Camping is a fun vacation away from the hustle and bustle of daily life. Some camp for fun, others for sport, and some just to get away from technology for a while.
One of the great things about camping is that it is a year-round activity. Cold weather camping, though, can cause some health issues if you aren’t fully prepared. Having the right tent heater will help a lot.
This article will not only examine and review the best tent heaters, but we will also show you what to look for when making your selection, so you get the right tent heater for your specific needs.
To go with your new heater when camping, consider a quality tent air conditioner for the warmer months.
Quick Guide – Our Top Picks
Should Heaters Be Used Inside Tents
The use of heaters indoors is always a concern. Since you can’t sleep out in the elements when it is below freezing, though, a heater is the best option. Is it safe? It is. Most tent heaters have a lot of safety features, including oxygen sensors and tip sensors.
They also ensure the heat emitted isn’t high enough to cause combustion with nearby items. Still, care needs to be taken when using any heating device inside a tent. With the proper understanding, location of the heater and keeping papers and flammable materials away from the heat source, there is no reason you can’t keep your heater on inside your tent.
Various Tent Heaters Compared
Choosing Quality, Safe Tent Heaters
Heater Type Vs. Usage Needs
The type of heater is going to be a significant factor. There are several types, including electric, solar, and battery powered heaters as well as gas and propane. Flammable liquid models like gas and propane can remove oxygen from the tent, so ventilation is crucial if you choose these types.
However, propane is a common and useful camping tool, as it can power a lot of things, from lanterns and heaters to grills and cooking surfaces. The ability to combine fuels for various uses eliminates the need to carry extra equipment when space is at a premium.
Tent Size Vs. Heat Needs
The size of your tent will also weigh in on your final decision. Smaller, one person tents won’t need as much heating as the larger family-sized or multi-room tents will. Knowing the heater’s limits and capabilities will help you pick the one that is right for your tent size and heating needs.
Along with the tent size, you should understand the heater’s heating capacity you are looking at buying. Heater power is measured in BTUs, with larger BTU numbers meaning a more powerful heater.
However, larger heaters use a lot more power, batteries, or gas. You need to know how long the heater can run on a single fill or battery charge versus how long you will camp and the space’s size requiring the heat.
As mentioned earlier, there are several types of fuel supplies for these heaters. Gas powered models are not generally best for indoor use because of their fumes. Alternative power sources can die out quicker, though.
- Gas Powered
Gas powered models can use natural gas, automotive gas, propane, butane, or kerosene. While the fumes and burning can cause strong odors, they are among the most efficient and quickest to heat up. Make sure these models offer low oxygen sensors for safety.
- Electric/Battery/Solar Powered
Battery powered models, solar powered models, and electric heaters may not produce as many oxygen-depleting odors, but they are more challenging to set up. They also generally take longer to get to temperature and can run out of power faster.
Another factor to think about is the portability of the unit. Specifically, you want to know the weight and size measurements. Heavy units may be powerful, but it may not be the best option if you are trying to limit your load.
Likewise, if a unit takes up too much space, you may not be able to fit well in the tent. Knowing the size you need along with the overall weight will help you plan your trip. It will also help you narrow down your choices when deciding which heater to buy.
- Noise Output
To move the heat around the tent, a heater needs a fan and motor. In turn, these will produce some level of noise. For the most part, a heater isn’t going to be so loud it disturbs your sleep, but it can. Knowing how loud the unit is when running can make or break your decision.
- Ignition Type
There are several types of ignitions for these heaters, including using matches, pilot lights, and Piezo push-button ignitions. The latter is a more instant and safer method of ignition, and it rarely fails.
- Storage/Carry Options
When not in use, many heaters just sit there. It may be helpful to find a unit that comes in a carry case or storage housing. This will help your packing and unpacking as well as transport while you are on the move.
- Cooking Functions
Depending on the power source, your heater may be multi-functional. Adding a cooking surface to the heater on a propane unit, for example, helps reduce the amount of equipment you need to pack or carry.
- Lights & Battery Options
Reading lights, LED lights, and night lights are also common on camping heaters. While it may not be something you need all the time, it can come in handy. You may also wish to find a model that can charge electronic devices, batteries, or have other uses besides creating extra warmth.
- Tip-over switches
Using a heater in a tent is a high probability that it can tip over. Placement on uneven ground, kicking or moving in your sleep, or a host of other reasons can cause the device to knock over. Having an automatic tip-over shut-off will help keep you safe, even in your sleep.
- Overheating Protection
Getting too hot is also a problem. Not only can it make you uncomfortable, but it can also cause damage to the heater, its components, or the fuel supply. Choosing a heater with overheat protection will let the unit shut off and cool down when needed.
