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How To Choose The Best Camping Lights

13 outdoor lighting solutions for your campsite

There’s a fair amount of camping gear you can do without. But no matter if you’re car camping, exploring the backcountry, or setting up a tent in your backyard, there’s one thing that should always be on your gear list: light. A lot of us have probably had the unfortunate experience of setting up camp after sunset or looking for missing items in a poorly lit tent. And in the past, camp lighting options were somewhat limited: kerosene lanterns or bulky flashlights.

But today there’s an incredible range of outdoor lighting: from long-running LED camp lanterns, to sleek, easy-to-use headlamps and beyond. The only challenge is knowing what lighting options to choose. Fortunately, we’ve done the hard work for you. Read on to learn how to choose the best camp lighting. (Plus we’re sharing our 12 favorite lighting solutions.)

The first thing you’ll need to figure out is your lighting needs. Do you need focused light for camp-related tasks? Ambient light so no one runs into the picnic table? Novelty lights to make a campsite feel more like home? The type of lights you buy also depend on how you’re camping (tent, trailer, RV) and where you plan to camp (a standard campground or somewhere more remote).

Another consideration is your power source. If you’re at a campsite with electrical hook-ups, you won’t need lights that are exclusively battery-operated. That said, the lighting options we share below all rely on batteries. In general, this gives you more flexibility because you won’t have to depend on an electrical hook-up (or on having long enough extension cords).

Here’s our guide to buying lanterns, headlamps, interior lighting, and just-for-fun camp lighting.

Lanterns

Camping lanterns have come a long way in the past couple decades. Of course there are plenty of traditionalists who still crank up their kerosene lanterns, but it’s probably more nostalgia than efficiency. Today there are a lot of LED camping lanterns that offer bright, energy-efficient light that are cool to the touch—and won’t burn down your campsite.

Most of the lanterns on the market are battery-powered but there are some plug-in and solar-powered options too. (Just be sure you’re able to sufficiently charge the latter during the day.) When choosing a camping lantern, make sure to consider the power source (rechargeable batteries are an economical option), the lumens (more on that in our headlamp section), and average run time. It’s also a good idea to choose a lantern that’s waterproof or water-resistant. You don’t want to be caught without a light if the weather turns or it starts to rain. If you’re backpacking or short on space, you’ll want to consider the size and weight of the lantern too.

1. AYL StarLight LED Lantern

AYL Starlight - Water Resistant - Shock Proof - Battery Powered Ultra Long Lasting Up to 6 Days Straight - 600 Lumens Ultra Bright LED Lantern - Perfect Camping Lantern for Hiking, Camping
  • MOST RELIABLE LANTERN ON THE MARKET - It uses LED bulbs with an output of 600 lumens, guaranteeing you crystal clarity and over 100,000 hours of use.
  • 6 FULL DAYS OF POWER! Battery Powered Can Be Used For Up To 6 DAYS Straight on a Single Set of Fresh 3 D Batteries. The last lantern you will ever need to buy.
  • LIGHTWEIGHT SHOCKPROOF DESIGN AND WATER RESISTANT - Designed with a hook at the bottom that makes it easy to set it up virtually anywhere.
  • 3 LIGHTING MODES: Low, High and Flashing strobe. Depending on your needs, you can switch to any of the modes seamlessly by simply cycling the switch button.
  • PERFECT GIFT IDEA! What are you waiting for? Click the Add to Cart Button to Order NOW!

