Camping is an activity you can enjoy during the summer or fall, but winter is also an option if you have a good heater to keep you warm. Whether you need something small and simple or large winter camping tent heater, making the right choice can go a long way towards making your trip enjoyable. While there is no set category for this niche product, we’ve compiled a list featuring the best models for camping along with a buying guide full of helpful tips.
- The Best Tent Heaters for Camping
- How to find the Best Camping Heater
- How will you use the heater?
- Electric or Propane Heater?
- Tent Heater Output
- Size and Weight
- Safety Features
- Other things to consider…
- Tent Heater FAQ
The Best Tent Heaters for Camping
Mr. Heater Little Buddy MH4B
- Power: Propane
- Heat Rating: 3,800 BTUs
- Size: 18" x 7" x 9.4"
- Weight: 5.85 lbs.
- Warranty: 1 year
- Power: Propane
- Heat Rating: 5,000-10,000 BTUs
- Size: 13.5" x 10.5" x 10.5"
- Weight: 8.5 lbs.
- Warranty: 1 year
Honeywell Heat Bud
- Power: Electric
- Heat Rating: 250 watts
- Size: 6.5" x 4.1" x 5.6"
- Weight: 1.36 lbs.
- Warranty: 3 years
- Power: Propane
- Heat Rating: 2,890 BTUs
- Size: 8.5" x 10" x 5.25"
- Weight: NA
- Warranty: 1 year
Mr. Heater Portable Buddy MH9BX
- Power: Propane
- Heat Rating: 4,000-9,000 BTUs
- Size: 14.2" x 9" x 14.2"
- Weight: 10.6 lbs.
- Warranty: 1 year
- Power: Electric
- Heat Rating: 600 watts
- Size: 7.3" x 4.6" x 3.7"
- Weight: 1.9 lbs.
- Warranty: 1 year
Below you’ll find our picks for the best tent heaters for camping, which features a mix of propane and electric models. There is something for everyone, including consumers with tight-budgets and campers that need to warm up huge tents.
#1 Mr. Heater Little Buddy MH4B
The Best Portable Propane Camping Tent Heater
Mr. Heater has a range of portable systems that are ideal for the outdoors, but none are nearly as portable as the Little Buddy MH4B. It’s a lightweight propane heater and our top option for backpackers that need to heat a small tent.
With a rating of 3,800 BTU per hour, the Little Buddy can produce enough heat to warm tents up to 95 square feet. It’s made to work with 1 pound propane cylinders and has two critical safety features with tip-over protection and a low oxygen shut-off sensor. It’s also incredibly easy to use with a one-button Piezo ignition system.
You can easily strap this small tent heater to your backpack without greatly increasing your load as it only weighs 3.95 pounds without a tank. While it’s a little larger than some portable propane-based heaters, it certainly won’t weigh you down. The Little Buddy MH4B is rated to run for 5.6 hours off a standard tank and has one heat setting.
Consumers have been using Mr. Heaters Buddy lineup to keep warm outdoors for years, and the Little Buddy is ideal for lightweight trips and larger tents. It’s reasonably priced, and there’s really no downside to this unit unless you need a 2-in-1 system that can cook and heat. This particular model can’t be shipped to Massachusetts or Canada, but this variant is certified for those locations.
#2 Ignik 2-in-1 Heater Stove
The Best Tent Heater for Camping and Cooking
While keeping warm when you’re camping is essential in the colder months, so is eating a warm meal. There are a variety of devices for campers that can heat an area and cook food, but the 2-in-1 Heater Stove from Ignik is a fan favorite.
Campfires are the best way to heat an outdoor area and do a little cooking, but not always ideal when it’s damp, or the winds kick up. Ignik’s 2-in-1 heater is built for such situations as this propane tent heater can produce up to 10,000 BTU’s of heat and has a chromed cast iron burner. This allows you to heat food evenly in a pan or pot, while the steel coil handle makes it a breeze to carry around your campsite.
