Camping Lights: The Only Guide You'll Ever Need

If you want to have a successful camping trip, packing the best camping lights is essential. 

Since there are so many options  to choose from, it can be difficult to decide on which ones are right for you without proper knowledge. The best kinds of light are the ones that save you from stumbling around in the dark. 

Fenix has created the ultimate guide to everything you need to know about camping lights and even included some of our favorite equipment. See below to find out how you can find the perfect lights for your campsite! 

Fenix headlamp at campsite

Types of Camping Lights 

In 2021 alone, more than 93.8 million North American families went camping. How many of them do you think had quality camping lights? 

Although a crackling campfire is a classic camping ritual, those flames alone aren’t going to be enough to light the night. For both seasoned campers and beginners, there are 4 main types of lights that are going to make your camping trip the best one yet: 

- Lanterns
- Flashlights
- Headlamps
- Tent Lights 

Portable, bright, long-lasting camping lights make your getaway in the wilderness safer and more enjoyable. After extensive research, we’ve outlined all you need to know about how to find the best camping lights. 


Understandably the most classic lighting option, lanterns can provide a lot of reliable light. 

Camping lanterns can be differentiated by how they’re powered. That means that the best camping lights for you mostly depend on the campsite location, other supplies you’re packing, and how much light you’ll need. 


Electric lanterns are one of the most popular light sources for camping. They come in a variety of choices such as:

- Solar
- Rechargeable
- Battery operated

Electric options tend to be the most favorable because they are lightweight, durable and very bright. They also have a long battery and provide exactly what campers are looking for during their stay with mother nature.

Safe to use and child friendly, electric lanterns are our favorite option at Fenix. See below for some of the best units!

Fenix CL26R 

Fenix CL26R

The Fenix CL26R is ideal for illuminating any campsite. This model is durable, rechargeable and effortlessly provides lots of light. It’s small size and lightweight feel makes it perfect for both stationary and mobile use.

Fenix CL30R 

Fenix CL30R

This unit is the powerhouse of camping lanterns. With 650 lumens and a 115 foot radius, the CL30R is perfect for every night time adventure. Cold resistant, rechargeable and equipped with power bank capabilities, this camping light is sure to impress. 

Fuel Lanterns 

Fuel lanterns are a great option for campers who won’t have access to electrical outputs. They are one of the brightest burning lighting options and can be powered by different types of fuel: 

- Butane
- Propane
- Gas
- Kerosene 

Just like any product, fuel lanterns do come with a few disadvantages. If not used properly, these can be very dangerous to use in a tent and can emit harmful fumes. It’s also very important that these are watched closely around children and pets as they tend to get very hot. 

Although, their high heat makes them perfect for cold weather! If you’re planning on camping in the snow, fuel lanterns are a practical option. 

Candle Lanterns 

Candle lanterns aren’t nearly as popular as they used to be since electric lanterns have come into play. Similar to fuel lanterns, these can create a lot of heat so it’s important to be careful when handling them.

These units use candles, protected by the lantern body, as the main source of light. If you’re looking for a lantern that provides warm, pleasant light and promotes a relaxing ambience, look no further. 


Flashlights tend to be the most durable campsite lighting and are best for signaling, so it’s always a good idea to have at least one torch around. 

When it comes to choosing a great light source for your campsite, one of the most important things to consider is battery type. There are 4 main types that can help determine the perfect unit:

- Lithium Ion (Li-ion) Rechargeable Batteries
- Nickel-Metal Hydride (NiMH) Rechargeable Batteries 
- Lithium Non-Rechargeable Batteries 
- Alkaline Non-Rechargeable Batteries 

Generally speaking, rechargeable batteries have a higher power capacity and are specifically designed for high-drain units like flashlights and headlamps. Since they have a higher power capacity, they also have a more consistent, brighter light output. 

