A portable light source for camping or when SHTF: The 8 best lanterns for your bug-out bag
By Darnel Fernandez // Oct 13, 2019

Emergencies can happen anytime, often when you least expect them. Once disaster strikes, finding yourself walking around in the dark can mean injury or even death. For this reason, personal lighting is essential in any prepper's arsenal. You won't ever find one without a flashlight or headlamp on hand.


Lanterns have, unfortunately, fallen in popularity compared to other sources of personal lighting. They are often described as big, bulky and too fragile to fit in anyone's bug-out kit. However, with proper care, a good lantern can provide you with sufficient light to help you survive out in the dark. (h/t to SurvivalSullivan.com)

An underrated light source

What makes lanterns unique compared to other lighting is that it emits light 360 degrees around the lantern, covering much more area than a flashlight or headlamp. One could argue that candles work similarly, but the light emitted is significantly weaker, not to mention candles are a fire hazard.

Another useful thing about lanterns is that they're usually a "set it and forget it" type of lighting. You can rest them upright or hang them somewhere without the need to adjust or reposition the aim. In addition, lanterns are usually fuel-efficient, giving more light for more time without the need to constantly refuel or replace the battery.

There are all kinds of lanterns that use different kinds of fuel. Here are some of them:

  • Candle-burning lanterns. These use single or multiple candles to provide light and make heavy use of internal reflectors. While silent, they emit very little light and are a potential fire hazard.
  • Liquid-fuel lanterns. From kerosene to oil, these fuel lamps emit very bright light, but are often very heavy and could generate harmful gasses from burning fuel.
  • Battery-powered lanterns. The modern choice of the bunch, these lanterns produce no heat and pose no atmospheric hazard. They use batteries for power instead of burning anything.

Choosing the lantern that will serve you best depends on your situation and available resources.

Brighten up your BOB

While the lanterns mentioned above have their own uses, the battery-powered version gives the most bang for your buck when it comes to bug-out bags (BOBs). They are very easy and safe to use and store. Also, they are generally compact in size and need a few sets of spare batteries, saving you plenty of space. (Related: Is your bug-out bag getting heavy? Reconsider these 9 items.)

Here are eight battery-powered lanterns to consider adding to your BOB:

  1. Streamlight The Siege Lantern. This rugged, waterproof lantern has a polycarbonate cover that provides a soft light distribution without impairing vision in close quarters. It can last 30 hours on the brightest setting and a whopping 295 hours when set on low. It can even shift to a red LED mode for SOS emergency signaling.
  2. Streamlight The Siege AA Lantern. The wonders of the Siege lantern all bundled up in a frame the size of a soft drink can. This lantern uses AA batteries rather than the harder-to-find D cell batteries used in the bigger one. It can even float. This version makes it easier to pack inside a BOB instead of strapping it on the outside.
  3. Black Diamond Moji Lantern. A dream come true for those who value space and minimalism. This lantern is small enough to fit inside your pocket while emitting a comfortable 100 lumens.
  4. Coleman Quad Lantern. The largest in the list, this lantern is actually four lanterns in one. Each panel is detachable and can be hung in different places to spread the light around.
  5. Coleman Micro Packer Lantern. This Coleman entry is the complete opposite of its bigger brother. It combines both versatility and compactness in a water-resistant lantern that only weighs six ounces.
  6. Princeton Helix Basecamp Rechargeable Lantern. This lantern sports a 250-lumen output that can be dimmed to any amount of light required. As seen in the name, this rechargeable lantern actually allows you to recharge other USB devices like phones and GPS.
  7. Black Diamond Apollo Lantern. Ever wanted to have a tiny rocket? This whimsically designed lantern expands on the Moji's design philosophy on maximum output in the smallest package. It emits 225 lumens that can be dimmed down to as low as 10. It also features "landing legs" that can be used as a tripod for elevation.
  8. Rayovac Sportsman Lantern. Simple, but effective. The Sportsman lantern emits a decent 240 lumens that can run consistently for as long as 40 hours. It sports a durable coating of rubber armor, making it one of the more durable options of the bunch.

Having decent area lighting at a push of a button can be important in any survival situation. If these lanterns aren't catching your attention, check out SurvivalGear.news for the latest models and other types of gear fit for survival.

Sources include: 

SurvivalSullivan.com 1

SurvivalSullivan.com 2

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