Sleeping out under the stars is a fantastic way to enjoy the great outdoors. However, finding innovative campsite lighting ideas is essential if you don’t want to spend your entire camping trip feeling your way through the dark.
We know how important it is to have simple, functional lighting solutions for your campsite. Up next, we’ll introduce you to our 15 favorite camping lighting hacks to ensure that you can keep your tent and camping area well-lit, even if you’re far from the nearest outlet.
The 15 Best Campsite & Tent Lighting Ideas
1. Hang String Lights Up In Your Tent
A surprisingly simple, yet effective option for turning your tent into a cozy, well-lit shelter is to hang up string lights (a.k.a. fairy lights) on the inside.
Often, string lights provide just the right level of brightness without drowning your tent in blue light as you’re trying to get to sleep. They’re also highly packable and easy enough to set up without fear that they’ll damage your tent.
Depending on the type of string lights that you own, you may even be able to use them outside your tent, too. If you’re backpacking or trying to dry camp, you can even opt for a set of battery-powered string lights for maximum convenience.
If you’re keen to use string lights but don’t quite want to hang them up in a tent, you can always turn a roll of battery-powered lights into a mini lantern.
All you’ll need to do is to turn on the lights, place them in a translucent plastic water bottle or glass jar and then place the container on the ground in your tent. It’s as simple as that!
2. Try A Philips Hue Go Portable Dimming Light
For folks who are a bit more technically inclined, the Phillips Hue Go Portable Dimming Light is a solid choice for fully customizable lighting.
Although this light was originally developed to pair with voice-controlled technologies like Alexa or Google Assistant, it functions just as well on its own as a dimmable light source. Plus, you can control it directly from your phone using Bluetooth, so there’s no need for a hub or any bulky accessories.
With the Philips Hue Go, you can choose from thousands of different colors, including hundreds of shades of white. You can also set the light to “cozy candle” mode, which provides up to 18 hours of illumination without the need for charging the built-in battery.
3. Bring an LE LED Rechargeable Lantern
While gas-powered lanterns are one of the more traditional options for campsite illumination, battery-powered LED models are much more functional for use in the outdoors.
The LE LED Rechargeable Lantern provides a quick and easy way to light up an entire campsite. This model can pump out up to 1000 lumens of light, so it’s more than bright enough for illuminating a campsite if you don’t already have a roaring fire.
Moreover, LE’s lantern offers 4 different light modes and has a 12-hour battery life, which makes it a nice choice for longer camping trips. With a fully rechargeable battery that can also serve as a power bank, this lantern is also a versatile choice for general campsite and connectivity needs.
4. Convert Your Headlamp Into A Lantern
For a low-budget way to get just a little bit of extra light in your campsite, you can always convert your headlamp into a lantern.
This might sound complicated, but it’s really quite simple. All you need is a 1L water bottle (Nalgene bottles are best) and a headlamp with an elastic headband.
Once you have your supplies in hand, you simply need to place the bulb of the headlamp on the bottom of the water bottle with the light facing into the center of the bottle. Pull the elastic band around the water bottle and lie it flat across the lid to keep the headlamp secured in place.
Turn on the light and, voila! You have a headlamp lantern.
Need a visual guide to make your lantern? Check out this quick how-to video on how to make a lantern from your headlamp:
5. Opt For An MPOWERD Luci Solar Light
An eco-friendly way to illuminate your tent at night, the MPOWERD Luci Solar Light is an ideal option for car campers and backpackers, alike.
This little lamp is fully inflatable, so it collapses down to a small packed size when not in use. It also has an integrated solar panel that can be used to charge the built-in light or your smartphone via a USB.
Once the LUCI Light is fully charged, you can select from 4 different settings, including a strobe light or a high-powered mode with 150 lumens of light, to meet your illumination needs. Additionally, the light is waterproof rated to IP67, so it can be used in wet and rainy conditions wherever your adventures take you.
6. Use Battery-Powered Tea Lights For Ambiance
Tea lights are an absolute classic – and affordable – method for lighting up any space, but having a whole bunch of open flames sitting around your tent isn’t always the best idea.
Thankfully, there are plenty of great battery-powered tea lights out there that get the job done without all the inherent fire risk that comes with traditional candles. A set of battery-powered tea lights allows you to place a light source wherever you need it most while camping.
This pack, in particular, offers a fun flickering setting which provides the same cozy ambiance that we’ve come to know and love from an open flame. Each of these lights also comes with a battery that can last for over 100 hours of illumination. They’re also small and portable enough to pack on any camping trip, even if you’re backpacking in the mountains.
7. Line Your Tent Ceiling With Dimmable LED Light Strips
If you like the ease of use of string lights but want a light source with a little more upmf, a set of dimmable LED light strips might be a nice choice.
Like fairy lights, light strips can be hung up on the ceiling of your tent (or placed on the floor if you’re feeling fancy), to provide full-tent illumination at night. However, LED light strips pack more illumination per foot than string lights and are often brighter.
This set is also dimmable, which is perfect if you’re looking for a reading light at night. The entire light system is adjustable through a remote control, too, so you can adjust your light settings without getting out of bed.
8. Test Out A Book Light
Sometimes, you just want to curl up in your sleeping bag during winter night with a good book, but you don’t want to wake up your fellow tent mates by turning on your lantern. The good news is that a quality book light can provide just the right amount of lighting for reading without disrupting your friends and family.
Book lights, like this one from Hooga, allow you to direct your light source toward the pages of your book. This prevents any uncomfortable mishaps where you accidentally shine a bright light into your friends’ eyes as they’re trying to sleep.
