No one likes to be cold while camping. Thankfully, you can always get a tent heater to help you stay warm at night, even when the temperatures drop. But, with so many different great tent heaters out there, it can be difficult to find one that’s right for you.
So, to get you started, we’ve got your guide to the best tent heaters and we’ve filled it with information about how to find the right heater for your needs. We’ve even reviewed ten of the best rated tent heaters on the market today so you can spend less time researching gear and more time enjoying the great outdoors.
Table of Contents
- Buyer’s Guide to Tent Heaters
- Best Tent Heaters on the Market Reviews
- The Verdict
Buyer’s Guide to Tent Heaters
Choosing a tent heater can be tricky, so here are some of the top features and characteristics to look out for while you shop:
Modern tent heaters will run off of either propane/butane or electricity. Tent heaters that run off of gas have a clear benefit of portability, as they can be used anywhere in the world, so long as you have enough fuel. However, they do have open flames, which can make them dangerous, especially around young children.
Electric tent heaters, on the other hand, do not have an open flame, which makes them ideal for very enclosed spaces and for large families. That being said, they’re only useful while car camping as you need to have electrical hookups to power them.
The warmth of a tent heater is traditionally measured in BTUs, or “British Thermal Units.” This is a somewhat old-fashioned way of measuring heat, but each BTU represents the amount of energy needed to raise the temperature of one pound of water by 1 degree Fahrenheit.
What does this mean for you? Well, basically, the more BTUs a heater has, the more warmth it can produce. Most small to midsize tent heaters will produce up to 3,500 BTUs while a large tent heater can often produce upward of 15,000 BTU. For comparison, many propane BBQ units will produce up to 21,000 BTU for cooking food.
Auto-Shut Off Features
Since tent heaters produce, well, heat, it’s important that they have some safety features to prevent them from overheating, burning us, or causing a fire. Most modern tent heaters will have an auto-shutoff feature when the device tips over.
The best gas heaters will often also have a shut-off feature in low oxygen conditions to protect you from carbon monoxide while the best electric heaters will often shut-off if they start to overheat. Our advice? Always look for these safety features in your tent heater to protect you and your family.
Even if you’re not planning to take your tent heater on a backpacking trip, having a small, compact, and lightweight model makes it easier to transport and carry your heater to camp when you arrive. However, lighter tent heaters will often produce less heat than heavier models, so there is a bit of a trade-off here.
Best Tent Heaters on the Market Reviews
Here are our reviews of the 10 best rated tent heaters on the market today:
1. Mr. Heater Buddy
The Mr. Heater Buddy is a fully-featured tent heater for ice fishing or for winter camping. Built with a durable steel, plastic, and nickel frame, this portable heater can instantly put out 4,000 to 9,000 BTU of heat in a space that’s up to 225 square feet (21 sqm) in size thanks to its integrated Piezo sparking mechanism.
The Mr. Heater Buddy is fully approved for both indoor and outdoor use and includes important safety features, such as an auto-shut off system that turns the device off if it tips over. Designed for portability, the Mr. Heater Buddy has a comfortable fold-down handle and a swivel-out regulator that allows it to quickly connect to a propane tank of your choice, so it's one of the best large tent heaters around.
2. Texsport Portable Outdoor Heater
The Texsport Portable Outdoor Heater is a do-anything tent heater for all camping situations. Tiny, yet powerful, the Texsport Portable Outdoor Heater is made of a single stainless steel burner that can produce up to 2,890 BTUs of heat.
The Texsport Portable Outdoor Heater weighs just over one pound and attaches to the top of a disposable propane fuel cylinder for convenient use wherever life takes you. It has a safety shut off valve if the flame goes out and uses a large paddle foot base to increase stability for added comfort and safety while camping. The best part? It’s a budget-friendly tent heater that can really produce a lot of heat, so it’s one of the best heaters for a tent trailer.
3. Mr. Heater Little Buddy
One of the best portable propane tent heaters on the market today, the Mr. Heater Little Buddy is an indoor-safe heating unit that can warm up an area up to 95 square feet (8.8 sqm) in size. The Mr. Heater Little Buddy quickly attaches to a 1 pound disposable propane cylinder, where it can run for up to 5.6 hours while producing 3,800 BTU of heat.
As far as safety goes, the Mr. Heater Little Buddy features both a low-oxygen sensor as well as an accidental tip-over switch that will automatically shut off the heater to protect you in your tent. While this simple little heater is a bit pricey when compared to others of a similar size, its combination of durability, efficiency, and safety features make it second to none as one of the best tent heaters for backpacking.
