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What Should I Consider When Buying a Camping Lantern?

Diana Bocco
Diana Bocco

With dozens of designs, styles and sizes available, choosing a camping lantern can be daunting, but it doesn't have to be. Here are some tips to help you make the process as painless as possible, including the pros and cons of each model.

The most common type of camping lantern is a fuel lantern. These produce a clean, bright light and run on liquid camp fuel or disposable propane cylinders. A fuel lantern is inexpensive to purchase and run, since a single tank of fuel can last up to 14 hours.

There are various different types of camping lanterns to choose from.
There are various different types of camping lanterns to choose from.

Another advantage of fuel lanterns is that most camp stoves also run on propane, so you only need to take one type of fuel with you. The only con of this type of camping lantern is that it's for outdoor use only. If you want something to illuminate the interior of your tent, you need to rely on a different type of lantern.

If you want indoor lighting, you should buy a battery-run camping lantern. The major disadvantage of this type of camping lantern is energy consumption. You can easily go through several sets of D-cell or 9-volt batteries in one night, unless you buy a lantern that uses LED technology. LED lanterns give you a less powerful light, but they usually last longer and consume less energy.

Rechargeable lanterns also are available. These operate on rechargeable batteries and can be recharged overnight by plugging them into a 110-volt current outlet or a vehicle's cigarette lighter.

Some camping lanterns run off of several D size batteries.
Some camping lanterns run off of several D size batteries.

There are many brands and models of camping lanterns out there, and prices vary widely. The more bells and whistles a lantern has, the more it will cost. A simple fuel lantern will cost about 10 US dollars (USD). Superior models can run up to 100 USD and include things like remote distance ignition, safety switches, and automatic electric ignition.

Before you buy a camping lantern, decide which type you really need and then do some comparison shopping. The best places to find bargains are online and in discount outdoor shops. Household names such as Coleman are probably the best choice for occasional campers and those looking for a basic lantern at a good price.

Discussion Comments


Even if you are not a huge fan of actually camping, it is a good idea to keep a camping lantern in your house. If you are considering buying an emergency kit for your house, including a camping lantern on your shopping list is a really good idea.

While candles can keep you out of the dark during rolling black out season, camping lanterns provide a lot more light and are generally safer. I personally think that the LED versions give off the best light, but it is all down to personal preference.

You can buy a camping lantern on sale quite cheaply online and sometimes in store, depending on the time of month.


If you don't want to worry about not having enough power for your camping lantern when you need it, consider buying a solar powered version. These are easily powered during the day and hold a solid charge for up to 10 hours. Just in case, most varieties come with a hand crank in case you need to generate some extra energy.

Solar camping lanterns are a bit more expensive than fuel lanterns but at least you don't have to worry about carrying around anything flammable.

Also, some solar camping lanterns come with nifty features like build in radios and MP3 chargers. These little extras can make the extra expense more than worthwhile.


fuel activated lanterns provide the most light by far and since extra full tanks are relatively easy to carry along lots of light for extended times are practical but avoid pump up lanterns using petroleum liquid fuel they are the most dangerous and should be nixed period if children are part of the camping group.

Consider lanterns now available using LEDs to provide light: their current consumption is very low and batteries will last accordingly a long time as will the LEDs themselves (may well outlast your passion for camping...).Some are just $10, batteries installed and they are dimable.

while at it, get a second LED lantern that projects light like a spotlight or floodlight: it will replace a dozen flashlights with so much more light and longevity. they can now be bought for just $10, batteries included and for $10 you can also buy a LED flashlight, some of which use no batteries, having a built-in generator; but these are convenient for brief duration as the squeezing gets old quick.

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    • There are various different types of camping lanterns to choose from.
      By: nito
      There are various different types of camping lanterns to choose from.
    • Some camping lanterns run off of several D size batteries.
      By: Franck Boston
      Some camping lanterns run off of several D size batteries.