Meet the humble solar lantern, one of the best ways to camp and enjoy the outdoors. The lively green of the forests, clean air, and the starry night sky. Nature has much to offer to each of us, and it is our responsibility to protect it. What better way to do your part than to switch to a renewable source of energy not just at home, but also while camping outdoors?
Solar lanterns are a fantastic first step in your transition. They are not too costly of an investment and they can help you become familiar with the technology. More importantly, they are handy tools for any camper. Read on to find out more.
SUAOKI LED Collapsible Camping Lantern
AGPTEK Solar Lantern
SUAOKI LED Camping Lantern
- 1 Best Outdoor Solar Lanterns for Camping Today
- 1.1 1. SUAOKI LED Collapsible Camping Lantern
- 1.2 2. AGPTEK Solar Lantern
- 1.3 3. GOAL ZERO Lighthouse 400 Lantern and USB Power Hub
- 1.4 4. MPOWERD Luci Outdoor 2.0
- 1.5 5. SUAOKI LED Camping Lantern
- 1.6 6. TANSOREN 2 PACK Portable LED Camping Lantern
- 1.7 7. ENKEEO Camping Lantern Collapsible LED Light
- 1.8 8. CaseTop 2 Pack Outdoor Camping Lamp
- 1.9 9. Kizen Solar Powered LED Camping Lantern
- 1.10 10. LuminAID Solar Inflatable Lanterns (As Seen on Shark Tank)
- 2 What are Outdoor Solar Lanterns?
- 3 Outdoor Solar Lanterns vs. Battery-Powered Light Sources
- 4 Should You Use Solar Hanging Lanterns?
- 5 Light Requirements for Campers
- 6 Before You Buy an Outdoor Solar Lantern
- 7 Choosing one of the Best Solar Lanterns for your Camping Experience
Best Outdoor Solar Lanterns for Camping Today
As demonstrated by products like solar blinds and shades, solar lighting is the way of the future, but the technology is still relatively new. As such, the market for solar camp lanterns is ever changing. For the customer, this is great news, since most brands strive to outdo their competition in quality and attractive prices.
Still, the plethora of options can, at times, become a little overwhelming. To help light your way to a more optimal purchase, here is a list of what we believe are currently the best solar camping lanterns available on the market.
1. SUAOKI LED Collapsible Camping Lantern
This collapsible outdoor solar LED lantern from Suaoki has it all – and for a decent price, too. It’s fairly bright, at a bit over 65 lumens, and it features three lighting modes for low, high, and SOS intensities. When fully charged, it will last up to 10 hours on its low setting, which is more than bright enough to allow reading or other in-tent activities.
Moreover, it’s one of the more versatile solar camp lanterns. It can be used as both a lantern, when extended, and a flashlight, when compressed, and it weighs just under 200 grams. It’s ideal for hikes and, generally speaking, for backpacking trips in the outdoors.
Finally, the Suaoki collapsible camping lantern can be charged with solar power, as well as through a USB port. In addition, the lantern features a decent power bank, which means that you can use the USB port to charge other devices like your phone, if necessary.
Overall, it may not be the best or the brightest, but it certainly offers a fantastic collection of features at a more than affordable price.
- Doubles as lantern and flashlight, depending on your needs
- Super light and easy to carry or hang
- Can be charged using its in-built solar panel or through a USB port
- Not as bright as other options
- Weather-proof, but not as durable as other options
2. AGPTEK Solar Lantern
Agptek’s solar LED lantern comes with no less than 36 LED lights with a total output of 240 lumens (on high) and 140 lumens (on low). The beam angle is at 360 degrees and the semi-transparent panel housing ensures smooth light. It takes about 7 hours to fully charge this lantern using the included solar panel and it will last up to 12 hours on its highest setting.
In addition, you can charge this solar light for camping in five different ways. It is solar powered, but also features a crank dynamo, car and AC adapters, as well as three slots for AAA batteries. In other words, it’s not a problem if the lantern wasn’t properly exposed to sunlight throughout the day. With just 10 minutes of cranking, you can get it to work for one hour.
