cool-running and safe to touch, perfect for the kids!
No matter where you plan to camp, the Coleman Quad LED Lantern Special Edition can come along. It is water resistant against rain and splashing. Mine has survived flash-thunderstroms, and accidentally being dropped in a creek!
The Coleman brand is a leader in quality camping gear and their Quad LED Lantern Special Edition is no exception. The quality materials make it tough to bang up. It also comes with a limited five-year warranty.
Size & Shape
At 7.7 x 7.8 x 12.9 inches in size, the Coleman Quad LED Lantern Special Edition is not compact. I would consider it large, for a camping lantern. With the charging base it weighs about 6 lbs, but it weighs just over 2 lbs without it. Its comfortable handle allows for easy carrying, and each panel has a small handle as well.
What I love most about the Coleman Quad LED Lantern Special Edition is how practical it is. Before I owned it, I was always packing two lanterns and several flashlights for my camping trips. I like to keep all my bases covered. I usually have a lantern in my tent, one near my cooking station, and flashlights for on-the-go needs. Looking back, that just seems excessive (but no one wants to be stuck outdoors in the dark!).
Now instead of packing several lanterns and flashlights, I bring my Coleman Quad LED Lantern Special Edition that can do it all. I keep a panel near my campfire, a panel near my cooking station, and my husband and I each keep a panel with us to use as a flashlight. It really shortens the packing list and lightens the load, which is especially helpful on backpacking trips.
I’m a minimalist at heart, and this lantern is speaking my love language!
Pros & Cons
Although I am biased towards this incredible camping lantern, I can point out a couple of cons. First, Coleman does not offer replacement parts for the Coleman Quad LED Lantern Special Edition. I haven’t needed any yet, but if something went majorly wrong after the warranty period, I’d be out of luck. Secondly, there is no solar power source or hand crank. This lantern relies solely on the D-batteries in the charging base, which in my opinion is a flaw but not a deal breaker. Re-charging the batteries for future use is easy and inexpensive.
The pros strongly outweigh the cons here! The multi-functional Coleman Quad LED Lantern Special Edition offers unparalleled illumination. It can be used so many different ways that it eliminates the need for duplicate pieces of camping lighting gear. Use it one place, or share it between people. There’s no end to what the Coleman Quad LED Lantern Special Edition can do.
The Best Camping Lantern Runner Up: Bigfoot Outdoor Products Compact Solar Camping Lantern
The Bigfoot Outdoor Products Compact Solar Camping Lantern is a close second for best camping lantern. It’s a leader in eco-friendly camping gear and is practical in so many ways.
There are three lighting modes on the Bigfoot Outdoor Products Compact Solar Camping Lantern including high (65Lm), low (25Lm) and SOS. Low would be the perfect setting for using inside your tent, while the high setting could illuminate your entire campsite.
However, I really like the idea of an SOS setting! I hope I would never need it but would feel safe having it at my disposal. Depending on how remote you like to get while you’re camping, you may not be within earshot of others. The SOS setting on the Bigfoot Outdoor Products Compact Solar Camping Lantern flashes dots and dashes, sending a powerful visual signal of distress that can be seen from a far distance.
I love everything about my Coleman Quad LED Lantern Special Edition, except that it runs solely on batteries. I sometimes wish that I could charge it from the USB port in my car, while we’re on the road.
The USB power bank on the Bigfoot Outdoor Products Compact Solar Camping Lantern allows you to charge it easily on any device that you can connect via USB cord. Not only does it charge with a USB cord, but it also has solar panels! For every hour left out in the sun, you’ll get 30 minutes of lantern power.
This back-up energy source could be a life-saver in an emergency situation. Fully charged, the Bigfoot Outdoor Products Compact Solar Camping Lantern will give off light for 10 hours.
It’s not as heavy-duty as my favorite camping lantern, but the Bigfoot Outdoor Products Compact Solar Camping Lantern is made to last. Bigfoot Outdoor Products puts their camping gear to the test in the field. Their design team includes experienced hikers, climbers, and outdoor enthusiasts.
Size & Shape
My only concern with this mighty little lantern is that it might get lost! Weighing only 6.4 oz, it definitely won’t be a hassle to carry around. For its small size, it gives off an amazing amount of light.
