The best Coleman lantern

Allen Foster

Whether you are using a gas lantern or a battery-powered lantern, before each trip it is important to make sure that you have enough fuel or batteries to last the entire outing.

One of the most important items to take with you when you go camping is a source of light. Once the sun goes down, if you have no light, you will be drastically limited in what you can do.

Coleman’s first gas-powered lantern debuted in 1900, and the company has been improving on that design for over 120 years. The Coleman Deluxe Propane Lantern is capable of producing 1,000 lumens and the fuel can last for over seven hours on the high setting, making it a solid choice for a weekend excursion.

Gas vs. battery-powered lanterns

When shopping for a Coleman lantern, the first decision you need to make is whether you’d like a gas lantern or a battery-powered LED lantern.

Gas lanterns

A Coleman gas lantern requires some sort of fuel to burn. By far the most popular type of fuel is propane, but you can also get Coleman lanterns that burn kerosene or unleaded gasoline.

Benefits: A gas lantern will burn bright enough to illuminate your entire camping area. It is a warm, pleasant light that can be easily adjusted to diminish or increase the brightness.

Concerns: While gas lanterns excel in performance, they also have a few safety concerns. Gas lanterns are heavier, hot to the touch and operate with an actual flame. They create a hissing sound when in use and emit toxic fumes, making them an unsafe choice to use in a tent.

Battery-powered lanterns

A Coleman battery-powered lantern may be powered by either a single-use or a rechargeable battery.

Benefits: A battery-powered LED lantern is safe to use inside a tent as well as around children and animals. Most models have an impressive battery life and offer a range of brightness settings. Battery-powered Coleman lanterns are compact and lightweight, making them easy to transport. Some models feature a built-in USB port so you can recharge your devices.

Concerns: An LED lantern produces a harsher light than a gas lantern, and there is the long-term cost of replacing non-rechargeable batteries. If your rechargeable battery runs out while camping, you will need access to a power source to recharge it. If you are camping in the winter, alkaline batteries do not perform as well in the cold, and some may even burst.

Coleman lantern features


Brightness is measured in lumens. If you want to read, 100 lumens should be fine. To light up a two-person tent, 200 lumens should be sufficient. For a small group you may need as much as 600 lumens, and for a small campsite 1,000 lumens will be plenty. It is better to purchase a lantern that is too bright as the brightness can always be turned down. A lantern that is too dim will never be bright enough.


The range of a lantern is how far the light will travel. This range can be anywhere from a few feet for a kid’s lantern to as much as 75 feet for a top-of-the-line model, but it will be decisively dimmer as you reach the outer limits of that range.

Burn time/battery life

The burn time or battery life of your lantern is how long it will last. While propane and rechargeable batteries may only last long enough to provide illumination for one or two nights at most, depending on the brightness of the setting, battery-powered lanterns may last for several nights.

Size and weight

Whenever you are camping, the size and weight of your gear is a concern – the larger and heavier the items are, the less you can take with you. In general, battery-powered Coleman lanterns are lighter in weight and more compact in size, making them a better option than gas lanterns for those who have to hike to their campsites.

Coleman lantern cost

The price of a Coleman lantern can range from as low as $20 to as much as $100. However, it is important to also factor in fuel or batteries when calculating the total cost since these items are not included with the purchase of your Coleman lantern.

Coleman lantern FAQ

Can I use a Coleman gas lantern indoors?

A. Due to the dangers of carbon monoxide emissions, any lantern that uses liquid fuel or propane can only be used outdoors in well-ventilated areas. Additionally, these areas must be clear of combustible materials and the lantern should be placed on a stable surface to reduce the risk of tipping.

Should I clean my Coleman lantern?

A. Definitely. A clean lantern shines brighter. Whenever the performance of your lantern begins to diminish due to dirt, take a moment to clean the lantern. To do this, simply wipe down your lantern with warm water and a dab of dishwashing soap. Allow the lantern to completely dry before storing.

Best of the best Coleman lantern

Coleman Deluxe Propane Lantern: available at Amazon, Dick’s Sporting Goods (with case) and Wayfair (with case)

Our take: This lantern not only offers the brightest light, but it casts that light the farthest distance of any Coleman lantern – up to 75 feet.

What we like: When used on high, this lantern provides 1,000 lumens and can last up to 7.5 hours on one 16.4-ounce propane cylinder. The built-in pressure regulator ensures consistent performance, and the lantern comes with a three-year warranty.

What we dislike: While this is the most powerful offering from Coleman, it is a propane lantern, which means there are safety concerns.

Best bang for your buck Coleman lantern

Coleman LED Lantern: available at Amazon

Our take: This personal-size lantern is highly affordable, and it casts more than an adequate amount of light for individual use.

What we like: This model is capable of providing up to 400 lumens for 30 hours. When set to low, the lantern can last up to 70 hours. It is designed to be able to handle light rain and features a handle for hanging. The LED never needs replacing, and the lantern runs cool to the touch.

What we dislike: While this is a quality lantern, some users were surprised that it was only 10 inches tall.

Honorable mention Coleman lantern

Coleman Multi-Panel LED Lantern: available at Amazon, Backcountry, Dick’s Sporting Goods and Kohl’s

Our take: With its cleverly designed, removable light panels and USB charging port, this is a highly versatile camping lantern

What we like: This four-panel lantern can be used as is for an 800-lumen experience or each of the four panels can be removed to provide 100 lumens of lighting power. The individual light panels are magnetized, and the lantern has a fold-down handle that doubles as a stand. It can endure light rain.

What we dislike: This product runs on single-use D batteries, which increases the long-term cost.

Allen Foster is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money.

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