Updated: May 29, 2015

Lantern Reviews:

If you spend a significant amount of time camping each year or just enjoy being in the outdoors, owning a quality lantern will give you the piece of mind that you can light up your immediate surroundings as evening sets in. Flashlights are great around your house, but a camping lantern provides much more light and is easy to put on a campground table and let it be so your hands can be free to do other things. There are 3 main types of camping lanterns - gas, battery or candle power. Each has advantages and disadvantages over the others. Gas lanterns are an excellent choice for avid campers who want a bright light source. They are fueled by either liquid or pressured gas and tend to be more expensive than battery lanterns or candle lanterns. Gas lanterns can be noisy and are never recommended for use in tents or campers. For cold weather conditions, a gas lantern is the perfect choice because they tend to give off some heat as well as a bright light. IF it's raining hard, make sure you keep water out of the glass globe section of the gas lantern or else it could break. A single mantle in a gas lantern gives off about 300 watts of light.
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Electric, or battery lanterns are the safest ones you can buy, but you will spend plenty on batteries for them. They work well around campsites and are the only type that is recommended for use in tents or campers. Battery lanterns with 12-volt adapters let users plug them into lighter sockets in cars which makes them very versatile. The new remote control lanterns from Coleman are a fun feature for kids when camping. My brother recently bought one of these models and they work great around bedtime when everyone is getting into the tent and you want light near the entrance. Just push the "off" button once you are all situated and the lantern goes off. Some battery powered lanterns are a rechargeable style that let you recharge the battery (even in the cigarette lighter). They don't last as long as regular battery powered lanterns and the light is duller. Candle lanterns are easy to use, but don't provide the brightest light. They use long burn candles that are roughly 2 inches in diameter and 4-5 inches in length and can burn for up to 8 hours. Definitely be careful when using a candle lantern so that you don't start any fires. Keep in mind that the hot wax build up in a candle lantern can burn your skin so keep it out of the reach of small children. Some of the top brands are Coleman, Energizer, GE, Freeplay, and Mountain Green. We have researched the top selling lanterns from several online stores and viewed customer feedback to come up with the most popular and top rated lanterns in each category (see below). You can browse the top selling camping lanterns here.

Best Battery Lantern:

The Coleman Retro Full-Size Lantern with Remote Control ($50) is the top battery powered lantern on the market and highly recommended for families that like to camp. The remote control feature lets you turn the lantern on or off from up to 40 feet away. The Coleman lantern comes with 4 different lighting options and can operate up to 14 hours on the "high" setting or almost 30 hours on the "low" setting. The retro style, heavy-duty plastic casing is equipped with a bail handle so you can hang it from a hook, awning, or limb or place it flat on benches or tables. The spiral U-tube 15-watt fluorescent bulb is easy to change with a "quick release" function. The bulbs run cool keeping the lantern from getting too hot. The one drawback to this lantern is that it requires 8 D size alkaline batteries to run (can get expensive). You can find this model at REI.com. Another popular battery model is the Hurricane Lantern ($30) which has a super bright 12-LED light which lasts really long and helps maximize your battery life. Runs on 4 D batteries and has a built in dimmer switch and a convenient fold down handle for hanging or carrying. We were recently impressed with a test model from Dorcy.com. They make a complete line of LED flashlights and lanterns, and the battery powered (4 D cell) Twin Globe model compares with the light output from gas lanterns, producing 160 lumens when both LED globes are engaged. There are 3 settings to choose from -- the amber night light, single globe, or double globe. As added features, it floats and is waterproof, and it packs a 700 hour runtime in nightlight mode (single globe will burn for 350 hours, twin globes will shine for 175 hours on fully charged 4 D cells). It stands 11 inches tall with a 5 inch diameter base, with a flip up handle and hook on top. It sells for $49 and is a very good deal for a solidly-built camping lantern. See all the top rated battery powered lanterns here.

Top Gas Lantern:

The Coleman Xcursion Lantern ($40) is a top rated gas lantern that works well traditional campsites or up in the backcountry for hardcore backpackers. The Coleman Xcursion runs on high performance Powermax fuel and will give you reliable light and heat in cold weather or in higher elevations. The fuel tank is large enough that you will get 6 hours of light from the lantern and it's easily refillable in about 20 seconds. It weights all of 1 lb which is great for backpackers and it's really quiet compared to other noisy gas lanterns. Geartrends.com carries this Coleman gas lantern plus several other LED lanterns. BEST - Reviews pointed us to the Coleman Two-Mantle Dual Fuel Powerhouse Lantern which sells for around $60. It will burn up to 3 hours on one tank of fuel and the light is adjustable. The Coleman lantern weighs a touch over 27 ounces and is quite sturdy. It is a single mantle variety and some say the two-mantle lanterns are the better way to go if you need more light. You can check out the most popular Coleman lanterns here.

Candle Lantern:

The Candelier by UCO ($33) is a newer innovation in candle powered lanterns. The Candelier is a 3 candle lantern that is now more versatile and brighter than past models. We read some reviews where people were able to warm water on top of the lantern because it generates so much heat. The Candalier comes with a padded carrying case and an extra pack of candles. Amazon.com carries the UCO Candlelier Candle Lantern Deluxe Kit.

LED Lantern:

The Freeplay Indigo Lantern ($40) is the best LED camping lantern we could find. Available at outdoor stores like REI, the Freeplay lantern is very compact and has a cluster of 7 LED bulbs. You can adjust the lighting with a dimmer switch that lets you go from "area lighting" to "nightlight use". The rechargeable NiMH battery gives you up to 2.5 hours of maximum brightness and almost 70 hours of nightlight mode. Owners say even if the battery runs down while power is off, just wind the handle and the light is back on (great backup battery feature). A quick 1 minute of winding will give you an additional 3 hours of nightlight mode and 6 minutes on maximum light. You get the wall adaptor for recharging the NiMH battery - takes 20 hours to charge to 100% capacity. The LED bulbs are practically "destruction proof" and give almost 100,000 hours of use before they go bad. We recently got our hands on a similar model, the Freeplay Mini Lantern Eco-Charge. Shaped like a mini lantern, it comes with a hanging clip on top, 4 LED lights in the dome section, and a separate single LED light on the side which can be used as more of a directional flashlight. It has a heavy plastic build to it and stands about 7 inches tall - quite rugged. The single light is turned on and off with a pushbutton, while the 4 lantern LEDs are activated with a dial mechanism, allowing you to go from dim to bright, and anywhere in between. The light output is excellent, prompting family members, even in daylight, to cover their eyes. It has a built-in rechargable battery and a hand crank for generating your own power. One minute of hand cranking will provide 7 minutes of full power lantern light, 1 hour of lower power lantern light, or 45 minutes of the single LED flashlight. This is a great little lantern, and the hand crank makes it ideal as a backup light source in the car, house, cabin, you name it. RECOMMENDED - The Coleman 8D Family Size LED Lantern is also top rated and runs on 8D batteries giving you 66 hours of runtime on low or 32 hours on high. The LED light sheds 170 lumens on the high setting.