How To Choose Camping Lanterns

Rilor Staff
Update: October 12, 2021
Table of Contents

How to choose camping lanterns?

In the past, the most reliable way of illuminating a campground was through the use of gas-powered lanterns. They have a bulky body and feature glass windows so that the fire inside them can shine through. Even if they can be quirky to use, these old-style lanterns are efficient in generating warm and bright light. 

These gas-powered lanterns aren't exactly out in the market. However, there are more intuitive options for these traditional lanterns. These days, you can see lanterns that use LED lighting for better reliability and versatility. LED lanterns are known for their brightness, lightness, and adjustability. Hence, they are suitable for various backcountry applications. 

If you are planning to get a lantern for your next trip, this guide will certainly help you. 

How To Choose Camping Lanterns

In choosing a camping or backpacking lantern, the following considerations should be taken into account:

Type Of Lanterns

Gas-Powered Lanterns 

This type of lantern is n't really concerned with its weight and bulk. If you want more illumination, then a gas-powered lantern is also an ideal option.

There are two types of gas-powered lanterns: propane and liquid fuel. A propane lantern is not as bright as compared to liquid fuel lanterns. But at the same time, it isn't heavy in weight and cost.

Meanwhile, liquid fuel lanterns use the same fuel utilized by cooking stoves. Moreover, their canisters were pretty similar to the ones used in most backpacking stoves. If you want to attain the maximum brightness, then a liquid fuel lantern is the best option for you. However, keep in mind that they are heavy and costly. In fact, the brightness of a liquid fuel lantern is enough to cover your entire campground. Furthermore, some units have an adjustment feature that lets you dial down their brightness.

Always remember that gas-powered lanterns aren't designed for closed spaces. You should only use them in ventilated or open areas. Since they generate more heat, you should be careful when it comes to using them. Don't put them too close to highly flammable items. 

Overall, as long as you need the best light output possible, these gas-powered lanterns are the ideal choice. 

Electric Lanterns

As their name suggests, electric lanterns utilize electricity in their operation. Specifically, power is needed to illuminate the LED bulbs that are integrated into them. Most electric lanterns differ in their power source, weight, and overall size. You see, these lanterns either use rechargeable batteries, alkaline batteries, or external power sources. 

Modern electric lanterns feature efficient power utilization. What this means is that they aren't that power-hungry. Some models can even run for 24 hours straight. Interestingly, I've also seen other electric lanterns that can run on other power sources such as hand cranks and solar panels.

The light output of electric lanterns is still decent. Hence, you can still use them on most camping and backpacking adventures. Furthermore, I have to indicate that they are durable and don't generate any sound or fumes. And the mere fact that they are safe around flammable materials indicates that they will not worry about any fire hazard. 

Assessing The Performance Of Camping Lanterns

Here are some of the factors that you should take into account when assessing the quality of a lantern. These specifications can determine if a particular lantern is suitable for you or not. 

Light Output

You must first assess how much light each model produces. This factor depends on several things, including the number of LEDs used in the unit. For instance, there's no point in buying a lantern that produces less than 100 lumens. On the contrary, you'll end up wasting money since you won't get adequate lighting during nighttime activities. At the same time, don't go overboard with purchasing high-end lanterns. Remember that you're going to carry all those gadgets along with you. So, make sure that you buy one that has sufficient battery life. 

Duration Or Runtime

Another important aspect to consider is the duration or runtime of the lantern. How many hours do you expect to use the lantern? Do you plan to leave it unattended overnight? Is it meant to serve as a backup system? All these questions depend on what type of usage you intend to give to the lantern. 

Battery Life

If you are going for electric lanterns, battery life is another important specification to consider. It determines how many times you can charge the lantern before its lights start dimming. As mentioned earlier, modern lanterns come equipped with lithium-ion cells. They last longer compared to traditional alkaline batteries. Therefore, you shouldn't expect to spend lots of money just so you can enjoy extended battery life.

Water Resistance

This is an essential characteristic of every outdoor gadget. If your lantern gets wet, then the chances are that it might malfunction. In addition, water may cause corrosion which leads to electrical shorts. Thus, you need to ensure that your lantern is resistant to moisture. Fortunately, most manufacturers include waterproof features in their products. However, if yours isn't included, then you can always add a silicone cover to protect it from rainwater. 

Weight & Size

Lastly, weight and size are two more considerations that you should keep in mind while choosing a camping lantern. You want something lightweight but sturdy enough to withstand rough conditions. Also, you don't want to lug too heavy equipment around, especially if you're planning to hike long distances. 

In Summary

Camping lanterns are useful tools that help us navigate at night without having to rely on our cell phones. Most importantly, they provide safety by preventing us from stumbling upon obstacles like trees and rocks.

But, we have to be careful about selecting the right ones because different models vary greatly in terms of performance. We've discussed various aspects that you should look out for when shopping for a camping lantern. Hopefully, this article will assist you in making better choices.

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