The 6 Best Propane & Electric Heaters For Tent Camping in 2021

Long gone are the days when a camping trip was synonymous with roughing it. There are now so many options for camping, glamping, camping trailers, and RVs that camping can be a luxurious experience. And even with tent camping, with the number of products available on the market, you can almost get access to all the things you would look for in a top hotel, except for room service, and without the price tag! From camping showers to blow up double mattresses, you can set up your own en-suite double room, in the middle of the great outdoors. 

In a hurry? Here’s the test winner after 10 hours of research:

Mr. Heater F215100 MH4B Little Buddy 3800-BTU Indoor Safe Propane Heater, Medium
4,328 Reviews
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.

And here’s an overview of the best heater for tent camping on the market today:

Preview
Mr. Heater F232000 MH9BX Buddy 4,000-9,000-BTU Indoor-Safe Portable Propane Radiant Heater, Red-Black
Mr. Heater F215100 MH4B Little Buddy 3800-BTU Indoor Safe Propane Heater, Medium
Texsport Portable Outdoor Propane Heater
Tenergy 1500W/750W Portable Space Heaters with Adjustable Thermostat, Recirculation Air Electric Fan Heater with Auto Shut Off Switch, Advanced Tip-over & Overheat Protection
Lasko CD09250 Ceramic Adjustable Thermostat Tabletop or Under-Desk Heater, Black
TaoTens Portable Space Heater,600W PTC Ceramic Heater Auto Oscillation,UL Listed,Small Desktop Heating Fan with Overheat & Tip Over Protections for Office Indoor Home
Title
Mr. Heater F232000 MH9BX Buddy
Mr. Heater F215100 MH4B Little Buddy 3800-BTU
Texsport Portable Outdoor Propane Heater
Tenergy 1500W/750W Portable Space Heater
Lasko CD09250 Ceramic Portable Space Heater with Adjustable Thermostat
TaoTens Portable Space Heater
Price
$74.00
$88.85
$37.88
Price not available
$31.99
Price not available
Rating
-
Preview
Mr. Heater F232000 MH9BX Buddy 4,000-9,000-BTU Indoor-Safe Portable Propane Radiant Heater, Red-Black
Title
Mr. Heater F232000 MH9BX Buddy
Price
$74.00
Rating
Preview
Mr. Heater F215100 MH4B Little Buddy 3800-BTU Indoor Safe Propane Heater, Medium
Title
Mr. Heater F215100 MH4B Little Buddy 3800-BTU
Price
$88.85
Rating
Preview
Texsport Portable Outdoor Propane Heater
Title
Texsport Portable Outdoor Propane Heater
Price
$37.88
Rating
-
Preview
Tenergy 1500W/750W Portable Space Heaters with Adjustable Thermostat, Recirculation Air Electric Fan Heater with Auto Shut Off Switch, Advanced Tip-over & Overheat Protection
Title
Tenergy 1500W/750W Portable Space Heater
Price
Price not available
Rating
Preview
Lasko CD09250 Ceramic Adjustable Thermostat Tabletop or Under-Desk Heater, Black
Title
Lasko CD09250 Ceramic Portable Space Heater with Adjustable Thermostat
Price
$31.99
Rating
Preview
TaoTens Portable Space Heater,600W PTC Ceramic Heater Auto Oscillation,UL Listed,Small Desktop Heating Fan with Overheat & Tip Over Protections for Office Indoor Home
Title
TaoTens Portable Space Heater
Price
Price not available
Rating

One of the best luxury accessories for camping trips, especially in the winter or in mountain or hill locations, is the tent heater. With one of these products, you’ll never wake up in the middle of the night shivering in your sleeping bag again. So to help you decide which one is right for you, we’ve compiled a list of our top 6 best heaters for tent camping. 

Due to the variety of tent heaters on the market, we’ve started with an introduction, to help you decide which type is ideal for your camping purposes. We’ve then broken down reviews of our top picks of into the two main types of heater: propane and electric. 

How do I choose the right type of tent heater for my trip? 

There are a couple of different options for tent heaters on the market. If you’re especially concerned about safety, for example, if you’re planning a camping trip for your family, then the best option for you is to purchase an electric heater. These heaters regulate the heat they emit, and can safely and easily heat your tent. However, they don’t leave you with much room for spontaneity, and definitely, aren’t a great option for primitive camping. 

Electric tent heaters require electric hookups, which are only available at most RV campsites. If you’re planning your tent camping trip to a large site, with RV hookup, this could be an easy solution for you: but staying on an RV site with a tent is not ideal. The good news is that many electric tent heaters can be hooked up to a little power generator. However, unless you’re using your power generator for other purposes, such as heating your camping shower, this might be an unnecessary and sometimes heavy and burdensome, piece of extra kit for you. 