2. Coleman Twin LED Lantern

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Coleman LED Lantern | Twin Lantern with Water-Resistant Design
  • Customizable brightness settings ranging from high to ultra-low
  • 390 extra-bright lumens on high. 100 bright lumens on low
  • 32-ft. (9.75 m) beam distance on high and 19-ft. (5.79 m) beam distance on low
  • Up to 85 hours runtime on high setting and Up to 299 hours runtime on low setting
  • Powered by eight D-cell batteries (sold separately). Water resistant against rain and splashing water. 5-year limited warranty

3. GoalZero Lighthouse LED Lantern

Goal Zero Lighthouse 400 Lantern and USB Power Hub
  • Highly adjustable 400 lumen lantern with USB output to keep your phone and other devices charged.
  • Directional and adjustable LED light, up to 400 lumens. Recharge the internal battery from any USB port or from a Goal Zero Nomad Solar Panel. Use the built-in hand crank to charge up instantly and never be left in the dark.
  • Internal lithium battery boasts 4,400mAh with a 1.5A USB output, enough power to charge phones and tablets even off grid.
  • Collapsible legs provide a stand for maximum light dispersion and fold in for convenient storage. Built-in handle for easy carrying and hanging
  • Utilize 360° of bright LED light, or save on power and extend runtimes by illuminating half the lantern. Unique reflection design allows for the optimal amount of quality, usable light.

4. MPOWERED Luci Light

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MPOWERD Luci - The Original Inflatable Solar Light, Clear Finish (New Features)
  • This extremely durable lantern is completely powered by the sun, no additional batteries needed. Set it in direct sunlight for 7 hours and Luci Original lasts up to 24 hours on a single charge
  • With 10 cool white LEDs and up to 75 lumens, Luci Original is a clean, reliable source of light for just about anywhere you need it
  • 4 modes to light any scene: low, medium, high, 1 second flashing
  • Perfect for your patio, barbecues, camping, emergency preparedness, garden and can be a unique gift for any occasion
  • Weighs less than most mobile phones at 4.4 oz. / 125 g

Headlamps

The first time I wore a headlamp at camp, I felt like a spelunker who had wandered out of a cave. (The very first headlamps were developed for miners after all.) Wearing a flashlight on my head seemed so strange at the time. But it didn’t take long to realize that the idea was a good one. Hands-free lighting that goes wherever I go and aims wherever I look?

I haven’t owned a traditional flashlight since.

From setting up camp in the dark to assembling s’mores to nighttime trail running, headlamps are an all-purpose light every camper should have in their gear kit. Nearly all of today’s headlamps are powered by LED bulbs, meaning they’re both energy efficient and will last a long time. They also come with adjustable straps so you’ll always be able to have the perfect fit. Here some things to consider when buying a headlamp:

  • Lumens. The output of a headlamp’s light bulb is measured in lumens. Most of the time, the higher the number of lumens, the brighter the light. (But not always. A headlamp’s brightness is also determined by factors such as the type of beam it creates and the color of the light: warm or cool.) Most campers will get along fine with 100-200 lumens.
  • Type of beam. There are two main types of headlamp beams: a flood beam and a spot beam. A flood beam is good for up-close tasks such as cooking or setting up camp, while a spot beam is helpful for seeing long distance (think trail running or spotting wildlife). Plenty of headlamps offer both flood and spot beam settings.
  • Modes. Many headlamps come with different settings such as a strobe setting or a red light. Both can be useful as safety features and the latter is a convenient way to use a headlamp without disturbing others.
  • Beam distance. Most headlamps will indicate how much “usable light” they create via a beam distance measurement.
  • Burn time/run time. This is the amount of time that the headlamp will produce usable light once the batteries are fully charged. This number varies from headlamp to headlamp.

5. Black Diamond Spot 325 Headlamp

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Black Diamond Spot325 Headlamp Graphite ONESIZE
  • PowerTap�,� Technology allows instant transitioning between full and dimmed power. Compact, low-profile design uses three AAA batteries, included. Brightness Memory allows you to turn the light on and off at a chosen brightness without reverting back to full or mid-power.
  • Settings include full strength in proximity and distance modes, dimming, strobe, red night-vision and lock mode. Multifaceted optical lens design. IPX8: Waterproof-Tested to operate at least 1.1 meters underwater for 30 minutes. If submerged, water may enter the battery compartment and it will still operate; it should be completely dried out after use in wet conditions.".
  • Lumens : [High] 325: [Medium] 160: [Low] 6. Weight With Batteries : 86g (3oz). Max Distances: [High] 80 m: [Medium] 60 m: [Low] 8 m.
  • Max Burn Time: [High] 4 H: [Medium] 8 H: [Low] 200 H. Imported.

