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Campsite with hanging camping string lights at night

Image by Mark Nielsen

An exciting part of camping is building a temporary home away from home in nature. You can easily find a peaceful site with beautiful views while camping, but what happens when the sun sets and those views go away?

It’s great to have a fire to occupy yourself at night, but if you’re camping somewhere with a fire ban or want to add a little personality to your campsite, you may want to think about adding string lights to your camping kit! 

I use string lights all the time while camping. They’re an extremely useful item, whether it’s to see better while cooking dinner, decorate my tent, or string them around a nearby tree so that I can easily find my site if I’m out for an evening walk. 

Without further ado, here’s my review of the best camping string lights!

Best Camping String Lights - My 5 Top Picks

Power Practical Luminoodle Light Rope

Best Choice
Power Practical Luminoodle LED Light Rope
$17.49 - $41.49
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Practicality is the main thing that comes to mind with the Luminoodle. The designers seem to have thought of everything you might need when it comes to camping lights.

Features such as utility loops and magnets make it easy to hang the lights on trees, cars, or picnic tables. They even double as a lantern when you stuff the lights into the nylon bag that comes with them. 

The 10-foot option emits 360 total lumens, which is brighter than my headlamp. Not only will these decorate your campsite but they are great for emergencies as well.

Whether your flashlight breaks, you need to look under the hood of your car, or you want to make yourself visible to cars while walking around at night, it’s a good idea to have the Luminoodle on hand.

  • Length: 5 or 10 feet
  • Battery: USB port
  • Waterproof rating: IP67
  • Weight: 4.7 or 7 ounces
Pros
  • Option to purchase with battery pack
  • Embedded with sliding magnets
  • Utility loops for hanging
  • Comes with rip-stop nylon bag
  • Lightweight 
Cons
  • Brightness is not adjustable 
  • Cool white rather than warm white

ZOUTOG Battery Operated String Lights

Budget Pick
ZOUTOG Battery Operated String Lights
$16.22
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While any basic string light can add personality to your campsite, these small globe-shaped lights come with all sorts of features to get you excited about decorating.

They have all the basic components for great camping string lights, as they are waterproof and battery powered, but they are also remote-controlled! If you want to use them to light your way to your tent, you can just turn them off after you get there safely.

Or, if you hang them high in a tree, you don’t need to climb all the way up to turn them on and off. 

I love that these lights have eight different lighting modes. Whether you want to set the mood with a dimmer setting or really light up your site, you can’t go wrong with ZOUTOG lights.

  • Length: 33 or 49 feet
  • Battery type: 3 AA batteries
  • Weight: 1.08 pounds
Pros
  • Remote-controlled 
  • Eight different lighting modes
  • Doesn’t get tangled easily
  • Waterproof 
  • Comes in multiple colors
  • Timer option 
  • Heat insulated wire
Cons
  • Can’t be extended or connected to other string lights
  • Battery box only water-resistant 
  • Not bright enough for detailed tasks such as reading

Biolite SiteLight XL Overhead String Lights

BioLite SiteLight XL Overhead String Lights
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A little different from your conventional string light, the Biolite SiteLight is a foldable, fabric lantern that provides 300 lumens of light. The SiteLight is customizable, as you can hang just one in your tent or connect up to eight of them to string around your campsite.

This meets a variety of lighting needs, whether you want to decorate, create mood lighting, or increase visibility around your camp.

You can also connect this light to the other, different types of Biolite lights for even more options for illuminating your campsite. 

The SiteLight XL is extremely portable! It’s lightweight and folds down to a small size.

Overall, you have more options to work with than your average string light, so you can easily find a way for the Biolite SiteLight XL to meet your needs.

