What’s the Best Tent Heater? Top Choices Revealed

How do you keep warm after a chilly day outdoors?

Many of us spend at least 20 minutes shivering in our sleeping bags until the movement and insulation start to chip away at the icy air. But if you are serious about camping in cold temperatures or at altitude or if you simply hate being cold, you might bring a tent heater.

Tent heaters are the difference between a col, miserable night and drifting off to sleep in comfort.

Not all tent heaters are equal, and you can’t light up any old device inside your tent. From dedicated tent heaters to portable heating devices, we cover the best tent heater for your next camping trip.

How We Made Our Choices

If it heats a tent, then it’s a tent heater.

That statement sounds true, but in reality, buying something like a tent heater isn’t that simple. These devices are surprisingly complicated thanks to different fuel sources, and many are multi-purpose accessories for general outdoor use.

We tried to stick to portable heaters that manufacturers explicitly note are suitable for use in tents. We also added a mix of heat sources for those who fear the idea of using fuel and don’t tend to stray far from the car or campsites with utilities.

Above all, we hunted down the tent heaters that come with safety features to protect you no matter where or how you use your tent heater.

The Best Tent Heater for Your Camping Trip

What’s the best tent heater for your next trip? We put together a list of our favorites below. Be sure to read to the end to check out the ‘how-to’ and safety discussion that is so crucial for choosing the right tent heater and using it carefully.

Mr. Heater Portable Buddy Heater

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The Mr. Heater Portable Buddy Heater consistently receives the top spot among the best tent heaters. It offers the whole package: a reputable brand, a quality product line, and the safety features you need to use it confidently at a campsite.

The heater is small but mighty. It safely heats up to 200 square heat of space, which makes it perfect for large, airy tents, but it might be overkill for backpacking or one-person tents. You can, however, also use it in hunting blinds, garages, cabins, and porches.

We love the integrated auto shut-off feature. It turns off if the heater tips over or if the pilot light goes out. It also measures the oxygen levels in the space and switches off when it deems the oxygen levels too low for safety. Additionally, the heat source receives extra protection from a heavy-duty wire guard, so even if it tips over and shuts off, the hot part of the appliance won’t meet your tent or sleeping bag.

Although the heater is safe to use in a tent, you need to take care when lighting it. Turning it on isn’t as simple as flipping a switch. You’ll need to leave the pilot light knob on for as long as 15 minutes before enough propane becomes available to light the heater.

You also need to work carefully when attaching the propane bottle. It goes on directly but attaching the bottle too quickly or working from the wrong angle could strip the threads and render it useless.

Are you looking for a heater for long distance or high altitude hikes? Mr. Heater may be your prime choice. It weighs around 9.5 pounds, but it does work at elevations of 7,000-feet—and potentially higher. You just need to be willing to carry it.

Texsport Portable Propane Heater

The Texsport Portable Outdoor Propane Heater is a cold weather outdoor tool that is light, easy to transport, and simple to use.

Safety features added to the heater include a safety valve that switches off the heater when the flame goes out and a large paddle foot base to provide extra stability. Texsport also added a safety grid over the heat source to prevent it from coming into contact with your skin or flammable materials.

We love the portable heater because it is perfect for long treks. It weighs only one pound, and you can get four to six hours of heat from a one-pound fuel cylinder. Even though it’s small, it works up to 2,890 BTUs and heats a small tent with ease.

Although the heater is small, it also heats larger spaces. You could easily heat a small bedroom, hunting blind, or another small space with it in around twenty minutes.

One of the differences between the Texsport heater and Mr. Heater is that the Texsport product uses infrared heat, so it warms up quickly. Mr. Heater offers more radiant heat. As a result, Mr. Heater not only warms the air but then the air rises and escapes your tent. Both work well, but you might find Texsport is better for backcountry camping at altitude or in cold climates.

It also uses less propane than Mr. Heater. You can get six to eight hours of heat on a low to medium setting with the Texsport heater. Mr. Heater might last only four hours when used with the same setting.

Pro-Temp PT-16-TTC Propane Tank Top Heater

Do you want a monster heater with a small body? Pro-Temp offers just that. It features a minimalist heating device that attaches directly to a propane tank, but it has BTU options that blow others out of the water.

The Pro-Temp PT-16-TTC comes at three BTU settings:

  • 16,000 BTU
  • 32,000 BTU
  • 47,000 BTU

Campers in medium-sized tents will find themselves happy enough with the 16,000 BTU option. It heats up to 400 square feet and offers variable settings so that you can use it camping, tailgating or on work sites.

One of the things we particularly like about the model is its durability. It features a chrome emitter guard that protects you and the device. The frame is also wind-resistant, which campers know can be a lifesaver. There’s also a safety shut-off valve and a tip-over switch to protect you from potential accidents.

The manufacturer says the heater benefits outdoor spaces only, but it also says its perfect for camping. We recommend using it in well-ventilated tents and taking extra care when you run it. Using it on the lowest setting is also a good idea because of the power it offers.

Lasko 754200 Ceramic Portable Space Heater

Does your campsite have access to a source of electricity? Consider skipping propane heaters altogether and going ceramic.

If you have a plug, the Lasko 754200 ceramic heater does the job at a fraction of the price of propane heaters. It features a 1500-watt ceramic heating element with 11 temperature settings and three quiet settings for an adjustable experience.

