10 Best Camping String Lights to Create Any Kind of Ambiance

By Emma
best camping string lights

We put in 9+ hours of research to select the MPOWERD Luci Solar String Lights as the best camping string lights for backpackers. For car campers, we loved the OMIKA LED Outdoor String Lights.

String lights add a special dash of elegance to any location. So why not bring their warm glow to your campsite?

We’ve decided on the MPOWERD Luci Solar String Lights as our favorite choice for backpackers. While they’re primarily solar powered, they offer USB connectivity as a backup method for when the sun isn’t cooperating.

As a runner-up, we decided on the OMIKA LED Outdoor String Lights for car campers. Since these are AC powered, they’re ideal for campsites that offer power-hookups. Plus, you get all the fun and versatility of multicolor, multi-mode lights along with all the traditional golden lights we know and love.

Best camping string lights — Top recommendations

Best camping string lights for backpackers:

Best camping string lights for car campers:

Best camping string lights for tranquil ambiance:

Best camping string lights for reading or other activities:

Best camping string lights for parties:

In addition to this list, we created a buyer’s guide so you can decide how to pick string lights that are best suited for you. Also, if you have any questions about the product, check out our FAQs.

MPOWERD Luci Solar String Lights 

  • Brightness as advertised (30%) – 8/10
  • Weight & Portability (20%) – 9/10, compact at 2 x 5”
  • Durability and build (20%) – 7/10
  • Weatherproofing (20%) – 6/10, IP4 isn’t the best
  • Longevity (10%) – 6/10, some comments saying they wear out after a few uses

Best for: campers looking for a solar light solution that works even when the sun doesn’t shine; $$

If you’re intrigued by solar-powered string lights but you’re worried about cloudy days, the MPOWERD Luci Solar String Lights is a great solution.

When a 16-hour sunlight charge isn’t possible, these lights are equipped with a USB charging cable. This enables you to charge the lights through a USB battery pack even if the clouds refuse to budge.

As if that wasn’t cool enough, the MPOWERED Luci Solar Lights are an incredibly compact system. The solar panel, USB cord, and lights are all contained within a small 2 x 5” disc.

All in all, these string lights are a striking all-in-one carrying and charging solution.

Pros:

  • Versatile; option to charge with solar or USB
  • Can also charge cell phones
  • Highly compact and portable

Cons:

  • IP4 weather rating; less than impressive
  • 16 hour charge time a bit long

OMIKA LED Outdoor String Light

  • Brightness as advertised (30%) – 8/10
  • Weight & Portability (20%) – 7/10
  • Durability and build (20%) – 8/10
  • Weatherproofing (20%) – 9/10, IP65 is amazingly weatherproof
  • Longevity (10%) – 8/10

Best for: someone who wants to bridge the gap between traditional golden and fun multicolor lights; $$

Do you adore the warm, classy glow of gold globe string lights? But at the same time, you want the option of pumping things up with multicolor strobes.

If that’s the case, then the OMIKA LED Outdoor String Lights are likely the set for you.

When you want to keep things quiet and classy, you don’t need to pull out a whole different set of lights. The OMIKA string lights can be programmed to the traditional white or gold for some sweet ambiance.

But when you’re ready to liven up a space, these lights offer a whopping 18 different colors. That’s plenty of creative options available for setting a vibrant mood. 

Plus, the colors can even be mixed thanks to additional light nodes within the globes. 

The OMIKA lights feature just about every customization imaginable. This includes 7 different flashing modes, dimmable modes, and a timer function.

Pros:

  • Highly customizable; 18 colors and 7 modes
  • Incredibly waterproof: IP65
  • Mixable colors

Cons:

  • AC power source means you need to plug it into an outlet

ZOUTOG Battery Operated String Lights

  • Brightness as advertised (30%) – 7/10
  • Weight & Portability (20%) – 7/10
  • Durability and build (20%) – 8/10
  • Weatherproofing (20%) – 8/10
  • Longevity (10%) – 8/10

Best for: anyone who wants a convenient and affordable way to add soft mood lighting to their campsite; $

Are you tired of tripping over yourself in the dark after turning off your string lights? Well, the ZOUTOG Battery Operated String Lights solves this problem with a handy remote!

