Whether you're hiking deep in the wilderness or just having a slumber party in the backyard, a good camping lantern will make your experience outside more enjoyable, not to mention make things easier to see. The best camping lanterns can be broken down into four main fuel types, and each one has its perks and pitfalls.
Camping lantern fuel types
Single-use battery: These are your standard camping lanterns that run on regular batteries. The upside is you don't have to deal with finding electricity to charge them, and they usually last longer than rechargeable batteries. The downside is that if the batteries die while you're mid-excursion and you don't have replacements on-hand, you're out of luck.
Rechargeable battery: These lanterns are great because you never have to worry about replacing the batteries. However, they usually only burn for 6 to 12 hours at a time, so if you're on an extended trip, they may not be a good option.
Solar-powered: The perk of solar-powered lanterns is that you don't have to worry about finding batteries or an electrical outlet. They make excellent picks for longer backpacking trips, thru-hikes, or survival scenarios. The disadvantage is that they take longer and can be more of a hassle to charge.
Propane: The biggest advantage to propane is you typically get stronger light intensity — so if you want it extra bright, they're the way to go. The cons are that you have to carry fuel around, the surfaces can get hot, they're heavier, and they need ventilation (so no hanging them inside your tent).
Once you've decided on the fuel type, you'll want to consider some additional features, too.
Best features for camping lanterns
Brightness: This is typically measured in lumens — the higher the lumens, the brighter it will be, so look for something with at least 500 lumens of shining power.
Durability: Camping lanterns see a lot of wear and tear, so you want them to be durable enough that they won't break if they get knocked around or dropped. A non-glass shell with a strong casing made of polycarbonate or other tough plastics is typically your best bet.
Wide range: The best camping lanterns are not only bright but offer a wide range of light settings so you can dim them down or turn them up, according to your preference. I made sure my picks below offer plenty of variety.
It's also nice if your lantern offers things like collapsibility, water-resistance, or bonus features like fans or removable components. Now that you know what to look for, take a peek at the best camping lanterns below.