Best tent heaters for camping in 2019 (Review and buying guide)

Best tent heaters

Winter camping can also be a lot of fun for many, especially if you love the solitude, snow or backcountry skiing and other winter sports. But with winter comes the challenge of staying warm in the backcountry. Surely you would not want to spend your nights shivering the cold! One way to keep yourself warm during winter camping is to get a tent heater. These portable heaters work well in keeping a small to medium tent or camper/RV warm. And some of them also work well with golf carts and cabins!

So, which are the best tent heaters for small and large tents, RV’s and campers?

In this article, we will look at answering exactly the same question and review some of the best tent heaters for camping. We would primarily focus on non-electric, gas-powered camping tent heaters and share our favorite picks for both catalytic and infrared tent heaters. We will also share some of the most important factors and safety considerations to keep in mind before picking the best tent heaters. Read On!

Also, check out our article on the best hand warmers for another product to keep you warm during cold weather.

Best tent heaters for camping list

Some of the best tent heaters for camping and outdoor adventures are listed below:
PictureProductSpecifications 

Mr. Heater MH9BX Buddy Portable Tent Heater4000 or 9000 BTU
10.0 lbs.



Camco Olympian Wave Gas Catalytic HeaterWave-3: 3000 BTU ; 7 lbs.
Wave-6: 6000 BTU ; 14 lbs.
Wave-8: 8000 BTU ; 17 lbs.

Texsport Portable Outdoor Propane Heater2890 BTU
1.0 lbs.
Coleman SportCat Catalytic Heater1500 BTU
2.7 lbs.
Mr. Heater Little Buddy Propane Heater3800 BTU
5.9 lbs.


Lixada Double Head Outdoor Camping Heater3500 BTU
1.0 lbs.
Zodi Outback Gear X-40 Hot Vent Tent Heater40000 BTU
34 lbs.
Martin Portable Butane Outdoor Camping Heater5800 BTU
5.8 lbs.
Tooluze Compact Camping Heater4500 BTU
5.4 lbs.
Comfort Zone CZPP21 PowerGear 2-in-1 Propane Heater/Stove4000 - 6500 BTU
8.45 lbs.

What are different types of camping tent heaters?

Before we list out the best tent heaters for camping, let us check out the different types of portable camping tent heaters out there in the market. Typically, there are five common types of camping tent heaters, classified based on the fuel they use:

  • Gas Tent Heaters: Gas tent heaters use propane or butane as fuel. Most tent heaters use propane as it is cheaper and stays liquified even at higher altitudes. Propane tent heaters are designed to work well with large well-ventilated spaces with relatively less fuel consumption. Gas tent heaters are cheaper than other types of tent heaters, but they can have higher fuel costs over a very long run of 7 or more days. Gas tent heaters can be further classified into catalytic heaters and infra-red heaters, based on the heating mechanism they follow.

    Catalytic heaters or flame-less portable heaters use a catalytic reaction between propane/butane and oxygen to generate heat. Catalytic heaters are relatively clean and since there is no open flame, they consume propane at a much slower rate. A small 16.4-ounce propane canister can last the whole night (4-6 hours in some cases)! Moreover, catalytic propane heaters produce minimal Carbon monoxide and other noxious fumes and hence are safer to use within the tent or other enclosed space that has a proper flow of oxygen. Note that catalytic heaters, also do require some ventilation. Most modern catalytic propane tent heaters come with safety features such as low oxygen detectors and you should always look out for these safety features before picking the best tent heater for your needs.
    Infra-red heaters rely on a heat-emitting element that produces direct infra-red radiation when heated. Infra-red heaters produce instant heat and are cheaper than catalytic heaters, but they produce Carbon Monoxide (along with CO2) and hence require more ventilation and constant air flow when used within an enclosed space. Therefore, such heaters are more suitable to be used outdoors – around campsite or only when the tent door is open. They are also useful to use when working outdoors or for off-the-grid heating during emergencies.
    A third type, vent tent heaters have also become popular in the past few years, especially after the release of Zodi Outback Gear X-40 Hot Vent Tent Heater. Such gas heaters carry out the fuel burning on the outside and pass on the heat indoors through special heat-resistant vents. Vent tent heaters are safest type of gas heaters as the heat combustion happens outside and any noxious fumes or Carbon Monoxide/Carbon Dioxide is safely removed from within the enclosed space through the exhaust vent.

