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Some of the best times during camping trips are at night.
The warm, inviting atmosphere of campsite lighting encourages people to gather, unwind, and share the fun memories of the day.
The secondary bonus of outdoor camping lights is that they help keep you safe from losing your way or trip hazards.
To help you decorate your campsite, check out these camping light ideas below!
How do you decorate a campsite?
Avid campers love to decorate their campsites, including using lights to enhance nighttime activities.
While flags, potted plants, and camp chairs brighten up a campsite during the day, nighttime requires clever lighting options that don’t require electricity such as:
- Solar-power lights or lanterns
- Candle lanterns
- Gas lanterns
- Glow sticks
- Battery-operated LED strip or string lights
To help you devise the perfect campsite lighting plan, let’s look at the various options available.
How do you light a campsite?
There are four main options to light a campsite.
- Plug-in lighting is convenient at campsites with electricity.
- Propane or liquid fuel lanterns allows you to place your lighting just about anywhere, which is very convenient.
- Solar lights are popular as they harness the sun’s power and fit well with the ecologically-friendly camping mindset.
- Battery-operated LED lights are convenient and offer great color choices.
What are the Best Camping Light Ideas?
Candle lanterns are staples for campers who find them exceptionally easy to transport and safe to use inside an enclosed space.
Most candle lanterns burn a paraffin liquid fuel.
Best ways to decorate with candle lanterns
Hang the light on an inside tent hook, or outside from a tree branch, so you don’t knock it over.
Hanging several from trees around your campsite creates a festive, almost magical atmosphere.
- Safer than open campfires and are made for use inside a tent
- Provides a bit of heat, to warm up a tent
- Compact and easy to carry
- Must bring fuel to keep it running
- Burning indoors with poor ventilation raises risk of carbon monoxide poisoning
Propane and Gas Lanterns
Propane and gas lanterns are larger than a candle lantern and utilize fuel canisters that screw on to the upper portion where the flame burns.
Best ways to decorate with gas lanterns
Campers prefer to decorate their campsite by adding gas lanterns to tabletops outside or hanging them from a metal post.
Placing several around the perimeter of your campsite can safely illuminate the space.
- Provides reliable and warm lighting
- Fuel canisters are affordable and last for hours
- Can adjust the brightness to suit different moods
- Should never burn them indoors as it exhausts dangerous levels of carbon monoxide
- They burn hot and can’t be near flammable materials
- The lantern is noisy
Solar Powered Lanterns
Solar power lanterns are the best outdoor camping lights as they are environmentally-friendly and provide an impressive amount of brightness.
Place them out in the sun during the day, and enjoy hours of soft lighting all night with no heat, noise, or dangerous exhaust.
Best ways to decorate with solar power lanterns
Campers love to hang solar lanterns in trees, inside a tent or RV, or set them near chairs or on tables.
Hang lots of mini ones around for a fairyland feel, or larger ones to set off a conversation area.
- No dangerous open flame
- Compact, lightweight, affordable, and easy to pack or store
- Better for the environment
- Must have sunlight to charge up the lantern
- Internal battery will eventually fail
Glow sticks “snap” and blend two chemicals inside to create a reaction that emits light.
Best ways to decorate with glow sticks
Hang necklace-style glow lights from branches or tent poles for soft general lighting.
Place short glow sticks along pathways, around patios, or pinpoint important places like trip hazards or outhouses.
Daisy-chain together glow light bracelets to form a long string and hang from the RV awning.
- Safe to touch and handle
- Easy to tuck into backpacks
- Come in lots of shapes and colors
- Creates plastic and chemical waste, as glow sticks are non-reusable
- The light is weaker than other types of camp lights
Battery Operated Led Strip Lighting/Christmas Lights
Battery-operated LED strip or string lighting require little energy to run, which means they last for hours.
Most LED strip lighting is waterproof, which protects from moisture that can ruin other lights.
Best ways to decorate with Led Strip Lighting/Christmas lights
LED strip lights allow you to select various settings for different colors, light intensity, and display from solid to fade to blinking and more.
Change the lights to white for more brightness, change to blue for parties, or make them yellow to deter bugs.
RVers love to place LED strip lights along the underside of their awnings, while tenters love to hang them around the inside of the tent or make “pathways” outside to find their way safely around.
- Safe and super-convenient to use inside or out
- Takes up minimal space
- Runs for hours, and most have rechargeable battery packs
- Provides a wide range of colors and light options in one purchase
- Replacing batteries or remembering to recharge the battery pack can become a hassle
Considerations When Choosing Camping Lights
There are considerations when choosing camping lights.
Open-flame camp lights need constant supervision, while solar lights need hours of direct sun to charge.
Gas or liquid-fuel camp lights require you to bring along spare fuel, while plug-in lights require electricity.
Camping lights need to be bright enough to navigate safely at night, but not so bright you disturb other campers.
Camping lights need to be convenient to pack, transport, use, and store without fuss.
Campsite Lighting Wrap Up
A campsite set up with cheerful lighting can make your camping experience much more enjoyable. When you use the tips in this campsite lighting guide, you can select the best option for your needs and not be left in the dark.
Planning your campsite lighting design now will have you ready and excited for your next camping adventure!