Reviews You Can Rely On

The 6 Best Lanterns of 2022

We tested lanterns from Black Diamond, Goal Zero, Coleman, BioLite, Primus, and other top brands to find the best lights on the market
Best Lantern of 2022
We tested fifteen models for our most recent update.
Credit: Ross Patton
Friday December 2, 2022
Our Editors independently research, test, and rate the best products. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Learn more

Our experts have lit up the night for 10 years, testing over fifty of the best lanterns available. For this review, we purchased 22 top models to test side-by-side. We have traveled coast to coast with these lanterns, camping at state and national parks. We have hiked deep into the backcountry and sat through some power outages at home. We looked at several important qualities of each light, including brightness, battery life, features, and weight, to assess overall performance for ultralight backpackers and casual campers alike. Our comprehensive review highlights all-stars and budget-friendly bargains, and will help you find the best lantern for your needs and budget.

We also offer deep-dive reviews into other camping gear. Whether it is a comfy camp chair, a highly-efficient camp stove, or a tent big enough for the whole family, we will help you choose the best gear to make the most of your next camping trip.

Editor's Note: This review was updated on December 2, 2022, to include new products from BioLite and Ledlenser and to add additional testing information related to battery life.

Top 22 Product Ratings

Displaying 1 - 5 of 22
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Awards Editors' Choice Award Top Pick Award    
Price $70 List
$55.89 at REI
$60 List
$33.68 at Amazon
$65 List
$29.49 at Amazon
$90 List
$89.95 at Amazon
$80 List
$79.95 at REI
Overall Score Sort Icon
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Pros Bright, USB charge port, no disposable batteriesVery long battery life, tough and durable, provides a nice soft diffused lightRechargeable, includes charging cube, cord and cube store in base, USB outletCompact, bright for its size, red light modeSimple operation, USB output, internal accelerometer
Cons Durability concerns, hard to look atGlow-in-the-dark doesn't work very well, hook on the bottom is not very sturdy, hard to reattach bottom after replacing batteriesYellow light tint, bulky, heavy, no auxiliary battery optionExpensive, awkward stand, heavy for its sizePricey, bulkier than many
Bottom Line This powerful lantern with a rechargeable battery (via electricity or a hand crank) is our top choice for camping trips and power outagesA durable lantern with exceptional battery life for extended use that you can rely on when the lights go outA rechargeable model that is great for the campsite or emergenciesA top-tier model that's really bright but also relatively heavyA high-performance lantern with fun settings, including candlelight and fireworks modes
Rating Categories Goal Zero Lighthous... Ultimate Survival T... Coleman Rugged Rech... Ledlenser ML6 BioLite AlpenGlow 500
Brightness (45%)
9.0
9.0
8.0
8.0
7.0
Battery Life (20%)
6.0
9.0
8.0
7.0
7.0
Ease of Use (15%)
9.0
7.0
9.0
7.0
9.0
Features (10%)
8.0
6.0
6.0
6.0
8.0
Weight (10%)
5.0
3.0
4.0
7.0
6.0
Specs Goal Zero Lighthous... Ultimate Survival T... Coleman Rugged Rech... Ledlenser ML6 BioLite AlpenGlow 500
Weight (with Batteries) 19.8 oz 29.3 oz 22.0 oz 9.9 oz 13.8 oz
Rechargeable? Yes No Yes Yes Yes
Manufacturer Listed Runtimes Low, one side: 320 hrs
Low, both sides: 180 hrs
High, one side: 5 hrs
High, both sides: 2.5 hrs
Low: 30 days
High: 12 hrs
Low: 20 hrs
High: 5 hrs
Low: 70 hrs
High: 4 hrs
Low: 200 hrs
High: 5 hrs
Measured Runtime (Highest Setting) 3.2 hrs 9.0 hrs 6.4 hrs 4.25 hrs 5.1 hrs
Lumens 600 1000 400 750 500
Size (inches) 4.5 x 5 x 6.5in 7.2 x 3.75 5.6 x 6.75 7 x 1.65 3.8 x 5.4
Number of Batteries 1 3 1 1 1
Battery Type Rechargable D Rechargable Li-Ion Rechargable Li-Ion Rechargable Li-Ion
Waterproof Rating Not specified IPX4 IPX4 IP54 IPX4


Best Overall Lantern


Goal Zero Lighthouse 600


79
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Brightness 9.0
  • Battery Life 6.0
  • Ease of Use 9.0
  • Features 8.0
  • Weight 5.0
Measured Runtime: 3.2 hours | Rechargeable: Yes
REASONS TO BUY
Exceptionally bright
Rechargeable battery
USB charge port
REASONS TO AVOID
Questionable durability
Weak emergency lights

