Best Tent Heater for Cozy Nights at Camp

Tired of suffering through chilly nights inside your tent? Could be time to get kitted out with a little cold-weather camping warmer. Find the perfect option for your needs in our buyer's guide to the best tent heater.

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Guide To The Best Camping Tent Heaters

Looking For Safe Tent Heaters For Camping?

You’re in the right place! In this guide, we will be covering the following:

    • Why you need a quality tent heater
    • What you should consider when buying heaters for tents
    • Propane tent heater or electric tent heater?
    • Reviews of the best tent heaters on the market
    • Our unbiased view on the best camping heater for tents

Winter camping is a fun experience, but not if you’re freezing your butt off and trying to prevent your toes from getting frostbite. While there are multiple ways to raise your body temperature and your overnight comfort, one of the simplest is to purchase a wood-burning stove or heater for camping.

Don’t make the mistake of choosing based on price alone. While the old saying “you get what you pay for” is true, more expensive doesn’t mean better so you could end up spending unnecessary money and still not have the right heater for tent camping.

This guide will introduce you to some of the best tent heaters on the market and help you decide which features are most pertinent to you so you can pick the best tent heater for your needs.

Best Heaters for Tent Camping by Category

Budget: Comfort Zone CZ707, Stansport Portable Outdoor Infrared Propane 
Small Heaters: Honeywell HHF360V, Mr. Heater Little Buddy, Texsport Portable Outdoor Propane, Vornado Velocity 3R
Large Heaters: Mr. Heater Portable Buddy, Mr. Heater MH12B Hunting Buddy, Campy Gear 2 in 1 Portable Propane Heater & Stove

Editors Choice

Mr. Heater Portable Buddy

Mr. Heater F232000 MH9BX Buddy 4,000-9,000-BTU Indoor-Safe Portable Propane Radiant Heater, Red-Black

It’s important to have a reliable tent heater when camping, and the Mr. Heater Portable Buddy is our favorite due to its large and adjustable heat output, excellent features, and price.

The Portable Buddy is the perfect product for those campers, deck owners, or RV users that need an effective way to keep themselves warm at night. It has a one-click piezo sparking mechanism and adjustable heat knob which will produce enough BTUs from 4000-to 9000. With a burn time of 3-6 hours, this should be sufficient heat for most campers.

The oxygen depletion sensor ensures safe usage by shutting down if it detects rising carbon monoxide levels while accidental tipping over safety features protect against setting your tent on fire if you happen to knock it over.

Bottom Line: We love everything about this Portable Buddy to keep us cozy on long winter nights in our tent.

At a Glance: Gas & Electric Heaters for Camping

  • Editor’s Choice:  Mr. Heater Portable Buddy
    “For generated heat, run-time, safety features, and ruggedness all at a good price the Portable Buddy comes out as our top choice overall.”
  • Best Electric:  Honeywell HHF360V
    “360-degree heating, and other small features, set the Honeywell out as our top electric heater.”
  • Quietest:  Mr. Heater Little Buddy
    “The smaller brother to the Portable Buddy, the Little Buddy generates a decent amount of heat in a smaller and quieter package.”
  • Best for Backpacking:  Texsport Portable Outdoor Propane
    “The Texsport provides enough warmth for a small tent and at 1lb in weight, it won’t weigh down your pack.”
  • Best Budget Electric:  Comfort Zone CZ707
    “If you’re looking for a simple and cheap electric space heater then the Comfort Zone is a good choice.”
  • Best Budget Propane:  Stansport Portable Outdoor Infrared Propane
    “This Stansport model is a great, cheap propane option that only weighs 1.8 lbs.”
  • Best for Large Areas:  Mr. Heater MH12B Hunting Buddy
    “Throwing out a massive 12000 BTUs on high, the Hunting Buddy can heat a large tent or outdoor area.”
  • Best Heater and Stove Combo:  Campy Gear 2 in 1 Portable Propane Heater & Stove
    “Kills two birds with one reasonably priced and portable “stone”.”
  • Honorable Mention:  Vornado Velocity 3R
    “A sleek, portable, electric model that works well in smaller tents.”

FURTHER READING: Find out more ways to stay warm when tent camping.

The Best Portable Heater for Camping: The Results

Mr. Heater Portable Buddy

Editor’s Choice

Fuel: Portable propane  ⸱ Output: 4000-9000 BTUs ⸱ Heating Area: 225 sq. ft. ⸱ Weight: 10.6 lbs.

The Mr. Heater’s Portable Buddy stands out from the crowd thanks to its great functionality, features, and price. Leading us to choose it as our #1 pick for any cold-weather car camping trips.