  • Length: 15 feet
  • Battery: USB port
  • Weight: 3.2 ounces
Pros
  • Can connect multiple sets 
  • Very bright
  • Portable and compact
  • Can connect with other Biolite products
  • Comes with cord stabilizers to assist with hanging
Cons
  • Each light must be purchased separately 
  • Fabric can’t be removed for washing

MPOWERD Luci String Lights

MPOWERD Luci String Lights
$44.95
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Luci string lights are one of the best options due to their versatility. What I really love about them is that they can be powered in two different ways—both of which are camping-friendly!

Solar electronics make life so much easier when you’re camping because you don’t have to worry about your batteries dying.

If it’s cloudy where you’re camping, no worries! The option to charge these lights via a USB port solves that problem. Either charge it up before you leave (a full charge takes about four hours by USB and 16 hours by solar and gives you 20 hours of light) or take a battery pack with you to power them on the go. 

These lights emit about 100 lumens over 20 LED bulbs, giving you nice, soft lighting that will set the mood without straining the eyes.

  • Length: 18 feet
  • Battery: Solar powered or charged through USB port 
  • Weight: 11.03 ounces
Pros
  • Comes in multiple modes
  • Collapses down to two inches 
  • Battery level indicator
  • Comes with multicolor and white options
  • Three brightness settings
Cons
  • Solar panel is bulky
  • Can’t detach charger from lights

Brightech Ambience Pro USB Powered LED Fairy Light

Brightech Ambience Pro USB Powered LED Fairy Light
$29.99
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Sometimes the best version is the simplest one. These Brightech lights fit the bill, as they are quality string lights that offer just what you need without a bunch of frilly features. 

For a USB port light set, these lights are extremely bright. You’ll have no problem being able to see for more detail-oriented activities like playing cards or cooking dinner. Each bulb contains 100 lumens, and each strand contains 10 bulbs.

One thousand lumens is over three times as bright as the average headlamp! 

  • Length: 24 feet
  • Battery: Corded electric with USB port
Pros
  • Shatterproof plastic bulbs
  • Very bright
  • Waterproof 
  • Comes in warm light and soft light options 
Cons
  • Can’t adjust brightness

9 More Magical Camping String Lights

Coleman LED String Lights

Coleman LED String Lights, 10 Tiny LED Lanterns
$20.56
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Nothing says camping like a classic Coleman lantern, and these lights put a fun twist on this iconic item. With Coleman LED lights, you get 10 mini lanterns as string lights. 

Coleman’s long-standing reputation for high-quality, affordable outdoor gear is evidenced by these string lights. Though they’re on a fairly short string, they let you easily see around your campsite.

They’ve also been known to hold up well in all types of weather, including rainstorms. 

  • Length: 6 feet
  • Battery: 3 AA batteries 
  • Weight: 12.7 ounces
Pros
  • Portable
  • Waterproof
  • Bright enough for activities like playing cards 
  • Simple
  • 20 hours of battery life 
Cons
  • Not a very warm-colored light
  • Short length

SUNTHIN LED Outdoor String Light

SUNTHIN LED Outdoor String Light
$28.04
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If your campsite has a generator or power source, go with SUNTHIN lights for a classic lightbulb look. This set emits a nice, warm light and because the 16 bulbs are spread three feet apart, the lighting is sufficient but not too intense. 

These lights are very long for such a low price, giving you tons of room for decorating ideas and lighting up your campsite!

  • Length: 48 or 96 feet
  • Battery type: Corded electric
  • Waterproof rating: IP65
Pros
  • Shatterproof plastic bulbs 
  • Can connect up to 27 strands
  • Very long length
  • Comes with spare bulbs
Cons
  • Dimmer switch remote costs extra
  • Requires generator or power source

Camco Retro Travel Trailer Lights 

Camco Retro Travel Trailer Lights
$19.47
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These Camco lights will earn you extra style points in campsite decorating! They’re cute, festive, and camping-themed, and they’re still decorative during the day, when they’re not turned on.

This colorful string of lights looks good with or without electricity, unlike other types of string lights, which can look like a strand of wires during the day. 