6. Petzl Tikkana 150 Headlamp

PETZL - TIKKINA Headlamp, 150 Lumens, Standard Lighting
  • BRILLIANT BEAMS: Features a wide beam. This close range light is ideal for activities like a sunrise hike or camping with the family.
  • CHOOSE YOUR LIGHT: Features a single on/off button, which easily selects the lighting mode of your choosing.
  • DON'T GET CAUGHT IN THE DARK: With its longest burn time at 220 hours, the TIKKINA will power your all-night adventures.
  • CHARGE IT UP: Every TIKKINA includes three standard batteries, and is also compatible with the CORE rechargeable battery (sold separately).
  • HAVE A LIT ADVENTURE: With its easy-to-use design, the TIKKINA is perfect for camping, trekking, or household use.

7. Energizer Headlamp

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Energizer LED AAA Headlamp with Vision HD+ Optics, Zoomable Flashlight 50 Hour Run Time 315 Lumens (Batteries Included)
  • Lightweight and comfortable Energizer Vision HD+ Focus LED Headlamp works with 3 Energizer MAX AAA batteries (batteries included)
  • Powerful beam reaches up to 85 meters and puts out up to 315 lumens with its LED technology
  • Switches easily between 5 light modes: high, low, full spot, full flood, and night vision (red) for outdoor illumination anytime, anywhere
  • Pivoting headlight with Digital Focus conveniently allows the beam to adjust from wide-range to a focused beam
  • This durable headlamp resists damage from drops up to 1 meter high, for worry-free use, whether you're hiking, biking, or working around the garage

Interior Lighting

The lanterns and headlamps we’ve covered so far can do double-duty around the campsite or inside a tent. But sometimes it’s nice to have a more compact (and ambient) light inside a tent or trailer. For convenience’s sake, it’s often helpful to have a light that stays where you sleep. That way, it’s always there when you need it.

The following lights are all battery-powered LEDs that stay cool to the touch and are safe to use inside a tent. Provided you have a way to hang them, novelty lights (such as string lights) can also be a nice touch inside your sleeping space. (But for safety reasons, you may want to forgo the string lights if children or pets are involved.)

8. Black Diamond Moji Lantern

Black Diamond Moji Lantern, Process Blue
  • 1 TriplePower LED emits 100 lumens (max. setting)
  • Frosted globe produces bright, ambient light
  • Unique dimming switch provides adjustable brightness
  • Collapsible double-hook hang loop
  • Runs on 3 AAA batteries and Protected against water immersion

9. E-Trends Compact LED Lights

E-TRENDS 2 Pack Portable LED Lantern Tent Light Bulb for Camping Hiking Fishing Emergency Light, Battery Powered Camping Equipment Gear Gadgets Lamp for Outdoor & Indoor, Blue
  • THE ORIGINAL E-TRENDS Portable LED Lights are built with superior, high-quality ABS materials that are safe and reliable to help provide maximum durability and water resistance wherever you go.
  • The innovative and convenient hanging hook design is equipped with a sturdy housing to support all your outdoor and indoor activities such as camping, hiking, hunting, fishing and a lot more!
  • With its dimmer control feature, this camping lamp is designed to save energy to maintain super long battery life for longer lasting use, making it practical for your everyday activities.
  • Its high-setting offers maximum brightness that can easily illuminate the whole campsite, so there's no need to worry about outages, whether indoor or outdoor.
  • Each light is operated by 3 x AAA Batteries (included) , product comes with 5 year Warranty & 45 days money back guarantee.