This remote does a lot more than just manage the power. It also features 8 different illumination modes for the string lights. 

Ranging from soft flickering to strobe-like flashing, there’s a mode to suit whatever mood you’re trying to convey. 

Not only that, you can also dim the lights if you find the brightness too overwhelming.

Regarding their durability, we were pleased to see that campers had only good things to say. 

Some commented on their sturdy build, and the triple-twisted wire construction for extra strength. So you don’t need to worry about them dying off after a few uses.

Pros:

  • Versatile options for longer campsites; 33’ and 49’
  • Remote control; convenient on/off
  • Features 8 flashing modes
  • Lights can be dimmed
  • Battery operated so you don’t trip on cords

Cons:

  • Can’t connect with other lights

Coleman LED String Lights

  • Brightness as advertised (30%) – 9/10, very bright!
  • Weight & Portability (20%) – 7/10
  • Durability and build (20%) – 8/10
  • Weatherproofing (20%) – 8/10
  • Longevity (10%) – 7/10

Best for: a festival or concert camper looking for a unique set of string lights to illuminate the night; $

Do you like having a little extra flair, even when you camp? If so, the Coleman LED String Lights certainly stand out in a sea of typical Christmas lights.

Each of the 10 lights are fashioned to look like a tiny, 2.75” lantern. But don’t be fooled by their small size. These lights emit a powerfully bright blast.

They’re so strong and white, in fact, that campers don’t recommend using them in backcountry sites. Instead, they’re best for festivals, glamping, or camping out at a concert. 

If the forecast turns unexpectedly wet, these string lights can take it. 

One camper even mentions having strung them up under an awning, where they remained during a rainstorm. Despite rain from the roof cascading into them, the lights remained functional.

Pros:

  • Unique and adorable look 
  • Holds up well in the rain
  • Super bright for those who want to work around camp

Cons:

  • Light considered too white for some

Solar Star String Lights

  • Brightness as advertised (30%) – 8/10
  • Weight & Portability (20%) – 7/10
  • Durability and build (20%) – 7/10
  • Weatherproofing (20%) – 9/10, IP65 is amazingly weatherproof
  • Longevity (10%) – 7/10

Best for: someone who wants to bring twinkling stars to their car camping site without worrying about the forecast; $

For anyone wanting to add a touch of starry magic to their campsite, the Solar Star String Lights are a perfect choice.

To make them even more magical, they feature several fade and flashing modes to enhance the twinkling star effect.

Just be aware that the length of this particular string light set is 40’. That’s pretty long for decorating a small backpacking tent and could get unwieldy pretty fast.

The solar panel makes for a great set-it-and-forget-it solution; no more fussing with dead batteries! What’s even better is that these lights automatically turn on at night for added convenience.

When it comes to bad weather, these lights boast an IP65 rating. This is at the maximum range, resulting in an incredibly durable set you can leave up during bad weather.

Pros:

  • Lovely and unique; features fade/flash modes 
  • IP65 weatherproof rating; extremely durable
  • Automatically turns on at night

Cons:

  • Beware tangling them up! The pointy stars make untangling difficult

Globe Led String Lights

  • Brightness as advertised (30%) – 9/10, campers enjoy that “warm glow” actually looks warm and not white
  • Weight & Portability (20%) – 7/10
  • Durability and build (20%) – 9/10, shatterproof bulbs
  • Weatherproofing (20%) – 8/10, IP44 rating withstands rain
  • Longevity (10%) – 8/10

Best for: anyone looking for a no-fuss, no-frills string light set to add some low mood lighting to their frontcountry campsite; $

With their warm glow that campers love, the Globe Led String Lights are an elegant addition to any car camping site.

