Quick Answer – BEST PORTABLE TENT HEATER:

Sale
Mr. Heater F215100 MH4B Little Buddy 3800-BTU Indoor Safe Propane Heater, Medium
  • Indoor-safe portable propane heater for rooms up to 95 square feet. THIS UNIT IS NOT INTENDED FOR GOLF CART USE OR FOR MOTORIZED VEHICLES.
  • Continuous odor-free, 45-degree heating angle. Maximum Elevation (Ft) 7000 Feet. Automatic low oxygen shut-off system (ODS). Perfect solution for heating small enclosed spaces like tents up to 95 square feet
  • Simple on/off buttons; uses 1-pound disposable propane cylinder (not included). Run time at minimum btu and maximum btu is 5.6 hours. Do­ not­ operate­ heater­ in­ any ­moving­ vehicle. This ­heater ­requires ­a­ vent­ area­ of­ 4­ square­ inches­ minimum ­for­ adequate ventilation ­during­ operation
  • Low-oxygen sensor and accidental tip-over switch with auto shut-off for safety.THE USE OF UN-AUTHORIZED ACCESSORIES/ATTACHMENTS WITH THIS HEATER ARE EXPRESSLY PROHIBITED, MAY CAUSE SERIOUS INJURY, AND WILL VOID THE WARRANTY.
  • Recommended for emergency heat, tents, campers, workshops, job sites, porches, patios, decks, garages, storage buildings, picnics, tailgate parties, construction trailers, sporting events, barns, sheds, hunting blinds, shelters and ice fishing shanties

Bitter cold is what stops many people from pursuing their plans to spend the day camping at some of the most beautiful and remotest places ever. Without a heater tent or a tent heater, it is nearly impossible to enjoy winter camping.

When overlanding through the Rockies or Alaska especially if it is not during the peak summer months, a portable tent heater for your rooftop or ground tent can make a huge difference in your comfort level.

That goes for the camping enthusiasts who don’t want to stop camping only because winter arrived! The best tent heater gives you versatility when it comes to going outdoors.

Best Tent Heaters

Mr. Heater Portable Buddy Propane Heater

Comfort Zone Personal Heater Fan

Mr. Heater F215100 MH4B Little Buddy

Texsport Portable Outdoor Propane

Honeywell 360 Degree Surround Fan Forced Heater

Lasko #100 MyHeat Personal Ceramic Heater

Mr. Heater F274830 MH18BRV Big Buddy

Why Do You Need a Tent Heater

You may think that you can get by without a tent heater. Yes, it is possible to go camping or overlanding without a tent heater.

But that is if you will limit your activities during spring and fall. To be an all-season overlander, or to enjoy winter camping, a tent with heater is something you should consider getting.

During winter camping, your tent becomes your temporary abode, For this reason, you’ll need to provide a means to make the temperature level inside your tent at a healthy level.

That is where camping tent heaters come into play.

With a tent heater, you can now go out and enjoy the beautiful sceneries during cold weather. It offers you a great level of comfort inside your small or large tent even under freezing temperatures.

It provides you with a whole set of new experiences!

Features to Consider When Comparing Tent Heaters

A tent heater is more like a car heater is that they are designed for smaller spaces. They may also share some similarities but in this guide, we will focus more on the best tent heaters.

Before we get deep into the best tent heaters, it will help if we are familiar with the different types of tent or camping heaters and what features they normally have.

Doing so will give you an idea of what features to look for depending on your needs and preferences.

The most important attributes to look at, when deciding which one is the best tent heater for you, are:

Fuel type

One of the primary factors that you need to consider when comparing the best tent heaters is the fuel type.  Generally, the fkey features of tent heaters depend on the type of fuel they use to work. The best tent heaters can be classified into three types based on fuel source: gas, electric and battery.

Gas Tent Heaters – These camping tent heaters are among the best options for minimalist campers and overlanders. Typically, gas tent heaters generate more heat than electric and battery-powered tent heaters.  They are designed to be compact and portable. This allows you to carry the heater anywhere you go, with less hassle.

Most gas tent heaters are fueled either by propane (commonly known as LPG) or butane. Both propane and butane gas are available in small refillable bottles or canisters, the same type normally used for camping stoves. You may also buy butane and propane tank from your local stores.

Between propane heater and butane heater, the latter burns cleaner and does not produce much carbon monoxide. That is why they are great for tent heating.

Propane on the other hand burns slower than butane, so propane tank tent heaters are generally more efficient. Also, since propane remain in their liquid form in a much colder climates, they perform better as the temperature gets colder. However, with propane heaters, there’s that concern about carbon monoxide emission.