4. Martin Portable Catalytic Heater
The Martin Portable Catalytic Heater is unique in our review as our only catalytic heater, which means it produces heat without the flame. This unique way of creating heat means that there is minimal risk of an accidental fire with the Martin Portable Catalytic Heater, as well as an impressive energy efficiency of 7 hours of heat off of a single 1lb propane canister.
The Martin Portable Catalytic Heater can produce up to 3000 BTU of energy for maximum comfort on those cold winter nights. Plus, it’s highly portable and has an included kickstand so you can easily direct the heat toward a specific part of your tent.
5. Mr. Heater Big Buddy
One of the most powerful heaters in our review, the Mr. Heater Big Buddy is the best large tent heater for winter camping. The Mr. Heater Big Buddy can produce an astonishing 18,000 BTU of heat and can be connected to two 1lb propane cylinders, making it perfect for warming spaces up to 450 square feet (41 sqm) in size.
Starting up the Mr. Heater Big Buddy is easy, thanks to the built-in Piezo sparking mechanism, so you can heat up your tent in just minutes. The Mr. Heater Big Buddy even has three heat settings for ultimate control of your environment. Oh, and like all Mr. Heater devices, the Big Buddy has an automatic low oxygen shut-off system as well as an accidental tip-over shut-off system for your safety.
6. Neiko Camping Heater
The Neiko Camping Heater is a modern take on a classic portable heater design. This heater uses a standard butane gas cartridge, which makes it highly portable for all your trailer tent camping needs. It uses a ceramic burner and can produce up to 4,400 BTU of heat to help you stay warm at night.
The Neiko Camping Heater weighs just 5.5 pounds, so it’s pretty portable as mid-size tent heaters go. Plus, it has a pressure-sensing safety shut-off system so you can spend more time enjoying the outdoors and less time worrying about your camping heater.
7. Mr. Heater Hunting Buddy
Are you looking for the best ice fishing tent heater? Well, then the Mr. Heater Hunting Buddy just might be what you need. The Mr. Heater Hunting Buddy is specially designed for hunters and anglers and can produce up to 12,000 BTU of heat off of a single 1lb propane canister. With enough power to heat an enclosed space that’s up to 300 square feet (27 sqm), it’s perfect for an ice fishing tent or a hunting blind.
The Mr. Heater Hunting Buddy also has a silent electronic ignition, which is perfect for keeping your cover while hiking. It also has automatic low oxygen and tip-over safety shut-off systems that protect you from fire while you’re enjoying the great outdoors.
8. Stanley Electric Heater
With the ability to heat up to 165 square feet of space (15.3 sqm), the Stanley Electric Heater is the perfect companion for a winter camping trip. This versatile heater allows you to choose from two heat settings so you can create the ideal living environment in your tent.
The Stanley Electric Heater is compact enough to bring anywhere but also fast enough to produce the heat you need in just seconds after turning it on. Safety-wise, the Stanley Electric Heater also features a built-in auto-shut-off system that turns the device off if it gets knocked over. The best part? There is no open flame, so you can rest easy when you have the Stanley Electric Heater in your tent.
9. OPOLAR Ceramic Heater
Quick and powerful, the OPOLAR Ceramic Heater can help you maintain a constant, warm temperature in your tent, wherever life’s adventures might take you. This electric heater is quiet but can produce a lot of heat at three different temperature modes.
For your safety, it also features a tip-over and overheating protection system that automatically turns the heater off if a dangerous situation occurs. Plus, it even features a five-year warranty so you can feel comfortable with your purchase.
10. Brightown Electric Heater
This highly portable electric heater from Brightown is perfect for all your camping needs. With an integrated thermostat that lets you choose your tent temperature, the Brightown Electric Heater is made to keep you comfortable.
The Brightown Electric Heater is highly compact, so it’s easy to take along on your next winter camping trip. But, it also is quiet enough to use without disturbing your rest at night. If that wasn’t enough the Brightown Electric Heater even has an auto-shutoff system that turns the device off if it overheats or tips over so you can have some peace of mind while you camp, making it one of the best tent electric heaters around.
There’s no reason to stay inside just because it’s cold outside. With the best tent heater, you can turn a frigid winter outing to a memorable, snow-filled camping trip that the whole family will enjoy.