Night temperatures in the great outdoors take a dip and sleep doesn’t come easily when you’re shivering cold. When sleeping in a tent, a heater is a great way to warm up. When the outside is chilling cold, it will make the inside of your tent a delightfully warm shelter and get you toasty warm and cozy for a good night’s sleep.
This guide has all the information you need to find the best camping heater that will keep you warm and safe. To start with, here is a selection of the best tent heaters to choose from. They include electric and propane tent heaters and they are all easy to bring along with you and top-rated for their tent heating performance, efficiency, and safety features.
How To Choose A Tent Heater – Buying Guide
Finding it hard to decide which camping heater to pick? To make choosing easy, let’s take a look at the features to look out for and things to factor into your buying decision so you can choose the right heater that will keep you warm and safe:
Size and Weight
A heater is one more piece of gear to pack and bring along on your camping adventures. It will add more pounds and occupy space in your camper or backpack and also in your tent. Keeping in mind how you will be transporting the heater to the campsite and the size of your tent, consider how easy to pack and carry the heater will be and whether it will fit within your tent.
If you have a single or two-person tent, a personal space warmer or small heater will do. It will be easier to pack and carry, fit inside the tent and its heat output will be sufficient for the tent.
If you have a large glamping or family tent, you will need a large heater with a high BTU output and it will also be heavier. This won’t be a big issue if you will be using a vehicle to get you to the campsite and the tent will be large enough to accommodate a bigger heater.
If you want a portable heater for backpacking, hiking or climbing, it will need to be compact and packable so it can fit in yourbackpack and inside a small tent and the weight will be a big factor. Make sure you’re comfortable with the weight, as you will be carrying the heater for a long distance on your person.
If you will be using a gas-powered heater for tent camping, take into account the size and weight of the fuel cylinders you will need to bring along.
You want a heater that will warm up your tent effectively and efficiently. The BTU ratings will tell you the kind of heat output a heater has and whether it will be adequate for your tent and camping conditions.
BTU is short for British Thermal Units. It is the amount of energy a heater can produce. A high BTU rating means the heater has a high thermal output and emits a lot of heat. If you have a large tent or will be camping on snow, you need a high BTU rating. If you have a small tent or camp in mind weather, a lower BTU output will be sufficient.
Most heaters will list their BTU rating and the maximum tent space it is designed for. Small tent heaters have BTU ratings of about 3000 while the large ones have 18000+ BTU outputs. You can also calculate the exact amount of BTU your tent needs.
First, determine the length, width, and height of your tent and multiply the three measurements to determine the cubic feet of your tent. Next find out what kind of temperature you will be camping in and subtract it from the temperature you will want to maintain inside your tent.
Finally, use the following formulas to determine the BTU you need for the size of your tent and the camping temperature conditions:
Cubic Feet x Temperature Increase (in Fahrenheit) x .133 = Required BTUs
Cubic Feet x Temperature Increase (in Celsius) x .2394 = Required BTUs
Now, all you have to do is pick a heater with a BTU rating that matches the BTUs your tent and camping conditions require.
There are times you will want maximum heat output because you have a large tent, you want to warm up fast or because it is extremely cold. When the inside of the tent gets nice and toasty, you will want to reduce the heat output to a comfortable level.
To enjoy this adjustability, make sure the tent you use has high and low settings and allows you to adjust the heat level for your comfort and also for efficient heating and fuel consumption.
A tent is a small, enclosed space and safety is a major concern when running a gas or electric heater inside one. With any appliance that produces heat comes the risk of fire. Carbon monoxide poisoning is also a concern when using propane tent heaters in a tent. You want a safe heater you will be comfortable running in a tight space.
A heater for a tent should be designed with safety in mind and equipped with safety features such as low oxygen detection and automatic shut-off if oxygen levels are low. An overheat protection feature is also important as it will turn the heater off if it gets too hot.
Buy a heater with a stable base and a tip over switch that automatically switches it off if it is tipped over. An automatic shut-off will protect you just in case you fall asleep with the heater on, as the heater will turn itself off after running for a while. A cool to touch exterior or a guard that prevents accidental contact with the hot heating elements is also important.
Make sure that the heater you choose has these safety mechanisms. Also, be sure to read the manual in order to know the ventilation requirements and safety hazards of your heater and how to use it safely.
Tent heater options include electric heaters, battery-powered tent heaters, and propane tent heaters. Each type of camping heater has its advantages and disadvantages. Take them into consideration as you decide on the best type of heater for your tent and camping conditions.