Of all the lanterns we tested, the Goal Zero Lighthouse 600 is the most consistent across the board. This powerful, compact lantern is versatile for a range of activities. With an output power of 600 lumens, it is exceptionally bright and provides more than enough range to illuminate an entire picnic table for those late-night dinners when you get back to the campsite after dark. This lantern eschews disposable batteries for a rechargeable battery, which can be charged via USB or hand crank – a feature that makes this model particularly useful as an emergency lantern. Since it is USB charged, it can also serve as a power bank for your small electronics.

The Lighthouse 600 is compact relative to its power output, but it is not the lightest of our test group and probably is a bit too heavy and bulky to carry on backpacking trips. The outer light cover is comparatively brittle compared to other options we tested, and we fear that it may crack if dropped or knocked too hard. Although this hand-cranked lantern is fantastic to have on hand for emergencies, the emergency-specific red lights are weak, especially compared to the output power of the white light. The Lighthouse 600 is certainly on the more expensive side, but considering its feature set, and particularly its versatile charging capabilities, this is the lantern we will reach for in most situations.

Read more: Goal Zero Lighthouse 600 review

best overall lantern
The 600 lumens put out by the Goal Zero Lighthouse 600 are plenty bright enough for grilling on a patio or when car camping.
Credit: Ben Applebaum-Bauch

Best Bang for Your Buck


BioLite SunLight


68
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Brightness 6.0
  • Battery Life 7.0
  • Ease of Use 8.0
  • Features 6.0
  • Weight 9.0
Measured Runtime: 4.5 hours | Rechargeable: Yes
REASONS TO BUY
Solar or mini-USB charged
Bright for its size and weight
Affordable
Several light colors, plus color cycle mode
Large solar panel
REASONS TO AVOID
No USB output
Not waterproof

If you're shopping for a lantern on a budget, there's no better option than the BioLite SunLight. It can be charged via USB or with its integrated solar panel. The solar panel is larger than any other model in our review, and it has a built-in sundial to ensure that you're maximizing the sun's energy while charging. We were impressed with this lantern's brightness — both at the camping table and inside the tent. It's compact enough to slip into a pocket and lightweight enough that you won't even notice it's there on a backpacking trip. The light is dimmable and can be set to several different colors, and it even has a "cycle mode" where it rotates through all of them. The SunLight has a 360-degree kickstand as well as a string hook, allowing you to hang it or prop it in various positions for lighting or charging.

Although we didn't find much to complain about while testing the SunLight, we were a bit disappointed to discover that it doesn't have a USB output. It would be nice if it offered the ability to charge phones and other devices when it has extra juice. The BioLite has an IPX4 water resistance rating, meaning that it can be splashed with water from any direction without damaging the device. However, considering that some of the lanterns in our review have an IP67 rating and can be submerged in a meter of water for up to 30 minutes, we wish this model was a bit more weatherproof. Overall, considering the price, brightness, and functionality of the BioLite SunLight, it's a deal.

Read more: BioLite SunLight review

lantern - best bang for your buck
The BioLite SunLight is light, compact, affordable, and has a large solar panel on the backside.
Credit: Ross Patton

Best for Extended Power Outages


Ultimate Survival Technologies 30-Day Duro


78
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Brightness 9.0
  • Battery Life 9.0
  • Ease of Use 7.0
  • Features 6.0
  • Weight 3.0
Measured Runtime: 9.0 hours | Rechargeable: No
REASONS TO BUY
Very long run time
Nice light quality
Inexpensive
REASONS TO AVOID
Difficult to replace batteries
Handle is not very sturdy

The Ultimate Survival Technologies 30-Day Duro is a real marathon runner. While the manufacturer advertises 30 days of power, the lantern we tested ran for 33 days. Even on its brightest setting, it lasted nine hours – one of the best models in our assessment. It has a sturdy, heavy, rubberized, impact-resistant base. A nice addition is the frosted plastic cover that softens the light and makes it easier to look at (and the cover is removable when you need an even brighter glow). This model weighs just under two pounds with three D-batteries, making it a great choice for your picnic table lantern.

On the downside, though you hopefully won't have to access it often, the battery compartment can be challenging to access. We also found that this lantern's glow-in-the-dark feature could be more robust. The plastic handle is also not of the highest quality. Even with these minor drawbacks, this is the light for you if your priority is runtime over anything else. It is best for extended car camping, RVing, or if you live somewhere with frequent power outages.

