Best Tent Heaters In 2019

Best Tent Heaters In 2019

tent heater

Since I was a child, I’ve always been attracted to snow-clad mountains, larger-than-life trees and the milk-white water flowing in the form of exquisite waterfalls. The might of the mountains was and is still nothing short of majestic for me. But the one thing I hate the most is – sleeping in a cold tent. After river rafting in the icy waters, all I need is a warm tent to welcome me in!  To put an end to my suffering, I sought the help of tent heaters! These tiny buddies are magical. After a long, icy-cold and tiring day, you can sleep peacefully and comfortably with these little heating buddies inside your tent. If you are also on a hunt to find the best way to keep yourself all warm and cozy during those winter camps, then look no further! I’m presenting a detailed buyer’s guide for tent heaters. Read ahead to know more about your camping/trekking companion!

What is a Tent Heater?

It is a device or equipment that is used to keep your tent warm. Usually, a tent heater produces heat – mostly measured in BTUs – and thus raises the temperature inside the tent. Most tent heaters are small in size and are versatile. 

Types Of Tent Heaters

There are several types of tent heaters but all of them can be broadly categorized as follows –

  • Electric tent heaters
  • Propane tent heaters
  • Butane tent heaters
  • Chemical heat packs, etc.

1. Electric Tent Heaters

Electric tent heaters deploy electrical power to produce heat. These tent heaters usually require some kind of electrical source and a battery. Electrical tent heaters are safer than fuel based tent heaters. Since most camping areas so not have any electrical power source, these tent heaters work for only so long. 

Pros

  • Warms up the tent quite quickly.
  • May help in reducing condensation in the tent.
  • Electric tent heaters, especially ceramic heaters, are the safest type of tent heaters.
  • Most electric tent heaters are equipped with an auto-shut switch which shuts down on overheating. 
  • Can be placed anywhere without the danger of catching fire.

Cons

  • You are dependent on having an electrical power supply for it to operate.
  • It works with smaller areas only.
  • The air becomes dry and stuffy, because of the device.
  • You have to keep turning on and off the fan, which can be irritating when you’re sleeping.

2. Butane Tent Heaters

Butane tent heaters are fuel-based heaters. These types of heaters do not require any electric power source but require fuel refills. Butane turns from liquid into gas at higher temperatures as compared to propane. Hence you should use these tent heaters in moderately cold regions. 

Pros

  • Easy to use.
  • Quite portable.
  • Most of them have an automatic safety turn off instrument for tip-over and low oxygen level.

P.S. For information, a 16.4 oz Propane unit can be used for 7 hours of heating.

Cons

  • Requires plenty of ventilation to work, which means cold air should come into your tent.
  • In order to avoid any accidents, you should stop it before going to sleep.
  • Risk of oxygen depletion.
  • You have to be cautious all the time as it becomes hot enough to easily ignite materials like nylon, etc.

3. Propane Tent Heaters

Propane tent heaters are also fuel-based heaters. Propane heaters are an ideal choice when it comes to camping in colder regions because propane quickly turns from liquid into gas at lower temperatures as compared to butane. Most propane tent heaters these days deploy catalytic combustion which is much safer.

Pros

  • Easy to use.
  • Quite portable.
  • Most of them have an automatic safety turn off instrument for tip-over and low oxygen level.

P.S. For information, a 16.4 oz Propane unit can be used for 7 hours of heating.

Cons

  • Requires plenty of ventilation to work, which means cold air should come into your tent.
  • In order to avoid any accidents, you should stop it before going to sleep.
  • Risk of oxygen depletion.
  • You have to be cautious all the time as it becomes hot enough to easily ignite materials like nylon, etc.

4. Chemical Heat Packs 

Chemical heat packs, as the name suggests, are heat packs which have salts and chemicals inside them. Due to certain exothermic reactions related to salt dissociation, heat is released. This heat is used to warm up the tent.  P.S. Chemical heat packs can be used as backup options.

Pros

  • Easy to use.
  • Portable.
  • Continuous heat for about 15 hours.
  • Good shelf life – up to 6 years.
  • Environment-friendly, non-inflammable, non-toxic.
  • Longer life – reusable packs last up to 500 uses.

Cons

  • Suitable only for a small area like a sleeping tent. 
  • People with sensitive skin may find it irritable.
  • Some packs are for a single-use which lasts just about one to two hours. 
  • A bit costlier.

How to properly set up a tent heater?