This winter camping tent heater is a little large to stick in a pack considering it’s around 14” tall and 11” wide. It’s still lightweight, however, at 8 pounds and has standard safety features like an anti-tip switch and an auto-shutoff in the case the pilot light goes out. This heater comes with a 2’ hose with a regulator, which allows it to be used with a variety of tanks, including the company’s Gas Growler.
While there aren’t many reviews on this heater, it’s been well-received by campers and weekend warriors across the board. Consumers appreciate the weight and build quality of this heater, and we feel the price point is excellent given its heating capacity and the fact it can cook as well as heat.
#3 Honeywell Heat Bud Portable Heater
The Best Electric Small Tent Heater
Honeywell is one of the more prolific heater manufacturers on our list. They make a number of portable heaters that would work in a tent, but most aren’t exactly easy to pack. The Heat Bud portable heater is an exception and a safer alternative to a gas-powered heater.
This heater may not have as much power as other systems on our list, but it’s very efficient for its size. The Honeywell Heat Bud is rated at 250 watts but has two settings, so you can choose from 170 watts of power as well. It’s rare to find a miniature ceramic heater with two settings, and this one will also stay cool to the touch.
To call this heater compact would be an understatement as it measures 6.5” H x 4.1” L x 5.6” D. The listed weight for the heater is 1.36 pounds, which makes one of the lightest electric tent heaters on the market. Honeywell equipped this heater with a 360° tip-over switch and x2 overheat protection for additional safety.
If you prefer electricity to propane, it’s hard to go wrong with the Honeywell Heat Bud. While it may struggle to heat up a large drafty tent, it won’t have any problem keeping you warm safely in a smaller one. This heater is available in three different colors and is backed by a 3-year warranty from Honeywell.
#4 Texsport Portable Outdoor Propane Heater
The Best Budget Propane Camping Tent Heater
While our first propane tent heater has an unmistakable style that sets it apart from similar models, this heater has a more industrial vibe. It may not be fancy, but the Texsport Portable Outdoor Propane heater is designed for use in areas like workshops and campsites.
This two-piece system consists of a base and top, which has a stainless steel burner surrounded by a reflector. That reflector is made from aluminum and has a safety grid across the top to prevent accidental burns. The burner feels sturdy, even if it’s unwieldy on a pack compared to heaters like the Little Buddy.
To use this heater, you connect a standard 1 pound propane tank and put the base around the bottle. The base has four large foldable paddle feet to keep it from tipping over, and there’s a shut-off for safety in case the flame goes out. A control knob allows you to adjust the heater up to 2,890 BTU, but there are no other features to speak of.
If you’re looking for a camping tent heater you can stick in your backpack, there are better options on our list. That said, it’s hard to argue with the price tag on this Texsport propane tent heater. It’s incredibly useful in a wide range of settings and should be on our list when you need a portable propane heater to knock the chill off outdoors.
#5 Mr. Heater Portable Buddy MH9BX
The Best Camping Tent Heater for Large Tents
Choosing the Little Buddy heater as our top choice in the portability department was an easy decision, even it’s somewhat limited from a heating standpoint. Well, the Portable Buddy MH9BX is considerably more powerful than its smaller sibling and the best large tent heater for lower altitudes.
With an adjustable heating range from 4,000 to 9,000 BTUs, this portable propane tent heater is powerful. It’s rated for areas up to 200 square feet, which covers even the largest of tents, but it won’t break your back or bank account. This affordable heater only weighs 10.5 pounds without a tank attached and will work at elevations up to 7,000 feet.
Creature comforts on this system include a sturdy carrying handle that flips down when not in use and a swiveling regulator. If the heater accidentally gets kicked over, it will shut off immediately, and an ODS sensor keeps the oxygen levels in check. The burn time for his heater varies between 4 to 6 hours, depending on the settings and size of the propane tank used.
