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5 Best Tent Heaters: Your Buyer’s Guide

tent heater

A tent heater is a beautiful thing to own if you’re a cold weather camper. Portable camping heaters are a brilliant innovation for use around the campsite as well as for in your sleeping space that can absolutely transform a miserably cold camping trip.

A true game changer, tent heaters have all sorts of applications other than just warming your sleeping space. They’re great for outdoor use in hunting blinds, ice fishing shelters, and even on boats as long as the necessary safety precautions have been taken. You won’t believe how versatile these devices are! Mr. Heater is the industry-leading brand when it comes to ease of operation and safety, but we’ve included a few other models for consideration as well.

For closed rather than open-air heating, use a BTU calculator to determine roughly how much heat output you need. It considers the desired temperature increase and volume of the closed space (in this case your tent) to determine how many BTUs are neccessary!

There are two kinds of space heaters, electric and gas. Be sure to read a bit about each type and be aware of the safety concerns – using a tent heater is no joke and can be fatal if you’re careless. Always read the user manual twice when purchasing a new space heater of any kind!

With low and high heat output options for small and large tents, we’ve tracked down the perfect camping tent heater for your needs that will no doubt end up doing much more than just warming your sleeping space!

What Are The Best Tent Heaters for Camping?

mr. heater tent heater Amazon Customer Reviews
  • Can receive external propane connection
  • Excellent safety features
  • Max output of 9,000 BTUs
Price: $89.99 Shop at Amazon Shop now Read our review
mr. heater little buddy tent heater Amazon Customer Reviews
  • Highly portable and packable tent heater
  • Excellent safety features
  • Max output of 3,800 BTUs
Price: $64.01 Shop at Amazon Shop now Read our review
mr. heater hunting buddy Amazon Customer Reviews
  • Can run on external propane source
  • Great safety features
  • Max output of 12,000 BTUs
Price: $82.79 Shop at Amazon Shop now Read our review
coherent heat source tent heater Amazon Customer Reviews
  • Can run on butane or propane
  • Great price point
  • Max output of about 5000 BTUs
Price: $75.90 Shop at Amazon Shop now Read our review
lasko tent heater Amazon Customer Reviews
  • Very energy efficient electric unit
  • Great for personal use in a smaller tent
  • Max output of about 700 BTUs
Price: $41.95 Shop at Amazon Shop now Read our review
Our Unbiased Reviews
  1. 1. Mr. Heater Portable Buddy Propane Radiant Heater

    • Swivel regulator for use with regular propane cylinder and easy hose installation
    • 'Tip-over' sensor shuts off the unit if it gets knocked over
    • Oxygen sensor
    • Two heat settings - 4,000 and 9,000 BTU/HR
    • Reasonably portable
    • Excellent price point
    • Must purchase extension hoses seperately
    • Oxygen sensor is not designed for use over 7000 feet (atmosphere differences at altitude)
    • Be careful with the pilot light around pets and children

    Here is perhaps the best tent heater on the market. Outdoorsmen everywhere LOVE the Mr. Heater Portable Buddy for its ease of operation, safety features, portability and of course, heat output.

    It’s no surprise that Mr.Heater is the industry leader when it comes to camping and outdoor space heaters. People use this unit inside their ice fishing shelters, hunting blinds, RVs, and tents all with great success! This heater is the perfect balance between portability and warmth, putting out up to 9,000 BTUs.

    It’s great for smaller and larger sized tents, as well as outdoor use. 

    The best reason to buy this brand is because of their attention to safety and ease of operation. This unit is super simple to operate and includes both a tip-over sensor and an oxygen sensor. If the heater depletes the oxygen in an enclosed space, it will turn off before atmosphere levels become dangerous. If the heater tips past approximately 45 degrees, it will also auto-shutoff. We find these features to be essential when searching for a fuel-powered tent heater.

    This heater is powered by directly connecting a standard one-pound propane cylinder, or can also be fitted to an extension hose in order to run off of larger propane tanks. Having the option to use a larger capacity fuel source is brilliant for big camping trips, allowing you to share a propane tank between your grill and heater! Alternatively, one standard propane cylinder will last about four hours on low, not too shabby!

    It’s probably the most cost effective to utilize a larger propane tank as your fuel source if you plan on using this heater often. If portability can’t be sacrificed, then consider finding a way to purchase standard propane cylinders wholesale or in bulk in order to save some cash in the long run.