- Low Oxygen Sensors
Many heaters will displace oxygen. In a small space such as a tent, it is essential to maintain oxygen levels for your own safety. Low oxygen sensors turn the device off when oxygen levels drop too low.
8 Best Tent Heaters Reviewed
1. Mr. Heater MH4B Portable LP Heater
Our #1 Choice for Camping
|Coverage Area||95 sq. ft.|
|Safety Features||Tip-over and low oxygen shut-off|
When you are looking for the best small tent heater, then you will find the name Mr. Heater in your searches. The MH4B is a 2-pound portable LP tent heater from Mr. Heater, and it has a lot of benefits to meet your needs.
First off, it is compact and lightweight. With the propane tank unattached, the heater folds up and can be clipped to your bag, pack, or trailer. It also only takes about 1 minute to attach the LP tank, set up the heater, and turn it on.
One of the best aspects, though, is that this unit has all the safety features you need even with the small, compact size. The tip-over shut-off will help if the unit falls over. There is also a low-oxygen sensor. This prevents the unit from running when there isn’t enough oxygen in the tent.
The stand base is only 8 inches, so the unit won’t take up a lot of space in your tent. However, it does need to be placed on a sturdy, flat surface. One thing you will notice, though, is that when running, the heater is quiet, with just a gentle hum. There is also no odor from the propane or exhaust.
The 1-year warranty is a little light, but Mr. Heater does stand behind their products. Customer service is easy to get a hold of, and they do make every effort to keep their customers happy.
- Compact design
- Easy to use
- Heats quickly
- Ideal for tents and small spaces
- 1-year warranty
- Can overheat if left on for long periods
Best Propane Tent Heater
|Fuel Type||Propane or Butane|
|Coverage Area||80 sq. ft.|
|Safety Features||Adjustable safety valve|
If you are looking for the best butane tent heater, then the APG might be your answer. This model is designed for butane, but it will also run on propane with a propane regulator adapter.
It is a tank-top design that will mount directly to the tank. Once the regulator is attached, you can place the adjustable feet on the bottom of the tank to set in the best position for your needs. Because it runs on butane, though, there will be some odor and slight fumes.
It is best advised to use this to heat the tent before sleeping and shut it off entirely before lying down. There aren’t many safety features on this device, and it will keep running as long as it is lit and gas is being supplied.
This means that if it tips over, it poses a fire threat, and if oxygen levels drop too low, it won’t shut off. However, during the day use while camping or fishing, you can run it as long as you like. The adjustable safety valve will control how much fuel is used and prevents any reverse flow, keeping your fuel supply safe.
The 1-year warranty is there, but because the company is based in China, they are harder to get ahold of. Mixed reports about claim success come thorough, but the majority report that the warranty expires before they get a response.
- Lightweight design
- Easy to attach and light
- Runs up to 4 hours on standard size butane tank
- Highly portable
- 1-year warranty
- Housing can dent and bend easily
- Propane regulator not included
3. Campy Gear 2 in 1 Portable Propane Heater & Stove
Best Ice Fishing Tent Heater
|Fuel Type||Propane or butane|
|Coverage Area||152 sq. ft.|
Propane heaters are ideal for ice fishing and camping. The Campy Gear 2-in-1 is a portable heater that works wonders in almost all conditions. This model will suit your needs, whether you are deep in the woods or digging a hole in the ice.
The 2-in-1 design allows you to use the 360-degree radiant heat to warm the space or cook on the flat top surface. When cooking, the flat top will accommodate up to a 12-inch pan so you can cook the catch of the day right away.
If you need to stay warm while you cook, this unit will do that, too. The 3-position switch will allow you to select between cook only mode, heat only mode, or cook and heat mode. The removable flat top allows more heat when in heat-only mode.
The biggest downside is that there are no safety features. While it does use nested or separate LP tanks (hose not included), fumes and oxygen displacement are an issue. Use only in well-ventilated areas and not for overnight use. This unit will not turn off automatically.
The Campy Gear 300B model, however, is much larger (and more expensive) but does come with a tip-over shut off feature.
- Cooktop surface is removable
- Cooks and heats simultaneously
- 360-degree output
- Dual fuel capable
- 1-year warranty
- No safety shut off
4. Mr. Heater F232000 MH9BX Buddy
Safest Portable Tent Heater
|Coverage Area||225 sq. ft.|
|Safety Features||Tip-over shut off, ODS low oxygen sensor, Pilot light shut-off|
Mr. Heater is back on the list with the portable radiant heating “Buddy.” This might be the staple of the Mr. Heater line and is easily the most recognizable portable heater on the market. The unique red and black casing is easily spotted by anyone.
Buddy is a heavier unit, weighing about 9 pounds. However, it is small enough to carry wherever you go but large enough to store a 1-pound propane tank in position at all times. This is one of the safest portable tent heaters, and unlike some other LP heaters, the Buddy is rated for indoor use.
