Lighting our way through the wilderness used to be a pursuit best engaged in with a torch. Unfortunately, a fiery stick always posed a certain danger because of the flammability of much of the wooded areas that hosted our explorations. Fortunately, with the advent of the LED lantern, making our way through the forest safely is much easier, safer, and incredibly convenient. These devices provide a steady source of illumination that almost feels like daylight in a darkened environment. As a matter of fact, some of these lanterns can provide as much as 500 lumens worth of illumination. There are quite a few of these types of LED lanterns on the market today, so we’ve created this guide to walk you through a few exceptional products. We’ve also provided you with a guide, so that you’ll know what to look for in a lantern.
Let's Have a Quick Look of Our Top 4 Picks:
|Vont 4 Pack LED Camping Lantern, LED Lantern, Suitable for Survival Kits for Hurricane, Emergency...||9,693 Reviews||$29.99||Buy on Amazon|
|Streamlight 44931 Siege Compact, Cordless, 7.25" Alkaline Hand Lantern - Coyote - 540 Lumens||2,222 Reviews||from $29.39||Buy on Amazon|
|CORE 500 Lumen CREE LED Battery Lantern, Two Modes, Water Resistant, Camping Emergency Backyard Use||288 Reviews||$19.99||Buy on Amazon|
|Xtreme Bright Pro Series Elite Lantern - Ultra Bright LED Camping Lantern with Multiple Settings -...||217 Reviews||$29.99||Buy on Amazon|
Our Top Budget Pick
Vont 4 Pack LED Camping Lantern
View it Pricing here on Amazon:
*Price typically updated every 24 hours. Current price may be different.
-water-resistant, drop tested to withstand 10-foot drops
-they come with a no questions asked lifetime warranty and have excellent reviews
-comes with batteries and lasts up to 30 hours on a set
-the least expensive option but still offers a quality product.
The battery life comes at a price, this light is weaker than the others on this list. The activities you have planned would determine if this light is the right option for you.
We tested these out in a cave and they worked great for lighting up our path. (pictures to come)
Our budget pick comes to us from Vont LEDs. This company specializes in lighting solutions that range from bike lamps to LED candles. They are the original patent holder for this type of led which makes you wonder if everyone else is copying and infringing their product. When it comes to a compact design, this LED lantern has all of our other lanterns beat. As the only collapsible model on our list (though our Gold Pick can convert to a smaller size by removing the LED’s housing), this device has a lot going for it in the realm of easy portability.
When collapsed, the device is a nearly miniscule 4.8 inches in height and 3.4 inches in diameter. When fully extended to reveal the LED lighting assembly, it quickly grows in height to a full 9.6 inches; making it the tallest device featured in this guide. A cool feature of this device is that just opening it will engage the LED, providing a full 60 lumens of relatively bright illumination. The main LED assembly utilizes 30 LEDs to provide this brightness and you’ll find that for most moderate applications, this is more than enough light to work with.
The lantern itself is primarily comprised of water-resistant plastic and it comes with a pair of metal handles that will help make deploying the lantern simple. It uses three AA batteries that will provide several days of constant illumination.
95 percent of the 8,120 reviews on Amazon are positive for this device, making this the most reviewed item in this guide, and also earning this device a 4.7 out of five star rating on the site. Here’s a testimonial that summarizes the experience of owning this lantern:
“My husband used it last weekend to move something from the garage to outside behind our shed in the dark. It worked great as a light source. But then he forgot and left if out there for 48 hours. When he finally remembered where he left it and retrieved it, it WAS STILL ON, shining brightly, even though it was covered with ice.”
Streamlight The Siege Lantern
Streamlight’s The Siege Lantern is widely considered one of the best camping lanterns on the market today, which is why we selected it as our Gold Pick product. As with other Gold Picks, this model is beloved by both critics and consumers and sports a bevy of features that make it excellent for the trail and its challenges. For 40 years, Streamlight has been providing illumination for both the home and the outdoors, and with such a long history, you can come to expect quality from this company.
The first thing that you’ll notice about this lantern is the fact that it looks rugged. It’s comprised of polycarbonate and each physical structure feels sturdy enough to withstand a few dings. There are plenty of uneven surfaces and ridging that will ensure that you will always have something to grip onto. When it comes to its shape, the design is faintly reminiscent of a traditional lantern, complete with a large handle that swivels from the top. It’s available in three colors: green for woodsy environments, pink for cancer research, and a bright yellow for any environment.
As you’ll see in our pre-purchase section, durability is a great feature in one of these types of devices and Streamlight did a great job in bolstering the innate durability of this device’s polycarbonate construction. To ensure prime impact resistance, the company included an elastimer over mold that protects the lantern from falling onto any surface. As a matter of fact, as a result of this over mold, this lantern is currently rated for falls of up to a full two meters.
