Holds a Master’s degree in Engineering and is keen on her own home’s climate. Sometimes we think that Carolina owns every single product she writes about – that’s how profound and insightful her reviews always are.
For 8 years, Richard had been working as an HVAC specialist and AC unit installer since his student years. Now, he’s our main consultant on every technical aspect that may arise during our tests and research.
Last updated: September 30, 2021
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If you’re an outdoors enthusiast, there’s nothing more exciting than camping and exploring the great outdoors, either alone or in the company of your favorite friends. However, while setting up camps and interacting with nature is very thrilling, some outdoor challenges like a downpour and extremely cold temperature may quickly dampen your experience and sour your day, or worse, your entire trip. With that in mind, you need to adequately equip yourself for such circumstances whenever you’re going on such adventures, by buying the best tent heater.
As you probably know already, there’re too many options when it comes to tent heaters, which is due to the increasing popularity of outdoor activities like camping and hiking. Therefore, to help you avoid getting confused, we’ve compiled a list of the best tent heaters around. While the nine models we’ve included on this list are from the top drawer, the best one is the Mr. Heater F232000 MH9BX. It neither has the largest coverage area nor the most powerful operation, but it performs admirably on both fronts, while also offering all the essential features that are lacking on the others.
Of course, our picks were influenced by some important factors, some of which are the coverage area, the water tank capacity, and the runtime. Apart from that, we’ve also streamlined this article, making sure that each section is as helpful as possible. For instance, apart from the product reviews and the buying guide, we’ve also included a comparison table, which gives you an initial idea of what to expect.
Thanks to its combination of incredible portability, impressive heating performance, effective safety measures, and fantastic ease of use, the Mr. Heater MH9BX is our Editor’s Choice. Apart from being the best tent heater you could grab on the market, it’s also probably the most popular model out there, which is not surprising. All in all, it’s an awesome propane heater for garages, tents, and small patios alike. In terms of coverage area, this unit is suitable for all spaces of up to 225 square feet, which should be enough for most camping tents. Despite being a portable heating unit, it is equipped with a large heating area, which radiates sufficient warmth over a rather vast space.
For its heating power, this unit can deliver 9,000 BTUs at its peak, which should be enough for your tent. Moving on, the heater is easy to transport and pack, which is no small part due to its fold-down handle and compact design. On top of that, it is very easy to start, even if your hands are cold. Of course, that is due to the built-in four-position control and Piezo sparking mechanism, which means you only need to push the knob to ignite the unit. It’s also worth noting that you can connect the unit to a standard one-pound propane tank or even larger fuel cylinders. You just need to buy a hose kit, which shouldn’t be expensive by the way.
In terms of fuel consumption, it’s safe to say that this heater can’t be considered to be economical, with a consumption rate of 0.099 gal/hour on high and 0.055 gal/hour on low. Therefore, you can expect only six hours of runtime on low from a one-pound propane canister and three hours on high. Thanks to its compact size, however, it can be safely used in a small space as it burns clean and is approved for indoor use. It also comes with safety features like an oxygen depletion sensor and high-temperature wire guard, which shuts the machine down automatically if it detects low oxygen levels or is tipped over.
While it may not be as powerful as the powerful models from Mr. Heater, the Honeywell HHF360V Heater represents a perfect choice for those looking for a budget-friendly heating solution and have an electric power source handy. Apart from being energy-efficient and compact, this heater also delivers decent heat and is suitable for small to medium-sized spaces, thanks to its 250-square feet coverage area. In terms of power, this unit from Honeywell operates at 1,500 watts, which generates about 5,100 BTUs. Due to its coverage area and power rate, the device is good not just for tents but it’s also a nice bathroom heater, your personal office device, or a small patio heater.
Impressively, it sports a 360-degree fan design, which radiates heat in every direction. Thanks to this, users will be able to enjoy an even heat distribution all around the area. In terms of weight, this unit can be said to be lightweight, weighing just three pounds. Therefore, it is easy to carry and pack while camping. Another thing worthy of note is that it comes with two heat settings – high and low – which you can toggle between with the aid of the control knob.