Not loving the retro camper style? Check out some of Camco’s other options, such as cactus and chilis or patriotic stars. 

  • Length: 8 feet
  • Battery: Corded electric
  • Weight: 13.6 ounces 
Pros
  • Comes in many styles 
  • UL approved for indoor and outdoor use 
  • Multiple strands can connect 
  • Easy to use 
Cons
  • Requires generator or electric outlet

ALOVECO 50 LED Battery Powered Fairy String Lights

ALOVECO 50 LEDs Battery Powered Fairy String Lights
$15.98
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To add a funky, party feel to your campsite, go with the ALOVECO lights. The colorful round bulbs of the multicolor option add a ton of personality and you’ll be able to switch things up with all the different lighting modes.

The six-hour timer is a great feature. Don’t worry about having to get out of your tent to turn off your lights when going to bed. They’ll do that by themselves! 

  • Length: 18 feet
  • Battery: 3 AA batteries
  • Waterproof rating: IP65
  • Weight: 6.7 ounces 
Pros
  • Eight different modes
  • Remote control
  • Adjustable brightness
  • Six-hour timer
  • 50,000-hour bulb life 
  • Comes in multicolor and warm color options
Cons
  • Bulbs don’t change color 
  • Not bright enough to read by

Brightown 40 LED Water Drop Solar Powered Lights

Brightown 40 LED Water Drop Solar Powered Lights
$14.99
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These lights contain many features that you can find in various camping string lights, but I have never seen any shaped like the Brightown Water Drop lights.

In addition to giving off a very warm light, the bulbs have an extended shape that will create a relaxed ambiance in your campsite. 

They’re not intensely bright, which is important because you’ll want to check out the unique design of these bulbs! 

  • Length: 25 feet
  • Battery: Solar powered
  • Waterproof rating: IP65
  • Weight: 1.36 pounds 
Pros
  • Eight different modes 
  • Warm white light and multicolored options
  • No batteries or power source required 
  • Solar panel charge will last all night 
Cons
  • Cannot connect multiple strings
  • Not bright enough to read by

Homga Firework Lights

Homga Firework Lights
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A little different from a simple strand of lights, the Homga Firework Lights will be really fun to decorate your campsite with. They come in a set of four hanging clusters of 150 LED lights. These clusters are customizable, as you can bend them into any shape you want! 

You can go for a traditional firework look with all of the strands in a circle or get creative with something else. 

  • Battery: 4 AA batteries 
  • Weight: 15.8 ounces 
Pros
  • Comes with two remote controls
  • Flexible wires that you can bend into any shape you want
  • Timer option 
  • Eight lighting modes 
Cons
  • Decoration-oriented rather than visibility-oriented

Bebrant LED Rope Lights

Bebrant LED Rope Lights
$13.99
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Rope lights are great for a variety of reasons! They’re flexible, so you can hang them however you want, and they’re pretty simple and straightforward because they don’t have dangling bulbs that tangle easily.

Bebrant rope lights are extra fun because they’re colorful, giving your campsite a festive look! 

  • Length: 40 feet
  • Battery: 3 AA batteries
  • Waterproof rating: IP65 rope light, IP44 battery case 
  • Weight: 10.2 ounces
Pros
  • Remote control
  • Eight lighting modes 
  • Ten brightness levels 
  • Timer mode
  • Plastic covering provides extra durability
Cons
  • Clear tube can’t be molded into a shape that stays on its own 
  • Comes only in multicolor option

Astorn 3 Piece Outdoor Light Set

Astorn 3 Piece Outdoor Light Set for Tents & Camping
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These little lights are fun because they can be string lights … or not!

Easily string them together with a piece of rope for a string light effect or hook them to various spots around your campsite. One could go in your tent while the other two string over your picnic table. Attach them to your backpack so you don’t lose track of your night hiking buddy on the trail.

They could be used as a night light, too! The possibilities are endless.

