4 Best Solar Camping Lanterns For Powerful Illumination

By Jason K. | Updated: 04/21/2023

Best Camping Solar Lanterns For Camping and Emergencies

Best Solar Lantern

Having a dependable source of light outdoors is not just a “good idea”; it’s essential.

  • It can light your way through the deep dark woods
  • Or make an abandoned warehouse feel safe
  • And it’s an important morale booster when camping

Light acts like a security blanket in times of uncertainty.

Something to keep your mind strong and hope alive – when all it wants to do is freak out.

It’s like fire in that way…

So it’s no surprise we get many questions about the best survival light sources.

Often the right answer is an EDC flashlight, tactical flashlight, or powerful headlamp.

But there’s another type of light to consider: lanterns.

And not just any lantern – Solar Camping Lanterns!

Sure, they’re less portable than flashlights.

But they give off a different type of light.

They cast a wide and welcoming halo of warmth.

Instead of a single laser-focused beam.

This makes them better at certain tasks and makes them essential for camping.

Lanterns allow you to prepare, cook and eat dinner in camp after dark.

They allow you to play games with friends and family around the picnic table.

And their ideal for campsite cleanups before bed.

So today, I’m going to rely on my Engineering, Official Gear Testing & SAR Mountain Rescue background to share the following:


Best Camping Solar Lanterns For Sale

Old vs. New Lantern Technology

Camping Lanterns vs. Flashlights

Outdoor Solar Lantern Features

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Best Camping Solar Lanterns For Sale

Here are a few of my favorites:

MPOWERD Luci Pro Outdoor 2.0: Solar Inflatable Lantern

The newest version, the LUCI Pro, takes all the original's best features and adds on some new tricks.

It’s waterproof, still weighs only a couple of ounces, and is less than 6” in diameter.

It packs down to 1.5” tall but inflates to 4.5” and casts 150 lumens of warm, white light in all directions.

The integrated solar panel can charge the 2000mAh battery in about 14 hours. But you can also charge via USB before you reach camp.

It can even charge your cellphone via USB!

As a warning, the LUCI light is one that I see copied most frequently, but there are no good knock-offs.

I’ve had several friends buy gas station versions, and they generally don’t last long.

So be sure to buy a real one, it’ll last, and the investment is worth it.

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↓Inflatable Solar Lanterns? Mpowerd Luci Outdoors ↓

LuminAID PackLite Nova USB Solar Inflatable Light

I bought my Emergency Air Lantern a few years ago for a camping trip to a mountain lake.

It was high summer, and fire conditions meant a complete campfire ban. So we wanted some light in camp after sunset.

Well, after dark, a lost kayaker paddled up to our site with a couple of solar lanterns sitting in the empty fire ring.

She had seen our “campfire” from across the lake and couldn’t find any other way back to her friends.

This little inflatable light allows us to prep and clean up after dinner in the dark. But served as a beacon for someone in real need of help!

It’s now a standard part of my camping essentials, and we always leave one lit on the beach in camp.

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↓ LuminAID PackLite Max & Nova Lantern Review ↓

AiMoxa Collapsible Clover Style 18 LED Camping Lantern

The 3-bladed design of this collapsible solar lantern was the first thing that caught my eye.

When stowed away for transport, the lantern is roughly the size of a soda can. But once you reach the camp, three solar panels swing open, resembling a small propeller.

The top side of each blade has a good-sized solar panel, while the bottom features 6 white LED lights.

I like the ability to adjust the angle of the blades, either focusing or dispersing light to suit the task at hand.

Also, the small hanging hook on the top allows you to hang it overhead.

With only 2-4 hours of light on a single charge, this is more an emergency task light than one for an evening in camp.

Or since they're so reasonably priced, you could get a couple of them...

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↓ Solar  Powered Lantern – Portable LED Light ↓

ThorFire LED Camping Lantern Light

This is one of the best solar lanterns because it can perform 4 important survival functions - all in one device.

First off, when you get the Pocket Light, you're actually getting 2 lights in 1!

In a matter of seconds, it converts from lantern to flashlight with nothing more than a simple push and pull.

While in its collapsed position, it can be used as a handheld flashlight, complete with a hidden handle for easy use.

Push and pull, and in seconds, the accordion-style cone on this light turns into an ultra-bright room-brightening lantern - making this a collapsible solar lantern.

Because it's so versatile, the Pocket Light eliminates the need to carry separate flashlights, lanterns, or survival candles for emergencies.

Perhaps its most unique benefit is its ability to use solar energy to charge its built-in light and almost any USB charge device.

It's 100% powered by solar, so it never needs batteries to generate bright, white light.

That same solar energy can easily be used to charge phones, GPS units, solar radios, and more, so you'll be able to use them in emergencies.

