Camping is an all-year hobby that requires the proper equipment depending on the season. Spending time in nature is fun, but cold nights and unexpected weather can make it nearly unbearable. Bringing a tent heater with you when you go camping is a game changer for many. Sleeping in 5 layers of clothing, heavy-duty coats, and thermal rated sleeping bags will be a thing of the past. The trick is to find a tent heater that is portable, keeps you warm, and won’t cause a fire while you sleep. The best tent heaters can do the trick, and there’s plenty of choice.
This guide will help you find the best tent heaters for your needs, with a little bit of safety guide at the end. Keep reading!
Best Tent Heaters for Camping
- Best all-round tent heater – DeWalt Portable Heater
- Best electric tent heater – XTreme Heaters Portable Camping Heater
- Best propane tent heater – DeWalt DXH12B Portable Heater
- Best portable tent heater for backpackers – Mr Heater Little Buddy
- Best tent heater for large tents – Mr Heater Bug Buddy
- Best camping heater for outdoors – Enerco 360 Tank Top Burner
- Best budget tent heater – Kampa Diddy
Lasko MyHeat Personal Heater
Lasko’s MyHeat space heater is both economical and efficient, costing around $18 USD. Because of its small size (approximately 6 in. tall), it is excellent for both indoor and outdoor use and can be placed wherever in your tent, including on a chair or table when reading. It provides appropriate heat to the surrounding area thanks to a ceramic heating element, and a built-in fan evenly and silently distributes warm air to an even larger area. Its 200-watt output provides effective and consistent warmth, and although it must be plugged in, if you already have a leisure battery / inverter set up or a portable power station, it can run for a long time heating up the entire tent.
The MyHeat Personal Space heater is delivered completely constructed, requiring no complicated installation or setup. Simply remove the unit from its packaging and connect it to your electric hook up. It includes many safety features, and the exterior surface is cool to touch, not to mention its overheat protection feature that kicks in after long periods of usage.
Why you’ll love it:
- Compact, weighs under 1lb
- 638 BTU that effectively heats 6 sq metres
- Quiet operation
Mr Heater Little Buddy Portable Gas Heater
The Little Buddy’s portable design stands only 18 inches tall and employs three simple elements to generate heat wherever you go, packing a powerful punch in a compact package. After adding the 1-liter propane canister to the 45-degree inclined heater, it simply slots into its base for stability, and a push-button ignition turns the device on in less than 30 seconds.
This is a fantastic tent heater for camping that is rated for outdoor or indoor usage (with sufficient ventilation) and can provide between 5 and 6 hours of continuous 3800 BTU output. While it is small enough to attach to a backpack, the oxygen-depletion shut-off sensor limits its use to elevations under 7000 feet.
Tipping the unit at a 45-degree angle will cause it to shut down, protecting you from potential injury/harm. This best-seller from Mr Heater is inexpensive and will keep you toasty all year-round. It is designed for camping, ice fishing, garages, and general outdoor use in chilly situations.
Why you’ll love it:
- Easy to use
- Inexpensive yet powerful
- All safety features
Kampa Diddy Portable Heater
This small camping heater is surprisingly powerful even on the lower setting (there are two heat settings 750W/1500), thanks to the fan that circualtes hot air inside the tent.
Its compact size and quite operation makes it ideal for caravanning, camping, conservatories, garages, sheds, workshops and porches etc., but I’d not recommend this to heat up a large family tent – or at least not one Kampa Diddy portable heater.
It is also safe to operate: if it tips over it switches off, and there is also a thermal overheat protection circuit built into it so you can rest assured while this little tent heater forces out the heat.
Why you’ll love it
- Instant fan forced heat
- Energy efficient heating element
- Thermal overheat protection device
- Tip over protection switch
PDD Emergency Butane Heater
This butane heater is a low-cost solution, originally made as an emergency survival gear because it is simple to load, lightweight, and portable. It is a radiant heater with a BTU range of 4,400 to 10,000 for spaces up to 250 square feet. Approved for outdoor or ventilated interior use.
It can be used as both a warmer and a camping stove: heating, boiling water, cooking, and grilling, heating the tent up, it really is a multi-funcion camping heater.
The butane canisters provide approximately 5 hours of use on the low setting, which, depending on where you acquire your butane, will save you money over a huge electrical bill in the long run. The heater head is slightly tilted, allowing for directional heat adjustment, and there is also a carrying handle. However, the metal frame does heat up, so allow the unit to cool before handling it.
The heater also has a second inlet for an external fuel supply, and you can connect it to a large propane tank with the proper adaptor. This is a vital characteristic to have when camping in cold weather because butane does not burn when temperatures go below freezing.
A pressure sensing safety feature will turn the heater off, but it lacks several of the safety features found in other models, such as oxygen depletion sensors and automatic shut off when knocked over. While it will heat well, it is advised for those who are more comfortable with gas heaters and have more experience with them.
