Best Tent Heater For Winter Camping

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If you love camping all year round and you’re looking for the best tent heater to keep your tent warm during the cooler months, you’ve come to the right place!

We’ve looked at many different tent heaters to find the ones that are the safest and most efficient at keeping a tent warm in winter. We’re happy to share our favorite tent heaters.

In a hurry? Check out our top picks!

Our Top Picks

Best Electric Tent Heater

ISILER electric tent heater

ISILER Electric Tent Heater

4.9/5

Best Overall

Mr. Heater F232000 Buddy Propane Heater

Mr. Heater Buddy Propane Heater

5/5

Best Value

Opolar Electric Portable Tent Heater

Opolar Portable Heater

4.9/5

If you’ve camped before, you know the value of staying dry and comfortable. Heaters for tents are an outstanding invention for keeping you and your tent cozy. Let’s face it, a heavy-duty sleeping bag and camping tent don’t always cut it.

Having a tent heater on hand can expand the window of possibility for camping in less favorable conditions. It can also be a great backup item on days where inclement weather unexpectedly strikes.

There’s a range of tent heaters on the market, so we went through all the different options and rated the best tent heaters for your convenience.

Below, you can find our recommendations for purchasing a tent heater that best suits your camping specifications. We’ve also included several reviews and our highest recommended tent heater so you can always be a happy camper!

Best Tent Heaters Reviewed

8 Best Tent Heaters for Every Camper

Let’s take an in-depth look at some of the best camping tables out there and what situations they’re going to be the most suitable for. Let’s begin!

1. Mr. Heater Buddy Propane Heater

Best Overall

Mr. Heater F232000 Buddy Propane Heater

No electricity? No problem! With this little guy you can go completely off-the-grid and you will still have a warm tent, wherever you are. The Mr. Heater Buddy is a reliable and versatile propane heater with a great heat output. It’s perfect for winter camping! We gave it 4.9 stars out of 5.

What we like:

  • Suitable for indoor/outdoor use.
  • Safety features include auto shut-off in event of a tip-over, if the pilot light goes out, or if low oxygen is detected. 
  • It has a fold-down handle for easy transport and stowing. 
  • Runs up to 6 hours on a 1 pound propane tank and up 100 hours on a 20 pound tank! 

Two things to bear in mind – It doesn’t have a way to circulate heat, so you should position it in the center of your tent where it can adequately heat the space.

We really like the Mr Heater Buddy because it produces amazing heat output. We think this propane heater is perfect for most winter camping needs.

Specs
  • Weight: 9 pounds
  • Dimensions: 7.7 x 13.4 x 15 inches
  • Power Source: Propane
  • Heat Output: 4,000 to 9,000 BTU/hr
  • Heating Capacity: Up to 2oo sq. ft.

2. ISILER Electric Heater

Best Electric Tent Heater

ISILER portable heater for camping

The ISILER portable heater is small yet powerful. We selected it as the best electric tent heater for its size, quality, and portability. Additionally, if you have any safety concerns, this one is fire-resistant and equipped with technology to prevent overheating. We awarded it 4.8 stars out of 5!

What we like:

  • Adjustable dial control with a comfortable range of temperatures.
  • Fire-retardant metal shell for durability and safety from heat.
  • Safety features include overheating protection to prevent temperature exceeding the desired limit.

The ISILER electric heater is ideal for anyone looking to have a powerful function in a smaller space heater. Its yellow metal features make it easy to see in a tent and a standout choice if you need something small but powerful.        

Specs
  • Weight: 2.4 pounds
  • Dimensions: 7 x 6.7 x 6 inches
  • Power Source: Electric
  • Wattage: 1500 Watts
  • Heat Output: 5,115 BTU/hr
  • Heating Capacity: Up to 108 sq. ft.

3. Dr Infrared Portable Heater

Best infrared heater

Dr Infrared Portable Heater

If you’re after a safe and reliable portable infrared heater, this is the one! We like how this heater produces enough heat to warm up a large tent. It’s also extremely quiet which makes it a great option for camping and that’s why we awarded it 4.8 stars out of 5.

