Have you ever spent those sleepless cold weather nights camping in a tent on a mountain thinking about how to rig up a tent heater and why don’t they make one? Your brain starts thinking of putting something metal under the fire and running hot pipes of air to your tent. Well, it turns out they actually already make tent heaters, so there is no need to go cold again or design them in the middle of the night. I wish I had known earlier.
At A Glance: Our Top 2 Tent Heaters
Those wintery icy nights while camping and waking up to a full frozen rainfly are no more. Tent heaters come in two main forms, propane heaters and electric heaters, both of which we’ll discuss in this article. They are both as equally popular as each other and it which one suits you best is a personal choice, depending on a few factors which we’ll get into later.
In the review, we have taken some of the best tent heaters on the market and put them head to head against each other so you can find the best tent heater for your camping needs.
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If affordability and portability are your main concerns then you might have found your tent heater already. The Mr. Heater Little Buddy is an incredibly light, compact, and portable propane heater that’s super affordable.
Weighing just 5lbs it’ll squeeze into any backpack along with the 16.4 oz. gas cylinder. You might not want to add any weight to your pack but if there is snow on the ground you’ll be happy you did.
The heater is designed for use in small spaces, like a tent. The metal dish focuses the heat into one directing and does an excellent job at it.
The gas heater comes with a gas control knob and an ignition switch. The knob allows you to choose between Low-Med-High and off, of course.
In terms of safety, the base is fitted with a wide foot that ensures the heater isn’t going to fall over and it comes with a metal grid blocking the heating elements to ensure you don’t burn yourself. There is also a low oxygen sensor and tip-over switch that when engaged, turns the heater off automatically.
Overall a great propane gas heater, especially if you’re after a portable bargain that has all the safety measures you need.
The Texsport Portable Outdoor Heater takes it up a notch from the Stansport above. While having quite a similar design the Texsport beats the Stansport in most categories,
Weighing just 1lb and being able to use either a 16.3/14.1 oz. cylinder, this propane tent heater is about as portable as they get. Together with the cylinder, you’re carrying an extra 2lbs of weight for some cozy warmth, there is nothing wrong with that.
This heater knocks out up to 2890 BTU’s at maximum heat which is pretty small to be honest but fine when you’re in a tent. The head uses a fan-shaped aluminum reflector to give maximum heat reflection and it comes with a single knob so you can adjust the heat.
From a safety point of view, this propane tent heater comes with flip out feet at the base to ensure it stays standing, and it has an auto-shutoff valve when the flame goes out, so propane isn’t just leaked into the tent.
Overall, a solid choice in both the portability and affordability categories but it could be a bit better in the safety department.
The Mr Heater MH540T takes heating to another level, especially when you look at the other two above. It might be overkill for a 2 person tent but it’ll do the business in a 12 person tent.
The heater connects to a 20lb cylinder, and I can already hear you saying, ‘how the hell am I meant to get that in my backpack?”, well you’re not. This is more of a car camping heater.
It’s easy to connect the head to the cylinder and from there lighting it takes the click of a button. Once it’s on you can choose between 30,000-45,000 BTU’s of heat, that is a lot, and it’ll all be reflected 360 degrees, so everyone stays toasty.
The only issue with giving off so much heat is that you’ll go through your fuel pretty quickly.
In terms of safety, this is the best heater so far. There is an auto shut off for an accidental tip-over, so as soon as this begins to fall, the flame and gas are put out immediately.
Overall a pretty solid heater if you’re car camping and using a large tent.
The True North Heater from Caframo Limited is one of the most sophisticated heaters in the review. Designed with campers in mind, they made this sleek-looking electric heater light and with a low profile, making it easy to get from A to B.
The heater comes with five settings from high, low, sleep, and energy saver to fan only. Each step down reduces the fan speed and makes it a little quieter. You have the choice as to whether to heat up fast, cool or hit sleep mode for silent heating. There is also a thermostat on this heater, the ideal tool for finding a temperature that is just right for you.
On top of the heater, you’ll find all the buttons to help you turn it on and find the right temperature. You can even set an anti-freeze mode that will make the heater come on at 38°F / 3°C, pretty awesome no, you’ll never freeze again.
The only issue with this electric tent heater is that it’s a little loud on the higher settings and it can get annoying, so be sure to turn it on before bed if you’re worried.
Overall an awesome powered heater that does pretty much everything you need a heater to do.
Similar to the propane heater above, the Dura Heat TT-360 is quite similar in terms of heat output and portability. It’s not made for backpacking that’s for sure, as it needs to be connected to a 20lb cylinder, and I doubt anyone’s hauling one of those up the mountain.
The heater takes about 5 minutes to install and once attached is very simple to use. Simply open up the gas and hit the ignition, and your warmth will start increasing.
Once on, this guy is a little too intense for a tent and can heat 1000 sq. feet very quickly, so it’s probably better to use it outside your tent than in it. It is made for use in campsites, patios, garages, winter hunting, above-ground pools, construction sites, and fishing.
There are some great safety features in this propane heater including auto shut-off in case it falls over and chrome guards to stop anyone burning if they try and touch the head.
