Whether you are planning on a trip into the backcountry or preparing your home for an emergency, proper illumination is an essential tool to have at your disposal.
Illumination is listed in the “10 Essential Systems” for the outdoors, which mountaineers wrote to help people be prepared in the wilderness. When traveling in the outdoors, you must be prepared to hike or set up camp at night, even if your plans do not call for it.
There are plenty of reasons to get yourself one of good-quality, reliable led lanterns. You may be an avid camper or hiker, have a strong desire to go on your first camping trip ever, or imagine a massive worldwide collapse where you will need to survive somehow and prepare for it. For all these purposes, you can find a decent LED lantern on the market nowadays.
The number of offered LED lanterns is so impressive today that you might need a piece of experts’ advice. This review will observe the top lanterns and define which parameters are the best here and there. Keep reading to select the best lantern that fits your requirements and needs perfectly! It doesn’t matter if you are looking for a lightweight lantern, or for a lantern with prolonged battery life, or one of the advanced camping lanterns; our rating will help you get the most reliable one.
Why Should I Even Have One?
The survival skills you have, as well as survival gear items you carry in your backpack, can be crucial in terms of your safety and successful surviving or homestead. The knowledge of certain items that can significantly maximize your survival chances or make your survival more comfortable and safe is crucial, as well.
At first, let us explain why you may need a lantern in various circumstances. Imagine that you are stuck in the woods at night, and you have to find something to eat and cook it, for example. Having a flashlight would not be sufficient because one of your hands will be busy carrying it. In such cases, one lantern with night vision can be a lifesaver and an amazing helper that will free your hands and let you survive in the night and darkness. Sounds convenient, right?
Moreover, all preppers know that a credible LED lantern will help you stay calm in a dangerous environment and survive wild nature. When buying a camping lantern, you will be surprised at how advanced they are nowadays. Some let you regulate the light level, change light modes, and give you a bright light when you need it the most. In contrast, others can boast a long battery life or work with disposable batteries (for instance, alkaline batteries or the simplest three AAA batteries), which you can always carry with you just in case.
How to Select the Perfect Lantern Correctly?
Now, if you are convinced and have started thinking about the greatest lantern you can purchase for yourself, you are probably wondering what the criteria for picking most lanterns are. There are several characteristics you shall take into account when searching for the best model that will give you light in case of emergency or a regular car-camping situation. First, you have to define which situation is yours and then move to the questions we offer below.
Here are the six vital questions you have to ask yourself and a seller (or the internet when surfing online) when making a choice:
- Do I need various modes and light degrees in my lantern?
- How long should the light last?
- Should it be lightweight and small, or can I override its dimensions?
- Is it durable enough?
- What power sources will the lantern use?
- How bright should it be?
Let’s check what options you have according to the questions above, step by step.
1. Lantern Lighting Degrees
Speaking of various modes, your lantern can provide, try forecasting where you will use your lamp most of the time. Maybe having an opportunity of switching modes from a bright one to a slight one is essential for you?
This will help when you plan to go camping for a long period and face different situations at night: from cooking dinner to reading books in a sleeping tent where you may be surrounded by your family members or friends. They probably don’t want to be distracted with your bothering light from a powerful LED lantern, right?
So, consider choosing a model which will adapt for various moments of your trip and become a perfect light source that satisfies everyone around you, too. Many options will provide you with a red light, white light, a combo of several string lights, and so on. Also, don’t hesitate to ask experts about how many lumens you may need for your case.
2. Lantern Burning Time
Every lantern has its own burning time, which you can easily find out when reading about its characteristics. It is your task to count how many hours you will need your camping lantern working.
This, in turn, depends on your plans: whether you are going on a rather predictable car camping trip in a known place and for a short period or you expect unpredictable events like global power outages in your area due to a certain crisis, going to the woods or mountains without a specific date when you will get back, and other difficult cases.