10. Souyos Portable Camping Lantern

2 Pack Portable LED Tactical Camping Lantern,Ultra Bright Outdoor Tent Lantern Taclight with Retractable Hook and 5 Modes,Water resistant,Best for Camping,Tent,Emergency
  • ULTRA BRIGHT CAMPING LIGHT:Maximum mode is 150 lumens,mini volume can illuminate large area,outdoor emergency tent light 360°emits high lumen light with long-time durability,soft led light product your eyes
  • ADJUSTABLE MODE:5 different modes provide maximum,medium,low,quick strobe,slow pulse light,every mode is easy to be switched by button based on your needs,the switch button is located on top of camping lantern,press it to turn on lantern,press button again to turn off lantern
  • UTILITY LED LANTERN:Ideal camping equipment for tent,camping,hiking,jogging,emergency light for power outage,survival,also daily night vision lantern for kids,reading,party
  • FOLDABLE HOOK:Hanging tent light with hook,particular design make lantern can hang on branch,hook,string,when fold the hook,you can put led tent light on the plant,floor,ABS material make tent lantern resist water, abrasion and extreme environment
  • POWER SOURCE:This led tent lamp is operated by 3 AAA batteries(not included),you can see the "OPEN" and "CLOSE" mark on the side of camping tent light,insert battery following the correct polarity(+,-) mark on the battery groove

Novelty Lighting

Not all camp lighting needs to be functional. Once you’ve taken care of task lighting, it’s time to think about atmosphere. There are a variety of just-for-fun lights you can buy to dress up your campsite and take it one step closer to glamping: twinkle lights, fairy lights, colored lanterns, flameless candles, and more. Of course, nothing beats the glow of a campfire, but these lights bring their own special touch to outdoor living.

11. MPOWERD Luci Color Light

12. Vivii Solar String Lights

Vivii Solar String Light 20 ft 30 LED Crystal Ball Waterproof String Lights Solar Powered Fairy Lighting for Garden Home Landscape Holiday Decorations, White, 2 Pack
  • LONG-LASTING - 800mAh rechargeable battery can work continuously for 8-10 hours once fully charged. Just replace the RECHARGEABLE BATTERY when there is not enough sunshine, then it will work.
  • PRODUCT DIMENSIONS - 5-feet lead and 20-feet wire with 30 bubble globes. Eight kinds of working modes make your environment out of ordinary. It is an Ideal for decorating your passage, garden, patio, party, etc.
  • BEAUTIFUL- Place these solar string lights around the garden or trees to decorate your outdoor space or replace your traditional plug-in string lights with these solar-powered beauties. Item is waterproof to suit for using outdoor and indoor.
  • SOLAR POWERED - These LED lights decorate your garden with energy from the solar and do not require additional cost.
  • EASY TO USE - The solar panel is easily installed. These lights are turned on automatically in darkness and turned off automatically in brightness. Power and mode double buttons are on the back of panel box for controlling. The mode switch allows you to adjust among 2 flashing effects.

13. Flameless Waterproof Candles

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comenzar Flameless Candles, Waterproof Outdoor Indoor Battery Candles Set of 9(H 4" 5" 6" x D 3") Led Candles with Remote Timer(Batteries not Included)
  • REPLACEMENT: Each flameless candle is thoroughly and rigorously tested. All our comenzar products are covered by replacement of new products within life time.
  • PACKAGE INCLUDED: These led candles comes with 9 Water resistant candles(made of plastic), 6 key remote control x 1. Manual x1. Powered by 2 x AA batteries(Not included) per candle.
  • SMART CONTROL: Are you still worrying about lighting and extinguishing candles every time. Don't worry, comenzar's electronic candle remote control function can help you completely rely on this problem, only need one setup, Timer feature allows you to set 2H | 4H | 6H | 8H, timed to automatically turn on and off. Will Cycle Every 24 Hours.
  • MULTI PURPOSE: The candle has a simulated twinkle that looks like a candle at a distance. These flameless candles can create a warm and romantic atmosphere. Suitable for home and garden wedding, outdoor candlelit banquets and festival decorations.
  • WATER RESISTANT CANDLES: These candles can be used outdoors all year round. They are made of high quality waterproof plastic and can be used in rainy and snowy weather. Especially in summer, they can also be used outdoors, they are not worried about melting.
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