One of the best things about camping is getting away from the light pollution of civilization and experiencing the natural beauty of the night sky. However, having a dependable way to light your campsite will help keep things fun and safe, even while you’re enjoying the great outdoors.
Although flashlights are a handy light source, many campers prefer the warm, comfortable glow of lantern light. Camping string lights are also a nice way to illuminate a campsite and can create a festive atmosphere.
Solar-powered camping lights offer several advantages over more traditional lights, especially when hiking in remote areas. These advantages include:
- Not having to pack extra batteries. (This is particularly important for hikers since AA batteries can feel like they weigh a ton in your backpack.)
- No toxic fumes from kerosene or other fuel sources.
- No risk of fire.
- Being kind to the environment. Solar lights are environmentally friendly.
Thanks to major advancements in technology, today’s solar-powered camping lights are more compact, lightweight, and reliable than they were even a few short years ago. With so many products flooding the market, choosing the right solar lights for your next outdoor adventure may seem challenging.
Here are some of our favorite ways to light up the night without plugging into the grid. Whether you enjoy backpacking into remote wilderness areas or car camping with the kids, these are some cool, reliable, earth-friendly models to consider for your next outdoor vacation.
The brainchild of Alice Min Soo Chun, the SolarPuff was originally designed for disaster relief. The company also uses a portion of sales to help distribute lanterns to communities in need.
Inspired by Japanese origami, the SolarPuff’s collapsible design folds flat and pops open to form a stylish cube. Portable and lightweight, this camping light is perfect for hiking and weighs only 2.3 ounces.
The SolarPuff has a lithium-ion battery re-charged by a thin solar panel. It only takes about 4 hours to charge completely and provides 8-10 hours of battery life.
The solar-charged batteries power 10 LED lights. It comes in bright white or warm white options and emits 360 degrees of light. You get 90 lumens on its highest setting, enough to light a 10’ by 10’ campsite and provide enough light for late-night reading before you hit the sleeping bag.
BioLite is an exciting new company that focuses on developing off-grid energy products for both outdoor recreation and citizens in developing countries. Their products are affordable, durable, and harness the available energy that surrounds us.
The company has some amazing products that are ideal for camping, including camp stoves, headlamps, and a variety of camping lights. Our favorite is the PowerLight Bundle which features a dimmable 250-lumen flashlight, a 200-lumen lantern, and 2 SiteLights on a daisy chain for easy overhead lighting.
The system also has a built-in USB port that can be used as a phone charger or to re-energize other essential electronics.
BioLite also donates a portion of every sale to provide clean cooking and energy to impoverished families in India and sub-Saharan Africa.
This solar camping light is packed with features that make it perfect for camping and hiking. It is compact, lightweight, collapsible, powered by solar energy, and even has a USB port so you can use it to charge your phone.
When collapsed, the SUAOKI Solar Lantern clips easily to your pack. It also has impressive water resistance, so you don’t have to worry if you get caught in a downpour. The SUAOKI Solar Lantern is surprisingly affordable, so there’s no reason you shouldn’t buy several to hang around your campsite.
This multi-functional camping light is one of the most versatile solar lights on the market. With two different charging methods – a USB connection, and a built-in solar panel – you’ll never have to purchase replacement batteries. The USB port even offers a two-way connection so you charge your phone even when you’re miles from civilization. Just don’t expect your electronic devices to charge as quickly as they would at home.
The Goal Zero Torch 500 also offers several lighting options. Depending on your lighting needs you can choose to use it as a flood light, spot beam, flashlight, or lantern. It even features a red-light mode in case you need softer lighting to help young campers fall asleep.
If you want to give your campsite a festive party vibe, we highly recommend the MPOWERD Luci Solar String Lights. These string lights feature 20 individual LEDs that store neatly inside a compact compartment. The compartment is topped with a built-in solar panel and a flashlight. A simple button lets you switch between the flashlight and string lights for maximum versatility.
These solar string lights have a high water resistance rating, so you don’t have to worry about leaving them outside in the rain. These lights also feature a two-way USB port you can use to charge your smartphone. You can also use the two-way port to recharge the lights themselves if you’re in a hurry.
Although this solar-powered lantern is a bit on the pricey side, we can’t say enough good things about it. It is one of the most durable lights on our list, and its shockproof design is built for serious outdoor use. It has a high water resistance rating, super-bright C4 LED lamps, and a high-capacity rechargeable lithium-ion battery It also features six output modes and comes with a two-year manufacturer’s warranty.
While some of these camping lights include alternate charging methods, they are really designed to be powered by the sun. Solar power technology allows these devices to transfer energy from the sun into stored energy for later use. Obviously, this means these devices need sun exposure to properly charge. Light must pass through the solar panels to charge the battery.
You will need to make sure your solar lights receive plenty of exposure to bright sunlight, so they can properly function after dark. If you are hiking, choose a model you can attach to the outside of your backpack, so it can charge as you go.
When it is rainy or cloudy (especially for multiple days in a row), your solar lights will still charge. However, it may take longer and your batteries may not charge fully. For this reason, it is always a good idea to have a backup option.
However, because they are lightweight and rechargeable, these solar-powered camping lights make a great addition to your camping gear.