If you’re looking to update your caravan accessories, a camping lantern can prove very useful. Find out how good the Outwell Carnelian 400 Lantern is in the Practical Caravan review. It costs from £24.99, at the time of writing.

There was a time when no caravanner would consider going away without a couple of lanterns stashed in their car or van. But with most tourers now sporting highly effective mains and 12V lighting systems, surely lanterns have had their day? Or have they?

Well, while it’s unlikely that anybody would choose any form of portable lighting over built-in set-ups, lanterns are still incredibly handy to have around on your caravan holidays. They come into their own if you’re forced to set-up and level your caravan after dark. And they’re so much less messy, not to mention brighter and safer, than candles, if you enjoy making the most of long summer evenings outside. The same pretty much applies in an awning: chances are you won’t use it much after dark, but having a couple of lanterns hanging from the ceiling gives you the choice. 

Then there’s the little issue of emergencies. Campsite power supplies do sometimes trip out, and lanterns will keep your caravan illuminated more efficiently and with none of the safety risks of using numerous candles.

So having made the case for lanterns, what is there to choose between them? Light output is the obvious answer – lanterns that are bright and spread their output widely are naturally more desirable than duller, more directional models. But bright lights consume more juice than dull ones, and nobody wants to charge or swap batteries on a daily basis. So run time is an important factor, and this is helped further if a lamp can be switched to lower, more frugal, settings.

Now, for the practical bit. And this is where a camping lantern will traditionally score well, because they work just as effectively whether sat on a surface, hung up, or carried. If it’s the hanging variety, it’s important that the lantern isn’t too heavy, because this could well limit where you can position it. 

But one area where lanterns trail modern torches and head torches is size. Traditional models tend to be pretty bulky, so newer designs that are more compact, or even fold down for storage, are a definite bonus. So are designs that double up as torches, which will spare you the trouble of taking a separate one for after-dark trips to the bins or facilities. 

So, what did the Practical Caravan review team make of the Outwell Carnelian 400 Lantern? This was not an obvious winner because, although very impressive in many ways, the battery compartment is exasperatingly fiddly to close, and the power button has to be pressed thumb-whiteningly hard to spring the lamp into life.

Once on, however, it’s very hard to not like what you see. A staggering 400 lumens of light is produced by a meaty 8.5W LED. And, rather cleverly, Outwell has built a hanging hook into the base’s underside – meaning that the diffuser faces down when the lamp is hung, distributing the light more evenly. Power is from three ‘D’ batteries, which give up to 24 hours of light when the lower-output mode is selected – there are three different light settings.

Although this product won our group test, we also reviewed several other lanterns, including the Kampa Zebedee that scored five out of five and the butane-fuelled SunnCamp Lantern that scored four out of five.