All of this durability comes in a very tight package. This device is in no way large an unwieldy; it only weighs about 14 ounces, so you won’t have to worry about too much arm fatigue when carrying, and it’s also a relatively small device. Its dimensions are four inches in diameter, and about seven in height. The device can also be used as a traditional light; simply remove the lantern’s frosted casing and attach to a hook or branch by way of the loop that is hidden in the base of the lantern. The main LED bulb will provide up to 340 lumens of brightness this way; a perfect amount to adequately light a campsite.
As you can see, despite being housed in such a small package, this lantern packs a lot of brightness. This is enhanced by the fact that you can select from three levels of illumination in addition to this high setting. For white light, you’ll also be able to select from a medium, 175 lumens brightness and a low, 33 lumens level of illumination. These settings are perfect for when you are starting to settle in, or when you don’t want to employ too bright of a light when hunting. The final setting is a red light that shines at 10 lumens. This light is best utilized when you want to maintain your night vision while in your tent. Simply turn this on, and your eyes will find it easier to adjust to the darker environments outside.
Finally, there are some great extra features that Streamlight included with this model. Firstly, this device floats and is completely waterproof. Waterproofing is actually relatively uncommon in devices of this type, with most being water-resistant. Not only can you submerge this lantern in up to four feet of water, but it’ll also float. Also, in case something goes wrong, you can set the lantern to blink an S.O.S pattern, so that you can get the help you need.
We told you that this was a popular pick and nowhere is this better exemplified than on Amazon. On that site, out of 1409 reviews, 98 percent are of a four or higher star rating. This grants this device a 4.9 out of five star rating on the site.
Run by a small team of camping enthusiasts, Core Equipment is dedicated to providing products that will see you safely through any trail. Our Silver Pick is a rugged lantern that is also one of the brightest on our list. It has great battery life, a barrel-like construction, and great aesthetics that exemplifies the outdoors dedication of its manufacturer.
Aesthetically, this is a fairly unique-looking LED lantern. As mentioned before, this lantern is somewhat barrel-like in shaping, with wide protective sides that are rubberlike that will protect the lamp from falls. The housing for the lantern is predominantly grey, but also features neon green highlights that make the lantern easy to locate in the darkness. The main lighting area has a glass center section that’s housed in a metal frame. The bulb itself is provided by CREE, a manufacturer of LED bulbs that is becoming the industry standard in brightness. The LED lantern is also very small, so that you’ll be able to store it easily and heft it without any fatigue. It measure in at about 4.2 inches in diameter and 7.2 inches in height and in totality, it weighs slightly less than a pound.
In addition to the rubberlike bumpering that will ensure your lantern will survive its share of hard knocks, this lamp also employs shatter resistant plastic in the area surrounding the main bulb. In addition to this durable construction, the device also uses an ergonomic steel handle in order to ensure a strong and easy carry.
It’s clear in the construction of this lantern, that Core Equipment intended for this lantern to be THE lighting solution for your outdoor outings. With the 500 lumen CREE LED bulb, you’ll get even light by way of the omni-directional diffuser tube; as a matter of fact, at max power, you’ll get about 15 meters of illumination with this lantern, for an impressive duration of 19 hours. Switching the lantern to low will grant you a lighting level of 200 lumens, which will give you a ten meter radius of light that will last an incredibly impressive 65 hours. In manages to power this impressive illumination by way of three D-type batteries.
This is another impressively reviewed device. On Amazon, an amazing 95 percent of the reviews for this device have garnered a rating of at least four stars. Most reviewers were impressed by the amazing battery duration and the fact that this lamp is very bright; here is an example of a five star testimonial:
“Way brighter than I thought it would be. Small, but who cares, it's BRIGHT!! The batteries are easy to change and easy to operate, so I bought for my 87 year old Mother in law for power outages. She loves it! I will buy again for myself as well. Build is decent. Camping? Bring a few of these and you're all set.”
Xtreme Bright’s motto is “Never be left in the dark!” With this in mind, Xtreme Bright has crafted a bevy of products that are designed to provide safe illumination in a variety of environments. Safety is certainly a driving motivation in their product line; as a matter of fact, the majority of the products that they offer have been designed by a retired police officer who knows one or two things about how to incorporate personal safety features into a product’s design.
The first thing you might notice is that this lantern has a very hourglass-like design aesthetic. The lighting area rests on a large conical base that is capped with an equally wide topper. The over molds on this device are large and protective and will take a fall or two with aplomb. If black and white isn’t your cup of tea, this product has a few color variants to choose from, including pure midnight black and garnet red.
This is the second tallest lantern on our list, but fortunately, it never feels unwieldy or overlarge. It is almost nine inches in height and over four inches in diameter. It weighs less than a pound, so hefting it will never get tiresome; even if you have to carry it for hours on end. It’s also primarily comprised of a durable, soft plastic with few edges to annoy or indent the skin.
