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Which propane lantern is best?

Whether your idea of roughing it is a tent pitched in the backyard or a lean-to shelter deep in the backwoods, when the sun goes down, you’ll need some light. The best propane lantern provides long-lasting light right when you need it and is ready for wherever your adventures take you.

The Coleman QuickPack Deluxe Propane Lantern provides steady light for both small areas and large campsites. It’s easy to attach to its own 1-pound propane tank and is great for car camping trips both long and short.

What to know before you buy a propane lantern

Intended use

Propane lanterns come in a wide variety of fuel capacities. It’s important to consider your intended use when shopping for a new one. The rate of fuel usage will depend on how high you turn the light, how many mantles it’s illuminating and how efficiently it’s designed.

The majority of propane lanterns for camping, hiking and hunting will fit on a small propane cylinder, but some can be hooked to larger propane tanks, too. How long each of these lasts depends on how much you use the lantern.


Brightness is measured in lumens, with higher numbers indicating a brighter lantern. Lanterns designed to illuminate an entire campsite might need to be 1,500 lumens or more, but most campers and hunters can get away with 1,000 lumens — about the brightness of a 60-watt light bulb. 

Single- vs. double-mantle lanterns

One deciding factor in brightness is the number of mantles in the lantern. Lanterns come with one or two mantles, and double mantles mean extra brightness. Mantles are made of mesh fabric that is mixed with metal. The flame is produced by lighting the propane, and the mantles — which resemble tiny socks — contain and protect that flame while providing light.

Regardless of the number of mantles your propane lantern has, you’ll need to carry spare mantles in case one burns out or is not usable.

What to look for in a quality propane lantern

Compact features

Many propane lanterns are compact, small but mighty providers of light in the darkness. Even full-size lanterns can be broken down, detached from the base for easy packing. The smallest lanterns can be broken down to a height of around 6 inches, but most lanterns measure around 12 inches tall.

Some people opt for a lantern that is directly attached to the top of a 1-pound propane cylinder. The cylinder provides the stable base of the lantern and the fuel source all in one. If space is a concern, this is a good option, and you can detach the propane cylinder and use it for other camping gear when you don’t need your lantern.

Matchless lighting 

Some double mantle lanterns can be tricky to light, but the best propane lanterns utilize matchless lighting. This technology is similar to the way you light a gas barbecue — open the fuel source and press the ignition button. 

Easy fuel attachment

Struggling with adding fuel or attaching a fuel source is the last thing you want to be doing when darkness falls. Look for lanterns that come in sizes standard to propane tanks and lines or that come with their own fuel source provided.

Shatterproof glass

Lanterns can take a beating, both en route to the site and during the normal course of use. The glass globe should be shatterproof and resist cracks and nicks.

How much you can expect to spend on a propane lantern

Expect to spend $20-$60 on the lantern and an extra $6-$7 per mantle (these can also be bought in larger quantities for a reduced price).

Propane lantern FAQ

How long do mantles last?

A. There is no definitive answer to this question. Much of this depends on how often you use the lantern, for how long and at what brightness. Obviously, with rigorous use turned up all the way, your mantles will deteriorate and need to be replaced.

In general, a mantle lasts anywhere from one month to one year. Before heading out on a trip, check your mantles to see if they are torn or have holes. If they do, it’s time to replace them. 

Are propane lanterns safe for indoor use?

A. No. Using propane indoors on any appliance is not recommended. Burning propane emits carbon monoxide that can be deadly. While it’s perfectly safe outside, never burn a propane lantern indoors or in a tent or RV.

What’s the best propane lantern to buy?

Top propane lantern

Coleman QuickPack Deluxe Propane Lantern

Coleman QuickPack Deluxe Propane Lantern

What you need to know: This lantern (and its light) are durable and long-lasting.

What you’ll love: PerfectFlow technology keeps the fuel steady and light consistent regardless of the weather. It has two mantles, lights easily with matches and features adjustable brightness. 

What you should consider: It’s a smaller lantern and can be misplaced in the darkness.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Top propane lantern for the money

Docooler Mini Portable Camping Lantern

Docooler Mini Portable Camping Lantern

What you need to know: It offers incredible illumination in a tiny, portable package.

What you’ll love: The aluminum and nickel alloy of the lamp body is durable and light. The lamp is shatterproof for safety, and this lantern can be hung by a lightweight chain.

What you should consider: You cannot use this lantern on a stand. It only hangs.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Worth checking out

Coleman NorthStar Propane Lantern

Coleman NorthStar Propane Lantern

What you need to know: This lantern is perfect when you need light in a large area.

What you’ll love: A propane tank screws directly onto the lantern globe. InstaStart ignition does not require matches to bathe your entire campsite in far-reaching, bright light. The base folds for easy storage. The lid has ventilation and the metal parts of this lantern are sturdy.

What you should consider: Creating this bright light requires lots of fuel. Pack extra propane.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon and Dick’s Sporting Goods

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Suzannah Kolbeck writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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