The Honeywell HHF360V Heater also provides many other features that are usually unavailable for models in this price category, like an auto-off timer option and an adjustable thermostat. For easy handling, the unit is also equipped with a cool to touch carrying handle. However, despite all the sweet things we have said about this model, it is not without some disadvantages, which include some reported durability issues. However, you will take solace from the fact that it comes with advanced safety features like overheat protection and tip-over switch.
Homeleader has built a reputation for churning out high-quality heaters over the years, and it seems like they’ve continued on the same path with the Homeleader Portable Radiant Heater. With its fast and efficient heating, this unit is not only ideal camping tents, but also for workshops, garages, and living spaces that are up to 200 square feet. Interestingly, it comes with two heat settings, with the higher setting (1,500 watts) being suitable for freezing cold conditions and the lower setting (1,250) being ideal for mild cold conditions.
Furthermore, this unit is built from lightweight steel, which means it’s lightweight enough to be easily transported during your trips. Speaking of transportation, this unit also features a carrying handle, which makes transportation super-convenient. Therefore, this heating equipment can be said to be user-friendly and travel-friendly. Moving on, there’s a built-in adjustable thermostat, which regulates heat automatically for steady room temperature. With this, you can easily regulate the heat to the exact setting you want to get the comfort and warmth desired.
In terms of safety, you can rest assured that this tent heater has come with a couple of features designed for safety. The first one is the tip-over cutoff switch, which automatically turns off the machine when it’s tipped over to prevent a fire hazard. Another safety feature is an automatic overheat protection system, which, as you might have guessed, switches off the unit when it has worked for an extensive period of time to prevent overheating. However, to enjoy all the sweetness of this unit, you’ve got to be ready to endure its loud operation, which is probably its only significant flaw.
If you are going camping with your family and you have a pretty large tent, a power unit like the Mr. Heater Big Buddy Portable Propane Heater is what you need. With its heat output ranging from 4,000 BTUs to a massive 18,000 BTUs, this heater is powerful enough to heat up space up to 4,000 square feet. Not only does it emit radiant heat, but this unit also has an inbuilt fan that uses convection to increase its heating capacity. It’s also worth noting that this unit is safe to use and handle in enclosed tent areas when wearing large clothing.
Speaking about safety, we must not forget to add that this model was clearly designed with safety in mind. Apart from the vital safety features it comes with, it also emits odor-free and clean heat. Some of the safety features it comes with include an automatic shut-off and oxygen depletion sensor. While the former shuts the unit down when it’s tipped over, the latter shuts it down when the oxygen levels in the tent are too low. Another safety feature is the well-positioned wire cage, which helps protect against accidental touching of the built-in ceramic heating elements.
Furthermore, this heater comes with two swivel regulators, which allow you to fuel the unit with one-pound cylinders or 20-40-pound cylinders and attach as many as two fuel cylinders simultaneously. With that said, we’d like to inform you that this unit burns propane rather quickly, which makes it uneconomical. Nevertheless, it also comes with a Piezo spark generator, which allows you to effortlessly ignite it – you just need to push and rotate the knob. It’s also important to add that it comes with three heat settings – high, medium, and low – which allow you to be as flexible as you can with the unit.
A beautiful color, mobile structure, and powerful heating; are the characteristics that define the electric heater from Dr. Heater. With the tent heater from Dr. Heater, you get a mobile heat source.
The corded electric system offers the Dr. Heater Portable Heater a variety that is not found in many tent heaters. All you just need is a power connection, and it will begin working.
Mounted on a pushcart, the heating device can heat small rooms to 1000 square feet with adjustable heating power. So you can comfortably take the electric heater with you on your next camping tour. A stable handle and sturdy construction material contribute to mobile transport. It is designed in a pair of large wheels, supported by a stand, which all give the product a stylish look.
This device has no automatic tilt shut down but the special design ensures this can never happen. The tent heater takes on a contemporary, modern design with a colorful touch. It is a cocktail of flexibility and technical prowess. Despite its small size, it has a maximum power of 15000 watts and can heat the tents in the event of a drop in temperature.
