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Best Tent Heater – Expert Review (2020)

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You shouldn’t let the cold stop you from taking a family camping holiday. Camping in the winter can be made comfortable by getting a heater for your tent, and there are many to choose from!

We’ve compiled a list of the best tent heaters out there, as well as a quick guide to help you make your decision. 

Best Tent Heater - Comparison Table

Best Tent Heater
Mr. Heater F232000 MH9BX Buddy 4,000-9,000-BTU Indoor-Safe Portable Propane Radiant Heater, Red-Black
Mr Heater F274865  F274865-Massachusetts/Canada Portable LP Heater,Red,Regular
Mr. Heater F215100 MH4B Little Buddy 3800-BTU Indoor Safe Propane Heater, Medium
Honeywell HHF360V 360 Degree Surround Fan Forced Heater with Surround Heat Output Charcoal Grey Energy Efficient Portable Heater with Adjustable Thermostat & 2 Heat Settings
Camco 57331 Olympian Wave-3 3000 BTU LP Gas Catalytic Heater
Best Budget Tent Heater
Honeywell HCE100B Heat Bud Ceramic Heater Black Energy Efficient Space Saving Portable Personal Heater With 2 Heat Settings for Home, School, Office
Gear
Mr. Heater F232000 MH9BX Buddy
Mr. Heater Portable Big Buddy Propane Heater
Mr. Heater F215100 MH4B Little Buddy
Honeywell HHF360V 360-Degree Surround Heater
Olympian Wave 3 LP Portable Gas Catalytic Heater by Camco
Honeywell HCE100B Heat Bud
Fuel Type
Propane
Propane
Propane
Electricity
Propane
Electricity
BTUs
4000-9000
4000-18000
4000-9000
~5000
1600-3000
~850
Weight
9 lb / 4.1 kg
16.3 lb / 7.4 kg
5.9 lb / 2.7 kg
3 lb / 1.4 kg
1 lb / 0.45 kg
1.05 lb / 0.48 kg
Best Tent Heater
Mr. Heater F232000 MH9BX Buddy 4,000-9,000-BTU Indoor-Safe Portable Propane Radiant Heater, Red-Black
Gear
Mr. Heater F232000 MH9BX Buddy
Fuel Type
Propane
BTUs
4000-9000
Weight
9 lb / 4.1 kg
Mr Heater F274865  F274865-Massachusetts/Canada Portable LP Heater,Red,Regular
Gear
Mr. Heater Portable Big Buddy Propane Heater
Fuel Type
Propane
BTUs
4000-18000
Weight
16.3 lb / 7.4 kg
Mr. Heater F215100 MH4B Little Buddy 3800-BTU Indoor Safe Propane Heater, Medium
Gear
Mr. Heater F215100 MH4B Little Buddy
Fuel Type
Propane
BTUs
4000-9000
Weight
5.9 lb / 2.7 kg
Honeywell HHF360V 360 Degree Surround Fan Forced Heater with Surround Heat Output Charcoal Grey Energy Efficient Portable Heater with Adjustable Thermostat & 2 Heat Settings
Gear
Honeywell HHF360V 360-Degree Surround Heater
Fuel Type
Electricity
BTUs
~5000
Weight
3 lb / 1.4 kg
Camco 57331 Olympian Wave-3 3000 BTU LP Gas Catalytic Heater
Gear
Olympian Wave 3 LP Portable Gas Catalytic Heater by Camco
Fuel Type
Propane
BTUs
1600-3000
Weight
1 lb / 0.45 kg
Best Budget Tent Heater
Honeywell HCE100B Heat Bud Ceramic Heater Black Energy Efficient Space Saving Portable Personal Heater With 2 Heat Settings for Home, School, Office
Gear
Honeywell HCE100B Heat Bud
Fuel Type
Electricity
BTUs
~850
Weight
1.05 lb / 0.48 kg

Best Tent Heaters (Top Picks)

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Top Tent Heater Picks (Detailed Reviews)

We reviewed over 17 tent heaters for this article. Below are the best tent heaters that made our short list.

  1. Mr. Heater F232000 MH9BX Buddy - Best Overall
  2. Mr. Heater Portable Big Buddy Propane Heater 
  3. Mr. Heater F215100 MH4B Little Buddy
  4. Honeywell HHF360V 360-Degree Surround Heater - Best Electric
  5. Olympian Wave 3 LP Portable Gas Catalytic Heater by Camco - Most Efficient
  6. Honeywell HCE100B Heat Bud - Best Value


Read our complete buyers guide for tent heaters.