Overall, gas camping tent heaters are among your best source of warmth during winter camping. One drawback of gas tent heaters is that they continuously require fuel. Aside from spending on butane or propane tank for fuel, we all know that burning fuel isn’t good for the environment. Portable propane and butane heaters are known to emit carbon monoxide. Also, you need extra precautions when using a gas heater. It specifically needs proper ventilation.

Electric Tent Heaters – Modern camping tent heaters are now mostly electric powered. Generally, electric heaters are the most cost-effective option. You don’t have to spend on fuel as long as you have an outlet where you can plug it to.

While electric tent heaters have a number of benefits, you need to make sure that there is power source.  If you will go camping or overlanding in a remote place where there is no power source or electricity, your electric heater will be worthless. In such case, careful planning is essential.

Battery Portable Tent Heaters – When it comes to portability,  battery-powered tent heaters for tents are the best choice.  You don’t have to bring fuel or electrical outlet for it to work. And batteries aren’t that heavy to carry.  However, one major drawback of this type of tent heater is that it doesn’t generate as much heat as their electric or gas counterparts.

Since battery tent heaters do not perform well in very cold climate, you may reconsider bringing one in the middle of winter time. But if despite the limitations of battery tent heaters you still prefer to get one, be sure to pack more batteries on your trip.

Electric heaters do not have these limits, however, you will need a generator or other portable power supply with an inverter.

Heat Output

Before making a final decision, you also need to consider the heat output of the heater in relation to the size of your tent. For example, a 32-square feet tent will require a smaller heater while an 80 square feet tent will need a bigger tent heater.

heat output pertains to the amount of heat a heater can produce. Generally, it is expressed in British Thermal Unit (BTU). It is a traditional unit of heat and is defined as the amount of heat required to raise the temperature of one pound of water by one degree Fahrenheit. Please scroll down to ‘How much heat do you need’ on this Amazon page, where one of the best tent heater manufacturers, Mr Heater, explains the formula how to calculate the amount of BTUs required.

If you already have a tent and you want to compute its required BTU, you can check the specs of your tent or you may also use an online tent heat calculator.

Moreover, there are camping tent heaters with adjustable heat output and these are a great option since they allow you to make adjustments to customize to your comfort level.

Moreover, aside from the BTU, the efficiency rating of the tent heater is also worth checking.

So if a tent heater has a BTU of 2,000 and with an efficiency rating of 85%, it can only provide 1,700 BTU per hour on the average.

Size of the Heater

The heat output more often is directly proportional to the size of the heater. So without checking the heat output, by just looking at the size of the tent heater, you can already get an idea of how much heat it can produce.

To help you easily compare, if you have a small tent, the ideal tent heater for you si most likely also small. Conversely, if you have to heat a bigger tent, you also need to compare bigger heaters.

Weight/portability

With an increase in weight, the portability of the heater decreases since portability is somewhat related to the size and weight of the tent heater. Of course, you need to choose a heater that will fit your tent. Aside from that, it is also good to have a heater that is easy to transport or carry with you even if you can’t use your vehicle to the camping site.

Durability

Nobody wants to invest in a camping gear if you know it will not last several uses. While durability is very important, it is also hard to judge based on the specs of the tent heater. This is where reading product reviews and feedback matters.

Before making a decision, be sure to take some time to read reviews so that you will have an idea on what other users have to say about the product you are considering.

Safety Features

Many believed that camping tent heaters can be dangerous. But that is no longer the case now. You can easily find tent heaters with great safety features for your peace of mind.

 Some of the basic safety features you should look for in a tent heater include:

  • Auto-shutoff feature – This feature helps avoid overheating.

  • Carbon dioxide/monoxide sensor – Since you will be using the heater in a confined space, it’s important to monitor the carbon dioxide/monoxide levels as they can be toxic. Gas heaters normally come with this type of sensor. Some will even automatically shut down the fuel source when the carbon dioxide/monoxide reaches a certain level.

  • Low-oxygen sensors – Some heaters which are typically in the expensive range feature a low-oxygen sensor. This function inhibits the usage of the heater at high altitudes.
  • Tip-over switch – Certain models feature a tip-over switch that automatically switches the heater off when tipped over at a certain angle. Some models at 360 degrees.

Noise level

Noise can greatly impact the quality of your sleep so the noise level of the tent heater is also an important consideration when making a decision.

Some tent heater brands indicate the decibel levels of the gear, while others don’t. Of course, it’s ideal to get a quiet tent heater but generally, it’s rare to find a tent heater that doesn’t emit noise. As a rule of thumb, choose a tent heater with a noise level that is below 60 decibels.

