Propane vs LED Lanterns for Camping – Which Should You Choose?

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Camping is an excellent way to spend the night outdoors, share stories, and make memories that will last a lifetime. However, with the mystery of the night comes darkness which makes the area hard to navigate. You don’t want to fumble through packs or trip over chairs when you should be having a good time.

Finding the right outdoor lighting is critical, but this can be difficult since the market has many camping lanterns. The buyer’s guide will come in handy and help you choose between led or propane lantern for camping.

You may also be interested in: Our guide to the top 10 best LED lanterns to buy

Camping Lantern Buying Guide

Here are a few pointers to help you settle on the best lantern for your camping needs.

Light Output

A high lantern lumen output means that you get a higher light intensity or brightness. But the high wattage results in lower energy efficiency, which translates into a shorter battery life or burn time.

Duration of Light

The light period which is the average run time for battery-powered lanterns or burns time for gas lanterns dictates how long the lantern will provide light. You need to check the specification data by the manufacturer to have an estimate of how long the light will last.

Be careful not to overlook the maximum light intensity while focusing on the maximum run time.

Weight and Size

When going for a car-camping excursion, the weight and size of the lantern do not matter. However, if you plan on backpacking, these two are critical factors. LED lamps are a better choice if you’re looking for something compact and modern for camping.

Source of Energy

The source of energy is a significant factor for campers. Some prefer a traditional setting for their sites while others wouldn’t care about the setup as long as they’re in a comfortable tent. You can choose to have a fuel-lit lantern if you love to recreate the old way of camping. But if you’d instead go for something more modern, you can opt for a model that runs on lithium-ion batteries.

Ease of Use

A lantern should be easy to use when you need lighting fast. You won’t have time to fumble with buttons when you need to get around the camp. Find one that can balance on rocks or be handed overhead.


Durability is a critical factor if you’re a frequent backpacker. The design should be able to withstand harsh conditions. Check to see if your preferred lantern has fragile extraneous parts. The material also plays a role in determining how long the light lasts.

Propane vs. LED Lantern? Which is better?

One of the decisions most people struggle with is whether to go for gas or a battery-powered lantern. Fuel-lit lanterns mean that you can use the same fuel to cook food and provide more powerful light, but they are heavy. Electric lamps are light although they do not offer as much light as compared to their counterpart.

It’s essential to understand that both electric light lanterns and gas light lanterns have their advantages and disadvantages.

Pros of Gas Lanterns

  • Light up for a long time
  • Provide powerful light
  • Come in different sizes and shapes

Cons of Gas Lanterns

  • Heavy and bulky
  • Can’t be used in enclosed areas

Pros of Electric Lanterns

  • Readily available and are powered by conventional batteries
  • A cheaper option than gas light lanterns
  • Can be used in confined spots

Cons of Electric Lanterns

  • Often need a battery recharge
  • Do not provide an intense light as compared to gas lanterns

Although the advantages and disadvantages should play a role in your choice, there are other vital factors you need to consider. The cost to operate the lamp is a consideration. Determine how many batteries you’ll need to buy when running an electric light. A gas lantern will need extra fuel if you plan on spending more time in the wilderness.

A gas lantern is likely to be more expensive than a battery-powered lantern. However, these lamps produce more light, and you can use the fuel for other purposes. Gas lanterns are heavier than battery-operated lanterns.

Also, fuel-burning lanterns depend on cloth mantles to provide the glow that makes them work. You’ll need to carry more cloaks for your trip if you need a replacement. Electric lanterns are small and will fit in your backpack, but gas lanterns are bulkier and add weight to your bag.

These are some of the critical factors to evaluate when deciding on whether to use propane or LED lantern. Think of the lumen output, light intensity, and the power source and you’ll make the best decision on a lamp that meets your needs.

Image courtesy of Michael Dorausch via CC BY-SA 2.0

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