Goal Zero Camp Lantern Provides Light, Built-In Charging Station

Growing up, our family camping lantern was a fragile, glass-sided blazer that ran on white gas. Today, I can plug my lantern, the Lighthouse 250 from Goal Zero, into a USB port on a computer for a charge.

There’s a crank on top, too, letting me add power in a couple minutes by spinning the electricity-generating arm. Wire legs snap down for a support stand. The Sputnik-like Lighthouse ($80) is unique to say the least.

At a campsite it puts out its namesake 250 lumens of light, enough illumination to set up a tent or spot an animal high in a tree. Tone down the dial and the lantern’s LED offers a gentle glow, perfect for reading or lounging in a tent.

Ambient light is only part of the package. On the body of the lantern is a USB port ready to recharge gadgets or phones.

I plugged my iPhone in one day to test and the Lighthouse acted like a wall outlet — about 15 minutes on the lantern and my dead phone was 10% recharged, ready for use.

A line of blue LED lights on the face of the lantern indicates battery level. Just be sure to plug the Lighthouse in to charge before heading to the wilds — the unit requires about 7 hours plugged to a USB power source to fully charge its internal battery pack.

From a single charge-up the unit is good for a weekend of camping. At its “low” setting the Lighthouse will run for up to 24 hours straight with 360-degrees of LED glow.

It connects to a solar panel if you run out of power in the field. The hand-crank on top is a great backup; it produces about 10 minutes of light for every 1 minute spent spinning.

The Lighthouse 250 is not built for ultralight backpacking where every ounce counts; it weighs more than a pound and measures about 6 inches tall. But for canoe trips, car camping, or wilderness pack-ins where you want a light and need a charger, too, the Goal Zero could be your guy.

—Stephen Regenold is the founder of GearJunkie.

Sean McCoy

Sean McCoy is the Editorial Director of GearJunkie, and 5+ other All Gear websites.

He has been writing about hunting, fishing, trail running, camping, skiing, and more for 15+ years.

Prior to GearJunkie, he was the chief photographer for the Virgin Islands Daily News and former Editor In Chief for GearJunkie. Based in Denver, Colorado, McCoy is an avid trail runner, camper, hunter, angler, mountain biker, skier, and beer tester.