  • Size: 4 x 2 inches
  • Battery: 3 AAA batteries
  • Weight: 5.11 ounces
Pros
  • Two brightness settings and one flashing setting
  • Waterproof and crack-resistant plastic bulbs
  • LED lifespan of 100,000 hours
  • Small, portable, and lightweight
  • Each light comes with a hook
Cons
  • String not included

eQFeast Color Changing Wind Chime

eQFeast Color Changing Wind Chime
$14.96
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If you really want your campsite to stand out, you can always go with a light-up, color-changing wind chime instead of a conventional string light.

This is a creative idea, and simple too! Simply hang it up in the sun and by night you will have seven color-changing balls to illuminate your campsite. 

  • Length: 22 vertical inches 
  • Battery: Solar powered and 1 AA battery (included and pre-installed) 
  • Weight: 10.2 ounces 
Pros
  • Easy to use
  • Relaxing—lights smoothly change color
  • Still looks decorative during the day while they aren’t on 
  • LED lifespan of 100,000 hours
Cons
  • You can’t control the colors yourself
  • Decoration-oriented rather than visibility-oriented

Buying Guide - Get the Perfect Camping String Lights

As you can see, when choosing a set of string lights, you’ll have many features to consider. Think about what you want to use your lights for.

  • Do you need more visibility at your campsite? 
  • Do you want something decorative to create a certain ambiance?
  • Or a combination of both?

All of the lights in this article fall into one of those categories. Now, I’ll go into a little more detail about what you can expect with some of these features. 

Brightness 

You may have noticed the word “lumens” used throughout this article. Brightness is measured in terms of lumens. This is a great way to ensure that you choose lights with a brightness that you prefer—either something extremely bright or a little less intense. 

For reference, I use headlamps that have 300-350 lumens. With all the light focused in one direction, this is rather intense. I can see all the details of the trail in front of me, easily prepare dinner, or read without straining my eyes. However, if someone looks directly at the light, it could hurt their eyes. 

Keep in mind that this amount of light, when spread out in various directions, creates a much less intense effect. String lights generally do not focus light in one direction, which means they provide less light but in a greater area.

Low: I would consider low brightness to be anything near or under 100 lumens, such as the MPOWERD Luci String Lights. With 100 lumens, you can see and move about your campsite, but you won’t be able to use these lights for more detailed tasks. This is a great amount for gentle mood lighting!

Medium: Depending on your tolerance for light, a medium lighting range can be anywhere from 200-500 lumens. This is great for creating an ambiance while still having fully functioning lights for activities like cooking or playing cards.

Many of the lights I’ve described fall into this category, such as the Power Practical Luminoodle Light Rope and the BioLite SiteLight XL.

High: You’ll want over 600 lumens when you’re trying to see a lot of detail over a large area. Something like the Brightech Ambience Pro, with about 1000 lumens, would be considered a very bright light.

Luckily, they are spread out over 24 feet, so they can sufficiently light a large area without being too intense!

Length

This feature is pretty simple and straightforward. Your preferred length of string light will depend on factors such as the size of the area you want to illuminate and how intricately you want to decorate.

Shorter lengths are great for small areas like tents or picnic tables, while longer lengths are better for placing in between trees or around trailers.

Power Source

This is really important to consider when choosing string lights. Some types of lights require other devices to power them, so if you choose that route, you need to make sure that you either have that device or can acquire one before your camping trip.

There are pros and cons to each type of power source, so read through to ensure you find the one that works best for you!

Batteries

Most string lights use either AAs or AAAs, which you can easily find at drug stores, gas stations, or hardware stores. One important thing to keep in mind when using batteries is to bring extras, as they do run out. If you don’t have an extra set, you won’t have any lights! 

USB Port

USB ports require an extra device to power them. A generator or common battery pack that you can use to charge your phone will do. Just make sure you have enough fuel or charge to last you through your trip! 

