Four Fun, Useful Lights to Brighten Your Campsite
There are a ton of smart options to choose from
Camp lighting used to be boring: you brought a lantern for the table and a headlamp for everything else. Now there’s a long list of clever lighting options that make camping more comfortable and convenient. Here are our four new favorites.
Princeton Tec Snap Solo Headlamp ($35)
You can wear the 300-lumen Snap Solo as a regular headlamp, but the light also comes off the band and attaches to a ferrous surface via a strong magnet—a feature that makes it twice as useful. I regularly slap it to the side of my stove as a spotlight while I’m cooking dinner so I never burn the onions. I hung it inside my wheel well when I had to diagnose a suspension problem on a remote dirt road one night. I also attach it to the side of my roof rack as a lantern that lights up camp. When it’s time for bed, I pop it back in the band and use the light to make sure I don’t step on any animals while emptying my bladder. It uses three AAA batteries and runs for 10 hours on its highest setting.
Nite Ize Radiant Rechargeable Shineline ($25)
If you camp with kids, you need at least one of these ten-foot string lights. I use mine to line the top of the tent and leave it on while they fall asleep. The blue and green versions aren’t so bright that they keep the kids awake, but they glow just enough to help them get their bearings and feel reassured in the tent. Other times, I’ve laid one of the lights down the middle of our camping table to help with ambiance during dinner. I’ve also hung several in nearby trees (via the included gear ties) to add a little flair to camp. Each string is powered by a rechargeable battery and uses fiber-optic and LED technology to light things up. Its run time is six hours.
BioLite AlpenGlow 250 Lantern ($60)
At its most basic, the AlpenGlow is a rechargeable 250-lumen lantern I like for the tent or the dinner table. But thanks to a built-in accelerometer, I can also shake it to change light modes. One shake makes the lantern mimic the light from a flickering candle. Another shake makes the internal LEDs cycle through a variety of colors, creating a party atmosphere that my kids absolutely love. If you prefer buttons, there’s one of those that you can use to control the modes the old-school way. A hook on the top allows me to hang the lantern wherever I want, and a USB-A charge-out port is great for juicing up my phone. The AlpenGlow runs for five hours.
Klymit Everglow Light Tube ($20 and up)
Car campers who want to save space should look here. That’s because this inflatable light packs down to the size of a large orange but unfurls to be over two feet long. (The XL version, $40, is nearly three feet long.) Inside the Large, a string of dimmable LEDs casts up to 220 lumens, and the light attaches to nearly anything via a Velcro strap or a set of two magnets. The Light Tube does not come with its own power source, but it’s easy to attach to a small power bank via USB. I don’t use the Tube to cook dinner because the light is too diffuse but it’s great for under an awning.