Some electric tent heaters can also be connected to your car battery. So an electric heater could be a good option for you if you’re planning your trip with a car. However you’ll have to park your car close to your tent, and you might not want your heater wearing down your vehicle’s battery. It also means that you’ll not be able to leave your car parked and head off for a day and night trip, a long hike, or some of the more exciting primitive camping opportunities. 

A much better option for spontaneous camping adventures, or for backpackers or those wanting to camp away from their car, are propane heaters. Propane heaters are much easier to use in a tent and don’t need the extra kit or hookup. However, they are more dangerous than electric heaters, as propane heaters emit CO2. But all good tents should come with ventilation built into them. By opening your tent’s ventilation windows or gaps, the release of carbon from the propane heater won’t be a problem for you while you sleep. If the emission of CO2 worries you, then open the vestibule of the heater while it’s turned on, which ensures that the air is pure (but does mean you sacrifice a little heat). 

All of the propane heaters on the market for tents are catalytic, which means that they will heat your tent without producing a flame. If you’re choosing a propane heater as the right option for your chamois trip, for safety we would recommend you heating up your tent for an hour or so before you enter it. Never fall asleep with the propane heater still on. It’s very unlikely, but you don’t want to risk the possibility of carbon monoxide poisoning. 

 

So when deciding between an electric and propane tent heater, you should ask yourself the following questions: 

 

  • Am I planning on going camping with my car, to carry the extra kit, and to plug in my heater? 

 

  • How spontaneous do I need or want to be on this trip? 

 

  • Do I need my tent to be heated all night, or just before I go to sleep? 

 

  • Do I need to prioritize safety or portability? 

 

A tent in the snow.

Having a great camping heater will keep you warm in even the coldest conditions.

 

Propane heaters: 

How many BTUs do I need? 

BTU (British thermal unit) is a unit of heat. It’s useful to calculate how many BTUs you’ll need for your unique camping journey to make sure that you’re not going to be left without the ability to properly heat your tent, or overspend, buying a heater that is far too elaborate for your camping needs. 

You can calculate the amount of BTUs required for your camping trip by using the following method: 

 

  • Measure your tent’s dimensions to determine how many cubic feet you need to heat. 

 

  • Length x Width x Height = Cubic Feet

 

Subtract the outside temperature from the desired inside temp to determine the temperature increase. If you have measured temperature in Fahrenheit, here’s how you calculate the required BTUs: 

 

  • Cubic Feet x Temperature Increase x .133 = Required BTUs

 

Take a look at the BTUs in our top picks of tent heaters to determine which one suits your unique set of camping needs. 

 

Best Heaters for Tent Camping – Overview

Mr. Heater F232000 MH9BX Buddy

Sale
Mr. Heater F232000 MH9BX Buddy 4,000-9,000-BTU Indoor-Safe Portable Propane Radiant Heater, Red-Black
13,103 Reviews
Mr. Heater F232000 MH9BX Buddy 4,000-9,000-BTU Indoor-Safe Portable Propane Radiant Heater, Red-Black
  • 4,000- to 9,000-BTU radiant heater for spaces up to 225 square feet. Approved for indoor/outdoor use; clean-burning; nearly 100-percent efficient

Mr. Heater is the top brand for tent heaters on the market. This heater is our top pick, due to its versatility. This portable propane heater, made with steel, plastic, and nickel, comes with real muscle. Mr. Heater offers propane heaters in this model which have settings for 4,000 or 9,000 BTU, meaning that they can heat spaces up to 225 square feet in size! This means that the Mr. Heater Buddy could be the perfect option for you if you’re looking to heat a large tent for many people, or you’re looking to purchase a tent heater for many types of camping excursion. 

The Mr. Heater Buddy is also a great option for safety. Although we have previously outlined some of the drawbacks for propane heaters when it comes to safety, this heater with its extra safety features can offer you the best of both worlds between an electric and propane heater. This model has both a low-oxygen safety shut-off (ODS) and tip-over safety shut-off. This means your tent will be protected if the heater falls over while you heat your tent, and you won’t risk exposing yourself to harmful gasses. 

 

This heater is also eminently durable. With a ceramic burner tile mounted with shock absorbing insulation, which can be easily replaced, your heater will stay functioning and in one piece for years to come. The large porcelain coated heating surface also directs radiant heat over a wider area, adding to the safety endurance with this option. This heater also features a fold-down handle, making it more durable and less susceptible to being damaged if knocked, and reduces the storage space of this heater. 

 

Selling at prices from $76, this is not the cheapest option for heating your tent. However, if you’re looking for a propane heater that could fit any camping adventure, this is our top pick for you. With all the versatility of a propane heater, combined with nearly the safety of an electric heater, the Buddy heater really is a jack of all trades. 

