Best Camping Heater

Camping is a fantastic way to get out into nature and enjoy the great outdoors! For adventurers and nature-lovers, there is nothing better than packing up your RV or backpack and heading into the great wide yonder to explore.

You don’t have to save such adventures for the summer months – winter camping is super fun and can be a great way to see the wilderness from a different perspective. The most important aspect of winter camping is staying warm, and a good camping heater will help make your winter camping experience a memorable one.

1. Camping Heater

A good camping heater will help make your winter camping experience a memorable one.

Types of Camping Heaters

There are two kinds of camping heaters from which campers can choose: electric and gas heaters. While both have the same function of creating heat, they differ in several ways such as how they work, safety, heating capacity, and convenience.

Gas

When it comes to camping heaters, gas is the way to go as they run on either butane or propane and produce more heat and are far more convenient to use than electric heaters. Gas heaters should, however, be used only in well-ventilated tents or RVs to manage the carbon monoxide levels produced from the butane or the propane.

Propane heaters are powered by burning liquefied petroleum gas (LPG), which is a very clean and efficient fuel that burns cleaner than most gasses. They do, however, release a small amount of carbon monoxide, so should be used in very well-ventilated areas.

Butane heaters are fueled by burning liquified butane gas. This type of gas is not as heat efficient compared to propane but releases less carbon monoxide. It is also slightly more expensive than propane gas.

Gas heaters should be used only in ventilated tents since airflow helps manage carbon monoxide levels. It is also essential to pay attention to any whistling or hissing noises, which indicate that gas is escaping from a leak in the hose and check the connecting hose regularly for leaks.

2. PUMA Gas Heater
Gas heaters should be used only in ventilated tents since airflow helps manage carbon monoxide levels. A picture of PUMA Gas Heater running on Natural Gas by Kskhh / WikiCommons / CC BY-SA 4.0.

Electric

An electric heater is typically much safer than using gas, however, it requires a direct connection to a power source making it slightly less convenient than a gas heater. Electric heaters need to be plugged into a generator or run on battery power, which inevitably runs out at some stage. Rechargeable electric heaters can be recharged but you will need an extra reliable source of energy for recharging.

Some electric tent heaters for camping can be charged with solar panels so if your RV uses solar power, the electric heater can simply be connected to these.

3. Electric Heater
An electric heater is typically much safer than using gas, however, it requires a direct connection to a power source making it slightly less convenient than a gas heater. Goldair GCH200 ceramic heater by Benchill / WikiCommons / CC BY-SA 3.0.

Halogen

Halogen heaters are a fire hazard but can be used safely if they are hung in the center of the tent.

Wood-Burning Stoves

Wood-burning stoves can also be used for heating spaces, but the major drawback is ventilation. They should be only used in areas that are properly ventilated unless the fumes could build up to cause poisoning to the human body when inhaled.

What to Consider When Choosing the Best Tent Heater

When it comes to deciding on which camping heater to buy, there are several factors to take into consideration in addition to the heat source.

Size and Weight

The size and weight of the tent heater is an important factor and will depend on how you plan on camping (RV or tent) as they can weigh anything from between one pound to 15 pounds or more. The size of the tent heater correlates to the amount of heat the unit produces and the larger a portable tent heater, the more heat it will produce.

Safety

Safety is of the utmost importance when using a tent heater, which can be a potential fire hazard when placed too close to tent walls and other flammable surfaces. Look for a portable tent heater that has an automatic shut-off system when the unit overheats, tips over or detects excessive amounts of carbon monoxide in the air.

Heat Output

Electric heaters measure heat output in watts for corded products and volts for battery-powered heaters and the higher the wattage or voltage, the more powerful the heat output. A typical wattage range would be about 750 to 1,500 watts, while voltage has a narrow range of 5 to 20 volts.

Tent heater manufacturers often state the maximum square footage a heater can warm up effectively. Propane and butane models are rated by British Thermal Units (BTUs), which measure heat output per hour. Depending on tent size, most campers look for a gas heater that puts out between 2,500 to 5,000 BTUs per hour.

