Best Solar Lanterns for Camping and Outdoor

Last Updated: 30 March, 2019 by David West

If you enjoy camping, then you probably love the beautiful outdoors, the lively green of the forests, the clean air, and the starry night sky. Nature has much to offer to each us, and it is our responsibility to protect it, in turn. What better way to do your part than to switch to a renewable source of energy while 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 familiarized with the technology. More importantly, they are handy tools for any camper. Read on to find out more.

Editor’s Pick
SUAOKI LED Collapsible Camping Lantern
SUAOKI LED Collapsible Camping Lantern
Best Pick for Top Quality
AGPTEK Portable LED Camping Lantern
AGPTEK Portable LED Camping Lantern
Best Pick for Brightness
GOAL ZERO Lighthouse 400 Lantern and USB Power Hub
GOAL ZERO Lighthouse 400 Lantern and USB Power Hub
Best Pick for Design
MPOWERD Luci Outdoor 2.0
MPOWERD Luci Outdoor 2.0
Best Pick for Tight Budgets
SUAOKI LED Camping Lantern
SUAOKI LED Camping Lantern

Best Solar Lanterns for Camping Today

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 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 outdoor.

 

Finally, the Suaoki collapsible camping lantern can be charged with solar power, as well as through an 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.

PROS:
  • 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
  • Can be used to charge other devices
  • A bargain in terms of price
CONS:
  • Not as bright as other options
  • Weather-proof, but not as durable as other options
2

AGPTEK Portable LED Camping 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 semitransparent 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.

PROS:
  • Very bright
  • Lasts anywhere from 12 to 20 hours, depending on the settings you use
  • Can be charged in five different ways
  • Can be used to charge your phone and other devices
CONS:
  • 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 camping 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.

PROS:
  • One of the brightest solar camp 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
  • Sturdy and durable
CONS:
  • 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.

PROS:
  • Very compact and light; easy to store and carry
  • Intuitive charging and settings
  • Can float on water; waterproof
  • Long-lasting battery when set to low
CONS:
  • 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.

PROS:
  • Three solar panels for a faster charging cycle
  • USB port for charging
  • Attractive price
  • Compact and easy to carry
CONS:
  • Relatively short battery life
  • The plastic hanger is not sturdy enough
  • The module is not waterproof
6

PROS:
CONS:

What are Solar Lanterns?

Most solar camp lanterns look just the same as any traditional lamp. 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.

 

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.
  • 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, 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 a Solar Lantern?

Should You Use a Solar Lantern?

There are options aplenty in what concerns 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.

 

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 a 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.

 

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. 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.

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