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(The Gear Loop) - Camping lights are an absolute essential, and the best ones don’t just illuminate tent interiors, they double as lanterns and chargers, too. Keeping the power on and making those post-midnight dashes to the toilet block much easier. As the summer light fades, the awesome camping lights become an essential item.

As keen campers, we know exactly what to look for in a light, although we’re also aware that there’s no one-size-fits-all when it comes to this kind of tech. Different types of campers have different requirements, whether it’s a camping lamp that will charge via solar,  one that will also charge devices or simply something small and highly portable.

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The range of features campers are looking for has never been wider, partly because of the growing popularity of camping, and the fact that campers are now prepared to splash the cash they’ve saved on long-haul holidays (thanks, Covid) on kit to make their staycations more comfortable. 

We’ve included the pros and cons of every light we’ve featured, as well as a guide (that you’ll find at the bottom of the article) to finding the best camping light, with plenty of advice from a well-placed expert.

NeboThe best camping lights: lifestyle photo 1

So, here are the best lights to help you carry on camping, even when the sun goes down.

The best camping lights

Black DiamondThe best camping lights: product photo 1

Black Diamond Moji Light

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For

  • Ultra-bright exterior 
  • Kid-friendly

Against 

  • Lack of waterproofing 
  • Not the toughest 

This might not be the kind of light you’d take down a cave or up a mountain, but it’s a light that will brighten up family camping trips in more ways than one.

We love the fact it comes in a bright orange hue, and its UFO-like shape will appeal to younger campers, too.

A frosted finish means it provides plenty of light without unwanted dazzle, and hanging loops, a rubberised base and a IPX4 waterproof rating make it suitable for a wide range of scenarios.

We’re also big fans of the easily accessible dimmable switch, which can be quickly tweaked by small fingers.

HelixThe best camping lights: product photo 2

Princeton Tec Helix Backcountry

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For

  • Innovative design
  • Water resistant 

Against 

  • Beam could be brighter 
  • Not the toughest of lamps 

We’re all about saving space here at The Gear Loop, which is precisely why we’re smitten with this lamp, with its accordion-like design meaning it will squash down to a size we can stash in our pocket.

Chargeable with a standard micro USB cable, you’ll get 18 hours of light from a full battery, and its shape means the 150-lumen beam - despite not being the brightest one out there - illuminates all corners of the canvas. The exterior can be removed for a more intense light, too.

Plus, it looks like some kind of angry drone from a Sci-Fi move, and what's not to love about that?

MPOWEREDThe best camping lights: product photo 3

MPOWERD Luci Outdoor 2.0: Solar Inflatable Light

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For

  • Doesn’t need batteries
  • Waterproof 

Against 

  • Unattractive (if you're into light design)
  • No attachments to keep it in place 

This light is both simple yet seriously clever. It’s solar-powered, for a start, sucking up sunlight through a panel on its top. But don’t assume you’ll be getting just a faint sliver of light, because it kicks out a respectable 75 lumens for 24 hours on a single charge, which takes seven hours.

Even more impressive is its waterproof rating of IP67, which means it will survive being dunked into water to a depth of one metre. It’s surprisingly portable too, collapsing down to 1.5 inches, and it weighs barely nothing.

This lamp is designed to be clipped on to a backpack or item of clothing during the day, so it can suck up the sun's rays, and then do its duty in the evenings. Clever stuff.

NeboThe best camping lights: product photo 4

Nebo Angle Light

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For 

  • Fantastic value
  • Ultra-compact 

Against 

  • One-directional beam
  • Requires replaceable batteries 

Yes, this might not be the biggest light, but to be honest, you’re not going to purchase it if you’re looking for the kind of beam that can be seen from other countries.

No, this light is for people that want the perfect balance between portability, brightness and durability, with the added advantage of an uncanny resemblance to the eye of a Minion.

In all seriousness, we love the flexibility of this light, which can be rotated through 180-degrees. The hook and magnetic base offer more options for clever positioning and IPX4 water resistance means you don’t need to panic if you leave it out in a light shower, either.