  • Electric Tent Heaters: Electric tent heaters need an electric power source to operate. This electrical connection can be from a paid campsite power hook-up, your RV or vehicle battery or a portable electric generator. Like the gas tent heaters, electric tent heaters can either be convection type heaters or radiant heaters. Electric heaters are relatively safer to use, but they need an electric power connection and hence not very practical to use for wilderness camping. Moreover, they tend to produce a more “stuffy kind of heat” (remember the old ceramic convection blower at home?).
    Lasko and Honeywell have some of the best portable electric heaters to use for RV’s, campers and campsites.
  • Battery-powered heaters: Battery-powered heaters are similar to electric tent heaters but have built-in rechargeable batteries that run the heater instead of an electric power supply. Such heaters are most portable and work well if you are looking for localized heat such as in a sleeping bag or a small 1-person tent. We saw some battery-powered heaters in our article on the best hand warmers.
  • Wood-burning tent heaters: As the name suggests, wood-burning tent heaters use the burning of wooden logs to generate heat. Such heaters are the most primitive type of tent heaters and are not very widely used, unless you have a large retro-canvas tent or off-the-grid log or fishing cabin. The best wood-burning heaters use controlled open-flame burning of wood to generate heat with minimal residue and smoke and have a chimney to remove the exhaust gases. Most wood-burning tent heaters can also double up as stoves.
  • If you are looking for a wood-burning tent heater for off-the-grid living or outdoor trip then look no further than the TMS Portable Military Camping Wood Stove. It has the most efficient design and performance among wood-burning tent heaters.

  • Kerosene tent heaters: Like wood burning tent heaters, kerosene tent heaters are suitable only for large, well-ventilated tents with an area of 250+ sq. ft. Such heaters use kerosene to heat up the filament and generate radiant or convection heat. Kerosene heaters are advertised to be indoor safe and suitable for long multi-day family camping trips because of cheaper fuel. But because of the inflammable nature of kerosene fuel and problems with flame control in windy conditions, they are no longer as popular as they were in the past.
    Sengoku HeatMate Radiant Heater and Dyna-Glo WK11C8 Kerosene Convection Heater are two popular mid-sized kerosene tent heaters to check out if you are looking for such heaters.

From the above discussion, gas-powered propane tent heaters are the most portable, cost-effective types of tent heaters to consider for 1-person to 4-person tent. And if you follow the basic safety precautions, the catalytic propane heaters are pretty safe too. For larger tents and log cabins, you can look at wood-burning, Kerosene or Electric tent heater.

In the next sections, we will list our picks for the best tent heaters for camping and other outdoor adventures and also list out the factors to consider before picking the best camping tent heater for your next outdoor trip.

Which are the best tent heaters for camping?

Mr. Heater MH9BX Buddy Tent Heater – Editor’s pick for the best tent heaterMr. Heater F232000 MH9BX Buddy 4,000-9,000-BTU Indoor-Safe Portable Propane Radiant Heater

Type: Catalytic propane heater. Indoor/Outdoor use.
Size and Weight: 7.7″ x 13.4″ x 15″; 10 lbs.
Thermal Output: 4,000 BTU/h or 9,000 BTU/h suitable for tents up to 200 sq. feet.
Fuel: Standard 16.4 oz. propane canister. Lasts 5.5-6.5 hours.
Features:

  • Best-selling indoor-safe catalytic camping heater with ceramic-coated radiant burner and noise-less fan.
  • Features a stable design with the burner secured within heat-resistant wire guard and mounted on shock-absorbing insulated legs.
  • Two heat settings with a four-position control and a reliable piezo-electric igniter.
  • Designed to last up to 5.5-6.5 hours on the standard 1 lbs. propane canister. Swivel regulator supports optional adapters and hoses.
  • Equipped with Low-oxygen sensor (ODS) and a tip-over shut-off security features.
  • Standard model is not approved for sale in Canada/MA. A Canada/MA approved model is available separately.
  • Backed by a one-year manufacturer warranty.

Details:

The name Mr. Heater has been synonymous with high-quality, US-made, indoor-safe heaters and their Buddy series is the flagship series for camping tent heaters. The Mr. Heater MH9BX Buddy portable tent heater is the mid-sized model of the series, suitable for tents up to 190-200 sq. feet in area.

The Mr. Heater MH9BX Buddy portable tent heater features a high-quality construction with a large ceramic-coated heating surface that is designed to direct radiant heat over a wide area. The ceramic burner is secured within heat-resistant wire guard and tile-mounted on a stable base with shock-absorbing insulated legs. And if you are concerned about accidental tip-overs, the Mr. Heater Portable Buddy heater is equipped with a tip-over safety shut-off feature.

The Mr. Heater MH9BX Buddy heater is indoor safe as it generates heat through an efficient catalytic heating process. Still, you would need a 4-6 sq. inch opening to let-off any Carbon dioxide and residual exhaust gases. The heater is equipped with a low-oxygen safety shut-off (Oxygen Depletion Sensor – ODS) feature to prevent any CO2 poisoning incidents.

