The Best Tent Heaters to Keep Campers Warm in Cold Weather

Enjoy camping—even in cold weather—with a quality heater that suits your tent size, site, power source, and budget.

Best Overall

The Best Tent Heater Option: Mr. Heater MH9BX Buddy Indoor Portable Propane Heater

Mr. Heater MH9BX Portable Buddy Heater

See It

Best Bang For The Buck

Best Tent Heater Option: Isiler 1500W Portable Indoor Heater

Isiler 1500W Portable Indoor Heater

See It

Best Butane

The Best Tent Heater Option: Campy Gear 2 in 1 Portable Propane Heater & Stove

Campy Gear 2 in 1 Portable Propane Heater u0026amp; Stove

See It

We may earn revenue from the products available on this page and participate in affiliate programs. Learn More ›

The arrival of cold weather doesn’t have to put the kibosh on camping if you have one of the best tent heaters to keep you toasty for winter camping. But before you venture out with your camping tent and sleeping bag, consider the particulars about your camping preferences and location to help decide whether an electric, propane, or butane heater will keep you the warmest.

Read on for key shopping considerations and to find out why the following models are among some of the best tent heaters available for winter camping—so you can enjoy cozy warmth on your next camping trip.

  1. BEST OVERALL: Mr. Heater MH9BX Portable Buddy Heater
  2. BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: Isiler 1500W Portable Indoor Heater
  3. BEST BUTANE: Campy Gear 2 in 1 Portable Propane Heater & Stove
  4. BEST ELECTRIC: Vornado Velocity 3R Whole Room Space Heater
  5. BEST SMALL: Mr. Heater MH4B Little Buddy Heater
  6. ALSO CONSIDER: Costway 15,000 BTU Propane Tank Top Heater
The Best Tent Heater Option

How We Chose the Best Tent Heaters

To bolster our research, we spoke with Daniel Espada, a keen adventurer and founder of Geardventure, a U.S.-based outdoor sports community. He shared his experience camping in the Pyrenees when temperatures dropped unexpectedly. “A tent heater became a must-have, not only for comfort but also for safety since it prevents the risk of hypothermia,” said Espada. “It gave us a warm place to stay and turned a possible disaster into a great memory.”

With this in mind, we researched product specifications and consumer reviews to gauge the best tent heaters for a variety of categories, and discovered that the best models have ample heat distribution, lightweight constructions, long runtimes, and added special features.

Most models are powered by propane, butane, or electricity, and each fuel type offers ample heat distribution. While electric options emit 700 to 1,500 watts of heat (roughly 95 degrees Fahrenheit), propane and butane heaters emit 2,890 to 9,000 BTUs (British thermal units) for large or small tent sizes.

As these heaters are meant for portability, most picks weigh between 1 and 10 pounds and either have small constructions or can be disassembled while on the move. The tent heaters that made our list also can run for 1 to 28 hours, and some designs are constructed with 360-degree heat distribution, tip-over protection, and automatic shutoff.

We also interviewed Barry Sendach, founder and CEO of Tentspaces, a luxury tent supplier based in Boca Raton, Florida, who shared his expert advice on the proper heating of all types and sizes of tents. “Propane heaters can produce excess moisture as temperatures drop into the 40 [degree Fahrenheit] range,” said Sendach. “More importantly, they produce carbon monoxide, so proper ventilation is paramount.” Shoppers need to keep this in mind when using this fuel source. A well-ventilated tent space will keep users warm and safe.

Our Top Picks

For heat output, safety, convenience, and all-around performance, the picks below are among the best tent heaters available. Consider one of these high-quality electric and gas units to suit your outdoor adventures.

Best Overall

Mr. Heater MH9BX Portable Buddy Heater

See It

Product Specs 

  • Power source: Propane
  • Weight: 10.6 pounds
  • Heat output: 4,000 to 9,000 BTUs


  • Durable steel and plastic construction makes this heater ideal for camping trips and outdoor use
  • Heats spaces of up to 225 square feet; suitable for tents, garages, patios, sheds, and more
  • Automatic tip-over and oxygen depletion shut-off features for safety
  • Built-in handle allows for easy transport and portability


  • High winds can blow out the pilot light

Mr. Heater’s MH9BX Buddy heater is considered one of the best nonelectric heaters available. Made from durable steel and strong plastic, this portable propane heater can heat spaces up to 225 square feet at a rate of 4,000 to 9,000 BTUs per hour, which is more than enough for a camping tent. When this heater is set to the highest setting, it can run for up to 3 hours.