This portable propane heater has a one-click piezo sparking mechanism, and an adjustable heat knob capable of producing between 4000-9000 BTUs for up to 6 hours (on low). This is more than enough heat for most small to large tents, decks, garages, or RVs. It comes with an oxygen depletion sensor and accidental tip-over safety features to ensure safe usage.

At 10.6 lbs. in weight and 14.25 x 9 x 15 inches in size, it is one of the heavier and bulkier models to make our list, meaning it is more suited for RVs or car camping.

  • PROs

    • Up to 9000 British Thermal Units, capable of heating a large area
    • Adjustable heat
    • Sturdy design
    • Swivel regulator allows connection to a propane tank
    • Several safety functions
  • CONs

    • Heavy
    • Noisy even on low setting
    • 7,000 ft. altitude limit

Bottom-Line: The Mr. Heater Portable Buddy delivers a large heat output with decent run-time, great safety features, and all for an affordable price.

Honeywell HHF360V

Best Electric

Fuel: Electric  ⸱ Output: 1500W ⸱ Heating Area: 100 sq. ft. ⸱ Weight: 5.4 lbs.

With enough heating output to keep a large tent warm, and its unique 360° fan design allowing for even heat distribution if placed in the middle of the tent, everyone inside is going to be toasty warm. You’ve also got complete control over the heat with two heat modes and an adjustable thermostat.

As an electric portable heater, it is a considerably safer option than using propane. To bolster its safety further, it also features a tip-over shut-off function should you accidentally knock it over.

At 1500W it’s power-hungry and needs to be connected to either the campground’s power or using a generator if you take one on your camping trip.

  • PROs

    • Adjustable thermostat + two heat modes
    • 360-degree heating elements
    • Tip-over safety feature
  • CONs

    • Needs electrical outlet
    • Noisy fan

Bottom-Line: If you’ve got access to a generator or can hook up to a campsite’s power, then the Honeywell HHF360 would be our top choice for a portable electric heater.

Mr. Heater Little Buddy

Quietest

Fuel: Propane Tank ⸱ Output: 3800 BTU ⸱ Heating Area: 95 sq. ft. ⸱ Weight: 5.85 lbs.

The Little Buddy is a smaller, cheaper, and more portable version of its big brothers, the Portable Buddy & Hunting Buddy. However, this “miniaturization” does also mean a lower heating capacity of 3800 BTUs with a burn time of up to 5.5 hours.

The Little Buddy does, however, also feature an Oxygen Detection Sensor and an accidental tip-over detection off-switch. One frustrating area is the lack of adjustability of the heat — the Little Buddy simply has an on/off switch.

If you don’t need the level of heating that this portable space heater provides, we would recommend either the Texsport or Stansport heaters over the Little Buddy due to their smaller packed size, weight, heat adjustability, and lower cost. Both of these heaters do produce a little less heat and have fewer safety features, but in our opinion, they provide better value than the Little Buddy.

  • PROs

    • Good run time
    • Great safety functions
    • Quiet
  • CONs

    • Heavy for a smaller camp
    • Can’t adjust the heat
    • 7000 ft. altitude limit

Bottom-Line: The miniature version of the Portable Buddy packs a decent amount of radiating heat into a smaller, lighter, quieter, and cheaper package.

Texsport Portable Outdoor Propane

Best for Backpacking

Fuel: Outdoor propane ⸱ Output: 2890 BTU ⸱ Heating Area: 80 sq. ft. ⸱ Weight: 1 lb.

For those who like to backpack in the winter and need a little extra warmth when you crawl into your tent in the evening, Texsport’s 1 lb. model is our top pick for you.

The Texsport connects to either 14.1 or 16.4 oz. disposable propane canisters and has an adjustable gas regulator that can produce up to 2890 BTUs for up to 5.5 hours. It also has a small metal dish attached behind the burner to help focus heat in whatever direction you want to point it.

While 2890 BTUs is the lowest on our list, this should still be more than sufficient for most backpacking tents. It does feature an auto shut off if the flame goes out, but be extra careful you don’t set your sleeping bag alight when moving around as there is no tip-over shut-off.

  • PROs

    • Super lightweight
    • Adjustable regulator
    • Oversized plastic base
  • CONs

    • Lacks safety features of bigger models
    • Lower heat output

Bottom-Line: If you’re planning a winter camping trip into the backcountry, the Texsport provides the heat output and small and lightweight design you need.