The Mr. Heater Buddy heater is one of the most efficient tent heaters out there with its noiseless fan for even distribution of heat. It supports two heat settings – 4000 BTU (low) and 9000 BTU (high) and offers a four-position control setup (Off, Pilot, High and Low) and a reliable piezo-electric igniter. It can work up to an elevation of 7000 ft. It uses a standard 16.4 oz (1 lbs.) disposable propane tank, though you can get an optional adapter and hose to support larger re-fillable tanks. It has a swivel regulator to simplify fitting this adapter, a big plus for multi-day trips.

The Mr. Heater MH9BX Buddy portable heater has a fold-down handle and with dimensions of 7.7″ x 13.4″ x 15″ and 10 lbs. weight, it truly is a compact, portable choice.

The Buddy heater is available in two colors – the standard Red-Black and the newly introduced grey color and is backed by a one-year manufacturer warranty. The only limitation is that the standard model is not authorized to be sold in Canada and Massachusetts and you would have to get the costlier Canada/MA approved model for use in these regions.

If you are looking for a smaller or bigger indoor tent heater, you can always look at the Mr. Heater Little Buddy Heater and Mr. Heater MH18BRV Big Buddy Heater models from the same manufacturer.

For its excellent quality and superior performance, the Mr. Heater MH9BX Buddy Portable Tent Heater is our Editor’s pick for the best tent heater for indoor/outdoor use during camping and other outdoor adventures. This made in the US portable camping heater is a top-of-the-line product for campers and outdoor enthusiasts who are looking for a sturdy and reliable indoor tent heater for their excursions.

Pros
  • Best-selling, made in the US indoor tent heater with a high-quality construction and efficient ceramic burner.
  • Stable design with an insulated body and shock-absorbing insulated legs. Equipped with a tip-over shut-off feature.
  • Safe catalytic heating operation with a noise-free fan to distribute the heat evenly. Reliable piezo-electric ignition with four position control.
  • Equipped with Low Oxygen Sensor (ODS) for safe indoor/outdoor use over a long period.
  • Backed by a one-year manufacturer warranty. Available in two colors and multiple sizes for smaller/larger areas.


Cons
  • Only has a High/Low temperature regulator.
  • Works only up to an elevation of 7000 feet. May not work on higher altitudes.


Camco Olympian Wave Gas Catalytic Heater – Editor’s pick for the best premium camping tent heaterCamco 57341 Olympian Wave-6 6000 BTU LP Gas Catalytic Heater

Type: Catalytic propane heater. Indoor/Outdoor use.
Size and Weight:

  • Wave-3: 11.75″ x 10.25″ x 3.5″ ; 6 lbs. ; 1600 – 3000 BTU/h
  • Wave-6: 17.88″ x 12.81″ x 4.0″ ; 12 lbs. ; 3200 – 6000 BTU/h
  • Wave-8: 21.5″ H x 15.0″ x 4.0″ ; 14 lbs. ; 4200 – 8000 BTU/h

Thermal Output:

  • Wave-3: 1600 – 3000 BTU/h for up to 100 sq. ft.
  • Wave-6: 3200 – 6000 BTU/h for up to 200 sq. ft.
  • Wave-8: 4200 – 8000 BTU/h for up to 290 sq. ft.

Fuel: 5-gallon propane tank with a 3/8″ flare valve. Lasts 15-16 hours.
Features:

  • High-end catalytic propane heater which produces comfortable radiant heat like sunlight.
  • Full metal-body construction that can be wall-mounted or used as a portable unit.
  • Available in three sizes with an output of 3000, 6000 or 8000 BTU/h for 100-290 sq. ft. areas.
  • Comes with a built-in piezo-electric igniter. Takes time to heat the surroundings, but maintains a comfortable environment once heated.
  • Equipped with a safety shut-off valve to prevent accidental non-ignition fuel discharge. No low Oxygen sensor.
  • Considerably costlier than other camping heaters.
  • Backed by a one-year warranty. Multiple accessories like stand and covers are also available.

Details:

If you are into glamping, RVing or boondocking and looking for a premium tent heater that can help you in staying comfortably warm, then the Camco Olympian Wave Gas Catalytic Heater is the option worth checking out.

The Camco Olympian Wave Gas Catalytic Heater is truly a high-quality, compact catalytic gas-powered heater. It can be can be wall-mounted or used as a portable unit. You can get the optional leg stands to radiate the heat up when using it as a portable unit. Unlike most other tent heaters which can have plastic bodies, the Camco Olympian heater features a full metal construction which is extremely durable and reliable.