Like most lanterns of its type, this product sports a deployable handle for ease of use. Unlike many of its contemporaries, this handle sports a few design notes that make it very unique. Firstly, this is a durable plastic handle that uses a soft touch coating to make it easier to carry. You can hang it from a large hook if you want but in case the main handle is too large for smaller hooks, you can fold out a much smaller loop in the handle for easy hanging. Nestled into another section of the handle is another really cool feature: a compass. As people who enjoy the outdoors, we sometimes can lose our bearing, this compass is a easy to follow unit that’ll help us get back on track.
When it comes to functionality, this product also has a plethora of really useful features for your outdoors adventures. Have you ever been ready to turn in, but dreaded the trip back to your tent after you’ve turned off the camp’s lantern? This inconvenience is almost completely negated with this lantern as it allows you to utilize a remote to turn it on and off. The remote has a 20 foot range; a range that perfectly matches the full reach of the device’s LED at its maximum power of 300 lumens.
On Amazon, 84 percent of the 165 reviews for this product are of a positive four or five star rating level. Here is an example of a five star review:
“This is the best lantern design I have seen. The designer has added many extras, which include a multi-purpose tuff rubber-like plastic handle that has an accurate compass, a fold-out hook that will be wonderful for hanging the lantern from the ceiling of the tent, and a loop to attach the remote control for easy storage.”
Simply put, a LED lantern that doesn’t provide much illumination is a near useless device. Since illumination is the name of the LED lantern game, it’s good to find a product that will provide the right amount of luminosity when you are out on the trail. Some of the models on the market today, have an abundance of lumens, but are so glaringly bright that you will be reluctant to use them in most outdoors situations. Lumen count is a great feature to look for to ensure brightness, but it’s also a good idea to look for a lantern that also has frosted plastic that will filter out a bit of the glaringness of some LED light sources. Also, group size should be a consideration when choosing a lantern’s brightness; smaller groups can get by with a lower lumen count.
If you’ll be walking through the dark, it’s a good idea to have a device that can withstand a few bumps and dings. A rugged device will have a relatively simplified body that doesn’t have many small components that can break off inadvertently. There are some great metal and plastic models on the market today, but be sure to read the product’s specifications before you buy. Typically, the manufacturer will provide documentation that will tell you about the device’s durability. Testing usually takes drops and other forms of impact into account, which can be invaluable when making a purchase.
Ease of Hanging
As many seek these types of lanterns in order to provide light in a campsite or on a porch, it’s important to find a model that can be securely hung from a hook or post; in a pinch, you can even hang some models on a branch or on an overhang. When searching for a new LED lantern, be sure that the product you select can be hung securely; it’s a quick way to bring light to your entire campsite.
No one wants a model of lantern that’s going to conk out on them in a few, measly hours. Battery life, or even rechargeability is very important in one of these types of devices. In theory, you can always bring some extra batteries, but these items can be expensive, so it’s best to find a model that can do a lot on a single battery charge.
When you are searching for a new LED lantern, you are typically looking for a way to easily light a campsite, make travelling through the dark safer, or you’re looking for a device to use during emergencies. With the prime feature of a lamp of this type being illumination, it’s also good to find models that incorporate other functionality into their design as well. Like other devices, some manufacturers create lamps that have extra features, these make your experience a little richer when used, but aren’t mandatory. Here are a couple of these extra features that you can look out for:
Collapsibility - This is a feature that our ballin’ pick utilizes to great effect. Collapsibility lets you protect the main lighting area of your lantern when you aren’t using it for illumination. When collapsed the barrel of the lantern will keep the glass or plastic from breakage or scratches.
Remote Controlled – This is a feature that you’ll find in our Bronze Pick. Since you can use these to light a campsite and once you place your lantern on a hook or surface, this will allow you to control the lanterns’ functions remotely. This way you won’t have to leave your tent in the middle of the night to turn off your lantern.
Variable Lighting Modes – This is not required, but some lanterns employ variable lighting modes that vary in intensity or hue. A good example would be our Gold Pick, which has a red light setting that makes it easier for your eyes to adjust to the dark. Additional lighting modes can decrease luminosity, blink in an S.O.S. pattern, or save battery power.
Waterproofing – These are great features when you plan on taking your adventures to the water. Waterproofing will, of course, ensure that your lantern doesn’t get destroyed by excess moisture and floatability will protect your lantern from being lost in the depths.
Conclusion (Wrapping it up)
We all need a little light in our lives, and it’s great to have a LED lantern lighting our way from time to time. The devices we’ve covered in this guide are compact, easy to use, and will last you for hours on a single set of batteries. If these aren’t your thing, please still use our pre-purchase considerations to find a device that’s more up to snuff for you. In any situation, we hope that you find a device that will shine brightly for you, for years to come.