Our Guide to Lanterns


Our mission is to get people outdoors. Since most people aren't enthusiasts who venture outside regularly, you can buy or rent lanterns. Specifically, about our lantern rentals:

  • We rent lanterns that are higher end than those rented elsewhere, but still offer competitive pricing
  • We offer a rent-to-buy program so you don't have to worry about losing money from renting
  • Our self-service allows you to hire lanterns whenever is convenient for you

Core function: Maybe you don't want to go to sleep right when the sun sets, and you want to hang out for awhile to cook a nice meal or play some games. A campfire probably comes to mind, but be aware that campfires may not always be permissible, especially as wildfires become more problematic along the West Coast. Headlamps or other sources of direct light (e.g., cellphones or flashlights) can work, but may not be as user friendly

Do you really need it?

No. If you just want to get a sense of what the experience is like, try renting a lantern first . .

For more info, read our 'what you really need' protip

What we carry

Electric Type
Model Black Diamond Spot headlamp
Black Diamond Apollo


MSRP with tax

with USB charger
on full charge
Weight 9oz
Power 250 lumens
Carry size & notes Like a large fist
General Notes
  • We choose what we carry based on extensive research on what's the best value to our customers (e.g., price given performance & durability features) across all the top brands. We specifically do not carry every brand & model; for details on why we do/don't carry certain items in the following What To Use & How To Choose section
  • Buy prices a grayed out box indicates we don't sell it (we may only rent lanterns of this model)
  • Rent prices are the starting prices; enter trip dates on our Catalog to get exact prices (based on total trip length, not per day!). We also don't charge sales tax, an automatic savings of almost 10%!

When you hire lanterns online, you can select from available options or we'll pick out something for you. You can also write-in any preferences on the last page of checkout. This section describes the majority of our models & options, but sometimes we carry others.

What to use & how to choose

Sometimes it's easy to get lost in all the hype of something new (over-spending often happens on features). Our guide focuses on the fundamental factors you should always keep in mind (thus, this short list is similar across all items). Then only at the end do we have some questions to get you thinking about other minor features. Also take advantage of renting lanterns to try out what works for you!

We highly recommend reviewing Type or Style first, where we review what you can use to address the Core function--a regular item you have at home may work! The other factors are secondary & depend strongly on the Type or Style you've picked; in fact, for other factors data charts are generally only for a specific Type or Style that we carry (e.g., as a gear shop, would be outdoor-specific products).

We've organized the most commonly used items people use to address the Core function below, with example images, characteristics, features, etc.

Type Candle-powered* Electric-powered Fuel-powered
Example qualities & features Example images Candle lantern Electric lantern Fuel-powered lantern
General fuel sources
Check manufacturer's instructions for your model, important consideration that affects total weight & size, total price, and availability
Candles (beeswax) Batteries or USB-charge Gas or liquid fuel
How does it work Light a candle Turn it on Pour fuel, set up a mantle, then light it
Will it work in wet environments? Lantern housing may protect flame from light rain
Check the device's IP rating
Lantern housing may protect flame from light rain
Can it be used anywhere?
Needs to be in a ventilated area; may not be permissible due to fire regulations

Even in an enclosed area, such as the inside of a tent

Needs to be in a ventilated area
Effect on other factors Price $20-60
Lantern only, excludes candles
$20-100 $10-100**
Power Dimmer, ~10 lumens per candle Moderate, 200-500 lumens Brighter, up to 1000+ lumens**
Rationale Less technical & dimmer More technical & brighter

Why we do/don't carry it

= we rent
= we sell
Not as versatile for multiple use cases & doesn't add that much more value (you can use something non-outdoor-specific which would be much more affordable)

Versatile for most outdoor uses, therefore more worth the money (it can be small enough to be used for backpacking, too!)

Not as versatile for multiple use cases

*You could also just use a candle, in which all the considerations on this table would remain the same, except the price of a candle is much lower

**There's a very wide range because there are tiny gas-powered lanterns that screw into the small gas canisters used in backpacking; these are much more similar to candle-powered lanterns in terms of other factors.

If you don't go very often, of course you're going to want to spend less money, but this often means real trade-offs in terms of the experience that you will have with the gear. Even if you do go often & are ready to invest in quality gear, having the upfront funds can be hard!