The Olympian catalytic heaters are available in three sizes Wave-3, Wave-6 and Wave-8. Wave-3 is suitable for up to 100 sq. ft. space, while Wave-6 and Wave-8 both support 200+ sq. ft. space of an RV or camper. These heaters produce mostly radiant heat because of a flameless catalytic combustion process and the efficiency is high because combustion takes place at relatively low temperatures.

The radiant heat produced by Olympian heaters is particularly effective for creating a feeling of warm comfort similar to solar radiation. The only limitation of this type of heating process is that it takes about 20-30 minutes for the heater to warm up the surroundings compared to Mr. Heater which can warm the surroundings in 2-3 minutes. The Olympian is off-course more fuel efficient and has more adjustable heat settings – high, medium and low.

The Camco Olympian Wave heater uses an automatic piezo-electric sparker that can last for up to 20,000 starts. Starting this heater is a slight hassle and the whole process can take a minute or so. The heater is equipped with a safety shut-off valve to prevent accidental non-ignition fuel discharge.

The Camco Olympian Wave Gas Catalytic Heater is backed by a one-year manufacturer warranty. The installation and setup are easy, and it comes with all the accessories needed for the same.

For its premium quality, comfortable heat and compact design, the Camco Olympian Wave Gas Catalytic Heater is our Editor’s pick for the best premium camping tent heater. It is considerably costlier than other camping heaters but produces the most comfortable heating for long-term indoor use in an RV, camper, tent or cabin.

Pros
  • Premium catalytic camping heater that boasts of a high-quality all-metal construction. Suitable for indoor/outdoor use.
  • Compact and can be wall-mounted or used as a portable unit. Easy Installation and setup. Produces comfortable radiant sun-like heating that keeps the interiors comfortable once hot.
  • Available in three sizes suitable for 100 – 290 sq. ft. of space. Equipped with an auto shut-off valve.
  • Backed by a one-year manufacturer warranty. Additional accessories and replacement parts are also readily available.


Cons
  • Considerably costlier than other camping heaters.
  • Slow to heat the surroundings. Can take up to 20-30 minutes.


Texsport Portable Outdoor Propane Heater – Best value pick for best camping heaterTexsport Portable Outdoor Propane Heater

Type: Infrared propane heater. Primarily for outdoor use and well-ventilated areas only.
Size and Weight: 6.75″ x 6.75″ x 20″ ; 1 lbs.
Thermal Output: 2890 BTU/h max. suitable for tents up to 75 – 90 sq. feet.
Fuel: Standard 14.1 oz. or 16.4 oz. propane canister. Lasts 6-7 hours.
Features:

  • Lightweight outdoor camping heater with a steel body and stainless-steel burner. Made in Canada.
  • Adjustable heat up to 2890 BTU/h. Lasts 6-7 hours on a 1 lbs. propane canister.
  • Features a large paddle foot base for extra stability. Equipped with auto shut-off valve.
  • Competitively priced at about half the price of Mr. Heater Buddy.
  • Backed by a 1-year manufacturer warranty.

Details:

If you are looking for a reliable, lightweight outdoor camping heater that does not cost a fortune, then look no further than the Texsport Portable Outdoor Propane Heater. Designed specifically for camping, hunting or cold weather outdoor activities, this portable camping heater is an excellent value-for-money product. The heater is manufactured in Canada.

The Texsport Portable Outdoor Propane Heater features a durable stainless-steel burner that is securely placed within the heat-resistant nickel-plated safety grid. All the valves and regulators are made of high-grade copper. The Texsport heater comes with a large plastic paddle foot base to provide additional stability while in use. It comes with a carry handle for easy transportation.

The Texsport Portable Outdoor Propane Heater has a maximum thermal output of 2890 BTU/hour and can heat an area of around 75-90 sq. feet. The heat level is controllable through an adjustable valve. At only 1 lbs. for the heater, it is pretty lightweight and portable to carry in trips. The heater uses standard 16.4-ounce (1 lbs.) or 14.1-ounce disposable propane fuel cylinders and can last for up to 6-7 hours on the 1 lbs. fuel cylinder.

Since it uses infra-red radiant heating which produces Carbon Monoxide, the Texsport portable camping heater is only suitable for outdoor use or heating the tent with the door open. The heater is equipped with an auto shut-off valve that turns it off when the flame goes out. It does not have a CO or Low-oxygen sensor.

The Texsport Portable Outdoor Propane Heater is also available in a higher output (3000 BTU) Texsport SportMate design. You can check it out if you are looking for a higher thermal output. The Texsport heater is backed by a one-year manufacturer warranty.

For its decent quality and value-for-money, the Texsport Portable Outdoor Propane Heater is our pick for the best camping heater for outdoor use.

