Lights at camp


Super Active Member
Jul 17, 2014
I camped for years with nothing more to illuminate the night than a headlamp or flashlight, and sometimes a butane backpacking lantern. But I understand that we have PUPs so that we can enjoy a few more amenities than a backpacker would bring along.

The porch light on your PUP can provide illumination if the trailer is adjacent to the main camping area. I replaced mine with LED so that it consumes very little power. But for me my biggest complaint with the porch light is that it's mounted on the trailer box and not on the side of the roof, so it's too low to even illuminate the bbq grill when I'm caught cooking after dark (which is pretty common for me).

A propane lantern works quite well, and can easily be suspended from a nearby tree, an awning frame, or set on a picnic table to blind everyone while they're eating dinner. Propane, or white gas both work well, though I'm not sure you can even buy white gas lanterns anymore. Double-mantle lanterns will consume twice as much fuel, but will provide considerably more light. I'm ok with single mantle, but everyone's different.

I have an LED lantern with a little solar panel on top. It's not as bright as a single-mantle lantern, but it's close. And good enough that usually it's all I bring along. I don't tend to bother with fuel-burning lanterns anymore.

Rope lights will be a much less intense light, but are often adequate. But they consume enough power that you'll want to only use them when plugged into Shore Power.

Another option that people haven't really mentioned (and that I haven't tried using, but can see where it might work out fine) is low voltage LED landscape lighting. Those come in a variety of form factors, and it would be pretty easy to rig them into your existing 12v system.


Super Active Member
Mar 23, 2016
King George, Virginia
As for running lights through the trees, that could cause problems with the neighbors.

I was surprised on how the light being reflected back to the ground was not a problem... In my case here it was beamed up directly into the leaves in the trees and the result was a very mellow reflections back straight down to my camp site... No strong beams of light being reflected back.

I even went to the close by sites and didn't see anything out of the ordinary... The tree cover at CLOUDLAND CANYON at Trenton GA exit off of I59 where the Desk Lamp was pointing straight up hit the leaf barrier just 15-feet or so above the trailer...

Give it a try sometime...

I am very much aware of not bothering fellow campers - just thought I would pass that along as providing some mellow light directly above your camp site...

Of couse all lights out at 10PM or established quiet hours...

Roy Ken


Super Active Member
Gold Supporting Member
Jun 5, 2014
Franklin, MA
OK. You want more light. Instead of counseling you on why you don't need more light. Let me ask.
How do you want to power the new light? batteries (rechargeable, D-cells etc), 12V from the camper, 120V.
Are you looking for 1 central light or a couple lights to place around your site?
Do you want them to stand alone or attach them to trees?


Super Active Member
Nov 7, 2013
I see seasonal campers that have solar ground lighting around their paths. Those would work pretty good and shut off by themselves when they run out of power. We just stumble around our campsite with flashlights. We usually have a large fire. You can't beat a propane lantern for light .


Super Active Member
Platinum Supporting Member
Dec 26, 2009
Albuquerque, NM
For years, our main outdoor light in camp was a Coleman lantern. We adjust the light level depending on whether we're reading or just chatting. We also have the reflector, so it doesn't bother other campsites, and reflects the light back into ours. We have two (one white gas, the other propane) but don't use them much anymore. LED lanterns have pretty much replaced them. We have a Black Diamond one, plus a light bar and a lantern that plug into the Goal Zero Yeti 150 (free standing battery). I pulled the Goal Zero ones out the other night, but they were actually too much light, we ended up sitting and watching the stars (we saw several shooting stars) without light in the sitting area.
We have a battery powered set of LED (tiny) lights, which would be great for low level lighting; I meant to take them on this trip but they got left home. We seldom have power, so rope lighting isn't practical for us. If we did use them, it would be either red or blue so it doesn't ruin night sight as much, and low level, at least in a sitting area. Even with our old eyes, most of the time we can manage walking in the site without extra light - however that depends a lot on tree cover and moonlight. The lower the light level is in the sitting area, the less adapting it takes to walk out of that area in the site. We still use flashlights in may cases when we venture out, just because we camp in areas with obstacles that can hurt in various ways (cactus, rocks, roots) and wildlife (snakes warming themselves on blacktop, skunks, bear, etc).
Our bottle of solar powered, multi color, lights works very well to light the camper step. I move it at times, if I need to mark something else.
For walking, I don't like a headlamp, nor do I like to walk near someone wearing one. I learned to use a flashlight pointed at the ground in front of me, since we had a cabin in the woods (with a toilet out behind it). The light from headlamps messes up my night sight more than the spot on the ground, and most people don't have a red filter on them. DH and the friends we were camping with this weekend do use headlamps to walk with at times, but I realized they were also using them in hand, to light the ground. (Headlamps are great for task lighting, as long as one remembers not to look at anyone else.)
At the AZ SP we were in last week, there were many RVs, pups, canopies, and tents with LED lights, rope lights, and even (under vehicles) LED work lights. Depending on the aim light level, and color, some made walking, even with my flashlight, more difficult. Some were aimed well. The site we had was oriented so that we could face away from camp and town lights well enough to see the stars. [Our friends came up with what seems to be a workable theory for some of the rope and work lights. The host sites were the ones with lights under trucks, and often all around the underside of the RVs. It is pack rat territory, so our friends decided the lights are meant to be a deterrent, since the hosts are parked for a long while.]


