Before you splash the cash to buy this unusual camping lantern, read Practical Caravan's review of the Vango Light Barrel and rival torch lanterns

Overview

We tested 10 rival camping lanterns on the Practical Caravan test bench to find out which is the best camping gear to buy for your caravan holidays. Last but not least in our testing came the Vango Light Barrel, which has a very different look to all the rest of the camping lanterns reviewed here

This is a most peculiar design from Vango, which uses 18 LEDs to blast light out from all sides of the barrel. Unfortunately, this leads to a rather poor illumination pattern if the unit is hung up, using the small strap and loops provided.

Power for the Vango Light Barrel comes from an internal battery that has to be charged from a 12-volt supply. Unless you’re feeling energetic, that is, in which case you can pop out the dynamo handle up top, and spin away to generate more power. If you're a fan of wind-up torches, you'll be used to spending a few minutes winding vigorously in order to gain more light from the LEDs. If you wind it for a minute you'll get an extra three-and-a-half minutes on full power (18 LEDs), or seven minutes on low (9 LEDs). 

The Vango Light Barrel camping lantern weighs 598g, and gives out 40 lumens. It comes with a DC charger that plugs into a cigarette lighter and the batteries are 3.7V 1700 mAh Li-lion rechargeables. Charging time is about 4.5 hours.

Once the Vango Light Barrel is fully charged, you’ll get up to four hours on full power, or eight hours’ running time, provided that half-power mode is used. On this lamp, though, half-power simply means that only half the unit lights up, leaving large areas of your van or awning in darkness. 

For that reason, and because it's the most expensive camping lantern we tested, we've awarded this Vango Light Barrel just two stars. 

The other two-star rating went to the Gelert 7W Rechargeable Remote Controlled Lantern, which cost £19.99 at the time of our camping lantern test. 

Moving up to the camping lanterns that won a three-star rating in our tests, we liked using the remote control to activate the Vango 24 LED Lantern, £29.95, and we were tempted by the bargain price of the Gelert 7W Lantern, £13.50, the versatility of the Powerplus 3 in 1 torch lantern, £21.99, and the Halfords Advanced LED Spotlight Lantern (product number 588899), which is both a torch and a lantern in one, priced at £19.99. 

We gave a fabulous four-star verdict to the only gas canister-powered camping lantern we tested. We were really impressed by the amount of light that came from the SunnCamp Lantern, from £10.99, but we know that not everyone is happy to use gas lamps for camping and caravan holidays these days. If you do, just make sure it's kept away from children and animals that might knock it over and use all gas lamps in a well ventilated area.

In the super league of lamps we have three top favourites, all of which received five stars. These are the Kampa Zebedee, from just £4.99, the Outwell Morion, from £11.50 and our mighty Practical Caravan group test winner, the Outwell Carnelian 400 Lantern, from £24.99. 

You can read our accessory reviews of camping lanterns, sleeping bags, portable heaters, battery chargers and plenty more outdoor gear here, and we hope that you'll let us know what camping equipment you find most useful on caravan holidays. Chat to us on our forum, Practical Caravan Facebook page, Practical Caravan Google plus page and @pcaravan twitter, or send us a lovely email (letters@practicalcaravan.com) or drop a line to Letters, Practical Caravan, Haymarket Media, Teddington Studios, Broom Road, Teddington TW11 9BE for our Caravan Chat pages in the magazine. We love hearing from you and when you share your views on camping accessories this will be a great help to all the people who are new to caravanning. 

Technical specs

PowerRechargeable batteries 3.7V 1700 mAh Li-lion
Light output40 lumens (full)
Bulbs18 LEDs
Weight598g
Measurements10.5cm x 10.5cm x 17.9cm
Charging time4.5 hours
Charger includedDC charger for cigarette lighter
BonusBuilt-in dynamo (wind-up) recharger

Verdict

Although we can see that a wind-up torch is a handy thing to have during camping holidays, we would prefer to use a more relaxing light during our evening meals al-fresco or in the caravan awning. The light given out by this camping lantern is only 40 lumens, so we'd probably spend a little less money on one of the other camping lanterns tested, and get more light into the bargain. 

Conclusion

Pros

  • You can extend its charge with the wind-up handle
  • 360° light, if it's on full

Cons

  • On half-power setting you only get 180° light
  • It's the most expensive camping lantern we tested
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