The Best Lights For Camping: Your Go-To Guide

Sitting around the campfire under the stars is one of the best things about camping. However, the campfire only lights up a small area and you’re still going to need light for a number of different reasons. Finding the toilet, walking around and ensuring there aren’t any spiders or snakes lurking all require the use of light.

Luckily, you don’t need to worry about any of that as lighting up your campsite is easy peasy. Here’s what you need to consider.

Consider your power source


Battery-powered

Battery-powered lights can be either single-use or rechargeable. Obviously, rechargeable lights are going to save you money as we all know batteries aren’t cheap however, you will need access to power to charge it once it’s depleted. Don’t let this put you off; charging doesn’t have to come from a household powerpoint. You can recharge via solar power, a dual battery set-up in your vehicle, or even a charging bank that you pre-charged before you left.

I got this you-beaut Zempire rechargeable light a few months ago and I absolutely love it. It has a few brightness settings allowing you to conserve the battery and you can even use it to charge your mobile phone.

Zempire Megadome Camping Light

Solar and wind-up lights

Solar lights are always a good, environmentally-friendly option. However wind-up lights are pretty cool too. Just crank a handle on the side and start generating power. I recommend having one of these in an emergency or for when solar just isn’t cutting it. 

Darche makes an awesome solar lantern with a few different light settings that can also be charged via USB. It’s the best of both worlds! 

Darche Solar Light

12v compatible lighting

If you’ve already set up your vehicle with a dual battery system, your options for camp lighting are endless. Your second battery will charge up while you’re driving (or from solar if you’ve set it up), and you will be able to run any compatible 12v lighting from your second battery without the risk of flattening your vehicle’s usual battery. LED strip lighting and bar lights are popular options when it comes to 12v lighting for your campsite.

I like to use strip lighting around the campsite as it’s flexible and I can hang it virtually anywhere. 

Flexible LED Strip Lighting

Fuel

Of course, if you like to keep it old school, there is always the option of a kero, citronella or gas lamp. Burning citronella has long been used to ward off mosquitoes around the campsite and gas lamps work well if you don’t mind carting a small bottle of gas around.

Hurricane Lamp
200W Gas Lantern

Consider what you need to light up

There’s no point buying an expensive spotlight if you just need a little light to read a book. Likewise, if you don’t have a 12v setup, there’s little point in investing in a floodlight that will bathe the whole campsite as you won’t be able to run it.

For lighting up the whole campsite

Lanterns are great for lighting up the whole campsite; they produce 360 degrees of light and can be easily moved around. Modern LED lamps use plastic lenses rather than glass so they don’t shatter dangerously if dropped. With older style kerosine lamps, you don’t have to worry about batteries running out but they do shatter if knocked over and have the potential to spread a fire.

LED strips lights are amazing if you have 12v power to run them. They can be hardback or flexible and can be set up anywhere around the campsite.

Rechargeable LED lights for workshops are amazing for the campsite too. With a magnetic base, you can usually stick them to the side of a vehicle. They don’t spread the light as much as a lantern but they’re super convenient and often really bright.

Solar fairy lights are a cost-effective option (particularly at Bunnings after Christmas) if you plan to camp in the same spot for a few days. String them around your awning, on the trees or at the front of your tent.

camping lights
Solar fairy lights work well and are extremely cost-effective © Jessica Palmer

For a directional light

Headlights and torches are your best bet for a directional light, like when you need to light up the path in front of you on the way to the toilet, spotting wildlife or if you need to find something in the dark. I would choose a head torch over a hand torch each and every time. Once you get the angle right, it leaves both of your hands free.

Other important things to consider

Lumens

The higher the lumens advertised on your new lighting source, the brighter it will be. Lumens are a measurement of the amount of visible light, so a lower lumen rating will be a lot dimmer. When it comes to camping though, a subdued light can be kind of nice.

Lifespan

LED lights are known to have a significantly longer lifespan than a standard fluorescent light and are also more efficient to run. If possible, choose LED over any other type.

Pssst: If you’re new to camping, make sure to read our beginner’s guide to off-grid camping, or this ultimate guide to the best showers for camping over at Unsealed4x4.

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