Why you’ll love it:
- Small heater designed as survival gear
- Hook up to external fuel source
Honeywell 360 Degree Surround Heater
A low-cost model that can be used around the house but would also make an excellent electric tent heater. It weighs 3 pounds and measures 11 x 8 x 8, making it easy to fit into restricted spaces while distributing up to 1500 watts of heat in a 360-degree array.
It has a fully programmable thermostat to set temperatures, allowing you to run it very efficiently. There is also a timer to shut of automatically after a period of time. The machine is encased in a cool-to-the-touch plastic casing, and if it is inadvertently knocked over or overheats, a safety protection function kicks in and shuts it down.
While the fan is not really the quietest, it’s not loud enough to be annoying. You can easily carry this around by utilising the handle on the top of the unit, allowing you to take it camping and use it in many different places at home during the winter months.
Why you’ll love it:
- Budget friendly
- Programmable thermostat
- Electric 1500W heater
- Safety features (overheating and knock-over protection)
ENERCO 360 Degree Tank Top Burner
This little burner is just mounts onto the top of a giant propane tank to produce heat. It’s little and simple to use. With 29,000 to 45,000 BTUs, the low setting produces a large quantity of heat in a short period of time, and it can be adjusted to medium or high if necessary.
A push-button starter disperses gas into the element, which is subsequently started with a BBQ lighter and temperature-adjusted for comfort. With a 20lb. tank, you should receive roughly 10 hours of use depending on your output level and usage time.
The dome-shaped element provides full 360-degree heating with 180-degree directional control, is well-built, and is encased in a metal cage to prevent inadvertent damage to the burner or anything else it may come into contact with.
This heater emits carbon monoxide and is designed for outdoor usage, so it’s not ideal for keeping warm inside a tent. However, if you opt to use it indoors and there is insufficient ventilation, an oxygen depletion sensor will trigger an automated shutdown of the unit. Additionally, tipping the heater over will activate an auto shut off feature.
Why you’ll love it
- Lots of heat, up to 45000 BTU
- Designed for outdoor use
- Simple design
DeWalt DXH12B Portable Heater
This small unit only 14 lbs, yet it produces an amazing 12,000 BTU output, run from a dual tank for up to 7 hours. Thanks to the built-in fan, it does not just make your warm when you sit right in front of it, but actually circulates the hot air in the tent, effectively dispersing hot air even on half setting.
How come this one has a fan, you might ask. Another great feature of the DeWalt Portable Heater is that it has a battery built in, that, besides operating the fan, also serves as a power bank with 3 USB outputs. You can use it to charge your phone, tablet etc.
There is also a LED light bar to illuminate the surroundings – good to know that it was designed for the much harsher construction environment. It is also very sturdy with a rugged handle, so no doubt it was made with unwelcoming conditions in mind.
As for safety features, there is a built-in oxygen depletion system and tip-over protection: the safety switch turns the unit off as soon as it tips over.
Thanks to the highly effective heat distribution, the DeWalt Portable Heater is quite efficient on the gas and lasts much longer than any other portable heater with the same BTU output, but without a fan.
Why you will love it:
- Three USB ports for charging personal electronics and accessories
- Efficient heat distribution saves on gas, lasts longer
- Integrated high velocity fan to effectively disperse convective heat
- Quiet and reliable electronic ignition
- Sturdy, designed for harsh conditions
XTreme Heaters Portable RV Camping Heater
This electric camping heater was designed for marine environment, so it’s completely waterproof and sturdy. A fully anodized aluminium housing, a sealed electronics module, a marine rated power cord, and a special waterproof fan ensure this tent heater is the safest and most reliable on the market, providing years of trouble-free operation.
There’s a 750W and a 1500W output setting, which can quickly heat up even larger tents. The fan is really quiet, won’t bother you at all. The whole unit weighs only 5 lbs., so it is easy to carry if you need to.
The 1500W setting may be a bit over the top for what you might consider economical to be powered by a portable power station, so I recommend the Xtreme Heater for campsites with mains power.
Why you will love it
- Marine grade components
- Waterproof, quiet fan
- Two output settings up to 1500W
- Lightweight, only 5 lbs.
Heat Storm Infrared Electric Heater with Roll Cage
Heat Storm’s tent heater emits infrared light or heat, which warms objects instead of just the air. There is no fan, no gas, but there is a 5200 BTU output on 1500W electric power.
Although it is designed for workshops and patios, the Heat Storm camp heater is actually IPX4 weatherproof so that you don’t have to worry about them in a rain storm. Just put them wherever you need some extra warmth. There is a 13ft cord, which allows you to place almost anywhere inside the tent.
As for safety, there is a tip-over safety switch, and this model also comes in a roll cage. This makes transporting easy (thanks to a grip handle) and helps keep the cord tidy when not in use. As infrared heat is radiated, there are no harmful fumes etc. that you’d need to worry about. There is no fan either, so no dust circulated inside the tent.
The whole unit is 30.25 x 11.3 x 9.2 inches and weighs 12.95 Pounds.