1. Best Overall Tent Heater

Mr. Heater F232000 MH9BX Buddy 4,000-9,000-BTU Indoor-Safe Portable Propane Radiant Heater, Red-Black

5/5 Overall Rating

The Mr. Heater Buddy is a small, light, space heater that connects to a 1 lb propane tank. The unit can heat up to 225 square feet of space while being compact, with a fold-down handle for space-saving storage.

This adjustable unit has two BTU settings: 4000 and 9000, allowing you to choose your amount of heating depending on your requirements.

In addition, the heater has a built-in igniter, as well as an automatic shut-off feature that turns the heater off when the unit tips over or if low oxygen levels are detected.

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Main Features
  • Heats up to 225 square feet
  • Adjustable: low and high heat options
  • Auto shut-off safety feature
  • Runs for up to 3 hours at max BTU
  • Fold-down handle
  • Built-in Piezo igniter
  • Porcelain-coated heating surface
What we like
  • Fuel-efficient
  • Works well in a tent
  • Heats up an area quickly
  • Simple to use
  • Reliable
What we dislike
  • Pilot light doesn't always stay lit
  • Faulty CO detectors have been reported

2. Best Tent Heater for Big Tents

Mr Heater F274865  F274865-Massachusetts/Canada Portable LP Heater,Red,Regular

4.5/5 Overall Rating

The Mr. Heater Portable Big Buddy is the big brother version of the Mr. Heater Portable Buddy. This product has all the same features, and then some.

The unit can heat bigger spaces, up to 300 square feet, and has a power rating of up to 18 000 BTU.

In addition, this product has three heating options for your preference. The unit is heavier, but comes with a fan, which is operated on 4D batteries or an AC adapter. 

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Main Features
  • Heats up to 300 square feet
  • Battery operated fan
  • Adjustable: low, medium and high heat options
  • Auto shut-off safety feature
  • Built-in Piezo igniter
  • Porcelain-coated heating surface
What we like
  • Works well
  • Fuel-efficient
  • Easy to move around
  • Heats up large spaces
What we dislike
  • Does not always stay lit

3. Best Lightweight Tent Heater

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

4.5/5 Overall Rating

The Mr. Heater Little Buddy is a portable, indoor-safe heater. The unit is petite, light and is designed for use in small spaces up to 95 square feet.

It has two heat settings: high (9000 BTU) and low (4000 BTU). The unit connects to a 1 lb propane tank and is perfect for small tents.

Like other Mr. Heater products, this unit has an automatic shut-off feature for when low oxygen levels are detected, or for when the unit tips over. 

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Main Features
  • Heats up to 95 square feet
    45 degree heating angle
  • Lasts up to 5 hours at maximum heat
  • Auto shut-off safety feature
  • Fold-down handle
  • Piezo igniter
  • High temperature wire guard
  • Porcelain-coated heating surface
What we like
  • Powerful
  • Starts up easily
  • Fuel-efficient
  • Reliable
What we dislike
  • Takes a while to start
  • Start button is difficult to press

4. Best Electric Tent Heater

Honeywell HHF360V 360 Degree Surround Fan Forced Heater with Surround Heat Output Charcoal Grey Energy Efficient Portable Heater with Adjustable Thermostat & 2 Heat Settings

4/5 Overall Rating

The Honeywell HHF360V 360-Degree Surround Heater is light, stylish and space-efficient. It provides 360-degree heat and is suitable for small to mid-sized rooms.

The heater is versatile with both a heat setting option and an adjustable thermostat. The heater also includes safety features like overheat protection, a cool-to-touch plastic cover and handle, and an automatic shut-off feature that will switch the heater off if it is knocked over.

It should be mentioned that, as a result of the automatic tip-over shutdown function, the unit tends to switch itself off if it’s not on a flat surface. 

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Main Features
  • Two heat settings: low and high
    360-degree heating
  • Adjustable thermostat
  • Overheat protection
  • Automatic tip-over shutdown
  • Carry handle
  • Timer
What we like
  • Heats up rooms quickly
  • Shut-off function works well
  • Small and compact
  • Powerful
  • Turns off when it reaches chosen temperature
What we dislike
  • Can overheat and make smoke
  • Unreliable

5. Most Efficient Tent Heater

Camco 57331 Olympian Wave-3 3000 BTU LP Gas Catalytic Heater

4/5 Overall Rating

This wave heater is versatile in the sense that it can either be wall-mounted in your home, or used as a portable space heater. The Olympian Wave Gas Catalytic Heater uses propane to heat spaces up to 100 square feet, and is perfect for RV camping.

The unit has no fan, which means that it doesn't make any noise, and has two heat settings: 1600 BTU or 3000 BTU. The heater also has a safety feature that ensures fuel is not accidentally discharged when the unit is not ignited. 