What we like:

  • It delivers an average of 250°F at 3.5m/s to your tent.
  • Comes with a removable filter that is easy to clean and replace.
  • It features a 12hr automatic shut-off timer. You can set it to your desired temperature on auto mode, and the heater cycles on and off to maintain that temperature.

The Dr. Infrared Heater works by warming objects rather than air. The infrared heat feels natural and is energy efficient.

We like the tip-over protection and overheat protection which is definitely an important feature to have when you’re in a tent. It also comes with a remote control so you don’t have to get out of your sleeping bag to turn it off or adjust the temperature.

The unit doesn’t get too hot either which makes it safe to use. The only part to get hot to the touch is the metal grate where the heat comes out of. This is completely expected given the amount of heat it radiates.

Specs
  • Weight: 24 pounds
  • Dimensions: 16 x 11 x 13 inches
  • Power Source: Electric
  • Wattage: 1500 Watts
  • Heat Output: 5,115 BTU/hr
  • Heating Capacity: Up to 2oo sq. ft.

4. Opolar Electric Tent Heater

Best Value Pick

Opolar electric tent heater

The Opolar electric tent heater is perfect if you want a quiet and user-friendly heater for winter camping. Complete with a handle, this heater is portable and lightweight, making it a great choice for tents and RVs. We think it deserves a solid 4.8 out of 5.

  • Ceramic space heater warms up fast and produces long-lasting heat.
  • Three modes: high heat, low heat, and fan-only setting.
  • Great safety features including a tip-over switch and overheating protection which turns the system off automatically.

It features an adjustable thermostat that will kick on to maintain consistent heat. It also provides tip-over protection to prevent unwanted combustion. 

Across the board, this is one of the best electric tent heaters. It’s easy-to-use and works well in a tent or tent trailer given it has adequate safety features to safely keep your space warm.

Specs
  • Weight: 3.5 pounds
  • Dimensions: 7.1 x 5.9 x 11.1 inches
  • Power Source: Electric
  • Wattage: 1500 Watts
  • Heat Output: 5,115 BTU/hr
  • Heating Capacity: Up to 2oo sq. ft.

5. Lasko Electric Heater

Best personal tent heater

Lasko portable tent heater

The Lasko portable tent heater packs decent heating qualities inside a smaller body. If you tend to camp solo and need a lightweight and personal sized heater, this may be the one for you. We gave it 3.8 stars out 5.

What we like:  

  • Fan aids with heat distribution.
  • Small size helps with easy storage and minimizing energy use.
  • 6-foot cord and 2-pronged plug-in for reaching across spaces.

The Lasko portable heater comes in a variety of colors (black, white, blue, and purple) and stands about 6 inches high. It may be small but it’s a great option if you need a reliable heat source for one person.

Specs
  • Weight: 1 pound
  • Dimensions: 3.8 x 4.3 x 6.1 inches
  • Power Source: Electric
  • Wattage: 200 Watts
  • Heat Output: 682 BTU/hr
  • Heating Capacity: Up to 3 ft.

6. Tooluxe Butane Heater

Best butane heater

Tooluxe Butane Tent Heater

If you’re looking for warmth for a few hours at a time, this heater may be an optimal choice. It runs on standard butane cartridges and can warm a small area with 3-4 people for around two hours per can. We gave it 4 out of 5 stars.

What we like:

  • Safety shut off feature when pressure is detected.
  • Utilizes standard butane cartridges to produce heat.
  • Adjustable heat output for customizable comfort.

With that in mind, it may not be as ideal for heating a tent overnight. It is advised that you crack a door or window of your tent as well to provide ventilation. After using the heater, be mindful that the top of the frame and handle may be warm from use.

Specs
  • Weight: 5.4 pounds
  • Dimensions: 11.6 x 10.9 x 7.9 inches
  • Power Source: Butane
  • Heating Capacity: Up to 100 sq. ft.

7. Mr. Heater Little Buddy

Best Portable Tent Heater

Mr Heater Little Buddy portable heater camping

The Little Buddy is designed for compact spaces up to 95 square feet, so it’s a great choice for use in a medium-sized tent. It operates off of a propane cylinder (not included) and offers easy set-up for hassle-free use. We awarded it 4 out 5 stars.