A small light which proves that bigger isn’t always better... and on that will stand up to a decent amount of wear and tear, too.

NeboThe best camping lights: product photo 5

Nebo Galileo 1000

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For

Multipurpose – will charge USBs 

Very tough

Against 

  • Heavy
  • Not the most attractive 

This beast of a light is a fantastic option if you’re prone to clumsiness, as it can cope with more than its fair share of knocks thanks to a dust-resistant exterior made from ABS plastic.

A sturdy carabiner-style handle makes it one of the most portable camping lights we’ve come across, and it’s a great one to have around when you run out of power, seeing as there’s a USB port that can be used to charge items, such as smart phones or speakers.

The beam is seriously powerful, too, boasting a shadow-busting 1,000 lumens max output. A great way to keep the lights on, and your essential tech charged, too.

DecathlonThe best camping lights: product photo 6

Quechua BL200 Camping Lamp

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For 

  • Large illumination area
  • Brilliant battery indicator panel

Against 

  • Not ideal if you’re travelling super light 
  • Would have loved to see a higher waterproof rating 

We absolutely loved everything about this light - from the ease of use (simply rotate the upper section to scroll between light settings), to its tactile, lightweight design. It throws out more than enough light to illuminate the average four-person tent (200 lumens-worth, to be precise) and an IPX4 rating ensures it will stand up to rain showers, too.

Recharged via a micro USB lead, it can be hooked up to external power banks or even solar to top it up, with runtime slated at 17-hours at a 100-lumen output and 7 hours at full whack.

Unfold the hook to suspend it from tent poles or place it on flat surfaces... it’s an especially great option for kids’ rooms, due to the simple controls. A fantastic multipurpose lamp that's particularly suited to family camping holidays.

VangoThe best camping lights: product photo 7

Vango Midge 180

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For

  • Small
  • Incredibly light
  • Traps bugs

Against 

  • Not particularly rugged
  • No ability to angle light 

The clever thing about this lamp is the ability to use different parts of this lamp, which is part light source and part bug-killer, independently.

It's possible to turn off the light but keep the bug-busting bit on during the night to  keep a tent fly-free. On top of that, it's the lightest light of the bunch, and is designed to be hung from tent poles, although it can be rested on its side on flat surfaces, too.

Scrolling between the different light settings (choose between 30, 90 and 180 lumens) is easy, and you’ll get an impressive 30 hours of light from a four-hour charge.

MPOWERDThe best camping lights: lifestyle photo 3

What to look for when buying camping lights

Portability 

Portability is key, not just so your light can be moved between tents, but so that it can be used as a torch for those 3am trips to the toilet block. "When it comes to camping lights, we think portability is paramount," says Matthew Clark from Nebo, a brand known for its expertise when it comes to powerful head-torches and camping lanterns. "You need a lightweight lamp that is easy to pack away but which still has enough brightness to find your way around in the night."

Design and durability

A waterproof design is essential, not only to provide protection against spills or accidental dunkings in streams or lakes, but because unexpected rain showers are part and parcel of a camping trip. Play it safe and consider a higher waterproof rating such as IPX8, which means the light can be submerged in water of up 20 metres without suffering any ill effects. We also recommend opting for a light that can be easily picked up, allowing it to double as a torch. "A lantern which doubles as a torch is so much more than just a light – the right torch can save lives," says Nebo's Matthew Clark.

Power 

This is one of the most important factors. If you’re planning on camping in remote locations, it’s likely you’ll rely more heavily on your light, and for this reason it’s worth considering one that can be charged using an external power bank. Similarly, if you’re staying in off-grid campsites, it’s worth considering one that will work the other way, meaning it can be used to charge smaller items such as smart phones. Hand-cranked lanterns can be great back-up options, but bear in mind these will generate less light.

Writing by Tamara Hinson. Editing by Leon Poultney.