best solar camping lights

Anyone who loves camping, outdoor activities, or lives in an area prone to blackouts knows how important it is to have a light source that doesn’t run on mains electricity. 

Our all-around favorite and best solar camping light on this list is the versatile Whetstone Solar Camping Lantern. We’ve also included other top picks for multi-purpose, light and phone charger combos, and colorful décor solar lanterns.

OUR TOP PICS

What are the best solar camping lights available today?

The best solar camping lights will charge on renewable energy during the day and provide you plenty of light during the night, or to see you through a blackout or emergency. We’ve tried categorizing each of the lights on our list for specific use cases, so you’re sure to find something that suits your needs. 

1. Best overall – Whetstone Solar Camping Lantern

Along with a solar panel to charge the battery, this camping lantern has a hand crank as a backup charging option. This is one of the best solar camping lights you can buy, perfect for longer camping trips or overcast days when you may not have enough sun to run the lantern purely on solar energy.

You can adjust the brightness, selecting between low, medium, and high brightness modes, with up to 180 lumens. This will give you plenty of light when camping, working at night, or in emergency situations.

You can also use the battery to charge your phone or other devices via the built-in USB port.

It also features a long-lasting LED light that will give you around 100,000 hours of light before burning out. These energy-efficient LED light bulbs give you the maximum amount of light, running for eight hours or more after six hours of charging time in full sunlight.

There’s also a backup charging option using a hand crank, and a USB port for charging your phone or other devices. Other handy features include a carrying handle and a hook to hang it up in your tent.

What we like:

  • Very bright: This lantern gives out an impressive 180 lumens of light.
  • Energy efficient: It charges in just six hours of sunlight and gives eight plus hours of light, with a hand crank for backup charging.
  • Three light modes: You can choose between a low, medium, and high setting

What we don’t like:

  • Not particularly durable: Built from lighter-grade plastic, this lantern might not withstand rough treatment, but if handled with relative care it should last just fine.

This camping lantern is our top pick because it is versatile, energy-efficient, and offers great value for money. You’ll be able to charge this during the day and enjoy light for most of the night even when camping for days at a time.

2. Best multi-purpose option – MPOWERD Luci Core Solar Light

The Luci Core lantern has a powerful 450 mAh lithium-ion battery, paired with three energy-efficient LEDs to give light for up to 12 hours when fully charged. In terms of multi-functionality, this is definitely one of the best solar camping lights on the market!

This versatile lantern has a 14-inch adjustable arm, so you can place it just about anywhere and direct the light where you need it. You can use it not only as an overhead or ground light for camping, but also as a task light or emergency light.

This lantern produces 40 lumens, which is significantly dimmer than some other solar camping lights, including our number one pick above. However, it is sufficient to provide plenty of ambient light while camping, and long-lasting enough to run all night.

What we like:

  • Long lasting: Giving an impressive 12 hours of light when fully-charged.
  • Adjustable arm: Meaning you can use it as an overhead light, ground light, or task light.

What we don’t like:

  • Not very bright: Only giving out 40 lumens of light.

Although not the brightest light out there, this is a highly versatile and long-lasting light. A full 12 hours of light from full charge is definitely possible, and the adjustable arm means you can use it however you want.

3. Best compact option – Kizen Collapsible LED Solar Lantern

This collapsible lantern folds down into a disc about the size of a hockey puck – so you can easily put it in your backpack and bring it with you on your camping trip. In terms of pure portability, this is one of the best solar camping lights you’ll come across.

You can use it as either a lantern or a flashlight, making it suitable not only for camping and blackouts, but also as an emergency light.

It has multiple charging options: via USB or through the solar panel on top of the lid. It also features three lighting modes: high, low, and SOS light, and will last five hours on high or up to ten hours on low light.

What we like:

  • SOS light: Helping you to attract attention in emergency situations.
  • Portable: This collapsible lantern folds down small for easy packing and transport.

What we don’t like:

  • Shorter run time: Lasting only five hours on the brightest setting.

The light also has built-in protection to avoid overheating or overcharging, so you won’t need to worry about fire hazards or the lantern getting damaged.

