Rock The Campsite: Brunton ‘LightWave’ Lantern Review

A common camp lantern? Nope, Brunton sells its LightWave Amp as an 11-inch-tall ‘outdoor entertainment system. This is our review.’

Brunton camping lantern

This is not your daddy’s camp lantern. The $200 LightWave Amp gives enough glow to illuminate an entire campsite (up to 700 lumens bright) and comes with a bevy of functions you don’t ever really need but may come to covet once you’ve tried them out there under the stars.

Backing up, before the naysayers pipe in on solitude in the outdoors and “turn-off-that-danged-racket” rants… we know. We know these kind of products — with lights and music and the ability to recharge gadgets — can be incongruous to the wilderness experience. Annoying, let’s just say it.

app to control camping lantern
Screen shot of Brunton app

But read on if you’ve entered the modern era. Yes, your friends and your kids (and maybe even your parents now, too) will have their phones on them at the camp site. Turn them off and unplug if you can.

Or, like more and more people are figuring out, limit technology’s use except where it can enhance the experience, not take away from it. Maybe play some quiet music with friends during dinner or at the campfire. This lantern gives you that option.

Review: Brunton LightWave Amp Lantern

We found this Brunton lantern/bluetooth speaker combo to be a fun, if completely unnecessary, toy for car camping where you don’t have neighbors near by. Use it in the backyard during a party or barbecue. Your kids will love it on a sleepover on the porch or in a tent pitched on grass in the side yard.

Turn the big unit on and it can blink a multicolor light show and pump music loud enough for a gathering around a crackling campfire.

On your phone screen, a color wheel controls the lantern’s massive LEDs, with smooth transitions through the hues of an electric rainbow at the swipe of a thumb.

Brunton calls the LightWave Amp the “world’s most advanced camping lantern.” For that descriptor you get USB ports, powerful LEDs, Bluetooth connectivity, an accompanying app (for iOS or Android tablets or phones), and an embedded 20,000mAh lithium-ion battery to control it all.

charging phone in outdoors
Charges a phone or other devices

I cued up a Spotify playlist to test it out. On my phone, the app gives several options to connect, control lights, play music, and even set an alarm if you want to wake up to tunes and light.

Beyond the dance show option, the spin-to-set lighting feature has at least one practical play: Set to a red tone, the LEDs can help preserve night vision if you’re in need of illumination but also hoping to see beyond the campsite after dark.

Bluetooth Speaker Lantern Combo: Audio Issues

Music is impressive out of the lantern, with a big caveat (see below). The unit has a powerful speaker on its underside. Quiet music is fine, and podcasts or other voice audio sounds good.

But turn up the volume and you might have an issue. Depending on the surface underneath, the speaker’s position can be trouble. I found songs to be slightly muffled and missing tones when played on a wood table.

Top side (left) and speaker on underside of unit (right)

There is an easy fix, however: Turn the lantern upside-down. Flipped over on its top end, the songs were clear, including high notes and deep bass. (This seems like a design flaw we hope Brunton can address in future versions.)

Ports, Recharging Options

Beyond lights and audio, the big rechargeable battery inside serves as a power station. Once your phone runs out of battery, the Brunton gives a place to plug in. Two USB outputs allow for charging phones, tablets, cameras, and other devices.

The lantern’s battery is massive. Brunton is a major player in the portable power category, and, as noted, this unit comes with a 20,000mAh lithium-ion battery. At full capacity, it should be able to recharge a phone more than 10 times and still have juice for a GoPro, tablet, of any number of devices that port to USB.

The lantern is water resistant, so rain is not an issue. It can run for up to 13 hours on its highest setting, making it usable for a long weekend camping between charge-ups at home.

Ports for charging

It’s big and heavy, measuring about 11 x 6.5 x 6.5 inches. This isn’t meant for those who are counting grams or even luxury-oriented backpackers. The weight is centered at the base, making it stable on a table or the ground. There’s a handle on top that flips up to tie the lantern higher or carry it around.

In the end, beyond the speaker position for loud songs, the LightWave Amp functioned fine in our review. Look into this one-of-a-kind lantern if you want mood lighting and music anywhere you can carry it.

Stephen Regenold

Stephen Regenold is Founder of GearJunkie, which he launched as a nationally-syndicated newspaper column in 2002. As a journalist and writer, Regenold has covered the outdoors industry for two decades, including as a correspondent for the New York Times. A father of five, Regenold and his wife live in Minneapolis.