With the weather (hopefully) warming up across the country, are you feeling the itch to get out and explore? If the spring and summer months mean getting outdoors for you, now’s a great time to do a review of your gear and stock up for the upcoming camping season.
Of course one piece of gear you simply can’t ignore is your lantern. Not too long ago, one of the most popular choices for campsite illumination was a traditional propane/kerosene lantern. As LED technology has become more adopted, lanterns have dramatically improved to be brighter, safer, and more compact than the lanterns of your childhood.
If your gear is still stuck in the past and you need some more convincing, here are 5 reasons why LED camping lanterns are a bright idea.
Reason #1: 360° of Illumination
Flashlights, by their nature, provide directional lighting which is great for a lot of different things like searching and inspecting. The drawback is that your hands are tied up and you are only illuminating a narrow area of your environment. Headlamps do manage to free up your hands, but you’re still stuck with a limited field of illumination.
Lanterns, of course, give you a full 360° range of illumination so your tent, campsite or work area is evenly lit. This reduces your eye strain and avoids sharp glare that a flashlight beam might otherwise create.
Nowadays, there are even lanterns available that have multi-directional lighting choices. Lanterns like the Fenix CL26R gives you the choice of traditional lantern lighting, down directional and front directional lighting. You still get the benefit of soft, even lighting without lighting up areas you don’t need.
Reason #2: Rechargeable Power
Your lantern is only as good as the power source behind it. With fuel lanterns, backup canisters can be bulky and catch you off guard if you aren’t careful. LED lanterns, on the other hand, will use some type of battery power — either an internal battery or removable, rechargeable cells are most common — that can easily be recharged with a power bank or solar panel.
Some lanterns, like the NITECORE LA30, even include multiple power options so you always have a backup. With the LA30, the lantern can either be powered by an internal, rechargeable battery or two AA batteries.
Reason #3: Compact Size
LED Lanterns don’t need to be big, bulky contraptions to produce big, bright outputs. Most LED lanterns are palm-sized and weigh only a few ounces. For ultralight camping and backpacking in the backcountry wilderness, you’ll definitely appreciate the minimalist footprint these lanterns provide.
Our favorite for those of you who are really gear-space conscious is the NITECORE LA10 which is a mini lantern that condenses to the size of a tube of chapstick thanks to the award-winning twist design.
Reason #4: Safe for Families
Did we mention that LED lanterns are great for families and travelers with small children? Unlike a fuel lantern that will produce a fair amount of heat and involves some type of pressurized fuel, LED lanterns produce relatively little heat and are safe when stored and cared for properly.
Reason #5: Backup for Emergencies
LED lanterns don’t just need to be relegated to camping and hiking trips. If you’re preparing for emergencies or need an occasional backup light for home repairs, you’ll be impressed with what an LED lantern can do. With many lanterns coming with hanging loops and/or magnetic bases, you’ll want to keep at least one on hand for power outages, auto repair and any other emergency in the dark.
Ready to upgrade? Consider these lanterns …
|MODEL||MAX BRIGHT||DIMENSIONS||WEIGHT||BATTERY TYPE||OTHER FEATURES|
|NITECORE LA10||135 lumens||L-3.08”xD-0.89”||1.51 oz (without battery)||1x AA||Retractable diffusor|
|Fenix CL26R||400 lumens||L-1.93″xW-1.93″xH-3.8″||4.1 oz||1x 18650||Down-directional, front-directional & red outputs|
|NITECORE LA30||250 lumens||L-2.96″xW-1.95″xH-2.12″||4.61 oz||Built-in rechargeable li-ion OR 2x AA||Secondary red output|
|Fenix CL09||200 lumens||L-3.09”xD-0.86”||1.11 oz (without battery)||1x 16340 / CR123A||Secondary red and green outputs|
|NITECORE LR12||1000 lumens||L-4.18″xD-1.06″||2.77 oz||1x 18650||Converts to handheld flashlight|