Best Safe Tent Heaters for Camping

If the summer months are behind us it doesn’t mean you have to wait till next year for a camping trip!

Yes, the days do get shorter and the nights colder but with the right equipment, your camping experience can be just as enjoyable as in mid-summer.

Whatever time of the year you go camping, the weather can be unpredictable. In some areas, this unpredictability is the only thing you can predict!

The weather can change in an instance. One moment you’re bathing in glorious sunshine and the next, the clouds have swept over and the temperature has lowered dramatically.

Nobody likes to camp in a freezing cold tent as it’s uncomfortable and can result in possible hypothermia.

Thankfully, you don’t have to worry about shivering inside your tent ever again! The answer to this problem is a tent heater.

A safe heater for your camping trip can change a cold sleeping environment into the most welcoming and comfortable space.

While many heaters can overbear a room and leave you in a sweaty condition, the best tent heaters simply take the edge off the colder temperature without being too powerful.

Finding the best tent heater for your needs can be tricky. There are many factors to consider such as whether you will have an electrical supply to power your heater or not. Along with considering this and a whole host of other factors, I have made the job easier for you.

I have gone on my own expedition into the wilds of the tent heater world and come up with the best on the market. I've found user-friendly, small devices that have exceptional safety ratings so you can use them with peace of mind.

If you’re ready, let’s start looking at the best safe tent heaters for your tent so you will never have a chilly camping trip again.

OUR TOP PICK

Honeywell 360 Degree Surround Heater with Fan Forced Technology – Space Heater with Surround Heat Output and Two Heat Settings – Energy Efficient Portable Heater

If you’re looking to combine safety and compactness, then you should seriously consider the Honeywell 360 Degree Surround Heater.

This heater will heat up large tents so everyone can appreciate what it has to offer. It’s ideal for emitting heat from the center of your tent for a much faster heating process.

As the Honeywell 360 surround heater jumps into action, it heats a wider area without the need for moving components.

This heater comes with adjustable dials that are easy to control as well as excellent safety features that switch the unit off to prevent overheating.

Along with its wider reach, the Honeywell 360 has an additional handle on its top for easy portability when needed.

Although this unit only has 2 heat settings, they do provide enough to keep you comfortable in your tent. These settings are the standard for this type of machine with a high heat and low heat option.

If you have a larger tent, the 360 degrees in which this unit emits heat will keep you and your camping friends very warm and comfortable.

Pros

  • Compact - Lightweight and very portable which is perfect for camping trips when you may need to carry it over some distances
  • 360-degree heat - Offers heat to all corners of large tents to keep everyone comfortably warm
  • Packed with safety features - Includes 2 overheat protections, a tip switch to turn the device off if it falls over, thermal protection so it will never get too hot, and thermally insulated wiring that is reinforced for added protection and durability
  • Easy to use controls - Adustability controls allow you to achieve your desired heat easily

Cons

  • Only has 2 heat settings - You can only choose between low and high heats which may not always be suitable in some climates
  • Low setting sometimes bypasses the temperature control - Some users have found that the heater ignores the controls which contonues to heat constantly even with a remote to adjust the temperature setting

EDITORS CHOICE

Amazon Basics 500-Watt Ceramic Small Space Personal Mini Heater - Black

Next up is a perfect choice if you’re an occasional camper and don’t want to splash out large sums of money for a heater.

This Amazon Basic Ceramic Small Space personal Mini Heater is one of the most affordable options on the market and, although it has a basic design, it is easy to use and functions superbly to keep you and your camping buddies warm.

This heater includes a ceramic coil that heats up pretty quickly. This is ideal for supplying you with a little bit of extra warmth on a cold evening.

What it lacks in size, it doesn’t lack in heat output. Powered by 500 Watts, it may not be the best choice for large tents but if you need to heat up a 3 or 4 man tent quickly, this is the heater for you.

I loved the quietness of this unit too. Some heaters tend to “rumble” when turned on which can be distracting, especially when you’re trying to sleep. There is no problem with the Amazon basic heater though. It will keep you warm and allow you to get a silent night.

Another bonus is the variety of colors this heater comes in. I understand that style isn’t that important with heaters but with more color options, it could look great in an office, bedroom, or lounge when not being used for camping.

Simplicity is the key to this heater as it has no oscillation, no dial, and no LCD display. It simply heats up and warms your surroundings and for a heater, there is nothing else you really need.

