Light Up the Night: 7 Best Camping Lanterns and Headlamps

Key Points

  • Lanterns and headlamps are essential equipment to add to your camping arsenal.

  • Consider whether you want a headlamp or lantern — they both provide light but work better in different circumstances.

  • Many companies like Petzl and Coleman sell high-quality, affordable camping lanterns and headlamps.

Don't let darkness catch you off guard on your next camping trip; come prepared. Ignite the light to make your camping trip bright with a multitude of camping illumination options. The mobile light market is jam-packed with the top camping lanterns and top camping headlamps imaginable.

These camping illumination options are your own anti-monster and anti-animal protection kit. Don't let your wild imagination run too wild when camping at night, thinking of creepy creatures hiding in the shadows. Light up the whole area with a trusty lantern or headlamp, and send those spooky creatures packing! Consider it your own personal bat signal in the wilderness.

Here are some of the best camping lanterns around.

Black Diamond Spot Headlamp

Black Diamond Spot Headlamp has plenty to commend and criticize.

On the positive front, it's a darn good light for only 32 smackeroonies. That's fantastically cheap, and yet the light is still superb — especially the spotlight mode. This mode allows you to channel the light into one beam instead of providing a general light for the area around you. It's perfect for setting up your tent or cooking at night but not so great for providing light for a midnight poker game or a round of five-finger fillet.

You get a lot of features in this little headlamp. However, access to its features is greatly restricted by the single button that you must use to control the headlamp. Sometimes you need to press and hold. Other instances require a triple click. It's a lot to remember.

The battery isn't superb as well, nor is this a waterproof headlamp. Solutions: Pack extra AAA batteries, and don't go swimming when wearing a Black Diamond Spot Headlamp.

It's not the number one on the top camping headlamps list, but its price and light quality make it a solid option nonetheless.

Black Diamond Spot Headlamp Photo source:

Goal Zero Lighthouse 400

Goal Zero Lighthouse 400 offers flexible brightness, ranging from a dim candle to a dwarf star emitting 400 lumens. Running this lantern on the former makes the battery last for 48 hours, and the latter requires a recharge after 2.5 hours.

For $69.95, it's not the world's cheapest lantern, but there are a lot of neat features besides the light itself. You're able to charge phones and tablets from this lantern. It also has a handle and collapsible legs.

The built-in charging cable is a bit fragile. It wears out over time, and once it's gone, the whole operation is kaput. Not ideal when camping.

If you treat the cable like a newborn baby, then you're going to find the Goal Zero Lighthouse 400 to be a most excellent lantern.

Goal Zero Lighthouse 400

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Petzl Tikkina Headlamp

The Petzl Tikkina Headlamp is a dependable option that doesn't come with a hefty price tag. While it may not be the most powerful lighting solution out there, it still delivers ample illumination that is more than enough for a wide range of settings and needs. It's a practical and trustworthy choice for those who want a reliable headlamp without putting a dent in their savings.

The low and medium light settings are a-okay. The high-light setting is meh. The Petzl Tikkina Headlamp doesn't come with any superfluous functions. There are only three modes: low, medium, and high. None of that red, strobe light, or aquamarine filter nonsense. It's a barebones headlamp providing ample but not immaculate lighting, exactly what a cheap headlamp should provide.

Petzl Tikkina Headlamp Photo source:

BioLite PowerLight Mini

BioLite PowerLight Mini is a jack-of-all-trades lighting option. It's got more versatility than a chameleon in a crayon factory. The applications are numerous. Read a book, check the oil of your car at night, or admire your six-pack in a rippling lake. This light is great for personal use but isn't ideal for collective lighting.

If you need lighting that provides communal light, then look elsewhere. The BioLite PowerLight Mini is at its best when used by a single person needing a source of light. Plus, it has just one USB port, so you're only able to charge one phone at a time. Solo hikers and campers are the ideal target audience.

It's easy to pack, light, and quick on the recharge. Sometimes it's okay to treat yourself, and if you're looking for a one-person camping illumination option, then this is it.

BioLite PowerLight Mini

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Coleman Quad Pro 800L LED Lantern

Coleman Quad Pro 800L LED Lantern wins the award for best camping lantern if you're looking for sheer lumen output. This bad boy puts out some serious light.

It's got light panels that are removable, so you've got even more sources of light. Once they run out, just put in some more AAA batteries. There's also a built-in flashlight on each panel, providing a directional light. Even with the panels removed, the base lantern provides ample light. With all four panels connected, there's enough light for astronauts to see you.

Such incandescence comes at a tremendous energy and weight cost. The whole shebang is 3 pounds. To power this beast, you need 8 D batteries for the base lantern and 3 AAA batteries for each light panel. In high-light mode, you get 20 hours of runtime. On low, you get almost 400 hours.

If you're okay with the big battery and weight burden, then the Coleman Quad Pro 800L is a par none camping lantern.

Coleman Quad Pro 800L LED Lantern

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Olight H2R Nova Headlamp

Olight H2R Nova Headlamp is a high-performance product with a light beam that illuminates for quite a long distance.

It's fairly heavy for a headlamp and is probably going to feel uncomfortable after having it strapped to your head for several hours. Plus, the battery isn't anything to write home about. The 600-lumen setting lasts for about 2.5 hours.

It's the ideal headlamp for people trekking long distances at night or exploring the dark cracks and crevices of a cave system. If you're willing to shell out a few extra bucks, then you're going to find a reliable, bright source of portable light in the Olight H2R Nova Headlamp.

Black Diamond Moji Lantern

Black Diamond Moji Lantern is a little illuminating gem. Minimalistic design, portability, and okay light make this a fine lantern that doesn't require a mortgage to purchase.

It's perfect for campers and hikers wanting lightweight options that provide ample light to set up their tent or store their sleeping pad. Though that's the maximum you're going to get.

This lantern boasts a low lumen count of 100, but it's still capable of providing sufficient light for close proximity takes like reading a book. Look for other lightning options if you're heading into the dark wilderness in order to spot nocturnal critters. With this lantern, chances are high they're going to see you before you see them.

For those who enjoy camping but don't require a lot of light and want to stay within a reasonable budget, the Black Diamond Moji Lantern is an excellent option to consider. This lantern offers just the right amount of illumination for a cozy and comfortable camping experience for people balling on a budget.

Black Diamond Moji Lantern

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Even When It's Dark, You Still Need Light

Nighttime holds incredible wonders. As the spiritual Indian leader Shirdi Sai Baba said, "Observe the stars, millions of them, twinkling in the night sky, all with a message of unity, part of the very nature of God."

Glimpsing the stars and the infinite expanse of the universe beyond is one of the most glorious aspects of camping. Even with this beauty, you sometimes simply need to see what's in front of you.

The moon is gorgeous, but it doesn't help you set up a tent in pitch darkness. Stars dazzle, but they don't illuminate the trail ahead if you're hiking at midnight. That's where lighting essentials for camping options come in.

The night is a time to reflect on and relish Mother Nature, but sometimes even when it's dark, you still need light. Do yourself a favor; get a good headlamp or lantern to illuminate your next camping trip.

Head to My Outdoor Gear for tips, tricks, and insights to master outdoor recreation. The wilderness is a hectic place, and you need to prepare in order to both survive and thrive.

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