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There are few activities that call back to the roots of humanity quite like camping. For the seasoned adventurer, it’s an opportunity to test your limits or to escape from the monotony of structured life. For families, aficionados, and newbie campers alike, it’s a chance to enjoy nature and reacquaint your body with the simple entertainment that nature has to offer. Read on for the rest of our Best Tent Heater guide.
Best Tent Heaters
However, only a foolish camper goes out into the wilderness unprepared. In this guide, we’re going to go over one of the most important pieces of gear that you need to bring if you are going camping in the winter or in any cold environment; tent heaters.
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Essential Camping Gear, Camping Safety, & Why You Need A Tent Heater
Like all outdoor activities, camping can come with risks. They can be in the form of challenges but in most cases come in the form of oversight. Going out without the gear that you need at the least can prove extremely inconvenient, dampening your entire trip. Being without the right gear in the wilderness at worst can lead to illness and even worse outcomes.
In the Boy scouts, the motto is “always be prepared,” and its one that applies to any outdoorsman that intends to brave the elements. But, one of the most overlooked factors when planning for camping trips is how you will stay warm. Never underestimate the need for a source of heat. One of the highest causes of death amongst campers is exposure to cold.
When camping or hiking in the winter, many think of jackets, scarves, gloves and other clothing without taking into consideration the chance to bring an additional heat source.
There are a few reasons to pick up a tent heater:
- If you’re going to be camping in a cold environment or during the Winter, then you’ll need a way to stay warm. You don’t want to feel your extremities going numb in the middle of the night.
- Tent heaters are a great way to dry off in emergency situations. It’s very common for people to fall into icy water and go into hypothermic shock which can cause the heart to stop. Without a fast way of drying off and raising the person’s core temperature, they may face lasting damage or even death.
- A sleeping bag will feel better if the area near it is warm before you get into it. It’s terrible hopping out of your clothes and into one and playing the warm-up waiting game.
- If you take your kids on your camping trips, then you definitely need to invest in a tent heater. Children are much smaller and get cold quicker than adults do. Your children will sleep a lot sounder and won’t complain about the cold all night if they are kept warm and cozy.
- Tent heaters are also great for heating up your food. Some woodfire heaters even double as a working stove and allow you to cook your own food. Electric and gas heaters are also great for warming up some pre-cooked canned food.
What You Need To Know About Buying A Tent Heater
Before you purchase your first tent heater, you should know what your options are. There are a few features that are especially important to take into consideration. Different people are going to have different needs depending on their style of camping, what environment they’re going to be in, and the size of the tent that they’re going to be sleeping in.
Durability is one of the first things that you need to look for when purchasing any outdoor equipment. When you’re going camping, you need equipment that’s durable. When you’re hiking through the woods and mountains, it’s very easy to accidentally drop your equipment, or for it to bounce around in the back of your truck and get dinged up while driving on the unpaved dirt trails.
You don’t want to get to your camping location in the Alaskan mountains only to find out that your main heat source has become irreparably damaged on the way there. At that point, your only options will be to turn around and go back home or cut your own firewood with a hatchet and light it up with flint and stone as the pioneers did. When looking at tent heaters, you want to find one that can withstand small drops and can take a bit of a beating without sustaining damage.
Types of Tent Heaters
To produce heat, your unit needs to have fuel. Most commonly, this comes in the form of electricity, wood, or gas. All are good options, but depending on where you’ll be camping you may or may not have access to these fuel sources. It’s important to get the heater that will be most applicable to the style of camping that you’ll be doing most often.
Electric heaters are very popular and are by far the easiest to use. All you need to do is plug them in, press button, and you’re good to go. However, they do require you to have a source of electricity. This limits their usage to a few select environments. Electric heaters are most commonly used by RV Campers who can plug the heater directly into their camper’s power source, or in public camping locations that have a city electric supply.
Using a wood-fired stove is one of the oldest methods of heating your tent. It’s been used since the days of the first settlers. You can use them almost anywhere, and most of the places that you’ll be camping will be located in wooded environments where you’ll easily be able to fuel your fire. Most wooden heaters also come with a small stovetop which is ideal if you want to heat up some food.
The disadvantages are that these units are often a bit heavy and can require to people to lift and move around. Also, they require you to find wood and be able to start your own fires. If you’re hiking in a desert or winter environment where wood is scarce, or a very wet environment where there isn’t any dry wood suitable for fires, then you’re out of luck.