Moreover, Agptek’s lantern is equipped with a USB port that allows you to charge other devices like your phone on the go. Its build is fairly solid and reliable, but, as such, the entire module is rather bulky.
- Very bright
- Lasts anywhere from 12 to 20 hours, depending on the settings you use
- Can be charged in five different ways
- Costly, compared to other options
- Fairly heavy and therefore inappropriate for backpacking
3. GOAL ZERO Lighthouse 400 Lantern and USB Power Hub
This is one of the brightest, most durable solar hanging lanterns currently available for purchase. The Goal Zero Lighthouse can be adjusted to emit up to 400 lumens, which is more than enough to light up a large campsite. Its battery life extends from 5 hours on its highest intensity setting to 48 hours when dimmed.
The lantern can be charged in three different ways, using a solar panel sold separately by the same producer, by means of a USB port, or through its in-built hand-crank. Additionally, you can use the lantern as a power bank and charge your phone, tablet or other small electronic device.
This solar light for camping is also quite easily maneuvered. Its support legs offer good stability and height for optimal light dispersion. When the lantern is not used, its legs can be collapsed for convenient storage.
- One of the brightest outdoor solar lanterns on the market: bright even on its lowest intensity setting
- Lasts up to 48 hours when dimmed
- Can be charged with solar energy, through a universal USB port, as well as through cranking
- More expensive than most other options
- The solar panel is sold separately by the same producer
4. MPOWERD Luci Outdoor 2.0
The Mpowered Luci Outdoor 2.0 is one of the most popular solar camping lanterns, primarily because it looks super cool. In addition, this lantern is easy to store and carry, as well as inflate or fold. It’s also incredibly easy to use. When folded, expose the unit’s panel to sunlight. During nighttime, blow it up and enjoy the light.
Due to its unique design, this solar power camping lantern might seem a little flimsy. Rest assured, though, that aside from potentially being blown away by a strong wind, this lantern will resist the elements. The module is waterproof and can be attached to a backpack or post for safety.
The charging time for the Mpowered Luci Outdoor 2.0 is no more than 7 hours, which is decent compared to other, similarly priced options. On its highest setting, it is fairly bright at 75 lumens. On its lowest setting, its battery will last for as long as 24 hours.
- Very compact and light
- easy to store and carry
- Intuitive charging and settings
- Can float on water
- Not the brightest option available
- No backup charging method included: can only be charged with solar energy
5. SUAOKI LED Camping Lantern
As one of the cheapest solar powered lanterns out there, the Suaoki solar LED lantern gets the job done well. Its unique, clover design features not one, but three solar panels that maximize its sun exposure and reduce its total charging time to 4 hours.
With an output of 100 lumens on high and 50 lumens on low, this solar camping light will last anywhere from 2 to 4 hours, depending on the brightness setting. The module also comes with an in-built USB port, so you can connect it to your car in the unlikely case it doesn’t get enough exposure to sunlight.
The Suaoki LED camping lantern can be folded to a size smaller than your average iPhone, which makes it an ideal candidate for a backpacking trip. When extended, it can stand on the ground or be hooked to your backpack or tent. Its lighting modes include low, high, and SOS blinking.
- Three solar panels for a faster charging cycle
- USB port for charging
- Attractive price
- Relatively short battery life
- The plastic hanger is not sturdy enough
- The module is not waterproof
6. TANSOREN 2 PACK Portable LED Camping Lantern
A highly-popular LED, solar-powered hanging lantern, this Tansoren product will light up your life. Twice. Coming in a two-pack this lantern can be powered by AA batteries, a USB charger, or solar power.
It is lightweight, portable, collapsible, and made of military-grade plastic to ensure it will last for many camping seasons to come. The bright, 360-degree light is designed to last for up to 8 hours, giving you plenty of time to wander through the woods. It even comes standard with an emergency Android phone charger.
