Remember when a trusty Coleman lantern was the absolute best way to light up your campsite? Introduced in 1914, those kerosene-burning lamps were a mainstay with outdoor enthusiasts for decades. But nowadays there are tons of slick, new gadgets for outdoor illumination.
Here are the ones you'll want for your next camping excursion.
These string lights add a romantic touch to any campsite. When not setup they can be bundled to make a helpful lantern.
This camping lantern can be solar charged and works great as a tent light or to illuminate a dining table. It has three lighting modes which makes it extremely versatile.
If you're looking for a bit more illumination in a still-portable package, you can step up to Black Diamond's Apollo lantern with a full 200 lumens of power. It has a collapsible design with fold-out legs to give it some added height for better light dispersion. However, unlike the Voyager, it doesn't double as a flashlight. You'll also take a slight hit in runtime, with a promised 90 hours of use from four AA batteries instead of 100.
. The latest model packs a combination of 140-lumen lantern up top and a 50-lumen flashlight in the base, with the required four AA batteries promising 100 hours of use.
As good as battery-powered LED lanterns have gotten, there's still times when nothing but an old-fashioned fuel lantern will do. If you're really looking to light up a campsite, Coleman's North Star will give you a massive 1540 lumens of brightness on the highest setting, which will last for over four hours with a single 16.4 oz. propane tank (the low setting will stretch things to over nine hours). A simple push-button ignition means you also don't have to worry about matches.
There's few names more associated with camping than Coleman, and it has no shortage of camp lanterns for you to consider. One of the most unique is the company's Quad LED Lantern, which consists of four flat LED panels than can be detached from the base and used on their own as needed. The individual panels have each built-in rechargeable batteries, but you'll need eight big D-cells for the base.
As its name suggests, the UST 30-Day lantern promises a full 30 days of use (on its lowest setting) from the required three D-cell batteries. What's more, you'll still get an impressive 32 hours of use on the highest setting, which pumps out a full 300 lumens (more than you'll find on most other lanterns in its price range). It's also durable, with a rubberized, water-resistant housing, and it can double as an overhead light by taking the globe off and hanging it upside down.
If solar power isn't enough of a backup for you, there's always hand-cranked lights that'll ensure you're never completely in the dark. This one from Goal Zero promises 10 minutes of light for every one minute of cranking, and it also doubles as a USB charger in case you need to power your smartphone in a pinch. When it's fully charged, it'll run for 48 hours on the lowest setting or 2.5 hours cranked to the full 400 lumens of brightness.
It might not quite cut it as your only campsite light, but if you're looking for a backup light that doesn't require batteries at all the MPOWERED's Luci Outdoor 2.0 solar light is a good option. It'll take seven hours to fully charge in the sun, but you'll then get 18 hours of light, and the inflatable design means they're small enough (and cheap enough) that you can easily pack a couple of them.
If you need both a battery and a bright light, you should consider Gear Aid's FLUX. For $140 you're getting 20,800 mAh battery and a lamp that shines at 640 lumens. It can also charge other devices (or one single iPhone about 10 times). The FLUX also has several lights settings—from soft light to blinding bright—and can last for 13 hours at its max brightness and 192 hours at its lowest, which makes it a great fit for weekend camping getaways. It's also USB rechargeable, so you don't need to constantly burn through batteries.
If this model is a bit too expensive or simply more power than you need, Gear Aid also sells another with half the brightness and battery capacity.
When it comes to camp lights loaded with cool features, it's tough to top the new. Capable of pumping out 500 lumens, these lamps are water-resistant, durable, and designed to power BioLite's smaller SiteLight system. What sets the Base Lantern apart is the ability to control it from your tablet or smartphone, so you can set sleep timers, turn it on/off remotely, and choose the color and level of brightness. The lamp also has proximity sensors that turn it on when you wander into camp.
When setting out to create the, the designers at LuminAID wanted to make a camp light that is bright, simple to use, affordable, and highly packable (hence the name). This lantern features five levels of brightness with up to 150 lumens of light and a burn time of 50 hours. Its internal battery can be recharged using a USB adapter or a built-in solar panel.
As with other lights from LuminAid, the Packlite Max features an inflatable design that makes it easy to stuff into your backpack and inflate to its full size once you reach camp. The best part? It only weighs 6.8 ounces
Motorola isn't a company that usually comes to mind when you're talking camping gear, but it has designed an intriguing and versatile lantern. The LUMO Hybrid puts out 150 lumens of light and can quickly transform into a flashlight.
What makes this lantern shine through the crowd is a series of add-on modules that can attach to its base, extending its usefulness. Those modules include a Bluetooth wireless speaker, USB power bank, a digital weather station, and even a device to keep biting insects at bay. The lantern will sell for about $30 with each add-on module costing an additional $20-$30.
Capable of producing up to 300 lumens of light, thecan quickly illuminate just about any campsite. A handy dial on the front of the light allows you to set the exact brightness you need, and a soft blue-light provides a more subtle glow when sitting around a campfire.
But this lantern's best feature is its magnetic hanging system, so you can suspend it from trees, the roof of your tent, or just about anywhere else. At just $23, it's one of the cheaper lamps out there.