Solar Powered

Solar is awesome! It’s good for the environment, and you don’t have to worry about extra things like batteries or power devices.

But make sure to check the weather for your trip! If it’s going to be cloudy, your lights won’t be able to charge during the day, so you may want to opt for a different power source.

Luckily, something like the MPOWERD Luci String Lights, which are solar-powered, also have a USB port option for cloudy days! 

Corded Electric

This power source is just your good, old-fashioned wall plug. These are great because you don’t have to worry about batteries running out and they are often very bright.

However, they are a little more difficult to use while camping because it’s rare to find an outlet at a campsite. You can also power these through a generator that runs on gasoline. 

Weatherproofing

Just like with a tent, your string lights must be able to withstand the weather conditions you’ll be camping in.

The IP rating can help you determine this. A weatherproof rating usually contains two numbers. The first number tells you how well the object stands up to solid particles like dust or dirt and is rated on a scale from 0-6. 

The second number tells you how well the object does against water and rain and is rated on a scale from 0-9. If there is an X in place of either number, it means that there is no rating for that condition. 

I usually choose lights that have an IP rating of at least IP44. This means they can remain functional in at least moderate weather conditions.

The higher the numbers, the more weatherproof the lights are.

Design and Decoration

This is probably the most fun—and sometimes the most difficult—thing to consider when choosing string lights.

  • Do you want to hang your lights in your tent or outside in the trees? 
  • Do you like string lights that are random or in an organized design?
  • Do you prefer white or colorful lights? 

With so many options for lights on the market, the possibilities are endless.

For some help with campsite decorating ideas, check out this article.

FAQs

Can you leave string lights on all night?

While technically you can do this, I don’t recommend it, for many reasons. You have limited resources while camping and you don’t want to use up your batteries or generator fuel.

Lights can also be disruptive to nearby campers (or yourself!) who want to enjoy a dark, starry sky. Plus, lights tend to attract bugs and critters to your campsite!

If you do plan to leave your lights on all night, battery-powered LED lights are the safest way to go.

Can string lights cause a fire?

While it is extremely unlikely, string lights can cause a fire. Any poorly wired electrical device can be a fire hazard, so make sure you buy quality string lights to prevent this! 

Fires can also be started if string lights generate a lot of heat near a flammable item, such as dry trees. Fortunately, most string lights are made with battery-powered LED lights that don’t produce as much heat and will greatly reduce the chances of a fire.

Turning off the lights before you go to sleep or for a few minutes to let them cool down if they get very hot is always a good idea as well! 

For how many hours of camping do string lights last? 

This depends on the lights and their power source. If your string lights require a generator or battery pack, they will last as long as it takes to drain your fuel source. Lights that require batteries have a more fixed time limit based on the batteries.

The brightness of the lights and the number of bulbs that the string contains are also factors determining how long they will last. The more total light your string emits, the more battery power it will take and the shorter it will last.

However, in my experience with a variety of camping string lights, I have been able to get many uses out of them on multiple camping trips before having to change the batteries. 

Final Thoughts

Shopping for string lights is pretty relaxed as compared to purchasing other types of camping gear.

Choosing the wrong set won’t ruin your camping trip, but choosing the right one could really make it. 

That’s why I recommend the Power Practical Luminoodle Light Rope. It’s a high-quality string light and I love how it doubles as a lantern! String lights generally aren’t expensive, but if you’re trying to keep costs low, make sure to check out the ZOUTOG Battery Operated String Lights

You really can’t go wrong with camping string lights, so have fun browsing for a set that suits your taste. It’s time to get creative! 

I hope you found this article on the best camping string lights helpful. If you have any questions, leave a comment below. Happy camping!


Sara
Sara

Sara is an experienced outdoorswoman that works and travels seasonally throughout the western U.S. She holds a B.S. in earth science from the University of California Santa Barbara. Other than camping and writing, she's interested in skiing, surfing, peak bagging, and studying plants! 


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