 

Pros: 

  • Auto shut-off if tipped over, if the pilot light goes out, or if the heater detects low oxygen levels
  • Fold-down handle
  • Swivel-out regulator
  • Clean burning 
  • Can be used for indoor and outdoor purposes
  • 4,000- to 9,000-BTU

 

Cons: 

  • When operating the heater at altitudes over 7,000 FT above sea level the heater may shut off
  • Relatively expensive 
  • 3hr max BTU run time
  • Have to provide your own propane cylinder
  • Weighs 9 pounds

 

Mr. Heater F215100 MH4B Little Buddy 3800-BTU

Mr. Heater F215100 MH4B Little Buddy 3800-BTU Indoor Safe Propane Heater, Medium
4,328 Reviews
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.

If the Buddy is too large or pricey for your needs, then a great second option is Mr. Heater Little Buddy. At 3800-BTU, this little heater is still powerful enough to heat rooms or tents up to 95 square feet. What makes this model eminently useful for tent camping is the 45-degree heating angle. You can swivel this heater, and direct it to any angle, which is perfect for use in tents if, for example, you want to turn it on for 15 minutes before you sleep just to warm your feet after a long day hiking. 

Similarly to it’s bigger brother, the Little Buddy also has a low-oxygen sensor and accidental tip-over switch with auto shut-off for safety. One of the benefits of choosing this model is that at both minimum and maximum BTU, this heater will run for 5.6 hours: 2.6 hours longer than the Buddy model. The dimensions of this product are just 11x11x11 inches, and weighing in at just 5.9 pounds, this portable heater offers a great combination of power and portability. 

The Little Buddy is our top pick for smaller camping trips. It’s especially good for those who are just beginning with camping trips and don’t want to carry around large pieces of kit with them. And coming in at roughly $20 cheaper than the Buddy, the Little Buddy is the cheaper, more portable option, that could still meet all of your camping needs. 

 

Pros: 

  • Auto shut-off if tipped over, if the pilot light goes out, or if the heater detects low oxygen levels
  • Fold-down handle
  • 45-degree heating angle for flexible heat output 
  • Clean burning 
  • Can be used for indoor and outdoor purposes
  • 3800 BTU
  • Only $63
  • Weighs 5.9 pounds

 

Cons: 

  • 3hr max BTU run time
  • Have to provide your own propane cylinder

 

Texsport Portable Outdoor Propane Heater

An even lighter and cheaper option than the Little Buddy is the Texsport Portable Outdoor Propane Heater. This little heater provides more heat than you might expect: 2890 BTU. The amount of propane you use is also adjustable, so you can change the heat emitted until it’s just right for you, and you can limit the amount of propane you are using. 

However, this heater is a lot more rustic than the Mr. Heater models and is not the best option for you if you’re the most safety-conscious. Although this heater does have features like an automatic shut-off file valve if the flame goes out, a large paddle foot base for stability, and a safety grid, the more safety-conscious among you might still be left wanting more. There’s no feature for the heater to shut off if it falls over – and the plastic feet of the heater are at the corner of a square around the heater – meaning they could easily break and fall if knocked. Also, this model isn’t catalytic: it has a flame! 

So, for family groups, or those willing to invest a little more money for extra safety, we wouldn’t recommend this heater. But if you’re looking for a cheap, easy solution for your cold camping trip, and don’t mind supervising the heater a little as it warms your tent, this could be a great option for you. It also only weighs 1 pound, so is the most ideal option of camping heater for backpackers. 

 

Pros: 

  • Affordable
  • Light at only 1 pound
  • Lasts up to 5 hours on the lowest setting
  • Great for a small tent 

 

Cons: 

  • You need to supervise the heater as it doesn’t have as many safety features 
  • Heats a smaller area
  • Have to provide your own propane tank

 

A car with two tents.

Choosing whether you want a gas heater or an electric one will make all the difference while camping.

 

Electric heaters:

 

Tenergy 1500W/750W Portable Space Heater

Tenergy 1500W/750W Portable Space Heaters with Adjustable Thermostat, Recirculation Air Electric Fan Heater with Auto Shut Off Switch, Advanced Tip-over & Overheat Protection
29 Reviews
Tenergy 1500W/750W Portable Space Heaters with Adjustable Thermostat, Recirculation Air Electric Fan Heater with Auto Shut Off Switch, Advanced Tip-over & Overheat Protection
  • SPACE SAVING FRONT INTAKE AIR DESIGN - The Tenergy Portable Fan heater features a front intake air design that allows the heater to be placed against the wall without heat buildups. *Recommend for...

