With dozens of designs, styles and sizes available, choosing a camping lantern can be daunting, but it doesn't have to be. Here are some tips to help you make the process as painless as possible, including the pros and cons of each model.
The most common type of camping lantern is a fuel lantern. These produce a clean, bright light and run on liquid camp fuel or disposable propane cylinders. A fuel lantern is inexpensive to purchase and run, since a single tank of fuel can last up to 14 hours.
Another advantage of fuel lanterns is that most camp stoves also run on propane, so you only need to take one type of fuel with you. The only con of this type of camping lantern is that it's for outdoor use only. If you want something to illuminate the interior of your tent, you need to rely on a different type of lantern.
If you want indoor lighting, you should buy a battery-run camping lantern. The major disadvantage of this type of camping lantern is energy consumption. You can easily go through several sets of D-cell or 9-volt batteries in one night, unless you buy a lantern that uses LED technology. LED lanterns give you a less powerful light, but they usually last longer and consume less energy.
Rechargeable lanterns also are available. These operate on rechargeable batteries and can be recharged overnight by plugging them into a 110-volt current outlet or a vehicle's cigarette lighter.
There are many brands and models of camping lanterns out there, and prices vary widely. The more bells and whistles a lantern has, the more it will cost. A simple fuel lantern will cost about 10 US dollars (USD). Superior models can run up to 100 USD and include things like remote distance ignition, safety switches, and automatic electric ignition.
Before you buy a camping lantern, decide which type you really need and then do some comparison shopping. The best places to find bargains are online and in discount outdoor shops. Household names such as Coleman are probably the best choice for occasional campers and those looking for a basic lantern at a good price.