Comfort Zone CZ707

Best Budget Electric

Fuel: Electric  ⸱ Output: 1500W ⸱ Heating Area: 100 sq. ft. ⸱ Weight: 3 lbs.

If you want a simple, straightforward electric tent heater at a price that won’t severely dent your bank balance, then the Comfort Zone CZ707 is a great choice.

It’s an affordable pick and produces sufficient heat to warm around 100 square feet. It has two heat modes plus an adjustable thermostat allowing you to dial in the temperature to suit your needs.

While it is lightweight, it does have a bulky design and the metal casing can be a little hot to the touch. Overall, if you can spend a little more we’d recommend the Honeywell 360 as you get more features and a better design for not significantly more cost.

  • PROs

    • Affordable
    • Lightweight
    • Decent warmth output
  • CONs

    • The metal casing can be hot to touch
    • Bulky

Bottom-Line: If you’re looking for a cheap electric tent heater the Comfort Zone CZ707 is a straightforward offering at a great price.

Stansport Portable Outdoor Infrared Propane

Best Budget Propane

Fuel: Propane ⸱ Output: 3100 BTU ⸱ Heating Area: 85 sq. ft. ⸱ Weight: 1.8 lbs.

With a small packed size, light overall weight, and more heat produced than the Texsport, the Stansport model came close to being our choice for the top backpacking option.

The Stansport can throw out up to 3100 BTUs of heat with its adjustable thermostat, runs on 16.4 oz. propane cylinders, and has a burn time similar to that of the Texsport.

The reason we chose the Texsport over the Stansport is the inclusion of the Auto-Off function should the flame go out, the Texsport’s lighter weight (1lb. vs 1.8lbs.), and the greater adjustability of the Texsport (the Stansport can only be set to three settings — low, medium and high).

If you’re looking for a cheaper option though, then the Stansport is still a great choice.

  • PROs

    • Lightweight
    • Small packed size
    • Good output for small weight
  • CONs

    • Only 3 heat settings so can’t fine-tune
    • Lacks safety features of larger models
    • Heavier than Texsport

Bottom-Line: A good cheap and lightweight option if you need to heat a smaller tent.

Mr. Heater MH12B Hunting Buddy

Best for Large Tents

Fuel: Propane ⸱ Output: 6000-12000 BTU ⸱ Heating Area: 300 sq. ft. ⸱ Weight: 16 lbs.

The Hunting Buddy is great for groups who either want to heat a (very) large tent or who may want to heat an outdoor space to congregate or hang out in. Hence the name Hunting Buddy.

With an adjustable regulator giving you an outstanding 6000-12000 BTUs, at the higher end of that range it is capable of heating spaces up to 300 square feet in size. The Hunting Buddy features an ODS (Oxygen Depletion Sensor) and a Tip-Over Safety catch, making it one of the safer models on our list.

While the Hunting Buddy can produce an incredible amount of warmth, it does come at a cost — it is pretty bulky and weighs 16 lbs. making it unsuitable for anything more than a short journey from car to campsite.

  • PROs

    • Can heat a very large area
    • Safe tent heater
    • Swivel regulator
  • CONs

    • Heavy
    • Bulky
    • 7000 ft. altitude limit

Bottom-Line: If you’re looking for a heating option that can provide warmth over a large area then it’s hard to look past the Hunting Buddy’s colossal 12000 BTU output.

Campy Gear Wiry 2-in-1 Portable Propane Heater & Stove

Best Heater and Stove Combo

Fuel: LPG only ⸱ Output: 13,000 BTU ⸱ Heating Area: ~200 sq. ft. ⸱ Weight: 7.83 lbs.

The folks here at My Open Country love a bit of multifunctional outdoor gear. How about a device that can both help you stay warm and cook your meals? This, folks, is the Campy Gear Wiry in a nutshell.

The Wiry has two modes – ‘heat’ and ‘cook’. With the flick of a switch, you can change between the two as required. If that ain’t convenient, we don’t know what is!

Dual functionality aside, the Wiry is a solid device in its own right. It has a max output of 13,000 BTUs, can heat a 6 to 8-person tent comfortably, and weighs a mere 7.83 pounds. It’s also equipped with a tip-over safety switch in case it gets toppled by a stray limb or pet, and an ODS switch that shuts the unit off immediately when low oxygen levels are detected.

  • PROs

    • Cooks and heats!
    • Impressive safety features
    • Sturdy
    • Fuel hose included
  • CONs

    • Runs on LPG only
    • Lacks power compared to pricier options

Bottom-Line: A multifunctional heater-stove combo that can cook dinner and keep a 6 to 8-person tent toasty warm.