    This heater is just under 10 pounds and only about 15 inches long, so it’s reasonably portable. Feel free to bring this bad boy out on the lake ice fishing, into the backcountry for big game hunts or simply to your favorite campground for some late night warmth.

    Mr. Heater does, however, carry a smaller, more portable space heater as well as a larger one if you’re looking for something a bit less bulky, or with higher heat output (both included on this list).  

    As with all camping or tent space heaters, make sure to always double-check that the space you’re heating is properly ventilated and that the heater is not near anything potentially flammable. This unit is equipped with several sensors to ensure there is no fire or Carbon monoxide risk, but be sure to always be extra safe regardless! 

  2. 2. Mr. Heater Little Buddy 3800-BTU Propane Heater

    • Highly portable and packable tent heater at about 6 pounds
    • Oxygen sensor and tip-over sensor make this heater as safe as it gets
    • Perfect for heating smaller spaces
    • Fairly fuel efficient if you don't need to run it all the time (about 5.5 hours per fuel cylinder)
    • Can only run on standard propane fuel cylinders
    • Comparable price tag to larger, more powerful units. You're paying for portbility with this one
    • One heat setting

    The Mr. Heater Little Buddy 3800-BTU Propane Heater is simply a smaller, more portable version of the standard Buddy Heater. It operates the same and has all the same built-in safety features – the only real difference is in the heat output (maximum of 3800 BTUs) and size of the tent heater.

    If you’re looking for a smaller sized tent heater for personal use, or use in a tiny two-man tent, this is the go-to. As we mentioned, Mr. Heater is the industry leader when it comes to safety and ease of operation, the Little Buddy is perfect for those seeking a simple and safe unit.

    This tent heater is so compact it could even be theoretically hiked with, although it’s still a bit cumbersome for long treks. If you travel into the wilderness using an ATV or snowmobile, this unit will load up easily. 

    Keep in mind that this tent heater can only utilize regular propane fuel cylinders and is not compatible for hose-attachment to a larger tank. It’s not super cost-efficient if you’re running it all the time (one cylinder lasts about 5.5 hours), but for blasting some heat into your one or two-man tent before bed, it’s perfect!  

    Remember to reference the BTU Calculator if you’re having trouble determining how much heat output your tent needs. It’s certainly not exact, but it’s easy to use and will let you know whether or not the Little Buddy is in the ballpark for your needs! 

     Check out this video for a walkthrough of how to operate the Little Buddy!

  3. 3. Mr. Heater Hunting Buddy Portable Space Heater

    • Low and high heat settings (6,000 and 12,000 BTUs)
    • Swivel regulator for use with regular propane cylinders and easy hose installation for connecting to a larger propane tank
    • 'Tip-over' and oxygen sensors shuts off the unit if there's a safety issue
    • Great heat output for larger tents and even cabins up to 300 square feet!
    • Built in carry compartment for another propane cylinder
    • Designed for hunting, so this tent heater is impressively quiet
    • Excellent price point
    • A bit cumbersome for light camping trips at about 16.5 inches and around 10 pounds - this is a hevier duty unit
    • Oxygen sensor is not designed for use over 7,000 feet (lower oxygen levels at altitude)
    • Be careful with the pilot light around pets and children
    • Must purchase extension hoses seperately

    Here’s the final and most powerful tent heater we’ve decided to include by Mr. Heater. The Hunting Buddy is a dam toasty portable space heater that has a maximum output of 12,000 BTUs. This will make the perfect tent heater for larger sized tents and hunting blinds and can even effectively heat a small cabin up to 300 square feet!

    The same safety features are equipped here that are included with the standard Buddy Heater and the Little Buddy Heater. The Hunting Buddy will auto-shutoff if it tips over or if the sensor detects low oxygen levels.

    This tent heater can be attached to a larger propane tank using the separately sold extension hose and fuel filter. Considering the level of heat output, chances are if you need this heavier duty unit you’ll need a higher capacity fuel source than the standard propane cylinders.

    That being said, the Hunting Buddy will last for about three or four hours on the lower setting (6,000 BTUs) using a standard propane cylinder and even has a built-in compartment for stashing a second fuel canister for when you need it. 

    Remember that this unit is designed for use in a hunting blind, so it’s impressively quiet. All of Mr. Heater’s radiant heaters are built for low noise output.