You can see that today various lanterns may work from 10-15 hours to a hundred or even more hours. Understanding your needs is rather easy: think how many hours you will use your LED lantern during the dark evenings and nights spent in an unusual situation.
More to the point
For instance, going on a camping trip for two or three days will require a simple camping lantern that can burn for around 12 or 15 hours, while having a difficult survival situation or power outage needs a secure lamp with over 50 hours of burning ability. You also should know that many lanterns increase their working hours by adjusting their brightness settings.
The number of required hours of your lantern productivity also depends on the region you are located in; some places have short nights, and others get dark at 7-8 p.m., and you can’t help it. So, analyze the environment surrounding you and try counting the time you will need your lantern to help you.
3. What about the Size?
Avid travelers think a lot of having enough space in their backpacks and never prefer items that need much space in their bags. Purchasing a decent LED lantern that will not require strong muscles to carry it and will not take much room is precious. But sometimes, your needs can be more than just a simple camping lantern.
If you are packing an emergency kit with all the important items to survive in the craziest situations, you should consider picking a reliable LED lantern and bear with its dimensions.
Durable LED Lanterns: Possible Characteristics
One of the main differences between the lanterns you will use outdoors and those that will stay indoors forever is that the first lantern type must be extremely durable. If your lamp crashes in the wilderness, it would be a disaster, and you won’t be able to stay in the woods without problems.
Most of the lanterns you will find today are water-resistant; besides, many of them are also protected from falling, breaking, and dust. To determine whether the lantern you want to buy is water-resistant, you shall check the product’s parameters and find its ingress protection code. Manufacturers normally provide buyers with an explanation of the code and include additional facts about the lantern’s durability.
It is worth noting that users’ reviews sometimes can be more truthful and helpful than the manufacturers’ promises. Before getting a specific lantern, ensure that you have checked some opinions or even videos online telling about the product in using it.
Your Lantern’s Power Source
Modern LED lanterns will offer you various power source abilities to avoid “dead battery” situations: from simple disposable batteries to solar energy.
When using a solar panel to charge your lantern, you can ensure that you will not run out of light unexpectedly. It will help in case of a massive power outage because you will need outdoor natural sources to bring your lantern back to life. The same applies to hand-crank technology. You won’t need any kind of a charging station to use those.
However, if you need something simpler and without additional features for your campsite, you may check lanterns that run with the help of disposable or rechargeable batteries. Nowadays, you can find products that may charge through a USB port from your power bank.
The best option is a lantern that allows having both battery kinds at the same time, ensuring that you will not be in trouble and will be able to illuminate the whole campsite. On average, the high setting will give you from 10 to 30 hours, while the low setting can go up to 100 hours.
As we have told before, you always should pick the lantern in accordance with your requirements. Maybe batteries will not be enough, and you will need extra features.
Sometimes a few things (like the ability to charge your lantern and change batteries simultaneously) can help you endure the worst situations in your entire life. In any case, always remember to carry extra batteries when using various devices in the woods.
Bright Enough: What about Your Lantern’s Brightness?
You will easily define how bright your lantern can be if you check its lumens (lm) number. A simple example: you will suffer if you are inside a small tent and use a 1000 lm lamp because its brightness would be unbearable. However, outside the tent in the darkness, such a lantern would be extremely helpful when you try to illuminate the entire campsite.
We recommend getting the best camping lanterns that will suit different moments: such lanterns shall have a brightness regulation of their LED bulbs. Otherwise, you will have to buy more than one lantern and get a backup light because it would feel uncomfortable — either indoors or outdoors.
Here are our Top Picks
1. Ultimate Survival Technologies 30-Day Lantern Review
UST 30 Day Lantern Review: This lantern by UST can run for up to 30 days on its lowest setting of 29 lumens. Its high setting is 300 lumens, which can easily light up a large area. It has 4 modes, including low, medium, high, and an SOS strobe setting.