Vornado Velocity 3R

Honorable Mention

Fuel: Electric ⸱ Output: 750 to 1,500W ⸱ Heating Area: ~100 sq. ft. ⸱ Weight: 4.5 lbs.

Looking for a reasonably quiet, lightweight, adjustable heater for car camping? If so, stick the Vornado Velocity on your shortlist!

The Velocity is around 10 decibels louder than your average electric tent heater, but we found that it’s still quiet enough not to disturb the sleep of most sleepers. It’s also relatively compact and has three heat settings, a timer, and an automatic shut-off feature for added peace of mind.

The Velocity isn’t going to produce nearly as much heat as a burly propane-burning model, of course, and it requires a power source to operate. However, if you’re car camping and only need to boost in-tent temps by a few degrees, or have a smaller tent, it’s a winner!

  • PROs

    • 3 heat settings
    • Automatic shut-off
    • Timer
    • Quiet
  • CONs

    • Generator or hookup required

Bottom-Line: A quiet, compact, lightweight model that’s great for 3–4-person tents.

How to Choose a Great Tent Heater for Camping

When choosing a heater for your tent, there are a few factors you should consider. Below we’ll break down some of the more important considerations.

Power Source

Camping heaters will typically use either gas or electricity as their power source, and both have their advantages. So, which should you choose between gas and electric heaters?

Gas Heaters

Gas tent heaters use either propane gas or butane gas, with propane being the more common choice because of its affordability. Propane and butane heaters are capable of large heat output and can heat large areas quickly. The Hunting Portable Buddy and Hunting Buddy are capable of heating a space up to 225 sq. ft. and 300 sq. ft., respectively.

The vast majority of models use full combustion, which leads to an open flame and inefficient burning. These propane heaters should be used with extreme caution and should never be left on while you sleep.

Flame lit in a propane heater
A full combustion gas heater results in an open flame so extra consideration must be taken when using in a tent.

More modern tent heaters for camping use catalytic combustion which burns more efficiently and is also significantly safer to use. Catalytic heaters, like the Camco Olympian Wave-6 which didn’t make our list, also have the advantage of being usable in high-altitude low-oxygen environments of up to 12,000ft. Older full-combustion models will start to fail around 6000-7000 feet.

The duration of the heater’s operation is determined by its heat output and fuel tank size which can range from one hour up to 48 hours or more. All the gas heaters we reviewed use disposable gas canisters, although some combustion tent heaters such as the Portable Buddy have swivel regulators that can connect with larger gas tanks.

Unsurprisingly, gas-powered heaters are more popular than electric ones due to the distinct lack of power sockets out in the wild.

Pros

  • Fuel is cheaper
  • Produce more heat
  • More portable

Cons

  • Presence of carbon monoxide
  • More expensive than electric

Electric Heaters

Electric heaters tend to carry less risk than their gas equivalents as they don’t release potentially toxic gasses and there is no open flame. They’re significantly less portable though as they can only be used in campgrounds that have power sources or if you take your own generator or solar cell camping.

Electric heaters are generally not as powerful as a gas option, and are therefore more suited for smaller areas – both the Honeywell HHF360V and the Comfort Zone CZ707 are capable of heating around 150 square feet.

Pros

  • No gas fumes
  • Don’t need to bring along fuel canisters
  • Cheaper to purchase

Cons

  • Electric heaters require a power outlet
  • Not as strong as gas heaters
  • Very power-hungry

Heat Output

The heat output, or amount of warmth generated, is measured using BTU (British Thermal Units) for a propane or butane heater and wattage for corded electric heaters (battery-powered heaters confusingly use voltage). In all cases, the higher the number the more heat produced.

The amount of heat you need will depend on multiple factors; the size of your tent, the number of people sleeping in it, the amount of gear you have, and how cold it is outside.

When it comes to BTUs, portable radiant heaters with around 1000-5000 BTUs, such as the Mr. Heater Little Buddy and the Texsport Propane will be enough for most small camping tents. Larger models such as the Portable Buddy (9000 BTU max) or the Dewalt DXH12B (6000 BTU max) are more suitable for large tents or if you want to heat an area outdoors.

two campers camping in snow
If you need to heat a larger tent or even an area outside, then you’re going to need a larger model.

If you’re unsure about which to buy, determine the size of your tent and how big a heat differential is needed (i.e. the difference in temperature between outside and inside). Then head over to this home heating calculator, input your numbers and it will give you a rough estimate of how many BTUs are necessary for your needs. 

We recommend adding an additional buffer of 500-1000 BTUs as it’s better to have a higher than necessary heat output rather than not enough.