The Buddy lineup from Mr. Heater is a collection we are very familiar with, and the MH9BX is a propane tent heater we highly recommend if you need a powerful portable heater for the outdoors. Consumers found this system a breeze to use, and it has all the safety features you’d expect from a great winter camping tent heater.
#5 OPOLAR Mini Ceramic Heater
A Powerful and Portable Electric Camping Tent Heater
While pitching a tent outdoors is the most popular way to camp for most consumers, it’s not always the most convenient option. Neither is carrying propane tanks when you need heat, which is where diminutive heaters like this 600-watt system from OPOLAR come in handy.
At only 7.3” H x 4.6” W x 3.7” D, this heater is one of the smallest ones on our list and can be packed away in a glove box or backpack. It has a modern design with a few buttons on the front and an infrared Smart Body Sensor. This unique feature can detect when a human is nearby and shuts itself off within 2 minutes if it senses someone leaving the immediate vicinity.
That’s a handy feature to have on hand when you’re camping, and so is the tip-over switch and overheat protection. While you shouldn’t leave this or any other running while you sleep, the power light dims after a minute as well. The heater is rated at 600 watts but only has one speed, although it’s quiet enough to not distract you from Mother Nature with a decibel rating of 50dBA.
There are comparable small electric heaters you can use for camping, but we chose this model from OPOLAR due to its size, price, and wattage. It has plenty of power for such a small system and is one of the safer miniature heaters we’ve come across at this size.
How to find the Best Camping Heater
Setting off for a camping trip can be an exciting experience, but one that can turn sour quickly when the temperature drops. There are countless ways you can keep warm when camping in a tent, but choosing the best camping tent heater can be challenging. In this guide, we’re going to give you some tips to help you find the perfect model and touch on a few important safety topics as well.
How will you use the heater?
When trying to find the best camping tent heater, the first thing you have to consider is how you intend to use it as there are many forms of camping. Are you planning on camping out of a tent, from an RV, or at a campground with cabins?
If you need a heater to take on the trail, you’ll want something like and dependable. You’ll also need a heater that uses fuel instead of electricity when you are in the wild. Alternatively, if you have access to power, whether it’s a generator, solar-based, or simply an outlet attached to a pole – an electric heater is a better option.
Electric or Propane Heater?
Now it’s time to consider the two most popular types of camping heaters stack up against one another. An electric or propane heater will keep you warm in the winter while you camp, but both have distinct advantages and disadvantages regardless of where you pitch your tent.
Electric Tent Heaters
An electric heater can come in all shapes and sizes, including models that oscillate or have remote controls. As they are made from plastic and typically have a ceramic heating element inside, they are also lightweight.
Another advantage is the price, as you can pick up a relatively high-end electric heater for the cost of a mediocre propane-based model. Open flames aren’t an issue with an electric heater, and neither is carbon monoxide. They are certainly safer to use from that standpoint.
Unfortunately, you have to have electricity to use an electric heater, which automatically rules it out for many campers. Even if you have access to power where you plan to hike, this style of heater can be awkward to pack despite being lightweight.
Propane Tent Heaters
When you need portable heat on the trail, a propane heater is generally the best option. There are models that can work at high altitudes, and most are designed to pack away easily and take up very little space in your pack or vehicle.
It’s also not uncommon to find models that can cook food and heat up a tent. Having a dual-purpose device outside your tent is a bonus, even if the fuel itself can be a hassle. The biggest drawback of a propane heater outside of obvious safety concerns is the fuel canisters, which can take up a considerable amount of space.
Tent Heater Output
Once you have a good idea of the style of heater that’s right for your camping trip, it’s time to think about the output compared to the size of your tent. The specification you’ll want to look for is called BTU, otherwise known as British Thermal Units. You can learn more about BTU in our guide, but you won’t need to perform any complicated calculations for a tent heater.