Portable gas powered heaters are the most popular camping tent heaters for use when camping in the wild where you don’t have access to electricity. If you will be setting up a tent on a campground with access to electrical power supply or hook up (EHU), you can use an electric heater for tent camping.
Electric heaters are safer to use in a tent as they do not produce carbon monoxide and their exterior remains cool to the touch. Their downside is that they require access to electricity and don’t produce as much heat as gas heaters. If you just want to pack an emergency heater just in case, chemical heaters are the ideal option.
When deciding on the type of heater to go for, consider the energy source the heater requires in order to produce heat and choose the most convenient option.
If you choose a gas-powered heater, you will have to lug along fuel canisters. Propane tent heaters are the most commonly used as propane is readily available, clean-burning and it stays in liquid form in frigid conditions.
Most propane tent heaters work with disposable one pound fuel canisters. If you are going on an extended camping expedition or have a large heater for a family or glamping tent, most heaters will also allow you to connect larger fuel tanks with the purchase of an appropriate hose.
Electric camp heaters are powered by electricity and require plugging into an electrical outlet. Make sure the camping site has electric hook-ups (EHUs) and carry a long power cord. You can hook your electric heater up to a small generator of your own but this is another appliance to lug along. There are also battery powered tent heaters that utilize batteries.
Other features to consider include the ignition mechanism. A camping heater should be easy to start and have an automatic starting mechanism so it is easy to get going when your hands are cold. Some heaters turn on at the press of a button while others require lighting up a pilot light using a match or lighter.
The heating technology is another feature to consider. Does the heater heat whatever it is pointed at directly or does it heat the air first? Such a heater will warm you quickly and more efficiently.
A convection heater that heats cold air and then uses a fan or blower to disperse the warm air all around the tent will take longer to warm the whole tent but is ideal for warming up a large tent space.
Q: Why Do I Need A Heater For Camping?
To warm your tent and yourself at night for a good night's sleep and again in the morning. Whether you're camping in desertlike conditions or in the dead of winter, temperatures take a dip at night. A tent isn't insulated enough to keep the cold out when camping in cold weather.
You need a way to keep warm inside the tent so you can sleep comfortably and avoid the risk of hypothermia. Lighting a fire inside a tent isn't an option and this is why you need a heater. It is a convenient option that heats the tent quickly and it is safe to use in an enclosed space.
Q: Are Tent Heaters Noisy?
Some tent heaters are absolutely quiet while others are noisy. If you are using a heater with a fan or blower, it will definitely produce some noise. The noise levels of most tent heaters are acceptable and even welcome if you usually need white noise to fall asleep. If you're a light sleeper, go for a heater that burns quietly.
Q: How Do Tent Heaters Work?
Tent heaters use radiant or convection heat technology. Radiant heaters have a metal such as glowing quartz and a reflector and they radiate heat just like the sun. They warm people and objects they are pointed at directly without warming the air first.
With convection heaters, cool air comes into contact with the heated elements where it is heated and warm air is blown out. Chemical heaters are composed of a liquid that crystalizes and radiates heat.
Q: How Do I Calculate How Much Propane My Heater Uses?
Check your heater specifications to see whether the manufacturer provides the consumption/burn rate in gallons or pounds per hour. You can also calculate the amount of propane your heater uses using the heater's BTU rating (BTU/HR).
Divide the BTU rate by 21591 to find out how many pounds of propane your heater uses per hour. To calculate the gallons of propane used per hour, take the usage in pounds and divide by 4.24.
Once you have the consumption rate per hour, multiply it by the number of hours you need heating per night to determine how much propane your heater will use per night. Multiply the night usage by the number of nights you will be out there if you're on multi-day expeditions. As a guide, most propane tent heaters burn for four to seven hours on one pound of propane.
Globo Surf Overview
Fun-filled days in the great outdoors can turn into miserable nights due to the frigid night temperatures. Having the right camping gear – a well-insulated camping tent, a warm sleeping bag, delicious camping coffee, and heaters can make nights warm, enjoyable, and restful. When you have a reliable heater for tent camping, cold weather won’t be an excuse not to enjoy the outdoors.
A heater should be easy to pack and carry and safe to use inside a tent. All the tent heaters reviewed above meet these criteria. Be sure to choose a heater for camping with the right BTU output for the size of your tent and the conditions you camp in and one that requires a convenient energy source that you will have easy access to. Stay warm and safe!