Campsite Lighting Ideas

Whether you are a camping newbie or pro, lighting for your camping site is a must. While you can rely on a campfire, a traditional camping lantern, or a headlight, why not make your camping trip something to remember with unique campsite lighting ideas? 

You don’t need to stick to the rustic and basic when it comes to lighting for your campsite. Instead, make it fun for the whole family and ensure you have ample light so no one gets lost or trips over a guyline. We’re sure a trip to the emergency room isn’t on your to-do list for your camping weekend. 

Here’s the ultimate campsite lighting ideas guide so you can keep your tent and camping area lit.    

What Are the Best Campsite Lighting Ideas? 

Campsite lighting can be split into traditional and unique ideas. Here are the best lighting ideas for your camping area and tent:  

The Best Traditional Campsite Lighting IdeasThe Best Unique Campsite Lighting Ideas
A campfire A rustic chandelier
A portable fire pit Curtain lights 
FlashlightsMicro lights
HeadlightsLog lamp 
Battery-powered tea lightsGlass jar or bag luminaries 
LED strip lightsRock garden lights 
Copper wire lightsSolar pathway lights
Battery-operated lanternsDog collar light  
Propane lanterns Designer and unique outdoor lights and lamps 
Solar lanterns Glowing planters
CandlesSolar motion lights
Hanging Edison lights or hanging bulbs Tent with LED lighting 
Tiki torchesStakes with solar LED lighting 
Crank or shake lightsCandle lanterns 
Rope lights Collapsible lanterns 
Fairy or string lights Tin can lanterns 
Glow sticks or glow jars Bottle lanterns 
Book lights 

35 Best Campsite Lighting Ideas for an Epic Camping Adventure 

To make your camping adventure epic, you need light. A full moon might be enough light for the outside area, but what about inside the tent? And what if there’s no full moon or the clouds decide to make an appearance? 

Planning ensures your camping trip is a success, so here are the best ideas to light your campsite:  

1. Headlights 

A man with a headlight on his head goes down the rocky path

Headlights (or headlamps) are an oldie but a goodie. You can use these versatile lights inside the tent, while you are looking for a drink in your cooler box, or when you need to walk to use the ablution facilities. 

You can even use a headlight and make a budget-friendly headlamp lantern. Simply fill a gallon plastic bottle with water, strap the headlamp to the bottle with the light facing toward the bottle, and switch the light on.  

Alternatively, use a regular 16-oz (500 ml) water bottle. Place the light at the bottom of the bottle and pull the elastic band over the top of the bottle. Switch on the headlight, and voila! You have a portable lantern.

2. Camping Battery-Operated Lanterns 

A camping battery-operated lantern

A battery-operated lantern is a classic lighting solution when you go camping. Use these around the outside area where you eat and chill or inside the tent before it lights out for everyone. 

Remember to bring extra batteries with you so you can replace any that run flat.     

3. Handheld Flashlights  

A handheld flashlight 

The good old flashlight is a lifesaver. You can use it to signal in case of an emergency and light a specific area in your campsite or your tent. These lights are also durable, making them a must for any camper. 

4. Fairy Lights (String Lights)  

A group of people sits around the table under the fairy lights hanging from a tree

Fairy lights (or string lights) are always pretty and add a magical flair when you switch them on. Opt for a battery or solar powered option, and put some string lights in a bundle on the table, wrap it around a nearby tree, or use the lantern hook inside your tent.

5. Solar-Powered Lanterns 

Two solar-powered lanterns

A solar-powered lantern means you don’t need to worry about batteries or an electrical outlet for light. Simply ensure the lantern’s solar panel charges during the day so you can have light when the sun goes down.   

Another option is a multi-purpose solar lantern that has a USB port so you can charge your phone.

6. Hanging Edison Lights (Hanging Bulbs)  

A hanging string of Edison lights

Feel like you are traveling back in time with hanging Edison lights. These bulbs hang on a string or wire, and you can choose whether you want warm, LED, or colored lights to make your campsite look festive or more normal. 

You can even connect hanging bulbs to an outlet and use the lantern hook to have light inside your tent. 

7. Candle Lanterns 

Five candle lanterns

Candle lanterns are a safe option if you love the flickering light of a candle and want to add this to your camping area. You can safely carry a candle lantern around and even use it inside the tent. Simply get a few of these lanterns to add as little or as much light as you prefer.   

