Be it for emergencies, camping trips, or just being in the patio, sometimes we need a convenient, portable light that will keep the dark at bay and (also important) won’t go on the fritz if it rains. For any time in the outdoors, nothing better than an adequate lantern—and you’ll soon see why.
Outdoors-rated Is Simply Better
Rain, snow, intense heat, these are things a run-of-the-mill flashlight is hardly equipped to deal with. Should you be out in a cross-country trek, or working your way through a sudden downpour, you’ll want something that won’t suddenly go out on you simply because of weather conditions. For this reason, a source of light specifically intended for the outdoors is the way to go: they are simply more resilient than their conventional counterparts.
- Lantern vs Flashlight vs Headlamp
We all know flashlights: Grab them, point them, light the way. A headlamp is the same, except you affix it to your head by way of an elastic band, which leaves your hands free for any task you need done in the dark.
What makes a lantern better? Its range: a lantern will provide light all around, which makes it great for just hanging somewhere while you and yours move around in a campsite or the patio. They are also dimmer the farther you are from them, as the beam (unlike headlamps and flashlights) is not focused and is, therefore, far less likely to feel bad on your eyes should you happen to look at it directly.
Lumens, And Why They Matter
The first unit to measure light was the candela (cd), roughly equivalent to the amount of light emitted by a single wax candle. The lumen (lm), simply put, is one candela as emitted through a solid angle, and this is the unit used nowadays to express the output of a great many light sources—such as lanterns. The more lumens, the more potent the light, and the wider the area a light-emitting item can cover.
Important to note: more lumens is not necessarily a good thing. If the area the lantern will be illuminating is more on the small side of things, too much light might just be a nuisance—or even harmful, should eyes be laid directly on it.
It may surprise you, but it’s true—gas lanterns are still a thing!, flame-based light and all. The other option is battery-powered, LED models; both have their own share of fans, and their applications:
- Brighter: Their light covers a wider area.
- Warmer: Since it’s an actual flame, there’s a certain comfort element to it.
- Easy to adjust: Dim it to exactly the degree you want it.
- Longer burn: Many models can last for a full day on a single canister.
- Basic build: There’s far fewer parts involved, so it is much less likely for one of these to stop working.
- Safer: As there’s no fuel involved, there’s no need to worry about the lantern’s proximity to children, pets, and potentially flammable items such as your tent.
- Lighter: You can easily stuff them into your backpack if you so desire.
- Easy access: They are widely available, even on certain convenient stores.
- Rechargeable: In many cases, all your lantern needs to go back to full power is a short stay plugged into an outlet.
- Resilient: Many of these lanterns are inherently water-resistant, and therefore better to take along in occasions when you’re expecting rain.
In general, if you’re stocking up for on-foot treks or for an emergency, a lighter LED light should be all you need. For covering larger areas and situations when you don’t expect to move much, a gas lantern is something worth considering.
Factors such as weight, light output and running time, can vary even between models with the same power source. It’s worth looking closer at every option that draws your attention, so as to more easily find the one that will truly serve you best.
Only You Can Prevent Wildfires!
And, when it comes to lanterns, it really isn’t hard: keep flammable items away from the lantern, turn it off before going to sleep, that sort of common sense measures—and you should be golden.
- Lighting The Way, No Matter The Weather
These are some solid options we believe worthy of a second look.
1. Streamlight 44931 Siege Compact, Cordless, 7.25″ Alkaline Hand Lantern – Coyote – 540 Lumens
This one is geared towards less casual situations, as it has a total of 5 LED modes—alternating between white and red—, including an SOS one, and its night vision mode helps extend its running time. It’s not exactly delicate either, as its IPX7 rating means it can endure full immersion into up to 1m depth, and it is also tested for impact at up to 2m. D rings on top and bottom allow it to be hanged upright or upside down, and the cover can be removed to expand the area it illuminates. Depending on light mode and setting (max is when hung upside down without cover), it can provide as much as 540 lumens for up to 30 hours.
- Well suited for emergency situations.
- Battery it runs on makes it potentially heavier.
- Non rechargeable.
2. Coleman SS-SMS-775206 Gas Lantern
Since this one comes from a brand well-known to many outdoors enthusiasts, it’s wont to inspire some confidence, and it does try to justify it. In terms of performance, it comes with a fairly impressive 1000lm output, enough for a distance of over 20m. Designed to run for roughly 4 and a half hours on high, the pressure regulator will help ensure a steady flow of fuel, even under harsher conditions.
Ventilator and globe are specifically made to endure rust and high heat, respectively; base comes with collapsible feet so it won’t topple over so easily.
- Powerful output.
- Steady base.
- Unlike other gas lanterns, this one requires matches to light up.
3. Vont LED Camping Lantern, 4-Pack
Bright, sturdy and aplenty are good ways to refer to this offer: for your purchase, you get not 1, but 4 lanterns, all with the same perks. When collapsed, the lantern is about 5″ tall—roughly the length of a credit card. As you pull upwards by the handles, it extends, and the LED lights begin to (somewhat literally) shine. You can bring it up to its full height to benefit from the entirety of its 30 bulbs, or leave it partially collapsed for a dimmer light.
Resilience is something definitely not overlooked: made with aircraft grade materials, it will be fine if immersed in water for a long time, and it can endure a 3m (10 ft) drop without any damage. For additional peace of mind, the manufacturer stands behind this product with a lifetime warranty that covers not only factory defects, but also if you lose it—including due to theft.
- Fairly potent for its size.
- Quite durable.
- No way to regulate output when hanging, which may make it too bright for comfort depending on the setting.
4. Primus Micron Backpacking Lantern
Not all gas lanterns are large: this one weighs only 4.2 ounces, and is therefore fairly easy to carry around—it comes with its own carrying case, too. It does not require matches for lighting, as it features a Piezo ignitor to do the job. One mantle is also included. Light output is 235lm, which can be further dimmed down with a knob. Instead of glass, the flame is enclosed in stainless steel mesh.
Worth noting that gas and fuel offered by this manufacturer are CO2 neutral, which is quite a rarity for this industry segment.
- A more compact, portable option for gas-powered light enthusiasts.
- Fairly low output—better for smaller locations.
- Ignitor can be unreliable at times.
5. KYNG Solar Rechargeable LED Lantern
This one is a good prospect if you’d rather avoid swapping batteries every once in a while, as it can be recharged via USB cable—or, if out in the country, simply by exposure to sunlight. It can be used extended as a lantern, or as a flashlight by simply collapsing it, which also makes it extremely compact. As an added perk, it can be used to recharge a cellphone or similar device, although the manufacturer does clarify that it will not charge anything fully; per reported consumer experiences, it may amount to as little as 4% battery.
- Can be used to charge other devices in a pinch.
- Versatile: lantern and flashlight in one.
- Very low output: 65lm on high setting.
- Must be hung if one wants to use it as a lantern; it may collapse often on its own when standing.
- Brightest Of The Bunch: Vont LED Camping Lantern, 4-Pack
One might be hard pressed to find a better offer, as not only does it come with 4 items, they’re all remarkably well-crafted; while resistance to water is generally a given for products of this type, shock resistance is not as common, and this model goes a full meter beyond the 2m boasted by many similar devices. In terms of output, general consumer perception points to it being fairly bright—sometimes too much, in which case it is better to use it partially collapsed in order to dim it. It’s undeniably compact (with height comparable to a credit card’s length when collapsed), which makes it simpler to carry one in the emergency kit or the backpack.
Since there’s quite a few included in the purchase, it would be no surprise to end up gifting one or two, especially considering they come backed by a rather generous lifetime warranty.