Read more: Ultimate Survival Technologies 30-Day Duro review

lantern - best for extended power outages
The UST 30-Day Duro stays put, even on loose and soft surfaces.
Credit: Ben Applebaum-Bauch

Best Fuel Canister Model


Primus Micron


60
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Brightness 7.0
  • Battery Life 2.0
  • Ease of Use 6.0
  • Features 6.0
  • Weight 9.0
Measured Runtime: 1.5 hours (on 4oz canister) | Rechargeable: No
REASONS TO BUY
Same canisters as backpacking stoves
Compact
Durable
Emits heat
REASONS TO AVOID
Not waterproof
Noisy
Mantle lifespan

If you like the idea of using backpacking fuel canisters for your outdoor lighting at night, go with the Primus Micron. Weighing a mere four ounces, you'll hardly notice this model is on your back, and you can clip it to the outside of your pack with its softshell case. For shorter excursions, you can use the same canister for your stove, so you won't be bringing anything extra to keep it burning. If you keep the Micron burning on low, it can last up to 24 hours on one can of fuel. Unlike many fuel-powered lanterns, you don't need a lighter or matches to fire up the Micron, thanks to its Piezoelectric starter. One of our favorite elements of this model, as opposed to electric lanterns, is that it emits heat, which is quite the luxury on those cold backcountry nights.

The Micron is not without its flaws. Fuel-powered models shouldn't be used indoors or in tents, so their uses are limited to the outdoors. If you want a light to hang from the roof of your tent at night, this is not the right model for you. Although the process of igniting this lantern is relatively easy, it still requires more steps than simply pushing the button on an electric model. The Primus is not waterproof. The hardware can most certainly get soaked and still dry out and function, but the mantle needs to be dry to ignite. The mantles also have a limited lifespan. If you choose this model, we'd recommend buying an extra mantle or two before heading out on a multi-day trip. Drawbacks aside, the Micron is your best bet if you want a super lightweight, super compact fuel canister lantern.

Read more: Primus Micron review

lantern - best fuel canister model
The Primus Micron is a light and compact gas-powered lantern that works with the same canisters as most backpacking stoves.
Credit: Ross Patton

Best for Portability


Goal Zero Lighthouse Micro Charge


64
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Brightness 5.0
  • Battery Life 6.0
  • Ease of Use 9.0
  • Features 7.0
  • Weight 9.0
Measured Runtime: 3.75 hours | Rechargeable: Yes
REASONS TO BUY
Compact
Lightweight
Can charge other devices
REASONS TO AVOID
Battery quickly drains on high
USB port is exposed to the elements

The Goal Zero Lighthouse Micro Charge is a mini marvel. It functions as a flashlight but also can beam light down the mirrored shaft to emit 360 degrees of light as a lantern. It charges using an integrated USB plug, so there is no need to carry disposable batteries. We also love that it can charge other small devices in a pinch. It's the size of many power banks, so you could potentially just bring this highly functional lantern along instead. It is an excellent option for car camping and weekend backcountry trips, and is a great size for children.

If we are getting down to the nitty-gritty details, the metal hanging loop really requires an additional carabiner to be truly functional. This model has a waterproof rating of IPX6, but the USB port and plug are fully exposed to the elements and prone to get crammed with dirt and debris. This model doesn't have the longest-lasting battery in its highest setting, so keep it dimmed if you need it to last for several nights. Even with those minor inconveniences, this model is an excellent option when you need a compact light that punches above its weight class.

Read more: Goal Zero Lighthouse Micro Charge review

lantern - best for portability
The Goal Zero Lighthouse Micro Charge is a great little light for a weekend of camping.
Credit: Ben Applebaum-Bauch

Best String Light


MPOWERD Luci Solar String Lights


64
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Brightness 6.0
  • Battery Life 7.0
  • Ease of Use 6.0
  • Features 8.0
  • Weight 6.0
Measured Runtime: 5.0 hours | Rechargeable: Yes
REASONS TO BUY
Lights stow away in carrying case
Solar-powered
Can charge other devices
REASONS TO AVOID
Carrying case can be clunky to hang with lights
String can be difficult to manage

The MPOWERD Luci Solar String Lights are great for any festive occasion outdoors. If setting the ambiance is your thing, this product should be in your camper or backyard for your next cookout. If you need to charge up the string in a hurry, it comes with a USB plug that can get the job done. The attached carrying case makes the lights easy to manage when not in use. The light also has a USB port that can charge other devices as well. Most importantly, the ten-node, 20-LED string is bright and brings plenty of light to a deck or campsite.