What we like:

  • Simple on/off buttons and sensors for low-oxygen and accidental tip-overs.
  • Despite using propane cylinders, remains odor-free.
  • Handle for easy portability when moving about.

If you are looking to camp or hike over 7,000 ft. above sea level, this may not be the best choice, but for lower altitudes, it should work just fine.

Specs
  • Weight: 5 pounds
  • Dimensions: 11 x 11 x 11 inches
  • Power Source: Propane
  • Heat Output: 3,800 BTU
  • Heating Capacity: Up to 95 sq. ft.

8. Mr. Heater Tank Top Heater

Best outdoor heater for camping

Mr Heater Tank Top Heater Camping

Although it has a somewhat unconventional design, the Mr. Heater Tank Top is a great option for winter camping. While you shouldn’t use this one inside your tent, it’s a great portable heater to keep warm outside! We think it deserves 4.5 out of 5 stars.

What we like:

  • 360-degree burner head provides for expansive heat distribution.
  • Highly rated heater that uses fuel efficiently.
  • Safety shut-off feature for accidental tip-overs.
  • Mountable to a 180-degree multi-directional bracket for increased distribution.

It heats up a small area quickly (up to 20 feet). You may want to use a fan for even heat distribution in your space.

Good ventilation is necessary to avoid excessive carbon monoxide gas consumption. Hence, the recommendation to use this one outside only.

If you’re okay with managing your fuel consumption manually, this tank heater would be a good fit.

 

Specs
  • Weight: 5.5 pounds
  • Dimensions: 10.4 x 10.4 x 17.5 inches
  • Power Source: Propane
  • Heat Output: 30,000 – 45,000 BTU
  • Heating Capacity: Up to 95 sq. ft.

Best Tent Heater Buyer’s Guide

Now that you have seen the amazing available options, it’s helpful to narrow down the exact heater that will be the ideal portable heater for you.

With so many great choices to pick from, it can be tough to know which are the best tent heaters for your camping needs. To select the portable heater that fits your needs, you should be aware of commonly-sought-after features.

 

Types of Portable Heaters

Here are the three main types of portable heaters that you can use in tents.

Electric Tent Heaters

Depending on your experience and comfort level, you may prefer using an electric tent heater. It requires less upkeep and doesn’t constitute a suffocation risk as it doesn’t produce any toxic emissions which in turn keeps the air cleaner.

Electric heaters are generally easier and safer to run than gas heaters.

There are four main types of electric heaters: convection heaters, fan-forced heaters, radiant heaters and infrared heaters. The main difference being their method of producing heat.

Convection Heaters

Convection heaters use convection currents to maintain spaces at high temperatures. The currents circulate throughout the body of the appliance and across its heating elements.

The good thing about convection heaters is that their surfaces don’t get too hot making them a safe choice tents.

Fan-Forced Heaters

Fan-forced heaters are heaters that work by using a fan to pass air over heated coils and out into the air. Fan-forced heaters can heat your tent quicker than a heater without a fan but they are of course, noisier.

Additionally, you can’t sleep directly in front of them (which can be a challenge if you have a small tent) because they can get very hot.

Radiant Heaters

Radiant heaters transfer the heat they generate directly to people and objects nearby. They’re slower than fan-forced heaters but are really effective at keeping a space warm. They’re an ideal choice in one-room tents where people can remain in direct line of sight of the heater.

One thing to bare mind is that most radiant heaters emit visible light which some may find too bright for sleeping.

Infrared Heaters

Infrared heaters are similar to radiant heaters with the biggest difference being that the light they produce is not as bright. This makes them ideal for sleeping areas.

Another benefit of infrared heaters is that they don’t get as hot to the touch as other electric heaters.

All in all, electric heaters are a great option to keep a tent warm. However, since they do draw a lot of power, these wouldn’t be ideal if you plan on camping off-the-grid. In this instance, a propane heater may be more suitable.

Gas Tent Heaters

Gas heaters are another popular type of portable heater for winter camping.

