Best camping lanterns UK: fuel-based and electric lamps for backpack and base camping
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Lighting up your environment is imperative for a safe, comfortable and enjoyable camping experience. Whether you’re on your own on the side of a mountain, on holiday with the family at a campsite, or backpacking across Europe, a great camping lantern will transform your evenings. Pick one you can hold, hang up and carry around and you can light up your entire camping space.
There are myriad options on the camping lantern market, and they each offer different advantages. You can evaluate them on light output, power supply, burn time, durability, among other factors. In this article, we’ll be looking the ones we’ve enjoyed using and would recommend purchasing.
We’ll be looking at a few options. There are good-looking decorative lamps with real flames, ideal for large family camping set-ups. We're also evaluating handy, lightweight electric devices. These are perfect for hanging on backpacking tents if you're wild camping or heading out into the mountains.
Gas or electric lantern?
The kind of lantern you’ll need with indeed depend largely on what kind of camping you’ll be doing. You may want to use a handsome traditional fuel lamp, but they require additional items to run. Carrying these may be prohibitive if you’re heading out with a lightweight setup.
They also need to be kept away from flammable materials, and a well ventilated space, which is tricky if you have a small tent space. On the plus side, they have a bright, long burn time and can be operated in sub-zero temperatures.
By comparison, electric lanterns are lightweight, safe to use inside a tent, and quiet. As a drawback, they can run out of charge swiftly when temperatures fall below freezing. Not all models are rechargeable if you're heading on multi-day trips.
It's also worth considering that gas lanterns, while not tricky, are slightly more finicky to use. You need to light them and change fuel cannisters.
Electric lanterns work at the literally click of a button. Just make sure you have enough batteries. If it has a rechargeable battery, ensure you have a USB cable and power source to keep them humming over.
How bright is too bright? You don't want your lantern to hurt your eyes if you glance at it, but you do want it to adequately light your camping space. Somewhere between 200 to 500 lumens is perfect for a well lit camp site, easy to manoeuvre around.
If you're after something a little more sultry and glow-y, to set a mood inside a tent, 60 to 100 lumens will give you a softly lit camping paradise.
Water Resistance and Durability
It's worth forking out for a lantern that is robustly water resistant and durable. Trust us, as much as you assume it'll always be under cover, it's all too easy for lanterns to be left outside overnight.
Gas lanterns are more vulnerable to water ingress, due to their glass lenses. If you're going down this route, we'd advise the use of a carrying case to transport them about.
Any electric lantern worth it's salt will have a rubberised casing on the outside, to help guard against knocks and drops. Most are water resistant as a matter of course, but if you're clumsy or heading somewhere wet look for one designed to withstand brief immersions in water. This is measured using the 'Ingress Protection' testing standard . Look for around an IPX7, which will protect the lantern for water immersion up to 1 meter deep.
Weight and packability
Of course, this depends of your method of camping. Car camping (that is, travelling to a campsite by car)? The weight and size of your lantern is relatively immaterial.
If you're headed out into nature you'll be wanting something lighter, and that can be easily packed. Backpack camping and the lantern needs to be light, and collapsible or small.
Here are a few of our recommendations for camping this spring and summer
Key Specs: Weight 350g / Dimensions 170mm x 80mm (H x W) / Construction Bulb: 1x Orange LED, 1x White LED / Materials: Alloy and ABS Battery: 1x 3.7V 5000mAh Li-ion rechargeable/ Input: USB-C (5V-2A) / Output: Dimmable from 10 - 400 Lumen / Waterproof rating: IPX5 Battery life: 153 hours at 10 lumen, 4.5 hours at 400 Lumen Charging time: 3 hours
The larger size of this lamp and its classic design means it’s more suitable for basecamp activities or areas you’ll be for a period of time. We were impressed with the battery life, which lasted particularly well when on the lower setting.
We like the approach and the sturdy construction of this lantern. Bright and warm camping modes mean it’s easy to set the mood in your camp. The dimmable output is a handy feature, too. At full bore 400 lumens you’ll have no trouble preparing dinner, but the dimmed setting was lovely for hunkering down and having a campsite chat.
Key Specifications: Lumens: 10 / Weight With Batteries: 3 oz. / Max Burn Time: 70 hours / IPX Rating: 4/ LED Type: TriplePower / Batteries: 3 AAA (not included).
This is a light and easy to use lantern is one of the brightest we’ve tested. Its quality and ease of use certainly qualify for its position in this list, as it emits a brilliant glow and is very, very lightweight and easy to carry. Using it is as simple as clicking a button.
Black Diamond’s Dual Fuel Technology also means that the lantern can run on both alkaline batteries or a rechargeable Li-on battery purchased separately. On the downside, you can’t recharge with a USB cable, but Li-on batteries are easy to come by on Amazon.
The frosted glass diffuses the light softly, making it ideal for reading, for example - it’s bright but not harsh on the eyes. At 100 lumens this small machine will throw out enough light to illuminate your tent.
Key Specifications: Power source: Battery Powered /Product dimensions: 30D x 20W x 35H millimetres /Weight: 159 Grams
Not a lantern as such, but a case that can turn your headlamp into a lantern.
This clever piece of kit that allows you to keep your head torch safe and dry, at the same time diffusing the light to ensure the area around you is lit as much as possible. It can be hung above you, like a lantern, rested on a surface, or looped into your belt so you’re illuminated as you move about.
