High-Tech Camping Light vs Walmart Brand

Categories: Survival Gear


Flash Sale Note:
The Olantern is a new camping light and Olight is running a limited-time sale on it.
Click the link to check it out.

I know what you are thinking. There is no way a Walmart camping light can outperform a high-end, high-tech camping light.

Of course not! But there is a performance-to-price ratio that we can measure these lights by, and that is what we will examine – which is the better buy over for your camping situation. Should you buy a camping light that costs around $10 or one that costs well over $50?

That is a decision each person will have to make specific to their budget and intended use, but this comparison will help inform the decision you should make. Let’s meet the contenders…

Olight’s Olantern High-Tech Camping Light

The Olantern is a new addition to the Olight’s array of high-end lights. Olight sent me this light prior to its official public release for purposes of testing and reviewing.

olight olantern unboxed
The Olanern unboxed: light, charging cable, and spare bulb.

If you haven’t read our reviews of Olight’s lights before, see the write-ups on the Warrior Mini EDC light, BALDR Mini, and Valkyrie PL-PRO. Their lights are not “budget lights” compared to something you might buy at Walmart, but compared to other name brands offering high-end tactical lights, their prices are very reasonable.

Olight has gained a strong foothold in the shooting, prepper, and outdoor enthusiast market. It was no surprise to see the birth of the Olantern to complement their inventory of lights. You don’t have to be a billionaire prepper to buy one of their light, you just need to know you are going to use it enough to justify the expense.

Walmart’s Ozark Trail Budget Camping Light

ozark trail camping light
The family’s Ozark Trail lantern.

Ozark Trail is a brand of camping gear that many people are probably familiar with. That’s because it’s a Walmart brand. The Walmart home office is located in northwest Arkansas, home of the Ozark mountains, hence the name.

The light I’m using in this comparison is the 200 lumen multi-mode camping lantern. It can be purchased on the Walmart website or in the store for just under $10. I did not buy this light for the comparison, I owned it prior to this review. We have used it for several years to hang from the top of our tent or to set on a picnic table to play cards.

I have generally been quite happy with this light for car camping purposes. We have used it hanging from the top center of tents, on tables, and hanging inside a pop up camper when camping at locations that do not have power hookup.

It is certainly not a light that would be suitable for a bug out bag or anything of that nature, but for camping and general around the house use, it’s fine, particularly for the price.

Battery and Performance

The most obvious difference between the lights, and I’m sure what constitutes a large portion of the price difference, is in the power source. Olight’s Olantern uses the same method as their other lights – a rechargeable battery that powers through a magnetic USB cord. If you own multiple Olight products as I do, this makes thing very convenient. I have an Olight USB cord at our family charging station, so whenever one of my lights is running low, I just plug it in next to the kids’ cellphones and a few hours later it’s back at 100%.

My Ozark Trail, on the other hand, uses 3 D cell batteries. Note: I have an older unit and the new lanterns of this type runs on 4 AA batteries (a better design in my opinion).

I generally prefer rechargeable batteries for everyday light use. I do not have to buy more batteries, I do not have to throw batteries away, and I can keep my battery organization and storage more manageable.

Bonus: The Olantern has a battery power indicator light that lets you know how much charge is left. The Ozark does not.

While there are very clear advantages to a rechargeable battery, if the power goes out (or power is inaccessible) your light is now dead (unless you have other means to charge batteries through USB ports). With a light like the Ozark, I simply have to replace the batteries from my stock and bam – I’m back in business.

Light Output, Options, and Construction

The difference in light output was not as profound as I would have expected. The Olantern boasts at 360 lumens output whereas the Ozark is listed at 200 lumens. That’s a massive difference in listed output, but see the difference between the two lights set up in my dining room with all other lights out.

olantern power switch
A strange symbol in the night sky? Nope. It’s the soft glow of the Olantern’s power button making it easy to find in the dark.

The Olantern has four different run-times. At Level 1 (360 lumens) it will run for 6.5 hours. Level 2 (120 lumens) is 20 hours. Level 3 (30 lumens) is 75 hours. The “Flaming LED” mode will run for 80 hours.

The Ozark has two different run times. At the high setting (200 lumens) it will run for 7.5 hours. On the low mode (40 lumens) it will run for 82 hours.

The construction between the two lights is what you would expect when you compare a high-tech camping light to an economy brand. The two feel different in your hand. The Olantern is slight smaller with a tighter feel to its construction. I do not need to drop these lights or put them underwater to know the Olantern would perform better under a torture test.

Bonus: the Olantern comes with a romantic “flaming” LED replacement bulb. The Ozark does not.

Price Comparison and Warranty

As stated, the Ozark costs a few pennies under $10. The Olantern’s MSRP is $79.95, but right now, with the time-limited deal, is available at $55.97.

The Olantern has a 30-day money back guarantee (I’m guessing this is comparable to Walmart) and it comes with a two-year warranty. You will get no such warranty with the Ozark.

Turning the Lights Out on this Post

If you camp a few weekends a year and do not want to invest too much money into a light, the Ozark camping light is the right choice for you. If, however, you camp more frequently and prefer a higher-performance product, the Olantern camping light is the right choice.

You will save money over the long haul through the ability to recharge the battery on the Olantern. Looking on Amazon, an 8-pack of Duracell D cell batteries sells for $14. If you bought the light and 32 batteries you are at approximately $66 ($10 light + ($14 x 4) = $66). That will give you 30 hours of Ozark run time on high, and it will cost you $10 more than the Olantern through Olight’s time-limited sale going on right now for $56. This, in my opinion, makes the Olantern the obvious choice for a camping light.

You can buy the Olantern by clicking here.

Even at Olight’s non-sale price of $79.95, regular use of the light would save you money over the longer-term. Whenever possible, I prefer to buy better quality once than have to replace lower quality twice (or more).

Oh, and did I mentioned the flaming bulb? It’s good for setting a mood, or for squirrel altars.

Did I help “shed light on” the subject? Let me know in the comments section.

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