8. Tiki Torches 

Two Tiki torches 

Placing a ring of tiki torches around your campsite or hanging area simply looks super cool. Opt for bamboo or metal tiki torches, and ones that use a flammable fluid you need to light at the wick or solar-powered ones. 

Some tiki torches even keep mosquitoes away; just make sure they use a citronella-scented flammable fluid. 

9. Designer and Unique Camp Lights and Lamps 

Meteor shower rain lights 

Decking your campsite out with designer and/or unique camp lights and lamps will ensure you are the talk of the other campers. And why not add a fun, fantasy, or holiday vibe to your camping area? 

There are a wide variety of designer and fun camp lighting ideas to consider; plus, the kiddies will love these! 

10. Glow Sticks  

Two glow sticks inside glass jars

Remember how much fun you had with glow sticks when you were a child? Well, it’s time to revisit those memories and get some glow sticks to add light and fun to your campsite. Wrap or place these sticks near guylines and other tripping hazards.   

Or make glow jars with a glow stick or two inside a glass jar. 

If you have kids, give them glow sticks to play with and light their way. Plus, you’ll be able to keep track of the little ones much easier when they have a glow stick. 

11. Rope Lights 

A reel of rope lights 

Rope lights are similar to string lights, but one of the biggest advantages is that these lights don’t get tangled up. Other pros of rope lights are that they are waterproof, can be hung and fitted to nooks and crannies that you want lit, and can operate via batteries or a solar-powered battery pack. 

12. Micro Lights   

Three Nite Ize Buglit LED lights

Opting for an assortment of micro lights like those from Nite Ize ensures your hands remain free for camping chores. 

The Nite Ize micro lights look like little bugs with bendable legs you can wrap around almost any surface, like a chair leg, a branch, or a tent pole. With the carabiner, you can attach the little bug light to your jacket or bag zipper, or simply let the flashlight stand on a table or your air mattress for light.    

13. Bottle Lanterns 

A spirits bottle torch

Bottle lanterns are a pretty cool way to light your camping area. Plus, there are quite a number of bottle lantern ideas: 

14. Collapsible Lanterns 

A solar inflatable lantern

Collapsible lanterns take a variety of forms. You get the ones that look like the traditional paper origami lanterns, ones that are solar inflatable, and others that collapse the “bulb” part, making the lantern much smaller and easier to store.  

The best part is that you can use these inside the tent and around your campsite when you chill with your family and friends. 

15. Crank Lights (Shake Lights) 

A crank light

You most likely don’t want the responsibility of having to crank a light, and to be honest, these won’t add much light to your campsite. However, a crank light (or shake light) is perfect for your kids. It teaches them responsibility and they feel like they are contributing to campsite activities in a safe and age-appropriate way. 

16. Book Lights 

A book light attached to a book

A book light is an excellent idea for those stormy days when you are hiding out in your tent with a good book. 

Alternatively, you can also use a book light when you are trying to find something in your backpack or one of the storage organizer pockets in your tent. 

17. Candles 

A candle in a glass jar

Candles come in all colors, sizes, and aromas, and they simply add a romantic or quiet and calming vibe. Ensure that the candles are large so they won’t just fall over and place them on flat ground. Plus, it’s best to ensure there is no grass around for kindling and so you don’t accidentally start a fire. 

A candle circle around your chilling area outside will look really cool, or if you want to be safer, place some candles in mason jars (or bigger glass containers). You can even put some stakes in the ground with a hook and hang the candle jars. If there is a small body of water, you can also place a few floating candles

18. Propane Lanterns 

A propane lantern

If you are looking for an excellent and classic light source for your campsite, you can’t go wrong with a propane lantern (or two). 

For example, the Coleman propane lantern has a propane canister or tank with the fuel screws into the lantern, and then if you have an electronic igniter, turning that ignites the fuel (otherwise, you need to light a match). The lantern will give you light for around 4 hours on a high setting and about 9 hours on a low setting. 

19. Tin Can Lanterns 

Tin Can Lanterns 

Making tin can lanterns can help the family bond and be creative. And you’ll have unique lighting for your campsite too! It’s simply a win-win. With tin cans, paint, a hammer, a nail, some patterns, and tea lights or fairy lights, you can illuminate your campsite.

