Camping Lantern Shootout
E. Don Smith
May 18, 2012
Filed under Gear Reviews, Top Stories
If you plan on spending much time traveling in your motorhome, there will eventually come a time when you need battery-powered lighting. It could be a sunset trip to the lake that lasts a little longer than expected or an outside dinner at a roadside picnic table. Although flashlights are a common item in most travelers’ arsenals, they are not very good at lighting a large area and they usually require you to hold them in your hand. In those circumstances nothing replaces a freestanding battery-powered lantern.
If you are a longtime motorhome enthusiast, you will likely remember the old fuel-powered lanterns of the past. Not only did they provide a lot of light, they also lasted a long time on a single tank of fuel. The performance of these fuel-based lanterns has been the standard for decades, but recently the lighting industry has made great strides in replicating the performance of fuel-based lanterns without the danger and hassle of carrying fuel in your coach.
The new battery-powered lanterns are a reasonable competitor to the old fuel lanterns in terms of lighting and battery life, and they offer a lot of choices with regard to battery type as well as light source. Many of these battery-powered lanterns use energy-saving fluorescent or LED lights instead of the old, inefficient incandescent bulbs of the past. Some offer built-in rechargeable batteries while others stick to conventional disposable alkaline batteries for their power. Some even allow the use of both, making them quite convenient.
Rayovac Sportsman LED 300 Lumen Area Lantern
Claims 300 lumens on high. Uses three D-cell batteries, which are not included. Has a three-position switch including high, low and strobe. Claims 72 hours on high and 150 hours on low.
Pros: Dome is removable for wider light radius. Includes a hook for hanging.
Bright and even light in a small package at a reasonable price. Best scores of the group!
Cons: It’s not fair to call this a con, but because of the brighter bulb the battery life is lower than other models tested.
Rayovac Sportsman Mini Lantern
Very small. Includes three AA-cell batteries and removable globe as well as a hook for hanging. Claims 16 hours on high and 35 hours on low. Also has high/low and strobe switch and is water resistant.
Pros: Small size and smooth, even lighting makes this a great choice if a small light meets your needs.
Cons: AA battery yields shorter life.
Energizer Weather Ready 360-degree Area Light
Includes three D-cell batteries and a small LED keychain light. There is a new all-LED version on the market, but the tester contained incandescent and LED bulbs. Includes carrying handle and hook on the bottom for hanging. Has several modes including a nightlight.
Pros: Small, yet produces good and even light. All battery testing was done in LED mode, which allows for great battery life.
Cons: It required a lot of adjusting and tweaking/cleaning the battery terminals to get it working on several occasions so we are concerned about long-term durability.
Coleman CPX 6 Easy Hanging LED Lantern
Manufacturer claims 200 lumens of light for up to 65 hours; 155 hours on low setting. Has a convenient strap for hanging. Includes housing for four D-cell batteries or you can buy the optional CPX 6 charger for $24.99 that includes the battery and 120-volt AC as well as a 12-volt DC car charger. Recharger connects on the bottom so it can’t be charged while standing up. Has a high/low switch.
Pros: Strap for hanging and smooth bright light.
Cons: On/Off button hard to locate. Rechargeable batteries don’t last long and are not included.
Coleman 8D Pack-Away Lantern
Coleman claims 390 lumens on high with a run time of 12 hours on high and 24 hours on low. Requires eight D-cell batteries. It collapses for easy storage but is still large and heavy because of eight D batteries. High/low switch.
Pros: Very bright light with a smooth, even pattern. Also collapses for easier storage.
Cons: Requires eight D batteries and is heavy. It is still a large light despite collapsible base.
Coleman 4D Rugged LED Lantern
Uses four D-cell batteries or Coleman’s CPX optional rechargeable batteries. Manufacturer claims 190 lumens and up to 14 hours of run time on rechargeable batteries. Recharger connects on the bottom so it can’t be charged while standing up. High/low switch.
Pros: Includes rechargeable battery and 12-volt DC/120-volt AC cords. Smooth, bright light.
Cons: Rechargeable battery life is short.
Coleman 4AA Pack-Away Lantern
Powered by four AA-cell batteries, which are included. Coleman claims 105 lumens. Very small and collapses for even smaller storage. Includes high/low switch and SOS mode.
Pros: Very small and easy to store, plus batteries are included.
Cons: Light pattern is very uneven.
Cabela’s 12-LED Lantern with Remote
Includes a remote control that operates light up to 35 feet away. Uses four D-cell batteries in an O-ring sealed compartment. Manufacturer claims up to 500 hours of continuous run time, which is 21 days. Only has one brightness setting.
Pros: Very long battery life and has remote control.
Cons: Light pattern is uneven.
To see the top lantern for your money, pick up the May issue of MotorHome or subscribe!