Lantern Buying Guide
The weight of a lantern, the power supply it uses, how long the power supply will keep the light working and how bright the light is are just a few of the factors that are involved in choosing the right camping lantern. You will also want to take into consideration the weather conditions you will be camping in and the temperature as well.
Other things to think about are whether you will be camping with children and if you want to have light inside the tent. These last two factors in particular will determine whether you should get a battery powered camping lantern or a fuel powered one. Fuel powered lanterns are not very safe around children and de finitely are not a good idea to have inside your tent.
This buyer’s guide will help you choose the right camping lantern for your needs. Finding the lantern that will provide the performance and other features you need and want does not have to be a difficult endeavor. When you have the right information, it becomes much easier to sort through all of the choices available and make an informed decision that will provide you with a great lantern that will last a long time.
Types of Camping Lanterns
There are two basic types of camping lanterns:
Battery Powered – This type of camping lantern is probably the safest you can purchase. They can be brought into the tent with no worries about tipping over and spilling fuel everywhere and catching fire. They are the perfect choice for family campouts and any camping that will be done around or with children present.
They do not produce as much light as a fuel powered lantern and could be affected by cold weather if you are camping in the cold months. Depending on the type of lantern, it could be one that has rechargeable batteries or one that uses non-rechargeable ones. It is always better to be prepared and carry along extra batteries and bulbs in case the lantern runs out of juice or blows a bulb.
These battery operated camping lanterns are very light and tend to be made of mostly plastic. They weigh hardly anything and come in a multitude of colors, styles and sizes. They are a good choice to carry in your backpack and usually have enough light to illuminate a family size tent.
Fuel Powered – Fuel powered camping lanterns use propane, butane, dual fuel, or kerosene. Despite the fact that fuel powered camping lanterns provide m ore and brighter light, there are inherent risks in using fuel powered lanterns. They are much more prone to causing burnt fingers, or starting a fire in the tent or wherever you are using it.
Camping lanterns that are fuel-powered have glass globes which can break if care is not taken with them. If you are not camping with children, and you have decided you want to use a fuel-powered camping lantern, just be extra careful to ensure no tip-overs occur and be careful handling the lantern as well. You will also need to ensure plenty of ventilation is present and never use them inside the tent.
Comparing Different Lanterns’ Performances
When looking at different camping lanterns, there are some performance things that you want to considering, especially when you are comparing different types of camping lanterns against each other.
- Maximum Light Output – Lumens are the form of measurement that determines the amount of light a lantern puts out. The higher the lumens the brighter the light will be. Another thing to keep in mind is the wattage of the lantern. Higher wattage will often mean that the lantern is lower in efficiency. That will result in a shorter burn time and/or shorter battery life.
Light Duration – Light duration will be listed one of two ways. For gas camping lanterns it will be the burn time of the lantern. In battery powered models, it is referred to as the average run time. For either type, these phrases refer to the amount of time you can expect the lantern to be lit and providing light for your campsite on 1 tank of fuel or 1 set of batteries respectively.
The majority of models offer both a high and low estimate to give you more of a range rather than an exact. Run times will vary a lot according to many factors, so never count on the lantern to stay lit the entire run time or burn time it states. These estimates are given under perfect circumstances.
Other Things to Consider
Below we have outlined other things that you will want to consider when you are researching and sorting through the different camping lanterns.
Batteries – You will not be using lithium or lithium-ion batteries in any camping lantern unless they already come with them. You can damage or possibly ruin the lantern by using lithium batteries with it when they are not specified.
The disadvantage to using alkaline batteries, which is what is most often used in these lanterns, is that they do not perform well in extremely cold temperatures (such as below 20 degrees). You can extend the life of alkaline batteries by carrying them under your clothing during the day and sleeping with them inside the sleeping bag at night. This will keep their temperature up.
- Mantles – In a fuel-powered lantern, there is something called mantles that provide the glow that makes the fuel burning lantern function. Once the mantle has been burned, it becomes very fragile and you must handle it with extreme care. You will want to carry several replacement mantles whenever you go on a camping trip.
- Size and Weight – If you are taking a camping trip where you can drive the car all the way up to the campsite, the size and weight of your camping lantern will not really be an issue. If you will be backpacking to your campsite, ounces can add up, so you want to keep things as light as possible. The best camping lantern to bring if you are looking for something with little weight is the LED lanterns.
A camping lantern comes in many differ sizes, weights, fuel types, shapes and even colors. Looking for the right camping lantern for your needs is determined by how it is used, who will be using it and how often.
Regardless of whether you are going on a backpacking camping trip or going to a drive up campsite, you are going to want to ensure that you get a high quality camping lantern. The great news is that there is a camping lantern for every person’s needs.
Whatever you choose, if you take the time to match up your specific needs with the types of camping lanterns available, you will find that perfect one that will give you exactly what you are looking for in terms of function and performance.