You can even cut the tin cans into halves, turn them sideways, and place a tea light or candle inside for a more unique lighting idea.      

20. Copper Wire Lights 

Copper wire lights band two garden plants  

When you string up copper wire lights and turn them on, it looks like the fireflies are flying about. 

These lights are versatile: hang them up, place them in a creative bundle on the table or in a jar, or wrap them around a tree, umbrella stand, or some chairs.   

21. Solar Pathway Lights 

Six solar pathway lights

Solar pathway lights are versatile as you can use them at home and when you go camping. These babies can light the area around your tent, your seating area, and/or even the way to take your doggie for a bathroom break. 

22. Glass Jar or Bag Luminaries 

A glass jar with a light inside

You can almost make a light out of anything, from glass or mason jars to flame-resistant bags. Simply add string lights, a candle, or battery-powered tea lights. 

Glass jar lights or luminaries (tea lights in a flame-resistant bag) add romantic or soft lighting to your campsite, which is almost more for atmosphere than real lighting. Or if you want to light a pathway, luminaries simply look stunning. 

23. LED Strip Lights 

LED strip lights 

Like fairy lights and rope lights, LED strip lighting can be attached to any surface since it has an adhesive backing. Choose strip lights that are waterproof so you don’t need to worry about taking the strip down if the weather turns on you.

24. Battery-Powered Tea Lights  

Battery-powered tea lights  

Candles aren’t the safest option when you go camping, and trying to put out a spreading fire ain’t on your bucket list. Choosing battery-powered tea lights (which look like candles minus the fire hazard) is an affordable, classy, and safe way to light your campsite. 

25. Dog Collar Light

A dog is with a collar light on its neck

A dog collar light can bring you peace of mind when you go camping with your furry buddy. You’ll know where your dog is at night. Plus, your dog will look super adorbs. 

26. Portable Fire Pit 

A portable fire pit 

A fire pit, like a campfire, is simply cozy and a quintessential part of camping. A propane fire pit that’s portable is a breeze to use as you don’t need to spend hours and hours building a fire (or learn how if you are new to camping). 

Just be sure to check the camping rules of your campsite as local fire ban regulations may include portable fire pits.  

27. A Campfire 

A campfire in the night

A campfire is a surefire way to add some light to your campsite. Plus, a campfire also helps keep you warm on those chilly nights and it just adds the right campy atmosphere.  

28. A Rustic Chandelier 

A rustic chandelier 

Let your creativity come out to play and make a rustic chandelier with driftwood, mason jars, and tea light (or any other material). You can also use a tree branch and add some glow sticks and mason jars with candles, tea lights, or fairy lights.  

29. Curtain Lights 

Curtain lights 

Curtain lights really add a festive atmosphere to your campsite. Hang these lights from a branch and enjoy how the curtain of lights sways in the light evening breeze.  

30. Glowing Planters (Lighter Planters) 

Three glowing planters

Adding a few glowing planters (or lighter planters or glow in the dark planters) to your campsite adds a cool and magical glow. Plus, with your favorite plants, it’ll feel like home.

Buy a few small lighter planters and place them strategically around your campsite. During the day, these will look awesome with your cacti, tropical plants, or flowers to add some more greenery and color.   

31. Rock Garden Lights 

Two rock garden lights 

Rock garden lights look like rocks that either glow in the dark or they have a light. Most of these are solar-powered, so they automatically recharge when the sun is shining. The best feature of these rock lights is that they look natural, so your camping aesthetic won’t be disturbed by other “non-natural” looking lights.    

32. Log Lamp 

A log lamp 

You can buy log lamps or DIY them. You simply need a piece of wood and then cut some slices into the log with a wood saw. Add a plexiglass tube with rope or strip lights, and attach the battery or make a groove at the bottom for the power cord.  

Log lamps can be heavy, but they look super cool. 

33. Solar Motion Lights 

Solar motion light 

Solar motion-sensor lights (or flood lights) can be really handy at a campsite. Attach these to a few tree branches or posts, and they light automatically turn on when you or your family walk past on your way to the ablution facilities. 

Just make sure you don’t disturb your fellow campers as these motion lights are typically very bright. 

34. Tent with LED Lighting 

A tent with LED lighting 

There are a few tents on the market that have their own LED lighting. This is perfect if you need a night light or light during the night for those late-night bathroom trips. 