Setting up a tent heater is no rocket science. However, you must be very careful while doing so. You would want a surface which wouldn’t let the heater tip over. Before you proceed with setting up the heater, I would highly recommend you go through these tips first –  

  • Safety matters so be cautious and alert.
  • No matter the durability of the tent heater you should always have a backup.
  • Keep enough refills in case of propane and butane tent heaters.
  • Refer the following tips as user manual.

 

1. Assembling

Some tent heaters need a little bit of assembling. Although this may not take a lot of time, it is still a crucial step and must be done with care. The instruction manual has all the details of assembling the tent heater. Just follow them exactly and you’re done.  

2. Propane Setup

Not every tent heater comes with a hose. If yours doesn’t have one, then you need to find out the area where you can hook up your tank. After this, you should turn on the valve. Ensure that your tent heater is stabilized and then you are all done.

3. Butane Setup

Butane usually comes in the form of small cartridges and lasts more than propane by 20%. For butane tent setup, you would want to find a decent place for butane heater which is stable and away from all kinds of flammable things. Butane is easier to set up than propane because you just have to pop the cartridge in and you’re all set! P.S. Butane has become a selling point for some manufacturers. However, both butane and propane work in a similar manner and hence you can go with either of these.

4. Heating Up The Tent

Firing up tent heaters is an easy job, you simply need to use an electric lighter and hola! You’ll feel the heat radiating. Although every model and make is different, igniting it is almost the same with each model. While turning off the heater, you need to ensure that the fuel supply is cut off properly. Switch off the butane heater and twist off the propane one. 

Tent Heater Safety & FAQs

Staying safe with a tent heater inside your tent, especially while sleeping, is quintessential. To stay safe you need to first have proper knowledge about the tent heaters, the types of tent heaters, and safety tips.   The main types of tent heaters are :-

  1. electric heaters, 
  2. fuel/propane/butane heaters, 
  3. chemical heat packs
  4. portable stoves.

  You should look for the following features while buying a tent heater –

Tent Heater Size

Buying a tent heater of the right size is quite important. You should consider the area of your tent before choosing a tent heater. You don’t want the heater to be insufficient to provide the required heat, neither do you want it to overheat your tent. Similarly, you want a tent heater that would fit in just perfectly inside your tent. It shouldn’t be too small or too big. The number of people using the tent also matters. For a couple of people, you wouldn’t require a big heater. On the other hand, multi-room tents or huge tents with around 5-6 people or more would definitely require bigger tent heaters and more BTUs. while talking about 3-4 people, the estimation is a bit tricky, but you should go for something that saves you from frost-bite and doesn’t let you catch fire at the same time!

 

Q1: What is BTU and How to estimate it?

BTU is the British Thermal Unit, a unit of heat. Estimating how many BTUs you require is essential for buying the right tent heater for yourself. Here is an easy way to estimate the required BTUs –   First, find out the volume of the tent in cubic feet by multiplying the length/breadth/ height of the tent.  Find out the difference between the temperature you require inside the tent and the actual temperature outside the tent.  You will get the amount of temperature rise that you require. For measuring the BTU in Fahrenheit solve this equation: cubic feet * temperature rise * 0.133 = BTUs required.for measuring BTUs in Celsius solve this equation: cubic feet * temperature rise * 0.2394 =BTUs required.  However, if you don’t want to go through the hassles of calculations and equations, then you can find a lot of BTU calculators online.

Q2: Why stability matters while dealing with tent heaters?

The floor of any tent is not perfectly leveled and hence you need to ensure that your tent heater is well-adjusted to be placed with as much stability as possible. You don’t want your tent heater to fall down at any rate. Go for the one with a tip-over auto shut-off system. Stability matters more than you think it does. While going out you may accidentally tip over the heater, or worst-case scenario, if there is a storm with strong winds, then the heater may get knocked over, you don’t want this happening at all. 

Q3: Are catalytic propane gas heaters safe?  

Yes, catalytic propane gas heaters are quite safe to use. Although these heaters are much safer than their ancestors, you still want to be cautious around them. The heat emitted via catalytic propane gas heaters is in the form of infrared rays and is a result of catalytic combustion which is safer. 

Q4: What are portable stoves? And how to ensure safety with portable stoves?

Portable stoves are used to heat large areas. Also known as wood-burning stoves, portable stoves are an ideal choice for outdoor camping. These heaters require ample ventilation so you need to have a provision for the same. Also, make sure that the one you buy has a flame-retardant canvas. The portable stoves can also be used as backup options or in case of emergency.  

Aspects to Consider Before Buying a Tent Heater

1. Tip-Over Switch 

The tip-over mechanism is a safety mechanism which is a must in every tent heater. This mechanism prevents the starting of fire from your device. Tent heaters with this switch get shut-off automatically on tipping over. You must be very careful around devices which could start or catch fire. While moving around or while going out you may knock your heater, at such times a safety shut-off mechanism can prove to be a boon. Hence go for only those tent heaters which have the tip-over switch.

