7 Best Camping Lanterns of 2019—Field Tested & Reviewed
|Camping Lantern||Score||Max Lumens||Max Burn Time|
|Top Pick: UST 30-Day Duro LED Lantern||
|Streamlight The Siege Lantern||
|Best Rechargeable Camping Lantern: Goal Zero Lighthouse 400 Lantern & USB Power Hub||
|Black Diamond Apollo Lantern||
|Best Lightweight Camping Lantern & Best Value: Black Diamond Moji||
|Coleman Twin LED Lantern||
|Etekcity Portable LED Camping Lantern||
We took 7 of the best camping lanterns out into the wilderness for nighttime testing. After burning through lots of batteries, the UST 30-Day Duro is our all-around Top Pick for its combination of brightness, versatility, and stellar battery life.
Lanterns are a substantial quality-of-life upgrade at a campground, especially if you’re accustomed to using only headlamps. A good lantern needs to provide illumination without being harsh, have enough juice to last through a trip, and be rugged enough to withstand rough treatment.
Our test featured some strong contenders. For the technologically inclined, we think the Goal Zero Lighthouse 400 is best rechargeable camping lantern. For minimalists or backpackers, the Black Diamond Moji may be all you need.
Read on for full details and recommendations.
Note: If you’re looking for a solar-powered lantern, check out our guide to the best solar camping lanterns.
Top Pick: UST 30-Day Duro LED Lantern
The UST 30-Day Duro isn’t without it’s drawbacks, but it’s our favorite camping lantern for all-around use.
The headliner of the Duro’s feature set is staggering battery life. On the lowest setting, UST claims that the lantern will last for nearly a month of continuous use.
Even on the brighter settings, it’s rated for 22 hours on high or 106 hours on medium. These figures seemed roughly accurate in our testing, and we certainly never felt let down by the battery life.
Along with an SOS strobe, those three settings are all the Duro can provide. That’s a limitation compared to other lanterns with dimmers, but we found we didn’t mind much in practice.
The Duro’s diffuser screen provides a soft light, and it’s easily removable for more concentrated illumination or use as a downlight.
On High, the Duro is rated for a blinding 700 lumens. The extra brightness isn’t as noticeable with the diffuser in place, but the Duro easily outpaces the smaller camping lanterns.
The glow-in-the-dark feature is nifty, but it’s not always bright enough to help locate the lantern in the dark. In general, however, the construction seems rugged enough to handle any abuse we could throw its way.
The biggest faults are in the base. The battery compartment unscrews easily enough, but replacing it requires aligning a small tab with a gap in the lid. It requires close inspection and took some practice to get used to. The small hook on the bottom is also flimsy, although it does work for hanging as a downlight.
These are relatively minor niggles. The Duro’s battery life and brightness outweighed the imperfections. For general camping use or as a power-outage backup, the Duro is the lantern we’d reach for.
- Max Lumens: 700
- Max Burn Time: 720 hours
- Power Source: 3 D batteries
- Weight: 1.1 lbs
Best Rechargeable Camping Lantern: Goal Zero Lighthouse 400 Lantern & USB Power Hub
A more sophisticated take on the camping lantern, the Lighthouse 400 is unique and useful.
The lantern is named for its brightness, which we found strong enough for general use. We were more impressed by the quality of the light.
The Lighthouse emits a warm and soft glow through either one or both sides of its bulb. It was a unanimous favorite for light that’s easy on the eyes, and the dimming switch makes adjustment easy.
The Lighthouse is the only lantern in our test to work on solely rechargeable power. That’s a blessing and a curse—not fiddling with batteries is refreshing, but you have to remember to charge the lantern before every trip.
Battery life is unexceptional. The Lighthouse can manage 48 hours of burn time, but only on the lowest setting with one side illuminated.
With both sides at maximum, the lantern lasts just 2.5 hours. The Lighthouse does have a hand crank for emergency power, but it’s best reserved for emergencies.
We found that we could usually get the Lighthouse to last through trips of up to a few days without issue. Still, this lantern would work best in tandem with a charging system like a portable battery charger or a solar panel.
Speaking of which, the Lighthouse can also act as a battery pack to charge phones and devices. It’s remarkably good at this, providing a quick charge from the 4400 mAh battery.
The design is clean, with folding legs and a durable top loop for hanging. The flashing “hazard” lights aren’t particularly useful, but they don’t get in the way.
The Lighthouse is an excellent option for those who would like a good rechargeable camping lantern, and it’s worth a look for its light quality alone. If your trips are on the short side (or you have a battery pack or solar panel), the Lighthouse is as good as it gets.
