Keeping warm on a camping trip can not only mean the difference between success and failure, but in some cases can even save your life. Having the proper equipment to suit your camping needs is important, and a heater can really add to your enjoyment and comfort. Choosing the best tent heater for your needs can be tricky.
Many of them are designed for specific tasks. Heaters can also be used for home tent usage such as party tents or marquis. In this article, we’ll look at some of the more flexible heaters available and what uses they best suit.
Things to Consider
Getting the right heater for your tent is a tricky choice. Not only do you have to consider the amount of people, the space and the weight, you also need to think about weight and ease of use. Here are some of the main aspects that you should think about before purchasing a tent heater for camping.
Some heaters can be carried in your backpack without proving too much of a burden, others are more suited to being taken along in your car or truck and set up on site.
If you are going to a campsite or will be setting up your tent near your vehicle, you can easily afford the extra weight, but if you’re trekking out into the wild, consider getting a more lightweight heater that won’t break your back whilst hiking. Another aspect to consider is the fuel. For many portable heaters you’ll need to carry propane/gas canisters with you, too.
This should be at the forefront of your mind. Think about what safety features your heater has. Does it have a tilt cut-off? Will the gas supply stop if the pilot light goes out? The size of your tent can also be something to consider when choosing a tent heater, you neither want too much heat production nor too little. Do your research.
Depending on the type of camping trip or garden party you’re planning on, you’ll want to consider the functionality. If you will only be ever doing one type of trip, you won’t need a lot of variance, but if you like to change up your holidays, perhaps choose a warmer that can be adjusted to suit a variety of needs.
Many come with the option of being used as indoor heating systems, too. So should you want to spend time working on projects in your garage or hanging out in a deer blind, look for some flexibility in usage.
You should look into the availability of power sources. In most places, butane canisters are easy to get hold of, but other types of gas may not be. Do you have the right connections to hook your system up to the car? What kind of voltage will you need? Most importantly, will you be able to provide adequate power when you’re actually out camping?
More features usually means more flexibility in best-uses. Before buying, consider what you specifically want out of a heater and then start working backwards to find something that will cater for all of your needs.
Portable vs Fitted
Which is better depends entirely on your planned usage. If you intend to use your heater going out and about on camping trips off the beaten path then you’ll clearly need something more portable, however, if you plan on staying close to your vehicle or having an event where power is readily available, you could definitely get by with a more fixed tent warmer.
The following represent our top picks for tent warmers. They cover a range of uses so you should find a perfect fit for your needs.
Mr. Heather Little Buddy 3800-BTU Heater
Dimensions: 11 x 11 x 11 in
Specific Features: 3800 BTU/HR; Fold-down handle (for easy storage); Four position control; Built-in Piezo igniter off and lo/hi heat settings; High temperature wire guard; Swivel regulator for easy LP cylinder and hose installation; Large durable porcelain coated heating surface directs radiant heat over wider area; Low-oxygen safety shut-off (ODS) and tip-over safety shut-off; Ceramic burner tile mounted with shock absorbing insulation.
Best Use: Indoor use, tents, or garage.
The Mr. Heater Little Buddy is an incredibly portable heater that can be used either as a fixed place heater or a travel companion. It is easy to carry around and takes one pound butane canisters for fuel. This tent heater has a wide base for safety but also comes with a “tip-over” shut off, which means if you knock it over then the fuel will cut and leave you safe.
The porcelain coating helps with heat radiation and due to the 3800 BTUs of power, you can warm a small area quickly and successfully. For ease of use it comes with a Piezo igniter for simple starting. For added safety, it comes with a Low Oxygen Sensor (LOS) that will give an automatic cut off when there is not enough air in your tent.
Most people will either use this whilst working in the garage or for slipping in the backpack for warming you up on camping trips. You’ll be able to carry the heater and a couple of canisters without much difficulty and the easy set up and safety features make it a good addition to your equipment.
Related: While the Little Buddy is not recommended for golf carts or in vehicle, Mr. Heater does produce the MH4GC Golf Cart Heater that has 4000 BTUs and over 5 hours run time. This can be hung inside the cart either covered or uncovered and will last longer than a typical round of golf. It comes with all the same safety features and is energy efficient.
