Tent, check. Sleeping bag, check. Snacks, check.
If you enjoy tent camping during the colder times of the year, a camping heater should be the next item on your checklist.
With so many products to consider, picking just one can be a headache. In this review, we bring you some of the best tent heaters to safely camp out in comfort.
Table of Contents
- Camping Tent Heater Buyer’s Guide
- Different types of camping tent heaters
- The 5 Best Camping Heaters Reviewed
- Campy Gear 2 in 1 Portable Propane Heater & Stove - The Versatile Camping Heater
- Mr Heater MH18B - Best Propane Camping Heater
- Mr Heater Little Buddy - Best Small Size Camping Heater
- TMS Portable Military Camping Wood Stove - Best Outdoor Camping Heater
- Mr Heater F242300 - Best Portable Camping Heater
- Final Thoughts
Camping Tent Heater Buyer’s Guide
There is no such thing as a tent camping heater that is the top choice under all conditions.
This quickfire buyer’s guide will provide you with some essential factors to consider when picking the best tent heater for your individual needs.
Although tent camping heaters aren’t the most expensive items you’ll ever buy, they can vary significantly in price.
Portable heaters typically start at around $20-$30 but can cost upwards of $200+. You should carefully balance the price with your desired features and budget.
More expensive heaters aren’t always the better choice when tent camping in cold weather.
Different types of heaters can cost more thanks to the brand or optional features like cooking capabilities.
It’s not always the case that more expensive tent heaters for camping are the most powerful either.
Size, weight, portability
Portability is one of the leading considerations for any type of camping equipment. The same goes for your tent heater.
The last thing you want to do is dramatically increase your carry weight while hiking to a camping ground.
You may also need to shift where you need heating, or your entire campsite, at any time.
Size and weight are two of the most important considerations when it comes to portability.
However, features that make carrying easier, such as handles, collapsible parts, and carrying utilities also play a role.
Heating output and efficiency
Different tent heaters are built to put out heat more or less intensely. This output is typically measured in British Thermal Units (BTU) which is the energy needed to increase the temperature of a pound of water by 1 Fahrenheit.
Portable camping heaters typically operate between 3,000 to 20,000 BTU. The higher the British Thermal Units, the faster you can expect it to heat a larger area.
Fire is an ever-present danger when talking about tent heaters, especially when close to a sleeping bag.
To start with, you should look for a heater that’s stable and easy to stand on a variety of surfaces.
Secondly, built-in safety features like automatic shut-off when low oxygen levels are detected or when the device tips over is highly recommended.
Efficiency and fuel type
A tent heater may also use different types of fuel or fuel storage systems.
By far the most common fuel for camp heaters is propane gas.
Most portable heaters either hook up to 1 lbs tanks internally or to external 20 lbs tanks.
However, efficiency should also be considered as it will determine how long your heater will last on a certain amount of fuel.
A 1 lb tank should provide around 5+ hours of burn time at a high setting to be considered relatively efficient.
Other tent heater fuel types can include wood or coal, although these typically aren’t meant to be used indoors.
Different types of camping tent heaters
Propane and electricity are the two main types of power for tent camping heater. Both focus on the fuel source of a heater.
Both propane and electric have their advantages, but also their risks and some principles to keep in mind
Propane heater for camping tent
The propane tent heater is the most widespread on the market and are obviously designed specifically for campgrounds.
These appliances produce heat by burning propane. It is the most affordable and even the easiest fuel source to have.
When you use a portable outdoor propane heater, you get a better heating system in your tent because of their power.
They are actually perfect and powerful for heating a tent for cold weather camping completely and efficiently.
However, you need to be careful because of potential risks (such as fire) in the use of these propane heaters.
Most manufacturers of propane tent heaters add other features as a safety precaution to avoid damage. Among these features, we have the push button ignition and the automatic shutdown on tipping of the portable propane heater.
Also on the market you can find catalytic propane tent heaters that operate without an open flame. This feature minimizes the risk of accidents.
One of the limitations of propane heaters is the emission of carbon monoxide and when these heaters are equipped with ODS (Oxygen Depletion Sensor) they turn of automatically when the oxygen level in the tent drops.
It is of course a safety feature that is met in most of the new tent heaters.
So before turning on a portable propane heater, it is best to make sure your tent is properly ventilated and it is recommended to shutting off any camping propane heater or lantern before going to sleep.
Electric tent heater
Electric tent heaters are a simple and safe option for heat, since you will have access to a power outlet at your campsite.
Here the battery or mains is the source that these heaters use.
The difference between the two types of tent heaters (propane and electric) is that propane heaters heat large areas while electric heaters are suitable for making small areas warm.
An electric heater is a better choice for tents and even without sufficient ventilation, the tent is safe from carbon monoxide poisoning.
With an electric heater, the likelihood of a fire hazard is very low because they operate without an open flame.
