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The Best Solar Camping Lanterns for ‘Enlightened’ Trips in 2020

best solar camping lanterns
Bertie
Written by Bertie

One invaluable piece of equipment for your outdoor adventure is a camping lantern. This gear will get you through the night and make sure you have enough visibility to keep you safe. 

Solar lanterns are a great choice for camping because they don’t require electricity or batteries to be charged. Many of them can serve the dual function of a light provider and a power bank. This way, you aren’t cut off from the rest of the world even when you’re in the middle of the wilderness. 

The best solar camping lanterns are meant to be rugged enough to accommodate different activities, and lightweight to allow for easy displacement. 

Here are my top seven best solar camping lanterns:

best solar camping lanterns

Specs

This Solight Design lantern weighs just 2.6 oz and offers three different light modes. It has a battery strength of about 12 hours and produces a brightness of 90 lumens.

The Verdict

This is the most lightweight lantern on my list — at a featherlight 2.6 oz, you’ll hardly feel the stress of carrying it on a camping adventure. It can also be packed flat and has a width of 0.25 inches — practically as thin as an iPhone.

This Solight model has a battery life of 12 hours, which is a lot in comparison with many of the other lanterns reviewed, but requires as much as 12 hours to get to full charge. 

There are three light modes — high, low, and an SOS flashing setting — which is in line with comparable products. At the brightest settings, it has 90 lumens and is enough to light up 100 square feet. 

Many users have observed that it’s perfectly waterproof; a feature that’s attributed to its heavy-duty, recyclable PET silicon build. 

In Summary

This lantern clearly stands out for its light weight. At just 2.6 oz, it’s 1.8 oz lighter than its closest rival — the Mpowerd Luci Outdoor 2.0. It makes it an easy choice if you would have to hold your lantern for long periods. 

On the downside, 12 hours before fully charged is a long time, especially when you might not have 12 hours of sunlight for a recharge. The Tomcare Dancing Flame Lanterns, for example, only take 6 hours to charge fully. 

Specs

This TomCare lantern comes packed with a battery strength of 10 hours, weighs 9.9 oz and has an output of 40 lumens.

The Verdict

This beautiful solar powered camping lantern is a hands-off user-friendly model, and many users have found its auto on/off function endearing. This function employs a built-in light sensor to turn on or off at dawn and dusk, making it an energy-conserving feature. 

It also offers a unique aesthetic value when used thanks to its realistic flickering flames. These are distinctive dancing flames and create a warm and welcoming ambiance. This makes it a great choice for an alternative candle lantern. 

This TomCare lantern is made from ABS plastic, which is a rugged, waterproof material — a great feature if you’re camping during rainy seasons or when it’s wet. It’s also built to withstand frost and dust. 

With a highly efficient solar panel, it fully charges in under six hours and won’t need another charge after about 10 hours of use, making it a bargain for battery power. 

At best, it gives out a brightness of 40 lumens, which isn’t as much as many of the other lanterns reviewed but good enough for personal use. The brightness can be optimized by hanging it high using its clamp or circular ring. 

In Summary

The TomCare dancing flame solar lanterns makes this review because of its ease of use. Unlike the other solar lanterns reviewed, it has a built-in light sensor, which makes it an automatic choice that won’t require you to switch it on or off. 

Specs

This model is completely solar-powered and features four different lighting modes. It’s collapsible, inflatable and weighs 4.4 oz, with 10 powerful LED lights at an output of 75 lumens and a battery strength of 12 hours.

The Verdict

MPOWERD has a rich culture of manufacturing lanterns of the same high quality and consistency — this solar camping lantern is no exception. 

I love how rugged and tough this model is — tough enough for camping activities but still not adding any noticeable weight to your bag. To boot, it has an adjustable bottom strap that allows you to attach the tiny lantern wherever you choose without needing an extra hook.

The lantern has an adjustable brightness setting and permits you to choose from four modes — turning your lantern to either:

  • Low
  • Bright
  • Super-bright.
  • 1-second flash — perfect for SOS signaling. 