This is a battery-operated lantern that runs on three D-cell batteries, and it is made with a rubber housing that is both water and impact-resistant. It features a large rubberized carrying handle and a smaller recessed hook in the bottom that allows it to be hung from the ceiling. The light diffuser easily comes off with a twist to allow the bulb to shine brighter. You can remove the diffuser and set it aside in strobe mode during emergencies.
This is a great lantern for camping and emergency preparedness. It is on the heavier side, so it would not be best for activities where you will be carrying all of your gear in a backpack. It will, however, last a full 30 days, which is key for emergency survival. Batteries will run down in storage, so it is a good idea to store the batteries separately. The lantern comes in black, silver, and glow.
- Brightness: 29-300 lumens
- Battery life: 30 days on low, 32 hours on high
- Size and weight: 3.5 x 3.5 x 7.2 inches, 1 pound
- Modes: High, Medium, Low, and Strobe
- Water-resistant: Yes
2. Energizer Weatheready 360-Degree LED Lantern Review
Energizer LED Lantern Review: The Weatheready Lantern by Energizer has three modes, including high, low, and an amber nightlight. It has to ability to run on either three AA batteries, which are included, or three D-cell batteries. Inside the casing, there are three bright white light LED bulbs that can produce up to 55 lumens on high. The housing is made of plastic materials, and the base is made of impact-resistant rubber. It is IPX7 waterproof, which means that it can be submerged in up to 3 feet of water. The on/off push button glows in the dark for easy use at night. The lantern also features a built-in carrying handle and a recessed hook on the bottom for hanging.
The LED lantern is large in size, but the plastic housing allows it to remain relatively lightweight. The packaging comes with extra batteries (AA batteries), but the lantern will run up to 15 days on low if using D batteries.
- Brightness: 28-55 lumens
- Battery life: 29 to 58 hours with AA, 195 to 380 hours with D-cell
- Size and weight: 5 x 6 x 11 inches, 14.7 ounces
- Modes: High, Low, and Night
- Water-resistant: IPX7 Waterproof
3. Rayovac Sportsman 240 Lumen 3D LED Lantern Review
Rayovac Sportsman Lantern Review: The Sportsman 240 by Rayovac has low, high, and strobe settings and can have a max output of 240 lumens on high. The Rayovac lantern runs on three D-cell batteries and uses LED bulbs that offer 100,000 hours of working time. There is a rubberized carrying handle as well as a hook on the bottom to hang the lantern for hands-free use. When not in use, green light blinks so that it can easily be found in the dark. The housing is water-resistant and designed for rugged use.
This lantern is almost as bright as the UST 30-Day but does not have even close to the same battery life. At 1 pound and 14 ounces, it is also almost a pound heavier. With 240 lumens, this lantern is great to have around for emergencies or short car camping trips.
- Brightness: Up to 240 lumens
- Battery life: 40 hours on low, 90 hours on high
- Size and weight: 7 x 3.5 inches, 1 pound 14 ounces
- Modes: High, Low, and Strobe
- Water-resistant: Yes
4. Ultimate Survival Technologies 60-Day Lantern Review
UST 60 Day Lantern Review: The UST 60-Day Lantern works on 6 D-cell batteries and offers low, medium, high, and strobe modes. High mode puts out an impressive 508 lumens, which can light a fairly large area. The light diffuser can be removed with a twist to provide more light or to signal for help in strobe mode. When set to low, this lantern offers an amazing run time of 60 days. The rubberized housing and carrying handle are both water-resistant and durable.
This lantern is the heaviest of our six, weighing in at almost 4 pounds. The run time of 60 days only applies to the low setting, which at 18 lumens is not a lot of lighting. However, because of its long runtime, this lantern is one of the best-LED lanterns on the market for long-term emergency preparation.
