Which Camping Lantern is Best?

Confused about which camping lantern is best to purchase? Here is some info that can help you select between the four different types of lanterns:

  • Liquid Fuel
  • Gas Fuel
  • Battery
  • Candle

Based on the type of camping you do, weather conditions, budget constraints, etc., we have listed the advantages/disadvantages to help you determine the best fuel type for your application.


Liquid Fuel Lanterns

There are 3 main types of liquid fuels used in lanterns:

Coleman fuel – (also known as white gas or just camping fuel) – This is the main fuel used for any lantern that requires a liquid gas and can be found in nearly any store that sells lanterns.

Unleaded gas – Newer lanterns can burn both the Coleman fuel and also unleaded gas (known as “duel fuel” lanterns). The benefit of having a lantern that can burn unleaded gas is the readably available supply if the Coleman fuel is not available.

Kerosene – Not nearly as popular now as in the past, kerosene is still the fuel of choice for many people, primarily due to its low cost. A disadvantage of kerosene is the smell and smoke it produces.

Advantages of Liquid Fuel Lanterns

• Produces a very bright light
• Economical to use
• Can also act as a heat source in cool weather

Disadvantages of Liquid Fuel Lanterns

• Lantern top and globe will become very hot and can cause serious burns.
• Although not that loud, these lanterns do emit a white noise sound. If you enjoy listening to the crickets and frogs, this should be a consideration.


• Need to have extra mantles available
• You need to be especially careful around children because the lanterns are very hot.
• If you have cook stove that also uses Coleman fuel, you can share the fuel between your lantern and stove.

Easy comparison table, brands, size, light, weight etc…


Gas Lanterns

The primary fuels used in gas lanterns are:

Propane – Comes in disposable canisters that can be quickly attached to a lantern or cook stove. The canisters are both easy and convenient to use, but can be expensive for extended camping trips. This is probably the most popular type of fuel for weekend camping trips

Butane/Propane mixes – Comes in a lightweight canister and geared towards hikers/backpackers. Most lightweight lanterns use this fuel.

Advantages of Gas Lanterns

• Very convenient and easy to use. Just attach to the lantern and you are ready to use.
• Produces a very bright light.

Disadvantages of Gas Lanterns

• As with most items that are convenient, there is a cost to be paid. Of the different fuel options, this is one of the most expensive.
• Like liquid fuel lanterns, there is a noise when operating.
• In sub-freezing weather, the gas pressure will be affected and performance may not be optimal.
• The metal propane canisters will weigh 2-3 pounds.
• Lantern top and globe will become very hot and can cause serious burns.


• If you only camp a few times a year and convenience is more important than cost, then this is probably your best option.
• If you are not camping close to your vehicle, then using the propane canisters is not the best option due to their weight and bulk.

Easy comparison table, brands, size, light, weight etc…

Battery Operated Lanterns

Battery lanterns come in a variety of battery types and light sources:

Non-rechargeable – These lanterns are powered by the disposable alkaline C, D, etc. batteries.
Rechargeable – Powered by a rechargeable battery that can be charged via A/C, D/C, or solar power.
Self-charging – Powered by a rechargeable battery that is charged using a wind-up or hand crank.
LED – A small but bright light that requires less drain on the battery than a candescent light bulb.
Fluorescent – A gas filled glass tube that produces a bright light with low energy use.

Advantages of Battery Lanterns

• Quiet and easy operation
• Very dependable
• Solar rechargeable batteries do not require gas, batteries, etc. One less item needed on the trip.

Disadvantages of Battery Lanterns

• Light produced is not as bright as gas lanterns.
• As battery power drains, light will not be as bright.
• Cold weather can reduce battery charge.


• Battery powered lanterns are safe for use inside a tent.
• Safe to use around children; no hot globes to worry about.

Easy comparison table, brands, size, light, battery type,  weight etc…

Candle Lanterns

Advantages of Candle Lanterns

• Very economical use.
• Can burn citronella candles to keep bugs away.
• No noise

Disadvantages of Candle Lanterns

• Not as bright as other types of lanterns
• Can be a fire hazard if not properly used
• Wet/windy weather can affect performance and make them hard to light
• Cannot adjust light level


• Candle light provides a great ambiance, especially inside a tent.
• A great additional light source for special occasions.



Which Camping Lantern is Best? on May 23, 2015 rated 4.9 of 5

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