Now, it may seem like this price & quality trade-off is disappearing, because you can find a cheap version of almost anything for tens of dollars that still has good reviews (assuming the reviews are real). So you might be thinking: I'll just buy something cheap, and because the price is so low it doesn't matter if it's less featured or heavier or whatever compared to something higher end. When that breaks, I'll buy something cheap again, and so on. Just remember:

  • What's better than cheap? FREE! And we have a gear library of items you can borrow for free!
  • Many reviews are written after only a trial use or first use: We've seen entire review videos of gear done at home, which is very different than actually being outdoors! And reviews after the first use don't tell you about durability at all
  • You're headed outdoors to relax and enjoy life! Saving money only to have a trip ruined due to quality issues will feel terrible. Our program to rent lanterns is designed to help you avoid this trade-off: you get to rent high end, quality lanterns for around the same price as buying cheap ones (sometimes even for less!)

For this item specifically, the price vs. quality trade-off issues center around performance & durability.

For lighting, the larger issue is usually around durability. Lower end lights break more easily or are more likely to stop working after a drop or other type of impact.

Methodology notes on prices shown on this page

Measured by lumens, the total amount of visible light emitted. We know it's pretty technical, so we have a chart full of examples in the page on headlamps. For lanterns, remember that the lumens are spread over a broader area, not directed in a beam, so a lantern with the same amount of lumens as a headlamp may not shine out as far (i.e., it has a lower beam of distance). Generally though, people aren't as technical with lanterns, so these are some general guidelines:

  • ~100 lumens is good for hanging inside a tent (electric only!)
  • 200-300 lumens is good for a picnic table area
  • 500-700 lumens is good for mimicking a small camp fire

Generally the brighter the lantern, the more expensive it will be.

Some electric lanterns require batteries, other are USB-chargeable, and others are a hybrid of both. And of course fuel-based lanterns run on propane, butane, or liquid fuel (depending on model). Most electric lanterns will last at least from sunset to sunrise (10+ hours)*, whereas fuel-based lanterns may run a good evening on one can of gas.

*It's always a good idea to test the usable life of electric-powered lights. Usable life is officially defined as any amount of light being emitted (which is why you see numbers like 60 hours... that means that at 60 hours, maybe you're only getting a dull glimmer!). On an easy trip, test it at the settings that you prefer (e.g., brightness level) to get prepared for more technical trips when you really don't want the light to fail!

Here, we give you a list of questions to start thinking about other features. We hope our approach of savings these features for last gets you to more critically think about what you need & not get caught up in the hype of what's cool and over-spend your budget. Remember, we allow you to hire a lantern so feel free to try out various models with different features.

  • If electric, can it also charge my device?
  • How hot does it get? Can I easily handle it & move it around? (Not a problem for electric lanterns)
  • Does it have something I can use to hang?
  • What other lighting features are there (e.g., strobe lighting, adjustable brightness)?

Usage tips

Lanterns are most effective when they are hung above the area to be illuminated. This prevents them from being too blinding & allows them to illuminate not just from the side (imagine you're cooking with a lantern at the table, you really want it to be above so you can see into the pot!).

The most important tip for battery-operated devices: take out your batteries! There are too many stories where the device's on-button was inadvertently pressed, and so it was completely drained by the time it was needed. Not to mention, in cold environments, batteries will drain (you should, in these cases, keep your batteries in an interior pocket, close to your body heat), and in hot environments they can explode (you should also keep them in a pocket in this case, somewhere out of the sun).

Maintenance tips


Corrosion: Remove the battery (you may need to use a coin to try to wedge it out if the corrosion has caused it to become stuck). Then, use a Q-tip with vinegar (for both acidic & alkaline batteries) to scrub away the corrosion, and then a new Q-tip with water to lightly rinse the area. Let it thoroughly dry before storing. Take care as battery corrosion can cause chemical burns!


Minimize battery leak & risk of corrosion by storing batteries outside of the device in a cool, dry, dark place

We have a general protip on how to store & maintain gear that we highly recommend reviewing as well. If you send us video or a good photo series, we may be able to help you evaluate your repair needs.

The exact numbers (e.g., weights, dimensions, prices, etc.) used were updated as of September 2019 .