In addition, these electric heaters have also a safety feature that automatically turns off the heater when it tips over or overheats.
Electric tent heaters are therefore efficient and less expensive.
The 5 Best Camping Heaters Reviewed
Campy Gear 2 in 1 Portable Propane Heater & Stove - The Versatile Camping Heater
Campy Gear 2 is an extremely versatile cold weather camping heater. Not only can it act as either a propane heater or stove, but it also allows you to do both at the same time.
You can fit this compact tent heater with either a 3.8 oz to 8.1 oz (110 or 230g) internal propane canister, or hook it up to an external tank (1 lbs with EN417 attachment).
This little heater puts out a massive 9,000 BTU.
With its unique 360° heating output, you should be able to quickly and evenly heat up your tent.
This propane heater that weighs around 2 lbs has a burn time of around 1.5 hours (with 230g of fuel) and can boil water in approximately 2 minutes 15 seconds.
The Campy Gear is on the pricier side for camping heaters. However, it’s still within reason considering its quality and performance.
It comes in either navy blue or purple, with the latter being more expensive.
The Campy Gear comes with a 1-year warranty.
Mr Heater MH18B - Best Propane Camping Heater
It’s safe to call this model from Mr Heater a “heavy-duty” camping or indoor heater.
It actually features three different settings: 4,000, 9,000, and even 18,000 BTU to control heating speed and temperature.
At these impressive levels of output, it can heat up a space as large as 450 sq. ft (42 m²).
As these high levels can be dangerous, it has a built-in low oxygen shut-off system as well as a tip-over safety shut-off to avoid any unfortunate accidents.
This Mr Heater portable heater used to ship with a fan assembly, which is now sold separately that can boost its range and heating speed.
MH18B comes in both Grey and Red with the former costing considerably more than the latter.
The Mr Heater portable heater can internally connect to two different 1 lbs cylinders at a time or to an external cylinder of up to 20 lbs. It is already a relatively hefty device at around 16.30 lbs.
Mr Heater Little Buddy - Best Small Size Camping Heater
Another product by Mr. Heater, but something completely different. The Little Buddy has a unique handheld fan/flashlight appearance.
It’s much smaller and more compact than the MH18B but features the same rugged look and feel.
However, it’s almost half the price of the MH18B but with many of the same safety features.
The Mr Heater Little Buddy is quite versatile and mobile; it can be used in nearly any setting.
It uses a 1 lb disposable propane cylinder that also acts as the neck.
In the box, you get a foot stand as well as the radiant head from which heat is emitted.
Once assembled, it spans about 11 inches in all directions and weighs around 6 lbs.
Because it points upward at a 45° angle, it does need some headspace to properly ventilate and distribute heat.
However, the Mr Heater Little Buddy straightforward to handle and point in the best direction.
As a smaller device, the Little Buddy is most optimal at spaces smaller than 95 sq (8.8 m²). ft.
And it can deliver up to 5.6 hours of continuous burning.
TMS Portable Military Camping Wood Stove - Best Outdoor Camping Heater
This cot-style camping wood stove by TMS is perfect for those who like a more rugged and old school heating solution.
This is a wood-fired stove that features a pipe vent, air flow regulators, and a secure locking mechanism on the main drum for optimal performance.
While not suitable for indoor or in-tent use, it’s a solid option for an outfitter’s or another open-sided shelter.
The chimney-like pipe vent with up to 4 interlocking pipe sections minimizes the amount of smoke at head height.
It’s also a useful cooker with secondary, side-mounted pipes for cooking potatoes, for example.
The top also features a top grate for BBQ-style grilling that doubles as a carrying handle when not in use.
At 24.58 lbs, it’s definitely one of the heavier heaters on this list, so might not be suitable for long treks.
The individual pieces can also be relatively unwieldy to transport.
That being said, it’s definitely a handy camp-side companion.
Mr Heater F242300 - Best Portable Camping Heater
The Mr. Heater isn’t much to look at, but it’s another highly effective camping heater and cooker from Mr. Heater.
It’s a steel-built piece of equipment that consists of an outward-facing satellite-like emitter mounted to a simple frame.
And, a 1 lb disposable cylinder can be mounted to the back - or a 20 lbs external cylinder.
Thanks to a built-in regulator, the F242300 can output between 8,000-15,000 BTU.
Despite its bare-to-the-bones appearance, it still features an automatic safety shut-off. It can also heat an impressively large area of up to 375 sq. ft (35m²).
At around 2.85 lbs, it’s just about one of the lightest heater you’ll come across.
As you can see, there is plenty to consider when choosing the best winter camping heater to keep you company next time you tackle the great outdoors in winter (or not!).
Take your time to research the variety of products available and make sure always to make your choice with your winter camping style in mind.
If you enjoyed this best tent heater reviews or want to share which camping heater you are using, feel free to leave a comment below.