Candle lanterns

I have always argued against candle-lanterns in a tent. My tent may not burn but what about the gear inside? Or can I sleep once I bump the lantern and spill melted wax all over myself and my sleeping bag?

My kayak Club just had a ‘swap meet’ and one of the guys was selling a UCO Candle lantern with accessories for $5. I priced the lot at over $45 and took the deal! He had test-burned one candle for a few minutes and never used it again so the thing is almost new (never used in the field).

So now it’s in my kayak camping kit and I wonder why?

Are candle lanterns as dangerous as I think?

Do they have a use outside the tent?

Are they a waste of space or worth more than a flashlight or mini-led-lantern?

Anyone use candle-lanters (there are many types) and if so, what are your opinions?

because it was $5?

The only reason I bought it was because it was $5 for a $45 set-up.

NOW I have to decide if it was worth getting and useing or should i sell it for $20?

All the time
Used to carry one all the time to hang in a lean-to, under a terp, or use in a snow cave. I have used them in a tent but probably not the brightest thing I have ever done. There are so many better options with LED headlamps, I can’t imagine using a candle lantern in a tent anymore.

The vents on top will put out some pretty good heat so make sure you keep the clearance between top and nearest combustible pretty significant.

I would still carry one to use under a tarp (dining fly). Nice ambience without haveing to build a fire (LNT)

Good responses so far
Tarps, lean-tos, snow caves…Good.


I would not use a candle lantern in a confined nylon (even flame-retardant nylon) enclosure. Too many things to go wrong, with potentially painful results.

Nightswimmer has a bunch of Ucos he hangs under his MSR wings, and they provide a great ambient light.


Yes, I use them
all the time when camping. I like the warm, natural light they shed. I use two or more to read by, or I hang them from my tarp’s guy-lines to help me avoid clothes-lining myself when I’m wandering around at night.

As for using them in the tent, it’s not so much the combustion I worry about, but the carbon monoxide danger. I don’t know how much CO a candle puts out and how much is too much in a small space like a tent, but I don’t want to find out the hard way.

All the time
But for those that are risk-adverse, here is a list of other things to never do or use in a tent.

Never use bug spray near a tent in the sun. It might spontaneously combust. (I’ve actually seen this happen!)

Never have sex in a tent. You might contract a STD. (No, I haven’t experienced this one.)

Never bring a bottle of water and a pee bottle into a tent. You might… yuch. (No, I haven’t experienced this one either).

Never breathe in a tent. You might use up all the oxygen or increase the CO level and die.

Never set a tent up under the sky. Lightning might strike it.

Never set a tent up on the ground. There might be an earth quake.

I always use them
I have a couple of the UCO Candle Lanterns – I never use them in a tent but I do use them around the campsite – especially in locations where campfires are not permitted. I find that they give off a pleasant light – not too bright, but a nice warm light that is not as obnoxious as other lanterns (I can’t stand Coleman mantle lanterns – they far too bright and noisy).


I would use them while I am awake to
keep an eye on them. But LED/battery lanterns have gotten so good that I don’t think I will ever bother with a candle lantern again.

nope but

– Last Updated: Nov-16-09 6:55 PM EST –

Uco just came out with the Flip

You can use it upright or rotate the light so it goes through a convex diffuser lens.

Worked great this weekend in a canvas winter tent.

This light is NOT a flame..its a LED.

I have both
I have the UCO candle lantern and a Black Diamond Apollo. I’d never use the UCO in a tent but the Apollo is to bright in the tent. I usually just tuck the head lamp in the mesh shelf at the top and it lights up the whole tent.

The UCO is awesome and I take it with me every time. it’s perfect for almost everything and just feels cozy. The Apollo is super bright but the light is harsh.


burned hole in tent…

– Last Updated: Nov-16-09 5:20 PM EST –

Not me.... the fellow I was paddling with this past Oct.
We each had our own tents. When temps got a bit nippy up in Maine, he tried to use his candle lantern to help keep warm.
He balanced it on the floor of his tent...the wax melted unevenly and spilled onto the tent floor burning a whole in it. Fortunately the flame never came in direct contact with any fabric.