Based on reviews, electric camping tent heaters are the loudest, followed by gas heaters. A battery-powered heater is your best choice if you want one that is most quiet.

overlander in morocco

Best Tent Heater Reviews

Review of Mr. Heater Portable Buddy Propane Heater

Measuring 9 x 14 1/4 x 14 1/4 inches, The Mr. Heater Portable Buddy is a beast of a tent heater.

It has a 4,000 to 9,000 BTU radiant heater which means it is able to heat up a space of 200 square feet with ease.

This power comes with a 3-5 hours run time if you run it on the 1 lb. propane cylinder it directly connects to. Alternatively you can connect it to a 20lb cylinder if you purchase the optional hose and filter.

Weighing at 9.7 pounds, this is a tent heater which is both powerful and portable. It has a swivel-out regulator and foldable handle which makes it even more portable.

It is equipped with an auto shut off feature which activates when it detects low oxygen levels, it tips over, or when the pilot light goes off.

The users have pointed out the reliability and low propane consumption of the Portable Buddy Heater. You can also purchase a dedicated carry bag so that it doesn’t get damaged flying around in your overlanding rig.

Customers are overwhelmingly happy with their product, but it is important to note that in elevations above 7,000 ft it is not supposed to be used.

This Mr Heater device would sure be strong enough to heat up even a bubble tent quickly.

Please check out all features and the picture gallery on Amazon.

Review of Comfort Zone Personal Heater Fan

Weighing at 3 lbs., this is one of the most portable electric tent heater in the list. The 8 x 6 x 6 4/5 inches dimension also helps the portability factor.

This personal heater can also be used as a fan. The multi-setting feature allows you to switch between a fan only setting, and two heat setting.

It is sturdy with an all-metal construction and has a carry handle. It has a safety tip-over switch and a high limit safety fuse.

As a further safety measure, this electric heater is equipped with an overheating protection system to prevent the electric wire from overheating.

The tiny comfort zone heater is a product packed with features, and the customers have expressed their satisfaction saying it is a heater which is powerful yet compact.

The auto-adjusting thermostat can fizzle out from usage, but it can be fixed easily.

Although this device is a small personal electric  tent heater, it might be just enough for your smaller tent and not ideal for outdoor use.

Of course, being electric heater, you will need an inverter and a portable power supply if you want to run it overnight.

Please check out all features and the picture gallery on Amazon.

Review of Mr. Heater F215100 MH4B Little Buddy

The Mr. Heater Little Buddy is a pocket-sized powerhouse, the most portable propane tent heater. With a dimension of 11 x 11 x 11 inches and weighing just five pounds, this is the one for you if you are in search of a powerful yet portable tent heater.

With 3800 BTU, in our opinion, this is the best tent heater on the market right now. Not to mention that it is very easy to use with its on and off button.

This propane tent heater comes with excellent safety features including a low-oxygen sensor as well as an accidental tip-over switch with. It also has an auto shut-off functionality for safety.

Contrary to its size, for indoor use, this portable propane heater can heat up a tent with a size of 95 square feet. It can be used continuously for a period of five and a half hours.

The customers have voiced their happiness over the heater’s ability to carry on for longer periods of time and its compactness in general. It connects directly to a 1 lb. cylinder.

Please read hundreds of customer reviews and full gallery on Amazon.

Review of Texsport Portable Outdoor Propane

If you are looking for an easy to use gas-powered portable heater, the Texsport Portable Outdoor Propane is one of the best options available. It is a versatile heater popularly used for hunting, camping and other cold weather outdoor activities.

This camping heater comes with a stainless steel burner that can produce up to 2,890 BTU of heat output. It also has a durable stainless steel finish that can withstand frequent use and abuses.

One of its important safety features is the auto-shut-off fuel valve. This helps prevent fire as it will automatically shut off the fuel valve if there’s a flame.

Moreover, it is pretty stable when mounted on the floor as it comes with a large paddle foot base and safety grid.

For fuel, it works with 14.1 oz and 16.4 oz. disposable propane cylinders.

Based on many reviews, this tent heater emits mild noise but not the kind that is annoying. So it is great for those who have sensitive ears and can’t stand noisy electric heaters.

According to reviews, this heater is ideal for outdoor use but it may also work for indoor use.

While the label does not say if you can use this heater at high elevations, some customers said they were able to use it at 9,000 feet altitude with no issues.

Pros:

  • With excellent safety features
  • Highly portable

Cons:

  • Releases fumes, requiring good tent ventilation

Review of Honeywell 360 Degree Surround Fan Forced Heater

Weighing three pounds and having a dimension of 8 x 8 x 11.5 inches definitely puts this Honeywell heater as one of the most portable electric heaters available on the market.

choose from the two heat settings depending on your needs.

