4 Innovative Camping Lanterns and Emergency Lights

Whether you're heading out with your tent or prepping for the next power outage, these camping lanterns and emergency lights come in handy.

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For someone who rarely camps, I own too much camping equipment. But I feel no guilt; this gear is so darn functional.

Camping lanterns may be the best example of that. If you’ve ever lost power in your home or apartment, you’d appreciate owning at least one of these emergency lights. They’re safer than candles, easier to use and store, and much more versatile. I tried out four brands and styles of LED camping lanterns.

Goal Zero Crush Light Solar Camping Lantern

Goal Zero Crush Light Solar Camping Lanternvia amazon.com

The Goal Zero Crush Light Solar Lantern is a collapsible, lightweight camping lantern about five inches square and four inches high when expanded. It comes with a small solar panel on top, plus a micro USB outlet for charging.

The LEDs can be set to high (60 lumens), medium, low or a “candle flicker” setting. The light lasts for three hours on high. The detachable handle lets you hook this device to almost anything. And it’s all waterproof — for camping, you know. It’s simple, small, inexpensive and easy to store.

Goal Zero is known for making a wide range of power stations, solar panels and lights.

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Luci Pro Series Outdoor 2.0 Emergency Light

Luci Pro Series Outdoor 2.0 Emergency Light via amazon.com

The Luci Pro Series Outdoor 2.0 provided my light as I wrote this. The inflatable lantern might feel like an inexpensive blow-up pool toy, but it’s a serious lantern that can put out 150 lumens of LED light and charge your cell phone. It collapses to a 5-in.-dia. disc and weighs just six ounces.

Choose low, medium or high light output, or the flash setting, which is particularly useful in an emergency. It’s all waterproof and can be charged by the sun or a USB cable, with a battery indicator light to tell you how you’re doing.

On high power, the light lasts about five hours, as advertised. I loved the size, the brightness and the price, but the clear plastic bubble means the light can be glaring.

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Black Diamond Apollo Camping Lantern

Black Diamond Apollo Camping Lanternvia rei.com

The Black Diamond Apollo Lantern runs on a rechargeable lithium-ion battery or three AAs. No solar charge option here. But the high-setting output is 250 lumens of warm white light, the equivalent of a 30-watt incandescent bulb.

Instead of preset outputs, this one is dimmable. It has three fold-up legs, plus a metal loop on top for hanging. It’s also capable of charging a cell phone and includes dual USB ports, a nice feature. Black Diamond is well known in camping and outdoor gear circles.

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Luminaid PackLite Titan

Luminaid Packlite Titanvia rei.com

On this list, the Luminaid PackLite Titan is the most expensive light, and the only one with a red-light setting for night vision. In its white-light high setting, the PackLite emits 300 lumens; it stayed bright for me for nearly seven hours.

This one has micro and regular USB ports, like the Black Diamond, but it adds a large solar panel. It can even charge other devices. The Luminaid’s cool-white light made it less appealing to my eyes, but it’s easily the brightest of this group. It’s also waterproof and floats.

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Glenn Hansen
A magazine editor and writer by trade, Glenn gained experience in home repair when he bought his first old home while working side jobs in construction to supplement his starving-writer salary. He has built several furniture projects from the pages of Family Handyman magazine and worked through countless fix-it-up projects at home to save a few bucks.