A few pings against this model are that it can be difficult to find the right spot to hang or rest the carrying case when the lights are strung up. The string itself is also sometimes difficult to manage (because, after all, they are string lights). Luckily, they have a case to keep them in order when not in use. There is so much to like about this set that it takes top honors as an excellent addition to a summer outdoor setup.

Read more: MPOWERD Luci Solar String Lights review

lantern - the mpowerd luci solar string lights are bright, solar-powered, and...
The MPOWERD Luci Solar String Lights are bright, solar-powered, and practical.
Credit: Ben Applebaum-Bauch

Compare Products

select up to 5 products to compare
Score Product Price
79
Goal Zero Lighthouse 600
goal zero lighthouse 600 lantern review
$70
Editors' Choice Award
78
Ultimate Survival Technologies 30-Day Duro
ultimate survival technologies 30-day duro lantern review
$60
Top Pick Award
76
Coleman Rugged Rechargeable
coleman rugged rechargeable lantern
$65
74
Ledlenser ML6
ledlenser ml6 lantern
$90
73
BioLite AlpenGlow 500
biolite alpenglow 500 lantern
$80
72
Lighting Ever Camping
lighting ever camping lantern
$26
71
Goal Zero Lighthouse Mini V2
goal zero lighthouse mini v2 lantern
$40
71
Black Diamond Apollo
black diamond apollo lantern
$70
68
BioLite SunLight
biolite sunlight lantern review
$20
Best Buy Award
64
Goal Zero Lighthouse Micro Charge
goal zero lighthouse micro charge lantern review
$30
Top Pick Award
64
MPOWERD Luci Solar String Lights
mpowerd luci solar string lights lantern review
$50
Top Pick Award
63
Streamlight The Siege
streamlight the siege lantern
$35
60
Primus Micron
primus micron lantern review
$60
Top Pick Award
59
Black Diamond Zip
black diamond zip lantern
$35
59
Power Practical Luminoodle
power practical luminoodle lantern
$42
58
Coleman Deluxe Propane
coleman deluxe propane lantern
$75
57
Black Diamond Moji
black diamond moji lantern
$20
55
UCO Leschi
uco leschi lantern
$13
54
MPOWERD Luci Outdoor 2.0
mpowerd luci outdoor 2.0 lantern
$25
52
Goal Zero Crush Light
goal zero crush light lantern
$20
48
LuminAID PackLite Max 2-in-1
luminaid packlite max 2-in-1 lantern
$50
46
Kizen Solar Collapsible
kizen solar collapsible lantern
$30

lantern - the tiny uco leschi light provides plenty of illumination for a...
The tiny UCO Leschi light provides plenty of illumination for a two-person tent in the backcountry.
Credit: Ben Applebaum-Bauch

Why You Should Trust Us


We've tested more than four dozen lanterns over the last decade. For this review, we researched dozens of contenders and selected the most popular models to put to the test. We took them on camping trips, assessing how each performed for solo use, small groups of two to three people, and larger groups of more than four. We spent nights through simulated (and a couple of real) power outages, seeing how we fared with just the light of these luminaries. Brightness is the most important metric, accounting for the majority of each lantern's overall score – each lantern underwent eight specific tests to assess the brightness score alone. We measured battery life by timing how long each model could run on its highest setting. We weighed each model and also considered any bonus features or elements that add to their overall functionality. Finally, we consulted with a panel of professional gear testers to judge how intuitive each one is to use. By the end of our testing period, we have run 352 individual tests to assess our selection of the 22 best lanterns on the market.

Our overall score is based on five rating metrics:
  • Brightness (45% of overall score weighting)
  • Battery Life (20% weighting)
  • Features (15% weighting)
  • Ease of Use (10% weighting)
  • Weight (10% weighting)

Our expert panel of testers is led by Ross Patton. Born in Salt Lake City, he spent his youth in the alpine of the Wasatch Mountains and frequently visited Southern Utah – he completed his first loop of the White Rim Trail at just ten years old. Ross has lived and camped across Montana, Colorado, Nevada, and California. Ross has reviewed an array of outdoor products over the years for GearLab, ranging from rooftop tents to backcountry ski poles. Born with a sense of adventure and backed by a formal education in Environmental Science, you can trust that he is putting these products to the ultimate test.

