Can You Safely Put a Mr. Buddy Heater in a Tent?

Can You Safely Put a Mr. Buddy Heater in a Tent?

For those chilly nights camping, there’s several ways you can try to stay warm in a tent, whether that be a high R-value sleeping set up (like this HEST sleep system), a down sleeping bag, or even boiling some water and putting it in a Nalgene to cuddle with. But perhaps some of the best gear you can have during winter camping is a battery operated heated blanket and a propane tent heater. Even when you don’t have electric hookups, there are non-electric products that can help get you through those cold nights.

Related Post: How to Heat a Tent

Heated blankets are pretty easy, but when it comes to propane tent heaters, there’s lots of skepticism about the safety of having those in an enclosed space. One of the top selling products is a Mr. Heater and we get asked all the time about putting a Mr. Buddy Heater in a tent. After all, safety should always be a #1 priority, so let’s talk about it and answer some of your most frequently asked questions.

Can you use a Mr. Buddy Heater in a Tent?

The simple answer is yes, you can use a Mr. Buddy Heater in a tent. That’s what it is made for. It has built in safety mechanisms, including an oxygen depletion sensor (ODS) and tip-over auto shutoff. This means if the oxygen content gets too low or if the unit accidentally gets knocked over, it will automatically turn itself off.

On the reverse side, there will always be a risk associated with using a heat source in a tent, especially when there’s a risk for carbon monoxide poising and when tents, sleeping bags, and camping gear in general seem to be so flammable. In order to safely use a propane heater in a tent, there’s a few precautions you can take to help ensure your safety. The first rule is to never assume that your equipment won’t fail, because it only takes one failure and it could mean life or death.

Buddy Heater Safety Tips for Proper Use

Even though Mr. Buddy Heaters have built in safety mechanisms, there are some steps you should follow to give it the smallest chances of malfunctioning or tipping over. Never rely on the safety mechanisms, and you should constantly monitor it.

Carbon Monoxide Poisoning From a Buddy Heater

When people think of the dangers of having a propane heater in a tent, most people would think that the risk of fire is the most dangerous and prevalent, but in reality, the first thing that should come to mind is carbon monoxide poisoning. Tent heater deaths related to carbon monoxide poisoning are few and far between, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take proper precautions to minimize the risk. Even though the unit should have a working Oxygen Depletion Sensor (ODS), you cannot rely on it working perfectly. On top of following the steps below, you should also consider using a portable carbon monoxide detector as a back up warning.

Don ‘t sleep with it running

While these heaters are intended for indoor use, you should always be awake and monitoring it for malfunctions. We don’t recommend sleeping with it running because it’s just not worth the risk.

Monitor Constantly

Never leave your unit running without supervision, especially when sleeping. Even when awake, you shouldn’t leave it to run without someone keeping an eye on it.

Use the right size heater

The Big Buddy heater provides up to 18,000 BTUs for spaces up to 450 square feet, while the Little Buddy heater provides 3,800 BTUs for up to 95 square feet. You can see how a Little Buddy would be great for a tent, while their Big Buddy Heater is more ideal for a cabin or camper. This will not only save money on the amount of propane you use, but it will also help minimize risk of something bad happening.

ModelOutputShelter SizeRecommended Use
Little Buddy Heater3800 BTU95 sq. ft.3-6 person tents
Portable Buddy Heater4000 or 9000 BTU225 sq. ft.6-10 person tents
Big Buddy Heater4000, 9000, or 18000 BTU450 sq. ft.Cabin tents, 10+ person tents, or camper use
Hunting Buddy Heater6000 or 12000 BTUs300 sq. ft.Cabin tents, 10+ person tents, or camper use
Heater output and reccomended use for different Buddy Heaters

Provide ventilation

Don’t just stick it in your tent, close up, and leave it. You should open an upper and lower part of your tent, or at least two sides that will allow for a cross breeze.

Place it properly

Your Mr. Buddy heater should always be placed several inches or feet away from other objects, especially flammable ones. Here are a few guidelines for placing your tent heater:

  1. Place it on a hard surface, such as a baking sheet or wooden plank.
  2. Keep it lower on the ground, and not raised close to the top of your tent.
  3. Place it several inches or more away from flammable items such as the sides of your tent and sleeping gear.


About the Author

Ashley Vitiello

Ashley is an adventurous soul who loves all things nature, especially warm sunshine, hiking, wildflowers, and mushrooms. If she isn’t writing content for Know Nothing Nomads, she’s probably in a forest looking at big mountain views and tiny pieces of moss on the side of the trail.

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