Disposable, non-rechargeable batteries are initially less expensive than Li-ion or NiMH batteries, but tend to cost more in the long run after replacing them several times. Not only that, but they’re also more harmful to the environment.

Pro-tip: Every kind of battery is going to affect your unit’s weight. Keep this in mind if you plan on carrying your flashlight with you! 

At the end of the day, the type of battery that’s best for your camping light comes down to how it will be used. Below, you’ll find a few of our experts’ favorite flashlights for night time navigation.

Fenix E18R 

Fenix E18R V2

Rechargeable and small enough to fit in your pocket, the Fenix E18R V2 is one of our favorite flashlights for the perfect camping experience. This model’s far beam distance, technical design and ability for one-hand use make it perfect for navigating at night. 

Fenix PD36 TAC 

Fenix PD36 TAC

This unit shines when it comes to its compact size. At only 5.5 inches to comfortably fit in your pocket, its output doesn’t disappoint at 3000 lumens. The PD36 TAC’s aluminum alloy body provides an extremely tough yet lightweight exterior, ultimately providing everything you need to enjoy a quality camping experience. 


By far, headlamps are the most versatile light option because they offer the most stable, focused lighting, all while being hands-free. Whether you’re building a fire or cooking a meal, using a headlight will provide you with the best light for getting the job done.

Your perfect headlamp can be determined the same way you’ll assess lantern and flashlight options – consider your designated end use and decide what level of light output would benefit you most. 

One additional aspect to be mindful of when choosing the perfect headlamp is its weight. Although heaviness is also very important for lanterns and flashlights, you’ll likely be extra sensitive to an overweight headlamp.

A headlamp that’s too heavy will make hands-free tasks more difficult to perform as you keep adjusting your light, ultimately leaving you frustrated. Our expert advice: give your headlamp a test-run (literally) before you commit. 

See below for Fenix’s headlamps that provide the brightest, most comfortable light. 

Fenix HP25R V2.0 

Fenix HP25R V2

The Fenix HP25R V2.0 is one of the best headlamps one can buy. This unit’s versatile nature allows for multi-purpose use and provides campsite lighting for all of your favorite activities. This model is lightweight, reliable and easily adjustable making it ideal for a convenient, hands-free experience. 

Fenix HM50R V2.0

Fenix HM50R V2

This ultra-lightweight headlamp is perfect for any hands-free activity that needs a lot of light. The HM50R V2.0 can provide up to 700 lumens with visibility up to 377 feet. Water resistance, durability and long lasting light make this one of the best options for seeing at night.

Tent Lights 

This option is best for providing aesthetically pleasing yet functional light at your campsite. Not only are they typically the same weight as lanterns and torches but can be strung through the interior or exterior of your tent, similar to Christmas lights and other holiday string lights. 

Although they can’t help you navigate through a rocky terrain in the middle of the night, they can provide just the right amount of lighting to move around your site without casting harsh shadows. The ability to easily identify your campsite from a distance is an added bonus. 

For examples of the best string lights for camping, see below. 

Coleman OneSource Rechargeable String Lights

Coleman OneSource Rechargeable String Lights
Image Source: Amazon

This Coleman string-light set is hard to beat. Equipped with hooks great for looping and hanging, this 20-foot string provides the perfect amount of ambient light. As one of the brightest, most convenient and durable options, these lights are sure to impress. [Affiliate link]

MPOWERD Luci String Lights 

MPOWERD Luci String Lights

With a built-in rechargeable battery, 18-foot cord and up to 20 hours of runtime, these string lights are a great option for illuminating your campsite. The MPOWERD Luci String Lights provide a durable, lightweight and portable experience for admirers. [Affiliate link]

Other Features to Consider

After learning about the different types of camping lights listed above, you may have noticed that some important factors were missing. The aspects of lighting listed below are also key to consider when assessing any of the types of camping lights mentioned previously.

Whether you’re searching for the perfect lantern, flashlight, headlamp or string lights, be sure to pay attention to the following attributes. 