Manufacturers that make heaters and fans often give a room size or rating for their product. They also provide a square footage rating, however, and that’s what you’ll want to focus on. Unfortunately, tents aren’t sized the same way, so you’ll need to multiply the length and width of one side of your camping tent.
A 6-person dome tent that’s 10” x 10” would be 100 square feet and require a relatively small heater. You could technically heat up an area that size with the Little Buddy propane heater from our list, but also have to consider the type of tent you have and ventilation as well.
Size and Weight
Whether you plan to pack light for a trip up a mountain or camp out of your car with a tent, size matters. Most of us don’t have the luxury of having unlimited space on a camping trip, so the overall dimensions and weight of a heater are a specification to pay attention to.
In our experience, many heaters used for tent camping weigh between 2-4 pounds. They aren’t as light as camping stoves, and if you’re using propane or butane, you have to consider the weight of the fuel source as well. Electric models tend to be heavier but don’t require you to carry additional accessories. As for which one is easier to pack, that all depends on the style.
Camping heaters are not complicated devices by design, although some electric models can be fairly high-tech. Both types of heaters have a standard set of safety features, however, and should be one of the first things you look for when purchasing a heater for your adventure.
If the heater has an open flame or is propane-based, it should have an ODS sensor. This is a typical feature for vent-free heaters and is commonly found on small propane systems as well. If the oxygen level in an area drops below a certain percentage, the sensor kicks in and shuts the fuel off.
Auto-shutoff features are a must-have for any fuel-based heating system, and they may have a tip-over switch depending on the style. As the name implies, if the heater happens to get kicked over, the switch on the bottom actives and shuts the heater off. It’s most common on electric heaters along with overheat protection.
Other things to consider…
There aren’t many features with this style of heater, so you won’t find any connected units on our list this time around. While you can always lug your Dyson heater to a campsite to purify and warm the air, there aren’t many bells & whistles with this type of heater. With that in mind, here are a few features and areas to consider when shopping for the best camping tent heater.
With propane heaters, you want a system that’s easy to start. Piezo ignitions are the most popular option, and some systems require batteries for the ignition that aren’t included with the heater. A hose and regulator are two other accessories you may need to pick up if they aren’t in the box or up to par.
Build quality is also critical with portable propane heaters. Look for systems made with high-quality metal parts, especially the burner. You’ll want to make sure an electric system that you’re going to put in a pack is durable as well. There are more features with an electric tent heater, but they typically aren’t built to handle the outdoors unless it’s a utility heater.
You may find dozens of systems listed as “tent heaters” online, but the truth is there are really only a handful of heaters designed for use outdoors, much less in a tent. Safety should always be at the forefront when using a heater near a tent, and it’s important to have proper ventilation with propane heaters. While the best small tent heater can help you keep cozy, so can a good sleeping bag and a campfire.
Tent Heater FAQ
Q: Why will some propane heaters not work at certain altitudes?
A: A propane heater needs oxygen to run properly, and the air is thinner at higher altitudes. There are several systems built to work in those areas, however.
Q: Where can I find a portable butane heater for camping?
A: There are only a few butane heaters that are suitable for camping, and most have the same design but are from different manufacturers. At this time, we don’t feel there is a butane heater reliable enough to use for camping.
Q: What’s the safest type of heater to take camping?
A: An electric heater. While you should still follow the usual safety protocols and can shave issues if the heater becomes too hot near your tent, you don’t have to be concerned with ventilation or combustion.
Q: Can I purchase a battery-powered heater to use in a tent?
A: That’s one of the top questions we’re asked by readers, and unfortunately, the answer is no. Ryobi, DeWalt, and a few other tool manufacturers have jobsite heaters that work with lithium-ion batteries, but they are large and high-powered.
Q: What’s the best type of tent to use with a heater?
A: A tent made from canvas. While they are not fireproof, they are more durable and can withstand heat better than nylon or polyester.