- Max Lumens: 400
- Max Burn Time: 48 hours
- Power Source: 4400 mAh rechargeable battery; hand crank
- Weight: 1.1 lbs
Best Lightweight Camping Lantern & Best Value: Black Diamond Moji
The tiny Moji isn’t the brightest camping lantern on the block, but it may be enough for many campers, and it’s an excellent value.
The best thing about the Moji is its size. Weighing just 122 g (4.3 oz) and with a diameter under 3 inches, the Moji is the smallest possible weight sacrifice after a lightweight headlamp.
For the size, it performs well. The 100-lumen LED bulb is diffused by a hemisphere of frosted plastic, creating a soft and wide light.
The 70-hour burn time is enough for heavy use, and it’s easy to carry a few extra AAA batteries as a backup.
The Moji isn’t as bright as the larger camping lanterns and doesn’t illuminate a full campground as well. For tent or table use it was plenty bright, and Black Diamond’s intuitive adjustment system makes dimming easy.
Both Black Diamond lanterns have two metal flanges that fold outward to allow the lantern to hang. This is one of my favorite pieces of design—it has the convenience of a clip with the security of a loop, and you don’t need any extra carabiners to hang the lantern.
Hung from a small loop at the apex of a tent, the Moji provides full illumination while remaining unobtrusive.
For backpackers who want tent illumination without a weight sacrifice, we wholeheartedly recommend the Moji.
It’s also more affordable than other options, making it a good camping lantern for campers on a budget. For campers who want more than a headlamp but don’t need a larger lantern, the Moji won’t disappoint.
- Max Lumens: 100
- Max Burn Time: 70 hours
- Power Source: 3 AAA batteries
- Weight: 0.27 lbs
Reviews of the 4 Other Camping Lanterns We Tested
The Streamlight lantern looks and feels very similar to the UST 30-Day Duro, and it scored nearly as well. It fell just short of an award, but it’s a solid all-around lantern.
Like the Duro, the Streamlight uses 3 D batteries, has three main light settings, and operates with a single button on the front.
The Streamlight is the heavier of the two at around two pounds. It’s nearly as bright as the Duro, and the burn time is nearly as impressive. Notably, the Streamlight can run for 30 hours on its highest setting.
The biggest advantage of the Streamlight is its night vision mode. Holding down the button activates a red LED, which can also be an SOS strobe.
The red light is handy at night, and it’s a feature we wish more lanterns would include.
The Streamlight also boasts extreme durability, and its battery casing is less finicky than the Duro. It has recessed clips on both the top and the bottom for easy hanging.
The diffuser can be removed, but the LED bulbs inside are unshielded, which means that the light is harsh without the diffuser.
If you like a night-vision light, the Streamlight is the only lantern that can oblige. It falls short of the brightness and battery life of the UST 30-Day Duro, but it’s more than enough for most campers. For all-around use, it’s a perfectly good option.
- Max Lumens: 540
- Max Burn Time: 295 hours
- Power Source: 3 D batteries
- Weight: 1.94 lbs
The Apollo didn’t score as well as our award winners, but it’s a good balance of weight and performance.
The Apollo has a distinctive design. With three spindly legs that fold around an egg-like bulb, it looks like something out of a sci-fi movie. It can run on either 3 AA batteries or an internal 2600 mAh rechargeable, or both in succession.
Using multiple power sources is handy, but the battery life isn’t all that impressive. Black Diamond rates the Apollo for only 24 hours of burn time.
That felt conservative in our testing, but while the Apollo was enough for short or medium trips, it couldn’t keep up with the battery life of the larger lanterns.
The 225-lumen bulb is reasonably bright, and the diffuser makes a soft light. The diffuser can’t be removed, and the Apollo can’t match the concentrated brightness of the Streamlight or UST lanterns.
A USB port allows the rechargeable battery to charge up phones, and battery indicators show the remaining juice in both power sources. The Apollo shares the Moji’s nifty hanging mechanism, which is just as effective here.
That’s a lot of features, and they’re all packed into 3/4 of a pound. The Apollo is small enough that it’s not a major sacrifice for backpacking, but it’s competent enough to keep up as an all-around lantern. For campers who need that balance, the Apollo is a good choice.
- Max Lumens: 225
- Max Burn Time: 24 hours
- Power Source: 3 AA batteries; 2600 mAh rechargeable battery
- Weight: 0.76 lbs
A friend of mine once described Coleman gear like this: “If you want something that will still work in ten years, it’s good. But don’t take it backpacking.”
That certainly applies to Coleman’s Twin LED Lantern. More than a foot tall, the Coleman dwarfs the rest of the lanterns in this test. It swallows 8 D batteries, which help bring the weight well over three pounds.
For the weight (and battery cost), performance is middling. The Coleman’s 390 lumens are managed by a dimmer dial, but even at maximum it doesn’t look as bright as the size would suggest. The light is harsher than most of the other lanterns.