We took each model camping to see how useful they are at the...
We took each model camping to see how useful they are at the campsite. The Goal Zero Crush is a great option to light up a tent.
The Luci Solar String Lights really served us well on warm summer...
The Luci Solar String Lights really served us well on warm summer evenings on the back porch.
It looks like it&#039;s sitting on a rock, but the Streamlight The Siege...
It looks like it's sitting on a rock, but the Streamlight The Siege lantern is actually bobbing around like a cork. We think flotation is a pretty sweet feature.

Reviewer Ben Applebaum-Bauch started his outdoor career as a guide, leading multi-week backpacking, canoeing, and cycling adventures throughout New England and maritime Canada. Over his 20 years of backcountry experience – and a decade of power outages that go hand-in-hand with winter storms in rural New England – he has grown to appreciate a good lantern. Whether it is thru-hiking the PCT or Vermont's Long Trail, or paddling down New Hampshire's Androscoggin River, he is grateful for the warm glow of a lantern on a cold, rainy night (and a little power boost for his phone).

lantern - we found that battery-powered lanterns are the perfect tool for...
We found that battery-powered lanterns are the perfect tool for illuminating a job site that does not yet have electricity.
Credit: Ross Patton

Analysis and Test Results


Every model we tested offers a slightly different set of features and very different designs. How much you want to spend on a new lantern will also largely depend on what purpose it will serve. If you don't expect to use it in the rain, then there's no reason to pay extra for waterproofing. But if you need a lightweight, durable, compact model for backpacking, it might cost you a few extra bucks. Keep in mind how you plan to use your lantern, including common uses like camping and as an emergency backup.


Value


Whether or not one of these lights makes it into your camping kit or emergency supplies may come down to the price tag. In order to better understand value, we compare a product's overall score against its price – the higher the score and the lower price, the greater the overall value. The Goal Zero Lighthouse 600 is bright, easy to use, has a backup hand crank, and also has a USB outlet for charging other devices. This model may be high-end, but it is certainly worth the investment. If you're looking for a battery-powered model to keep in the closet for a power outage or other emergency, the price of the Ultimate Survival Technologies 30-Day Duro is totally reasonable. For those that are looking for a light, compact, and very budget-friendly lantern to throw in a backpack or a glove box, the BioLite SunLight gets the job done. The Primus Micron is on the expensive side, but the overall performance and versatility of this gas-powered lantern justify the price tag.

lantern - don&#039;t let the black diamond zip&#039;s size fool you -- this lantern...
Don't let the Black Diamond Zip's size fool you -- this lantern shines. It lights up the corners of a tent enough for it to be a single, centralized light source in that kind of space.
Credit: Ben Applebaum-Bauch

Brightness


Unsurprisingly, we identified brightness as the most important factor in a lantern. We used these lights in a wide range of settings on our adventures and rated them based on how thoroughly and how widely they illuminated an area. We take into account that some models are just meant to be used in different-sized spaces. We also assess light quality: Is it smooth and consistent, or rippled? Is the color an offputting, sterile, fluorescent blue or a warm, yellow glow?


Another consideration is how well the user can control the brightness of the light. We are big fans of continuous dimming features that allow the user to adjust the light intensity based on the group size and setting. When available, we find ourselves using this feature a lot.

lantern - the luminaid packlite max (left) outshines its close competitor the...
The LuminAid PackLite Max (left) outshines its close competitor the MPOWERD Luci Outdoor 2.0 (right).
Credit: Ben Applebaum-Bauch

Models with outputs in the 200-lumen range are sufficient for both personal and small-group use, while the 100-lumen output of lanterns like the UCO Leschi or the Goal Zero Crush Light are really for personal use or two people in a tent. Heavy hitters above 200 lumens, like the 600-lumen Goal Zero Lighthouse 600, can really light up a room, and hanging options like the 360-lumen Power Practical Luminoodle can be strung up around a railing to liven up a deck or back porch.

lantern - the warm glow of the goal zero crush (right) is much more pleasant...
The warm glow of the Goal Zero Crush (right) is much more pleasant than the harsher white LED of the BioLite PowerLight Mini (left).
Credit: Ben Applebaum-Bauch

During testing, we also learned that there is such a thing as too bright for certain situations. Light diffusion, which is primarily affected by the globe or light cover, is critical. The opaque plastic used by the Black Diamond Apollo, Moji, and Zip creates a lovely quality light that is non-invasive. The BioLite AlpenGlow 500 offers a candle flicker mode that keeps the vibe extra mellow. The Coleman Rugged Rechargeable has a low and a high setting, the higher of which puts out a mellow yet sufficient 400 lumens.

