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Having a light source is an invaluable tool in a wide range of circumstances, let alone for a camper looking to escape to the woods for a weekend. It is probably the number one most used item in camp, especially after hours. When nature calls in the middle of the night and you need to climb out of the tent into the surrounding darkness, you will definitely want a trusty light handy to illuminate the way.
For most of these light sources, batteries are a messy necessity, or so we have thought for a long time. But technology has come a long way in recent years, and we now have a whole new marketplace full of options. You might have even looked at the endless pages of flashlights, lanterns, and torches and come away with your head spinning.
Luckily, these are not the only options we have available, and all the traditional sources of light are out-of-date, anyway. We have had a perfect storm of innovation in LED light technology requiring much less energy to produce ultra-bright lights, plus breakthrough in battery technology from cell phones making them smaller and much more powerfully capable of lasting many days sometimes, and finally groundbreaking charging technology in the form of advanced solar power options wrapped up into much more compact forms.
All of these changes have led the way for the latest and greatest products to hit the market flooding design innovations and a race to make the most effective tool for light source materials. The best of these are solar lanterns and they are the best solar lights for campers to use or anyone else enjoying the great outdoors or looking to do a little emergency preparing.
Best Solar Lanterns for Camping Reviewed
Super light and bright
Tiny, compact and ultralightweight
Durable at a fair cheap price
What is the best lantern for camping?
Lantern technology has come light years into the future over the last couple of decades alone. With this rocket-propelled explosion of innovation has come some incredible products. You may find yourself asking where to start looking or which ones are the best, and to this, we would direct you to look specifically into solar lanterns.
These fantastic pieces of equipment are a fairly recent invention that many people have just fallen in love with. In your conventional lantern, you used to have some pretty volatile substances involved. For example, you would have kerosene, propane, or other highly flammable substances involved in creating the light source, but that is no longer necessary.
This means that they can light your way in an array of situations without all the added safety precautions being necessary. This makes them great for situations like camping, backyard days, and even pools. Just check out our list of the best solar lights for campers and you will be blown away by the new products we have found.
How many lumens do I need for a camping lantern?
We have one last note before we dive in, and that is the topic of lumens. Lumens are the measurement of a light’s brightness and the distance it can illuminate in the pitch black. One lumen is equal to the light emitted but one candela in complete darkness.
The more lumens you have being emitted by your light source means the brighter that light is and the further out away from you it will light up for you to see clearly no matter how dark it is where you are.
Typically, a couple of hundred lumens is more than sufficient for most lighting needs. For example, a 100-lumen lantern hung up in the middle of a large tent could make it possible to read a book anywhere in the tent and long as it had a direct, unobstructed path to the light source. This should give you a reference as to how bright a light is and what you need for your situation.
Just check out our best solar light for camping list right here and find one that fits your needs perfectly. We are sure there is a solar light out there that could improve your life, and that’s even outside of just a camping situation. They make camping a breeze and an enjoyable experience for all without headache or hassle.
Top pick: AGPTEK Solar Lantern
This made our top pick for a few reasons. The first of which is the wide range of charging methods you have available with this model. Sure you have the standard wall charger, but you also have a car charger, a high energy poly-silicon solar panel, or you can use three AA batteries to power it. Finally, you have a hand crank charging ability. You simply flip out the crank handle and start spinning it at a rate of 120 rpm and if you do that for a solid 10 minutes, then you will have 90 minutes of light in super bright mode. Which is another significant thing this light has, two brightness modes. You have a regular super-bright mode that is adequate to read by, but you also have an ultra-bright mode that will light up a very large tent magnificently. Finally, this model has a USB charging output for charging up your cell phone or other device using the internal battery that powers the light. So, you can crank away for a while to build up a charge and then plug your phone in to charge up using all that electricity you just earned. Makes this a wonderful option for emergency use just as much as it is useful around a campsite. Altogether, the range of features that this model has made it stand out head and shoulders above the rest of the products we found.
5 CHARGING METHODS: Solar Powered, Crank Dynamo, Car Adapter, AC Adapter or 3 x AA Battery.
- 5 charging methods: Wall charger, car charger, 3 AA batteries, poly-silicon solar panel, or a hand crank that takes about 10 minutes of effort to get an hour and a half of ultra-bright like mode.
- Has two output modes for light brightness. The standard super-bright mode that outputs enough light to read by up to 6 ft away or the ultra-bright mode that will let you see anything for quite some distance away.