These are favored among campers for their reliability. The only thing that you need to bring is your own supply of gas. Most heaters will either use propane or butane which both burn similarly. Gas-powered heaters can work in any environment no matter how rainy or windy the weather is.
However, the disadvantage of using a gas tent heater is that once you run out of gas, then you’ll have nothing to fuel your heater with unless you packed a trunk full of gas cans. These gas cans can also be pretty heavy to lug around if you have a long hike to your campsite. These heaters are ideal for those going on short camping trips where there is no access to wood or electricity.
Depending on the size of your tent and how many people are going to be camping with you, you may need more or less heat. If you’re hiking solo or with a partner and you just have a small tent, then you’ll only need a unit that has a heat output of 1,500 or 2,000 BTU. However, if you plan on camping in sub-zero temperatures, or you have a large group tent to heat up, then you’ll need something that has a heat output that’s closer to 10,000 BTU.
What Size Tent Heater Do You Need?
As a general rule, the higher the heat output is, the larger the tent heater will be. There are, however, quite a few small heaters that pack a punch and have higher heat outputs than you would expect. Size matters when you’re looking at how long you’ll need to hike for. If you’re just driving to a campsite and unloading, then it’s no problem working with a larger heating unit, but if you have to hike a few miles or climb up a mountainside, then you need something that is compact, lightweight, and easy to carry.
What Makes A Tent Heater A Good One?
The perfect tent heater is the one that will fit your individual camping style. If you’re going to invest in a good heater, then you don’t want to waste your money buying something that you’re only going to use once before setting it in the garage to collect dust. You want something that you can use time and time again.
If you make a lot of small solo camping trips, then a small gas heater will probably be best for you. If your family enjoys extended stays in RV parks or public camping locations, then a large electric heater may be best for you. And if you’re a traditional outdoorsman who knows how to start a fire and wants to stick to his traditional roots, then a wood-fire stove will be a great option for you.
Where Should You Get Them From
Although it’s popular to buy camping equipment secondhand, tent heaters are not something that you want to trust to fate. When you purchase a used model, then you can run into unexpected issues. A lot of times the person or pawn shop that you’re buying your heater from won’t be telling you the full truth about the unit or simply may not know.
It’s common to hear stories from campers who purchased a used electric or gas heater and went out to their campsite only to find out that only half of the electric heating cores were operational or that the gas line had a leak which causes twice as much fuel burn. While this won’t necessarily be the case with every secondhand purchase, it’s certainly very common, and it’s not something that you want to risk discovering after you’ve made a long trip.
The other disadvantage of buying secondhand tent heaters is that you don’t get a warranty with your purchase. Sure, you might save $50 up front, but when your unit fails three weeks later, you’ll have no way of getting your money back or having your unit replaced. At the end of the day, purchasing used heaters can end up costing you far more money than buying a brand new one.
All of the heaters that we’re about to review are well-reviewed products that are listed on Amazon. When you purchase tent heaters from Amazon, you will be purchasing either directly from the manufacturer or from an authorized distributor.
Not only is this cheaper than buying a unit from your local camping store (which can add a 15-20% upcharge), but the customer service will be better. If you have an issue or defective product, all you need to do is contact the distributor, and they will handle all of your problems. If you purchase your tent heater from a physical store, then you’ll have to return to that exact location to solve any problems. You may even have to stand in line for 45 minutes waiting your turn to be seen by a rude customer service agent who’s had a bad day and wants to take it out on you.
Many of these products are even eligible for Amazon Prime which means that you’ll be able to get them shipped to your doorstep in two days if you’re a Prime member. Now you’ll be able to find a great deal on a heater and have it ready to go for your upcoming weekend trip.
To make your choice easier, we’ve sifted through hundreds of competing products and selected the top ten best tent heaters on the market. All of these units are made with quality in mind and are built to last. We’ve included the top five options for individuals who will be camping in different environments, and another five that we think are great alternatives for anybody. Let’s dive in!
Best Wood Heater: Winnerwell Woodlander Deluxe
- Durable stainless steel construction
- Comes with a chimney stack
- Built-in Oven
- Glassdoor allows you to see the status of your food
If you’re looking for the ultimate wood-fire stove and tent heater, then this is it. The Winnerwell Woodlander Deluxe will last you a lifetime, and you’ll probably be able to pass it on to your kids. This portable stove is great for medium to large-sized tents and will keep your area warm and also allow you to cook small meals.
Not only will this stove keep your tent warm, but you can even cook your meals in it! The main compartment will burn your wood logs, and there is a miniature oven slot that you can fit small casserole dishes or cans of food in. Camping out in the cold is no excuse not to have a warm meal! The oven even has a small glass door that allows you to keep an eye on your food while it’s cooking so you’ll know as soon as it’s ready.
