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There are so many great camping light ideas besides a standard headlamp or flashlight. Whether you’re looking for something battery powered, solar, or you have a power source, there are tons of lighting solutions to fit your personal preference.
Consider your preferred and available power source (solar, battery, gas, or plug-in) as well as your desired ambiance to choose one or more of the best campsite lighting ideas for you!
Camping Light Ideas At a Glance
- Battery Powered String Lights
- Headlamp into a gallon of water
- Candle Lantern
- Solar Powered Rocks
- Glow Sticks
- Wind Up Lights
- Flashlight Lantern
- Propane Lantern
- Tiki Torches
- Table Tiki Torches
- Battery Operated Christmas Lights
- Rechargeable Work Lights
- Luci Inflatable Light
- Tea Candles in Mason Jars
- LED Strip Lighting (requires power source)
- LED Copper Lights (requires power source)
- Work Lights (requires power source)
No Electrical Outlet Needed
1. Battery Powered String Lights
What a wonderful way to add a festive, decorative feel to your campsite! These are sometimes called fairy lights but the best part is that they are completely battery powered! They also come with a remote control, can be put on a timer, and have 8 different modes for brightness. They claim to be waterproof but I think they’re better thought of as water resistant.
2. Headlamp into a gallon of water
Combining two items that you might already have, simply strapping your headlamp onto a full gallon of water provides ambient lighting for the whole tent or campsite. Use a water bottle if you don’t have a gallon jug for a mini version.
3. Candle Lantern
No batteries, no gas, small, lightweight…what’s not to love? This is one of the best light options for a natural ambiance when choosing camp lighting.
4. Solar Powered Rocks
Want a light that blends into your natural settings? These Duracell solar-powered rock lights are weatherproof and can provide up to 6 hours of light at 30 lumens. They also come with one battery in case you didn’t get a good charge from the mini solar panel during the day.
5. Glow Sticks
If you don’t want to deal with light bulbs, glow sticks are a great way to add a bit of fun to your campsite! I love the glow coming from these sticks and that’s why they are one of my favorite camping light ideas.
6. Wind Up Lights
How about knowing your battery will never run out? There are tons of options for wind up lights. Pictured here is the Thorfire LED Camping Lantern and Flashlight which can be lit by winding but also contains a USB-rechargeable battery.
7. Flashlight Lantern
This is an LED lantern and flashlight that is battery operated. The best part is that they come in a two pack! Another great option is this rechargeable lantern.
8. Propane Lantern
Gas lanterns are a reliable light source when you don’t want to deal with AAA batteries or electrical power sources. Just don’t run it in an enclosed area like a tent as they can emit carbon monoxide, which is toxic. It’s best to keep these on the picnic table outside the tent but this is one the most common camping light ideas for many campers.
9. Tiki Torches
With flickering light from a real flame, the campsite will feel more naturally lit than with lanterns and flashlights. These torches are easy to transport and easy to set up: one of my favorite camping light ideas! Set them up every few yards if you have a long way to walk between the campfire and your tent.
10. Table Tiki Torches
Made of textured, molded glass, these candles come in a pack of three different colors to provide light all across the camping table.
11. Battery Operated Christmas Lights
How about adding a little color to your campsite? Some battery powered, multi-colored Christmas lights just might do the trick. These lights run on AA batteries and are waterproof…great for camping!
12. Rechargeable Work Lights
These lights are flexible and rechargeable by USB, making them super convenient. They are built to be functional, as they are work lights, rather than provide a nice ambiance.
13. Luci Inflatable Light
This light is one of the most convenient solar lights to bring with you. It is an inflatable lantern so it’s super convenient to pack up! It’s also one of the most convenient solar powered lanterns so no fussing with batteries.
14. Tea Candles in a Mason Jar
Small candles are fine on their own but present a fire hazard. Just drop these into a mason jar for a portable little lantern that provides great ambiance! Use small citronella candles for the added bonus of keeping mosquitoes away.
Powered by Car or USB
Above you can find many options that don’t require a power source but if you are camping with your car or RV, lighting options are limitless. Many campsites provide power but make sure there is a standard plug (like in your home) because many campsites only provide plugs that fit RVs.
Another other great option is to use your vehicle to provide power for your camping light ideas.
If you don’t have power at the campsite, you can buy products that plug into the power adapter or cigarette lighter on your car, or you can get a power adapter to power everything.
A Few Recommended Products for Car Camping
I bought this car power adapter a few years ago and it was a game changer. I now can blow up our camping air mattress without a pump, we charge phones from it (much faster than most USB adapters), and power our LED string lights.
Must have: if you’re going to use this power adapter, you’re going to want an extension cord to go with it. Otherwise, you’ll be limited to being near the car.
Just make sure you don’t let your car battery go dead! Run your car for a few minutes every now and then to recharge your battery.
Pro tip: If you’re going to use a power source as your main source of lighting, I recommend bringing at least one headlamp or flashlight for getting to bed or for going pee in the night.
15. LED Strip Lighting
These strip lights (or rope lights) come in many different colors or standard white lights and are easy to string around trees or even drape the light strips on top of your tent for a cool lighting effect inside.
16. LED Copper Lights
These LED lights are a string of lights connected with copper wire which makes them easy to hang up anywhere around your campsite and camping tent. These are a good idea for your next camping trip.
17. Work Lights
If you’re worried about having enough light, some work lights are the best way to illuminate the entire camping ground. These are very bright lights and you’ll have no trouble seeing everything around your campsite.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are the best lights for camping?
Headlamps are typically the favorite choice for most campers because you get light anywhere you look without using your hands. Another great option are lanterns which can be propane powered or battery powered.
How do you power lights when camping?
Most people use battery powered lights like headlamps when camping, but other options include propane lanterns, candle lanterns, rechargeable lights, or wind-up lights. If you are camping with your car, you can get an adapter to plug electric lights in.
How can I camp without electricity?
Use battery powered lights and charge your devices like your phone before going. You can get a power bank for recharging. Going without electricity is probably easier than you think and you might even enjoy it.
How can I charge my phone while camping?
You can get a rechargeable power bank that will allow you to recharge your phone once or more (depending on the capacity) while camping. If you are camping with your car, you can get an adapter to charge your phone using the car battery.
How many lumens do I need camping?
You don’t need many lumens when camping. In fact, too bright of a light will be annoying to other campers. Headlamps come in as little as 4 lumens which is enough to see about 9 feet and some headlamps go as high as 175 lumens which is annoyingly bright to people you are camping with. Lanterns should have significantly more light output as the light is scattered rather than focused. A good lantern should be 500-800 lumens.
There are tons of unique camping light ideas that are solar, battery, or propane powered. Alternatively you could get power from the campsite if you’re camping at an electric campsite that has the correct plug. Or you can power your lights with your car with the proper adapter. I have focused on camping light ideas that don’t require an electricity as these will be the most convenient for you.
Besides the power source, consider the ambiance and how much light or how little light you would like when choosing your camping light options.