Texsport Portable Outdoor Propane Heater
Dimensions: 6 x 9 x 10.5 inches/ 1.8 pounds
Specific Features: Propane heater; Stainless steel burner; Large paddlefoot plastic base for stability; Individual regulator on/off control knob adjusts burner up to 2,890 BTUs; Auto shut off valve; Uses 16.4 oz or 14.1 oz propane cylinder; Aluminum reflector; Handle for easy transportation.
Best Use: Camping, hunting, and cool weather outdoor activities
The Texsport Portable Outdoor Propane Heater is very simple to use and easy to set up; it has a power output of around 2890 BTUs and burns for between 6 and 9 hours depending on your settings (there are 3 settings: low, medium and high). It can take either 16 or 14 oz canisters which make it an incredibly lightweight heater (only 1.8 kg) that will be able to heat a small tent well overnight.
The Texsport Portable Outdoor Propane Heater has several important safety features built in. It has an automatic shut off valve for if the flame goes out and has a paddlefoot base to provide added stability. Because it is so light, many buyers of the Texsport Heater get a lot of use out of it, either in a golf cart, small tent, or while out hunting.
Related: For heating larger areas over longer periods of time, Texsport also provide the Deluxe Bulk Tank Infared Propane Heater which can be attached to a much larger tank and has reflected heat radiation.
Yellowstone Portable Gas Heater
Dimensions: 2.4 kilos
Specific Features: Adjustable angle for directional heat; Automatic piezo electric ignition; Variable temperature control; Ceramic heating element with safety guard; Safety locking mechanism for gas canister; Lightweight; Folding carry handle.
Best Use: Small to medium tents, enclosed garages and close use camping.
The Yellowstone Portable Gas Heater is a handy, easy-to-carry heater that works well indoors and out, and has some pretty flexible heating options. It comes with variable temperature control that allows you to either raise or lower the heat to deal with outside temperatures or for gas saving purposes.
The Yellowstone heater has an easy start piezo electric ignition and the heating element can be adjusted up and down to direct the heat. The ceramic heating element helps with heat radiation and it can comfortably heat a small to medium sized enclosed tent.
Whilst it is good for use in an enclosed space, it is not recommended for outdoor use as air flow and radiation are important to effective usage. It is fairly lightweight and comes with an easy carry handle so is very suitable for out and about camping.
Related: If you are camping out and are not in a position to make a fire, Yellowstone makes a sturdy Portable Gas Range that is lightweight and takes the same canisters as the heater. It has a single burner that can be used for kettles or pots and is adjustable for the application of heat. It is easy to set up and clean away.
Lasko MyHeat Personal Ceramic Heater
Dimensions: 4.3 x 3.8 x 6.1 in
Specific Features: Self-Regulating Ceramic Element; Automatic Overheat Protection; Low power usage; Energy-Smart, uses only 200 Watts; ETL listed; Safe ceramic element; Overheat protection; Cool-touch housing.
Best Use: Close quarters heating, office areas, personal space heater.
The Lasko #100 MyHeat Personal Ceramic Heater is designed for personal space heating. It can be used either indoors or outdoors, and provides a good level of heat when used in close quarters. It radiates heat via its ceramic element up to an effective range of about 2 to 3 feet. It has low power usage of 200 Watts that is powered by plugging into the mains with its 6ft chord.
It is not suitable for heating a specific area like a tent interior, but does provide plenty of heat if you are looking to get warm close up. Many buyers use the Lasko #100 for heating small rooms such as bathrooms or sheds as the space is enclosed and insulated so the heat will be retained.
Related: Lasko also offers a 32-Inch Digital Ceramic Tower Heater which provides a lot more heat over a wider area and can be worked via remote control and uses oscillation to warm the area.
Mr. Heather Radiant Heater
Dimensions: 9 x 14.2 x 14.4 inches/ 9.5 pounds
Specific Features: Two heat settings: 4,000 & 9,000 BTU/HR; Fold-down handle; Four position control; Built-in Piezo igniter off and lo/hi heat settings; High temperature wire guard; Swivel regulator for LP cylinder and hose installation; Porcelain coated heating surface directs radiant heat over wider area; Low-oxygen safety shut-off (ODS) and tip-over safety shut-off; Ceramic burner tile mounted with shock absorbing insulation.