Collapsible Chimney Stack
The Woodlander Deluxe has a collapsible chimney stack that allows you to fit it into any size tent. It’s important to use a chimney when you’re burning wood. This will make sure that the smoke doesn’t build up inside of your tent and suffocate you.
Stainless Steel Construction
This woodfire stove is constructed exclusively from stainless steel. This means that it’s incredibly easy to clean between uses, and makes it very lightweight and easy to carry for short distances. The other great advantage of having stainless steel is that it’s rust-proof. Traditional wood stoves used to be crafted from cast iron which could build up a lot of rust over the years that would eat holes straight the metal. You will never have to worry about that happening with this stove.
Best Gas Tent Heater: Mr. Heater Propane Big Buddy Portable Heater
- Burns propane gas
- Can heat up to 400 square feet
- Multiple heat settings
- Built-in oxygen depletion sensor
- Automatic safety shut-off
The Mr. Heater Big Buddy is the ultimate camper’s companion. It looks good, it’s easy to use, and it can even warm up large tents. It even has a couple of important safety features which will prevent worst case scenarios.
Fueled By Propane
The only thing that you need to bring along is a large propane tank that you can pick up at your local grocery store or gas station. Simple screw the gas line onto the tank valve, plug in the cord to a small power source, press the start button, and you’ll be warm and toasty in just a few short minutes.
Multiple Heat Settings
One of the great things about this unit is that it has multiple settings. You can choose whether you want your heat output to be 4,000, 9,000, or 18,000 BTUs. This makes it a very versatile unit. You can easily heat up a small to medium-sized tent with 4,000 BTUs, but if you have a larger tent or you’re in an extremely cold environment, then you can crank it all the way up to 18,000 BTUs.
Oxygen Depletion Sensor
This is a great safety feature. Burning propane can release dangerous carbon monoxide into the air. Gas heaters are completely safe when they are burning, but if there is a leak in the tank or the gas line, then carbon monoxide levels can overtake the oxygen levels which can cause people to pass out or even die if they are exposed to too much.
The Mr. Heater Big Buddy has a built-in oxygen depletion sensor which will automatically shut off the pilot light if it senses that oxygen levels in the air are too low. This can potentially save lives and is one of the reasons that make this unit the best gas-powered heater on the market.
Automatic Tip-Over Shut-Off
If your heater tips over while you’re sleeping, then it can cause your entire tent to go up in flames. At the very least it can burn a hole through the material and cause lasting damage. Luckily this unit automatically shuts off whenever it becomes unlevel or tips over, meaning that you can sleep soundly in your tent every night.
Best Electric Heater: Vornado MVH Vortex Heater
- Three heat settings
- Advanced safety features
- Quiet operation level
- 5-year warranty
- Even heat circulation
Although this unit is marketed for people to use in their bedrooms, it works even better in a tent. The Vornado MVH Vortex Heater is incredibly durable and can survive small drops and won’t be damaged by bumping around during your travels. Vornado has a reputation for building incredibly high-quality heating and cooling products, and this model is no exception. It’s even backed a limited 5-year warranty.
Falling asleep in a sleeping bag is already hard enough, and having a loud heater in the room can make a difference to some people. The MVH Vortex heater is whisper-quiet, and you won’t even be able to tell that it’s on, meaning that you’ll be able to fall asleep faster than a baby in a cradle. Just don’t forget to turn it off!
Circulates The Heat
This Vornado heating unit has a built-in fan that helps to evenly circulate the heat throughout the room. Most electric heaters only center the heat around a central point, which means that you have to be positioned directly in front of the heater to stay warm. The built-in fan will suck in the surrounding air and warm it up so that way the entire tent will stay warm and cozy.
5-Year Limited Warranty
Vornado has a reputation for great customer service and high-quality products. They have so much faith in their product that they stand behind it with a full 5-year warranty. That means if anything malfunctions or mysteriously stops working, Vornado will either repair or replace your heater free of charge.
Great Safety Features
This heater has an automatic tip-over shut-off which means that you can rest easy at night knowing that your heater won’t tip over and set your tent on fire while you’re sleeping. It also has an automatic shut-off that will keep the temperature steady during the night. Whenever the room temperature drops, it will cut on, and whenever the room is warm, it will shut off which can conserve electricity and keep you from getting too hot.
