With their bright light and ease of use, battery-powered lanterns offer reliable and long-lasting performance and ease of use since they are turned on and off with just the flick of a switch. The lanterns are available with LED, fluorescent or incandescent (with pressurized gas) bulbs, and all are quiet and safe to use inside a tent as well as outside because there is no exhaust and no heat generated, states REI. LED lanterns have the best battery life and have bulbs that are somewhat less fragile than fluorescent or incandescent bulbs. Large battery lanterns can be heavy and so are best suited for car camping, while small LED lanterns weigh much less and are a good choice for backpackers.
If you want the brightest light, perhaps because you camp with a large group and need to light a large area, a fuel-powered lantern might be your best choice as these lanterns produce brighter light than either battery- or candle-powered lanterns. Fuel-powered lanterns use white gas, which is long-lasting, propane, which uses the same convenient, easily available tanks that propane stoves use or butane, which also uses disposable canisters and is easy to use, according to REI. These lanterns must be used outdoors, as they emit exhaust, and they also are warm or hot to the touch, so you need more vigilance when placing them near flammable material or using them around children. There is also a small amount of hissing noise resulting from the burning fuel and some minor difficulties with using the burning mantles.
For soft, glowing light, candle lanterns are hard to beat. Like the other lanterns, candle lanterns come in both large and small sizes, but even a large lantern does not provide a wide range or a really bright light, although it is fine for reading when you are next to the light. As with fuel lanterns, candle lanterns require you to be vigilant about having a stable surface and keeping the lantern away from flammable material, such as tent surfaces and sleeping bags. Like other types of fuel-powered lanterns, candle lanterns can be hot to the touch.