If you’re always cold and wish you could have a personal heater with you during your camping trip, then the COSTWAY Portable Quartz Heater might be the ideal model for your needs. Without any doubt, it’s one of the lightest heaters currently available on the market, weighing only 4.5 pounds. Thanks to its lightweight construction, it is easy to carry along with you on all your trips, regardless of where your destination is. The fact that it also comes with a carrying handle makes everything easier. However, this unit is not as powerful as most bigger alternatives, which is one of the drawbacks of such a lightweight construction.
With the 1,200 wattage it delivers, this unit can only cover around 160 square feet. Of course, that means it’s only suitable for small to mid-size rooms. However, there’s a considerable drop in heat dispersion at the higher end of the coverage area of this model. Therefore, we think it’s best to only use it for smaller areas and not to overstretch its powers. When it comes to heat settings, the machine is equipped with two different heat settings. This allows you to choose how quickly you want your space to heat up.
Due to the portable and compact construction of this heater, it does not consume as much energy as bigger and larger models. Therefore, its lower wattage makes it one of the most energy-efficient heaters on the market. Even if you set it to the highest heating setting, the operating cost should still be affordable. In terms of shortcomings, this unit has a tendency of getting rather warm. And while it’s not sufficiently hot to pose a fire hazard, it could certainly burn you if you touch it accidentally.
It’s often said that the best things usually come in little packages and the Pro Breeze Mini Ceramic Space Heater perfectly exemplifies this. Despite measuring just 6.5 x 5 x 9 inches, this machine still produces 1,500 watts of power when put on the highest setting. Of course, that is enough to heat up a room of up to 150 square feet, but you may need to put up with its loud operating noise. That doesn’t go without mentioning that the unit features three operating modes – high, low, and fan-only modes, which allow for flexible heat control. On top of that, the machine is still budget-friendly, which is amazing considering everything it offers.
Furthermore, this portable heater from Pro Breeze is equipped with an inbuilt thermostat, which for optimal efficiency will monitor the temperature around you and help you maintain your desired temperature. Another noteworthy point is that due to the unit’s compact and small design, you can easily transport or convey it to wherever you need it the most. To be honest, this heater packs a lot of punch for its price. Despite its budget-friendly price, it also comes with advanced ceramic heating elements, which deliver more efficient and faster heating than conventional heaters.
You can rest assured that the manufacturer has designed the unit with the safety of the users in mind as it comes with many safety features. First of all, the unit will not overheat, so you don’t have to be worried if you intend to use it at night. In addition to that, there’s a tip-over switch, which makes sure that even if the unit falls over, the internal mechanism built into it will detect this and shut off the heater instantly. However, it would have made a lot of sense had it been this unit had a remote control, but we can’t really blame the manufacturers considering the price.
The Stansport Portable Outdoor Infrared Propane Heater is another budget-friendly option on our list, and what a bargain it is! Stransport has been manufacturing the best products for a long time now to suit the demands of their customers and this offering is yet another testament to their incredible dedication to customer satisfaction. While the 3,100 BTUs it generates is actually nothing extraordinary, this infrared heater comes with three different heat settings – high, medium, and low. With the different heat settings available, you can tailor the operation of this machine to your exact taste.
Furthermore, it is easy to start the machine since it comes with a matchless electronic ignition system. On top of that, the unit comes with a metal dish, which allows you to concentrate the heat on the exact spot you desire. Also, the unit comes with a simple and natural handle that improves portability. This feature combined with the ergonomic design of the unit will improve the ease at which you can travel with this unit. Furthermore, another noteworthy addition is that with the propane burner of this unit, it has a very efficient design.
The machine comes with a couple of safety features to highlight that the manufacturers had their customers in mind. First, it comes with a temperature regulator that’ll prevent overheating. In the same vein, the regulator will control the pressure getting to the nozzle to ensure that it stays safe to use. Moreover, it comes with a rear cage, which enhances safety by preventing accidental touching of dangerous elements. However, being a super-compact unit, this model can only cover a space up to 150 square feet, which makes it only ideal for small to medium-sized rooms.
