Best Propane Camping Heater (Winter & Fall 2022)

Best Propane Camping Heater (Winter & Fall 2022)

When the weather turns chilly and overnight temperatures get cold, there are options for staying warm in a tent while still enjoying the outdoors. You could charge up your battery powered heated blanket or, one of the best ways to still enjoy camping in the fall, winter, and early spring is to use a propane camping heater! Bringing along a small, portable heater can make a huge difference in your outdoor adventure without taking much time or effort on your part. We’ve assembled our top picks for the best tent heater for camping, along with the pros and cons for each model, and a breakdown of the factors to take into consideration when picking the right one for you.

4 Best Heaters for Camping

These are our picks for the best tent heaters for camping

Product

BTU’s

Price

Mr. Heater Portable Buddy Heater

up to 9000

$$

Editor’s Choice

Mr. Heater Little Buddy Heater

3800

$

Ignik 2-in-1 Propane Heater Stove

up to 10000

$$$

Campy Gear Wiry 2 in 1 Portable Propane Heater & Stove

up to 13000

$$

*These links are sponsored and may earn us a small commission. Thank you for your support

Editor’s Choice – Mr. Heater Portable Buddy Heater

The Mr. Heater Portable Buddy Heater is our top choice for the best tent heater for camping because of the quality construction and the easy availability of the propane fuel canisters it uses. Plus, it’s ideal for small spaces due to its oxygen depletion sensor and accidental tip-over safety shutoff – this allows you to sleep with peace of mind knowing your safety isn’t compromised. It’s easy to light, has high and low heat settings (4,000 – 9,000 BTUs per hour), and is easily carried with its top handle.

Specifications

  • 10.6 pounds
  • 4,000 – 9,000 BTUs per hour
  • Good for spaces up to 225 sq. ft.
  • Oxygen Depletion Sensor
  • Tip-Over Safety Shutoff
  • Piezo ignition

Pros

  • Oxygen depletion sensor and tip-over safety shutoff
  • Uses 1lb. fuel canisters that are readily available

Cons

  • Heaviest heater on our list
  • Uses one canister of fuel per 6 hours

This miniature version of our editor’s choice is a great option if you need something more portable or smaller. With a maximum output of 3,800 BTUs per hour, it heats up to 95 square feet, which may be a better option for smaller tents or above freezing temperatures. Like its larger counterpart, this heater includes an oxygen depletion sensor and accidental tip-over safety shutoff, but it weighs almost half as much. It connects to a traditional 1lb. propane canister, which is typically easily available in stores like Walmart and sports stores.

Specifications

  • 5.85 pounds
  • 3,800 BTUs Per Hr
  • good for spaces up to 95 sq. ft.
  • Oxygen Depletion Sensor
  • Tip-Over Safety Shutoff
  • Piezo ignition

Pros

  • Better for small spaces
  • Uses 1lb. fuel canisters that are readily available

Cons

  • Very top heavy and more susceptible to falling over
  • Least amount of BTUs per hour on our list

This propane heater by Ignik is actually a 2-in-1 propane heater and stove, meaning you can cook on the top of it with a cast iron skillet and be a 5-star camp chef while also using it to warm your camp. It’s designed to look like a classic lantern, but instead uses propane to put out anywhere from 4,000 -10,000 BTUs per hour. While it’s a great multi-purpose heater and stove, it does not have an oxygen depletion sensor, and should not be used in enclosed spaces without adequate ventilation, a carbon monoxide detector, and continuous monitoring. That being said, it does have a kill-switch that triggers when the device is tipped over or if the pilot light goes out. This heater connects to a traditional propane tank using the included 2ft hose.

Specifications

  • 8.25 pounds
  • 4,000 – 10,000 BTUs per hour
  • Tip-Over Safety Shutoff
  • Piezo ignition
  • Doubles as a stove

Pros

  • Doubles as a cast iron stove
  • Has anti-tipping kill switch

Cons

  • Large size takes up space in your tent
  • No Oxygen Depletion Sensor

This Campy Gear heater is also a 2-in-1 heater and stove but it has two big differences – there is an oxygen depletion sensor built in and it outputs 13,000 BTUs per hour (the highest on our list). That ODS is the biggest necessity when it comes to running a propane heater indoors, and it’s something that’s seen on the popular Mr. Buddy heaters above. That being said, this Campy Gear heater requires a 20 lb. propane tank, which can be a pro or con depending on the type of camping you’re doing. We don’t have a large propane canister like that (e.g., tent camping), but someone who RVs may prefer that over the 1lb canisters from the local store.