Runtime

The runtime of a gas tent heater refers to the amount of time it takes the heater to burn through a full tank of propane or butane. Both battery and gas-powered tent heaters have a limited runtime that can impact their ability to provide continuous warmth in cold weather. Due to the varying fuel tank sizes, the runtime of a gas tent heater ranges widely from just one hour to 48 hours.

Noise Level

Electric heaters are generally quieter than gas models – butane and propane heaters tend to create a loud humming sound while in use. You may prefer to get a quieter heater if you are a light sleeper.

4. Portable kerosene heater
Safety is of the utmost importance when using a tent heater, which can be a potential fire hazard when placed too close to tent walls and other flammable surfaces.

Best Camping Heater

We tried and tested a variety of both electric and gas portable heaters and came up with a list of high-quality electric and gas units to suit your next outdoor adventure.

Best Overall: Mr. Heater MH9BX Buddy Indoor Portable Propane Heater

The Mr. Heater MH9BX Buddy Indoor Portable Propane Heater is the best overall when it comes to portable heaters for camping. It is long-lasting, provides ample warmth in cold weather and is light and easy to carry around.

This portable camping heater option pumps out between 4,000 and 9,000 BTU, heating an area of up to 225 square feet. Nearly 100% efficient, this imported heater is clean-burning and approved for both indoor and outdoor use.

The heater is very safe to use as it has an automatic shut-off system that immediately turns the heater off when low oxygen levels are detected. It also has a swivel-out regulator, a fold-down handle, and connects to a propane tank. The heater has a run time of three hours.

When operating the heater at altitudes over 7,000 FT above sea level the heater may shut of

Pros

  • Lightweight and easy to use
  • Run time of three hours
  • Automatic shut-off system
  • Swivel-out regulator
  • Foldable handle
  • High-temperature wire protection
  • Easy to replace ceramic burner tile
  • Wide heat radiation

Cons

  • Cannot be used at high altitudes
Sale
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
  • When operating the heater at altitudes over 7,000 FT above sea level the heater may shut off.
  • Auto shut-off if tipped over, if pilot light goes out, or if detects low oxygen levels. Fuel Consumption/Burn Rate (Gal/Hr) at 4000 BTU = 0.044 Gal/Hr, at 9000 BTU = 0.099 Gal/Hr
  • Fold-down handle; swivel-out regulator; connects to propane tank (not included); Run Time (Hrs at Max BTU): 3 Hours
  • THE USE OF UN-AUTHORIZED ACCESSORIES/ATTACHMENTS WITH THIS HEATER ARE EXPRESSLY PROHIBITED, MAY CAUSE SERIOUS INJURY, AND WILL VOID THE WARRANTY.

Best for Small Spaces: Mr. Heater MH12HB Hunting Buddy Portable Space Heater

The Mr. Heater MH12HB Hunting Buddy Portable Space Heater is one of the best portable camping heaters on the market. Boasting a compact and rugged design, this heater is strong, sturdy and very durable, and can survive even the harshest weather conditions.

Designed specifically to be used in small spaces of sizes up to 300 square feet, the Mr. Heater MH12HB Hunting Buddy Portable Space Heater is best for compact and small camp tents or RVs. The portable device has an impressive power output of between 6,000 and 12,000 BTU and can be used with a one-pound disposable cylinder tank or connected directly to a gas supply with a swivel regulator.

Several safety features have been built into this device to help avoid both hazards and environmental pollution, including a low oxygen shutoff system, which turns the device off automatically when the oxygen levels in the room deplete to a dangerous level. Another great safety feature is the tip-over safety feature that automatically shuts off the device in case the heater is knocked over.

Pros

  • Suitable for small camp spaces
  • Low oxygen shutoff system
  • Automatic tip-over safety shut-off
  • Easy-to-start ignition button

Cons

  • Not suitable for high altitude usage
  • Suitable for small indoor spaces only
Sale
Mr. Heater MH12HB Hunting Buddy Portable Space Heater , Camouflage
  • Swivel regulator and single control
  • Automatic low oxygen shut-off system (ODS)
  • Accidental tip-over safety shut-off
  • Runs off a 1lb. cylinder, connects to a 20lb.cylinder with optional hose and filter (Propane not included)

Best for Outdoors: Mr. Heater MH450T Tank Top Heater

The Mr. Heater MH450T Tank Top Heater is a great option for outdoor spaces with a narrower shape and a top-side radiator that pushes the heat in a wide arc. The lightweight heater weighs about 5.5 pounds and is very easy to carry and move around the camp. It can also be attached to cylinder sizes of up to 20 pounds.