- Doesn’t come with an iPhone charger
7. ENKEEO Camping Lantern Collapsible LED Light
This solar powered camping lantern can function for up to 10 hours on a single solar charge. Like the Tansoren product, this lantern collapses into a fraction of its full size, and expands with a single twist of its base.
High-brightness, low-brightness, and strobe modes allow for different sorts of functionality and durations of use. Camping, traveling, fishing, and hunting are made significantly easier with this versatile and reliable light.
- Multiple modes
8. CaseTop 2 Pack Outdoor Camping Lamp
Not only do you get two outdoor solar lanterns in one package with this product, but when you collapse each lantern, you’ll see you get a flashlight as well! So one package comes with 2 combination lantern/flashlights.
This lantern/flashlight combination is bright, reliable, compact, and versatile. And coming in at under $20, it’s definite bargain as well.
- Not as tough as some other models
9. Kizen Solar Powered LED Camping Lantern
This cool-looking blue and black solar powered lantern is all you’ll need (at least illumination-wise) if you’re heading out into a lush, green wood. Chargeable by USB if no sunlight is available, this lantern will never leave you hanging.
It comes with a 100% lifetime money-back guarantee, so there’s no risk in purchasing one. The guarantee speaks volumes about Kizen’s faith in the manufacturing of this product as well.
As if all of that weren’t enough, this lantern is collapsible, ensuring that it remains easy to pack, store, and travel with.
- Amazing warranty
- Great aesthetic
- No backup battery power
10. LuminAID Solar Inflatable Lanterns (As Seen on Shark Tank)
This product was featured, and won a bid, on the hit show “Shark Tank,” so you know there’s something special about these outdoor solar lanterns. It’s lightweight, waterproof (IP67), collapsible, shatterproof, and dustproof. It’s effectively everything-proof. It recharges by way of USB if the sun isn’t immediately available.
The lantern recharges in just 1-2 hours via USB, lasts up to 24 hours on a single battery charge, and can light your way in even the darkest places with its bright, 360-degree illumination. What’s not to love?
- Extremely durable
- Looks great
- Great aesthetic
- Some people may not like its look (but they’ll be rare)
What are Outdoor Solar Lanterns?
Most solar camp lanterns look just the same as any traditional lamp and they’re a fantastic addition to any solar backpack. They are used in a similar manner and are just as easily packed on a trip. The difference is that, as their name suggests, solar powered lanterns are fuelled by the renewable energy of the sun.
These lanterns function in virtue of the photovoltaic effect, which is a fancy way of saying that certain materials have the ability to absorb sunlight and turn it into electric current. One such material is crystalline silicone and it is this type of silicone, together with specific chemicals, that makes up the multiple layers of most solar panels.
A solar powered camping lantern is built of a solar panel that absorbs energy from the sun, a rechargeable battery that stores the energy accumulated throughout the day, and one or several LED lights that are turned on during nighttime using the available energy stores. Once the battery is depleted, the light is turned off and another charging cycle can begin. If you’ve already got a solar tent or similar product, these lanterns make a great complement.
Outdoor Solar Lanterns vs. Battery-Powered Light Sources
You might wonder whether it’s worth switching from the more common battery-powered torches to solar camping lanterns. Here are a few things you could consider in order to make up your mind:
- Solar powered lanterns are more sustainable than their traditional counterparts. They use renewable energy and are therefore an important step forward in preserving the natural environment we all want to enjoy while camping.
- Solar camp lanterns are not battery-dependent. You won’t have to worry about forgetting extra batteries for your light source or packing too few. As long as the solar panel is exposed to sunlight, the lantern will work.
- Like outdoor solar lights, solar camping lanterns are versatile and perfectly suited for outdoor activities. They can easily be carried or attached to backpacks during hikes, they can be stood upright on the ground for pauses, and they can be hung once the camp is set up.
All in all, solar powered camping lights are equally as reliable as, if not more reliable than, battery-powered light sources. Differently put, you get the same performance and you reduce your carbon footprint while exploring the great outdoors.
Should You Use Solar Hanging Lanterns?
