Lanterns are an essential piece of equipment to take camping or to use in emergencies when the power is out to provide light. LED lanterns are preferred because they last practically forever and you will not need to replace a bulb. The perfect choice is one that is bright enough to read by, but that also provides a lower output of a nice soft glow for ambient light especially for tent use.
Battery options vary with most using D cell batteries, but some use AA or even lithium rechargeable batteries. Also be aware of the size – many are now very small, but some are larger than you think and take up a lot of space if you are backpacking or camping. Prices range from about $25-$90 with plenty of good models in the lower price range.
Below we review our top 5 best LED lanterns.
Our pick for the best LED lantern is the Ultimate Survival Technologies 30-Day Lantern which sells for a little over $30. It has earned high praise from many reviewers including being named the best by thesweethome.com, earning an editors choice award from Popular Mechanics, and receiving a 4.8 star rating from users on Amazon. Powered by 3 D cell batteries it puts out an extremely bright 300 lumens on high and can last 30 days on the low setting which outputs a nice soft glow of 29 lumens which is perfect for tents. That light output is as good as you can get in a lantern as small as this one – 3.5 x 3.5 x 7.2 inches tall and weighs just 1 pound.
There really are no weaknesses on this UST model and we highly recommend it. We feel you should only look for another model if you want different features such as rechargeable batteries or a USB port for recharging your phone.
The $80 Goal Zero Lighthouse 250 is a great choice for a LED Lantern if you don’t want to use disposable batteries. It has a Li-NMC battery which can be recharged from a USB cable, a hand crank, or a solar panel (not included). With a fully charged battery you will only get 2.5 hours of runtime on the full 250 lumen highest setting, but there are 6 different levels you can set it to with the lowest giving you 48 hours of runtime. The Lighthouse 250 has legs and a hanger to stand it up or hang plus it can also recharge your electronic devices like your phone or tablet through a USB cable. It weighs 1.1 pounds with dimensions of 4.5 x 5 x 6 inches.
We don’t recommend this Goal Zero model for everyone, but if you want a rechargeable battery then this one is for you.
The UST 10-Day LED Lantern is the little brother of the 30-Day and is the cheapest on our list at about $24.50. It uses 6 AA batteries and will last a minimum of 26 hours on high and 255 hours on low. It is about the size of a pop can so it is a great choice for anyone who needs to save space like backpackers. Despite its diminutive size it still puts out about 250 lumens on high which is plenty bright, and 21 lumens on low.
Overall this Ultimate Survival Technologies model is a great choice for anyone concerned with price or size.
The Black Diamond Apollo received an Editor’s Choice award for OutdoorGearLab.com for LED lanterns and is available for about $45
. Although it is not the brightest lantern, ranging from 10 to 80 lumens, it scored high marks for its ease of use and durability. It uses 4 AA batteries, weighs in at just 11.4 ounces, and comes with a dimmer switch and battery life indicator. It has a unique tripod-like design with 3 rubber-tipped legs that make it easy to setup on uneven surfaces. It also has 2 opposing metal hooks which allows you to securely hang it from just about anything.
We don’t recommend this product to anyone who needs to read by its light, but do recommend it for anyone who just needs ambient campsite light.
The number one best selling LED lantern on Amazon is the Rayovac Sportsman SE3DLN which sells for $25. It runs on 3 D cell batteries and outputs a bright 240 lumens on the high setting. It has a low setting that we feel is too bright to provide a nice soft glow. On high your runtime is 40 hours, while it gets 90 hours on low. It is nice and compact standing 7.3 inches tall with a 3.5 inch wide base. The Rayovac Sportsman is durable and comes with a lifetime warranty.
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