When it comes to the best light output, you won’t get far without understanding lumens and how they affect the brightness of your unit. 

Lumens (lm) are used to measure the overall “brightness” emitted from a source or total light output perceived by the human eye. 

When you’re searching for the perfect camping lights, you’ll have to determine how many lumens are appropriate for your intended tasks. Typically, lumens needed per activity are as follows: 

- Reading & everyday tasks: 1-300 lumens
- Night walks, runs & camping: 300-900 lumens
- Mechanics & work light: 1000-1300 lumens
- Hunting, law enforcement & military: 1250-2500 lumens
- Search & rescue: 3000+ lumens

If you only plan to use your light for outdoor night activities, it’s safe to stay between 300-900 lumens. Although, if you’re looking for a multi-purpose unit, you’ll want to consider the number of lumens appropriate for other activities as well. 


Similar to weight, size also plays a huge role in whether or not a light source is going to work for you, especially if you’re planning to travel with your unit. 

Something compact and lightweight is ideal when you’re camping because you’ll have an easier time transporting items and finding room to store them in small spaces. 

Run Time

Tying in with battery types mentioned above, run time can have a huge effect on your camping trip. Run time refers to how long your unit will emit light in a single charge and applies to all types of units. When choosing between units, take note of whether or not you’ll have a back-up battery option or secondary power source. This could make or break your camping trip.


It’s no surprise that your camping lights need to be highly durable to make it through any intense traveling or hiking.

When you’re shopping, look for light sources that are designed to withstand the wear and tear your unit will likely endure outdoors.

Some examples of strong, impact resistant materials to look for are:

- Aluminum
- Anodized finishes
- Stainless steel
- Titanium 

It’s also smart to choose waterproof or water-resistant camping lights. During your stay in the wilderness, you’ll likely find yourself hopping across streams or getting stuck in the rain. 

To determine your unit’s ability to withstand water damage, look for its Ingress Protection, or IP rating. Assess the chart below to understand different levels of IP ratings. 

IP scale for waterproof camping lights

Light Adjustability 

In 2021, camping accounted for 40% of all leisure trips taken in North America. So why not invest in a quality light source with a lot of versatility?

The ability to adjust light levels will not only make your unit perfect for any occasion but will also likely save you from buying additional light sources you don’t need. 

When you’re shopping for the best camping light, look for units that have more than just a single on and off switch. This way, you can adjust brightness to your liking and save energy for when you need it most. Not only that, but you won’t have to worry about lighting for your next outdoor adventure! 

Brand Reputation 

Just like the clothes you wear and the car you drive, brand reputation matters. Finding a quality camping light starts with shopping at brands that have a strong following.

Not only can you have peace of mind that you’re investing in a reliable unit, but reputable brands often have great warranty plans and return policies to guarantee you’re satisfied.

When it comes to the best quality light, Fenix is your best bet. With excellent product performance, generous warranty, and high-quality service, this world famous high-end lighting brand is guaranteed to impress. 


That’s not all! Some additional seemingly minor details that make a big difference are:

- Built-in compass
- Detachable lights
- Hanging hooks
- Power banks
- Strobe modes 

Although having all of these characteristics may be unnecessary, you never know when a built-in compass will come in handy. Remember, it’s better to invest in a few quality units with all the bells and whistles than realize you need a built-in power bank after it’s too late. 

Moral of the story: there’s a lot of ways your camping lights can make your trip the best one yet. The key to enjoying your time outdoors is determining which aspects can best benefit you. 

Get Outside! 

At the end of the day, choosing the best camping lights doesn’t mean deciding on one light source. Most campers find that having three or four different lights is just the right amount. 

For the best camping trip, determine your lighting needs today and make sure you have an efficient light for each of those needs. Fenix can supply the best quality lights, so you won’t be left in the dark. 

Visit today to find lights that will last a lifetime!

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