While these lights inside the tent won’t light your campsite, they’ll light your tent, so you have one thing fewer to worry about and pack.  

35. Stakes with LED lighting

Four stakes with LED lighting

Stakes with solar LED lights are perfect to light a pathway, the seating area for your campsite, or even the entrance to the tent. 

Why Do You Need Campsite Lighting? 

Campsite lighting is a must. You need light around your campsite and inside your tent for various reasons: 

  • Lighting makes your camping trip feel more like home. 
  • Creative campsite lighting ideas help keep the party going. 
  • Strategically placed lighting makes your camping area more convenient and comfortable. 
  • Campsite lighting keeps everyone safe when you are out in nature. You’ll be able to keep watch over the kids and dog, and you can map out tripping hazards like guylines.   

A Quick Guide: Choosing the Best Camping Lighting 

There are various aspects of campsite lighting you need to keep in mind when choosing the best outdoor camping lighting ideas:  


Consider why you need campsite lighting, how much light you need, and where you want to place the light. 

It’s a good idea to have some light inside the tent. Lighting guy lines and tripping hazards are a must, and then add some light for the mood around your outside seating and eating area.   

Light Weight and Size Appropriate

You need to store the lights when you aren’t camping, so size is a big consideration. Size also impacts your campsite – if you are a solo camper, building a large campfire is overkill, and so is hanging curtain lights from every tree branch you can find. 

And you need to think about how much the lights weigh – lightweight campsite lights are ideal since you don’t want to injure your back moving a heavy light from your car to the tent site.  

Power Source

Campsite lights have various power sources: 

  • Batteries (rechargeable and non-rechargeable kinds) 
  • Corded electric 
  • Solar 
  • USB rechargeable 
  • Propane or butane 
  • Fire 

Weigh up the pros and cons of each of these powering methods and see what works best for you and your camping situation. 

Light Life 

Some lights won’t last long before you need more fuel or to replace or recharge the batteries. You need to ensure you have enough “juice” in the light to keep your campsite lit, unless you want to be stuck in the dark. 


Light is measured in lumens, and when you buy headlights, flashlights, etc., you’ll see a lumen rating, indicating how bright the light is. How much brightness you need for your campsite depends on how large the camping area is, how many people are camping with you, and the kind of vibe you wanna set. 

For example, glow sticks will let you know where your kids or the tent guy lines are but they won’t provide light per se. And you’ll need more tin can lanterns to provide proper lighting (unless you want a soft, romantic setting) and only one or two propane lanterns to light the camping area.   

Here’s a quick guide to lumens and how bright the light is: 

  • 1 to 300 lumens: good for reading and normal everyday tasks
  • 300 to 900 lumens: walking at night and to light your campsite 
  • 1,000 to 1,300 lumens: for a work site
  • 1,250 to 2,500 lumens: for hunting 
  • 3,000+ lumens: search and rescue 

Additional Features

If you know it’ll rain or the weather will act up, choose campsite lighting options that are weatherproof. Candles aren’t going to stay alight when there’s wind or rain, so opting for an electric or battery-operated light is best. Also, remember that if you have a few days of adverse weather and no sunlight, then your solar lights won’t be able to recharge.  

You can also choose the color of the light source to add some creativity and fun to your camping adventure. 

Campsite Lighting FAQs 

A woman with a headlight on her head is cooking near a camping tent
Why do you need campsite lighting? 

Campsite lighting is a must for inside your tent so you can read a book, not trample on your other campers on the way to the bathroom, and do other everyday tasks. You also need outdoor camping lights for cooking, hanging with your friends, marking tripping hazards, and keeping track of your kids and dog.  

How much does campsite lighting cost? 

If you are creative and handy, campsite lighting can cost you next to nothing when you use materials you have at home like candles, mason jars, and recycled wine bottles. Buying campsite lights will set you back anywhere from $10 to $100 or more depending on what type and how much light you need. 

What are traditional campsite lighting ideas? 

Traditional campsite lighting ideas include lighting a campfire or candles, hanging fairy or string lights, using headlights, flashlights, and lanterns. Tiki torches, strip lights, tea lights, and book lights are other classic lighting options for your camping adventure.

Alex Buchnev

Alex Buchnev

Alex loves kayaking, fishing, and all things outdoors. When he's not out there in the wild, he's probably typing away at his laptop or trying to be the world's best father for his two lovely daughters.

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