Using both sides of the lamp on the Goal Zero Lighthouse Mini V2...
Using both sides of the lamp on the Goal Zero Lighthouse Mini V2 projects light in 360 degrees.
The Goal Zero Lighthouse Mini V2 can conserve battery by only using...
The Goal Zero Lighthouse Mini V2 can conserve battery by only using one side of the lamp.
The Goal Zero Lighthouse Mini gives you the option to light up both sides of the lamp (left) or conserve battery by only illuminating half (right).

At 750 lumens, the Ledlenser ML6 is the brightest compact model that we've seen to date. If you need a lantern bright enough to light up a room in the event of a power outage or to brighten up the whole campsite, the Lighting Ever Camping and Ultimate Survival Technologies 30-Day Duro both put off 1000 lumens, making them the two brightest models in our review.

lantern - the ultimate survival technologies 30-day duro is ridiculously...
The Ultimate Survival Technologies 30-Day Duro is ridiculously bright at its highest setting.
Credit: Ross Patton

For fans of fuel canister-style lanterns, we tested the Coleman Deluxe Propane and the Primus Micron. The Coleman lantern is certainly bright enough to illuminate a family-sized campsite with its dual mantles and tall construction. Designed to be ultra-light and portable, the Primus model produces plenty enough light for cooking or playing card games while you're backpacking.

lantern - the primus micron illuminates a relatively large area considering...
The Primus Micron illuminates a relatively large area considering its size and weight.
Credit: Ross Patton

Battery Life


Some of these products boast a really impressive battery life, but the manufacturers are generally referring to the amount of time the lanterns can last on their lowest setting. In our experience, we've found that sometimes the lowest setting is practically worthless, so we timed how long each lantern can last on its highest setting. For models with disposable batteries, we used standard Duracell brand batteries, and for lanterns that use fuel, we used the most commonly used canisters.


Disposable Batteries


It comes as no surprise that the models that dedicated the most area to large disposable battery compartments for D-sized batteries have the longest life. The Lighting Ever Camping is the longest-lasting model in our review, with a life of 10.5 hours. Not far behind is the Ultimate Survival Technologies 30-Day Duro. While this model didn't last anywhere near its month-long low-setting life, when set to high, it lasted nine hours during this experiment.

lantern - the ultimate survival technologies 30-day duro uses three d-size...
The Ultimate Survival Technologies 30-Day Duro uses three D-size batteries.
Credit: Ross Patton

Internal Rechargeable Batteries


Lanterns with internal lithium-ion batteries were once primarily geared toward avid backpackers and campers, and their battery life and brightness were not much to speak of. As the technology improves and more manufacturers jump into rechargeables, these versions are quickly becoming the norm for both experts and weekend warriors alike. The top battery life performer for this lantern type is the Coleman Rugged Rechargeable, lasting 6.4 hours during our assessment.

lantern - the coleman rugged rechargeable charges via usb. a red indicator...
The Coleman Rugged Rechargeable charges via USB. A red indicator light lets you know when the battery is full.
Credit: Ross Patton

Both BioLite models, the AlpenGlow 500 and the Sunlight, scored well during this experiment, lasting 5.1 hours and 4.5 hours, respectively. The MPOWERD Luci Solar String Lights died right around five hours, and the Ledenser ML6 was the only other model to break the four-hour barrier.

lantern - the biolite alpenglow 500 has a usb charge port as well as an output...
The BioLite AlpenGlow 500 has a USB charge port as well as an output for charging other devices.
Credit: Ross Patton

Fuel Versions


What was once the only widely available type of lantern now has a rough time keeping up with new tech in terms of longevity. Using a standard size 16-ounce propane canister, the Coleman Deluxe Propane lasted three hours while turned up to high. Our favorite isobutane model, the Primus Micron lasted 1.5 hours with a backpacking-sized, four-ounce canister.

Consider Your Fuel Options


Unlike battery-powered versions that are limited to their size of disposable batteries or integrated power banks, gas-powered models can be used with larger canisters. By purchasing the proper adapters, you can hook many types of propane lanterns to full-sized tanks rather than the smaller camping canisters.

Ease of Use


A good lantern should be intuitive to use. There is not a huge amount of variability between the lanterns in this review in terms of how easy they are to use, so this metric accounts for a comparatively small proportion of the overall score. However, there are a few different features to look out for that we found to be a value add. Considering that every lantern will require some sort of energy source before it can operate, we first considered how easy they are to power up.