- Also, this solar light has a USB output for charging other devices using its internal battery. SO you can crank away for a while to build up a charge and then plug your phone in to charge up using all that earned electricity. Or use any of the charging methods to build up the battery and then plug your device in to use it as a power bank.
- We could not find an actual lumen rating for the LED lights output on this one, but the light is plenty bright enough, and if we had to guess, then we would say that on the ultra-bright mode it is putting out 150 lumens or more.
Ratings and Comments
This product is extremely portable and has an easy to carry handle on top that you can also use to hang the light from any secure point. It is not too big and bulky without being flimsy either.
The only reason we knocked down the rating on this was because the manufacturer doesn’t provide the lumen rating for their LED lights output, and we had to estimate what we thought it was outputting. It was plenty bright, mind you, but we wish we had the scientific number for this.
Solar Size: 9.7
The solar panel is super small and easy to set in direct sunlight as it sits directly on top of the light’s housing. It is a recent technology, and it outputs an exorbitant amount of energy for charging up the battery fully in a short amount of time.
Battery Capacity: 9.4
The battery size is plenty to give you a full night of bright light if you needed it. Then it will charge up fully the next day and you will be able to repeat this night after night. It is enough to charge up your cell phone at least twice using the USB output when fully charged.
This scores top ratings for this section because of the vast amount of features they packed into this wonderful little package. It is the perfect mixture of innovation and engineering.
Another place this scores high marks is its price. For all that you get with this one, the price point is stunningly low. We would have happily paid almost double what they want for this and that makes it worth every single penny.
Runner up: LuminAID Solar Inflatable Lanterns
Our runner up was chosen because of its multitude of features. For starters, it is inflatable and collapsible. So, it can go from being broken down into a flat sheet to being a cubed box that illuminates the night. It looks cool when set up and glowing away in one of the many brightness settings. Those brightness setting peak out at 75 lumens of light, so this one is slightly dimmer than our top choice, but still plenty adequate for a source of light to do anything, even read by, in your campground or tent. It is a groundbreaking light source, and it is even IP67 waterproof rated, so it can be fully submerged and still work. This means that these also make excellent pool or hot tub accessories. The fact that they come in a multitude of color options means that you can experience your lighting needs met in a vast number of ways with this light source.
Bright solar powered lantern with 75 lumens of LED light. Multiple brightness settings make it a perfect indoor or outdoor light. Lightweight, inflatable, collapsible, waterproof (IP67), shatterproof, and dustproof. Completely safe for children.
- This light is inflatable and collapsible, so it can go from broken down in a flat sheet into a cubed box shape for an illuminated lantern that you can carry as your light source anywhere you go.
- It also has multiple power settings that range in intensity of light being emitted and those top out at a brilliant 75 lumens of light power. This makes the product a magnificent source of light in a variety of situations.
- This lantern is IP67 waterproof rated. What this means is that this can be fully submerged in water and still operate fully. This makes them a fantastic pool or hot tub accessory and a camp light that is impervious to hikes, rains, rivers, lakes, boats, etc.
- At 75 lumens it is not the most powerful light to make our list, but it is probably the most versatile.
Ratings and Comments
The way this light folds up to be super compact and thin means that it can go just about anywhere. Add to that the fact that it is extremely waterproof and you have a solar light that can go further than any other.
This is the only area where this light lost a bit in the ratings. At only 75 lumens, it is on the low end of the bright scale for new solar lights. Although, it is plenty bright enough to light your way on even the darkest of nights just fine.
Solar Size: 9.4
The solar panel on this solar light is small and fills the center of one side when the light housing is folded flat.
Battery Capacity: 9.2
This solar light lasts for a full 24 hours of illumination on a single battery charge and you have two methods to charge it up; solar and a micro USB option that is available with the cord included.
As an extremely versatile light source, this product has a long list of functions making it score high marks in this area.
The price of this solar light is shockingly low. Anyone can afford one or two of them for a camping trip, or to have around the house/backyard.
Best Value: TANSOREN 2 Pack
This economical twin pack of solar lanterns is great for family camping trips and emergency kits equally well. You get two collapsible lanterns in this kit and they are both bright enough to use as a reading light anywhere you may need them. Your kids can have their own light to play with, and these lights are more than durable enough to be trusted to a child. There are three ways to supply power to the solar lantern’s battery; a high energy solar panel, a USB charging port, and finally you can use 3 AA batteries to supply power to the light. Also, because the light has a USB port, you can charge up your cell phone or other device using the internal battery’s power supply. This is a prominent feature for those who are using their solar lantern for camping or emergency preparedness because you never know when a full phone battery could save your life.