The Bigfoot Outdoor Products Compact Solar Camping Lantern has a unique collapsible shape. Simply expand it when you are ready to use, then collapse it when you need to pack up. It becomes so compact that you can hold it in the palm of your hand, like a hockey puck (but lighter!).
The Bigfoot Outdoor Products team clearly understands the real needs of camping. With its convenient hook, the Bigfoot Outdoor Products Compact Solar Camping Lantern could hang on the outside of your daypack and soak up sun while you hike! Its collapsible compact form makes it lightweight and easy to carry on long trips.
Pros & Cons
Bigfoot Outdoor Products is a brand that stands behind the quality of their gear. They will repair or replace damaged products many years after purchase! It doesn’t have a lot of bells and whistles, but this lantern is functional and powerful. In addition, it’s incredibly affordable!
The one con of this lantern is that it doesn’t double as a flashlight or other light source. Unlike the Coleman Quad LED Lantern Special Edition, it can only be used in one spot, by one person.
Best Camping Lantern Honorable Mention: Streamlight 44931 Siege Compact Lantern
Streamlight 44931 Siege Compact Lantern is on this list because it’s an all-weather, all-terrain tough camping lantern. For those who take their adventures seriously, you won’t be disappointed with this lantern!
Like the Bigfoot Outdoor Products Compact Solar Camping Lantern, the Streamlight 44931 Siege Compact Lantern has multiple illumination settings. The lantern includes five C4 power LEDs, four white and one red. The Streamlight-engineered reflector creates an intense beam that puts out 540 lumens on its max setting.
Other settings include medium (275 Lumens), low (55 Lumens), red (10 Lumens), and red SOS flashing modes.
A red light setting offers the lowest lumens, but the best light for adjusting your eyes to seeing in the dark. I don’t hunt, but I do understand that night vision is very important for those who do. This setting works especially well for those conditions.
Again, the SOS feature could be a life-saver! This one flashes red, making it even more noticeable than the signal on the Bigfoot Outdoor Products Compact Solar Camping Lantern.
Running on alkaline batteries, this powerful lantern has a 50,000 hour lifetime when fully charged. It requires 3 D batteries, but it’s not as heavy as you’d imagine.
Ever worry about how much battery your lantern has left? The Streamlight 44931 Siege Compact Lantern has a battery level indicator built into the on/off button – genius!
What sets this camping lantern apart, and why it made my list of best camping lanterns, is its superior materials and ability to survive just about anything. Most lighting gear will become completely dysfunctional if your pack gets soaked. Not the Bigfoot Outdoor Products Compact Solar Camping Lantern! It is designed with a protective polycarbonate globe that actually makes it float in water. It is completely water resistant!
The Bigfoot Outdoor Products Compact Solar Camping Lantern is 2-Meter impact resistance tested. Its polycarbonate material is crack resistant, built tough. When you know things could get rough on your trip, you won’t have to worry about this lantern breaking. This is one piece of camping gear that will last you years!
Size & Shape
This medium-sized lantern stands 4 x 4 x 7.2 inches tall. Weighing just under 2 pounds, it’s not quite as light as a collapsible camping lantern. The Streamlight 44931 Siege Compact Lantern has a unique handle that’s designed to lock in upright or stowed position. There are also spring-loaded D-rings on the bottom of the lantern that retracts when they’re not in use. Overall, it’s a sleek and sturdy shape that travels easily.
The Bigfoot Outdoor Products Compact Solar Camping Lantern performs well in all conditions but is specially designed to be effective and safe around water. Using C4 LED technology, the lantern is actually resistant to shock.
I like how the lantern can be set or hung anywhere. It has a rubber molded base that keeps it stable on slippery surfaces, and it’s sturdy hook keeps it still while it hangs. Obviously, the ability to float makes it incredibly functional as well.
With its five different output settings, you can set the lighting and mood at the campsite just the way you like it. Adjust your eyes to night mode, or set off an effective SOS with the red LED light. The Streamlight lantern is functional and effective that it is not only used for camping, but also for emergency response teams.
Pros & Cons
The major pros of the Bigfoot Outdoor Products Compact Solar Camping Lantern are its sturdy construction, unique red led setting, and ability to withstand getting wet. If your camping adventures regularly involve water sports or activities this lantern could be the best one for you.