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Main Features
  • Adjustable heat settings
  • Wall mounted or portable
  • Silent
  • Safety shut-off valve
  • Heats up to 100 square feet
  • Built-in Piezo starter
What we like
  • Extremely efficient
  • Steady heat
  • Easy to mount
  • Small and compact
  • Well built
  • Doesn’t go out at high elevation
What we dislike
  • Does not always fully light
  • Emits a high amount of CO2

6. Best Value Tent Heater

Honeywell HCE100B Heat Bud Ceramic Heater Black Energy Efficient Space Saving Portable Personal Heater With 2 Heat Settings for Home, School, Office

3.5/5 Overall Rating

This small, compact heater is more of a personal unit. The Honeywell HCE100B Heat Bud is electric, and low on power use as it has a wattage of 250 W.

The unit has two heat settings to suit your requirements, and has a plastic shell which is cool to touch.

The heater also has safety features like overheat protection, and a switch that shuts the unit off when it tips over.

This unit may not be ideal for big tent camping as it requires electricity and won’t be able to heat up big spaces. However, it is only $20 and is a great little personal heater to help warm you up if you have access to electricity at your campsite. 

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Main Features
  • Energy efficient
  • Personal unit
  • Two heat settings
  • Tip-over shutdown
  • Overheat protection
  • Cool-to-touch plastic cover
What we like
  • Quiet
  • Small
  • Low on electricity use
  • Works well
  • Good for small spaces
What we dislike
  • Faulty
  • Doesn’t last long

The Bottom Line

The kind of heater you choose depends on your heating requirements and campsite facilities.

Some heaters, like the Honeywell HHF360V 360-Degree Surround Heater and the Honeywell Heat Bud are electric heaters and require an electricity source. If you know you’ll be camping near an electricity source, like an RV campsite, then electrical heaters are great.

The Honeywell 360-degree Portable Heater provides surround heat, but tends to turn off on uneven surfaces, which is generally a feature of campsites. The Honeywell Heat Bud is compact, light and cheap, but is more of a personal desk heater than anything else.

Other heaters use propane as fuel. The Mr. Heater Buddy, Mr. Heater Portable Big Buddy and Mr. Heater Little Buddy are all great heaters for camping and tents, as they have many safety features to ensure an adequate amount of oxygen in the tent, and that the unit doesn’t cause a fire. The main difference between the three of them is their heating capacity.

The Olympian Wave 3 LP Portable Gas Catalytic Heater by Camco is extremely efficient and light, but doesn’t heat very large spaces and is mostly considered a good secondary heating source. 

Best Tent Heater - Buyer's Guide

Are tent heaters safe?

Safety is really important to consider when choosing a heater for your tent. If you aren’t careful, and don’t follow the proper instructions, it’s possible to run out of oxygen in your tent.

Make sure that the tent is ventilated properly, and speak to a professional about how to adequately do this.

Certain heaters have oxygen detection systems which issue a warning, or automatically switch the unit off, when low oxygen levels are detected.

Another possible problem is if the heater gets knocked over – this could melt the tent or cause a fire.

Most heaters have a safety feature to ensure that the unit gets switched off when tipped over, but make sure that this is a feature of the heater before you buy it.

Heaters can also overheat, so heaters with a timer function or with an overheat protection feature are preferable.

Should you use an electric or a propane tent heater?

Heaters either use electricity or propane as fuel sources. You can use both of these in tents, but it depends on your campsite facilities – you’re not always going to find a tent site with access to electricity.

Propane heaters are more portable, but come with a different set of concerns when it comes to safety. While it is possible to use a space heater in a tent, one must ensure proper ventilation to avoid the release and accumulation of carbon in the tent.

Most propane heaters are catalytic heaters – which means there is no open flame – and this is more safe than having a flame heater, but you must still ensure that the heater is not covered by anything, as it will melt. 

Portability

Most of the heaters you’d consider taking camping are pretty portable. The portability of your heater depends on its bulk and weight, but also on its fuel source.

Weight & Size

The weight and size of your heater affects how easy it is to move around, but is also important when considering how much space it will take up in your tent. Smaller, lighter heaters are preferable, although these may be less powerful. It depends on how much space you have in the tent, and how much heating you need. 

Noisiness

Sleeping in a tent is uncomfortable enough without added constant noise. Space and wave heaters (propane heaters) are usually pretty quiet, but electrical ones might have a hum. Electric heaters also have fans which can be quite noisy. 

Efficiency

Fuel-efficiency is pretty important for propane heaters, especially when camping. The last thing you want is to run out of fuel on a freezing cold trip. 

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