A lantern is an absolute necessity for any camping trip. From illuminating your camp site at night, lighting up your tent, to lighting the trail in the evening, lanterns get used a lot on camping trips.
Over the last few years, rechargeable lanterns have become not good, but actually in my opinion, have surpassed their battery powered counterparts. With the ability to recharge, you never have to worry about picking up batteries and often times you can even use them to charge other devices.
Battery life in these rechargeable lanterns can now not only match battery powered lanterns, but often times outlast them.
Add in the ability to charge devices like phones from your lantern, recharge using built-in solar panels, and many other features, and rechargeable lanterns become the obvious choice for campers.
I purchased and tested out 8 of the highest-rated rechargeable lanterns and put them to the test. I put them in real-world situations because that is exactly how you would use them.
Read on to see which lanterns exceeded my expectations, and which were a dissappointement.
Rechargeable lanterns are convenient over battery powered lanterns in that you don’t have to worry about purchasing and carrying extra batteries.
With today’s new lanterns, the internal batteries are light weight, fast charging and even give you the ability to charge other devices such as phones in an emergency. This is why I’ve switched my camping lanterns over to rechargeable.
Read on to see how each of these lanterns did in my tests and make sure to check out the individual reviews for even more in depth information.
The Goal Zero Lighthouse Mini ended up being one of our absolute favorite rechargeable lanterns. This small lantern is full of features that make it perfect for any type of camping.
It offers a small packing size and weighs only 8 ounces. Fold-down legs, a folding hook at the top, an additional hook to tie a rope to, and magnets built into the bottom of the lantern, give you the ability to set this lantern up in nearly any way imaginable.
At its brightest setting, the Goal Zero Lighthouse Mini shines with a bright 210 lumens, which is a will light up a tent or small campsite with ease.
At its highest setting, you can expect roughly 4 hours of battery life, but on it’s low setting you can get up to 500+ hours of total battery life. No other lantern we tested came even close to having this kind of battery life.
Finally, the built in USB charging cable will recharge the lantern in roughly 4 hours and the additional USB port allows you to charge up your phone or tablet if needed.
I found the Goal Zero Lighthouse Mini perfect for my camping needs. I used it mainly on its lowest setting to preserve battery life and still found that it emitted enough light for me to see. Because it is so small it is great to pack on regular car camping trips or lightweight camping trips.
Finally, the quality of the design and durability is impressive and I would expect nothing less from Goal Zero.
The Nite Ize 314 is a workhorse of a rechargeable lantern that gives you everything you need at a resonable price.
It isn’t overly heavy, weighing in at 10 oz (only two more than the Goal Zero Lighthouse Mini), and doesn’t take up too much space in your pack either.
Amber/yellow light setting is great for those dark nights when your eyes cannot handle the bright white light that the Radiant 314 emits.
A relatively standard feature of being able to charge other devices such as phones and tablets is great to have.
Finally, a hook at the top of the lantern makes hanging the lantern easy in your tent or in your campsite from a tree or paracord line.
The Nite Ize Radiant 314 was the biggest surprise lantern I tested. I came in with low expectations and thought it would be a middle of the road lantern that didn’t impress or disappoint. Instead, it continually impressed me as I spent more time using the lantern.
It is really well built and doesn’t feel “cheap” in any way. The long battery life is one of the main items I look for in a camping lantern and 96 hours is great.
I also don’t like overly large and/or heavy items. Even when I am car camping, space and weight are at a premium. I like gear that packs a lot of power and usefulness into a small size and light weight. The Nite Ize Radiant does just that at 10 oz and a footprint of 4.15 x 2.91″.
Overall, I thought Nite Ize really made a great lantern at a great price point that tied for our highest rated rechargeable lantern.
With an incredibly durable built and great features, the Black Diamond Apollo has been one of the best rechargeable lanterns on the market for the last few years.
The Apollo gives off a bright 250 lumens on high and 10 lumens on low. With just the built in battery, you can expect 6 hours of battery life on high and 30 hours on low.
A neat feature of the Black Diamond Apollo is that it offers additional battery backup to the built in battery. With 3 AAA batteries, you can get an additional 12-90 hours of life out of your lantern.
Beyond the battery backup, the Apollo has three folding legs and a hook on the top of the lantern that allow you to set up the lantern in almost any situation.
Lastly, the ability to charge additional devices is always a welcome feature.
Personally I love the Black Diamond Apollo. It has been one of my favorite lanterns for years. However, in recent years other lanterns have come along that have surpassed the Apollo and even done so with cheaper price tags.
The Apollo should last any camper for years and I can honestly say that I cannot imagine anyone would be disappointed with their purchase of the Apollo.
The Biolite Sunlight rechargeable lantern was one of the surprise lanterns that I reviewed. I honestly didn’t plan on including it in the final roundup as I didn’t think it would make the cut (I started with 14 rechargeable lanterns and only included the top 8 in the final roundup).
After a mere 10 minutes with this lantern though, I realized that it packed a ton of features into an incredibly useful lantern and will be one of my regular use lanterns going forward.
First off, the built in solar panel charges the lantern in 5-7 hours of full sunlight. Many solar lanterns take 20+ hours to fully charge, making them impractical.
Pair the solar panel with a battery that lasts 3 hours on high and 50 on low and you should never be left in the dark!
I also loved the built in kickstand, sundial, and multi-colored led light options, which ended up packing the Sunlight with as many features as many of the bigger, heavier, and more expensive lanterns on this list.