Notice I said “car camping.” That’s because these lights are AC powered. So you’ll need to hook these up to an outlet, which you won’t find in the backcountry.

On the plus side, you can connect multiple strings of lights. So if you happen to need more than 25’ feet of lights, no worries – you can easily connect a second strand.

If the forecast turns soggy, you can rest easy knowing that these string lights carry a weatherproof rating of IP44. Leave them hanging through the bad weather and watch the lights illuminate the rain.

Pros:

  • Weatherproof IP44 rating
  • Connectable to other string lights
  • Shatterproof bulbs


Cons:

  • AC power means you have to use them in a place with outlets/power hookups

LED Outdoor Battery Fairy Lights

  • Brightness as advertised (30%) – 8/10
  • Weight & Portability (20%) – 9/10, only weighs 4oz
  • Durability and build (20%) – 7/10
  • Weatherproofing (20%) – 6/10 high rating but poor performance in the rain
  • Longevity (10%) – 7/10

Best for: a camper on a budget who wants a long set of fairy lights to add warmth and ambiance to any campsite; $

Even though the LED Outdoor Battery Fairy Lights are available to even the most budget-conscious camper, they don’t chince out on features.

These lights offer 8 different modes. From slow fades and gentle glows to Christmas-like blinking, there’s a mode for any mood.

You also have the ability to place the lights on a timer. That way, you can set them and forget them; they’ll automatically turn on when it gets dark.

One drawback is their mixed feedback on weatherproofing. Even though they carry an IP65 rating, some users had trouble when it rained.

Pros:

  • Highly affordable
  • 8 different modes
  • Timer function
  • Small enough to fit in a jar for a delicate, lantern-like effect

Cons:

  • Despite its high weatherproof rating, it’s offered less-than-impressive performance in the rain

Power Practical Luminoodle

  • Brightness as advertised (30%) – 8/10
  • Weight & Portability (20%) – 8/10
  • Durability and build (20%) – 7/10
  • Weatherproofing (20%) – 7/10
  • Longevity (10%) – 6/10, mixed feedback about lifespan

Best for: tent or car campers who find themselves wishing they had a camping lantern on hand; $

The Power Practical Luminoodle string lights are an awesome 2-in-1 option for tent campers or car campers alike.

The Luminoodle comes with a white nylon pouch where you can stuff the strip of lights. Bam! Instant portable lantern! 

These lights can also be hung just about anywhere. The built-in magnets allow you to stick them on the sides of a car or RV. Meanwhile, the included ties assist with wrapping the lights around those hard to reach places.

Plus, they come in lengths of 5’ or 10’, adding to the overall versatility. The options for hanging and application are limitless!

Pros:

  • Doubles as a portable lantern
  • Magnets and ties make for easy application; great for cars too!
  • 5’ and 10’ options for added customization and versatility

Cons:

  • Some campers noted that the battery pack can disconnect from the lights while hanging

AMIR Upgraded Solar String Lights

  • Brightness as advertised (30%) – 8/10
  • Weight & Portability (20%) – 9/10, weighs just under 5oz
  • Durability and build (20%) – 6/10, a little delicate
  • Weatherproofing (20%) – 7/10
  • Longevity (10%) – 7/10

Best for: anyone looking for highly versatile, solar-powered lights for gentle ambiance; $

If you’re ever struggled to wrap string lights around a particularly fussy surface, then have a look at the AMIR Upgraded Solar String Lights.

Made with soft copper wire, these lights are crazy flexible and bendy. You can wrap them around the most annoying of tent poles and they’ll stay in place.

Because the wiring is so fine, it vanishes discreetly when the tiny light nodes are illuminated. But because the lights are so small, be aware that these are primarily for mood lighting.

Additionally, these string lights are solar powered. 

So unlike some of the battery-powered options, you don’t need to worry about exhausting – and then tossing – a million dead batteries. Instead, set the solar panel to charge and enjoy up to 8 hours of continuous mood lighting.