Something to consider before purchasing a heater for your tent is whether you will have access to electricity or not. In the event you’re not near a plug-in, a propane or butane heater is likely the more reliable choice.

For those who are more experienced, a butane or propane heater is a great option. Gas tent heaters are portable and lightweight making them perfect for backpackers or anyone with limited storage space.

Gas heaters can heat up small spaces really quickly. They’re easy to use and can provide heat over long periods. As an example, the Mr Heater Buddy propane heater runs for 3 hours on high and up to 6 hours on low setting on a 1-pound propane canister. With a 20-pound propane tank it can provide up to 100 hours of heat.

At the end of the day, if you understand that heating a tent with butane or propane requires ventilation and you follow the manufacturer’s safety measures, you should be perfectly capable of operating gas heaters satisfactorily.

Chemical Warmers

Chemical warmers or hand warmers may not warm up your tent but they’re a great temporary solution if you need to warm up quickly.

You can hold them in your hands or you can place them in your sleeping bag, in your socks or under your shirt. They’re safe to use and can help you stay warm while your tent heater brings the tent to a comfortable temperature. Chemical warmers come in 3 forms:

Air Activated Warmers

Chemical warmers or hand warmers that are air-activated start working as soon as they’re exposed to oxygen in​ the air.

The packets of chemicals produce heat from oxidizing iron into iron oxide (Fe2O3) or rust. Each packet contains iron, cellulose or sawdust, water, vermiculite (that serves as a water reservoir), activated carbon (for heat distribution), and salt which acts as a catalyst.

Air activated warmers produce heat anywhere from 1 to 10 hours which is more than enough to get you through the day or night.

Crystallization

This type of chemical warmer relies on crystallization of a supersaturated solution that releases heat during the process. These hand warmers don’t last as long as the air activated ones. They will usually only last from 20 minutes to 2 hours but they are re-usable.

Battery Operated

You can get battery-operated hand warmers which are also quite effective. They work by burning lighter fluid or charcoal inside special cases. With these you can choose the temperature you want, how long you want the heat to last, and whether you need it to be rechargeable.

How to Choose the Best Tent Heater

While we can make recommendations on what we believe to be the best tent heater, it’s important to remember that your needs and preferences may differ. For that reason, utilizing buyer’s guides like this one can help inform your decision.

Before purchasing a tent heater, here’s what you should consider:

  • When do I do the bulk of my camping?
  • How many people will need heat?
  • How big is my tent? Do I need a heater with a bigger capacity?
  • Will I have access to electricity?
  • Am I concerned about safety measures and protective features?
  • Am I looking for something lower maintenance or am I okay with tending to my tent heater regularly?

Size of your tent

If you tend to camp in cooler climates or areas where there is commonly inclement weather, having a tent heater is a wise decision. Additionally, depending on whether you camp solo or in small groups, you will want to consider smaller vs. larger tent heaters.

To that same end, consider the size of the space you will be heating. Depending on the size of the heater, you will be able to heat more or less space.

Naturally, the more compact tent heaters are better suited for solo campers and smaller spaces, and larger heaters are suited for larger spaces, respectively.

Heat Output

This is another important aspect to consider. Heat output relates to how much heat the heater can produce. It’s measured in British Thermal Units (BTU).

To calculate the right heat output needed for your tent, you need to factor in the size of your tent and its insulation.

For a personal heater, 500 to 3000 BTU should be enough. To heat up a tent with 2 people or more, you should get a tent heater of at least 5000 BTU. 

This tent heat calculator will help you determine how many BTU you need for your winter tent.

Noise

The main reason for spending time outdoors is to relax and enjoy your surroundings. Nothing can ruin that more than a noisy heater when you’re trying to have a sleep after a big day out in the woods.

Therefore, you should avoid tent heaters that generate a lot of noise. The most quiet tent heaters have a low decibel level like the Mr Heater Buddy or the Dr Infrared Heater. While most heaters make some level of noise, some can only be heard when you get really close to them.

Portability

One the most important features to look for in a tent heater is of course, the portability. Since you will be taking it from one campsite to another you need one that’s easy to carry around.