The cool touch carry handle is a plus as you get to pick it up without worrying about the heat. It also comes with overheat protection and 360-degree tip over switch for extra protection.

The 1500W power translates to 5,120 BTUs, making it a very capable camping heater.

The heater has been well received by customers for heating spaces which are not so large in area.

The high level helps the area get pretty warm, and the low setting delivers sub heat level warmth to the area. As we mentioned it for the Comfort Zone model, being electric, you will need an inverter and a portable power supply if you want to run it overnight.

Please see more details on its features such as the tilt switch function on Amazon.

Review of Lasko #100 MyHeat Personal Ceramic Heater

The Lasko MyHeat Personal Ceramic Heater is known for its low power usage of 200 watts.

The use of low power is beneficial if you want to use more than one heater in a specific tent. With an appropriate size inverter and camping power supply this is an ideal unit in a small thent. It is by far the most popular little portable heater.

There are thousands of grateful customers who are very happy with the product. Don’t expect more than what the name suggests, it is only heating up a very small space, however, you may find that it is excellent when used in a small rooftop tent on your overlanding vehicle.

Measuring 3.8 x 4.3 x 6.1 inches in dimensions and weighing 3.5 pounds, it is simply tiny. It has cool touch housing and overheat protection which makes it easy to carry around and keep you safe from short circuits.

The product is ETL listed for safety.

Customers have unanimously chosen it to be a personal camping heater which is able to heat up the immediate surroundings and help you beat the cold.

Please see the thousands of satisfied customer reviews and color options on Amazon.

Review of Mr. Heater F274830 MH18BRV Big Buddy Portable Heater

The MH18BRV is the third Mr. Heater to make the Best Camping Heaters list, which in itself is a testimonial for the quality of their products.

The high power heater can deliver anywhere from 4000 to 18000 BTU. It can easily heat a place around the size of 450 square feet both indoors and outdoors. It has three settings of low, medium, and high heat levels to adjust the heat according to the needs.

Like the other Mr. Heater products in the list, the MH18BRV also has auto shut off features that turns off the pilot light when it detects low oxygen (Oxygen Depletion Sensor).

Compared to the rest, it is on the heavier side weighing 17 pounds and measuring 18.9 x 17.3 x 11.8 inches  in dimensions.

The users have lauded the product for its durability and the safety features incorporated into the product.

The only downside they have mentioned is the weight, but you have to compromise something for quality and heating power.

If you need a powerhouse, this is your unit, although bear in mind that for a small overlanding tent it is not suitable. At an open campsite, the big brother of the other two Mr Heater products can be your best bet.

Please see its amazing features for yourself on Amazon.

best tent heaters

Alternatives to Camping Heaters

If you are not comfortable with bringing a tent heater, there are also alternatives that you can bring to keep you warm and comfortable:

Chemical Packs

A chemical pack warmer won’t heat up your entire tent but at least it will provide extra warmth against your body during very cold nights. You can simply put a chemical pack warmer inside your sleeping bag to warm up.

Most chemical pack warmers are single-use and they provide warmth for about 10 to 15 hours.

One of the chemical packs worth checking is the HotHands Body & Hand Super Warmers.

This single-use warm pack is TSA-approved and is safe, odourless and environment-friendly. It offers long-lasting heat during chilly nights. It is available in different designs suited for your hands, body and feet.

Chemical packs are very easy to use. Simply remove the pack from the outer package then shake. You will start feeling the warmth within 15 to 30 minutes.

Chemical packs are also a great way to stay comfy despite the chilly weather. And they are very portable too.

Propane Lanterns

Another good alternative to tent camping heaters is the propane lantern. Propane lanterns are mainly for illumination but they can also help make your tent warm and comfy.

One of the most popular propane lanterns in the market is the Coleman Gas Lantern. It can produce up to 1,000 lumens and the light can be visible up to 23 meters. What we like best about this lantern is that it has a long run time of up to 7.5 hours (set on high) using a 16.4 oz. propane cylinder.

Moreover, this propane lantern performs consistently even in extreme weather conditions. That’s because it features a pressure regulator for more reliable performance.

Moreover, it is also relatively safe to use as it uses a glass globe that has an extremely high temperature tolerance. Plus it comes with a 3-year limited warranty.

Wood Burning Stoves

This one is definitely not recommended for use inside the tent but we’ve included this as an alternative to a tent heater because having a wood-burning stove near your tent will surely improve your comfort level during chilly nights.