Pros
  • Decent quality, outdoor infra-red camping heater with a steel body and stainless-steel burner. Made in Canada.
  • At 1.0 lbs. heater and 2.1 lbs. with the cylinder, one of the lightest, most portable model in the market.
  • More fuel efficient than most other infrared heaters with 1 lbs. cylinder lasting for 6-7 hours on low setting.
  • Comes with a plastic paddle base for extra stability and equipped with an auto shut-off valve.
  • Backed by a one-year manufacturer warranty. Also available in a higher output Texsport SportMate model.
  • Competitively priced at half the price of Mr. Heater and other catalytic heaters.


Cons
  • Infra-red heating produces CO, so only suitable for indoor use. Does not come with a CO or low oxygen sensor.
  • Low thermal output means can only be used for 75-90 sq. ft. area.


Coleman SportCat Catalytic HeaterColeman SportCat PerfecTemp Catalytic Heater

Type: Catalytic propane heater. Indoor/Outdoor use.
Size and Weight: 7.5″ x 6.25″ x 6.25″; 2.7 lbs.
Thermal Output: 1,500 BTU/h max. suitable for small <100 sq. ft. tents and spaces.
Fuel: Standard 16.4 oz. propane canister. Lasts 10-14 hours.
Features:

  • Popular ultralight personal catalytic tent heater with a space-saving plastic casing.
  • Features a 6-inch catalytic burner with pressure regulation for consistent output even at high elevations.
  • Low fuel consumption, can last up to 10-14 hours on a single 16.4 oz. disposable propane canister.
  • Features an InstaStart electronic ignition for dependable, matchless lighting.
  • Comes with a detachable base for added stability. Also has built-in eyelets for secure tie-downs and an easy-grip handle for convenient carrying.
  • Backed by a 5-year service warranty.

Mr. Heater Little Buddy Propane HeaterMr. Heater F215100 MH4B Little Buddy 3800-BTU Indoor Safe Propane Heater, Medium

Type: Catalytic propane heater. Indoor/Outdoor use.
Size and Weight: 12.0″ x 9.75″ x 5″; 5.85 lbs.
Thermal Output: 3,800 BTU/h max. suitable for small spaces up to 95 sq. ft.
Fuel: Standard 16.4 oz. propane canister. Lasts 5-6 hours.
Features:

  • Compact, indoor-safe portable propane heater that is a small version of the popular Mr. Heater Buddy Heater.
  • Features a 45-degree catalytic burner that provides consistent odor-free heat. Works till up to 7000 feet elevation.
  • Medium fuel consumption, can last up to 5-6 hours on a single 16.4 oz. disposable propane canister.
  • Comes with a built-in piezo-electric igniter for matchless ignition.
  • Equipped with an oxygen depletion sensor and accidental tip-over safety shut-off feature.
  • Comes with an 8-inch base for added stability. Integrated handle makes transportation easy.
  • Available in two colors including Camo and backed by a one-year manufacturer warranty.

Lixada Double Head Outdoor HeaterLixada Double Head Outdoor Heater Portable Infrared Ray Camping Heating Stove Warmer Heating Gas Stove

Type: Infrared Butane heater. Primarily for outdoor use and well-ventilated areas only.
Size and Weight: 11.1″ x 11.4″ x 14.1″; 1.0 lbs.
Thermal Output: 3500 BTU/h max. suitable for small spaces up to 100 sq. ft.
Fuel: Standard Isobutane canisters. Lasts 3.5 hours on standard 230 gm canisters.
Features:

  • Newly-designed, ultralight Isobutane-powered, portable tent heater with a high-quality double-headed copper filament to generate uniform radiant heat.
  • The heating element is secured in the safety grid with an aluminum alloy reflector to increase efficiency.
  • Uses standard Isobutane canisters, which can last up to 3.5 hours on maximum setting.
  • Features a control knob to adjust the burner temperature and fuel consumption rate.
  • Comes with a storage sack for convenient storage and transportation.
  • Backed by a 6-month manufacturer warranty extendable to another 6 months upon registration.