Pros:

  • Copper wiring is soft and pliable to wrap around any surface
  • Auto on/off feature
  • Very lightweight at just under 5oz

Cons:

  • Because the wire is so soft, it’s a little delicate
  • Mixed reviews on water performance

ALOVECO LED String Lights

  • Brightness as advertised (30%) – 6/10, some users said they weren’t as vibrant as pictured and described
  • Weight & Portability (20%) – 8/10
  • Durability and build (20%) – 7/10
  • Weatherproofing (20%) – 9/10, IP65
  • Longevity (10%) – 7/10

Best for: a camper that wants a unique, frosted rainbow look instead of the traditional gloss; $

The ALOVECO LED String Lights are an awesome find for anyone on the lookout for festive, flashing string lights for the next big event.

These string lights offer 8 different modes. That’s more than enough strobe-light options to keep the fun going well into the night.

You can change the modes – as well as utilize the timer feature – with the included remote. However, one interesting point is that the remote is attached to the lights.

If you’re absentminded and tend to lose stuff, this could be a good thing! But if you don’t want to deal with a dangling remote, it could be slightly inconvenient.

One other thing to note: they’re advertised as 18’, but a few campers mentioned that they totaled only 13’. So if you need a longer string of lights, you’d better check elsewhere.

Pros:

  • Rainbow frosted look is unique and different
  • 8 different modes and timer
  • IP65 for weather protection

Cons:

  • 13’, not 18’ as advertised
  • They aren’t as vibrant as pictured
  • Remote is attached to lights

How to Choose the Best Camping String Lights 

You might be wondering what’s there to discuss when choosing camping string lights?

After all, they’re so simple, right?

Well, they may be less complex than a 4-season tent, but there are still a few things to consider before making your purchase. So let’s take a look!

Brightness 

What do you plan on using your string lights for? Are they mostly for gentle mood lighting and ambiance? 

Or do you want them to be as functional as they are beautiful? If so, then they need to give off enough light to read or perform other tasks.

The brightness of most light-emitting objects is given in lumens. This number is equivalent to the light of approximately 1 candle per lumen.

I mention this because you may encounter it when shopping for your string lights.

Generally, 100 or less lumens is not very bright, such as the 40 lumen Globe Led String Lights. String lights with this brightness rating would be ideal for ambiance, but not for detailed tasks.

Stepping it up, 100-400 lumens would be bright enough to serve as decorative lighting while offering enough visibility for campsite activities. This can be seen in the 180 lumen Power Practical Luminoodle.

Finally, string lights with 500 or more lumens are quite bright. They can easily substitute for any camp lantern while bringing that touch of charm that’s unique to string lights.

Power Supply Method

There are several different power methods to keep your string lights shining all through the night.

AC power is the standard method for powering indoor electrical appliances. Some (but not many) camping string lights like the Globe Led String Lights offer this power supply. 

AC powered string lights are best for a frontcountry campground that offers the ability to hook up to a power source.

Meanwhile, USB power is another wired method, as seen on these Blingstar Fairy Lights 2 Pack USB Powered. But instead of an outlet, you plug into a tiny battery pack.

This is an incredible portable solution, as most of these battery packs are the size of a cell phone. Just be sure the pack has the capacity to last for the duration of the evening!

For non-wired methods, consider a battery-powered setup. String lights like the Coleman LED String Lights use AA or AAA batteries and generally supply enough juice to get you through several nights of use.

Finally, solar power is a great option if you don’t want to be dependent on wires with exhaustible batteries. 

String lights that are solar powered, like the MPOWERD Luci Solar String Lights + Charger  include a small solar panel that offers 20 hours of use on a single charge.

Length

How large of an area are you planning to festoon with your string lights?

If the lights are for a glamping base camp at a festival, you may have more room to work with than if you’re in a small and crowded car-camping site.