Active Member
Aug 4, 2009
I'll go ahead and start by saying that no one is going to like this post. I use a 2 gallon bucket light I hang from a tree. I have a low wattage CFL bulb and leave it hanging as low as I can. This last trip over thanksgiving it was about 7 feet high. It works great for the little ones to see while out side. I looked around while on a trip to the bath house and it was less light than some others had with lights around their canopy or awning. It stayed on until we went inside to get ready for bed. No one complained, even the people that were next to us that got into the car at 7pm to go to sleep.


Super Active Member
Aug 8, 2015
My camper has a 12V socket on the exterior - same as the 1/4" headphone type socket inside on the ceiling lights. I bought an extension cable and hang a spare light on the center awning rafter pole. Lights up the awning area very well when I am cooking. I turn it off and will use the porch light sometimes in the evenings.

Most sites have a lantern pole. These days I rarely make use of the picnic table as most of my camping seems to take place in the hotter days of summer, so I prefer to eat inside with the AC. However, when needed I will hang a white gas or propane Coleman style lantern on the pole - usually provides plenty of area light.

I also have an LED lantern - a UST 30-day lantern that runs off 3 D size batteries. Adjustable output, and lasts for a long time. It has an added benefit that you can remove the globe and hang it upside down with the light pointing down.

You can also get some tree chains for lanterns. I have a couple and if needed I will run them on some trees, making sure there are no branches/flammable areas directly above the lantern, and hang a Coleman lantern there. Doing this I can get pretty decent light coverage. Most of the time I will have them running at a lower output unless I am actively eating or cooking. No need to light up the campsite like daytime.

I do have some ropelight for the canopy that works well, but I rarely use the canopy these days. In my tent camping days I would string up some xmas lights and that worked quite well, as long as you use the white ones. Colored lights don't provide as great of illumination in a campsite.


Active Member
Jun 27, 2015
- Little Sun solar light

The solar lanterns are good for lighting up sections of the campsite well enough to avoid tripping over or running into something, without being overly bright. You'd need several of those to light an entire campsite. I think the Luci light would be the better good candidate if you want to use lanterns for that purpose. However, if you want to read a book or do some cooking the lantern needs to be no more than a few feet away.
The Luci solar light is what we use in the center of the picnic table. A few years ago I got them in multi-packs for Christmas gifts.


May 10, 2017
Reno, NV
This is what we use. You can get them at the dollar store for $1 each, go figure. Just get them in the sun during the day and place them around or near obstacles as evening approaches. They are not super bright which is nice, but they do light up obstacles and show you the way quite well. And they look neat too !



Super Active Member
Jan 27, 2013
To clarify- I'm not looking for stadium lighting while camping. We were stumbling due to complete darkness and with 3 small kids that will lead to injury. Headlamps are not sufficient bc I HATE staring into a headlamp during dinner, etc. they are fine when walking but who wants to wear a headlamp for 4 hours while having a conversation?

I'm asking for recommendations on soft lighting. Every single site this past weekend had some sort of brighter lantern, rope lights, spot light etc to provide soft light that was greater than lighting a 5in by 5in space. Our current lanterns take 3 just to illuminate a picnic table. The light doesn't even travel to the benches so I'm not being offensive.

I'm looking for soft lighting recommendations. i am really concern d for the safety of myself and my children in the pitch black.
We use a Ray O Vac Sportsman LED lantern. The D-cell batteries last a long time and 240 lumens is plenty of light.