Zodi Outback Gear X-40 Hot Vent Tent HeaterZodi Outback Gear X-40 Hot Vent Tent Heater

Type: Vent-type catalytic propane heater. Indoor/Outdoor use.
Size and Weight: 22″ x 13″ x 13″ unit with one inflow vent and one exhaust vent ; 34 lbs. total.
Thermal Output: 40,000 BTU/h max. suitable for large tents up to 1000 sq. feet.
Fuel: 5-gallon propane tank. Lasts 7-8 hours. 12-V power battery for the fan. (not included)
Features:

  • Safe, vent type catalytic tent heater that is designed to provide ample heat for large family tents. Made in the USA.
  • Has a stainless-steel sealed heat exchanger, compact 12 Volt inline fan, flexible 4 ft. air hoses and storage bag.
  • Produces highly-efficient dry heat and can warm up to 1000 sq. feet tent sizes. A 5 lbs. fuel tank can last the whole night.
  • Features an exhaust hose that prevents Carbon Dioxide and other harmful gases build-up within the tent. Extremely safe to use.
  • Backed by a one-year manufacturer warranty. A smaller, 20,000 BTU X-20 model is also available.
  • Costlier than most catalytic heaters and the fan battery must be purchased separately.

Martin Portable Butane Outdoor Camping HeaterMartin Portable Butane Gas Powered Outdoor Camping Heater Adjustable Ceramic Burner, 5,800 Btu, Etl Certified for USA and Canada

Type: Infrared ceramic heater. Primarily for outdoor use and well-ventilated areas only.
Size and Weight: 8.2″ x 12.5″ x 11″; 5.8 lbs.
Thermal Output: 5,800 BTU/h max. suitable for small/medium areas up to 100 sq. feet.
Fuel: 8 oz. butane bottle/cartridges. Lasts 4-5 hours on 8 oz. bottle on low setting.
Features:

  • Fast-heating, butane gas-powered portable heater with an adjustable ceramic burner. Made in China.
  • Automatic piezo-electric ignition with fully adjustable temperature control through a dial.
  • Because of the infra-red burner that can produce CO and CO2, suited for outdoor use and well-ventilated areas only.
  • Uses 8 oz. Butane bottles/cartridges which can be fitted in the bottom tray of the heater. Each bottle can last up to 4-5 hours.
  • Safety features include auto shut-off feature when the flame goes out and a carrying handle for easy transportation. ETL certified for USA and Canada.
  • Backed by a 1-year manufacturer warranty.

Tooluze Double Coherent Compact Camping HeaterCamping Emergency Butane Heater Coherent Heat Source Survival Tools

Type: Infra-red ceramic heater. Primarily for outdoor use and well-ventilated areas only.
Size and Weight: 11.0″ x 10.6″ x 7.7″; 5.4 lbs.
Thermal Output: 3,500 BTU/h max. suitable for small/medium areas up to 100 sq. feet.
Fuel: 8 oz. butane bottle/cartridges or propane tanks with additional regulator/adapter. Lasts 4-6 hours on 8 oz. bottle.
Features:

  • Light-weight, compact butane gas-powered portable heater with an adjustable swivel ceramic burner.
  • Features a steel body with heat-resistant enamel coated surface. Made in China.
  • Automatic piezo-electric ignition with fully adjustable temperature control through a dial.
  • Because of the infra-red burner that can produce CO and CO2, suited for outdoor use and well-ventilated areas only.
  • Uses 8 oz. Butane bottles/cartridges which can be fitted in the bottom tray of the heater. Each bottle can last up to 4-6 hours.
  • Has a pressure sensing safety shut-off device to turn off the heater when the flame goes out.
  • CE certified and backed by a 1-year manufacturer warranty.

Comfort Zone CZPP21 PowerGear 2-in-1 Propane Heater/StoveComfort Zone CZPP21 PowerGear 2-in-1 Propane Heater/Stove

Type: Flame propane heater. Primarily for outdoor use and well-ventilated areas only.
Size and Weight: 11.1″ x 11.4″ x 14.1″; 8.45 lbs.
Thermal Output: 4000-6500 BTU/h. suitable for small spaces up to 125 sq. ft.
Fuel: Standard 16.4 oz. propane canister. Lasts 4 hours.
Features:

  • A unique two-in-one propane heater that can double up as a stove. Simply switch the top vent open for stovetop cooking or close it to use as a heater.
  • Comes with a built-in piezo-electric igniter for easy ignition.
  • Uses standard 16.4 oz. (1 lbs.) propane canisters, though can support larger tanks with an additional regulator. Adjustable flame to adjust the heat/thermal output.
  • Wide bottom base with a convenient flip-up handle and safety cut-off switch.
  • Backed by a one-year manufacturer warranty.

How to pick the best tent heater for camping?

With so many different types, designs and models available in the market, picking the best tent heater for camping and outdoors can be a challenging task. After all, you would like to pick a camping heater that does not leave you out cold in the wilderness.

Though we have focused only on gas-powered camping heaters only because they do not have any “strings attached to them”, there are still a lot of variations in them that you need to account for before picking the best camping heater for your tent or campsite.