4. Best for campsite decoration – Solight Design Outdoor Solar-Powered LED Lantern

While colorful cubes might not be the first thing you think of when searching for the best solar camping lights for your next trip to the great outdoors, we felt that the Solight lantern 10 pack deserved a spot on this list for purely aesthetic purposes. Each lantern is cute and colorful – perfect for setting up around your campsite for some nighttime ambiance, and you can choose between red, green, blue, yellow, purple, and white lights for a decorative touch.

There are also options for low, high, and emergency SOS lights, and they will cast light up to 100 square feet on the high setting. At only 2.6 ounces and with an origami design, the lanterns can be packed flat to just a quarter of an inch, for easy transport or storage.

The battery charges in around 12 hours and will give around 12 hours of run time. This is a rather long charging time, and you may struggle to fully charge the battery even on a sunny day, so definitely keep this in mind!

However, you will be able to charge over a couple of days and have your lanterns ready for an overnight trip or on hand in case of a blackout.

What we like:

  • Decorative: Cute design with multi-color light options.
  • Portable: Can be packed down flat for easy transport or storage.

What we don’t like:

  • Long charging time: Each lantern takes around 12 hours to charge.

These cute lanterns may not be the most practical choice, but they will bring a decorative element to your campsite. Alternatively, you could use them to brighten up your yard or for outdoor parties.

5. Best color option – MPOWERD Luci Color Essence Solar Inflatable Lantern

The Luci Color Essence is one of the best solar camping lights if you want color and ambiance. This inflatable solar lantern comes with 10 colored LEDs to emit eight different tones through a matte-finish lantern. The bright, colorful hues will add a touch of joy to your tent, yard, or home!

The built-in 1000 mAh lithium-ion battery will charge in around seven hours of sunlight and will give up to eight hours of light, so it will run almost all night. The handy battery level indicator will let you know when you’re running low on power.

The lantern is sturdy, durable, and IP-67 waterproof. You can even submerge it up in up to one meter of water, so you don’t need to worry about any accidents when camping or boating.

What we like:

  • Multiple colors: With no less than eight different tones to brighten up your yard or campsite.
  • Waterproof: Rated IP-67 waterproof, this lantern will standup to different weather conditions.

What we don’t like:

  • Ambient light only: This light won’t provide bright or focused light, so isn’t the best option for emergency situations.

The light is small, compact, and can be folded down flat, so is highly portable and easy to take on your next camping strip. It also comes with a top strap to hang from the top of your tent or attach to your backpack.

6. Best solid construction collapsible lanterns – JMADENQ Solar Camping Lantern

This versatile lantern is made with sturdy ABS plastic for durability, but can also be folded down for easy packing and transport. It even has a side switch that lets you hang it up as a lantern or use it as a flashlight.

The lantern will give 60 lumens of bright light for five to six hours when fully charged, and has a USB-backup charging option along with a built-in solar panel. You can also use it to charge your phone or other devices via the USB port.

It comes in a pack with two lanterns – keep one with your camping gear and one in the car for emergencies, or take both with you for extra light!

What we like:

  • Durable: Made from durable ABS plastic, this lantern will stand up to the rigors of outdoor use.
  • Multipurpose: You can use it as a lantern or a hand-held flashlight.

What we don’t like:

  • Flashlight is only 20 lumens: Although the lantern gives 60 lumens of light, this is greatly reduced when using the flashlight function.

Functional and practical, these are the best solar camping lights for those wanting collapsible lights with a rigid design.

7. Best light & phone charger combo – MPOWERD Luci Base All-in-One Solar Inflatable Light + Phone Charger

This solar light is equipped with a powerful 4000 mAh lithium-ion battery that will power the bright light for up to 50 hours on a single charge. The light is made up of 31 warm white LEDs that together give out an impressive 360 lumens.

This large battery capacity also makes it perfect as a combination light and phone charger – you’ll be able to charge your phone and still have enough charge to power the light for hours.

The included solar panel will charge the lantern in 28 hours, or you can quick-charge it via the built-in USB port in five to six hours when you’re back at home.

The light is also inflatable, so you can fold it down for easy transport.

What we like:

  • Extremely bright: Equipped with 31 LED lights together producing 360 lumens of light.
  • Multi-use: You can use it as a light and also to charge your phone or other devices.