2. Automatic Cut-off 

As with any other electrical device, you should go for a tent heater which is equipped with an automatic cut-off mechanism. Never should you sleep with your heater on. Although some manufacturers claim that their product is so safe that you can use it while sleeping, but you shouldn’t do so. The automatic cut-off mechanism shuts off your heater after a particular period of time.

3. Overheat Protection 

Your heating device should never get too hot. The overheat protection mechanism would ensure that your heater and you stay safe. This mechanism deploys a temperature sensor which shuts off the whole thing if the temperature rises a certain limit. Most tent heaters have this wonderful feature but you must still check once before making a purchase. 

4. Operation 

Thinking that you know how to use tent heaters can be a grave mistake. No matter your previous experiences with tent heaters, you should still read the manufacturer’s manual before operating a tent heater. Pay attention to each and every instruction and follow them thoroughly. Staying safe and staying careful is the key to long-term camping 

5. Durability

Durability matters a lot, especially while going camping in extreme weather conditions. Imagine going camping to snow-clad mountains with a tent heater only to find out that the heater doesn’t work properly… you wouldn’t want to find yourself in any such situation so make sure your tent heater is durable and provides you with the promised BTUs. Also, it’s always a great thing to have a backup ready. Before you select any tent heater, make sure you read the reviews online. 

8 Safe Tent Heaters for Camping

1. Mr. Heater Hunting Buddy Portable Heater

Mr. Heater Hunting Buddy Portable Heater

The MH12B Hunting Buddy is a space heater by Mr. Heater. This heater is lightweight, compact and efficient. Can be used up to areas of 300 feet squared. It comes with a single control and swivel regulator. Equipped with auto shut-off system, this heater is safe to use. It also detects low oxygen levels and shuts-off. However, this creates another issue – you can’t use it over altitudes of 7,000 ft due to low oxygen levels. This heater runs on propane, which is to be bought separately. 

The Hunting Buddy weighs only 9 lbs. making it ideal to carry anywhere and produces 6,000 to 12,000 BTUs. 

Pros

  • Auto shut-off mechanism 
  • Lightweight – only 9lbs.
  • Provides 6,000 – 12,000 BTUs
  • Easy ignition and a single control 
  • Easy to use and can be connected with a variety of propane sources
  • Very compact yet efficient

Cons:

Requires ample air so you need to have a way to get extra air in your tent

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The Hunting Buddy by Mr. Heater is a great option to keep yourself warm and cozy. This compact and efficient heater is easy to carry and can be connected to various propane sources which come in handy when you run out of a cylinder.

2. Mr. Heater Big Buddy Propane Heater

Mr. Heater Big Buddy Propane Heater

Another tent heater from the well-known brand in the world of tent heaters – Mr. Heater is the Big Buddy portable tent heater. This heater is amongst the top tent heaters and for a good reason – Big Buddy can heat up spaces as big as 450 feet squared… which is quite good as compared to most other tent heaters. This tent heater provides you with 4,000 to 18,000 BTUs and burns clean. With an efficiency of almost 100 percent, this heater can operate on altitudes below 7,000 ft. above the mean sea level.

Big Buddy is versatile and can be used indoors also. If your concern is safety, then rest assured because this heater is equipped with an auto shut-off mechanism which shuts-off on tipping over, during low oxygen levels, and if the pilot light goes out. This heater connects to a propane tank and has a low, medium and high-level adjustable knob for controlling the temperature. You have to buy the propane cylinder separately.

Pros:

  • Ideal for large tents
  • Meant for both outdoor and indoor use
  • Auto shut-off tip-over switch
  • Portable – weighs only 17 lbs.
  • Low oxygen level detectors
  • 4,000 to 18,000 BTUs.
  • Built-in Piezo sparking mechanism
  • Can be connected to 2 propane cylinders
  • Comes with a protective wire cage

Cons:

The propane doesn’t burn cleanly and efficiently on a medium level as compared to the other two levels.
May shut down over altitudes of 7,000 ft because of low oxygen levels.

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The Big Buddy by Mr. Heater is a great product. Compact, lightweight and safe, this tent heater is ideal for camping. Considering its amazing efficiency, I would recommend it for all those campers who have a huge tent.