If you’re prioritizing safety over convenience, then a portable electric heater such as the Tenergy Portable Space Heater could be a great option for you. Other than just being safer because the heater operates using electricity rather than propane, this model also boasts many extra safety features. This heater has an automatic shut off in the event of the heater tipping over, or the internal temperature becoming too high. The heater includes new smart trip-over technology which works on any kind of flooring, unlike some traditional designs which require a hard surface. This means that used on the floor of your tent, you’re far more likely to prevent any damages or accidents occurring. 

This portable heater is ETL certified, and comes with a two-year warrantee: so you can trust that this product is made to high standards and will serve you well. There are also multiple settings on this heater, meaning you can adjust the output depending on your heating needs. The heater is outfitted with the following options: Fan-Only, Low-Heat (750W), and High-Heat (1500W). The adjustable thermostat knob on this heater also maintains the desired temperature for your room once it is reached. Therefore, unlike the other options, this heater can adapt fully to your heating needs. 

However, this heater isn’t designed for tent camping. To use this heater in your tent, you’ll need to set up in an RV park, with electric hookups. For tent campers this is not the most ideal option: for most people, it’s far more liberating to be able to take your heater with you and use it wherever you set up camp. There’s also the possibility to adapt this heater so it can connect to your car’s battery or electric plugin, however, this takes some extra time, and upfront investment. 

 

Pros: 

  • Cheap at $45.99
  • Safety features such as an automatic shut-off in the event of a tip-over or overheating
  • 2-year warranty
  • Adjustable heat levels and a fan-only option

 

Cons: 

  • You need electric hook up, probably at an RV site
  • Sometimes the fan can become dirty and cease to work

 

Here are some other options for electric heaters, if you’re willing to camp in an RV park, or adapt the heater to hook up to your car, and want the peace of mind of going electric: 

 

Lasko CD09250 Ceramic Portable Space Heater with Adjustable Thermostat

Lasko CD09250 Ceramic Adjustable Thermostat Tabletop or Under-Desk Heater, Black
3,148 Reviews
Lasko CD09250 Ceramic Adjustable Thermostat Tabletop or Under-Desk Heater, Black
  • 3 quiet settings - including high heat, low heat, and fan only make this electric space heater ideal for warming up an area in your home or home office. Combined with an adjustable thermostat This...

Pros: 

  • Cheap at $31.99
  • 3 different heat settings including fan-only
  • Adjustable thermostat
  • Convenient carry handle
  • Built-in safety features like overheat protection

 

Cons: 

  • Have to have electric hookup
  • Continues to work if it falls over

 

TaoTens Portable Space Heater

 

Pros: 

  • The cheapest option at $25.99
  • PTC ceramic heating technology for economical, environmentally friendly heat
  • Safety features to turn off if tipped or the heater overheats
  • 45°Auto-Oscillating to make your heat go further
  • Lightweight (1.87lb)

 

Cons: 

  • Have to have an electric hookup or another power source 
  • Doesn’t use propane gas

 

A heater.

Staying warm while camping is one of the most important things you’ll need to do to stay comfortable on your adventure.

 

Verdict

Tent heaters can be such a great addition to your winter camping experience that, after you’ve tried one, it’s hard to go back to camping without them. We’ve shown you the difference between propane heaters and electric heaters, and the benefits for each option. For smaller tents, and maximum portability, we would recommend the Little Buddy. This is the perfect option for combining the safety of an electric heater with the portability of a propane version. Follow our recommendations for the best heater for tent camping, to turn your winter camping memories from shiver-interrupted sleep to dozing off in warm luxury. 

 

Winner

 

Preview
Mr. Heater F232000 MH9BX Buddy 4,000-9,000-BTU Indoor-Safe Portable Propane Radiant Heater, Red-Black
Title
Mr. Heater F232000 MH9BX Buddy
Price
$74.00
Rating
Preview
Mr. Heater F232000 MH9BX Buddy 4,000-9,000-BTU Indoor-Safe Portable Propane Radiant Heater, Red-Black
Title
Mr. Heater F232000 MH9BX Buddy
Price
$74.00
Rating

 

With all the great camping heaters out there it’s tough to pick a winner. But with careful consideration when looking back on the list, we’ve decided it’s best to go with Mr. Heater Buddy because of its power and durability. If you’re looking to keep your tent warm while out on the trail than the Mr. Heater Buddy camping heater won’t let you down.

 

Bonus tip: For a look at last year’s best camping heaters of 2018, you can watch this video:

 

 

Related article: The 9 Best Natural Gas Patio Heaters in 2021.

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Riley Draper

Riley Draper

Riley Draper is a writer and entrepreneur from Chattanooga, Tennessee. As a world traveler, he has been to more than fifty countries and hiked some of the most elusive trails in the world. He is the co-founder of WeCounsel Solutions and has published work in both national and global outlets, including the Times Free Press, Patch, and Healthcare Global. When he's not writing, he's probably on a hiking trip or climbing in the mountains.