The Coleman’s biggest asset is its burn time—although the maximum is 299 hours, the Coleman can run for 85 hours on high. This may be the Coleman’s best selling point, and for as many batteries as it uses, we expect nothing less.
The Coleman has a loop at the top, but it’s for carrying more than hanging (the Coleman is too heavy to hang in most tents). There are no other features.
The Coleman is all about simplicity, and it’s built to last. While minimalism has its place, the Coleman felt too large, clunky, and harsh compared to our favorites.
If you like the classic looks and no-frills package, the Coleman is worth a look. Otherwise, you’ll get more performance and a smaller package elsewhere.
- Max Lumens: 390
- Max Burn Time: 299 hours
- Power Source: 8 D batteries
- Weight: 3.6 lbs
The most budget-friendly contestant in our testing, the Etekcity lantern did not impress.
Things start off well, with a surprisingly slick design. The Etekcity looks like a solid black cylinder, but a quick tug expands the cap to reveal four columns of LED bulbs. Pulling out the bulbs acts as an on/off switch.
Having the Etekcity open, however, is not a pleasant experience. The LEDs are a harsh bright white that’s more effective at blinding passers by than it is at lighting an area.
At 60 lumens, the Etekcity is the dimmest camping lantern in the test, but it somehow manages to be the least pleasant.
In the Etekcity’s favor, it’s light, small, and durable. It doesn’t take up much space, and it comes with two metal loops for carrying or hanging.
But battery life is poor (12 hours max runtime), and there’s no way to adjust the lantern’s aggressive beam. The harsh white glare made this lantern everyone’s least favorite.
Even for a budget lantern, the Black Diamond Moji offers better value and performance. Short of warding off vampires, we’d steer clear of this one.
- Max Lumens: 60
- Max Burn Time: 12 hours
- Power Source: 3 AA batteries
- Weight: 0.57 lbs
Here are the best camping lanterns:
- UST 30-Day Duro LED Lantern
- Streamlight The Siege Lantern
- Goal Zero Lighthouse 400 Lantern & USB Power Hub
- Black Diamond Apollo Lantern
- Black Diamond Moji
- Coleman Twin LED Lantern
- Etekcity Portable LED Camping Lantern
How to Choose the Best Camping Lantern for Your Needs
All camping lanterns are designed for one purpose: lighting up a tent or camping site. Most of the lanterns in this test will do that adequately.
Different lanterns come with different combinations of power sources, burn times, and brightness. Selecting a lantern comes down to setting priorities.
Brightness & Adjustability
All-out brightness is nice to have, especially if you like your lantern to light a large area. But more important for many uses is the quality and adjustability of the light.
You may use your lantern for lighting up a cooking area at dusk and then as a reading light at bedtime. It’s nice to be able to vary the brightness based on your task. Most of the lanterns in this test provide some form of adjustability, either by discrete levels or a dimmer switch.
The quality of the light is equally important. Especially if you use your lantern for things like reading, a warmer light is much easier on the eyes.
The biggest choice in lantern power is between rechargeable and disposable batteries.
Disposable batteries are most common, though rechargeable systems are becoming more common. Disposable batteries are convenient enough to buy and use, and it’s easy to carry backups.
Even among lanterns that use disposable batteries, there’s variation. The Black Diamond Moji uses just 3 AAA batteries, while the Coleman Twin LED needs 8 D batteries. Battery size changes the weight of the lantern and the cost of replacing batteries once they die.
Rechargeable batteries allow nifty features like charging mobile devices, and they save you from constantly buying fresh batteries. On the other hand, you have to remember to charge the lantern before each trip.
But unless you have a portable solar panel or battery pack, a rechargeable lantern is done once the battery is empty.
Burn time varies widely between lanterns. How much life you need from your battery depends on how long your trips are and how much time you spend with your lantern lit. If you run your lantern from dusk until midnight each night, you’ll run out of juice more quickly than frugal users.
It’s fairly easy to calculate your needs. Estimate the amount of time you use your lantern each night, then multiply by how many days you’ll be in the wilderness.
Max burn times can be deceptive, because they’re calculated based on the lowest brightness setting. If you usually use your lantern on high, you’ll get less time out of the batteries.
Camping Lantern Alternatives
Lanterns aren’t the only way to light your way around your campsite at night. Here are some alternative camping and backpacking light sources we’ve also tested and reviewed:
How We Tested
Testers rated lanterns based on how pleasant and illuminating each lantern was on its highest setting. Here are the results:
We used each lantern for a variety of camping tasks both inside and outside a tent. We even tried them out as lighting around the house to simulate use during a power outage. At the end of the testing period, testers scored lanterns on brightness, light quality, design, and portability.