3. Avenger Portable Forced Air Propane Heater

The Avenger forced air propane heater is a sturdy tent heater with lots of power. This weatherproof tent heater doesn’t require any startup time and gives you instant heat. It works on liquid propane and with a whopping 60,000 BTU. This heater comes with digital adjustable heat settings that allow you to go for either warm or hot temperatures inside your tent. Additionally, it comes with the auto-shut-off system.

 The Avenger portable heater is sleek and stylish when it comes to appearance. Made of rugged construction, this heater is quite durable and comes with a large handle and adjustable heat angles that let you get the warm air wherever required. It can also be used easily while wearing gloves which is an added advantage. With an efficiency of 99.9%, this heater operates on eco-friendly and energy conserving gas propane cylinders.

Pros:

  • Comes with a thermally protected motor for increased safety and longer life.
  • Ideal for huge tents or spaces – 60,000 BTU.
  • Equipped with adjustable heat angle.
  • Push button for ease of turning on.
  • Smooth and silent operating.
  • Reasonably priced.
  • Requires no assembling.
  • Weighs 16 lbs. – easy to carry.
  • Compact design.
  • Fuel adjustments to reduce the consumption of propane.

Cons:

  •  A bit complicated to operate.
  • Fan needs to be turned on before turning on the gas.
  • Tank fitting needs attention while operating, so using a user-manual is a must.

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The Avenger portable forced air propane heater is a great choice for anyone who loves staying warm for a considerable amount of time, especially in colder regions. It is safe to use and is reasonably well-priced.

4. Olympian Wave 3 LP Portable Gas Catalytic Heater by Camco

The Olympian Wave heater by Camco is a gas catalytic heater which is highly portable, as well as efficient. It comes with temperature adjustments which allow you to go from 1600 BTUs to 3000 BTUs. This catalytic heater can be mounted on walls or used as a portable tent heater. It works silently and comes with a shut-off valve for enhanced safety. With no electrical drainage, this heater is highly efficient and operates on lower pressure gas. All these factors make the Olympian Wave Heater by Camco an excellent choice for camping.

Pros:

  • Probably the lightest tent heater with only 1 lb. 
  • Provides up to 3000 BTUs which is enough to heat up 130 feet squared
  • Works both as a portable heater and can be mounted on the wall
  • Equipped with a Piezo lighter which provides 20,000 ignitions 
  • Comes with a safety shut-off valve
  • Works well at higher altitudes of up to 12,000 feet
  • Comes with a 3-year guarantee
  • Low fuel consumption
  • No harmful emissions
  • Operable in low-pressure gas

Cons:

 

  • A bit more on the pricier side
  • Heats up slowly as compared to others.

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This tent heater by Camco is efficient, multi-purpose and eco-friendly. This easily portable heater gives you safe heating options which can easily be adjusted. 

5. Mr. Heater Little Buddy

As the name suggests, the Little Buddy tent heater is actually quite small, compact and hence quite portable. This tent heater is ideal for tents and is also safe to use. This heater can heat smaller areas of up to 95 feet squared easily. If you want odor-free and non-stop heating, then this is your best bet. It has a non-adjustable 45-degree heating angle which might be a bit inconvenience for some people.

A shortcoming of this tent heater is that it stops working at altitudes of 7000 ft and above due to shortage of oxygen in the air. This tent heater is easy to use and requires a propane cylinder to run. It doesn’t come with the propane cylinder and hence it must be bought separately. This heater is not to be used in any vehicle which is moving. 

It comes with an auto shut-off system which senses lower oxygen levels and shuts down itself. Additionally, this heater shuts down during accidental tip-overs as well. You can use this little buddy in small areas such as workshops, patios, porches, campers, tents, garages, picnics, barns, shelters, sheds, storage buildings, tailgate parties, etc.

Pros:

  • Lightweight- only 7 lbs.
  • Odor-free and safe for use.
  • Continuous heat for up to 5.5 hours.
  • Simple and easy to use.
  • Built-in sensors for lower oxygen levels. 
  • Auto shut-off system for enhanced safety.
  • 3,800 BTU.
  • Comes with a wire guard that helps protect at a higher temperature.
  • Sleek and compact and hence can be easily carried and stored.
  • Equipped with Piezo igniter.
  • Ideal backup heater for emergencies.

Cons:

  • Not suitable for very cold temperatures.
  • Doesn’t work at altitudes over 7000 ft.
  • Not very safe as compared to others mentioned here.
  • Not very powerful, and hence ideal for emergency uses.
  • Non-adjustable heating level.

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The Little Buddy portable tent heater is lightweight and requires less storage space. If you want to have an emergency or backup option. Then this heater is your best bet. The Little Buddy is an ideal choice for a short trip, smaller spaces and mildly cold weather. Affordably priced.