Built-in rechargeable batteries and solar panel,reliable solar or 5V DC USB charging or use the 3 AA battery to supply power. The red light next to the DC input mean in charging, (include DC charging line and “S”) Multiple ways to prevent no electricity. Making sure you have light with you at anytime.
- The first great things about this solar light is the fact that it comes in a twin pack with two lanterns in it for you to use.
- Next, the lanterns are built with an ultra-durable hard plastic that collapses in on themselves to make them smaller and easier to pack.
- You have three ways to charge up these solar lantern’s internal batteries
- you have a USB port for charging both lantern and portable devices using the lantern, you can use the solar panel to charge fully in just a few hours, or you can use 3 AA batteries to fill the internal battery back to full.
- While they are quite durable lanterns and are built very well, especially for the price, but there were sparse reports of lights stopping to work after just one summer. Although these reports were few and far between and the overwhelming majority of reports we saw praised the lights for being great products.
Ratings and Comments
They collapse in on themselves to be as compact as possible, plus they have a built-in handle on top that is low profile and out of the way while simultaneously being very easy to hold on to for carrying around.
For the second time, we had to knock off this rating simply because the manufacturer doesn’t supply this scientific rating for us to compare. Although, all reports say the light is plenty bright enough to read by or do anything else you may need to do in the dark using one of these lanterns.
Solar Size: 9.1
The solar panel is high tech and relatively small. It is large enough that you can turn the lantern and angle it towards direct light easily, but still small enough that it can easily be left exposed when hanging off a backpack.
Battery Capacity: 8.2
While the light will operate most of the night when being used constantly, the lantern’s internal battery will only charge up your cell phone one time and be drained afterward. It makes a great backup battery or even an avenue to charge your phone with solar or AA batteries, even when away from the electrical grid.
A fairly basic solar lantern that just does what it is supposed to. We still gave decently high marks because of the way you can charge your phone using the lantern’s internal battery.
For all that you get in this twin pack of solar lanterns, the price is jaw-droppingly low. We are not even sure how they are turning much profit off of these lights, but we are not complaining!
Super light and bright: MPOWERD Luci Inflatable Solar Lantern
Luci is a solar only outdoor lantern that is fully collapsible and inflatable. It makes an excellent choice for backpackers because of the size it is when compacted and the solar panel taking up most of one side just needs to be exposed as your trek during the day and you will have 12 full hours of an intensely bright LED light source. It is extremely lightweight, only weighing a couple of ounces, again making it a magnificent option for backpackers to use while out in the wilderness. Finally, it is IP67 waterproof rated so it is fully submersible in water and it will function normally.
This extremely durable solar LED light is completely powered by the sun, no additional batteries needed. Set it in direct sunlight for 7 hours and Luci Outdoor lasts up to 12 hours on a single charge.
- Light is collapsible and inflatable, making it a very compact source of light in the campground or on the trail.
- Solar panel is so high tech that it only needs to be exposed to direct sunlight for a short duration during the day, a couple of hours, and then you have a full 12 hours of light to get you through the night safely.
- It is so waterproof that it is submersible. That’s right, you can totally submerge this in water and it will still work. That actually makes it an excellent choice for home and emergency use as well.
- When compacted it is sort of flimsy and you have to be careful not to break/crack the solar panel by bending the unit too much.
Tiny, compact and ultralightweight: Odoland USB Rechargeable Solar Lantern
This is another magnificent collapsible solar light that folds out into a lantern with super bright LED light. In fact, there are three light mode options available in everything from 150 lumens of cold white light down to 20 lumens of warm yellow light. Plus, the collapsible housing is made of a durable and resilient hard plastic shell with a silicon light housing that folds in and out. The plastic and silicone put together make this an excellent option for wet climates or hikers who often ford creeks or rivers during their excursions. The lantern has two ways to charge the internal battery. First, you have the solar panel that just needs a few hours of direct sunlight to fully charge the battery for many hours of light (5 hours at 150 lumens or 20 hours at 20 lumens). Then you have the micro USB charging port that runs on the typical power supply so you can charge from the wall with an adapter or from a laptop or portable power bank even. Finally, the light has a built-in carabiner on top to hang the light from absolutely anywhere from your tent to your backpack.
