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Lighting – one of the most important needs of anyone who loves spending time outdoors. Whether you’re a camper, a hiker, or simply a nature enthusiast, you need a good, dependable source of light to navigate through the night out in the wilderness.
Aside from flashlights and headlamps, lanterns are a must-have in your camping gear stash. It’s great for lighting up a surrounding area hands-free and can be of great help with activities such as cooking, going to the bathroom, and even reading a book when out on the campground.
There are 3 main types of lanterns out in the market today – candle, fuel-burning, and battery-operated, each having its advantages and disadvantages. Aside from the main types, these lights also come in different sizes, models, and features.
Uses a candle or two to give off a soft, ambient light. You can opt for this type if you like your lighting to be soft and natural. They provide minimal light output, although reflectors can be used to improve brightness. No noise, but is hot to the touch as they generate heat. Not ideal to use inside the tent and should be kept at a safe distance from flammable materials like blankets and tent fabric. But as long as you have candles, you won’t run out of a light source.
Fuel-burning lanterns are best known for their light intensity. If you need a larger area illuminated, this is a good choice for you especially if weight is not an issue. These lanterns run on liquid fuel, gas, or butane; all of which are fuel-efficient. Out of the three, the liquid-fuel variety gives off the brightest light, but it is also the heaviest and the priciest. Other downsides to fuel-burning lanterns include being heavy and bulky, noisy and hot to the touch.
This type is also commonly referred to as electric or LED lanterns. Popular to newer campers, battery-operated lanterns are compact and designed for rugged use, ideal to bring on the trail or during hikes. Generally provides good light output, has a long battery life, and gives off no noise. This is the type safest around children, too, as they don’t generate any heat. The only real disadvantage is the usage and disposal of batteries.
Factors to consider when buying a camping lantern:
This depends on your lighting needs at camp. Do you need a light source for just close-up tasks? Go for a candle lantern. Do you need to light up a larger area of your campground? Choose a fuel burner. Do you need one that you can carry around with you? Your best bet is the battery-operated variety. Should you go for a LED camping lantern, consider its lumens (the measurement of light output). The higher the lumens, the brighter the output, and most models run between the 100 to 350 range. Usually, the low setting is good for use inside the tent, the medium setting for a tent site, and the high setting for a campsite.
Run times are important to consider. This is how long your lantern will last on a tank of fuel or a set of batteries. The manufacturer usually provides data about light duration. It’s important to remember that run times are varied, depending on the setting you use – don’t expect to achieve the maximum run time by using the highest setting.
Size and Weight
If you’re car camping, the size and weight of a lantern shouldn’t be a concern. But if you’re backpacking or hiking, you need the most compact source of light there is. Flashlights are good to take out on a trail, but lanterns offer hands-free convenience.
If you’re selecting a camping lantern, you might as well go for one that offers you extra. Many battery-operated lights today have emergency light features, is waterproof or water-resistant, and comes with a clip, hook, or loop for your bag or tent, among other features. Choose one with features that will be useful to you personally.
When choosing a camping lantern, consider the factors mentioned above and tailor them to your needs – you should be able to find the best one for you!