The cons are that the lantern has no alternative power source (relying solely on batteries), and it is a single function lantern. Whereas the Coleman Quad LED Lantern Special Edition can be used in many ways, and the Bigfoot Outdoor Products Compact Solar Camping Lantern can be collapsed, the Streamlight 44931 Siege Compact Lantern serves one function only.
This is okay, in my opinion, because it excels at serving its purpose – to provide exceptional lighting for your campsite, no extra bells or whistles included.
What to consider when shopping for the best camping lantern
When you’re trying to choose the best camping lantern, you have to think about your priorities. Are you a leisure camper that wants to hang around the campsite and stay up late playing cards by the soft glow of a lantern? Or are your camping excursions adventurous (sometimes dangerous) possibly necessitating the SOS function on a lantern?
My camping style is pretty conventional – loading up the car and staying at state park campgrounds. I’m not backpacking through the woods and pitching a tent in remote areas (I have done that before, but I’m not trying to do that with small kids!). Knowing I won’t have to lug it around on my backpack all day means the size and weight of the lantern isn’t a top priority for me. What I do care about is covering multiple areas of my campsite with strong illumination.
Knowing your camping style and goals will help you set your priorities and choose the right gear.
Solo or Family Travel
My priorities when I camp include family fun and safety. There are never less than four of us on a trip, so I need a lantern that can be used by more than one person and in more than one place at a time. The Coleman Quad LED Lantern Special Edition is the best camping lantern to meet my needs and family travel.
If you travel solo, or with one companion, it might make more sense to invest in a smaller compact lantern. You’ll probably share it in the same space and might prefer to have the collapsible feature on the Bigfoot Outdoor Products Compact Solar Camping Lantern, if you’re trying to travel light.
Do you camp once a year or every other year? Or are you an outdoor enthusiast who goes whenever the weather allows? I personally am willing to invest in quality items that I will get good use out of. My family loves to camp and does go often, so I don’t mind springing for gear that costs a little more but that I know we’ll use multiple times a year. In addition, quality camping gear can last a lifetime.
But you have to be realistic with yourself. Are you just beginning to get into camping as a hobby? Don’t go overboard and spend tons of money on a camping lantern if you might only use it one time! For example, I was very interested in learning how to sew. I spent a pretty penny on a top-of-the-line machine, daydreaming about all the things I could do with it (could being the operative word). But two years later, I’ve only taken one beginner sewing class and my expensive machine is collecting dust.
The amount you spend on the best camping lantern should be directly proportional to the amount of use you’ll get out of it. You’d be surprised at what a great value the lanterns on my list are!
When you’re camping accidents will happen. If everything goes perfectly then you aren’t doing it right! For those oops moments, you want to know what the warranty policy is on your camping lantern. Not all manufacturers offer one, so do your research before you buy.
Streamlight offers a limited lifetime warranty on their Streamlight 44931 Siege Compact Lantern. It protects against defects on all parts except bulbs and batteries. It does not, however, cover accidental damage.
I am impressed with Bigfoot Outdoor Product’s commitment to customer satisfaction and warranty protection. When it comes to accidental damage, they offer repair and replacement services. This at least lets you get your lantern back in shape at minimal cost.
Coleman offers a limited five-year warranty that covers defective parts only. My lantern has held up well, and I have not needed to use the warranty yet.
A camping lantern is a key piece of gear that can make your camping experience a positive one. It will keep you safe and secure on your adventure. Getting caught in the dark in the outdoors is scary! With the best camping lantern, you can camp confidently and enjoy yourself.
Know your camping goals and priorities. The best camping lanterns are bright, durable, and multi-functional. My absolute number one pick is the Coleman Quad LED Lantern Special Edition. Its ultra-powerful illumination keeps my campsite bright and safe. The detachable panels allow multiple members of my family to use lighting at the same time in different spaces (flashlights are now irrelevant!). I simply recharge the batteries when I get home, and I’m ready for the next great adventure.
Frequently Asked Q&As for the Best Camping Lantern:
Q: How many lumens do I need for a camping lantern?
A: For camping, 35-60 lumens will be enough. 10-30 lumens is common for a home flashlight. Some lanterns offer over 500 lumens, which usually isn’t necessary.
Q: How long does an LED lantern last?
A: LED lanterns last longer than filament, halogen, and CFL lamps. The lifespan of a LED lamp is determined in hours. Although it will fade over time, LED lamps do not burn out. They will still perform even after their standard 25,000 hours!