Some users have remarked that the lowest brightness level serves them well enough in small rooms. This isn’t surprising because it features 75 lumens, which is more than enough to brighten a room. 

It stands out with an IP67 rating, which means it can be immersed in water for 30 minutes without any negative effects. This makes it perfect if a watersport is part of your camping trip. On top of this, the lantern floats, so don’t be alarmed if you drop it in the water. 

This solar power lantern is a perfect addition to an energy-saving kit. After being charged in the sun, expect as much as seven hours of service before another charge is required.

In Summary

The MPOWERD Luci Outdoor 2.0 is our best overall because it’s perfect regardless of the weather or nature of camping activity you hope to indulge in. It seamlessly combines durability and versatility to make your camping a better experience. 

Some users have noted that there’s no other way of hanging it if the straps break.  

Specs

This model features two charging options, is totally foldable and produces 100 lumens. It has three light modes, up to five hours of battery life and weighs a manageable 5.6 oz. 

The Verdict

This lantern is very adaptable because of its charging options. Not only is this a solar lantern, but it can also be charged via a USB, which is great if you aren’t lucky with sunlight or run out of power during the night. Customers rave about this awesome feature!

Other than having dual charging options, you can convert the lantern to a charger and use it to power up your mobile devices with its built-in USB output port. Users have pointed out that charging it with the USB will take about four hours to complete. 

The fact that it’s easily foldable means you could pack it with other gear, even if you have little space to spare. When folded, it’s shorter than an iPhone 6 Plus and stands at 1.77 inches.

It comes with three lighting modes — high, low and the SOS flashing mode. On the high mode, it produces 100 lumens, which is adequate for you to light up your room or tent perfectly. The flashing mode is often an integral part of outdoor recreational activities, or just as a basic beacon call.

The battery hours depend on what modes it’s operating on. With the lantern set to the brightest modes, it’ll last around five hours, and at lower settings, it’ll double that time after a full charge. 

This is, in essence, a versatile and easily adaptable solar powered camping lantern option. It can be used as a torchlight and has a hanging handle that allows you to place it in high parts of your tent for that wide-angle tent glow. 

In Summary

For me, this Suaoki lantern is the most versatile for camping. The size is awesome, making it incredibly portable, and it can replace a flashlight, too, saving you extra space. 

I love that it can also serve as a power bank for your phone or other USB devices. Fingers crossed that you have enough sun on your camping trip to keep it charged! Even if you don’t and you have a separate power bank, charge it up that way.

Users have remarked that it isn’t waterproof and may not be suitable for activities that are in wet environments.  

Specs

This Spark LED model features three lighting modes, a USB turbocharging port, and an output of 100 lumens on high power and 50 lumens at low power. It weighs 6 oz, features 18 LED lights and will last for four hours after charge.

The Verdict

The lantern features a smart protection chip that serves as protection from overcharging. This feature guarantees safety and durability during use.

The dual-charging ability stands out for me with this lantern. You have the option to charge with the USB port or with the three built-in solar panels. This offers excellent flexibility and no waiting if you don’t manage to charge it during the day.

It has a design that’s unique in comparison to the other lanterns reviewed. The model features three layers of light, which can be clamped together to conserve space, or outstretched to reveal all the LEDs. For ease of use, it comes with a hook that permits you to hang it high in your tent for maximum light reach. 

It has three light modes — high, low and the SOS blinking mode. At the highest setting, its 100-lumen output makes it easily capable of lighting up a tent. At lower settings, it will brighten up to 50 lumens and still will be good enough for reading in your tent. Users found it smaller and brighter than expected. 

In Summary

Many users have found the Spark LED lantern to be very durable, and it functions well even in harsh environments. Its sturdy build and smart protection contribute immensely to this.

Users have observed that the battery runs down a bit faster than expected, especially in comparison with other highly priced lanterns. 

Specs

This Survival Frog model weighs only 5 oz and is equipped with a 4.5-volt solar panel and three lighting modes. The batteries will last for up to 10 hours, and it produces 63 and 25 lumens at high and low settings, respectively.