We found that accessing the battery compartment of many models is more challenging than we would want or expect it to be. Some effort is required to install the batteries on waterproof models like Streamlight The Siege. In contrast, lanterns installed with rechargeable lithium-ion batteries, like the Coleman Rugged Rechargeable can be much easier to use.

lantern - string lights are just one of the many ways that you can light up...
String lights are just one of the many ways that you can light up the night on your next camping adventure. Here we have the Power Practical Luminoodle (left) side-by-side with the MPOWERD Luci Solar String Lights (right).
Credit: Ben Applebaum-Bauch

Collapsible, solar-powered lights like the MPOWERD Luci Outdoor 2.0 and LuminAID PackLite Max 2-in-1 don't require any batteries at all. However, these can take a while to fully charge even in full sun.

lantern - we just don&#039;t quite trust the hook on the ust duro glo (right) the...
We just don't quite trust the hook on the UST Duro Glo (right) the same way we do with the carabiner on the Streamlight The Siege (left).
Credit: Ben Applebaum-Bauch

The Goal Zero Lighthouse 600 utilizes an internal battery and a permanently affixed USB cord for charging, but it also has a hand crank for instances in which you're completely out of juice.

lantern - if you find yourself without a way to charge the goal zero...
If you find yourself without a way to charge the Goal Zero Lighthouse 600, simply start twisting the hand crank.
Credit: Ross Patton

Once fully powered up, we considered how easy they were to turn on and whether or not we needed instructions or time to learn the device. The models that are the easiest to illuminate are the ones with big, obvious knobs and buttons, like the Coleman Rugged Rechargeable and the Goal Zero Lighthouse Mini V2.

lantern - the coleman rugged rechargeable is about as easy to operate as...
The Coleman Rugged Rechargeable is about as easy to operate as lanterns get.
Credit: Ross Patton

Beyond just powering on the device, other considerations include the size and accessibility of the power button and the intuitiveness of different light modes. After much comparison testing, we realize the importance of being able to hang our lights overhead easily. Heavier models prove to be much more difficult to suspend. We were confined to setting them on rocks, picnic tables, cars, or on the ground in treeless campsites. Small bases make it hard to stand some of them on uneven surfaces, while models like the Black Diamond Apollo use tripod-style legs with rubber, non-slip feet, making them easy to position. The Goal Zero Lighthouse 600 and Goal Zero Lighthouse Mini V2 also have wide stands but are slightly less adaptable to uneven surfaces.

lantern - streamlight the siege&#039;s illuminated power button is easy to find and...
Streamlight The Siege's illuminated power button is easy to find and adjust.
Credit: Ben Applebaum-Bauch

Comparing battery-powered models to fuel-canister models can get a little messy, but considering that many gas-powered models require a lighter or matches to start, we gave the Primus Micron bonus points for its Piezoelectric igniter.

lantern - the piezo lever on the primus micron ignites the fuel without a...
The Piezo lever on the Primus Micron ignites the fuel without a lighter or matches.
Credit: Ross Patton

Features


A model with an on/off switch and a handle is sufficient in most cases, but we appreciate those that offer a little more versatility and thoughtfulness. We rate each product based on how many features it has beyond the basics and whether they genuinely improve its overall quality. Some of the lights we tested have just a few features, while others include several that set them apart and increase versatility. We give lower scores to models with features that are unnecessary or aren't highly functional, while the ones with practical and useful features receive higher marks.


Many of the lanterns we tested – even small ones like Kizen Solar Collapsible – are able to charge a smartphone (or other small electronic devices). The Coleman Rugged Rechargeable lantern is one of the most user-friendly options we tested. It even features a compartment on the bottom of the lantern for storing the charger cube and cord, which we found particularly useful for a rechargeable model.

lantern - the coleman rugged rechargeable has storage space for the charger...
The Coleman Rugged Rechargeable has storage space for the charger cube and cord in the base of the lantern.
Credit: Ross Patton

We appreciate products with simple yet practical features. We love it when a lantern is dimmable, has a great hook for hanging to illuminate from above, and has a sturdy base for improved stability on uneven terrain. The Goal Zero Lighthouse 600 is unique in that when it runs out of juice, there is a hand crank that generates electricity to recharge the light. One minute of cranking provides roughly 10 minutes of illumination.

lantern - we like that the charge indicator lights on the black diamond apollo...
We like that the charge indicator lights on the Black Diamond Apollo tell us how much juice we have left. This model has a built-in, rechargeable battery and the option for back-up, traditional batteries for the best of both worlds.
Credit: Ben Applebaum-Bauch