6. MARTIN Portable Gas Catalytic Heater

The MARTIN portable gas catalytic heater is a sleek and lightweight tent heater. This easy to use tent heater is quite affordable and hence is a feasible option for you. This heater is flameless and provides you with a cozy warmth efficiently as well as effectively. Since it is flameless it is also safe to use. 

 

Made of advanced catalytic technology, this tent heater deploys one of the most efficient heating techniques in the world of gas tent heaters. The manufacturer of this heater has been in the market for a long time and are well-known for their versatility and reliability. This heater has foldable legs which again make it very easy to carry as well as store. 

 

With a commendable efficiency of 99.98% for up to 7 hours on a 1 pound propane cylinder, this tent heater provides you with 3000 BTUs. this is definitely a low-cost option for frequent campers. Additionally, the safe heating tool provides you with clean air which is great for you as well as your family.

Pros:

  • Flameless heating technology
  • Reliable and versatile tent heater
  • Quiet and comfortable heater
  • No battery draining
  • 99.98% efficiency
  • Lightweight and compact
  • Advanced stability with foldable legs
  • CSA certified

Cons:

  • As this is a propane heater, it requires ample ventilation.
  • A bit complicated to light up when compared with other heaters.

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The tent heater by Martin is lightweight, efficient and simple to use. You can trust that by using this tent heater you wouldn’t require many propane refills in every couple hours.

7. 12″ H x 8″ W x 12″ D Tent Heater – R3-9401-50

This top-notch electric tent heater by Allegro Industries is a reliable heater and can be easily used to provide you with an ample amount of heat. This heavy-duty tent heater requires an electric source. Built of a steel housing, all the heating elements of this tent heater are sealed securely. The heavy-duty tent heater looks sturdy but is actually lightweight. 

This heater produces 5,000 BTU and weighs only 14 lbs. This heater is CSA approved and UL listed. It quickly heats up a large tent as well.

Pros:

  • Robust steel housing meant for outdoor use and transport.
  • Sealed motor.
  • You can adjust the temperature with an adjustable thermostat knob
  • UL listed and CSA approved
  • Sleek, lightweight and portable.
  • Produces 5,000 BTU and can heat up a huge tent quickly.
  • Safe overheat protection

Cons:

  • Pricey than most other heaters. 
  • Needs electrical power source.

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The Allegro Industries portable heater is a great choice if you are going somewhere with electricity. This compact heater heats up large spaces with amazing speed and keeps the temperature comfortably high at all times.

8. Coleman SportCat PerfecTemp Catalytic Heater

The Coleman SportCat PerfecTemp catalytic heater is quite a cozy tent heater which provides 1,500 BTU for around 14 hours on a single propane cylinder of 16.4-oz. It doesn’t come with the cylinder and you have to buy it separately. This flameless tent heater is extremely efficient and is quite safe to use. It comes with a handle that allows easy grip for enhanced portability. The built-in eyelets allow you to tie it anywhere for enhanced safety. This tent heater by Coleman SportCat is quite stable and hence ideal for camping. 

Pros:

  • Comes with a 5-year warranty
  • Enhanced stability due to detachable base
  • A flameless catalytic heater which is efficient and safe to use.
  • 1,500 BTU of heat 
  • Equipped with a handle which aids in potability
  • Compact design and lightweight – 3.38 lbs. Only.
  • Can be used during power shortage.

Cons:

  • Heat output is not so good as compared to other heaters and heat sources.

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The Coleman SportCat catalytic tent heater is a great option while going for camping. It is silent and safe to use and takes up very little room. With minimal fuel consumption, this heater provides ample heat.

Final Thoughts

Choosing a tent heater is a tedious task. Especially considering that the wrong kind of tent heater for you can be ineffective and a complete waste of money at best and risky as well as dangerous at worst. Hence, you need to give it serious consideration before buying any tent heater. Follow all the steps in this guide and I’m sure you’ll be good to go. 

A great way to ensure that you’re getting a good tent heater is to check for proper ventilation – to avoid inhaling carbon monoxide fumes – and go with the one having auto shut-off system. This way you can sleep peacefully. 

You would also want to consider fuel efficiency, especially while going to faraway places for longer periods of time. You can’t get propane gas cylinders every now and then in the middle of the Himalayas! Also, if you intend to carry some extra fuel supplies then carrying it becomes a hectic task, so go for fuel-efficient tent heaters. 

All the tent heaters mentioned in this list are trusted, tested and recommended products. You can go with any of these tent heaters depending upon your requirement and enjoy a comfortable night’s sleep right in the middle of freezing mountains!

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