The good news is that most tent heaters are very portable and lightweight which makes them perfect for long camping trips.

Durability

You need to consider how often and how long you would like to use your tent heater. Like any product you plan on using outdoors, you need something that offers maximum durability.

The best tent heaters are built strong and can withstand harsh conditions. Hence, you should take this into consideration when choosing your portable heater. You don’t want something that will fail on you in the middle of your winter camping trip.

Safety Features

Regarding safety measures and protective features, these are always a great option to have for peace of mind. There is a risk associated with using a heater inside a tent, therefore having protective measures can prevent unwanted accidents such as fire or suffocation.

As with any other heat-generating source, heaters are fire hazards. If left unattended, they can potentially ignite or melt nearby objects. Therefore, you should always go for a heater that features a tip-over or overheating function..

Thermostats are also a good feature to have to help conserve electricity all while maintaining optimal room temperature.

Advantages and Benefits of a Tent Heater

After a day out in the elements, there is no better feeling than the comfort of a warm heater. Not only do they help you stay comfortable, but they also keep you dry and safe in less favorable conditions.

It may sound silly to even spell this out, but one obvious advantage of a tent heater is that it warms the inside of a tent. This is ideal in instances when you camp, and the weather is cool and/or wet.

To that end, a tent heater can help reduce the condensation inside a tent, keeping you warm and dry. The heat from your body and your breath being trapped inside can make the inside of the tent slightly damp, and ultimately chillier.

In the past, you would have been left to your own devices to start a fire and hope that would keep you warm through the night.

Unfortunately, you can’t set a fire inside your tent. Luckily, there is now technology that helps you stay warm and dry, even without plugging into an electrical outlet.

Best Way to Use a Tent Heater

Aside from an insulated tent that’s designed for all seasons, camping gear such as heavy-duty sleeping bags and tent heaters will save you from the cold weather risks like hypothermia.

Tent heaters can essentially be used at any point, but they’re especially helpful for staying warm as you sleep through the night.

We suggest running the tent heater for a while before entering to sleep for the night. Depending on the apparatus you use, you may let it run out after several hours and keep sleeping through the night.

Alternatively, you may want an electric heater that runs throughout the night for continued warmth.

Precautions to Take When Using a Tent Heater

First and foremost, be aware that there is risk involved with camping in cooler temperatures, especially at or below freezing. Know that you must bring along the appropriate gear to ensure your safety.

The following are some safety tips if you plan on using a tent heater.

Avoid heaters with built-in stands

If you’re concerned about accidents such as a tip-over or unwanted fire, you might want to avoid a heater that comes with a built-in stand. Instead, look for a unit that sits close to the ground with additional safety features, such as a switch that automatically turns the device off.

Fortunately, most devices come with this technology to prevent any unwanted fires or consumption of toxic gases.

Choose the right place for your tent heater

While the center of the tent would be the ideal place for a heater, it may not be the most practical place if you have a smaller tent. You need to place it away from the tent material and any bedding or clothes.

It’s good practice to keep anything flammable away from your tent heater to avoid unwanted accidents.

Though most tent heaters come with safety features in the event of a tip-over, it’s best to keep it out of the way. This will ensure that this doesn’t happen in the first place.

Ventilate your tent

Be aware of the distinction between an electric heater vs. a gas heater. Some heaters run on butane or propane cylinders and will require proper ventilation if being used inside a tight enclosure. Make sure you have airflow since they utilize oxygen to create heat.

Turn the heat down if you break a sweat

Lastly, this may seem counter intuitive when your main concern is staying warm and dry, but you should also try to keep yourself from sweating. If you become too hot in your tent, remove layers to keep dry. Making clothes damp by sweating can make you even more chilly on a cold night.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q1. How cold is too cold to sleep in a tent?

Many campers avoid camping in the winter because of the cold. Nighttime temps in the high 30s or low 40s are too cold for tent camping without experience and the use of professional gear.

Having a tent heater, even when it isn’t winter, is also ideal for those instances where the weather is inconsistent or too chilly. This can ensure you stay comfortable and dry through all seasons and changes in elements, allowing you to up your camping game.