Despite its visibly compact construction, the Mr. Heater MH4B Propane Heater is a lifesaver for people who love camping as it delivers excellent functionality. This means, despite being small, it is very functional and versatile, and you can use it in different outdoor and indoor settings like workshops, hunting blinds, picnics, sporting events, camping, porches, and fishing shanties. In terms of heat output, this unit can generate 3,800 BTUs, which is only enough to cover a space of up to 95 square feet. While that is not as large as the coverage area of the other models on this list, we assure you that its operation will be efficient in such a small space.
This unit runs on a one-pound cylinder, which has to be in a standing position and put into a base for optimum stability. This means you may need to look further if a heater that can last overnight is what you’re looking for as this one has a runtime of only about five hours. When you choose to use it indoors, the unit needs a vent space of four-square inches, at least for enough ventilation. Weighing 5.91 pounds and measuring 8 x 8 x 11 inches, this little Buddy from Mr. Heater is convenient and portable to bring on camping trips.
It also sports a 45-degree heating angle, which emits heat in a fan-style motion, making sure that the room is toast and warm. While the machine features basic on/off buttons, it takes at least 30 seconds to turn off. On top of that, it needs to be stable during ignition, which can be highly inconvenient. The heater also comes with an accidental tip-over safety switch and an automatic low oxygen shut-off system, which ensures that the machine is shut down when it’s tipped over and when the oxygen levels in your tent get too low. Meanwhile, it’s worth adding that this heater comes at a budget-friendly price.
What are its best features?
Compact and easy to carry
Effective safety features
What could be improved?
Hard to start
Small coverage area
Things to Consider
If you like camping in cold temperatures, then you know how uncomfortable the outdoors can be during these periods. You need a heater to guarantee maximum comfort and warmth in the outdoors. Choosing the ideal tent heater, however, is not a straightforward task, thanks to the plethora of options that the market is filled with. We hope the buying guide below will make things much easier for you.
The benefits of a tent heater during camping
If you’re always camping during the cold season, you are likely to experience freezing nights sometimes. In these situations, your winter sleeping bag and jackets may be inadequate to help you. If you want to get toast warm and cozy while camping during the winter season, you will need a tent heater.
So, what are the benefits, you may be wondering? Well, below are some of the major advantages of having a tent heater during your camping:
Warmth – A tent heater provides warmth, which is self-explanatory. First and foremost, these machines are designed primarily to keep your body warm. However, the great thing about them is that they are engineered to heat up a whole space instead of just insulating your body. Therefore, a tent heater makes your tent a lot more livable and cozier, so there’s no need for you to stay all wrapped up in your jackets and blankets all day.
Safety-conscious – Manufacturers of tent heaters always make these machines with the safety of the users in mind, which is good news for the users. Most modern tent heaters come with overheating protection or tip-over safety switch, both of which are excellent safety measures. In addition, the best propane heaters feature an inbuilt carbon monoxide alarm so that you can peacefully sleep at night.
Portability – There’s a perception that having a tent heater needs lots of heavy gear, but that is not always true. The truth is that the best tent heaters are portable and compact, which makes it easy to carry them without much hassle. It’s also worth adding that most of these machines consume very little space in your camping tent, so they surely discharge a lot of heat in a little package.
Easy to use – Nowadays, most camping tent heaters are extremely easy to use. You just need to plug them into their energy source, which is usually either batteries or propane, and then turn them on. You don’t need special tools, effort, or skills to stay cozy and warm during the night.
Features to consider while choosing a tent heater
To choose the right tent heater for your needs, there are some factors you need to take into consideration. While we may not be able to discuss each of those factors in this guide, we will talk about the most important ones. The important features to consider before choosing a tent heater are:
There are many types of tent heaters, which include electric heaters, propane tent heaters, and battery-powered tent heaters. Of course, each type of tent heaters has its pros and cons, so you need to consider them as you choose the best heater type for your camping tent and conditions.
The most popular type of tent heaters when camping in a place where there’s no electricity is a portable gas-powered heater. You can opt for an electric tent heater if you will be camping in a place where you can readily hook up (EHU) or access the electrical power supply.