A distinctive feature of this portable camping heater is that it can produce heat of between 29,000 and 45,000 BTU, making it a very good source of radiating heat outdoors. This heater also comes with an auto-shut-off safety feature, as well as an oxygen depletion sensor that ensures safety from low levels of oxygen over extended heating periods.

Pros

  • Lightweight
  • Auto-shutoff feature
  • 360-degree radiant heating arc
  • Easy-to-start push button

Cons

  • Best for outdoors only
Sale
Mr. Heater MH450T Tank Top Heater, One Size, Chrome
  • Multi-directional radiant propane heater mounts directly to a 20 lb tank for easy portability
  • High-medium-low regulator: 45,000-36,000-30,000 BTUs
  • Tip-over safety shut-off switch
  • Approximate 9.5 hour run time on high with a 20 lb tank
  • Mounts on 20 - 100 lb propane cylinder

Best Butane Heater: Camplux JK-1000 Portable Butane Heater, 4,400 BTU Outdoor Camping Gas Heater

One of the best butane camping heaters on the market, the Camplux JK-1000 Portable Butane Heater, 4,400 BTU Outdoor Camping Gas Heater is packed with great features and is easy on the pocket.

Designed to be portable, lightweight, easy to use, and durable, this portable camping heater has a special feature that distinguishes this heater from others in that it can be used for mild heating up of liquid or cooking items as well as heating the space in which it is placed.

It produces about 4,400 BTU of heat which is good for indoor use and another great feature is the piezo-electric ignition, which makes the heater easy to switch on and off and the special enamel-coated heating surface helps radiate heat properly. This heater has a very fast heat-up time, and it takes about five seconds to go from cold to toasty warm.

The Camplux JK-1000 Portable Butane Heater has a superb safety system that includes a built-in pressure sensor canister ejection system, which automatically cuts off airflow when the pressure reaches unacceptable levels and prevents gas leakage. It has an individual control knob for maximum heat regulation and can be adjusted to various angles to disperse heat around the space.

This heater has a run time of five hours and is suitable for a variety of uses from heating indoor and outdoor spaces to boiling water and cooking.

Pros

  • Suitable for indoor and outdoor uses
  • Leakage and overheating protection
  • Compact and portable
  • Easy to clean
  • Heating and warming mode
  • Short heat-up time

Cons

  • Only suitable for small areas
Camplux JK-1000 Portable Butane Heater, 4,400 BTU Outdoor Camping Gas Heater, Patio Heaters Adjustable Ceramic Gas Burner, Space Heater for RV Travel,Outdoor Heating,Fishing,Red
  • ✅ HIGH EFFICIENCY,FAST HEATING- Heat output is 4,400 BTU/HR.This outdoor butane patio heater can heat in 5 seconds without waiting.The heating area is approximately 100 sq.ft. The multifunctional design allows you to do cooking,toast,heating and so on. You can enjoy warm and outdoor cooking at the same time.This butane gas heater will definitely save you a lot of time.
  • ✅ EASY TO OPERATE - Individual control knob for maximum heat regulation, powered by 8 oz standard build-in butane gas canister(Fuel Not Included).Adjustable angle help you enjoy the heat in different scenes.Easily set up in minutes with no tools required.Please read the instructions carefully for installation.
  • ✅ SAFETY OVERHEATING PROTECTION - Built in pressure sensor canister ejection system and gas flow cut off mechanism (butane), will eject canister at overheating.Also, to prevent the explosion problem caused by excessive pressure, there are safety device to prevent gas leakage.
  • ✅ SMALL,PORTABLE & LONG LASTING - Camplux portable butane gas heater's light weight,compact and portable design with folding carry handle,you can carry it to any outdoor occasions.1 single butane canister can support the appliance to burn continuously for 5 hours.It's suitable for camping,outdoor cooking,warming,fishing,RV travels,boil water etc.It's a wise choice for who want to travel or go for outdoor activities.
  • ✅ TWO APPLICATIONS,SAVE YOUR MONEY -  This space heater allows you to choose between the cooking mode and warming mode based on your situation. Cooking mode offers you hot water and delicious food.Don't forget to install the pan rack when you use the cooking mode.Warming mode provides you with enough heat to dispel the cold. Absolutely a great companion to your winter outdoor activities.One product meets two needs, saving you money.