Best Large Tent Heater: Zodi Outback Gear X-40 Heater
- Easy to set up
- Complimentary storage bag
- Heat output of 40,000 BTUs will heat almost any large tent
- Compact Size
- Starts with a small battery
- Durable, all-metal construction
If you’re going camping with a lot of people and have one very large tent or a network of combined tents, then the Zodi Outback X-40 is exactly what you need. This unit is a monster and puts out 40,000 BTUs which is enough to heat a small home. These are the types of heaters that are used by research teams and military operations that are set up in the middle of the arctic circle.
Easy To Set Up
All you need to do to set up your Zodi X-40 is position it in a central location, hook it up to a standard 5-gallon propane tank, a 12-volt battery, and you’re ready to heat up your entire tent.
Big Heat, Small Unit
Most competing units that put out 40,000 BTUs weigh over a hundred pounds and are incredibly awkward to move around and transport. This unit weighs just over 35 pounds which means that it’s lightweight enough for anybody to pick up and move. It even comes with a complimentary storage bag so that you can keep it safe and easily transport it from place to place.
Starts With A Small Battery
Unlike many gas heaters which require plug-in power to operate the starter, the Zodi Outback X-40 only needs a small 12-volt battery to start. This means that you can bring the heater anywhere, even if it’s the middle of the arctic circle. As long as you have a tank of propane and battery to spark the pilot light, then you will have heat. One battery charge will give you around a hundred starts.
Built To Last
When you have an expedition party who depends on a heater, you need a unit that you will never have to worry about malfunctioning. The Zodi X-40 is constructed completely from stainless steel. It is incredibly durable and will last you for years. It can handle drops, tip-overs, and even a few angry kicks. It will keep on working in even the harshest of environments.
Best Portable Tent Heater: Texsport Portable Outdoor Propane Heater
- Small and compact
- Great for solo hikers
- Puts out 3,000 BTUs
Sometimes you need something small and portable. The Texsport Heater weighs less than 2 pounds and can easily be stored in your backpack or camping bag. It’s great for solo hikers who are looking for a little bit of extra warmth during the chilly nights.
This tent heater is completely cordless and to start it you just press the little red button which causes a tiny chemical spark which is enough to ignite the burner. Other gas tent heaters require you to hook them up to a battery or plug into an outlet to operate the starter.
Heat Output of 3,000 BTUs
Even though this is a pocket-sized heater, it can still put out enough heat to warm up most small tents. This makes it ideal for campers who have long hikes and aren’t able to haul around a heavier unit. This portable unit can provide the same amount of heat as other bulkier competitors.
If these aren’t quite what you’re looking for, we’ve put together a list of great alternatives. These are all high-quality tent heaters that will serve you well for a long time, Let’s check them out!
Comfort Zone CZTT1 Single Tank Top Propane Heater
- Adjustable gas and heat output
- Can run for 28 hours at a time
- Simple and easy to use
- Connects to all 5-gallon propane tanks
If you’re looking for simplicity, then the Comfort Zone Single Tank Heater is perfect for you. Just screw it onto the top of any 5-gallon propane tank, press the start button, and you can warm up any small to medium-sized tent in minutes.
Adjustable Gas and Heat Output
This tent heater has a handy little adjustment knob which allows you to fine-tune the amount of fuel that is being burned. That means you can choose between using a small trickle of gas to just warm up your socks, or you can turn the knob to full throttle and warm up your entire tent in just a few minutes.
Connects To Any 5-Gallon Propane Tank
The problem with a lot of gas heaters is that they require you to visit special outdoors stores to purchase the miniature 1-pound propane tanks. These can often be hard to find and are commonly out of stock, not to mention they will only burn for a few hours at a time before they will need to be replaced.
The Comfort Zone CZTT1 can attach to any standard 5-gallon propane tank. These are easy to find at your local grocery store or gas station. They’re also far more cost-effective and can burn continuously for a longer period of time.
Camco Olympian Wave Heater
- Adjustable temperature
- Doesn’t require electricity
- High-quality filter catches any residual gas
- Operates silently
- Built-in safety shut-off valve
The Camco Olympian Wave has a truly unique heating method known as catalytic heating. It operates the same way that the sun does by directing heat waves towards a certain area and warming those objects. It uses low-pressure gas like propane for fuel and is very lightweight and easy to transport.
No Electricity Needed
Many heaters require an electric connection to start. This Camco tent heater has a Piezo chemical starter which is good for 20,000 ignitions. That means that even if you started this unit every single day, it would still last you for almost 55 years.