Meanwhile, electric tent heaters are much safer to use in a camping tent since they don’t generate carbon monoxide, and they have a cool to the touch exterior. However, they have a significant downside as well in the fact that they need electricity access and do not generate as much heat as their gas-powered counterparts. If you want to bring an emergency heater on your trip though, chemical models are the most suitable option.
If you are looking for a tent heater, you surely want something that will effectively and efficiently heat your tent, which is where the BTU comes in. The BTU rating will let you know the type of heat output that is possessed by a heater and whether it’ll be enough for your camping conditions and tent. Also referred to as British Thermal Units, the BTU is the amount of energy that a heater can produce.
When a heater has a high BTU rating, that means its thermal output is high and it produces a lot of heat. Therefore, you need a high BTU rating if you will be camping in the snow or your tent is large. However, you might need to make do with a lower BTU rating if your tent is small. Most manufacturers usually specify the BTU rating of their heaters and the maximum space they’re engineered for. While large tent heaters have BTU ratings of 18,000 BTUs, the small ones have BTU outputs of around 3000.
Before buying a tent heater, you have to figure out the exact wattage you require. Meanwhile, you just have to multiply your room’s square footage by ten to figure out the exact wattage you need. For example, a tent that measures 150 square feet will use a 1,500-watt unit. This ensures that you can efficiently and quickly warm-up space. Of course, a unit with small wattage may heat up a tent eventually, but it could take many hours more than necessary.
Another key factor you need to consider when finding the best tent heater for your camping trip is the coverage area. This is very vital since your unit may end up being ineffective if it’s too small for your tent. And if it’s too large, you will need to be spending unnecessarily on fuel. With that said, you need to figure out the exact size of your tent and go for a heater that can adequately cover it.
For instance, if your tent measures 1,000 square feet, then you need to choose a heater with a coverage area of 1,000 square feet or more. With its ability to cover up to 400 square feet, the Mr. Heater Big Buddy Portable Propane Heater has the largest coverage area on this list.
A heater is designed to circulate heat to nearby regions, so if the heat it is producing is too much, it may be dangerous for the people nearby. Thus, you need to know if your heater comes with adequate safety features. Most heaters come with a cool-to-touch body, guaranteeing total safety when you touch it accidentally or while moving it. A tip-over safety switch is another vital feature, as it prevents fire hazards when you kick the heater accidentally.
Another important addition is an automatic shut-off, which shuts the unit off automatically when it has run for a few hours continuously. An overheat protection is another feature that may come in handy, as it’s designed to prevent the machine from becoming excessively hot and damaging its internal mechanism. The Mr. Heater MH4B Heater and the Stansport Portable Outdoor Infrared Propane Heater are examples of models that come with these safety features.
The primary reason why most people go outdoors is to unwind and relax after strenuous activities and work. Thus, you surely want to get back to a warm, quiet, and comfortable tent that will allow you to sleep soundly and relax. With that in mind, then you need to avoid heaters that are excessively noisy. Some tent heaters produce too much noise when they are discharging heat, and that can distract the people around.
It’s important to get a tent heater that has a low decibel level since you wouldn’t want to be disturbing your friends or fellow campers. Of course, every heater makes a noise, but it’s better to go for a model whose noise is small and negligible. Besides, the kind of heater you buy will determine how noisy your heater is.
Tent heaters usually come in various sizes and weights. Your tent’s space or the type of camping you’ll be engaging in will help you determine the right heater for your needs. You will consider your tent’s size and if you’ll be carrying the unit through a long distance during backpacking. With all these factors considered, you might want to keep it compact and portable, especially if you’ll be carrying the unit a long distance. Speaking generally, it’s usually the larger the tent, the more powerful the heater you will need.
Most of the heaters we included here are portable and compact, so they will be great for camping and backpacking trips as they won’t require much room in your gear. While there are also some models that are well more than 30 pounds in weight, they usually have high thermal production and can generate a lot of heat, so you may not really need them for camping. The temperature and the weather are other factors you may need to consider. While the thermal output of smaller units may not be as high as larger units, it may not be a problem if you intend to camp in mild weather. However, if you will be camping in freezing cold weather, then you may need a larger unit with a higher thermal output.