Overall a great outdoor space heater that is very effective but it is overkill for a tent.
Our first electric heater of the review is the Lasko 6405 Oscillating Heater. As you can see from the picture above, this heater is pretty stylish compared to most electric heaters and it has some awesome settings too.
You can choose between 65-85 F on the thermostat control and set a timer for between 1-7 hours. This makes going to sleep a piece of cake, just pick your temperature and choose for how long, and off you go.
At just over five pounds, the speaker is pretty light and portable, well portable enough to use for car camping. It’ll slot in the trunk with ease but you will need an electric connection in your tent when you pitch your tent.
Once on it oscillates to spread the heat evenly and can push out up to 5118 BTUs on its max setting, which is plenty warm enough for heating up a tent.
The only downsides are that it smells when you first turn it on, so maybe break it in outside, to begin with. And, there is no tip-over safety feature but it does have a mechanism that stops it overheating.
Overall a handy electric tent heater for any occasion where there is an electric hook-up.
The Comfort Zone CZ707 is another electric tent heater that is pretty awesome altogether. Light, powerful, and very safe, it’s an ideal cozy companion for any camping trip.
Weighing just 3lbs, this electric tent heater is not going to take up much space in the trunk of your car or your tent. You’ll need an electric hook up to plug it into your tent, and once hooked up, it can be a fan or a tent heater. How cool is that? The amount of times I’ve need a fan in a tent is real.
Once on you can choose from 3 heat settings from low to high and keep a space up to 150 sq feet warm. Enough for a 12-person tent, just about. There is also an adjustable thermostat to help find your ideal temperature.
In terms of safety, it comes with a tip-over switch, an overheating auto-off sensor and indicator lights.
Overall a very well-priced tent heater that’s also a fan. It’s portable, easy to use, and has all the safety features you might need.
This funky little electric tent heater looks like a speaker out of the ’80s. Small, compact, with a carry handle, the Multifun Space Heater is an excellent choice for camping, especially if you’re on a budget. This has to be one of the most stylish, affordable, and practical tent heaters for camping around.
Weighing just 2.79 lbs and taking up just 7 x 6.7 x 6 inches of space, you can take this heater anywhere. It runs at 1500W and can heat a space of around 108 sq ft, so a large tent will be perfect for this.
The heat emitted is weaker than other tent heaters but is enough and you can control it with the thermostat. The heater is assisted by a quiet fan that you can’t really hear. Annoyingly the fan continues after the heating stops, possibly cooling the room.
It comes with all the right safety features and is made from flame-resistant materials to ensure your shelter doesn’t burn down. It also meets the ETL and UL standards.
The only thing it doesn’t have is an auto shut-off for if it falls over. Overall an amazingly inexpensive tent heater that is ideally portable for camping.
The first choice you need to make is to choose a propane or gas tent heater, and here are the details you need to know.
The first thing about an electric tent heater is that you’ll need a hook up to an electrical outlet to use one, which removes the ability to backpack and camp out in the wilderness. They need a lot of power to run and therefore can’t run on batteries, which is a shame. This reduces your cold weather campsite options quite considerably.
All tent heaters are fire hazards as they cant ignite or melt things near them if unattended. Make sure to pick an electric heater that has the right safety features like auto-shutoff if it tips over and overheats. Timers and thermostats are also very useful to stop the tent heater running all night and to save energy while keeping the room at the right temperature.
Be careful around water with electric heaters too, as water plus electricity aren’t something you want to ever deal with, especially in a tent.
Let’s start off with the safety side of propane heaters. Propane heaters burn oxygen and increase the risk of carbon dioxide and monoxide poisoning, they are also quite a serious fire hazard. The risks can be helped by using propane heaters with auto-off sensors and some common sense.
The best thing about propane heaters is that you get to take the fuel with you, so you can camp anywhere you choose to. They are also very light and portable, so if you’re backpacking, they are the only way to go.
Once you turn them on, they burn hot and they heat tents up very quickly. They also can give a lot of heat from a small vessel. A 16 oz. propane cylinder can give you up to 7 hours of heat, not bad for such a tiny vessel.
Taking safety precautions with tent heaters is a must and you’ll need the heater you choose to incorporate some fool-proof features to keep you safe.
Here are some things you can do to ensure you’re safe when using a tent heater.
Positioning is key, and you should ensure you read the manual before setting it up. Make sure the tent heater has ventilation and isn’t near any other objects.
Turn it off before you go to sleep to remove all risks of it falling over or giving you carbon monoxide/dioxide poisoning. Once you’re in your sleeping bag you should be fine, so why risk it?
The best propane tent heater is the Mr Heater Little Buddy. This little guy is ideal for backpacking weight just 5lbs and it connects to a 16 oz. cylinder so you can take it and use it anywhere. It’s also pretty affordable and comes with all the features you need to keep you safe while using a gas tent heater in a tent.
The best electric tent heater is the True North Heater. This electrical tent heater is by far one of the most portable and energy-efficient heaters around. It comes with excellent safety features and helpful heating features like anti-freeze which turns the heater on before the temperature gets too low. There is a thermostat that you can set to your ideal temperature to too.