Specifications

  • 7.83 pounds
  • up to 13,000 BTUs
  • Oxygen Depletion Sensor
  • Tip-Over Safety Shutoff
  • Piezo ignition
  • Doubles as a stove

Pros

  • Highest maximum output of BTUs per hour from this list
  • 2-in-1 stove and heater

Cons

  • 20lbs propane tank needed, which could be a pro or con depending on your camping setup

Thing to Consider When Choosing the Propane Tent Heater for Camping

While these heaters are generally pretty similar (they all have Piezo ignition, a good amount of BTUs, general portability, etc.), there’s a few factors to take into consideration when picking the right one for you and your situation. The main ones are the presence/lack of an Oxygen Depletion Senor, the type of fuel connection you prefer, and the size of the area you intend on heating compared to the BTU output of the heater.

Oxygen Depletion Sensor

When it comes to camping and using a propane heater indoors, there’s a single factor that you should take the most into consideration and that’s an oxygen depletion sensor. An ODS is designed to shut off the fuel source when it detects that oxygen levels are getting too low, which can mean the difference between life and death when it comes to sleeping with a heater. Three of the four heaters on this list have an ODS built in, but not all of them. If a heater doesn’t have the appropriate safety sensors, then it shouldn’t be used inside.

Fuel Connection

The next biggest factor is where the fuel comes from. All the heaters on this list use propane, but two use a small 1lb canister and the other two require a 20 lb canister that connects to the attached hose. There’s pros and cons to both methods, but it really comes down to space and availability. For tent campers like us, we don’t carry a large propane tank and don’t plan on doing so in the future. However, if you travel with an RV, van, or trailer, you may already carry a propane tank. While the smaller tanks are more portable, they also need to be replaced much more frequently compared to the large canister.

Heating Area vs. BTUs

Next thing to consider is the size of the space you intend on heating. A small two-person tent may get too hot with something like a 2-in-1 or full size Mr. Buddy Heater, while something larger like an 8-person tent or RV may require something larger. If you plan on regularly using it outdoors as well, you’ll want something that offers a higher BTU output and smaller spaces will need something wither lower BTUs and/or “low” settings.

Alternatives for Tent Heaters

If you’re concerned about using a propane heater in a tent, there are other ways to keep warm:

  • Electric heaters can be an option but don’t always make sense while camping, especially camping without an electric hook up or dispersed.
  • Candle lantern – surprisingly enough, there are ways to heat your tent by using candles, and we’ve done a whole write up on how that works.
  • A personal favorite of Ashley’s is to boil water, fill up a Nalgene, and put it near the foot of your sleeping bag right before crawling into bed.
  • From the get-go, one of the best things you can do to stay warm in a tent is to buy the proper gear. This means getting a 3-season or 4-season tent, down sleeping bags, highly rated sleeping pads with a high R-value, and clothing appropriate for the situation.

Related Post: HEST Sleep System Review

Conclusion

Safety is the most important factor, and you should always make sure you’re using the proper type of heater with the required safety mechanisms for indoor use. Use proper positioning by keeping your tent heater away from flammable objects such as your sleeping bags and the sides of your tent. When it comes to picking the right heater for you, take into consideration the safety features, fuel connection type, and heating area vs. BTUs, and you’ll be sure to find the right product for your situation!

Related Post: How to Heat a Tent

FAQ

About the Author

Derek Vitiello

My goal with my writing and Know Nothing Nomads as a whole is to share my passions of hiking, camping, and a love of the outdoors with our readers. Making the difficult and uncertain feel more approachable to people that might not know enough to feel comfortable taking their first steps into the wilderness is a driving factor for me. When I’m not writing you can find me on a trail, in a forest, or next to a river with hiking shoes on my feet and a fly rod somewhere close by.

Stay Connected

with Us


Recent Posts