Many gas powered heaters release dangerous amounts of carbon monoxide into the air, which is especially bad if you’re in a small tent. This heater has a state-of-the-art multi-layered filter that will catch and absorb any extra gas that escapes.
The Camco Olympian Wave is completely silent. You won’t be able to hear a sound while it’s operating. This is because it uses cutting-edge catalytic heating. It turns the heat generated from burning propane into direct heat waves. These heat waves automatically radiate from the metal grid and don’t require a noisy fan.
Allegro Industries 9401‐50 Tent Heater
- Electric heater
- Heat output of 5,000 BTUs
- Powerful fan
- Rigid steel housing
- Easy to transport
The Allegro Industries Tent Heater was designed to be directly incorporated with the Allegro tent, but it works great in almost any other medium to large-sized tent.
5,000 BTU Output
Even though this heater is small, it can output 5,000 BTUs. This is more than enough to heat a large six-person tent. The one downside is that it doesn’t have an adjustable heat setting, but it’s easy to cut on and off with the switch of a button. This heater will even work well in extra-large tents. It has a powerful fan which blows and circulates the heat far more than most traditional tent heaters.
The Allegro Tent Heater has an all-steel housing which is built to last. This unit was designed for work applications and harsh camping environments. It can take a beating and still work as good as new.
Easy To Transport
There is a large, high-quality plastic handle on top of the heater which makes it easy to pick up and carry by hand or to hook onto one of your backpack’s equipment loops. It also weighs just over 12-pounds which means that you carry it around for miles.
TMS Portable Wood Stove
- Great for cooking
- Will keep any large or extra-large tent warm all night long
- Built from heavy-duty rolled steel
- Comes with a complimentary carry bag
- Fold-out grate makes it easy to dry your clothes
If you’re looking for a small, affordable wood stove and tent heater, then the TMS Portable Wood Stove is a perfect choice for you. It’s lightweight, easy to transport, and is multi-functional.
Warms Up Your Tent In Minutes
Once you start the wood fire, your tent will immediately start warming up. The built-in chimney will blow all of the smoke outside, and your tent will be filled with the smell of fresh wood. It’s all natural, and you don’t have to worry about any harmful gases being released or having to find an electric outlet.
Complimentary Carry Bag
Unlike most stoves, this unit can be fully disassembled and fit into a medium-sized carry bag that makes transportation easier than ever. Just throw it over your shoulder, and you can take it all the way to your campsite without having to ask for your buddy’s help.
Easy To Use Cooking Tubes
Most wood camping stoves have an oven slot, but the TMS has handy cooking tubes that are perfect if you’re trying to warm up cans of food, fresh vegetables, or a frozen Hot Pocket.
The TMS stove has really useful grates on top of it that you can set your socks, gloves, and other wet clothing on. Within minutes the hot stove will warm and dry them, allowing you to go back into the cold.
Coleman SportCat PerfecTemp Catalytic Heater
- 1,500 BTU heat output
- Catalytic heating technology
- One cylinder runs for 14 hours
- Small and compact
- Eyelets for easy hanging
Coleman has been making quality camping products for a long time. The Coleman SportCat gives you a way to put catalytic heating technology in your pocket. It’s perfect for solo campers and people who just need a bit of additional warmth in their tent at night.
Runs for 14-Hours
The catalytic heating unit attaches to a standard 1-pound handheld propane tank. With traditional gas-powered heaters, this would last less than 8-hours, but thanks to the catalytic heating technology, you can get 14-hours of continuous use before you need to replace the tank.
Easy To Hang Up
The Coleman SportCat has two small eyelets that make it easy to hang up inside your tent. All you need is a small string or some zip-ties, and you can safely secure it to just about anything. This saves valuable ground space, which is important especially if you’re in a small tent.
Including the cylinder, this unit weighs less than 2-pounds which makes it easy to fit in your hiking bag. If you have multiple people, then each person can bring their own personal heater. This is perfect for hikers who have to traverse steep inclines and hike a long way to their camping location as it saves you from having to lug a bulky heater around everywhere.
This concludes our definitive guide to the best tent heaters on the market. With so many options available, it can be hard to make a choice. There are a lot of low-quality products on the market which don’t perform to the standards that they claim and aren’t designed to withstand the rigors of a mountain hike and outdoor camping. We hope that our guide will help you to make an informed decision.
To save you time and energy, we looked through hundreds of products and picked the cream of the crop for our recommendations. These are some of the best tent heaters on the market, and each one is built with extreme quality, and designed to last for years at a time. The great outdoors await you, get your gear and get out there!