Best camping lanterns

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Best lantern for camping with lithium-ion batteries

Sofirn BLF LT1 lantern

Rechargeable, 360-degree lantern, portableHighlights:
Output5 – 570 lumens
FeaturesRechargeable, 360-degrees lantern, portable
Battery configuration1-4*18650 batteries

When you go camping regularly, it’s best not to go cheap. Get something durable and that lasts long, so you don’t need to take too many spare batteries.

The Sofirn LT1 is a great LED camping lantern with onboard USB-C charging. It uses regular 18650 type batteries. We’ve done an extensive review on it, so make sure you read the Sofirn BLF LT1 review to get all the details.

One of the great benefits of having a rechargeable lantern (with removable batteries) is the choice you have between taking some backup batteries along or charging it on the fly. You could charge it in your car or RV, but also from your laptop or even a solar panel with a USB port.

On top of that, the LT1 lets you use either 1, 2, 3, or 4 batteries. So, you don’t have to use all 4 batteries at the same time. This option is not just great for a long camping trip, it’s also great for emergencies.

Best campsite lanterns with AA batteries

Lumintop CL2

Lumintop CL2 in hand
Lumintop CL2 high mode runtime
Outputup to 650 lumens
FeaturesRechargeable, 360-degrees lantern, portable
Battery configuration1-4*AA / 14500 batteries

If you’re looking for an LED lantern for camping that runs on AA batteries, pay attention. Also, don’t forget to read our full review of the Lumintop CL2 before you order one!

The Lumintop CL2 is an LED camping lantern that runs on AA, Alkaline, and 14500 lithium-ion batteries. Please note that onboard charging can only be used with the 14500 lithium batteries, and they need to be button-tops. So, this means you can’t charge your Eneloops in this lantern. This is important to know.

You can use either 1, 2, 3, or 4 batteries, so you don’t have to use 4 at a time. This includes AA, NiMH as well as 14500 lithium-ion batteries.

Best LED camping lantern alternatives

Sofirn SP36 PRO with diffuser

flashlight in hand
Sofirn SP36 PRO runtime full
Outputup to 8,000 lumens (we measured 5750 at turn on)
FeaturesUSB-C onboard charging and can turn on while charging
Battery configuration3* 18650 batteries

If you don’t really want a full-fledged camping lantern, you can always buy a flashlight that can also work as one.

The Sofirn SP36 PRO is a flashlight that, with the optional diffuser, can work like a campsite lantern.

One of the additions Sofirn made to the Sofirn SP36 that the older Sofirn Q8 lacked was onboard charging. It’s USB type C and that’s awesome, but in my opinion, it’s more of a convenience feature.

Alas, the built-in USB charging works fine, and it takes around 4-5 hours to recharge the light. Read all details in our extended review of the Sofirn SP36 PRO.

However, keep in mind that you can only use this light with a diffuser when you can put it down on a flat surface. There is no lanyard attachment. The other alternative is adding a strong magnet at the bottom of the tail cap so it can hang from a metal object. The diffuser is only $3.

Buy flashlight:

You can buy a diffuser at Sofirn, but you can also buy a generic diffuser as long as the diameter fits.

What to know beforehand about campsite lanterns

Please be aware of Alkaline batteries. They leak and could damage your camp lantern. Plus, they are not powerful enough to maintain a consistently high output. Of course, alkaline batteries are fine to use during an emergency, but they shouldn’t be part of your everyday camping gear. If you want to stick to regular AA and AAA batteries, please use rechargeable batteries like Panasonic Eneloop.

Also, the lanterns we listed here are based on our testing. We don’t add lanterns, that we haven’t personally tested.

We also made a list of some of the best camping flashlights, in case you were looking for that type of light.

Some things to consider before buying a camping lantern:

  • Rechargeable lithium-ion batteries run your camping lights longer than AA or AAA batteries!
  • Don’t go camping often? Stay away from Alkaline batteries altogether
  • Don’t like using replaceable lithium-ion batteries? Get a flashlight with onboard charging and a built in battery, so you can charge it on the fly. If you choose rechargeable AA or AAA batteries, buy the standard white Panasonic Eneloop batteries since they can keep their charge longer than any other NiMH batteries
  • If you have to choose between a lantern running of AA or AAA batteries, always choose the flashlight running of AA batteries. They are only slightly larger but have 3 times the capacity (and therefore a much longer runtime)
  • Don’t keep batteries inside your lantern/flashlight while storing them away
  • Get a USB car charger, so you can charge the flashlight on the road, or anywhere with a USB connector if your car breaks down
  • Try to recharge all your batteries at least 1 time a year (it also helps to spot any bad batteries)
  • Get a cheap diffusor to use the flashlight as a lightbulb (diffuser spread the light into a wide area), or a red/orange cone to use as a warning signal. You can also use a plastic cup.
  • Get a lantern long runtimes (the lowest modes should be below 5 lumens to last multiple nights on 1 battery)
  • When you rechargeable AA batteries are empty (like an Eneloop) in an emergency use Alkaline batteries. Alkaline batteries can run at low output for a very long time.
  • Get a flashlight with a magnet in the tailcap, so you can stick it to metal, like the hood or the body of your car
  • Get a flashlight with a beacon mode. This mode will blink once every few seconds and lasts long enough for a rescuer to locate your position if you are lost
  • Don’t get a camping light with camouflage colors, but a bright color instead: you’ll be able to find it easier
  • Keep in mind: two is one, and one is none