Are you scared of the dark? Wait, don’t answer that—it doesn’t matter. Whether you’re going camping or just want to be prepared if the electricity goes out, you’re going to need a good lantern. We got you.
What’s Important to Look for in an LED Lantern?
Having a light source is incredibly important when going on an overnight trip; it is easy to get hurt while fumbling around in the dark, especially in the woods. Here are a few things you should consider to have a fun and safe trip.
- Brightness: A lantern should be able to brightly light up a campsite and also let you comfortably read in your tent. The brightness of an LED lantern is measured in lumens—40-80 lumens is a comfortable low setting, and 250-400 is an illuminating high setting. You’ll only really need more than that if your campsite is exceptionally large and you only want to bring one lantern.
- Battery Life: If you’re going on a camping trip, you don’t want to have to recharge your lantern or have to bring a bunch of extra batteries. A good lantern should last a couple of nights on one charge. Twenty hours on a high setting and 100 hours on a low setting is an excellent place to start. LED Lanterns usually come in either rechargeable or battery-powered options, but some come in both.
- Durability: A good lantern needs to be able to take some falls; it is an outdoor piece of equipment, and the rough environment will inevitably lead to some accidents. Lanterns should be able to withstand a fall from a standard carry height and need to be water-resistant to protect from rain and accidental spills.
- Weight: Many people carry lanterns around with them or tie them to their bags to use as a light while hiking. A heavy lantern is just one more thing to carry while you’re walking a trail or climbing up a mountain. It’s also worth noting that battery-powered lanterns do not list the weight with batteries included, so it’s important to account for that if you’re trying to pack light.
- Features: Modern lanterns also have extra features like hooks, SOS flashing modes, dry storage, detachable flashlights, and more.
The Best for Most People: UST 30-Day Duro LED
If you’re going on a lengthy trip or are just building an emergency kit for rough times, the battery life of your lantern is an essential feature. The UST 30-Day has ridiculously long battery life; on one charge it can last 22 hours on high and a whopping 30 whole days of continuous use on its low setting. One set of batteries is all you’ll need to keep this thing shining all night long.
This lantern has high, medium, low, and SOS settings and can get up to 700 lumens, bright enough to light a large campsite. It is made of rubberized ABS plastic that can take a beating and survive rough weather conditions. The lantern globe is also removable for more direct light, and underneath is a hook to hang the lantern from your tent pole or a tree. This incredibly versatile lantern is perfect for any circumstance and is our best choice for most people.
The Best Budget Pick: Vont Collapsible Lanterns:
Maybe you’re on a budget and just need a light for your tent, or you’re looking for extra lanterns to give to your kids so you can keep track of them at night. These Vont collapsible lanterns are perfect for a variety of situations, are very cheap, and come in packs of 2 or 4. The lower price does sacrifice in both battery life and brightness though, as they only last for around 12 hours at 100 lumens; however, that’s still ample time for a couple of nights (assuming you don’t leave them running while you sleep). These lanterns are great to keep in case of emergencies because they can be used to light up multiple rooms or distributed, so everyone has their own. The LED bulbs collapse into the lantern, saving space and also acting as the on/off switch. If all you need is a light and don’t want to spend too much, the Vont collapsible lanterns are perfect for you.
The Premium Pick: Streamlight Super Siege
There’s more to modern lanterns than just a bright electric light—there are plenty of additional features that make for a much better experience. The Streamlight Super Siege has everything you could ask for in a lantern. It has 5 LEDs—one white and four red; the white LED provides an insane 1100 lumens of light, and it lasts for six hours on high and 36 hours on low (125 lumens.) The four red LEDs preserve night vision, so your eyes don’t need to adjust continually, and they last for over 140 hours on high and for over 300 on low.
The lantern has a lot more features than just being able to light up a campsite. The Super Seige has a 10,400 mAh rechargeable battery, so there’s no need to purchase any extra batteries, and its USB ports make it double as a portable charger. The lantern is waterproof, has a safe-dry compartment to protect your things from the weather, and if the removable lantern globe is closed tightly, it will even float on water. The Streamlight Super Siege is the premium choice if you’re going on a camping trip.
The Best Combination Lantern and Flashlight: LE 1000L
Lanterns have very wide beams that light up large areas well but aren’t a perfect alternative to a regular flashlight which is much better with precision lighting. So, there are combination lanterns that put both features in one product. The LE Camping Lantern 1000L has a white light (70-130 lumens) on the left side and a red light on the right for a combination of 5 different light modes. It uses a directional flashlight on the top as a spotlight (400-1000 lumens) that illuminates up to 1650ft. This lantern is rechargeable, doubles as a portable charger itself, and it is water-resistant; however, the focus on the incredibly bright spotlight comes with shorter battery life (5 hours main light, 6-12 hours left white side). The LE 1000L that is perfect for walking around at night or as a searchlight.
The Best Lantern for Emergencies: LE 3300012-DW
Rechargeable lanterns are great, eliminating a lot of the hassle and extra money spent on battery-powered models.
On the other hand, after the battery pack dies if you are still out in the woods or suffering an emergency, you might not be able to plug into an outlet to recharge. Luckily, the LE 3300012-DW is a lantern that works with disposable batteries and also has an internal, rechargeable battery pack. This also makes it a great lantern to have on hand in case of emergencies.
This LE lantern has two detachable flashlights, a compass on top, and can get up to 600 lumens at its brightest setting. It’s water-resistant and comes with a car charger for a quick recharge away from an outlet. The overall battery life isn’t great at 4 hours, but with a fully charged internal battery and three D-cell batteries, it can last twice as long. The LE 3300012-DW is a fantastic lantern that allows for multiple power sources guaranteeing you’ll never be in the dark.