LED Lantern Basics: How to Choose a Lantern
NITECORE may be more well-known for flashlights, but our LED lanterns are pretty sweet, too! Ideal for providing reading light and area-lighting, NITECORE has an ever-growing line of innovative lanterns that are a favorite among backpackers and campers. If this is your first time shopping for an LED lantern, this lantern buying guide covers everything you need to know.
Traditional Fuel Lanterns vs. LED Lanterns
When you first hear the word “lantern” what image comes to mind? Probably a large glass dome with a metal housing and handle powered by propane or some other traditional burning fuel. Although the traditional lantern has been around for hundreds of years, it doesn’t mean it’s the best option for your camping or emergency kit.
Why? These lanterns are bulky, breakable, and much more likely to start a fire if knocked over. Thanks to modern LED advancements and addition of a translucent diffuser, LED lanterns are a great alternative to the traditional lantern and come in a variety of shapes, sizes, and power sources.
Advantage of NITECORE Lanterns
So what do you get with a NITECORE lantern in your backpack?
- Portability — NITECORE lanterns are small. Really small. Compared to a standard propane lantern, these lanterns are practically non-existent which means you can take them everywhere. Camping, fishing, boating, hiking, caving — you name it. All of our lanterns fit nicely in your pocket or gear pack for lighting anytime, any place.
- Durability — Constructed from highly durable polycarbonate materials, NITECORE lanterns are designed to withstand the rigors of outdoor use. No glass parts to worry about breaking here.
- Output — NITECORE lanterns take you to the edge of LED lighting technology to deliver some of the brightest outputs on the market to easily outshine traditional lanterns.
LED Lantern Outputs
Just like an LED flashlight or headlamp, LED lanterns measure brightness in lumens. You might notice that many of the newer flashlights boast outputs in the thousands of lumens range, while an LED lantern is only about 200-500 lumens bright. Because you’re likely dealing with a small, enclosed space like a tent or picnic table area, you can rest assured that this is plenty of light for most needs.
Another feature to look for on a lantern is a secondary red output. A dim red output is ideal for preserving night vision and use in a shared tent where you don’t want to bother a tentmate with bright lights. Red outputs with a blinking mode can also be used for emergency signaling.
Powering Your LED Lantern
There are a few different ways to power an LED lantern, all of which center around either an internal or removable battery source. Here are a few tips for picking out a lantern that won’t leave you stranded in the dark!
- Removable, non-rechargeable batteries — If you want a battery that is super easy to find replacements for no matter where you go, traditional alkaline AA batteries can’t be beat. Simply remove fully depleted cells and replace them with a fresh pair and you’ll be good to go.
- Removable, rechargeable batteries — More economically and environmentally friendly, lanterns powered by rechargeable, li-ion batteries mean you don’t have to constantly buy backup batteries. Paired with a flexible charger like the F2/F4 and a solar panel (or even better, built-in charging in the lantern itself!) you can set these to charge during the day and then be ready to go at night.
- Built-in, rechargeable batteries — Similar to a removable, rechargeable battery, a built-in battery is user- and environmentally-friendly and can be paired with a solar panel to charge during the day. The downside is that you can’t swap out cells for quick backup replacement.