Best for Portability: Texsport Sportsmate Portable Propane Heater

The Texsport Sportsmate Portable Propane Heater is a small and compact heater that is lightweight and very easy to move around. Made from durable stainless-steel, the heater has an excellent ground balance due to its round bottom with four protruding flat surfaces for stability.

The portable heater weighs just one pound and has an aluminum reflector with a safety grid that helps to distribute the heat generated further into the atmosphere. It generates an output of just 2,890 BTU and is suitable for small spaces. It shuts off fuel supply automatically, when the flame goes out, to prevent potential fire hazard and it has a steel handle for carrying the heater around. The Texsport Sportsmate Portable Propane Heater comes with a one-year warranty.

Pros

  • Automatic shut-off system
  • Made from durable aluminum
  • Safety grid
  • One-year warranty

Cons

  • Low heat outage
  • Suitable for small spaces only

Dewalt Portable Heater

The Dewalt Portable heater is a compact battery-powered and propane portable heater in a classic yellow and black color scheme. It has three USB ports for charging personal electronics and accessories and a dual tank capacity that provides up to seven hours of run-time.

The heater has an integrated high velocity fan to effectively disperse convective heat and a powerful LED light bar that offers bright light for cooking, reading or working. It has a quiet and reliable electronic ignition and is powered by the 20V MAX and FlexVolt battery families. It weighs seven pounds so is quite heavy to move around.

Pros

  • Seven hours of runtime
  • Built-in light strip
  • Three USB ports for charging phones and electronic devices
  • 12,000 BTU output

Cons

  • Heavy
  • Requires both propane and battery power to work all features at once
  • Dewalt batteries are expensive
DEWALT DXH12B Portable Heater, Yellow
  • Three USB ports for charging personal electronics and accessories
  • Dual tank capacity provides up to 7 hours of run-time
  • Integrated high velocity fan to effectively disperse convective heat
  • Powerful LED light bar provides ideal working conditions
  • Quiet and reliable electronic ignition

Best for Versatility: Campy Gear Portable Propane Heater and Stove

The Campy Gear Portable Propane Heater and Stove is a dual function camping stove and heater with a heat output of 9000 BTU that produces 360-degree radiant heat. The unit has a sturdy stand that can support pots and pans of up to 12 inches and has adjustable flame control for cooking.

The Campy Gear 2-in-1 Heater and Stove is compatible with 110g and 230g butane / isobutane / propane fuel canisters that can be inserted into the stove or it can be connected to a one-pound propane cylinder by an extension hose or adapter for a longer usage. The heater comes with a one-year warranty.

Pros

  • Dual functionality
  • Produces 360-degree radiant heat
  • Sturdy stand for supporting pots
  • Compatible with various canisters
  • One-year warranty

Cons

  • Low heat output

Camplux JK-1000 Portable Butane Heater

If you want a more compact heater that is very light, the Camplux JK-1000 heater is one of the best options out there.

Weighing in at just eight ounces without the butane added, this is a super-light option that can be packed away very easily. If you are hitting the backcountry, this is a great backpack-friendly option.

Even if you just want to use it around the camp, this is a good portable heater. Plus, there is a grate on the top that can hold a small pot for heating up water and making coffee. This is an added bonus for those who would like some hot drinks on those cold mornings.

Pros

  • Super light and great for packing on longer trips
  • Uses butane instead of propane
  • Has built-in safety features
  • Super easy to work and will last a long time
  • 4400 BTU output

Cons

  • Not super durable as the outside materials can dent easily
  • There have been cases of the ignition knob of sticking and being hard to manage

Honeywell 360-degree Surround Heater

The Honeywell 360-Degree Surround Heater is a compact, portable heater with good radiation of heat. This super affordable option is convection-powered, making it very energy efficient and suitable for small to mid-sized rooms or tents.