I love the small size and weight of the BioLite Sunlight. It makes it an easy choice to pack on canoe camping trips and backpacking trips for me where size and weight really matter.
Although the lantern only has 100 lumens of light output on high, that was still plenty to light up my tent at night and I typically used the lantern on low to extend the battery life.
You can purchase the Biolite Sunlight solar camping lantern at Biolite’s website.
The Goal Zero Lighthouse 400 is an incredible rechargeable camping lantern. It has many features that any camper would love. The only reason this lantern didn’t get the highest rating from me is because it is rather big, heavy and doesn’t have the longest battery life on low. This makes it not ideal for camping trips that require light weight gear, but any car camper, rv camper, or other type of camping where weight isn’t crucial, this would be perfect.
The Lighthouse 400 offers a bright 400 lumens of light on its highest setting, which will last for roughly 2.5 hours. On low, you can expect up to 48 hours of battery life.
The folding legs and ability to charge other devices are both welcome features as well, but what really sets the Goal Zero Lighthouse 400 apart is 3 features that weren’t found on almost any other lanterns.
First, the built-in charging cable is absolute genius and was only found on this lantern and the Goal Zero Lighthouse Mini. For a guy like me who loses cables constantly, I welcomed this feature with open arms!
Next, a high-efficiency hand crank on the top of the lantern allows you to charge your lantern any time, day or night. 1 Minute of hand cranking equals 10 minutes of light, so even if you do run out of battery at night, you won’t be left in the dark.
Finally, the Lighthouse 400 is equipped with emergency red flashing lights around the top of the lantern. In a survival situation, this feature could be a life saver.
I aboslutely love the Goal Zero Lighthouse 400. This is a lantern that I regularly take on our family camping trips. It is bright enough to light up our entire campsite and bright enough to really light up our tent so everyone can see what they need to when getting ready for bed.
Obviously the Lighthouse 400 isn’t intended for light weight camping, so knocking it for being big and heavy isn’t really fair. So as long as you are using it for its intended use of emergency light backup, family camping, car camping, and RV camping, you are going to love it.
Over the last year I’ve developed an appreciation for Ozark Trail gear from Walmart. It’s not the best gear or the lightest, but it offers a lot of value for your money. In my opinion it offers far more value than other budget brands such as Coleman.
I purchased the Ozark Trail rechargeable lantern to get a feel of the low end of lanterns and didn’t know if I would include it in this final post. However, I was really surprised at how much I liked the lantern and I think it definitely deserves a place in many campers gear.
First off, the Ozark Trail was the brightest rechargeable lantern that I tested. It gives off a whopping 700 lumens of light. This amount of light nicely lights up any campsite or tent.
Second, on low, the battery life lasts for an amazing 275 hours, making it the second longest lasting battery on our list.
The build of the lantern also feels pretty solid and it is incredibly easy to use.
Match all of this with a low price point of $33.46 and you have a great value lantern for you money.
This is the lantern that I give to my kids when we are out family camping. They always want their own lantern and this one is cheap, durable, bright and has long battery life. So if they leave it on all night, oh well.
If you’re starting out and need some car camping or RV camping gear, the Ozark Trail rechargeable lantern is a great choice.
You can purchase the Ozark Trail rechargeable LED lantern at Walmart.
Honestly, I’ve never been a huge fan of inflatable lanterns. In my mind, they fill a void that doesn’t really exist. If I want something that packs small, I can go with a small lantern like the BioLite Sunlight. If I want a big lantern, I can get a more durable lantern like the Goal Zero Lighthouse.
I purchased 2 inflatable lanterns for this post, the LuminAID Packlite Max and the Luci Inflatable Solar Lantern. Out of the two, the Luci didn’t offer anything that intrigued me and felt like a low value product. The LuminAID barely made the cut.
It’s hard for me to recommend this rechargeable lantern when there are so many better lanterns on this list, but if you are interested in an inflatable lantern, there are some nice features on the Packlite Max.
It has a built in solar panel that will charge the lantern in roughly 12-14 hours of direct sunlight. This is a little long but not intolerable.
The battery power and light output kind of throw me off though. With an output of 150 lumens, I would expect a longer batter life than 3 hours, but it is on par with the Biolite Sunlight (thought the Sunlight charges much faster).
While I don’t dislike the LuminAID Packlite Max, I just liked many of the other lanterns better. Its a fine lantern, but one that I won’t be using when my review is done.
If I didn’t own my other lanterns, I would be perfectly happy with this lantern. So, if there is a reason that you personally want an inflatable lantern, then this is a great option.
Oh Coleman… A lantern had to take up last place and the Coleman Rugged Rechargeable Lantern was an easy choice.
First off, ironically, the “Rugged” lantern came across as the cheapest built lantern that I reviewed. The feel didn’t pass the durability test.
With a price tag of $50, it is on the higher end of all the lanterns I reviewed. It also had the lowest battery life and the highest weight.
There really isn’t a single redeeming factor for the Coleman Rugged Lantern. To me, it feels as though Coleman is in with all the big box retailers and can mail in a poorly designed product and still sell due to their shelf space they occupy at places like Target and Walmart.
The Coleman Rugged rechargeable lantern is not a lantern that I will be using after completing this review. I would actually recommend anyone reading this to not buy this lantern and instead chose any other lantern on this list (the Ozark Trail lantern is better in every way and cheaper).
That is why I am not including a link on where to buy it. If you want to purchase the Coleman, you can Google it.
I hope I’ve helped you with your rechargeable lantern decision. If you have any questions, leave them in the comments below!