Camping Lanterns

Outdoor Lantern

Camping lanterns remain an essential piece of camping or backpacking equipment.  With no electricity, it will be the only light, and should be used wisely.  It is one piece of equipment that takes advantage of the latest technology available.  Whether you decide on kerosene lanterns or the latest LED, the lantern is a must.

How To Choose Your Camping Lantern

Outdoor Lanterns

One can go for the rustic kerosene lantern, but unless you like living in the olden days, there are more modern choices.  When choosing a camping lantern depends on the following:

  • Type of camping-tent, backpacking/hiking, motorcycle camping, etc.
  • Family camping (small children) or adult
  • Length of camping trip
  • Camping environment-example, some lanterns don't work well in winter temperatures

We'll cover the basic styles available and you decide which one fits best.

Liquid Fuel Outdoor Lantern

This type of lantern used is white gas, kerosene, or unleaded fuel, available in a single or double mantle.  They normally use white gas but some are configured for dual fuel usage.  These lanterns shine very bright to illuminate an entire campsite.  Use caution when you are using this type of lantern, because of the heat that it produces, as well as the use of liquid fuel.  Think twice before using around children. 

The mantles need replacing once a season and you will need to pressurize the fuel about once an hour to keep it burning brightly. We recommend this style lantern for drive up camping during Spring, Summer or Fall only.  The fuel tends to gel in Winter months. Weight is 4 lbs. and can burn approx. 7 hours at high intensity or 14 hours at low light.

Propane/Butane Gas Camping Lanterns

Outdoor Camping Lanterns

These are single or dual mantles which need replacing about once a year.  Unlike the liquid fuel, the propane tank (usually 16.4oz) is self-pressurized and runs for about 12 hrs.  These lanterns work well in all seasons, but not recommended for hiking or backpacking, as you have to carry the fuel tanks.  Neither propane nor liquid fuels  produce a great deal of heat and dangerous fumes and are not for inside use.

Battery/Electric Camping Lanterns

Outdoor Camping Lantern

There is a wide variety of electric outdoor lanterns and battery storage/recharging systems.  What make this type popular is that they are safe to use around children, quiet, and relatively cheap.  The downside is that as the power source runs down the light will dim at the same time, which will require recharging or replacement of the batteries.

Technology has improved this area greatly within the past few years with LED lanterns replacing, fluorescent lights what was considered the latest innovation.  Fluorescent and LED lighting systems are not recommended  because they are susceptible to cold weather.

LED Lanterns

LED lighting lanterns come in a variety of styles. Coleman makes the Quad LED outdoor lantern that has 4 mini lanterns that can be assembled for 360° of lighting, but each segment acts as a personal lantern for each member of the family.

Many of these lanterns have their own built-in charger and weigh about 5lbs for an 8 'D' size model.  Charging systems can plug into a cigarette lighter of a car or other models have solar panels that charge up a lantern during the day for night use.

There is also a 'dynamo' style that has a hand crank and this particular model has a built-in FM radio along with 6 different charging adapters for cell phones.

Backpacking Lanterns

Grank Outdoor Lantern

There are two other types of LED lights that are well suited for hiking, backpacking, or just for reading a book.  One of these is an LED headlamp complete with adjustable headband. Many of these styles have multi-level lighting depending on the activity.

Another favorite especially for backpacking is a collapsible 4.5-oz. LED light that is about the size of a deck of cards. The light can last for up to 35 hours of run time on low.

Tent Lights

There are a few models of electric lights that can be used inside a tent.  These types consist of a permanent magnet in one side and a clamping plate that allows you to use the wall fabric of your tent for lighting where needed.  The Coleman Tent Lite uses a krypton bulb and 4 AA batteries.  There is even a model that includes a fan for moving air through a closed up tent.


There are a full range of accessories to choose from depending on the type of camping lanterns.

  • Multi-purpose camping lantern stand-collapsible tripod extends to 7' high.
  • Another version of a lantern stand simply wraps around a nearby tree.
  • Propane adapters for using larger tanks with propane lantern. 
  • Reflector for lantern globe redirects light for brighter light.

There are many types of camping lanterns to choose from and we have given you only the basics here.  Remember to follow the manufactures instruction for cleaning and storage.  This will assure your safety as well as the life of the lantern.

Now that you have a better understand about lanterns, check out our Camping Store.

If you have additional questions, do not hesitate to email us using our Contact Us page.

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