The bottom line is:

It's a solar camping lantern worth adding to your survival gear, bug-out bag, or camping equipment.

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↓ ThorFire Camping Lantern ↓

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Old vs. New Lantern Technology

Lantern technology has come a long way over the decades.

Lanterns used to have some serious negatives.

In the past, they were powered by either propane or white gas.

And went through a ton of fuel!

When I grew up, they didn’t even have push-button ignition switches.

So you had to stick a lit match into the body of the lantern while turning on the gas.


This ran the risk of bumping the fragile cloth mantles that could easily tear if handled roughly.

Glass windscreens, fuel pumps, and delicate gas valves all suffered from wear and tear.

Failure was likely just when you needed it the most.

Fortunately, today we can have all the benefits without the problems!

The solar LED lantern is the new standard lantern for weekend camping AND survival.

They’re a tremendous source of emergency light.

  • But what sets them apart from other light sources?
  • And how do you choose between a lantern and a flashlight?

The answer is you don’t; you get both.

Camping Gear Checklist eBook Cover - roasting marshmallows on sticks over a campfire

Want a free camping essentials checklist?

Click here to instantly download this Complete Checklist PDF. No purchase necessary.

Camping Lanterns Vs. Flashlights

A lantern isn’t a replacement for a flashlight or headlamp; it’s an entirely separate tool.

Lanterns produce a wide flood of light to illuminate a large area.

The light is dispersed and not as focused as a flashlight.

If you need focused task lighting, a flashlight or headlamp is better.

However, a lantern is the best option when you need general lighting (especially for multiple people at once).

Think about cooking or eating dinner together in a dark camp.

Would you rather have one flashlight to share or one lantern?

Trust me:

I’ve learned the hard way how frustrating it is to use a flashlight as a lantern or a lantern as a flashlight…

Get the RIGHT tool for the job!

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Click here to instantly download this Complete Checklist PDF. No purchase necessary.

3 prong solar powered lantern in a camping tent

Best Solar Camping Lantern Features To Look For

Now that we both agree owning a lantern is a wise choice, the next question becomes, which lantern?

The answer is not as straightforward as it seems.

There are hundreds of varieties and differences on the market today.

So let’s discuss a few differences and some pros and cons of each:

Size Options

There is a vast range of physical sizes available.

Small, hanging lanterns are ideal for a survival tent or bug out bag.

These hang near the peak of your camping tent at night.

But they’re not large enough to light up an entire workspace or a whole campsite.

For those types of tasks, you’ll want a large outdoor one for general lighting.

So getting the right size depends on how you intend to use it.

Amount Of Light Output

Alongside physical size, the amount of light output greatly affects its usability.

Light output is measured in lumens, with higher values corresponding to brighter light.

Small lanterns tend to put out about 100 lumens of light on their highest setting.

This is perfect for close tasks like reading a book or searching for items in a pack at night.

If you have a whole camp or cabin to illuminate, look for a solar camping lantern of at least 300 lumens.

Construction Quality

Like everything else, lanterns can have a wide range of materials and build quality.

Many popular, inexpensive options are knock-off competitors.

But those knock-offs tend to use inferior parts and don’t last.

These lanterns are almost indistinguishable from the originals at first glance.

So make sure you pay attention and buy only from reputable sources.

Charging Time and Methods

Since all lanterns have a variety of light outputs and battery sizes, it’s hard to compare them.

For example:

Solar panels are rated in Watts.

But if the lantern and solar panel are a combined unit, that spec may not even be provided by the manufacturer.

As a rule of thumb, larger solar panels collect more solar energy and charge batteries faster.

Faster charging can be a big advantage if you don’t expect many hours of full sunlight.

If you’re able to charge your lantern by other means, that can give you a head start.

So charging versatility is a plus (solar and USB).

Most of my lanterns can also charge by USB port.

This allows me to leave home with a fully charged lantern.

And then use the solar panel to keep the lantern topped off.

Final Thoughts

They say “what goes around, comes around” – and that seems to be true even in outdoor gear!

It’s been 30 years since I last turned off my propane lantern in favor of a headlamp.

But now I’ve added another source of light as a favorite piece of cool camping gear.

A lantern that provides bright, even light for all campsite activities.

Whether you love the outdoors or you’re planning for a doomsday scenario, it’s good to have a backup you can trust.

Utilizing solar makes a lot of sense nowadays, and a solar LED lantern is a great start!

Jason K.

  • Born & Raised In The Remote Woods Of Michigan
  • Engineering Degree From A Major University
  • Long Standing Member Of Mountain Search & Rescue
  • Offical Gear Tester For Several Outdoor Companies
  • Avid Outdoorsman: Backpacking, Camping, Fishing
  • Years Researching & Writing About Surival & Gear
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