    12,000 BTUs is no joke – if you flip this bad boy on for just a few minutes it should get even larger sized tents cooking! If you’re looking for a radiant tent heater or camping heater with even more output, look towards the Big Buddy also by Mr. Heater – it has a whopping 18,000 BTU output!

  4. 4. Tooluxe Coherent Heat Source Emergency Butane Heater

    • Can run on butane or propane
    • Head can be tilted slightly to orient the heat output
    • Super easy to operate
    • High and low heat settings
    • Great price point
    • Fairly compact and lightweight at about five pounds, but shape is a bit awkward for portability
    • No oxygen sensor or tip over sensor to shut this unit off - be EXTRA careful with this one if using inside your tent
    • Butane canisters sometimes struggle to deliver enough fuel when temps are super cold

    This unit is certainly not as advanced as the tent heaters listed by Mr. Heater, but it’s still a cost-effective option for keeping warm in and outside of your tent. For those campers seeking an inexpensive fuel-powered space heater, this hybrid butane/propane heater is worth a look.

    This unit runs on standard butane cartridges, but it also has a fitting for a propane tank’s regulator hose. The standard butane cartridges are actually pretty fuel efficient, lasting around four hours. There are some reported issues using butane as fuel in the extreme cold (which is probably why you need it!) so consider propane as a fuel source for those truly frigid campouts.

    If you buy the butane cartridges in bulk, they’re MUCH cheaper. 

    In terms of portability, this heater holds its own. For the heat output, it’s relatively compact at less than a foot tall and fairly lightweight at about 5.5 pounds.

    Where this tent heater really falls short is the lack of safety features. There is no tip-over sensor or oxygen sensor to auto-turnoff the heater. If you plan on using this heater within a tent, be sure to read the instructions and operate this unit with extra airflow and ventilation.

    Carbon monoxide poisoning is no joke, don’t take any chances with this heater or any others for that matter.

    The head-on this heater can be tilted up and down which is an underrated feature in my opinion. You can point this heater right at your pillow or down into your sleeping bag to really make the roughly 5000 BTUs go a long way. Be careful moving this space heater after running it, even the handle gets pretty hot!

    Bottom line, if you have the money, you’re better off with a Mr. Heater. If you’re looking for a budget option, this unit from Tooluxe will work for you just fine and is surprisingly well-reviewed for function and portability!

  5. 5. Lasko Model 100 MyHeat Personal Space Heater

    • Very energy efficient electric unit
    • Super compact and portable at just six inches tall and about 1.5 pounds
    • Great for personal use in a smaller tent
    • Cool touch exterior
    • Excellent customer satisfaction
    • Super easy to operate and highly versatile for a wide range of functions
    • Highly affordable
    • Electric heater therefore it requires a power source!
    • Not a very high heat output at just under 700 BTUs
    • Limited range due to the six foot cord length

    Alright, this space heater isn’t exactly designed for camping or outdoor use, but we wanted to include it in case it’s a good fit for your needs. The Model 100 MyHeat Personal Space Heater by Lasko has excellent customer reviews and is remarkably portable earning it a spot on our top list.

    The main downfall of this space heater is that it requires a power source. Operation is super easy (plug it in and flip the switch)  but you’re going to need an outlet. It’s obviously not practical to run your vehicle while you sleep at night, so you’ll have to think about how you would power this unit in the outdoors.

    If you camp with a generator (and can sleep through its noise output), then this could be a great, energy-efficient option.  

    If you can get around this space heater being electric than it’s a seriously awesome unit for personal use. It only puts out about 200 Watts or 700 BTUs of heat so it’s not going to warm up larger tents. Lasko has however built the Model 100 with a fan so you can orient the heat output right towards you or even point it into your sleeping bag!

    Because this is an electric rather than fuel-burning space heater, there is no Carbon monoxide risk. Be sure to review how to safely operate electric space heaters and carefully read the manual before using the Model 100. Lasko has included a heat-sensor as a safety feature to automatically power off the unit if it’s left on.

    The Model 100 furthermore is designed with a cool-touch exterior so it’s safer around pets and children. 

    If you have the means to power this little ceramic space heater in the field it will function wonderfully as an ultralight personal tent heater! A reliable manufacturer, excellent price point and super easy operation – the Model 100 MyHeat Personal Space Heater is a tough little device that will come in handy for all sorts of scenarios!