I had no idea that he would try such a thing. Besides the more obvious, burning fabrics can give off nasty toxins.

I like candles ok on paddling trips and have used them to help start a campfire if needed... but never a candle in the tent for me.

I picked one up this summer when an experienced expedition paddler told me that he has used them hanging from the top of his tent to take the chill off in cold climates. He claimed that they can easily raise the temp in a tent 5 degrees.

Haven’t tried it myself yet. I guess I’m a little nervous.

NOT IN tent, but outside is great!
candle lanterns provide a nice subdued natural looking light, perfect for navigating around guylines or eating at dark…

candle lanterns with the bug repellent candles are great in summer… i light one and leave it near tent on the ground(but far enough away that it can’t contact fabric or ignite it)… drives off the bugs long enough to get into tent after blowing it out…

also, for winter camping, tents with large enough vestibules - i leave 1/2 the vestibule open, and just place the candle under the open part… again, far enough away from any fabric that it won’t start on fire, and on the ground… the radiant heat can really dry out condensation and dampness in an enclosed area, such as a tent… i don’t mind cold dry air, but cold damp air tends to lock my joints up…

however, i always have mine on the ground in case of tipovers, and far enough away from any fabric that if it does tip, it won’t come anywheres near any fabric. They do kick out a lot of heat through the top vents, so be sure any fabric is far enough overhead to not be an issue…

I have a few and Do use in a tent …

– Last Updated: Nov-16-09 6:20 PM EST –

You guys would be surprised how a UCO will remove the condensation from inside the tent in cool to cold weather. I have a Cabela's 4 man Alaskan Guide tent that I use as a one man hotel. I hang the candle about a foot from the peak and just about close it and leave it going all night. There is little heat benefit from it, but Like I said, it removes any condensation from the top. Now this is a fairly large tent with the ceiling about 4 1/2 ft. high and about 9 ft.octangular that I use strictly as a solo tent.. (Jsaults has seen it) the candle doesn'
t put off much heat from a little more than a foot away. I've thought about buying a diffuser from Campmor, but I just use some foil instead. I wouldn't do it in my MSR tents, but for the Cabela's tent, it works great. And like nightswimmer(who now has a much sought after yellow one) I hang them from my parawing

Not in a tent
but I like using one outside. As a continuous low level light source, I like it better than an LED lamp or one of those Coleman monstrosities. And in places where campfires are not allowed, it adds a little warm glow. Used mine for that reason in the Channel Islands last week. Doesn’t kill your night vision either.

Inside my tent? Yes, for years.
Not often when backpacking because of weight but always when kayak camping and it really does help with condensation.

I light it and hang it from the ceiling about an hour before going to bed and I do extinguish it before going to sleep but it makes a nice light to read by (I use the aluminum top thingy that directs the light down).

My tent is always well vented whether I’m using a candle lantern or not.

Don’t use it IN a tent

– Last Updated: Nov-16-09 6:40 PM EST –

Don't use any open flame inside a tent. There are so many ways that that could get out of control in a bad way.

Anyway, I thought they were kind of silly but I've changed my mind.

What they are quite nice for is ambient lighting (outside, of course) in the campsite. They also provide some of the ambiance that a fire does without the same hassle.

A lot of alternative ambient lighting is much too bright.

Used one
in a MSR Hubba Hubba for months. Hung it on a piece of twine about four inches below the top of the tent. Was great, never lit myself on fire… Hit my head on it a few times, but it goes right out. Enough ventilation in a well set up three season tent to not have to worry about CO2 poisoning or what not. Helps dry out damp clothes after a long day…

I wouldn’t really call it an open flame
since it is in glass and all…