The automatic shutoff will turn off the unit if it gets tipped over, detects low oxygen levels, or the pilot light goes off. The handle is designed to fold down for easy transport, and it has a swivel-out regulator to save space. This model weighs 10.6 pounds. Always consult the manual when operating gas-powered heaters, and use them in a well-ventilated space.

Get the Mr. Heater Portable Buddy tent heater at Amazon, The Home Depot, Walmart, or Northern Tool + Equipment.

Best Bang For The Buck

Isiler 1500W Portable Indoor Heater

See It

Product Specs 

  • Power source: Electric
  • Weight: 2.43 pounds
  • Heat output: 1,500 watts (41 to 95 degrees Fahrenheit)


  • Heats spaces up to 108 square feet within seconds of turning on
  • Fire-retardant construction and tip-over switch provide peace of mind and safety
  • Lightweight construction provides portability and ease of transport
  • Adjustable thermostat dial rotates from 41 to 95 degrees Fahrenheit and is simple to use


  • Not compatible with extension cords, so it must be placed near outlet
  • May require a generator for power during outages
  • Some users report that it creates noisy operation volumes

Those seeking a reliable tent heater that won’t break the bank may want to check out Isiler’s portable indoor heater. This electric heater has a powerful output of 1,500 watts, which can warm up a 108-square-foot space quickly. It offers full temperature control via an adjustable thermostat dial that ranges between 41 degrees to 95 degrees Fahrenheit.

This Isiler heater’s safety features include fire-retardant materials, a self-regulator to detect overheating, and a tip-over shutoff if it is knocked down. At less than 2.43 pounds, it’s easily portable and won’t take up a lot of room in a tent. The only downside to this model is that it is not compatible with extension cords, and it may be loud when in operation.

Get the Isiler tent heater at Amazon or Walmart.

Best Butane

Campy Gear 2 in 1 Portable Propane Heater u0026 Stove

See It

Product Specs 

  • Power source: Butane, isobutane, and propane
  • Weight: 1 pound
  • Heat output: 9,000 to 10,000 BTUs


  • Functions as a heater as well as a stove; runs for 2.5 hours on a full fuel canister
  • Easy-to-use control dial allows for simple temperature control
  • 360-degree radiant heat distribution design for warming everyone nearby


  • Fuel hose not included with purchase; may need to be bought separately

This Campy Gear heater operates on 110-gram and 230-gram fuel canisters of butane, isobutane, or propane, however, it can also be connected to a 1-pound propane tank with the appropriate hose (not included). It runs for about 2.5 hours on a full 230-gram fuel canister and has a simple dial on the front to increase or decrease the heat output.

The 2-in-1 heater and camp stove actually have three modes, including cook only, heat only, and cook & heat mode, giving users a variety of ways to use this impressive little heater. It has a max heat output of about 9,000 to 10,000 BTUs and a 360-degree design, so it can sit in the middle of the tent or table and everyone can share the warmth.

Get the Campy Gear tent heater at Amazon.

Best Electric

Vornado Velocity 3R Whole Room Space Heater

See It

Product Specs 

  • Power source: Electric
  • Weight: 5.33 pounds
  • Heat output: 750 to 1,500 watts


  • LED touch controls allow for simple and easy control; large control panel is easy to read
  • 3 heat settings included: low, medium, and high
  • Timer provides 1 to 9 hours of heat; ideal for overnight use
  • Automatic shut-off feature provides peace of mind and safety


  • Some users have reported a noisy operation volume compared with similar products
  • Requires a generator for power when not near an outlet

Designed with sleek LED touch controls, this corded electric space heater is easy to operate, allowing the user to choose the ideal temperature on the digital thermostat, switch between three heat settings, and set a timer from 1 to 9 hours. The three heat settings include low (750 watts), medium (1,125 watts), and high (1,500 watts).

The corded electric tent heater has a cool-touch case, so it can be picked up and handled while in operation or just after being used. It is also equipped with an automatic safety shut-off system if the heater tips over on fabric or a sleeping bag to prevent the risk of a fire. However, the fan may be too noisy for some people and it would require a generator or another power source to operate at a campsite.

Get the Vornado tent heater at Amazon, The Home Depot, or Best Buy.