Best Use: Good for indoor and outdoor use, small to large tents (including small marquis), garages and room heating.
The Mr. Heater Buddy is a very high powered tent heater that can be used to not only heat a camping tent but can be adjusted to heat a larger marquis tent. The power range is 4,000- to 9,000-BTU which means that you can get up to 225 square feet of heated space.
It has LOS and tip-over safety shut off and swivel settings that allow you to direct the heat flow. This can also be used to heat medium sized rooms or garages over a long period of time.
Related: Mr. Heater also offers a larger model called the Big Buddy that has a huge 18,000 BTUs and can be set up to warm large indoor areas and smaller outdoor areas. It has the same features as the regular Buddy but with enhanced power and performance.
Zodi Outback Gear X-40 Hot Vent Tent Heater
Dimensions: 22 x 13 x 13 inches/ 34 pounds
Specific Features: Up to 40,000 BTUs; Positive pressure features; Stainless-steel sealed heat exchanger; Compact 12 Volt inline fan; Flexible 4 ft. air hoses and storage bag; Made in the U.S.A.
Best Use: Medium to large marquis tents, garages or other large enclosed spaces.
The Zodi Outback Gear X-40 Hot Vent Tent Heater is not designed for being carried around on your back for camping trips, however, if you are looking to heat a large tent or other enclosed area, it will provide a large amount of heat over a long period of time. It works by being attached to a propane tank and a 12V battery.
It comes with an inbuilt fan and a stainless steel heat exchanger. The Zodi Gear x-40 puts out a massive 40,000 BTUs which will (depending on the area size) take care of most any heating needs. If you have regular garden functions or a large, cold garage, this will suit your needs perfectly. If you do wish to transport the kit, it can be packed away in the provided carry-bag.
Allegro Industies 9401-50 Tent Heater
Dimensions: 13.2 x 12.8 x 8.6 inches/ 14 pounds
Specific Features: Lightweight; CSA and UL Approved; Motor: 120 Volt; Single Ø, 60 Hz; 13 Amps; Burning Rating: 1500 Watts of 5,000 BTU heating power with 115 CFM (195.38 m3/hr) air flow; Rigid metal housing; 5 blade fan
Best Use: Medium sized tent heating, single or double car garages and small marquis.
With 5000 BTUs of power, the Allegro Industries 9401-50 Tent Heater can warm a fairly large area in a short space of time. This is a heavy duty and durable heater that has a 120 Volt; Single Ø, 60 Hz; 13 Amps motor and plugs directly into the mains.
This is a product that many people buy for regular usage. It can be used to heat your garage or workshop instead of having a permanent heating system fixed in place, or it can be used for warming a smaller outside area, like a deck or a front porch. It is fan assisted so the heat is moved around for maximum warming capability.
Lasko Ceramic Heater With Adjustable Thermostat
Dimensions: 6 X 7 x 9.2-Inches
Specific Features: ETL listed; 1500-watt high setting, 900-watt low setting, and fan-only option; Manual controls; self-regulating ceramic element; quiet operation; Automatic overheat protection; Carrying handle; Adjustable Thermostat Control;3 Quiet Settings: High Heat, Low Heat, Fan Only
Best Use: Warming small office spaces, enclosed small to medium sized tents, garages or tents.
The Lasko Ceramic Heateris designed for heating small spaces effectively. Because it has a rear fan, it allows the heat to be pushed out into the area so if you are using it in a tent, make sure the tent is fully enclosed. It can be used on three different setting including low, medium and high and also with a fan only option.
The heater comes with a thermostat to allow you to set the desired temperature which cuts out and in depending on the ambient heat. It is easy to set and just needs to be plugged in to start working.
Related: Lasko also offer a Ceramic Remote Control Pedestal Heater that does a similar job but is designed to be part of the furniture with a sleek look.
The right heater can be a great addition to your camping equipment; it can transform a cold, miserable night into a warm, fun and inviting atmosphere for a party event or function.
If you’re going to be using your heater somewhere where the nighttime temperature can get cold, this will be a really valuable addition. But make sure that you make a smart choice, consider your needs carefully and look for a heater that will meet them.
Don’t compromise on your needs. If you have a story about tent heaters, or experience of using one, let us know about it in the comments section below.