Not only is it sturdy and durable, but it also has the safety features you need. First and foremost, the anti-tip shut off turns the fuel supply and the heat off if the unit tips over. Next, an onboard Oxygen Depletion Sensor (ODS) turns the entire unit off when oxygen levels in the area drop below 18.5%.
The unit also only burns the propane that it needs. In a system called clean-burning, it eliminates the odors and fumes generally associated with burning gas. The clean-burning system lets you use the heater inside, where most other heaters are generally forbidden.
Like all other Mr. Heater devices, you will get a 1-year warranty. While we would like to see more extended warranties, the 1-year guarantee is generally enough to know if you have a defective unit or a model that will work for years to come.
- Easy to set up
- Swivel regulator for multiple tank size attachments
- Triple safety features
- Folding handle
- 1-year warranty
- Heavier than most other models
5. Honeywell HHF360V
Best Portable Electric Tent Heater
|Coverage Area||200 sq. ft.|
|Safety Features||Tip-over shut-off, overheating protection|
If you like to camp where there are electric supplies, then the Honeywell HHF360V is the best portable electric heater you can find. This model is designed for small to medium-sized spaces. While it won’t heat your garage, it will keep your tent cozy and comfortable.
Because there aren’t any gases burning, you can use the heater inside the tent for longer periods. There won’t be any oxygen depletion, so there isn’t a need for the ODS safety shut off. This Honeywell model, though, still incorporates tip-over shut-off features as well as overheating protection.
The lightweight design and 360-degree heat output make it easy to use and set up. You also don’t need to worry so much about specific positioning to get the heat where you need it.
The downside is that the smaller unit doesn’t put off as much heat as other units. The forced air system helps distribute the heat it does create, but it makes the unit louder while operating. If you plan to use the heater while you nap, the noise may disturb your sleep.
Honeywell is proud of their devices, though, and offer you a 3-year warranty. Customer service is US based and simple to get a hold of. They can be complicated to navigate, but things get easier once you are connected to the right department.
- 3-year warranty
- Lightweight and portable
- Can be used indoors
- 360-degree forced-air heat
- Can get loud during operation
- Not a lot of heat output
6. Mr. Heater F242300 MH15C
Best Heater & Cooker for Camping
|Coverage Area||375 sq. ft.|
|Safety Features||Automatic safety shut-off|
Mr. Heater appears once again on our list, and this time they offer you a heater and a cooker for all of your camping needs. Not only does it weigh next to nothing, but it has a high-heat output and comes with a durable stand.
When used for heating, the unit can face any direction at a 90-degree angle. This allows you to position the heat output where you need it most and is ideal for camping, ice fishing, or any other cold, outdoor activity.
The cooking position has the heater facing straight up, and the grill holds up to a 9-inch pan. You can cook quickly and efficiently using the same propane tank needed for warmth.
The regulator on this device has three positions allowing you to control how much heat is released. The regulator also swivels, allowing you to use up to 20-pound tanks without any other adapters.
When heating, it will warm up spaces up to 375 square feet, though tents and rooms in the 200 square foot range will have the most benefit. Because it is from Mr. Heater, you will get their nominal 1-year warranty. However, as with all other Mr. Heater devices, you probably won’t need it.
- Simple set up
- Three-position regulator
- Swivel stand for heating or cooking
- 1-year warranty
- Missing key safety features
7. DEWALT DXH12 B
Best Tent Heater with Battery
|Coverage Area||275 sq. ft.|
|Safety Features||Tip-over shut-off, ODS shut-off|
DeWalt is known for its tools and home improvement equipment. A portable heater shouldn’t be hard to fathom. The DXH12 B is a model that is loved by workshops, garage mechanics, and campers alike.
If you are looking for the best tent heater with a battery, you just found it. The propane radiant heater has a surprise for you as well. Not only does it run off of disposable 1-pound propane tanks, but it will also house 2 tanks and run continuously for up to 7 hours.
If that isn’t enough, you can enjoy the warmth and comfort while charging your phone or other small electrical devices. You will need a DeWalt 20V MAX or FlexVolt battery, which isn’t included.
Plugging the battery in place, though, will power the 3 USB ports as well as the light bar. The LED light bar helps night vision and will illuminate your tent while you are getting ready to tuck in for the night.
The bad news is that the battery also powers the forced-air fan. If you don’t have a battery or the one you bring with you dies, you will only get radiant heat from the unit, which can take much longer to heat the space.
Because it is a DeWalt, you can pick up the unit almost anywhere. It also comes with a 2-year warranty backed by DeWalt and honored by many brick and mortar retailers like Home Depot.