Once you have decided on the broad budget that you have, you need to look at a few important factors before picking the best tent heater for camping or other outdoor adventures. These major considerations are summarized below:

  • Purpose and type
  • Thermal output and performance
  • Size, weight and portability
  • Safety Features
  • Additional Factors and Considerations

Purpose and Type

The primary purpose for which you are seeking a camping heater is an important factor as it governs the type of gas heater you should opt for.

If you are looking for a camping heater to use indoors in your tent, then you should only opt for catalytic or vent type tent heaters. Such heaters do not produce Carbon Monoxide, since there is no flame. They only produce a small amount of Carbon Dioxide and only require a small opening of 4-6 sq. inches for safe operation. Mr. Heater Buddy Portable Tent Heater and Camco  Olympian Wave Gas Catalytic Heater

are two of the best catalytic gas heaters in the market and are suitable for small to large-sized tents. Zodi Outback Gear X-40 Hot Vent Tent Heater is another extremely safe tent heater to consider for large tents.  Most electric heaters by Lasko and Honeywell are also indoor-safe, to they produce a more stuffy kind of heat.

On the other hand, if you are looking for a heater to heat the air around the campsite or when the tent door is open, you can go with Infra-red propane or butane camping tent heaters. You should avoid using these in an enclosed tent (you may be enticed to do so as Infra-red heaters are cheap) and in case you have to use them indoors, you should always have an opening of 20-25 sq. inches. The Texsport Portable Outdoor Propane Heater is our of our favorite Outdoor camping heater.

Keep your primary requirements in mind before deciding upon the type of camping heater you should opt for.

Thermal output and efficiency

Once you have zeroed in on the type of camping heater, you need to look at the thermal output that you need depending upon the tent or space volume. The more efficient a heater is, the lesser fuel it would need and the lesser weight you would need to carry.

In order to compute your approximate heating or thermal output requirements, you can use the following formula (Courtesy: Mr. Heater)

For Fahrenheit, Required BTUs = cubic feet of space x desired temp. increase x 0.133
For Celsius, Required BTUs = cubic feet of space x desired temp. increase x 0.2394

You can also use the tent heat calculator to compute your minimum heating requirements. Of course, the tent wall insulation, wind or snow conditions etc. would govern the exact heating you would get.

The thermal efficiency of the heater is governed by the quality of the heating element or filament, the shape and design of the heater. You need to take this into account to ascertain the amount of fuel you will need. In our review, we have listed the approximate time a unit of fuel canister would last with the heater which you can take that into account while picking the best camping heater.

Efficiency and quality certifications by nationally accredited agencies such as CE and ETL also help in ascertaining that the advertised thermal output is indeed correct. We have only listed the most reliable and field-tested options, so you can safely pick one of those from the list.

Check out the heat output requirements and thermal efficiency considerations before picking the best tent heater for your needs. You can generally get this information from the product specifications, feedback and comparative reviews of the camping heater.

Size, weight and portability

The size, weight and portability of the stove is also something to factor in before zeroing in on the best camping heater, especially if you would like to move the heater around the campsite.

Generally, the size and weight of the tent heater is governed by the overall thermal output – the more the thermal output, the bigger the stove will be. Camping tent heaters are not the lightest camping gear to carry and hence only suitable for RVing, car camping or shared-load backpacking.

Most of the options that we have listed are reasonably compact, lightweight and portable. The Mr. Heater and Coleman tent heaters are especially portable and easy to move around among catalytic tent heaters. Among infra-red outdoor heaters, Texsport Portable Outdoor Propane Heater and Lixada Double Head Outdoor Heater are the lightest at only 1.0 lbs.

Check out the overall size (both open and packed), weight and portability of the heater before picking the best camping heater for your needs. Always remember that you would also need to carry the canisters/bottle of fuel, so every pound saved would be precious.

Safety Features

Any space heating device is prone to causing a fire or other safety concern. So, the presence of safety features in a camping tent heater is an important factor to consider before picking the best tent heater.

As discussed above, catalytic tent heaters are safer than infrared gas-powered heaters as they do not produce a substantial amount of Carbon Monoxide, which is odorless and can even cause death if not properly exhausted. Still, all heaters produce Carbon Dioxide and some other residue gases, so you need to look for any noxious gas safety features in the heater before pulling the plug. Mr. Heater Buddy Portable Tent Heater and Camco Olympian Wave Gas Catalytic Heater both have low oxygen shut-off(ODS) features, so they are the best camping heaters for indoor use.

In addition, you need a heater that has an automatic shut-off and tip-over shut-off. Automatic shut-off means that the heater is designed to turn itself off after running for a certain duration or if the flame goes off. This feature ensures that the heater is not left running if you accidentally doze off or it is overheated. Tip-over shut-off ensures the heater turns-off in case it is tipped over. This is especially important if you have small children or pets.