Best Small

Mr. Heater MH4B Little Buddy Heater

See It

Product Specs 

  • Power source: Propane
  • Weight: 5 pounds
  • Heat output: 4,000 BTUs


  • Warms spaces of up to 95 square feet with the push of 1 button
  • Runs for 5.6 hours on 1 disposable propane cylinder
  • Built-in tip-over and low oxygen shutoff for peace of mind and safety


  • Only suitable for use in well-ventilated tents and other spaces
  • Limited durability compared with other models on the market

The small but powerful Little Buddy, which runs on a disposable 1-pound propane tank cylinder, is rated with an output of 4,000 BTUs—enough to warm up to 95 square feet for as long as 5.6 hours. Its well-designed heater head is set at a 45-degree angle to ensure heat fills the entire tent, keeping one’s body temperature at a desirable level.

The portable Little Buddy radiant heater has a simple on/off switch and comes with low oxygen and tip-over protection. As with all gas heaters, only use it in a well-ventilated tent.

What our tester says: Glenda Taylor, a Bob Vila product tester and staff writer, had this to say about this heater in Best Propane Heater: “Like its big brother, the Buddy heater, Little Buddy is a radiant propane heater, and it warms nearby objects—and people. We found it excellent for warming our gloved hands outdoors, but it doesn’t blow hot air. The tip-over shutoff turned the heater off immediately when we laid the Little Buddy on its side.” Get the Mr. Heater Little Buddy tent heater at Amazon, The Home Depot, Acme Tools, Walmart, or Target.

Also Consider

Costway 15,000 BTU Propane Tank Top Heater

See It

Product Specs 

  • Power source: Propane
  • Weight: 2.5 pounds
  • Heat output: 9,000 to 15,000 BTUs


  • Suitable for large tents; heats up to 400 square feet in a 15-foot radius
  • 3 heat settings can be adjusted with the easy-to-use dial
  • Runs for more than 14 hours on a full tank of propane when on the high setting
  • Tip-over safety switch provides peace of mind and safety


  • Expensive price point compared with other options on this list
  • Matches or lighter required to turn the unit on

The Costway tank top tent heater doesn’t just run on propane, it is actually designed to be mounted right on the top of a 20-pound propane tank. It has three heat settings including low (9,000 BTUs), medium (13,000 BTUs), and high (15,000 BTUs), and can operate on the high heat setting for up to 14 hours with a full 20-pound propane tank.

This propane tent heater is made with an important tip-over safety switch to help reduce fire hazards. The safety switch automatically turns off the gas flow to the heater, which extinguishes the flame but also prevents the buildup of harmful gas. However, users will need to use a match or barbecue lighter to light the tent heater through the ignition hole to be as safe as possible.

Get the Costway tent heater at Amazon.

Jump to Our Top Picks 

What to Consider When Choosing a Tent Heater

In addition to power options, keep the following factors and features in mind when shopping for a tent heater. Some of the most important things to consider are the type, size, weight, and heat output.

Types of Tent Heaters

Campers have the choice between electric and gas heaters, the key differences coming down to how they run, heating capacity, safety, and convenience. Consider the features below to determine which power source is right for you and your portable tent heater.


The main advantage of gas tent heaters is that they produce more heat compared to other types. These portable, non-electric heaters run on either butane or propane, two of the safest gasses available as fuel.

  • Propane heaters are powered by burning liquefied petroleum gas (LPG), a clean, efficient fuel. Portable propane tanks connect to the heater, upon which an igniter or a match creates a spark to jump-start the burning of gas. Although propane burns cleaner than most gasses, it does release a small amount of carbon monoxide. A tank top portable propane heater is a good choice for keeping large tents warm or to heat up the campsite without having to make a fire.
  • Butane heaters are fueled by burning liquified butane gas. Like propane heaters, a spark activates heat production, with the gas stored in a small canister. While it’s not as heat efficient compared to propane, butane releases less carbon monoxide. Between the two fuels, butane costs more.

Gas heaters should be used only in ventilated tents since airflow helps manage carbon monoxide levels. With these heaters, it’s important to check the hose regularly for leaks; pay attention to any whistling or hissing noises, which indicate that gas is escaping from a leak in the hose.


An electric heater is typically much safer than using gas, however, this type of camping heater is rare because a corded electric heater requires a direct connection to a power source, like a generator, and a battery-powered electric heater relies on the runtime of the battery to provide heat. Once the battery runs out of energy, the camping tent heater needs to be recharged, which is difficult without an active power source, so users inevitably run into the same problem.