With Hooga’s LED Book Light, you also get a dimmable amber light that’s completely blue-light free to help you get to sleep comfortably at night in your tent. The light clips on to any book or e-reader and has a fully adjustable gooseneck to allow for an optimal reading experience.
9. Pack A Vintage Yinuo Vintage Candle LED Lantern
Battery-powered lanterns sure are convenient, but they just don’t have the same level of ambiance as a gas or candle-powered model.
That’s where the Yinou Vintage Candle LED Lantern comes into the picture. This set comes with 2 battery-powered lanterns that look and feel like something you might find in an antique shop.
However, they come with a remote control, which allows you to adjust the lanterns to your ideal settings. The lanterns can be set to a constant light mode or to a flame mode, depending on your unique needs.
You can also hang them up in a tree or place them on a picnic table to provide excellent ambiance in your campsite at night.
10. Consider Using Flameless Luminaries
Luminaries are popular in certain festivals around the world, but they can also be a great addition to any campsite. Although the more traditional option is to place a tea light or candle inside a decorative paper bag, this of course, proses a bit of a fire hazard, particularly within a tent.
Alternatively, there are plenty of great flameless luminary kits out there which provide the same coziness without the fire risk. If you’re feeling crafty, you can always cut out your own paper bag decorations and simply get a set of battery-powered tea lights to place inside.
When it comes to adorableness and ease of use, however, flameless luminaries are hard to beat. They offer that same great flickering light that many of us love, as well as a decorative touch to spruce up your campsite.
11. Use An Assortment Of Nite Ize BugLit Micro Lights
Nite Ize is known for making innovative outdoor lighting options and their BugLit Micro Lights are no exception.
These tiny little lights provide up to 6 lumens of illumination and have a maximum run time of 22 hours. What sets them apart, however is that they have fully bendable legs that you can use to attach them to nearly any surface, like a small hanging loop inside your tent or the zipper pull on your jacket.
While these lights aren’t bright enough to completely illuminate your tent, they are a nice option for anyone that needs a bedside-style light while camping.
A great way to use these lights is to prop them up next to your sleeping bag, perhaps on a tent pole or a gear hanging loop. Then, when you need a bit of light to put your shoes on for a nighttime bathroom run, you can click on your BugLit for a few minutes without disturbing your tent mates.
12. Hang Up A Goal Zero Collapsible Solar Lantern
One of the common issues people have with campsite lighting is the weight and bulk of most lanterns and other similar light sources. While this might not be a major issue for car camping, when it comes to backpacking, keeping your pack weight a minimum is imperative.
Enter: The Goal Zero Collapsible Solar Lantern.
Designed specifically with weight and space-conscious backpackers in mind, this lantern has a unique collapsible construction. As a result, it can fold down flat for easier transport in the mountains.
Moreover, it has an integrated solar panel that can charge the 60 lumen LED light in just a few hours. On a full charge, the lantern can last for up to 35 hours, which is perfect for a backpacking trip.
Since the solar lantern is so lightweight, it’s a nice choice for hanging up inside a tent. It’s also IPX4 rated for waterproofing, so it can be used around your campsite for nighttime illumination, even in slightly wet conditions.
13. Line Your Campsite With Solar Torches
If you really want to take your car camping design skills to the next level, a set of solar torches is a must.
With this set, you get 12 solar-powered torches with integrated stakes that can be placed around your campsite to create a more homey feeling during your trip. A good way to use these lights is to line the path from your tent to your kitchen area so it’s easier for you to find your way when walking around camp at night.
These innovative lights are completely solar power, so there’s no need for hook-ups or any other electrical power source. They have waterproof construction, so you can simply place them around your campsite when you arrive and leave them out until it’s time to go home.
Plus, they automatically turn on once it gets dark and off during the daytime, so there’s no need to worry about adjusting your light settings while you’re in camp.
14. Get Cozy With An Outland Firebowl Portable Fire Pit
There are few things cozier than a fire, but getting a roaring fire going while in camp isn’t as easy as it might seem. If you’re craving the coziness and light of a fire but don’t want to spend hours building one, a portable propane fire pit is a great alternative.
To use the Outland Firebowl Portable Fire Pit, you simply need a large propane tank. Once it’s hooked up, you can use the auto-ignition system to get your fire started.
One of the coolest parts about this kit is that it comes with a set of lava rocks, which helps produce that lovely flickering fire that comes with a wood-burning flame. It’s also quick and easy to set up or turn off, so you don’t have to worry about putting out your fire at the end of the night.
Keep in mind that local fire ban regulations sometimes include bans on portable fire pits. Therefore, be sure to check with your local land managers about what regulations are in effect before bringing a fire pit, and the camping rules your chosen campsite has, as they might have fire restrictions as well.
15. Go Old Fashioned: Wear A Headlamp
Finally, if you want to keep things simple, wear a headlamp!
Although you could use a flashlight, headlamps are by and large the most functional way to illuminate your campsite if you’re trying to keep your extra gear to a minimum. Unlike flashlights, headlamps allow you to keep both hands free at all times for cooking and other camp chores.
Pro tip: wear your headlamp around your neck. If you’re just sitting around your campfire chatting with your friends, wearing your headlamp as a pseudo-necklace can prevent you from shining a light directly in your fellow campers’ eyes.
Alternatively, you can always hang up your headlamp inside your tent off of a gear loop or your tent poles. That way, you can brighten up your campsite without the need to add any extra gear to your camping checklist.