Having a tent heater on hand can expand the window of time that you’re able to camp given it can keep you warm when it’s otherwise too cold outside. If you’re looking to branch out and try winter camping, having a tent heater is optimal for doing so safely and comfortably.

Q2. How do you safely heat a tent?

Be sure to position your tent heater properly. Though many modern heaters do not actually create a flame, they’re still capable of creating a fire. Before using your tent heater, make sure it is not going to come into contact with anything or that it will not get knocked over.

As stated, keeping your tent properly ventilated is essential. With gas heaters, be sure to open a window or keep the door slightly unzipped to ensure there is enough oxygen entering the tent.

Whether you’re using a gas heater or electric heater, it’s good practice to keep anything flammable or subject to melting out of the way of the heater. This includes blankets, clothing, and the fabric of the tent.

Q3. What heater is safe to use in a tent?

In short, tent heaters that are designed for use inside a tent are safe to be used in a tent. Be mindful whether the heater you purchase is tent-specific so you can rest assured that it is made to operate in a confined space.

Understandably, people have concerns that tent heaters are dangerous since you’re using a heat source in a small, enclosed space. Check the dimensions of your tent to determine whether you need a larger or smaller one for heating your tent properly and safely.

When it comes to the safety of using a tent heater, it depends on which model you purchase and how it is used. Be sure to closely read the safety guidelines according to the tent heater manufacturer’s directions.

Q4. Is it safe to use a propane heater in a tent?

Any heating device you might use poses some degree of risk. Without the proper operation, there is a fire or suffocation hazard.

No matter the heating source, a fire can occur. This is especially true with heaters that use real flames to create heat, but the possibility is there with electric tent heaters as well.

With a butane or propane heater, the more likely danger is the risk of suffocation. Carbon monoxide and other gases can be deadly, therefore proper caution and ventilation are necessary.

We personally really like the Mr Heater Buddy Propane Heater but before using it we weren’t sure how safe it was to use indoors. During our research we came across this video where a guy runs different tests to see if it releases any carbon monoxide into the air.

Take a look to find out how safe it is to use in an enclosed space.

Q5. Will an electric heater keep a tent warm?

Electric heaters are capable of warming a tent. It will ultimately depend on the size and wattage of the tent heater, and that is up to your discretion.

Q6. How do you keep a tent warm without electricity?

Without electricity, you have the option to use butane or portable propane heaters. These utilize cylinders of gas to create warmth. They are especially handy for places where electricity is limited or not accessible.

Beyond tent heater options, there are several other methods you should employ to keep your tent heated with limited resources, namely having the right gear.

Look for sleeping bags and pads that are designed to weather extreme conditions. Some campers choose to use Mylar blankets to contain their heat and stay warm in cold conditions.

In addition to insulated gear like tents and sleeping bags, be sure to pack appropriate clothing that will keep you warm and dry. Prioritizing your body warmth is key for staying warm.

Finally, doing the work of finding an optimal spot for your tent is another major factor. Look for a place where trees will shield you from harsh winds and sun.

Wrapping Up

Out of all of the options on the market, there are several standouts for the best portable tent heater. The Mr Heater Buddy propane heater weighs in as our number one choice across the board for its portability, versatility, and exceptional heat output. We think it’s a great choice for newer and experienced campers alike.

If the number one choice doesn’t quite suit your fancy, be sure to check out the other contenders. Which of these you select will depend on your preference. A basic rule of thumb is whether you want to do the maintenance of replenishing fuel canisters or use electricity.

Additionally, if you’re concerned about the potential risk of suffocation, you may opt for an electric heater. While they’re not entirely risk-free, they require less upkeep and do not present as much risk. 

Each of these tent heaters was selected with care, and each brings its respective pros and cons to the table. Overall, tent heaters are an outstanding item to have on hand at all times and work wonders for keeping you warm and safe in inclement weather.

Before purchasing a portable heater for your tent, review the options available along with the buyer’s guide criteria to make your decision. With attention to instructions and proper set-up, a tent heater will surely keep you camping happily for years to come.

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