Camping lantern question

Do you think electric or battery powered lanterns are better than the gas burning ones?

To me, while the gas burning ones give off more light, I’m moving more and more to the new generation of LED lanterns.

What do you think?

No contest. Electric all the way these days.

Gas lanterns cannot be used indoors, such as a tent. Besides asphyxiation, they tend to light things on fire also. Plus, they stink and require a lot of maintenance compared to a glorified flashlight.

I’ve used both, and for all sorts of reasons I prefer the electric ones.

I’ve also used both, and the electric ones win out for safety and convenience reasons. The white gas and mantle lanterns are more traditional though, plus having a gallon of Coleman Fuel at the campsite leads to potential shenanigans.

In the winter I prefer the gas lights. In the summer I prefer electric lights.

The gas lanterns are more of a hassle too- you have to prep the mantle (the thing that glows) by pre-burning it or something. And the gas lanterns are too obnoxiously bright. I have a friend I go camping with occasionally who has a gas lantern, and I’m always telling him to turn the damn thing down. My camping philosophy has always been to use only just enough light to see by, and only use light if you absolutely need it. If you keep your eyes adjusted to the dark you can see a lot more than you might think, even on a moonless night.

Yes, the new LED lights make gas lanterns even more irrelevant. Batteries last forever with LEDs.

LED lights are noticeably less expensive to use than non-LED electrics, and significantly easier to use than gas powered ones. I have been spoiled by them.

The lantern design puts a lot of light where you don’t want or need it, especially right into your eyes. I strongly suggest find a lamp that shines in one direction rather than one that gives 360 degree illumination.


I prefer Coleman lanterns. They’re what we used when I was a kid in the '60s and '70s. I have a couple around the house in case of power failure, and they get used a couple of times a year. I like the sound, I like the smell, and I like the light that they give off. We have LED lights on the patio; and while they do illuminate, I don’t care for the blue-white light. Also, Mrs. L.A. has a habit of forgetting to turn them off so they really eat up the batteries. It would be cheaper to forget to turn off a Coleman lantern.

As I said, I don’t like the light LEDs make. I find them ‘too obnoxiously bright’. And Coleman lanterns can be turned down. Blame your friend, not the lantern. IME LED lanterns don’t dim very well.

Anyway… The Coleman lantern came in very handy a few months ago when the power went out for 2½ days. In addition to making light, it also made a dandy food warmer. We were getting ready to tile the bathroom floor. I put a box of tiles on-end next to the lantern and put a cast-iron frying pan on it and the nut at the top of the lantern. Not hot enough to cook with (I have an MSR stove and base – plus many Svea 123s as backups), but good for keeping the burritos warm. :wink:

Of course I wouldn’t use one in a tent. I’ll use, but am pretty leery doing it, a candle lantern if I need light for longer than I’d want to use a flashlight.

“Better” in what way? I’ve gone camping with both propane and electric lanterns. Like Johnny L.A., I dislike the light of the electric ones I’ve seen and feel that the warm glow of a propane lantern is more pleasing and harmonious with the wilderness. They can also get really bright if you need it, or they can be dimmed. No question, though, that electrics are much, much more convenient and can be used indoors or anywhere.

I also have an old Coleman electric that must be 15 or 20 years old now and that thing is amazing. It predates LEDs and uses two fluorescent tubes of which you can turn on one or both, and it’s powered by a small lead-acid battery. It can stay on continuously for 12 or maybe even 24 hours even after all these years. And it can be left sitting around literally for years without recharging and still have lots of power in case of an emergency like a power failure.

I always wonder about campground asshats that need a shitload of light.

You are camping. Enjoy the campfire AND the relative darkness.

Its a fracking campground. Not a death planet where Riddick is saving your ass.

I’ve been using both to be honest. Lately I’ve been using a battery / solar rechargeable and I’m very satisfied with it. It gets really bright, more than the propane one i used before.

I’ve bought these two:
Lantern 1
Lantern 2

Been using both and they really serve me great.

In my experience, a good LED headlight with adjustable brightness plus a translucent water bottle (Nalgene) or even better, a milk jug, makes an excellent lantern:

Diffuse light with adjustable brightness, and you can take the headlight with you when you’re done. Less crap to pack.

You can also typically get much better LED lights in the forms of flashlights and headlights, compared to lanterns. Skip the mainstream manufacturers (Coleman, Black Diamond, Kelty, etc.) – they use crappy LEDs. The LEDs from specialty manufacturers like Zebralight or Nitecore give you much better lumens/watt (light per battery).

Bonus from buying from a specialized manufacturer like that is that if overall brightness is less important to you than light quality, you can look for their “high CRI” lights – that means a high color rendering index, or light that looks more natural and pleasing and covers more of the visible spectrum, comparable to an incandescent.

Personally I’m not talking about “a shitload of light” and I’m not talking about “a campground”. I’m talking about a provincial park that may be 600 square miles in size where you’re untold miles from any other campsite and maybe a day of hard paddling and portaging from the park dock. I’m talking about a place of complete solitude where the night brings darkness that is absolute, the only light is the stars and the moon if there is one, a small area around the campfire when it’s going, and the aforementioned fracking lantern.

Good thing I wasn’t talking about you then.

And I am honestly sorry if you thought that WAS the case.

Though I will stand my ground as to such a statement being relevant to folks who have their Coleman gas or propane lanterns set to 11 and blinding anyone within a couple square mile area who happens to look in their general direction…

OK, sorry, and I agree with your view on this. It’s just that your post came immediately after mine and characterized some unspecified parties as “asshats”! :smiley:

I have no doubt they exist. They probably have loud blaring stereos, too!

No problem.

And the radio thing is probably a whole nuther thread :slight_smile:

I wonder if mine is maybe defective. I bought this twin LED Coleman lantern thinking it would be bright enough for reading at night. It is not by a long shot, I have to literally keep it less than 12" from the page to make out the print.

I wouldn’t know about that. We have an umbrella light, some of these from Harbor Freight (very useful, BTW), and one of these LED hurricane lanterns (with the functional globe-lifter for no apparent reason). Only the hurricane lantern dims. When the batteries are fresh, the light is blinding. The umbrella light faces upward to reflect off of the umbrella, so it’s not so bad. The hurricane lantern does dim, but it doesn’t seem to ‘reach’ very far. But they all dim fairly quickly as the batteries are used.

But I don’t really like the quality of the light when the batteries are fresh, and the lights can be blinding. The Coleman lantern gives a softer light, and it doesn’t need to be turned all the way up (which also saves fuel).


Put me down in the “Both” camp. We carry not only a couple of propane lanterns, but also several LED kinds. The most useful of the latter is this one. The directable light panels come in quite handy when prepping dinner in the dark, for example.