Check out the safety features in a specific model before picking the best camping heater for your needs. Certifications such as CE and ETL from accredited agencies is also an indication of safe operation. We have indicated the presence of these safety features in our review, so you can check them before picking the most suitable model.

Additional factors and miscellaneous considerations

In addition to the major factors discussed above, there are some other miscellaneous considerations that can make a particular camping heater a preferable option over other options.

One such consideration is the accessories and replacement parts that come with the stove (or are available for purchase in the market). Availability of optional valves and attachments that allow the stove to be used with large propane tanks or alternative fuels is also a related factor to check out. Mr. Heater and Coleman heaters score big in this category as they have all kinds of accessories and replacement parts available in the market.

If you decide to pick a tent heater with a fan, you need to be aware of the noise it would produce. Generally, there is no quantifiable measure of the noise produced by a heater and most manufacturers advertise their products to be noise-less, you can look at the reviews from other buyers to ascertain the noise level.

Finally, one of the most important additional consideration is the warranty and after-sales support offered on the heater by the manufacturer. The general rule of thumb is that longer the warranty period, the more reliable and durable the heater would be. Most of the options that we listed are backed by some excellent warranties, so you can use such tent heaters for a long time without worrying about their reliability. Mr. Heater, Coleman, Zodi, Olympian and Texsport heaters are most reputed brands in terms of warranty and after-sales support.

You can look at all these features to determine if they make a specific camping heater a better choice over others.

Safety Considerations While Using Tent Heaters

Though tent heaters can really make your cold weather camping trip a lot more comfortable, you still need to follow certain safety precautions to ensure safety while using such devices. After all, heaters are a major source of domestic fires and the same is true for such devices in the wilderness. Some of the most common safety considerations that you can follow with tent heaters are listed below:

  • Always opt for the latest models of tent heaters. The newest models would have the most up-to-date safety features. Prefer models which have been tested to the latest safety standards and certified by a nationally recognized testing laboratory (CE, ETL rated etc.).
  • Only use the heater in the way it is intended to be used. Almost all manufacturers publish the details on intended use in their user manual. Many people try to improvise and use tent heaters as stoves. If a tent heater is not advertised to be used as a stove, you should not use it as a stove. Similarly, if a tent heater is most suitable for outdoor use only, it is not recommended to use them indoors on in enclosed spaces with less than optimum ventilation.
  • If you are looking for an indoor tent heater, pick a model that is explicitly certified to be used indoors. Avoid using an Infra-red tent heater for indoor heating, as such heaters produce Carbon Monoxide. Modern Catalytic tent heaters such as Mr. Heater Buddy heaters are your best bet for indoor tent heaters. Even such indoor heaters recommend a small vent – 4-6 sq. inches for long time use.
  • As discussed above, check the security features built-in the tent heater before picking the best option. You should look out for tip-over protection, automatic shut-off and overheating protection, even a low oxygen sensor.
  • Always set the heater on a level, hard and nonflammable surface. If you are using a tent footprint and looking to use an indoor tent heater, use an aluminum baking sheet or a Mylar blanket as an additional layer on top of it. Keep the heater at least two feet from tent walls.
  • Do not leave the tent heater running overnight. This is especially important if you have children and/or pets in the tent. They can accidentally topple the heater and cause a fire.
  • Always use recommended fuel and fuel valves with the heater. Using a non-standard fuel or adapter can be unsafe. Moreover, if you observe any leakage, immediately turn-off the heater and check it for broken valves or connectors.
  • Always store the fuel bottles securely and discard the used ones responsibly. Follow “Leave no trace” practices while disposing off fuel canisters. Most manufacturers offer responsible recycling processes, so you can take advantage while handling disposable fuel canisters or cartridges.

Following these security precautions and sticking to the manufacturer instructions would ensure that you never have a safety mishap while using tent heaters.

Final thoughts on the best tent heaters for camping

No camping season provides more serenity and excitement than the winter camping season. But one of the major challenges with winter camping is to stay warm during cold evenings and night. One way to address this challenge is to get a portable camping tent heater. These heaters are a perfect gear to get for winter camping or adventure sports. And many of them work well for golf carts too!

In this article, we looked at some of the best tent heaters for camping and other outdoor adventures. We only focused on portable propane and butane-based gas-powered tent heaters – both catalytic and infrared heaters. We looked at the underlying science behind these heaters, shared some buying advice and listed our top picks. We also briefly covered some safety guidelines to keep in mind while operating and using these devices.

We hope that you found this article useful and it would help you in picking the best camping heater for your next outdoor trip. Do let us know your feedback by commenting below. Until next time, happy winter camping!

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