The warranty is a very important consideration that you should never ignore when making any purchase, especially electronics. Tent heaters are usually designed to last for a lot of years, so you need to make sure your unit is backed by a warranty that suggests so. Besides, a warranty is usually an indication of the manufacturer’s confidence level in their product, so you may also use that to gauge the quality of the product.
There are other features you could take into consideration, such as the ignition mechanism. Normally, a tent heater ought to be easy to ignite and should feature an automatic starting mechanism. This will make it easy to get going during cold periods. While you just need to press a button to get some units going, others need igniting a pilot light with a lighter or a match.
Another feature to think about is heating technology. Does the unit heat the air first or it heats whatever it’s directly pointed at? A heater like that will quickly and efficiently warm you. While a convection heater will take longer to heat up the entire tent, it’s perfect for heating a large tent up.
Some safety tips
Using a heater safely is not as easy as it sounds. It’s more than simply putting it down, switching it on, and just hoping anything bad won’t happen. You have to adopt every possible safety tip to make sure that yourself and other members of your camp will be safe. With that said, for the safety-conscious camping enthusiasts, below are some safety tips you may need to adopt.
Always avoid stands
The first safety tip we’ll be giving you is for you to avoid stands. If your unit comes with an inbuilt stand, use it. Those stands are usually designed for certain models by their manufacturers. If you are, however, annoyed at the proximity of the unit to the ground, always remember to not use a stand or any object to raise your unit higher. A piece of wood or a milk crate can cause a fire hazard. Besides, if your heater falls, a stand could throw it a father distance, which may cause your camping cot or sleeping bag to catch fire as well.
While it’s ideal to put your unit at the center of your tent for proper distribution, it isn’t always practical. Note that if your tent has a compact, ergonomic design, it is not designed to endure tent warmers. Instead of that, you must think logistically, while keeping it from the edges. While it’s a quite complicated situation, it depends on your tent’s interior shape. Make use of your best judgment and keep in mind that your tent’s edge does not have to directly touch the heater to set on fire or melt.
Keep your brush away
If you are in the woods roughing it and you have not taken the simple path to the campsite, your primary priority is ensuring you are choosing the ideal spot. While campsites are not actually roughing it, it’s important to know that every region is built specifically the way it’s built for a particular reason. Therefore, be wary of leaves, twigs, and dried brush if you are on the floor of the forest. If your tent heater sets those ablaze, it’s a certainty that it will spread.
Understand the maximum heat of your model
If you go through the model that comes with your unit, you will be able to find out your tent heater’s maximum heat. When you know your heater’s power, it can help you to make better decisions when it comes to placing the unit and will let you know if your unit is even capable of starting a fire.
To be honest, there is no one-size-fits-all answer to this question. To answer this question, there are two factors that need to be considered – the size of the cylinder and the BTU rating of the heater. However, it’s important to bear in mind that the more powerful the heater, the higher it’s fuel consumption rate.
While most manufacturers will tell you that it’s safe to leave a heater working overnight, we do not recommend it, except if it’s totally necessary. Instead, we recommend you to have it work for a while before you sleep and then turn it off just before you sleep off.
Before using a tent heater, make sure you place it in a place where you or other people are not likely to come in contact with it during the night. Also, you need to position it in a place where it can’t be accidentally knocked over as that could cause a fire hazard.
While the Mr. Heater MH9BX Heater doesn’t cover the largest space or have the highest BTU output, it’s our Editor’s pick because of its combination of all the important features. Portable, strong, and powerful, this model is the best tent heater on our list. The fact that it’s made by Mr. Heater is also another strong point, as the manufacturer is one of the most reputable in the industry.
In second place and third place, we have the Honeywell HHF360V Heater and the Homeleader Portable Radiant Heater respectively. Despite being a rather affordable option, the Honeywell model can cover up to 250 square feet and comes with many advanced features, making it a worthy choice in second place. That said, the Homeleader model is not really far behind, with its ability to cover up to 200 square feet and produce 1,500 watts.