However, some electric tent heaters for camping can be charged with solar panels. If the user has an existing gas generator or solar panels that can be connected to a power bank, using an electric heater is possible. Just keep in mind that there are a lot of hoops to jump through to use an electric heater, so many manufacturers don’t offer an electric portable heater for camping.

Size and Weight

Some camping trips require a lot of gear, so an overly large or heavy tent heater can be inconvenient. The same goes for brief hiking and backpacking trips when hikers don’t want to carry much. Portable tent heaters weigh as little as 1 pound and up to 15 pounds or more.

Typically, the size of the tent heater correlates to the amount of heat the unit produces. Tents that accommodate four or more people require heaters similar in size to those used in a garage or workshop. One- or two-person tents can get sufficiently toasty with compact heaters that resemble desk lamps.

Heat Output

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.

Electric heaters measure heat output in watts for corded products and volts for battery-powered heaters. 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.


Both gas- and battery-powered tent heaters have a limited runtime that can impact their ability to provide continuous warmth in cold weather. 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. Due to the varying fuel tank sizes, the runtime of a gas tent heater ranges widely from just 1 hour to 48 hours.

Cordless tent heaters are rare because they don’t have a very long runtime (1 to 4 hours) before the battery needs to be recharged, which makes them a poor choice for heating a whole tent. However, smaller battery-powered heaters are suitable to use as a personal heating device to keep hands warm or provide a little extra heat at the camp table.

Noise Level

As a general rule, electric heaters operate more quietly than gas models. Propane and butane heaters are made up of various moving parts to produce heat, which can create a loud humming sound while in use. Light sleepers may prefer a less-powerful heater, which is usually quieter.

Some manufacturers indicate the decibel (dB) level of the heater so users can determine whether it will be too loud. For reference, 40 dB is about as loud as a quiet library, 60 dB is as loud as a regular conversation, and 90 dB is like having a large truck rumbling past.


Tent heaters are a potential fire hazard when placed too close to tent walls and other flammable surfaces, or if they fall onto the floor of the tent. To address this issue, some tent heaters shut off automatically when the unit overheats or tips over. For those shopping for a gas heater, choose a model that powers down automatically when it detects excessive amounts of carbon monoxide in the air.

Tips for Using a Tent Heater

When used safely and correctly, a tent heater is an excellent piece of camping gear that allows outdoor enthusiasts to more comfortably pursue their passions in cold weather. Follow these essential tips when buying and using a tent heater.

  • Consider a tent heater that shuts off automatically when it tips over, overheats, or detects low oxygen levels.
  • Gas heaters should be used only in tents with proper ventilation. Consider having a carbon monoxide detector on hand to monitor oxygen levels.
  • Always keep heaters at least 3 feet from tent walls, sleeping bags, fabrics, and other flammable surfaces.
  • Carefully read the user manual of any tent heater for specific manufacturer safety tips and recommended uses.


If you still have concerns about tent heaters and their different features, read on for answers to some common questions.

Q. How many BTUs should I look for in a tent heater?

For cold weather camping in 20 degrees Fahrenheit or above, opt for a heater with at least 2,500 to 5,000 BTUs or more. To calculate how many BTUs you need, use this formula: tent volume (length x width x height) x temperature difference (current outside air temperature – desired inside temperature) x 0.133 = required BTU/hour.

Q. How do you properly set up a tent heater?

Always keep a tent heater upright, at least 3 feet from flammable surfaces, and as directed in the user manual.

Q. Do you need ventilation when using a propane heater?

When using any gas-burning heater, ventilation is essential to reduce the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning.

Q. How do you keep a tent warm without electricity?

A gas or propane heater can keep a tent warm without access to an electrical outlet. Battery-powered heaters that work with solar panels and chargers are also available.

Why Trust Bob Vila 

Bob Vila has been America’s Handyman since 1979. As the host of beloved and groundbreaking TV series including “This Old House” and “Bob Vila’s Home Again,” he popularized and became synonymous with “do-it-yourself” home improvement.

Over the course of his decades-long career, Bob Vila has helped millions of people build, renovate, repair, and live better each day—a tradition that continues today with expert yet accessible home advice. The Bob Vila team distills need-to-know information into project tutorials, maintenance guides, tool 101s, and more. These home and garden experts then thoroughly research, vet, and recommend products that support homeowners, renters, DIYers, and professionals in their to-do lists.