So for a larger situation, consider something like the ZOUTOG Battery Operated String Lights  which offers 33 ft of rope for ample decoration.

However, if you just want to hang up a few string lights inside or on your tent, then you wouldn’t want an overly long tangle of lights and cord getting in the way

Thus, you’d want a length of around 10’ or less. The 5’ Power Practical Luminoodle would make sense in this case.

Weather Resistance and durability

Since your string lights will most likely be hanging outside, you’ll want to note any weather resistance or durability features.

For instance, the Globe Led String Lights offer shatterproof bulbs. This way, they won’t break the way a normal lightbulb will if it suddenly takes a plunge.

Consider the IP rating as well. This number measures the amount of waterproofing of any electronic device. 

The Globe string lights above have a rating of IP44. The highest rating is IP67, so these lights may not be foolproof in wet conditions.

Conversely, the AMIR Upgraded Solar String Lights boast a rating of IP65. These puppies will stand up to a beating from the rain without being ruined or extinguished.

Extra Features

Some camping string lights come with a handful of additional features to increase convenience or provide enhanced ambiance.

For instance, some lights like the Bebrant LED Rope Lights feature different light modes. Switch between flashing strobe effects and rainbow colors for a party-like vibe! They even include a remote control for added convenience.


Speaking of which, the Power Practical Luminoodle set offers loops and magnetic strips to make for hassle-free hanging. 

Finally, if you miscalculated the length of your string lights, some have the capability to connect with other lights. This means you can hook them together to get a much longer strand if needed.

Frequently Asked Questions 

Are string lights easily breakable?

If you get shatterproof bulbs, then it’ll be tough to break string lights. However, we’d still advise to treat the lights with a little love and respect. Dropping them carelessly – shatterproof or not – could still result in one or all of the bulbs shorting out from the impact.

Can string lights cause a fire?

String lights will likely not cause a fire unless they were of extremely poor quality. 

Keep in mind that any electrical gadget can cause a fire, including the lamps in your house. For example, exposed wires could spark. Or if you left the string lights on near a flammable object. Thankfully, LED bulbs run much cooler than standard bulbs.


(To learn more about camping and fire safety, check out our article on 26 camping safety tips)

Can you hang string lights inside a tent?

String lights can be easily hung inside of a tent. Instead of draping them outside, use your tent poles inside your tent to hang the lights. 

Can you leave string lights on all night?

You can leave string lights on all night, but it’s not advisable for a few reasons. Leaving them on will burn through their battery life. Plus, you’re asleep anyway, so why bother draining the power when you can’t see them anyway?

Even if you have an AC option, it could still be a little inconsiderate to leave them on. This mostly applies to car camping sites, where the perpetual light could annoy the neighbors.

Can you leave string lights outside for extended periods?

Strings lights can be left outside if they have a high IP rating. If you selected a model with a rating of at least IP44, then you’re probably safe to leave them out. 

However, we’d still advise against this if it’s not absolutely necessary. No matter what piece of gear we’re talking about, prolonged exposure to the elements will accelerate their degradation.

Final Verdict

To recap, our favorite camping string lights for backpackers are the MPOWERD Luci Solar String Lights.

We loved their versatility regarding the solar or USB power charging methods. 

Plus, it fits in a crazy compact disc. Everything is together so you don’t need to worry about losing this ultra portable light set.

We didn’t forget about you car campers! Our favorite string lights for you are the OMIKA LED Outdoor String Lights.

Similar to the MPOWERED lights, the OMIKA lights offer a crazy amount of versatility. 

This is apparent in the 18 different colors and modes, which are awesome for parties. But you can still keep things more tranquil by choosing the standard gold or white light mode.

AUTHOR

My name is Emma, and I’m a city dweller who jumps on every opportunity to get out and enjoy nature! I’ve gone on a number of car camping and backpacking trips over the past few years. I created this site to inspire others to get outside and to make the process easier for you.