The features on the Streamlight The Siege increase its versatility and value. For example, it's waterproof and floats, making it one of our favorites for boating or fishing trips. We also like this one for looking under the hood of a vehicle, where its magnetic base comes in handy to adhere to and hang from the underside. It has hooks on both ends of the lantern and has white and red light modes.

lantern - many lanterns are charged via micro usb, but some come with more...
Many lanterns are charged via micro USB, but some come with more functional cables than others.
Credit: Ben Applebaum-Bauch

We especially like the products with dimmable power outputs (as opposed to fixed settings like low, medium, and high). Many of the lanterns we tested have this feature, but the Goal Zero Lighthouse 600 and Lighthouse Mini V2 can also adjust to cast 180 or 360 degrees of light. The BioLite SunLight is special because it can be set to red, green, blue, or anywhere in between. It also has a color cycle mode that automatically rotates through all of its color tones.

lantern - the biolite sunlight can be set to an array of color tones or can...
The BioLite Sunlight can be set to an array of color tones or can automatically cycle through them all.
Credit: Ross Patton

The BioLite SunLight's larger cousin, the BioLite AlpenGlow 500, has several light colors, a candle flicker mode, and a color cycle mode that is activated by physically shaking the lantern. This model also boasts an IPX4 water-resistance rating, meaning that it can withstand rain and splashing.

lantern - the biolite alpenglow 500 has a party mode that adds an element of...
The BioLite AlpenGlow 500 has a party mode that adds an element of fun to your campsite.
Credit: Ross Patton

The Primus Micron and Coleman Deluxe Propane both have dials for adjusting the fuel flow and brightness. The Primus has a steel cable for suspending the lantern from above without the risk of it burning or igniting something by accident.

lantern - the primus micron&#039;s steel cable provides ample room between the open...
The Primus Micron's steel cable provides ample room between the open flame and whatever you choose to hang it from.
Credit: Ross Patton

Weight


Weight is also a consideration that largely determines which activity each light is or is not suitable for. If you're looking for a model to take camping in the backcountry, then lightweight is the name of the game. You may also end up saving a little more weight in total if you opt for a version that also includes a USB charge port (assuming you are otherwise going to bring a supplemental battery pack).


On the other hand, if you are staying at base camp or car camping, you may actually want a little more heft in your lantern. The Ultimate Survival Technologies 30-Day Duro is the heaviest battery-powered contender. We really wouldn't consider taking it too far away from camp. The Goal Zero Lighthouse 600 is pretty hefty, but considering it has a large internal battery and a hand-crank, we think its weight is reasonable. At 14 ounces, the BioLite AlpenGlow 500 is right on the edge of what we might consider light enough for backpacking. For gas-powered models, the Coleman Deluxe Propane weighs a whopping 38 ounces without a canister attached. This model is really not designed to take far from your vehicle.

lantern - the luminaid packlite max (left) is slightly larger than its closest...
The LuminAid PackLite Max (left) is slightly larger than its closest competitor, the MPOWERD Luci Outdoor 2.0 (right). But both of these inflatable lanterns pack down flat for easy transport and storage.
Credit: Ben Applebaum-Bauch

If you like the idea of using the same fuel canisters for nighttime illumination as you use for your backpacking stove, the Primus Micron will only add 5.4 ounces to your setup or a mere 4 ounces if you ditch the case.

Even with the case, the Primus Micron is extremely light.
Even with the case, the Primus Micron is extremely light.
The Primus Micron is about as light as stainless steel lanterns get.
The Primus Micron is about as light as stainless steel lanterns get.
Weighing the Micron with its case (left) and without (right). It's quite lightweight either way.

The lightweights we would take a bit deeper into the backcountry include the Ledlenser ML6 and the Black Diamond Apollo. Also worth considering are the Black Diamond Zip or BioLite PowerLite Mini, both of which fit easily into almost any pocket and are competitively lightweight.

lantern - the dual-function, compact uco leschi fits in the palm of your hand...
The dual-function, compact UCO Leschi fits in the palm of your hand or in your pocket.
Credit: Ben Applebaum-Bauch

Conclusion


There are many high-quality lanterns on the market. However, different lights excel in different settings, so be sure to consider where and how you intend to use your lantern to maximize the value of your purchase. Throughout our testing, we were pleasantly surprised by how useful these products proved to be beyond their primary function as light sources. In some cases, we came to like them more than our beloved headlamps (gasp).

Ross Patton and Ben Applebaum-Bauch


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