- Dual tank capacity
- USB, Fan and light bar are battery powered
- Clean-burning unit
- 2-year warranty
- No fan without battery
- No battery included
Best Outdoor Propane Tent Heater
|Coverage Area||175 sq. ft.|
|Safety Features||Automatic safety shut off|
Texsport has made camping gear and accessories for over 40 years. The best outdoor propane tent heater, then, is no surprise coming from them. If you plan to camp in the cold or over 7000 feet elevation, this is the model for you.
The on-tank heater is a common design, and this 2890 BTU unit can push out some heat. Best of all, where other heaters guzzle the propane and last 3 to 4 hours, this model sips on the gas and can last (on low) for just over 7 hours.
Not only that, but it fits all standard 1-pound propane tanks, including the 16.1 and 14.1 ounce bottles. What you may not like, though, is that the heater’s head is not adjustable. It comes in an upward-facing position that may take longer to warm the area near the ground.
Because the heater head has a built-in regulator that doesn’t swivel and the frame is awkward in shape, it can be challenging to put the propane cylinders on. Once you get it, though, you won’t have any other issues.
It has a flame sensor that automatically cuts off the regulator if the fire goes out, but no other safety devices are included. Care must be taken not to tip the unit over. If you plan to hike or camp above 7000 feet, though, you won’t have to worry about safety features kicking in preventing the unit from working when you need it.
- Doesn’t over-use propane
- Three-position setting control
- Large, expandable base
- Works with 16.4 oz. or 14.1 oz. tanks
- 1-year warranty
- Can be difficult to set up
Safety Tips When Using Tent Heaters
When using any heater in any location, safety is always an important aspect. Inside a tent while camping, though, you should take extra precautions.
Take the time to ensure your safety measures are in place and working as intended.
- Alert anyone else inside or outside the tent that the heater is on.
- Ensure the fuel or power supply is correctly attached and there are no leaks.
- Double check the toggles and switches for the tip-over feature or other safety measures are working properly.
- Before you turn the unit on, make sure nothing is near the heating elements or fan vents.
Proper Set Up
Of course, once you want to use the heater, it needs to be set up. Doing so in a manner following the instructions is always advised. Here are a few more tips:
- Do not hang the heater from tent poles or lines inside the tent.
- Keep the heater on a flat, level, and firm surface.
- Turn the heater on the lowest setting possible to keep warm.
- Perform periodic checks to ensure there are no leaks and that everything is working properly.
- Never chance fuel tanks or cylinders inside the tent.
Other Methods of Staying Warm
While heaters are efficient and perform their job well, other methods of staying warm are also efficient and may be handy in case of emergencies or if you run out of fuel for your heater.
- Starting a campfire is a way to stay warm, just don’t start the fire inside your tent.
- Share the sleeping bag with a loved one.
- Change your socks for clean, dry ones and wear extra layers of thermal clothing.
- Use instant hand warmers in your sleeping bag, shoes, and pockets.
- Keep fluids moving. Drinking coffee, hot chocolate, or even water can help blood flow and warmth.
- Mylar blankets are thin, easy to pack, and designed to keep you warm at all costs.
People Also Ask (FAQ)
How long should I run heaters in a tent?
It is best-practice to run the heater for about 30 to 45 minutes before you go to bed. Leaving the heater on all night will result in overheating, sweating, and even condensation accumulation. If the temperature is too low that you require the heater after you fall asleep, other warming measures should be taken.
How do I know which size heater is enough for my tent?
On average, you need 20 BTUs for every square foot of space to heat. To know how big of a heater you require, you need to know your tent’s square footage. From there, just multiply the number by 20 to get a rough estimate of the BTU rating needed.
Should novice campers use heaters when tent camping?
Anyone camping in cold weather should use a tent heater. Your level of camping experience will play a part in your survival knowledge, but novice campers don’t need to prove anything, and staying warm is crucial.
Who are tent heaters most used by?
Tent heaters are often used by extreme campers, mountain climbers, and thru-hikers. The use of tent heaters or combination units allow for more heat, less space and weight and can be the difference between comfortable sleep and hypothermia.
Where is the best place to buy tent heaters?
Any place that sells camping equipment will sell tent heaters. This includes shops like Academy, Bucks, and Bass Pro Shops. The best places to look for deals, savings and warranties, though, is online through either Amazon or Sylvane.
Finding the best tent heater doesn’t have to be a challenge. Knowing the type, power source and BTU requirements for your tent is easy enough to figure out. Finding the model that offers the features and options you need can be tricky.
This article gave you the information you need to make an informed purchasing decision. However, if you are still on the fence about which one to buy, take a second look at our top pick. The Mr. Heater MH4B Portable LP Heater offers you plenty of power, heat and safety features to fit any camping style or need.
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