The built-in safety features include temperature control to prevent the device from overheating even if you forget to shut it off. We also like the cool-to-touch exterior. Even propane heaters with extensive safety features still come with heated surfaces, which presents a risk in small spaces like tents.

It also weighs only 3.5 pounds and comes with a built-in handle for easy portability.

Oittm Electric Mini Space Heater

The tiny Oittm Electric Mini Space Heater takes care of small spaces. It’s easy to use even in the dark because the only setting is a power button on the front of the case. It’s also perfect for cold environments because it uses 60-degree oscillation heating, which sends heat in multiple directions to heat the air all around your tent instead of blowing warm air straight into your face.

The heater’s safety features include:

  • Thermal fuse protection
  • Overheat protection
  • Safety tip-over switch
  • Flame resistant material

We like this heater because it cuts heat anytime it senses something wrong. It accepts that even though we should turn off the heater before falling asleep, sometimes sleep comes first.

People who buy this tiny heater love that it heats up so quickly, usually in only a few minutes.

However, you should note that if you touch it after it heats up, you risk a pretty serious burn. Still, almost any heater on the market will do the same thing.

UBOWAY Portable Butane Gas Outdoor Heater

UBOWAY Portable Butane Gas Outdoor Heater Multifunctional Ceramic...
  • ★Warmer & Stove - The Uboway brand new Outdoor Camping Heater is a...
  • ★Dual Fuel - Our Tent Heater supports Cassette Gas Tank (Not included)....
  • ★High-efficiency - The unique multifunctional design helps our warmer able to...

The UBOWAY portable heater is a multi-purpose heater for hunting, camping, and fishing, and it’s the only device on our list that serves in two roles.

It is both a heater and a gas stove. To switch between the two, you simply change the layout. You lay it flat to use it as a stove and tilt it up to use it as a heater.

It connects to a cassette gas tank using the built-in gas connector for easy set-up. We like easy connectors because stripping wires when you connect your gas tank is remarkably easy, particularly if you are already cold or working in a low-light setting.

Safety features include a double safety device that prevents gas leakage. The shell is also made from metal to avoid melting. There’s also a grate over the heat source to prevent your fingers from getting anywhere near it.

We also like that a single butane gas offers five hours of burn time, making it one of the more efficient heaters on the market. It’s also very light and weighs around five pounds.

Although UBOWAY mentions tent use, we would recommend setting it up in a vestibule and point it towards your tent rather than using it indoors. The manufacturer also reminds users not to use it in the dirt or on a plastic case. Whether you use it as a grill or heat source, set it up on a flat, steady surface that won’t melt.

How to Use a Tent Heater Safely

Like all portable heat sources, a tent heater is dangerous if you use it improperly. It comes with the risk of fire, burns, or even poisoning.

Our buyer’s guide focuses on not only buying a heater but finding one that mitigates the risks that come with using these heaters in any space.

The safety issue is in part why you should read reviews carefully and only choose devices that are suited for use in tents. Generally, electric heaters are the best for use in tents because it doesn’t require a match and comes with a built-in gas detector. Electric heaters don’t emit carbon dioxide, which makes them marginally safer, but you still need to ventilate your tent properly.

Setting Up Your Heater

Like all portable heat sources, a tent heater is dangerous if you use it improperly. It comes with the risk of fire, burns, or even poisoning.

Our buyer’s guide focuses on not only buying a heater but finding one that mitigates the risks that come with using these heaters in any space.

The safety issue is in part why you should read reviews carefully and only choose devices that are suited for use in tents. Generally, electric heaters are the best for use in tents because it doesn’t require a match and comes with a built-in gas detector. Electric heaters don’t emit carbon dioxide, which makes them marginally safer, but you still need to ventilate your tent properly.

When you set up your tent heater, find the proper place for it before leaving it to heat your tent. Even flameless heaters get hot, and you need to keep it far from flammable objects including your tent panels or sleeping bag.

Expert campers recommend placing the heater on top of a metal object to keep it off the floor and away from the walls. A metal dish is helpful because it protects your floors and walls and collects built up condensation.

Choosing the Right Heat Output

Each tent heater comes with a thermal output or BTU (British thermal unit).

Because tents are small and your body heat will also help heat the tent, a BTU rating of 1,000 to 5,000 works perfectly well. If you do choose a high BTU rating, like 16,000 BTU, make sure you can adjust the temperature setting. High-powered heaters can blast you right out of your tent.

What’s the perfect heat output for your tent? HeatStar offers a tent heater calculator that allows you to enter your tent size and the temperature to recommend the correct BTU.

Ventilating Your Heater

You must ventilate your tent well if you use a propane heater. Ventilation promotes air circulation and carries carbon monoxide or carbon dioxide out of the tent and replaces it with fresh air. Failing to ventilate your tent can result in carbon monoxide poisoning.

Don’t Run the Heater All Night

Don’t forget to turn off your heater before falling asleep. Heaters add warmth to your tent as you get ready for bed, but it doesn’t take long to heat a tent, and your sleeping bag should do most of the heavy lifting during the night. There’s no reason to keep it on all night and doing so increases your risk of carbon monoxide poisoning and fire.

Last update on 2021-02-28 at 10:25 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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