- Brightness: 18, 200, 508 lumens
- Battery life: 60 days on low, 36 hours on high
- Size and weight: 5.1 x 4.8 x 9.5 inches, 3.8 pounds
- Modes: High, Medium, Low, and Strobe
- Water-resistant: Yes
5. Divine LEDs Ultra Bright LED Lantern Review
Divine LED Lantern Review: The UltraBright Lantern from Divine is a lightweight and collapsible lantern that runs on three AA batteries. The company uses military-grade, water-resistant materials and offers a 10-year warranty. It can produce 60 lumens for about 60 hours. There is no on/off button, and the collapsible design allows the lantern to turn on when it is opened and off when it is closed.
This is the smallest and lightest of the five and the only one that is collapsible. This makes it the best for camping or hiking if you are planning on carrying your gear. However, it only offers one mode and does not have any rubberized surfaces. The prices will vary wildly, with some retailers charging up to $60. There are also the best budget options with top lighting features and great max output.
- Brightness: 60 Lumens
- Battery life: Up to 60 hours
- Size and weight: 10.6 ounces
- Modes: High
- Water Resistant: Yes
6. Ivation Hand-Crank LED Lantern Review
Hand-Crank LED Lantern Review: This hand-crank lantern by Ivation is probably the neatest of the six we reviewed here. It is perfect for a small tent when camping, and if your bug-out bag is strapped for space, this lantern is key for tight spaces because it collapses for ease of storage.
Here are a few of the cool lighting features of the Ivation. This is a rechargeable LED lantern that you charge by a hand-crank. After just one minute of cranking, you can get 11 minutes of low-level light. You can also charge with the included USB cable, which also allows you to charge cell phones or other electronics in emergency situations.
Another cool feature of this rechargeable lantern is that it collapses into a red-light flashlight. So you get a lantern and a flashlight at the same time.
The only problem with this lantern is it might be a bit small or underpowered for more than just a LED lantern. If you are walking through the woods for an extended time or something else, you might want something bigger with longer, better life.
In other words
This is perfect for tents and is one of the best backpacking lanterns around if you don’t want to add much weight to your pack.
- Brightness: 15-65 Lumens
- Battery life: 4.5 hours low light, 40 minutes high light. A rechargeable camping lantern with a hand crank.
- Size and weight: 8 ounces
- Modes: Low, High
- Water Resistant: Rainproof, not waterproof.
My Vote for Best Camping Lantern
Each of these six lanterns has upsides and downsides. As far as brightness and battery life, the UST 60-Day Lantern wins by a landslide with a whopping 508 lumens on high and 60 days of battery life on low. This is the brightest LED lantern of the six.
In the size and weight categories, the Divine Ultra Bright Lantern and Ivation were the lightest and most compact, making them the best option for carrying on the go.
As far as water resistance, the Weatheready Lantern by Energizer beats the competition with full IPX7 waterproofness.
The overall winner, in my opinion, is Ultimate Survival Technology’s 30-Day lantern. It is very bright but not as heavy as its 60-day brother, which still allows it to be a great backpacking lantern. The rubberized housing makes it very durable and water-resistant. This lantern would be excellent for a camping trip, and it’s one of the best emergency lanterns on the market, offering bright and reliable illumination at a decent cost.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
If you still have doubts, check our answers to some popular questions below.
How to pick a perfect product among the LED lanterns?
You have to analyze what needs the product should cover in your specific case. Remember to consider various characteristics we have described above: from the lantern’s size to its battery life. Today, you can find so many LED lanterns in the shops and on the internet that finding the best lantern is rather easy. Don’t forget that camping and power outages usually require different types of lanterns (for instance, if you face outages from time to time, check out theCORE 500 Lumen CREE LED Battery Lantern).
What should I note when buying a product for a camper trip?
We would recommend you to check its brightness and ability to change it. You will probably need a multifunctional lamp that can offer different levels of lighting. Also, if you plan a long camping trip, don’t forget to check the product’s working hours.
What types of power sources can lanterns use?
Normally, you will find the best lantern options with either rechargeable or disposable rechargeable lithium-ion batteries, or hand crank charging, or solar energy charging. Some models combine various charging methods. Select your product wisely and think of charging ways in advance.