Why you’ll love it
- Infrared heat warms object, not just the air
- Roll over cage
Caframo Hotshot Ceramic Heater
This compact tent heater comes in a rugged protective frame with a size of 8.35 x 7.72 x 7.64 inches and weighs a little over 4 lbs. It produces a very comfortable 5100 BTU which is just enough to keep a constant pleasant warmth inside a tent (and is quite astonishing from such a small heater). The thermostat is fully adjustable up to 1500 W.
The ceramic heating element maintains a consistent source of heat while remaining cool to the touch and not becoming hot enough to constitute a fire hazard or burn risk.
Safety features include over-heat protection and automatic shut off if tipped over.
Why you will love it
- Compact but sturdy
- Amazing 5100 BTU
Mr Heater MH18B Portable Propane Heater
With good reason, the Big Buddy is the best-selling portable gas heater on the market. It safely gives hours of warmth from two 1-liter canisters and has an adjustable heat output ranging from 4,000 to 18,000 BTUs.
The canisters may provide between 5 and 10 hours of use depending on the output level, but a large propane tank can also be used to feed the unit via an adapter line (not included). It is constructed with a carrying handle for convenient travel and is small enough for storage at 18.5 x 18 x 11.4 inches.
It may be used indoors or outdoors and has an automatic shut-off safety feature if it is accidently knocked over. A fan inside the machine operates on four “D” batteries or a separately supplied AC/DC adaptor, assisting in the distribution of heat for improved warmth. Despite being gas-powered, the Big Buddy is simple to start by using the handy piezoelectric knob to ignite the machine and then dialling in your preferred output setting.
Campers and backpackers at higher elevations should be aware that it cannot be used anyplace above 7000 feet above sea level, since a safety sensor will switch the unit off if the oxygen levels are too low.
Why you’ll love it:
- Automatic shut off
- An amazing 18,000 BTU over 5 hours
- Heats up to 450 sq.ft.
Frequently Asked Questions about Camping Tent Heaters
Are electric heaters safe for a tent?
Electric heater are much safer from many respect than gas heaters. While gas / propane heaters emit carbon monoxide, which, if not properly ventilated, can result in death, electric heaters are much safer from this respect.
Leaks are also common with gas heaters, you won’t have to worry if you are using an electric tent heater.
If there is no ventilation, electric heaters can overheat in confined places. A type with an automated shut-off mechanism eliminates the possibility of your heater catching fire while you are sleeping.
If you use a gas tent heater, get a carbon monoxide detector.
When your heater is knocked over, be sure it has an emergency shut-off function. Accidents happen, and the last thing you want is for your heater to catch fire and burn down your tent. Note, most tents that are sold on the UK / European market must come with flame retardant fabric, but it’s better be safe than sorry (not to mention the gear you store inside that can catch fire).
What safety features are important for a tent heater?
A heater distributes heat to the surrounding environment. It may be dangerous to others around it if it generates too much heat. As a result, you should be aware of the safety features provided by your heater.
Most tent warmers have a cool-to-the-touch body, which assures complete safety if you mistakenly touch or move it.
A tipping feature is also useful because you might accidentally kick the heater while sleeping. This function keeps a fire from beginning while you’re sleeping. It will turn off the unit automatically, giving you piece of mind.
An automatic cut-off is also required. The heater will automatically switch off after a couple of hours of continuous operation to prevent fires.
If you are using a gas / propane tent heater, and you expect to shut windows / doors a CO detector is much recommended. Here’s a battery operated, portable and reliable example.
Can you run a propane heater in a tent?
Yes you can, but there are a few tips for the safe use of propane heaters in tents. First of all, make sure there’s enough of airflow in the tent. I talked about CO detectors, can’t re-emphasize it enough.
When the gas in your cylinder runs out, bring extra gas cans with you. Despite their weight, carrying gas cans to the place where the heaters will be used is essential because they will stop working if they run out of gas.
To avoid toppling over and sparking fires, place the gas heater on flat ground.
Keep combustible materials out of the vicinity of the heater.
What kind of heater is best for camping?
I personally prefer propane heaters, as most of the time there’s no power at the campsite to operate an electric heater. They also produce more warmth, and despite safety concerns – touch wood – I’ve never had any issues with them.
What is BTU?
The term “British Thermal Unit” is an abbreviation for “British Thermal Unit.” It measures the amount of heat and the distance it can travel from a single unit. Because your first concern is safety, you should be aware of the quantity of BTU required in your tent. This allows you to select a heater that will not burn your inside. The recommended BTU range for camping is 2,000 to 6,000, which is appropriate for most winter camping. Anything more necessitates the use of heat settings to regulate temperatures and avoid overheating.
Simply multiply the length, width, and height of the tent to figure the cubic ft. of your space to determine the BTU you require. Then subtract the estimated indoor temperature from the external temperature.
This estimates the temperature that your heater will need to achieve. The result is the amount of BTU required per cubic ft. of your tent. If calculations aren’t your forte, you can always use a BTU calculator online to find out the amount of heat your tent will require.
I am hoping you have a better understanding now of what kind of heaters are available nowadays, and have the knowledge to select the best tent heater that will give you plenty of happy days even if the weather turns cooler.