Which Lantern is Right for Me?
Confused about what type of camping lantern to purchase?
Here is some info that can help you select between the four different
types of lanterns:
- Gas Fuel
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
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
• 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.
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
• 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
• 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.
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
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.
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
• Cannot adjust light level
• Candle light provides a great ambiance, especially inside
• A great additional light source for special occasions.