The Verdict

This pocked LED solar lantern is about the most compact and portable you’ll find. It weighs just 5 oz and is built with a telescopic function that allows you to fold the mini lantern into pocket-size. 

Its battery power is quite commendable as well. You’ll need just an hour of charge to give you 30 minutes of lantern use. A full charge will, however, require between four and six hours of sunlight exposure. When fully charged, it’ll last more than 10 hours before it keels over and you need to recharge it. 

This mini foldable lantern can serve the function of a power bank in charging your cell phone and other electronic devices, making it very versatile. Users remarked that it’s good enough for these multiple uses in spite of the compact design. 

It also comes equipped with a smart chip feature that helps to guard against over-charging, short-circuiting and over-discharging. 

The design is sleek and includes a foldable function and a handle right at the top of the lantern, making it easy to carry or hang. 

It comes with three lighting modes and will produce 65 lumens on the highest mode and 25 lumens on the lower mode. At 65 lumens, you’ll be able to read well enough in your tent, but at lower settings, it will give you just enough illumination to get around. 

In Summary

This lantern stands out because of the telescopic function, allowing it to fold into a tiny compact unit that’ll fit perfectly into a pocket. 

One thing to keep in mind is that it’s not the most rugged of lanterns, and users have noticed that the accordion shade pleats that make it easily foldable may pull out if proper care isn’t taken. 

Specs

This popular lantern comes with two light modes exhibiting 180 lumens on the brightest mode. It also has 36 LED lights, weighs 25 oz and has five charging options. 

The Verdict

Thanks to the five charging options, this makes it our best choice of solar lanterns for when there’s little sunshine. It can be powered up in five different ways:

  • Solar
  • Crank dynamo
  • Car adaptor
  • 3 x AA batteries
  • USB

You wouldn’t have to wait till you have sunlight to get your lantern charged. This lantern will consume low energy even when on the brightest setting because of the polysilicon solar panels.

It also makes for a reliable power bank and will charge your mobile phones and other electronic devices with its USB charging port.

It features two light modes:

  • Bight: Suitable for reading and most regular activities. Uses 18 LEDs
  • Super bright: Improved and extended visibility. Uses 36 LEDs

Users find it very bright for an LED solar-powered lantern. With as much as 180 lumens, this is expected. With two of these, you could have perfect illumination for outdoor nighttime activities for groups.

For convenience, it comes with a handle for hanging and carrying about. It’s also designed with a flat bottom that allows you to rest it on a table or shelf.

In Summary

The AGPtek solar lantern offers enough options for charging and ensures that, no matter the condition, you have a way of charging your lantern and having adequate illumination.

According to users, a drawback is that it isn’t waterproof and will fare poorly in wet conditions.

Finding the Best Solar Camping Lanterns

Choosing the best solar camping lanterns is no light task; you’ll want to ensure it serves you regardless of the weather conditions and doesn’t fail or breakdown in the middle of the night. With this in mind, focus on these features:

  • Charge modes.
  • Lumen and lighting options.
  • Weight.
  • Battery Strength.
  • Waterproof.
  • Durability.
  • Design.

Charging Modes

Yes, it's true that a solar-powered lantern’s core competence is its ability to be powered by solar energy. But having alternative charging modes makes them more versatile and easily adaptable to different conditions. 

Some charging modes available include DC, USB or even a hand crank dynamo. The AGPtek Solar Lantern is a prime example of a lantern with multiple charging modes.

Lumens and Lighting Modes

The lumen output is the parameter that determines how much brightness your lantern will give off.

Not all activities require the same brightness at night, so here are recommended lumens for different scenarios:

  • 50 lumens — reading. The Spark LED model on its lower settings will serve perfectly.
  • 50–100 lumens — backpacking, night trekking or hiking. If you’re looking for a lantern for any of these activities, go for Mpowerd Luci Outdoor 2.0.
  • 100 lumens — tent lighting. The Suaoki LED option is recommended for inside lighting.
  • Up to 300 lumens — entire campsite lighting. One lantern won’t be enough for this, so I recommend using two AGPtek Solar Lanterns

Weight

The weights of the solar-powered lanterns I’ve discussed range from 2.6 to 25 oz. Since this is such a wide range, select one that will complement your other camping gear.