It requires very little electricity to operate on its lowest level and it features an adjustable thermostat as well as two heat settings, a 360-degree tip-over switch, overheat protection and an easy-grab, cool touch carry handle.

Pros

  • Affordable
  • Electric-powered and energy efficient
  • Has 360-degree fan heating
  • Thermostat and fan strength settings
  • 360-degree tip-over switch
  • Overheat protection

Cons

  • Not very durable
  • Needs electricity
Sale
Honeywell HHF370B 360 Degree Surround Fan Forced Heater with Surround Heat Output Charcoal Grey Energy Efficient with Adjustable Thermostat & 2 Heat Settings
  • ENERGY EFFICIENT HEAT: Providing 360 all-around warmth, this portable heater is ideal for small to mid-sized rooms. The Low setting does not require as much electricity to operate, so it is more energy efficient and a better option for saving energy.
  • EASY TO USE: Delivering enhanced safety features & easily controlled comfort, this heater features an adjustable thermostat as well as 2 heat settings, a 360-degree tip-over switch, overheat protection and an easy-grab, cool touch carry handle.
  • INCREASE YOUR COMFORT: Using portable heaters in your home can help increase comfort & supplement home heating needs. There is a range of Honeywell heaters covering personal, ceramic, fan forced, radiant and infrared to meet all your heating needs.
  • SMART SAVINGS: Portable heaters are a smart and easy way to add warmth to any space. By turning down your whole house thermostat a few degrees and heating just the room you are in, a Honeywell heater can help you save money while providing soothing warmth.
  • HONEYWELL QUALITY: Help improve heating & energy savings in your home, bedroom or office using a Honeywell portable heater.

Frequently Asked Questions

What kind of heater is best for camping?

Propane heaters are preferred by most campers for their portability, convenience, and affordability. Electric heaters tend to be less popular as there may not be a power supply at your campsite, which makes them useless. Propane heaters are both safe to use and can produce more warmth.

What are the safety tips for using the best camping heater?

Keep electric heaters away from fabric or the walls of your tent to prevent fire. It is best to get a heater with an automatic switch-off function. Make sure butane or propane heaters are used in well-ventilated spaces to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning. Always ensure you always have backup fuel canisters and keep them in a safe place away from the heater.

What heater is safe to use in a tent?

All electric heaters and most propane heaters are ideal and safe for indoor use.

How does a portable gas heater work?

A gas heater works by heating gas using a mechanical or electronic thermostat. The heater is ignited by an electric filament or pilot light and a valve actuates gas flow is actuated with a valve. Flames heat a radiator in the air duct but outside the flue, convection or a fan may distribute the heat.

Are portable gas heaters safe?

Using a gas heater comes with risks. They carry the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning, so you should have a carbon monoxide alarm in the area or in your tent. Also make sure your extra gas cylinders are stored safely.

Can you use a portable heater in a tent?

Yes, you can safely use heaters in tents as long as there is good natural ventilation. The CO2 emitted from the heater can be dangerous if it’s allowed to gather. The best option is to get a heater that has an automatic shut-off if it senses the air levels getting dangerous.

Are portable ceramic heaters safe?

Ceramic heating units are safe because they don’t have the toxic emissions that come from other space heaters, like carbon monoxide. Only heaters that burn some type of combustible fuel create carbon monoxide and ceramic heaters work by using electricity to warm ceramic plates inside the heater.

Why does my portable gas heater smell?

If your heater smells like gas this could be caused by a leak in the exchanger. There aren’t any normal reasons for your heater to smell like gas. If the smell is coming from the air ducts a leak in the heat exchanger is the most likely cause.

Is it safe to use a propane heater inside a tent?

Propane heaters are perfectly safe for use in tents, but they do emit carbon monoxide so they should only be used in an area with good ventilation. Make sure you get your propane heater checked out regularly to ensure there’s nothing wrong with it.

Happy Camping!