On a quest to find the best solar powered lights for your next camping trip or backcountry backpacking adventure? From solar powered lanterns to LED lights and from string lights to fairy lights, today, we’re sharing a few of our favourite ways to light up the night without plugging into the grid.
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 into 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.
1. SolarPuff from Solight Designs
The brain child 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 is also rechargeable; it’s lithium-ion battery is easily recharged 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 it’s highest setting, enough to light a 10’ by 10’ campsite and provide enough light for late night reading before you hit the sleeping bag.
2. BioLite PowerLight Bundle Lantern & String Lights Kit
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 favourite 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.
3. Survival Frog Solar Air Lantern Survival Frog
Perfect for long hiking trips, the Solar Air Lantern from Survival Frog weighs just 4 ounces. When you first pull this lantern out of the pack, you might mistake it for a toy. It even inflates just like a toy beach ball. However, once inflated, it becomes a full-fledged LED camping lantern.
When fully charged, the 10 super bright LED lights in the Solar Air Lantern will yield 6 to 12 hours of warm, welcoming light. You can adjust the brightness mode to low or bright. The Solar Air Lantern also doubles as an emergency light when switched to strobe/emergency flasher mode.
The Solar Air Lantern has a handle on each side which you can use to hang the lanterns around your campsite. You can also use the handles to attach the Solar Air Lantern to your backpack so it can charge while you’re on the move.
4. SUAOKI LED Camping Solar Lantern
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.
5. Goal Zero Torch 250 Flashlight
This multi-functional camping light is one of the most versatile solar lights on the market. With three different charging methods – a hand crank, USB connection, and a built-in solar panel – you’ll never have to purchase replacement batteries. The USB port even offers 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 250 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.
6. MPOWERD Luci Solar String Lights
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.
7. Streamlight 44947 Siege
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.
Recharging Your Solar Powered Camping Lights
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 back-up option.
However, because they are lightweight and rechargeable, these solar powered camping lights make a great addition to your camping gear.