With an electric model, the process is a little simpler, just divide the wattage by 10 to calculate the approximate tent space that it can heat (again, we recommend adding a bit of a buffer).

With either electric or gas heaters, we recommend looking for a model that has adjustable heat settings so you can fine-tune the warmth to your needs.

Safety Features of Camping Heaters

The use of camping portable heaters does incur some risk. While most products do incorporate various safety features you should still maintain several safety best practices when heating your tent with a heater.

Always be mindful of where the heater is positioned. Avoid placing it close to anything that can easily catch fire, such as a sleeping bag, the tent walls, and any other potentially flammable gear. 

When it’s in use, always allow for proper ventilation, so that carbon monoxide and other gas fumes can escape. Never leave the heater turned on when you sleep.

Mesh vents in the roof of a tent
Make sure there is adequate ventilation in your tent to prevent any buildup of hazardous fumes.

In addition to the above tips if you want to be extra safe, then look for some of the following common safety functions on propane and electric tent heaters:

  • Accidental Tip-Over Switch: turns off the portable tent heater if it is knocked over. Common in most electric and gas heaters.
  • Automatic Shut-Off: turns off the fuel if it detects the flame has gone out (e.g. Texsport Propane) or if the product has been on for several hours without interruption from the user.
  • Oxygen Depletion Sensor (ODS): turns the gas heater off when the oxygen level in the tent falls below a safe level (found in all Mr. Heater products). Protects from Carbon Monoxide poisoning.
  • Overheating Protection: Some heaters such as the Honeywell HHF360V include a temperature sensor that will shut it down when its working mechanism becomes too hot.

Lastly, always make sure you read the manufacturer’s instructions and adhere to their guidance.

Weight & Packed Size

As with most camping outdoor gear, weight and packed size can be an important consideration if you don’t have a lot of room to transport everything. The role of weight and packed size is particularly important if you’re backpacking and need to haul all your gear in your backpack.

We’ve taken a look at a wide variety of heaters, ranging in weight from the 1 lb. Texsport Propane up to the heavy Mr. Heater Hunting Buddy which weighs 16lbs. 

For backpackers needing a little bit of extra warmth, keeping weight down is hugely important and we would recommend keeping it below a few pounds at most. The Texsport and Stansport weigh 1 lb. and 1.5 lbs. respectively, although you’ll also need to factor in the weight of your fuel canisters on top of this.

Backpackers hiking with large backpacks
The weight of your heater only becomes an issue when you are carrying all your gear on your back!

If you’re car camping and will be parked next to your pitch, then weight becomes less of an issue. Although, if you’re planning on taking a lot of gear and your car’s trunk isn’t the largest, paying attention to the packed size is important.

It shouldn’t come as a shock that higher heat output heaters are also the largest and heaviest devices we’ve reviewed.

Noise Level

While not the most pressing concern, you head out on camping trips to appreciate the sounds of nature, and to be blunt, some tent heaters can be downright noisy.

Many gas-operated space heaters make a humming or hissing sound as the gas is burned off to create heat. While there is no gas to burn, an electric model is not immune to making noise, as most electric heaters have moving parts like fans which can also disturb the peace.

There are a few gas-operated heaters such as the Mr. Heater Little Buddy that operate almost silently but do expect at least some noise during operation.

Lit up tent under a starry sky at night
The peace and quiet of a remote camping site will be obscured slightly, even by the quietest heaters.

Best Tent Heater: The Verdict

Let’s have a quick recap of our top picks.

If you’re looking for the perfect combo of adjustability, power, and user-friendliness, we recommend the Mr. Heater Portable Buddy. The Portable Buddy is perfect for medium or large tents and has all the safety features needed for peace of mind.

If you’d prefer an electric model, our top pick is the Honeywell HHF360V, though the Vornado Velocity 3R is also worth a look. Both of these are relatively compact, lightweight, and quiet, but can easily heat up small to medium-sized tents.

If you liked our article or have any questions, drop us a line in the box below. And if you’d like to share this post with your friends, share away!

Last update on 2022-12-06 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

BrianBioAvatar

Brian has been an avid hiker and backpacker since he was a small kid, often being taken out into the wilderness on trips with his father. His dad knew everything about nature and the wilderness (or at least that's how it seemed to a ten year old Brian).

After high school, he went to university to read for both a BS and MS in Geology (primarily so he could spend his time outside rather than in a classroom). He's now hiked, camped, skied, backpacked or mapped on five continents (still need to bag Antarctica) & 30 of the US states.

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