Light in the dark: the right kind of camping lighting

August, 24 2017

Campers know all about this. You’re just about to start a second round of Rummikub, or the next chapter of your book. Then you notice just how dark it has become…time for your camping lights! The huge selection can make it fairly difficult to choose the right one. Read further to find out which type of lighting is best for your camping situation.

Gas lamps, petrol lamps, fluorescent lights, led rails, candles: there is plenty of choice available. First, you’ll need to ask yourself where and for what purpose you need the lighting. Is it for your awning, sleep cabin, or for outside? Do you need it for reading, playing games, or for not tripping over the stakes and guy ropes? There’s a solution for every situation.

The bookworm
People who love to read know how difficult it is to put down a good book . If it starts to get dark, you may well want to keep reading. You need the kind of light that only lights up a small area. One easy solution is a book light. These affordable led lights can be clamped on to your book.

Another option might be a (dimmable) head torch. These are also useful at other times when you need to keep your hands free. With an e-reader you don’t need to worry about the dark at all. Tip: adjust your screen properly, otherwise you’ll strain your eyes.

camping lighting

Playing games
Nothing’s more fun than playing cards or a board game with friends or family. Everyone around the table, a drink, and just see who’s the best (or has the most luck). What is important is that your lighting is strong enough, and covers a large area.

If you’re playing inside, you could try a hanglamp. If you’re playing a game outside, you’re better off with a table lamp. Before you buy your lighting, make sure you check the light strength, and read any reviews you can find.

The romantic campsite
Stars in the sky, a glass of wine, and each other. Quite often, not much is needed to create a cosy or romantic atmosphere. If you only want to see each other’s faces a bit better, or if you’d prefer to put your glass on the table instead of putting it next to the table, candles are ideal. Do take care not to burn your fingers, and do make sure that the candle is stable.

Table lamps come in different colours, and a dimming function can provide a beautiful effect as well. A string light is another original atmosphere-enhancing solution. If you don’t have power, or if you’re looking for that characteristic scent, a campfire, gas or petrol lamp or a flare are other good options for you.

Some gas or petrol lamps have an additional advantage: they can keep insects at a certain distance. Do check before you set off which types of lighting are permitted at the campsite you’re going to. In particular, when the weather is very dry, or if your campsite is located in a forested area, there’s always a risk of fire.

camping lighting

In your tent, you often need some light to see what you’re doing, and to find your belongings. A hanging fluorescent lighting is a good solution. Another option is a so-called LED track, which you click onto your tent pole, and it’s very practical in your awning or sleeping area. A rail like this gives enough light, and doesn’t get in the way.

Electric lighting is always the preferred option inside your tent or other camping vehicle. Lighting which uses gas or petrol, as well as candles and flares, are better used outside to prevent fire.

Enjoying the outdoors
Make sure you consider others when buying outdoor lighting; you don’t want to keep the whole campsite awake with a very strong light. A few well-placed led lights can be enough to prevent you tripping over the stakes and guy ropes. Dimmable lighting is also practical for you and your neighbours.

An old-fashioned torch or wind-up torch in an accessible place are very useful items to light up a small area. Do bring spare batteries with you! Then you’ll always can get safely to and from the toilet block.

Colours, operation and functions
In the age of smartphones, we all know that blue light can cause you to fall asleep less quickly. Therefore, choose lighting with a white light in order to not negatively affect your night’s sleep.

If you need light quickly, you’re best off with led lamps. These give you light at the push of a button. Gas and petrol lights do require more preparation, but they have the advantage of not needing to be switched on and off all the time.

camping lighting

Some lights have interesting additional functions. For example, there are lights that can serve as a charger for your smartphone or tablet (via USB). However, this will deplete the battery of your light a bit more. You can also buy handy solar-powered lights.

Do you have any more tips to light up your spot at the campsite? Then leave a comment below, and help other campers.

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  • Author: Jeroen Timmermans
  • From Calais to Cannes, and from Nantes to Nancy: I have definitely done my fair share of exploring in France. With my parents and my brother, I spent weeks at the most beautiful campsites in a trailer tent. Then we travelled around the rest of Europe in a motorhome. Now I love cultural city breaks with my wife. And I particularly love funiculars and cable cars.


  1. Our Dutch neighbours in France this year had some dome solar powered lights that they placed over their awning pegs. This was a very good idea as it protected passers by from falling over the pegs by night and by day. We would love to know where they can be bought.

  2. Would love to know where these lights may be obtained.


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