Gear Guy


What Are the Best Car-Camping Lanterns?

Camp lights for when you don't have to worry about fast and light

What Are the Best Car-Camping Lanterns?

For long backcountry trips, Goal Zero offers options with hand cranks to recharge. Photo: Goal Zero


I love a good, old-school kerosene lantern. But these bulky, occasionally flammable relics are best suited to a cabin—not a car or tent. When I’m living on the road, I prefer a reliable electric option. There are lots to chose from, but these are my five favorites. 

Black Diamond Titan ($80) 

Black Diamond titan lantern
  Photo: Black Diamond

The Titan is a 10-inch powerhouse that puts out 250 lumens—enough power to create a circle of light with a 46 foot diameter. A dimmer lets you dial down the beam, while the mildly frosted shield over the bulb ensures you don’t go blind if you look directly at the light. You'll always know how much juice you have left, thanks to a visible battery meter on the body. 

Best For: Early-Morning Gear Sorting

Ticla Good Love Lantern ($60)

Ticla good love lantern
  Photo: Ticla

This AAA-battery-powered device is my favorite in-tent lantern because it’s great for reading before bed. The nearly opaque exterior softens the light, but it still packs plenty of lumens (220) so you can see small print. It’s also simple to use: just spin the base to turn it on and cycle through the brightness options. 

Best For: Bedtime Reading 

Princeton Tech Helix Bluetooth ($110) 

Princeton Tech helix bluetooth
  Photo: Princeton Tech

You can control the power and dim modes on this collapsible, 250-lumen lantern with your phone via Bluetooth. Leave the lantern on your picnic table and turn it on from your tent to scare away animals in the middle of the night.

Best For: Tech Geeks

Goal Zero Lighthouse 250 LED Lantern ($80) 

Goal Zero lighthouse 250 lanter
  Photo: Goal Zero

The 1.1-pound Lighthouse will run for 48 hours, so long as you don’t use the max 250-lumen setting. If you do run out of juice, you can re-charge it with a built-in hand crank. 

Best For: Ditching the Batteries

LuminAID PackLite 12 ($23)

LuminAid packlite 12 lantern
  Photo: LuminAID

You don't have to worry much about weight and size when car camping, but it’s still nice to have gear that packs well. This 3.5-ounce, 30-lumen, fully waterproof lantern cranks out light for 12 hours and recharges with its own solar panel.

Best For: Space-Crunched Campers

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