Its cheap purchase price, size and weight are particular selling points. It saves you carrying both a lantern and a head torch separately and would be a great addition to a camping setup for wild or those interested in more lightweight camping.
Key Specifications: Lumens 140 / Batteries 3 AA (Included) / Weight 7.6 oz Battery Life Up to 90 Hours / Modes Collapse and expand to reduce and increase light / Water Resistant
One of the brightest - and also the easiest and cheapest - camping lanterns we’ve used. The Vont LED lights feature a nifty collapsible design, are fully waterproof and come with 30 bright LED bulbs that guarantee lighting up a 360-degree range and can be depended on for more than 10,000 hours of use.
At a 140 lumens, it’s bright enough for outdoor use - set these up outdoors and you’ll be set to cook and hang out for the night.
Are you clumsy? This is the lamp for you - it’s sturdy enough to withstand a ten-foot drop, and temporarily being submerged in water.
It only takes 3 AA batteries, and we also like the fact the lamp can be turned on and off by folding or unfolding it.
Key Specifications: 150 lumens / IPX6 Weatherproof /Rechargeable from USB and solar /Li-ion NMC battery /Battery indicator /68g weight
This is a waterproof, dimmable and rechargeable option that can either be charged using a micro-USB or a compatible solar device – it’s easily paired to the Goal Zero Nomad Solar Panels should you wish.
A full charge should keep you lit up for at least seven hours of burn time, and the light delivers 135 lumens at full brightness.
We love it for it’s nifty, light-weight design, and reliability. It’s handy for backpack camping.
Key Specifications: Fuel Type: Coleman Liquid Fuel / Unleaded Petrol / Power: 220w Material: Metal/Glass Type: Lantern /Ignition:Electronic Light Distance 17m /Run time up to 7hrs /Weight 1.8kg / Dimensions 15cm Ø x 36 cm
This lantern is a traditionalist’s best friend, and suited to people who need ultimate durability and reliability from their camping light.
It can run on Coleman’s own fuel, or unleaded petrol, so it is great for remote basecamps or areas where electricity and charging is hard to come by. On the downside, it’s an absolute beast - 1.8 kilos, so you’ll be wanting to have a means to transport it easily. It will, however, light up a base camp beautifully.
The base of this behemoth is very, very stable, and we were thoroughly impressed with how the sturdy mouldings and reinforced glass stood up to wind and rain - this is a reliable, chunky piece of kit.
With a safe electronic ignition, so you don’t need to carry a lighter or matches - a great option for people heading off the beaten track.
You’ll have noticed that sizable price tag, and if you’re wondering why you’d fork out for a much more expensive lantern, we can assure you it’s incredibly economical to run, and run-time for it’s fuel works out as cost effective long term. If you camp recurrently, you’ll make your money back over time - this is a lamp purchase that will last you at least a couple of decades, if maintained.
Key Specifications: Tank volume: 0.34 litres / Burning time: approx. 20 hours / Material: steel / W x H x D (in cm): 15 x 26.5 x 13.5 /W x H x D with Packaging (in cm): 14.5 x 28 x 14.5 / Weight (in g): 530 /Weight with packaging (in g): 640
Another one for the purists, this is a lantern that runs on liquid fuel and has an impressive heritage, having been made by the same brand in Germany for more than 100 years. Those in the know will recognise the name for it’s consistent quality. We were truly impressed, having used other lanterns at a similar price range, to find the glass doesn’t soot-up, and remains clean.
A long burn time is complemented by a scratch-resistant glass cover, dependability in poor weather conditions and galvanized steel that is treated against rust.
Indeed, we loved this for being good at withstanding knocks and droppage. The brand says it can withstand up to a ten-foot drop, so if you’re clumsy, it’s ideal - it’s also temporarily water resistant if briefly submerged.
The downside? Lighting it is a little tricky, and it requires a little playing around to master the knack of changing the fuel cannister. We were also not the best at trimming the wick, so if you’re not great at fiddly tasks, this may not be for you. It does, however, represent great value for money.
Key Specifications: Weight: 203 g / Fuel Type: Gas / Power: 300 W/ Gas included: No
For those carrying a lightweight setup, this is a powerful option that burns brightly using the same gas as your camping stove and cooking equipment.
It has a pleasant glow, the brightness of which can be adjusted, and the glass globe provides an even distribution of light. We also liked the carry case that keeps the lantern safe and the quiet burn which means it’s less obtrusive noise wise than using the stove without an attachment.
Key Specifications: 400 lumens, 360 degrees beam angle / Product Dimensions 15 x 15 x 25 cm; 620 Grams / Battery powered Lithium Ion /7h - 40h runtime (high/low mode) / Splash proof (IPX 4)
This is a 2-in-1 speaker and light combo that provides a bright 360-degrees of illumination, twinned with a good Bluetooth speaker to play around the campfire.
We were impressed with the device’s battery life - seven hours without the speaker playing but about 5 with both running at the same time. Its controls are also well positioned and offer three different modes of illumination to accompany your music.
It’s not water resistant but splash proof, so it won’t fizzle in a little drizzle, but we’d get it out of the rain as sharp as you can. If camping is a communal, occasional, good-time getaway with pals, this is likely your ideal choice.