Pros

  • Includes tip-over protection - Will immediately switch off if it tips over to prevent possible damage to the tent and fire hazards
  • Easy to use - With no customizable dials, oscillation, or LCD display, you just turn this heater on to warm up your tent
  • Comes in a variety of colors - When not being used on camping trips, it can look great in your home office space or bedroom, etc
  • Very quiet - Offers very little sound when in use so you won’t become distracted when trying to sleep

Cons

  • Not suitable for large tents - Has a lower output than some heaters but it’s ideal for smaller tents

BEST VALUE

STANLEY ST-222A-120 Electric Heater, Black, Yellow

The Stanley ST-222A-120 Electric Heater is a superb choice if you’re looking for a powerful unit that can heat a sizeable area.

This 1500 Watt, 12.5 amp heater can heat up to 165 square feet of space with 5100 BTUs (British Thermal Units). This means it can be used in larger tents to warm up all corners.

The portability of tent heaters is important to consider as you may need to carry them over some distances to get to various campsites.

Fortunately, the Stanley electric heater is very compact in size and weighs only 3.8 pounds so you shouldn’t have a problem transporting it to different locations.

Although small, it certainly packs a punch. Whether you want to slightly heat your tent up or need it on full blast on freezing winter evenings, you can control this through its 2 setting thermostat to get your desired heat.

When it comes to safety, this electric heater is excellent. The feet and handle are constructed from plastic so they won’t become too hot to handle.

This unit also comes with a built-in tip switch that shuts the heater off immediately if it falls over which can easily happen throughout the night when you’re asleep.

Pros

  • Heats up large spaces - Ideal for larger tents that require heating throughout
  • Lightweight and convenient - Weighing only 3.8 pounds, this heater is easy to carry and move around when needed
  • Powerful heat emitter - Two setting thermostat emits powerful amounts of heat which can be controlled to suit your desired temperature
  • Very safe to use - Includes a plastic handle and feet that don’t overheat and a built-in tip witch to turn the unit off if it gets knocked over

Cons

  • Safety pressure button can be flimsy - This turns the heater off if it’s not upright and can become damaged quite easily

RUNNER UP

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

For a very reliable and quick to set up heater, the Mr. Heater F232000 MH9BX Buddy is definitely one to consider.

The safety of this unit is outstanding making it one of the best choices for families on camping trips.

Its auto-shut-off function kicks in as soon as the heater tips over or when it detects too little oxygen. This results in the flame going out as the thermocouple turns off the main supply of gas to the catalytic burner.

As well as being very safe to use, this Mr. Heater unit is very lightweight and improved for a variety of indoor uses including tents. It is capable of heating all kinds of tents as well as RVs or garages within a few minutes.

Mr. Heater is very easy to store thanks to its foldability. When not in use, you can fold it into a very small size and store it conveniently out of the way until next time.

It’s worth noting, however, that this heater may switch off when being used above 7,000 feet so if you’re planning on camping on higher grounds, you may need another model.

Pros

  • Ideal for family-sized tents - Heats up large spaces such as family tents with different chambers
  • Very safe to use - Automatically switches off if it tips over or too little oxygen is detected 
  • Lightweight - Very convenient to carry around and move when required
  • Easy to store - Folds up into a very small size to store away when not in use

Cons

  • Not suitable for all conditions - Above certain heights (7,000 feet), it may turn off
  • Unsuitable for very large tents - Although ideal for large tents, some of the biggest sized may need a more heavy-duty unit to warm every compartment sufficiently

RUNNER UP

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

Here, I have another from the Mr. Heater range and this is a highly portable and cheap option. Mr. Heater F215100 is a reliable and safe unit that can be used for different occasions but is best suited to smaller spaces.

Nonetheless, it still packs a good amount of power and can easily heat up to 95 square feet using its indoor-safe propane.

The operation of this heater is simple and highly reliable. All you have to do is press the ignition and hold it down until the pilot light becomes stable.

The heat will soon begin to emit, usually taking 10 to 30 seconds. This Mr. Heater has built-in tip-over and low-oxygen sensors to automatically turn the unit off resulting in extra safety for you and your camping pals.

Once switched on, Mr. Heater F215100 can blast out heat for around 6 hours using a 1-pound propane tank. Although this isn’t quite as long as some heavier-duty models, it should be enough to heat up your tent and surroundings for most of the night.

Instead of offering high and low settings, this heater has one single setting for constant heat which isn’t the best choice for everyone. However, this constant heat will be very helpful on cold camping trips throughout the winter months.

This heater is probably best suited for small tents such as a 3 person unit but you won’t need a power outlet for this to heat your tent up unlike fan or ceramic models.

Instead, the heat is circulated through a natural rise of warm air and the fall of cooler air. If you’re looking for a very useful emergency heater for an upcoming camping trip, Mr. Heater F215100 could be the one for you.

