**If you are in a hurry I recommend the Mr. Heater F232000 MH9BX Buddy as the best tent heater for its powerful heat output and safe design**
I’ll never forget the trip I took in 30 degree weather where I stayed huddled next to my partner all night long frozen in place. We had blankets, sleeping bags, sleeping pads, and even hand warmers! But none of them did the trick. I never forget the trip because afterwards I got a tent heater and never froze again. But learning which ones provide enough heat for your size tent while still being safe enough to be able to sleep took some research. Learn what I found to work best for staying warm and staying safe in the best tent heater reviews below.
What Makes A Great Tent Heater
All of the choices below will require some kind of fuel source. I’ll eventually write another article covering exclusively electric heaters but I figure not everyone is going to have the luxury of having their car nearby or an outlet at the campgrounds. So the options below will cover how you can stay warm without the need of electricity.
How powerful and hot a tent heater can get is measured in BTU. The acronym stands for British Thermal Unit and measures how much heat is needed to increase the temp of water by a single degree fahrenheit. The higher the amount the greater the amount of heat produced.
Most of the portable outdoor tent heaters on this list will be in the range of 2,500-4,000 BTU but you can even find an option that goes up to 9,000 BTU. Be careful with the type of fabric your tent is made of and how close your heater is because you want to make sure you aren’t going to melt the mesh, nylon, or polyester material.
Tent heaters will usually tell you how much square footage you can reasonably heat up with the given BTU. This isn’t always the case though and will cause confusion on how much is too much.
If you have a 2-4 person tent I would recommend staying near the lower 2,500-3,500 BTU range but if you have a large 6-10 person tent you can start looking into the 4,00-9,000 BTU range but always make sure there’s lots of space around your outdoor heater.
Making sure that you can move your camping heater where you need it during cold trips to the outdoors is crucial to enjoying your experience. Some of the choices on this list will come with convenient handles you can use to move the entire heater at once to the exact place you need.
But not all of them make it that easy to transport. Most tent heaters come with a top heating portion and a bottom base attachment. You connect the propane canister to the top heating portion and then attach the base to steady. You shouldn’t have any trouble hiking to your campsite with any of the options below.
Most of the tent heaters below will require a 1lb canister of propane. The amount of BTUs your heater produces will affect how long your run time is on a single canister. Not to mention if your heater has multiple settings or an adjustable flame then your run time will vary depending on these factors.
Best Overall: Mr. Heater F232000 MH9BX Buddy
Sturdy and well-built, the Mr. Heater brand is not stranger to producing high quality tent heaters that can last in the outdoors. It’s a propane tent heater that can reach anywhere from 4k-9k BTU and can heat up any tent up 225 sq ft large. You can feel safe using it too because of the automatic shut off if it gets tipped over or if oxygen levels start to drop.
It comes with an easy to transport handle and a swivel out regulator so you can switch over to a gas supply. And you can run it for up to 3 hours at max BTU. This is a simple and easy to use option in the outdoors and should last you several seasons. Campers looking to stay cozy during colder months will find the Mr. Heater a luxury.
Best Portable: Mr. Heater F215100 MH4B Little Buddy
Many of the older reviews from about two years ago for the Mr. Heater were filled with issues but since then they have done a fantastic job at upgrading their product to provide a reliable and safe portable tent heater. The heater itself is angled upward at about a 45 degree angle and uses a 1lb canister. Since this tent heater is pretty small you will want to stick to tents that only have about 95 sq ft of room or keep it close by.
The angle makes it tough to point directly at you, especially if you’re lying on the ground in your sleeping bag. But you can at least feel safe knowing that if it tips over or there is a low amount of oxygen it will automatically shut off. This isn’t the most powerful heater on the market but if you need a portable option that you can attach to the back of you bag and use anywhere this is going to be your top choice.
Best Budget: Martin Camping Infrared Propane Gas Heater
The great design of the Martin Camping Propane Gas Heater makes it versatile enough to work in a variety of outdoor situations. You have three different heat settings to choose from including high, med, and low and you get a warming 3,100 BTU on the highest setting. The base support is really the smartest part about the Martin because it has extendable legs that offer extra support and keeps it from falling over.
In case the flame ever goes out there is an auto shut off system in place so that you don’t keep spewing gas causing a terrible accident. It also has an easy to carry handle so you can move your camping heater anywhere you need to keep warm on cold nights. You can feel safe and comfortable using this as a portable tent heater during your next outdoor trip.
As they say, everything is bigger and better in Texas and the Texsport Portable Outdoor Propane tent heater is trying to live up to the hype. With a design very similar to the Martin, you will find this model can heat up to 2,890 BTU and should last you several hours before it runs out. The base has extendable legs to support the Texsport from tipping over. There’s also an auto shut off system in case your flame goes out so that you don’t continue to blast propane inside your tent.
There doesn’t appear to be a handle that you can use to easily transport so you will want to be careful when carrying it around while it’s still hot. The Texsport has been known to work for several years and the low price point compared to other options on this list make its value shoot up. There’s no question you’ll stay warm in a small tent using this tent heater and that you’ll continue to use it on all future camping trips.
You can use the Zer one Outdoor gas Heater right on top of the canister. It’s a great backpacking heater but if you’re worried about your canister tipping over there is also an attachable stand with three legs. And when the tent heater cools down it has a carry bag with a drawstring you can pack into easily. The protective net is better than any other you’ll find and ensures there aren’t any accidents.
There aren’t any safety systems in place to detect low oxygen levels or if the flame goes out so you want to make sure that you are only using the Zer one during the day when you can keep a close eye. But what makes it so simple is also what makes it extremely portable. You can take this tent heater with you anywhere and on any trip.
My choice for the best tent heater is the Mr. Heater F232000 MH9BX Buddy because of it’s powerful heat output and safe design. There aren’t a lot of choices for safe tent heaters and the Mr. Heater brand sets itself apart with its automatic shut off system when the oxygen is too low or when it’s tipped over. And you still get up to 9,000 BTU heat output. If you’re looking to stay nice and cozy without having to worry about your safety, the Mr. Heater will keep you sleeping sound asleep while camping in cold weather.