The main purpose of a wood-burning stove is for cooking. It is an ideal backup stove in case you run out of fuel supply. Generally, this kind of stove supports multiple fuels so it is also versatile.

If you want to checkout what your options are, you may consider checking the Camp Chef Alpine Heavy Duty Cylinder Stove. It is one of the wood-burning stoves with many positive reviews is the market. This product features a wide drying rack and adjustable legs in case you would install it on uneven ground.

Moreover, the Camp Chef stove has a fire grate at the bottom part that works to protect the base against overheating. It also has a 5-inch diameter chimney pipe that is over 10 feet long.

With all the great features of this stove as mentioned by hundreds of its users, you can have more peace of mind connected.

FAQ

Q: Is it really safe to use a tent heater?

A: The simple answer to this question is, yes. if you’ve ever heard of tent accidents involving tent heaters, it’s probably due to mishandling or misuse.

While tent heaters are not created equal, they are generally designed to have safety features to help prevent accidents. Also, they come with safety instructions to lower your risk of accidents. Make sure to read the manufacturer’s guide on the proper use of your tent heater to stay safe.

Q: Can you sleep while the tent heater is on?

A: Sleeping with an unsupervised heater is generally risky. Most manufacturers do not recommend sleeping with a tent heater.

However, you may be able to find a tent heater with more advanced safety features, allowing you to leave it on while you sleep.

Easy Safety Tips to Safely Use a Heater in a Tent

There are basic safety tips that you can observe for better and safer user experience:

  • If you are getting a gas heater, buy one that has a CSA certification. This ensures that the product has been tested and inspected if it meets safety standards.
  • Clear the space around the heater.
  • Familiarize the safety instructions and make sure to observe them.
  • Only use a tent heater if the tent is well-ventilated. Lack of ventilation may result in gas poisoning.

Conclusion – Best Portable Tent Heaters

The heaters mentioned in this article are some of the best tent heaters you can get for yourself when you are going for your next overlanding adventure.

Depending on your budget and feature requirement, you can find one which suits you from this list. The brands are trusted, the quality of the products is top notch, and most of it comes with affordable price tag.

One stand up feature of the portable camping heaters mentioned here is that they all come with safety features allowing you to use them with peace of mind.

So, go ahead and get your hands on one of these great products to help you have a warm trip.

Considering all aspects of buying the best tent heater, our recommendation goes for the Mr Heater Little Buddy:

Sale
Mr. Heater F215100 MH4B Little Buddy 3800-BTU Indoor Safe Propane Heater, Medium
  • Indoor-safe portable propane heater for rooms up to 95 square feet. THIS UNIT IS NOT INTENDED FOR GOLF CART USE OR FOR MOTORIZED VEHICLES.
  • Continuous odor-free, 45-degree heating angle. Maximum Elevation (Ft) 7000 Feet. Automatic low oxygen shut-off system (ODS). Perfect solution for heating small enclosed spaces like tents up to 95 square feet
  • Simple on/off buttons; uses 1-pound disposable propane cylinder (not included). Run time at minimum btu and maximum btu is 5.6 hours. Do­ not­ operate­ heater­ in­ any ­moving­ vehicle. This ­heater ­requires ­a­ vent­ area­ of­ 4­ square­ inches­ minimum ­for­ adequate ventilation ­during­ operation
  • Low-oxygen sensor and accidental tip-over switch with auto shut-off for safety.THE USE OF UN-AUTHORIZED ACCESSORIES/ATTACHMENTS WITH THIS HEATER ARE EXPRESSLY PROHIBITED, MAY CAUSE SERIOUS INJURY, AND WILL VOID THE WARRANTY.
  • Recommended for emergency heat, tents, campers, workshops, job sites, porches, patios, decks, garages, storage buildings, picnics, tailgate parties, construction trailers, sporting events, barns, sheds, hunting blinds, shelters and ice fishing shanties

Please let us know what do you think in the comments below!

Ferenc Elekes overlandsite

Ferenc Elekes has been a devout Overlanding enthusiast for many years. During that time, Ferenc has explored 75 countries on six continents, with overland travel involved in 40 countries on three continents. From his trusty 2006 Toyota Land Cruiser Prado with a roof-top tent, he’s blogged about experiences that can only be found in the remotest regions on Earth. Along the way, he's gained in-depth knowledge of the novel challenges overlanders encounter and practical ways to meet them. On his website, he shares informed opinions about everything from the best overland gear to how to get a vehicle unstuck. Ferenc has also written for Ih8mud, the Expedition Portal, the Overland Journal, and he is often invited as a guest to outdoors-related podcasts.