Pros

  • Powerful - Emits a generous amount of heat that can easily warm up the entirety of smaller tents
  • Highly portable - Compact size is easy to carry and transport to different locations
  • Safe for ventilated indoor use - Ideal for tent use as well as in your home or office space
  • Supplies continuous heat for up to 6 hours - Simply turn on the heater and your surroundings will be fully heated for the next 6 to 7 hours

Cons

  • Not the quickest to heat up an area - Takes more time to heat up spaces than some of its competitors which can be frustrating when you’re in need of instant heat
  • Small tank base - The tank base could be made a little bigger to reduce the risk of the whole unit falling over

Best Safe Tent Heaters for Camping Buying Guide

When investing in a safe tent heater, there are some important considerations to take into account.

There are many different tent heaters on the market but not all offer the same safety features or heat output.

Whether you consider the power source, the size of the heater, or the amount of heat it emits, it’s vital you understand what different heaters have to offer.

This way, you can make that final decision in complete confidence and know you will be investing in the best possible tent heater for you.

Power/Fuel Source

This is probably the first thing you need to consider when buying a safe tent heater. Most tent heaters are powered by electricity while others use fuel to heat up.

Electric models are generally regarded as the safest option for indoor use, such as tents, as most have automatic shut-off devices or tip-switches to turn the unit off if it gets knocked over.

This reduces and even prevents the risk of overheating and possible fires. However, you will usually need an electric source for these heaters. If this is possible where you camp, then you will have an endless supply of heat.

Electric models aren’t the best option for camping out in the wilds, however. You could opt for a battery-powered unit instead but this will only last so long. Gas heaters with a 1-pound canister can be a great alternative as they can be used anywhere and usually emit more heat.

While some campers love to use gas heaters, they are not always the best choice for use inside your tent. Gas models have a naked flame which is usually kept away from possible risks but this always poses more of a threat than units without any flame.

There are pros and cons for electric models and gas/propane models but for safe, indoor tent use, electric models have more benefits than consequences.

Heat Output

Most heating appliances’ heat outputs are usually measured in BTUs (British Thermal Units). This is simple to understand as, the higher the figure, the more heat the unit will offer.

While some tents are gigantic, most of us use smaller sizes such as 3 to 4 man types. Therefore, a heater that produces around 2000 to 6000 BTUs should be more than enough.

Nonetheless, the more heat a heater can produce, the more flexibility and control you have over the final temperature.

Size

Tent heaters need to be big enough to heat your whole tent to keep everyone warm but also compact enough to not take up too much room inside the tent.

Most users of tent heaters are car campers as opposed to backpackers. This is because hikers and explorers don’t want to carry added weight with them over long distances.

If you’re a car camper, size may not have to be a huge deal. As long as it offers enough heat, you’re good to go!

However, you don’t want a very heavy heater that is hard to transport to different destinations and store when not in use. You should take a look at the heater’s dimensions to get an idea of how this corresponds in relation to the size of your tent and the space in your vehicle.

Protection

You can’t ignore the fact that heaters inside your tent can become dangerous. This is why it’s vital you find a unit with the right safety features.

Some of the features you should look out for include:

  • A tip-over switch - This switch automatically turns off your heater if it tips or gets knocked over. This can easily happen when you’re asleep (which isn’t advised) or when the last person leaves the tent and they wouldn’t know they knocked it
  • Automatic cut-off switch - This ensures you won’t fall asleep with the heater on. I understand that the nights are the coldest part of camping but keeping your heater on during the night can be dangerous as you’re more likely to knock it. Most manufacturers state their heaters are safe for overnight use but it’s best to be safe than sorry. This cut-off will occur after a certain number of hours of uninterrupted use
  • Overheat protection - This will prevent the unit from getting too hot. The internal components of a heater can easily overheat. To combat this, some heaters include a temperature sensor built-in to shut the entire unit down if it reaches a certain temperature. This is a life-saving feature and is available in both electric and gas models

Instructions

Some heaters can be difficult to operate at first. This is why your unit should come with instructions and, most of the time, this is the case.

Make sure you follow the instructions and precautions that the guide informs you to do. Guessing may just take more time out of your camping trip or impede the heater’s function.

FAQ's

What heater is safe to use in a tent?

All of the heaters in my list above are very safe to use in a tent. While you can use electric heaters and catalytic units (gas), some are safer than others.

Generally speaking, electric heaters such as the Honeywell 360 Degree Surround Heater are exceptional at keeping you warm and safe inside your tent. This is because they are run by electricity with less risk of fire hazards.

Catalytic heaters are safe to use in a tent, as long as there is enough ventilation. These are designed to be used in enclosed spaces as they don’t make use of an actual flame.