There are options aplenty amongst the best solar lanterns on the market in 2019, but is such a purchase the right fit for you?
The answer to this question depends entirely on the way you plan your camping trips. For instance, do you intend to spend the night outdoors or will you return home before dark? If you do spend the night in the woods, do you intend to sleep in a tent or will you be using your car? Do you have the possibility to carry multiple spare batteries or are you trying to keep your backpack light?
Generally speaking, whenever you decide to spend the night under the starry sky, especially if you plan to do so in a tent, you’ll want to pack a reliable light source. Not only is a solar camping light a solid option, the latter is also eco-friendly and, more often than not, lighter to carry than traditional lamps. (Thinking of adding one of these handy camping solar panels while you’re at it? Great idea!)
Light Requirements for Campers
As you’ve undoubtedly noticed, solar camp lanterns are often compared based on their output in lumens or their brightness, in other words. Certainly, this is an important criterion, but it’s equally relevant to know just how much light you actually need in order to stay safe during typical camping activities.
For instance, if you plan to hike during the night, you’ll probably need anywhere between 50 and 100 lumens to safely light your path, depending on whether the terrain is smooth or otherwise. To light up an entire, average-sized tent, you’ll want up to 100 lumens, while reading comfortably inside the tent will likely require no more than 50 lumens.
To make dinner, you’re looking at 20 to 40 lumens, but if you’re going to have dinner with friends around a large picnic table, you’ll probably want approximately 200 lumens for sufficient visibility. To light up a large campsite, you’ll need a bright solar power camping lantern of over 300 lumens or several less powerful lamps.
Before You Buy an Outdoor Solar Lantern
Once you decide to purchase one or several solar powered lanterns, it’s a good idea to take a peek at the best solar lanterns currently on the market. It’s equally important, however, to find the optimal fit for your specific needs, which is why you should consider the following features. Similar to buying new solar firestarters, you want to make sure that the product’s features match your environment.
Brightness options and battery life
Most brands advertise a night-long battery life for their solar camping lanterns. They state, for instance, that a lantern will stay on for as long as 10 to 50 hours. What they usually fail to mention is that this is the case only when the lantern is switched to its lowest brightness setting. Bear in mind that on higher settings, solar lanterns generally last for less the half of the advertised duration. Unless you have one of these portable solar generators, make sure that the lantern you buy has multiple options for brightness so that you can save power when a dim light is sufficient for you to safely carry out an activity.
Multiple power sources and charging
It can be fairly dangerous to run out of light while camping during nighttime, particularly if you’re dealing with an emergency. If your solar light for camping did not absorb sufficient energy during the day, it is quite possible that it will switch off during the night, which is why you want to make sure that the LED lantern you choose can be recharged in more than one way. Possible options include USB ports that can be connected to another device or your car, hand-cranked chargers, and batteries. In addition, some of the best solar lanterns feature an emergency power bank that you can use to recharge the lantern or your phone in crisis situations.
Design and suitability for outdoor use
The great outdoors is often stunning, but it can also expose you and your equipment to dire weather conditions. Light is essential to navigate such circumstances, sometimes even during the day, so your solar power camping lantern should be built to withstand the elements. Last, but not least, ensure that the design you pick is comfortable for you to carry and that it can easily be attached to your backpack in situations when your hands are otherwise occupied.
Choosing one of the Best Solar Lanterns for your Camping Experience
It’s wonderful to leave the city and enjoy the fresh air of the forest for a change, which is one of the reasons why we should all strive to protect these green oases. Switching from battery-powered light sources to solar camp lanterns might seem like a small step, but it’s the perfect place to start towards a more comprehensive change of lifestyle.
Eco-friendliness aside, you’ll still want to get the most out of your purchase, which is why we’ve put together this guide to the best solar camping lanterns of 2019. Whether you’re interested in a budget-friendly option, in the brightest solar light for camping, or in a durable, sturdy module, the choice, from here on out, is yours. (Looking for more great solar-themed products? Check out these solar phone chargers!)