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A reliable lantern is an essential accessory on any camping trip, but there are a few factors you'll need to consider before you decide which type of lantern is right for you. Camping lanterns come in different sizes and form factors. Brightness is another key factor to consider when choosing the right lantern. If you're looking for a lantern that can illuminate your campsite, you need at least 500 lumens of brightness. Lanterns with lower brightness might not provide as much light, but they tend to be more portable, making them ideal for hiking and backpacking.
A rechargeable battery is another prerequisite, but many lanterns also double up as a power bank, letting you charge your phone, tablet, headlamps, and other small gadgets. You should also consider the use case of your lantern. If you're looking for something utilitarian, a cool white or warm white light will do, but if you want your lantern to provide ambient lighting, consider something with different lighting modes and colors.
The ruggedness of a lantern is another important factor. You'll need something that has some degree of water resistance to survive a light shower or morning dew. A durable build that can survive a drop is an added bonus.
BioLite AlpenGlow 500
If you're looking for a camping lantern that can also provide ambient lighting, the BioLite AlpenGlow 500 is an excellent option. Currently listed for $79.95 on Amazon, the lantern features a brightness of 500 lumens and comes with a 6,400mAh battery that doubles up as a power bank. The lantern has adjustable brightness, and can run for five hours on high brightness and 200 hours on low brightness. If you have battery power left over, you can plug in a USB-A cable to charge other gadgets like smartphones and string lights. The battery takes approximately three hours to charge.
The AlpenGlow 500 has nine different lighting modes to choose from, including Cool White, Warm White, Single Color, Multicolor, Single Side Lighting, and Fireworks. You can cycle between modes by pressing the button at the top, and activate modes like Candle Flicker and Party Mode by shaking the lantern.
The lantern features a hook at the bottom that lets you hang it for overhead lighting. It features an IPX4 rating for protection against splashes of water, making it suitable for outdoor use. There's also a red light night mode and a memory mode that remembers the last-used mode when the lantern is powered on.
Black Diamond Moji R+
If you're looking for a compact camping lantern , the Black Diamond Moji R+ is a capable option that's priced quite affordably at $44.95. The lantern features a brightness of 200 lumens, which isn't the brightest, but provides an even glow thanks to the frosted plastic finish. You can choose from four colors: Black, Dark Laurel, Azurite, and Dark Crimson.
The Black Diamond lantern has a small 1,500mAh battery that can be recharged using a micro-USB cable. It has a simple two-button interface that lets you cycle between full spectrum color and campfire light modes. You can also set a continuous light changing cycle for rainbow colors, and choose between strobe and solid colors for a party mode. The brightness is also adjustable.
The base of the Moji R+ features flip-up hooks that allow it to be easily suspended inside a tent. There are also four magnets at the bottom that allow you to attach the lantern to metal surfaces. It has an IPX4 rating that allows it to survive in rain and sleet, making it great for hikers and campers.
Goal Zero Lighthouse 600
The Goal Zero Lighthouse 600 ($69.95 on Amazon) looks like a traditional camping lantern, but has a few tricks up its sleeve. It features a 5,200mAh battery that can be charged in three different ways. You can connect the integrated USB charging cord to a power source to fully charge it in about six hours. Alternatively, you can connect it to a Nomad 10 solar panel ($96) that can charge the lantern in about six hours in direct sunlight. In an emergency, you can use the hand crank to charge the lantern, with one minute of cranking providing approximately 10 minutes of low power lighting.
The Lighthouse 600's battery can also be used to charge small gadgets like smartphones and headlamps by connecting them to the USB port. The 360-degree LED light features a brightness of 600 lumens and a warm white tone. While the lantern doesn't provide any other color options, you can adjust the brightness or light up just one side of the lantern to save power. The Lighthouse 600 can last for 2.5 hours on high power and up to 180 hours on low power. If using single-side lighting, the lantern lasts for five hours on high power and up to 320 hours on low power.
The Goal Zero lantern has collapsible legs and a built in handle that lets you carry it or hang it up. The front of the lantern has battery indicator LEDs, a brightness dial, and a 1.5A USB port.
LuminAID PackLite Max 2-in-1
The LuminAID PackLite Max 2-in-1 (listed on Amazon for $49.94) is a multi-functional camping lantern that would also make a great addition to your car's emergency kit. The inflatable lightweight lantern measures 6 x 6 inches, but can be collapsed into a compact 6 x 1 inch square. It's made of a TPU material that's waterproof and dustproof, allowing it to be submerged in water and even float.
The LuminAID lantern features a brightness of 150 lumens and can last up to 50 hours in low brightness mode. You can choose from five brightness modes, including a flashing low brightness mode. It has an integrated 2,000mAh battery that can be used to charge other devices. The lantern can be charged using the included USB cable in about one to two hours. It also features a solar panel on top that can recharge the battery in about 12–14 hours of sunlight, approximately two or three days.
At the top, there's an adjustable hang strap that can be used for carrying or hanging the lantern. This is also where you'll find the power button and battery indicator. You can press the power button to cycle between the brightness modes.