Although both electric and gas heaters are safe, the safety benefits of electric heaters far outweigh the negatives.

Are Mr. Buddy heaters safe for tents?

Mr. Buddy heaters are some of the most popular models available and there is no surprise that two models appear on your list above.

The good news is that Mr. Buddy heaters are safe for use inside tents. More often than not, these heaters are the go-to choice for many campers as well as hunters or those looking for an added bit of warmth through the winter months.

These heaters are designed to heat up interior spaces safely and are ideal for many settings such as garages, hunting stands, and other small areas that may need heating up from the cold.

Many portable propane heaters can become dangerous when used in tents or indoors. This is because there is a higher risk of carbon dioxide poisoning. Mr. Buddy heaters include a sensor that automatically turns of the unit when oxygen levels are low.

These heaters also include an auto shut-off feature which turns the unit off when it gets knocked over. This reduces the risk of overheating and possible fires.

All this being said, Mr. Buddy heaters are safe when used in a well-ventilated area so try and keep them away from objects such as blankets or clothes to prevent the risk of fires.

Is it safe to use an electric heater in a tent?

It is safe to use an electric heater in a tent but there are some precautions to take into account first.

You should clear an area in your tent especially for an electric heater with at least 2 feet of open space in front of it. This prevents melting or accidental fire. Some heaters have their own specific guidelines which you should be able to read with their instruction manual.

The heater should be placed in an area where it will not get knocked or bumped during the night as you sleep. Placing an electric heater, or any heater, by your feet as you sleep is a bad idea. If your tent isn’t large enough for a heater and yourself, you may need to purchase a larger tent.

The heater should be on a raised platform and out of the way of obstacles and yourself. If raised up, you will need to securely place it into position by wrapping duct tape around the heater and the platform several times.

If you’re using an electrical cord, keep it away from any water source to prevent the connection from shorting. Make the cable visible and out of the way to prevent anyone from tripping over it.

With all the proper precautions, electrical heaters are very safe to use in your tent.

Can heaters be used in tents?

As I have stated, heaters, whether they are gas or electric, can be used inside tents. Although most are safe to use, there are potential dangers involved so taking the correct and proper safety measures is paramount.

As most tents provide hardly any insulation, it can be very difficult to stay warm, especially in the colder months. While a top-quality sleeping bag and pad can keep you relatively warm and away from the cold ground, camping heaters will add a layer of warmth that would otherwise be impossible to attain.

Most of us use tents that are not very effective at trapping heat as they are designed to be lightweight and provide a good airflow throughout. This results in a thin material that makes up the tent as well as a large amount of mesh. Therefore, the heat from heaters can evaporate very quickly.

Tent heaters are the most effective in better-insulated, heavier tents that are made from canvas and provide less ventilation. However, less ventilation heightens the risk of carbon monoxide building up inside the tents and becoming trapped.

This can lead to carbon monoxide poisoning but most heaters have an automatic switch to turn off the unit as soon as it detects too little oxygen.

So, while heaters can be used in tents, they are best suited to heavy-duty models and not more ventilated, thinner types.

Can you sleep with a Mr. Buddy Heater in a tent?

If a heater is safe to use in a tent during the day, more often than not, it is safe to use at night. This goes for Mr. Buddy heaters too.

These models are designed with safety features that ensure there is absolutely no risk of carbon monoxide poisoning and normally include an automatic switch-off function that will extinguish the entire heater if it tips over or detects low oxygen levels.

Always ensure the heater is away from the sides of the tent and other materials to prevent burning and possible fire. There should be space around the heater so heat can emit freely throughout the tent.

Also, don’t have it anywhere near you as you sleep as you could knock it over during the night which could cause some damage.

What is the best way to heat a tent?

There are many ways to try and heat your tent and not all include spending your hard-earned cash on new equipment.

If you’re planning on going camping and the weather forecast looks a little chilly, here are some methods to try and warm your tent up:

  • Use a tent heater (as seen above)
  • Use a candle lantern that heats up to 15 degrees but do not fall asleep with this switched on as it could cause an accidental fire
  • Dig a number of holes (about a foot deep) inside your tent (if you have no flooring) and place a few hot rocks from a campfire inside these. Cover the stones with soil, sand, or place them inside socks to prevent any burning
  • Purchase a top-quality sleeping bag with high-temperature ratings. Sleeping bags with a rating of 0 degrees will keep you very warm
  • Fill up a non-plastic bottle with hot water and place it next to your sleeping bag (Do not keep it next to your torso as this can heat up your organs and cause harm to your kidneys)
  • Consider using a smaller tent as these will heat up faster and quicker
  • Eat a substantial hot meal before bed or drink a hot beverage

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