All of the lanterns reviewed have handles and won’t need to be carried around when you’re inside the tent. But for outdoor activities, you may prefer one like the Solight Design

Battery Strength

This feature is essential if you’ll have limited charging opportunities. Batteries will generally last between 4 and 12 hours, and the brightness will normally dim as a warning sign before the lantern totally goes off. 

Some long-lasting batteries may also require a long time to get fully charged. An example is the Solight Design light, which takes 12 hours to fully charge and 12 hours to run down.

You may consider going for the Survival Frog lantern. It reaches full charge in 4 hours and will give 12 hours of service before requiring another charge.

Waterproof

Many camping activities can be done in the water or during wet seasons. This makes a waterproof lantern an important consideration. 

Some solar lanterns are produced from waterproof materials and have their circuits enclosed so they function well, even when completely immersed in water. 

The Mpowerd Luci Outdoor 2.0 can withstand up to 30 minutes of submersion. 

Having a design that can endure through time is very important. If it’s water-resistant, then it may be a huge factor if you’re camping during a wet season or if you intend to head off paddleboarding on the mountain lakes — I wish! 

Durability

Materials like acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS) plastic and recyclable polyethylene terephthalate (PET) are durable and suited for a wide range of conditions.

Additionally, lanterns made with protective chips, like the Spark LED Folding Clover, will be less prone to circuit problems and will endure longer. 

Design

Design colors, the number of hanging options and types of hanging options, such as hooks, suction cups, metal handles or rings, may determine what lantern will work best for you.

The color is an aesthetic value and will be down to your personal preferences and taste, but the hanging options will affect how the lantern will fit in a room or tent. Will it be able to stay on a wall, or is it better placed on a table?

The design is integral in determining how easily packed your lanterns will be. A few designs are collapsible like the SUAOKI. In contrast, the Spark LED Lantern has compartments that can be clamped together when not in use. 

Advantages of Using a Solar-Powered Camping Lantern

The core benefits to using a solar camping lantern are:

  • Save money.
  • Ease of maintenance.
  • Excellent for outdoor use.
  • Mobile device chargers.

Money-Saver

Always try and think long-term when you look to invest in one of these lanterns. Sure, the initial outlay will be higher than some battery-powered lanterns, but in the long run, they’re cheaper. You won’t have to constantly spend on batteries, nor have to use up electricity when recharging.

Maintenance

Solar panels don’t require a lot of maintenance — cleaning dirt and grime off the outside is the primary maintenance you’ll encounter. You also don’t have to bother cleaning the battery chambers because of leaking or corroded batteries. 

Best for Outdoors

Solar camping lanterns are ideally suited for the outdoors due to these factors:

  • Lightweight.
  • Charge on the fly.
  • Waterproof — ideal for rainy camping trips and watersports.

Alternate Charging Solution

For your camping trips, you wouldn’t need to bring along alternate sources of power or generators. Instead, solar lanterns will help you get by and operate as a mobile device charger.

Conclusion

Today’s winner is clearly the Mpowerd Luci Outdoor 2.0 — its four lighting modes, durability, long-lasting batteries, and portability, are impressive. Most good products in the market will offer two or three lighting modes, but this model goes beyond and offers four. Its fast charge of just six hours makes it better than other products that may also offer up to 12 hours of battery use. This model may not be the most lightweight, but should still be able to suit for long treks and hikes. 

Our runner up is the AGPtek Solar Lantern. Even though it’s bulkier than the MPOWERD lantern, its charging options make it stand out. You won’t be bothered by days of limited sunlight with this model — throw in a battery, use the dynamo mechanism or simply charge via a USB cable, and you’re good to go. At 180 lumens, it’s also the brightest and will serve larger groups and spaces. 

About the author

Bertie

Bertie

I’m Bertie and I’ve been enjoying the wilderness for as long as I can remember. I get out camping, hiking and backpacking whenever I can. And when I can’t, I enjoy writing about outdoor-related stuff!

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