What we don’t like:

  • Slow charging: It takes 28 hours to fully charge the battery using solar power.

You’ll just need this one piece of equipment to light up your tent and charge your phone on your next camping trip. While it’s definit, if you’d prefer a separate solar phone charger, check out our round-up of the best solar phone chargers.

A buyer’s guide to the best solar camping lights

There are plenty of options when it comes to solar camping lights: various models often have different lighting modes, brightness, battery capacity, and functions. Here’s what you need to know to choose the right solar lantern for you.

Always check the brightness

Obviously, when buying any kind of light, brightness is an important consideration. Brightness is measured in lumens, so it’s important to check the number of lumens given by the light, rather than watts of other measurements of power.

lumens chart

Your required brightness will depend on what you’re planning to use it for. If you want some ambient light while you’re camping, a 40-lumen lamp like the MPOWERD Luci Core Solar Light will be sufficient.

However, if you want to be able to use the lamp for work or for emergency situations, you’re better off with a stronger light such as the 180-lumen Whetstone Solar Camping Lantern or 360-lumen MPOWERD Luci Base All-in-One Solar Inflatable Light.

Benefits of solar-powered camping lights

Portable lights typically come with replaceable batteries or are charged by mains electricity via a USB port or similar.

Solar-charged lights are advantageous because you can charge them on the go when camping or otherwise off the grid. Furthermore, this is a clean, sustainable way to power your light, and even charge your phone in some cases, using only the sun’s energy.

The best solar camping lights will feature a solar panel that is large enough to generate the solar power needed to power the light, so be sure to check for this. You should also check the run time offered by the light once it is fully charged: good options include the Whetstone Solar Camping Lantern and MPOWERD Luci Core Solar Light.

Think about charging options

Solar camping lights primarily use a solar panel to charge their built-in batteries, but some also have backup charging options, such as hand cranking or USB charging.

This is handy because you’ll always be able to charge the light even on cloudy days, and a USB charger usually lets you charge the light quickly when needed.

A backup charging method is not essential, but it is a good idea, especially if you’ll be relying on the light for multi-day camping trips.

How many lighting modes do you need?

While the best solar camping lights do not necessarily need different lighting modes, some will offer this feature.

Some will offer low light, high light, SOS emergency light, as well as extra light modes in some cases. For example, the Kizen Collapsible LED Solar Lantern offers three modes: high, low, and SOS.

inflatable solar lamp in the camping tent
Using a low light setting is useful when you want to extend your solar light battery life
Source: Flickr / Tim Berger

Being able to switch between multiple modes is extremely useful: you can choose bright light when you need it, and then go for low light for maximum battery life. The SOS light is a flashing light for attracting attention in emergency situations.

Consider portability

Portability is another important consideration for solar camping lights. A light, compact light is handy as you can easily take this with you, or carry in your backpack.

Better yet, a collapsible light like the Kizen Collapsible LED Solar Lantern and MPOWERD Luci Base All-in-One Solar Inflatable Light are super easy to pack in your bag or your car, as you can fold them down and tuck them into any tight space.

Durability is also important

As with any item you plan to use when camping or in emergencies, you want your solar camping light to be durable enough so as to hold up to some wear and tear. It’s important to make sure the light is made from durable materials such as ABS plastic casing.

In particular, the solar panel should be made from robust materials so that they won’t crack or shatter in transport.

How versatile is the light?

Many camping lights come with additional functions and features. Many include an emergency light mode for attracting attention in an emergency.

Some camping lanterns can also be converted to a flashlight, like the JMADENQ Solar Camping Lantern, which can be useful for hiking and other outdoor activities. You should also look out for additional charging options, such as hand crank and USB charging.

Which is the best solar camping light?

For an all-around versatile and energy-efficient camping light, you can’t go past the Whetstone Solar Camping Lantern. This lantern is relatively fast-charging and long-lasting, with a backup hand crank for charging, so you’ll never need to worry about running out of light.

We also recommend the MPOWERD Luci Core Solar Light as the best multipurpose option and Solight Design Outdoor Solar-Powered LED Lantern for decoration.

If you’ve enjoyed this round up of the best solar camping lights, check out our other posts on solar devices, from the best solar showers to the best solar ovens.

Articles you might also like