Small accessories like taking the right lantern along with you make or break your camping experience – especially if you are traveling. Lanterns are great for illuminating an area for a larger group, but they are also important if only a handful of people are going camping since that is the only source of light you are going to get throughout the trip.
Headlamps are perfect for individual use. If you are taking on a solo outdoor adventure, then a headlamp can be a good choice. If you are camping to spend time with your loved ones, then a headlamp doesn’t make much sense. A lantern for camping can be a good idea for anything ranging from car-camping to a long-winded backpacking trip. They provide a 360-degree light radius.
Here are a few factors you should consider while purchasing a camping lantern:
You need to check if the intensity of the light or the ‘lumens’ is what you prefer. Also do remember that higher the wattage of the lantern results in lower energy efficiency, ie, the burn time will be shorter for the camping lantern.
You can determine the lumen output that you will need based on the intended use and group size. Small groups of 2 or 3 people can get by on 100 lumens or less (this will illuminate your tent enough for you to play cards or read books, and move around in general).
Larger groups may require a brighter light of more than 200 lumens. Since LED lanterns tend to range from 50 to 700 lumens, they can be the ideal choice.
This spec is called ‘burn time’ for gas lanterns or ‘average run time’ for battery-powered lanterns. It tells you how long you can expect a lantern to last on its power source. It can provide light on 1 tank of fuel (for fuel-burners) or on 1 set of batteries (for electric models). Most models of camping lanterns will offer a low and high-intensity variation.
Type of batteries
Electric camping lanterns have specific battery specifications so remember not to use any other battery than the one that is required.
Otherwise, you run the risk of damaging your battery. Alkaline batteries can lose power quickly when the temperature drops below the freezing point. Lithium batteries perform well in the cold too. To extend the life of alkaline batteries in the cold, carry them under your clothes during the day and keep them warm in your sleeping bag at night.
If you are carrying a traditional fuel-burning lantern, then it will have a traditional cloth mantle to give it the glow to function. Once burned, mantles will become fragile and require careful handling, so carry a few along.
Size and weight
If you are going car-camping, then weight and size may not be a problem, but if you are going on a proper backpacking trip, then you need to buy a proper camping lantern which will also be lightweight and easy to carry around.
Here are a a few types of camping lanterns available in the market:
These run on LED technology (which is a common trait with all battery-powered lanterns these days), and they have numerous advantages like:
- They have a long battery life.
- The light output is bright enough for a large group.
- It can handle rough use.
- It is quiet and free of fuss like exhaust.
- It’s safe for kids since an LED lamp doesn’t generate heat.
- The only thing you have to look after is disposing off the battery.
- If you prefer the old fashioned way of camping, you can take a traditional fuel-burning camping lantern along with you to your outdoor adventure.
- These traditional gas-powered lanterns can run on a wide variety of fuels, ranging from liquid-fuel like refillable white-gas fuel, propane fuel, or disposable butane fuel canisters that are compact and easy to use.
- They’re great when you need a camping lantern with an extremely bright intensity. When you need to light up the entire campsite, you can’t beat the lumens put out by a gas lantern.
- You need ample ventilation to make it work.
- They generate heat, so they’re not safe to use when children are around, and you need to be cautious of keeping them away from flammable materials.
- They’re noisy and bulkier.
These use one or more candles to provide soft and natural light.
- They provide soft light and no noise, so they create a good mood lighting.
- They’re adequate for close-up tasks.
- The might output is minimal.
Keep the candle lantern at a safe distance from flammable materials like tent fabrics, and they heat up easily.
Conclusion: There are a lot of lighting options out there for you to consider, but keep in mind your specific preferences and camping needs before zeroing in on the best camping lantern for you and your family for camping.