Making Memories
Dec 15, 2012
Be a traditionalist and get a Dual Fuel Coleman Lantern . Burns unleaded fuel or camp fuel (Crown brand is $8.00 a gallon). You are getting nearly 800 lumens of bright blinding light that can be adjusted all the way down to a small romantic glow for those special one on one meals at the picnic table. They can be had right now for anywhere between $50 and 65.00 shipped. One tank of fuel will last up to 8 hours on high. One tank full is about a quart of fuel maybe a little more. You will find these are much cheaper to run in the long run than even LEDs . Any good LED lantern will take C or D batteries and have you priced them lately? I have a General Electric 4 D battery LED lantern from Costco. Side by side, you can't even tell it is on next to the Coleman. Not to mention the heat this thing can give off on those cold late night or early morning fishing trips down at the dock.

I ran into the exact problem. My camper's fairy lights and flashlights just were not cutting it. It was actually somewhat hazardous with the kids running around like mad men at camp and no lighting.

The Coleman is something you can pass down to your kids and grandkids as well. I love my Coleman and will always have one...or maybe more!


Super Active Member
Nov 21, 2015
Fort Worth, TX
4CCC21A6-83FC-4F27-A835-2DCAE45C76C5.jpeg now is the time to get led battery lights (“christmas”) for the door/ porch area. mine have a solar puck i put on roof.
i use plastic command hooks to hold up lights. hooks have been on exterior for 2 years.

i use the mini LED type lights inside & out. battery boxes have on/ off switch. pick a color!

on the ground i use a solar rope lights to mark walkways, wrap around tents etc. they dim out by morning. (harbor freight $15-20)

i have a collection of railroad lanterns, they burn ALL night on low. i have the 3ft shepherds hooks to hang them. i store them & the oil in a tall kitty litter plastic bucket.

plus the ancient the propane lantern / green tank. i replaced the glass with a 2 layer screen. i replace mantles every trip.

all my 12v lighting fits in one of those lovely square kl buckets .
even without electricity im not in the dark.


Active Member
Aug 30, 2014
One of my favorite subjects here!
We have a couple strings of led lights (search LED LIGHT STRIP MOD here) and heavy duty velcro that goes on the lip of the roof. One string of multi-colored and one string of white. Both have dimmers and can be both very bright and very dim. Pull the strip off and it stows in awning bag with awning. Multi-colored left on as red at night and quite dim for wife or night navigation. If no Shore Power, we also have a few of those HF give-away LED lights, a couple flashlights, and a Coleman Dual Fuel lantern.

Pretty much able to get along in just about any setting where limiting light is desired.


Super Active Member
Gold Supporting Member
Jun 5, 2014
Franklin, MA
With my strip, each LED is controllable. I have a lot of different modes, but the "porchlight" only lights the LEDs over the door. I can pick color and brightness. Typically I use dim yellow.


Active Member
May 5, 2015
Denver, Colorado
Wow, lets all try to be just a bit nicer everyone... I think it is a legitimate question. I use a string of led lights around my awning, have two sets... one is purple because the kids liked that color ...the other on is little Coleman Lanterns... provide nice ambient light around the pup. Every one should have a good headlamp, a good trick is to take one wrap it around a water jug and point it into the bottle makes a great lantern!


I speak fluent vise-grip
Mar 29, 2012
SE Georgia
Because I detest a bucket light, I try to treat the other campers as I would like to be treated. For that reason, I generally depend on the yellow porch light by our door as much as possible. When I have occasion to use a lantern in my campsite, I keep it low and after about 7:00 or 8:00, I usually turn it off completely and enjoy the firelight. If I have occasion to keep it on longer than that (reading or chatting), I try to hang it in the very highest point of my First-Up so it casts its light down into my site and is blocked from shining out into other sites. I alternately use a Coleman propane lantern or an LED with no reasoning behind the swap.
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Super Active Member
Nov 9, 2017
lights in camp can be a pretty touchy subject. When we go camping and take a telescope or two, we realized we need to avoid other campers. It is unreasonable to expect people to do without light. it is also considerate to pay attention to your light, where it shines, etc. A bright light can actually make it harder to see in some ways. obviously, different tasks can require different lights. Hopefully, as soon as the job is done, the light can be turned off or at least down.
on the topic of lights though, I ran across some amazing lights at Sams club yesterday. they are just beautiful and do put out some usable light. They are called solar mercury lights and I'll try to add a link.


Active Member
Jun 19, 2015
We use one large rechargeable Coleman lantern that has 3 light settings, also use it inside on nightlight setting at night. Besides that, flashlights and headlamps if we need to walk around. Turn on the amber light next to the door to see the entrance. One thing I'm considering is solar path lights may be even from dollar store to place next to the obstacles around my camp like sticking out rocks or poles so we don't stumble over.
We use this lantern as well its wicked and was $65 bucks.