The world of camping lights is one of great variation. There are economical, battery-powered lights and rechargeable, plug-in lights. Lights designed for lightweight backpacking and for luxury glamping. Lights for multi-day camping with kids and ones perfect to stow in a car camp set-up. Below we’ve outlined some of our favorite lights to use in a variety of camp settings--from the sturdiest lantern to the most travel-friendly tape light.
Best Outdoor Lights For Glamping Tents
Electric lanterns run the gamut from rechargeable to battery-powered and are by far the most popular due to their portability and safety. Our Railroad Lantern is a glamping favorite. It’s beautiful, functional, and sets the mood for a relaxed adventure. The durable, rechargeable Beacon Hanging Lantern comes with a carabiner on top— easily clip it in your tent to illuminate late-night card games or ghost stories. Want something small and battery-powered? At just 4.5” high, the Edison Mini Lantern may be the most compact option yet. Use the metal hook to hang one (or several!) from nearby trees to guide you safely from one camp spot to the next. Or, place one next to marshmallow supplies for just enough glow to keep melted desserts from accidentally dripping everywhere.
Candle lanterns are likely the most vintage, nostalgic option. What they lack in lumens they make up for in ambiance. Candle lanterns can be dangerous in a cloth or poly tent, however. (Always follow safe fire practices when camping or traveling outdoors!) If you’re looking for a vintage candle lantern alternative, consider the Railroad Lantern. The soft, warm glow is reminiscent of a candle, and the gorgeous seeded glass and copper accents will transport you back to a simpler time. Plus, a run time of 100+ hours on low means tons of use before recharging (and no chance it will blow out).
Best Outdoor Lights For Tent Or Car Camping
Tape lights offer the opportunity to arrange as you see fit for the best tent ambiance, whether camping or sleeping in a converted van. Because they are so lightweight, they also can be used while backpacking for a little added comfort and luxury in the backcountry. Try stringing them around your tent or under a canopy with the on/off switch close to the entrance. There are many kinds of string lights out there, but we love the NoBox version. This Tape Light has a high and low light output setting, 3.5 hours of battery life on high, and up to 36 hours of battery life on low, making it ideal for use over several days.
Akin to candle lanterns, string lights aren’t always the brightest light source, but they do give your tent a cozier vibe and are very portable. String lights come in both chargeable battery variants and ones that require a power outlet. Just like any electrical light, they’re also safer than gas or flame variants. If you have a portable charger, the Edison String Lights are a great option. Three string lights hang together to create a warm glow, or you can pair two sets and illuminate a large tent. The Edison String Lights can also double as backyard lights when you’re back from camping.
Easy to grab in a pinch for late-night bathroom trips, direct lighting for reading, looking for creepy-crawlies in the tent, and more. Most flashlights run on disposable batteries, but the Vintage Flashlight utilizes a rechargeable battery: plug it into a USB-C charging port when it needs to be powered up. This vintage flashlight has an additional hook on the bottom and can hang at eye level in the garage or tent. Its compact size is ideal for car camping, tent camping, or even hiking as an emergency light.
Best Outdoor Lights For Backpacking
If you plan to backpack, an LED headlamp is your best option. These bright, tactical lights typically utilize disposable batteries and have various light settings. Wear it around your head, and look where you’d like the light beam to go.
The Globe Lantern LED Light is a round, lightweight light that doubles as a unique glowing toy for water activities. If you’re camping near a body of water, these floating lights create a beautiful night vibe in contrast to the dark water at night. Put them near shore to help keep people on the path! The lightweight design also makes them a good choice for backpacking or multi-day adventures.
If a pocket-sized waterproof light sounds appealing, check out the Mini Globe Lantern. This small LED light is great for kids as a camping night light or simply clip it to their backpacks while hiking.