Made of high quality plastic. The silicone lampshade of the lantern is waterproof so the lantern can resist water much better, making it much more durable. It’s definitely a must have for backpacking, camping, hiking and emergency.
- This solar light is collapsible and will compact to a small enough size to be carried around in your pocket if you wished to do so.
- The lanterns housing is made of a robust and hard plastic outer shell combined with a silicone light housing that folds in on itself to collapse the whole things making it much smaller than other lights.
- Comes with a built in carabiner on top to attach this solar lantern to anything you can think of. You can hank your light easily from either your tent, backpack, or anywhere else you may need some light.
- Solar panel needs a full 7 hours of direct sunlight to fully recharge the internal battery. Although this is about average for any solar light, it is a long time and you will need to move your lantern around throughout the day to follow the direct sunlight most likely.
Durable at a fair cheap price: SUAOKI Collapsible Clover Style 18 Led Brightest Camping Tent Lanterns
This unique solar light is made by SUAOKI, which is a leading manufacturer of portable energy products and emergency power generators. So they have some advanced technology in this field and it is on display in this incredible solar light. The light folds out uniquely like a ceiling fan to expose the three large solar panels on top of the blades and 6 ultra-bright LED lights on the bottom of each blade. So one way it is charging up and then you simply flip it over or partially fold it up and the LED lights will be exposed to emit plenty of super bright light into your tent or campground. This light makes an excellent campground, backpackers, but also emergency preppers solar lantern source. It has three brightness modes, with a strobing emergency setting as well. Plus, you can charge it using a USB power supply and using the solar panels to rejuvenate the battery’s power supply.
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- Designed and manufactured by a leading expert in the industry of portable electronic devices and portable energy supplies. So, it is cutting edge and leading the way for innovation in the field of these types of products.
- Folds up compactly or folds out to expose all three of the solar panels to direct sunlight or to direct all 18 LED light bulbs onto one area, illuminating whatever area you want lit up super brightly.
- Can charge with a USB charger as well as using the high tech solar panels to fully rejuvenate the battery’s power supply.
- The light is so bright, even on the low power setting, that it drains the battery rather quickly. In fact, on high brightness you only get 2 to 4 hours on a single full charge.
How to choose Camping Lanterns?
To pick the best lantern for your situation, you just need to consider a few factors. First is where you will use it the most. Some are excellent for hanging from the pole cross-section of your tent, while others are more meant for sitting on a table or in the corner of your tent. Maybe you want one you can hang from your backpack easily, or even fit in your pocket. The decision in this category is endless, so think about how you will use your light ahead of time.
Next, consider how long you will need light for. Typically, you need it from about 7 or 8 pm until midnight. As long as your light will last this long on a medium setting, you can be sure that it will last as long as you need it to for the typical camping trip.
Finally, consider how long you will be able to solar charge your light. On a camping trip, this is easy if you just lay it out on a table or something that gets direct sunlight during the day, the outside of your backpack as you hike will work in a pinch. Then consider how you will get to a full charge each day and plan accordingly. Some lights all you will need is solar power, while others will need to augment a little energy to make it through extended camping trips and outings.
How Do Solar Lights Work?
Solar lights are a fairly simple concept. First, you have a light source that takes little energy to supply long-term power. Then, you have an internal battery that can hold power long enough to supply this light for extended periods of illumination. Finally, you have a solar panel wired into the system to supply the power input to charge the battery.
This system is fairly new, because of recent innovations and advancements in all three of the fields. So, these products are fairly new to the market but have exploded on the scene with some force lately. With so many choices available, it can be head-spinning to even start a search for the best solar light. So we went ahead and did all the necessary research to bring you this list of amazing solar lights.
Are Solar Lights Worth Investing?
Of course, these lights are worth investing your time and money in. They are incredible new technologies that deserve our support. The more who begin to use these products the better they will get and the more advancements will take place in the fields that build them. That is reasoning enough right there to go out and pick up a solar light or two of your own.
Solar lights are a substantial source of illumination for a variety of situations. They work great for camping trips with the family just and they make excellent emergency preparedness kits complete. Having a light source that you can rejuvenate every single day simply by placing it in the sunlight is an enormous advantage that only this recent technology has provided us with. It is amazing to think about the innovations in these fields and how they all came together to create these incredible products for us to take advantage of on our trips into the outdoors. Check out one or more of these lights for yourself. Trust us, you will be glad you did.