If you’ve ever camped in cold weather or thought about it, you know it’s not nearly as comfortable as summer camping. Along with having the proper clothing, a heat source is a practical way to ensure you have an enjoyable time without freezing. There are several ways to stay warm, and a tent safe heater can be one such way, provided you find the right one and use it safely.
There are quite a few innovative tent safe heaters on the market that can heat a tent. However, it would be best to remember that heaters can quickly melt tents. Ensuring your tent is large enough to keep enough space between the heater and the wall is critical.
Camping Heater Inside Tent
For example, a large tent will make running a tent safe heater easier because there is plenty of room to keep it away from flammable, melt-prone walls. A small tent may likely require a large vestibule. Some heaters in small tents or small spaces , like propane options, probably won’t work simply because they will more easily melt a wall that is too close and there isn’t enough space.
Additionally, you must be aware of potential carbon monoxide poisoning. Either buy a heater that shuts off automatically when there are low oxygen levels, or make sure you have proper ventilation. You’ll also want to find a tent safe heater that shuts off automatically if tipped over, so it doesn’t melt the tent floor or start a fire.
Are Tent Heaters Safe? Probably Not 100%
Using a tent heater requires common sense and care, and when you choose to use one, you do so at your own risk. There is probably no tent heater that is 100% safe. But by following proper safety precautions and following the heater directions, you’re sure to have an enjoyable cold weather camping experience. Also consider bringing along a battery-powered carbon monoxide detector.
Why Use a Tent Heater?
There are many reasons to use a tent heater. Perhaps you want to get out and camp in cold weather. Or maybe you’re living part-time or even full-time in an RV, camper, van, or wall tent and need a way to heat your space. Possibly you are out ice fishing and you need a safe tent heater for your fish house. There are plenty of tent safe heater options and reasons to use them, whatever your reason.
An obvious reason for choosing a tent heater over a wood stove is you don’t have to cut firewood. Now, some people love cutting firewood, and there is nothing wrong with that. But, for others, it’s a huge hassle and a lot of work.
Don’t get us wrong, there are plenty of reasons to love a fire in a stove, and we certainly do! However, it may be much easier to use a heater in some situations. For example, if you live in a van and are traveling around, you won’t be able to carry around a bunch of wood. Further, you may end up camping and staying in places with no firewood available. Therefore one of these options may be best.
A good tent heater is more portable than a wood stove alternative. You don’t have a chimney to set up, and you don’t need a tent with a stove jack. Instead, you can easily pack up the heaters we list in this article and move them, whether it’s across the tent or to another location entirely. You also don’t have to wait long for coals to cool down before emptying the mess and packing it away as you do with a wood stove.
Heating with wood and a wood-burning stove can be delightful, but it can also be exceedingly messy in more ways than one. First, wood ultimately leaves wood chips and dirt all over the floor. If you live in a small space, you’ll constantly sweep and clean up.
Next, you have ashes to deal with. They will inevitably accumulate in a wood stove and need to be cleaned out periodically (and more frequently than you realize!). You also have to let the ashes and stove cool down before emptying them. If it’s the middle of winter, this can get quite chilly while you wait. You’ll likely need a heating alternative anyway!
More Tent Options
If you’re going to use a wood stove in a tent, you need a tent with a stove jack. A tent safe heater doesn’t need a chimney or a stove jack. As long as you have ample space between the heater and the walls, you set up your heater and begin using it.
While tent safe heaters will work fine in large tents with a stove jack, they will also work in regular nylon and polyester tents. Again, make sure you don’t get them too close to the walls, this could be a fire hazard and we do not want them to catch fire or melt.
You can even use them in small backpacking tents if you choose the right one and be very careful with them. Setting up a candle heater in the vestibule of a two-person tent will at least take the chill off in moderate temperatures.
Types of Tent Safe Heaters
If you’re looking for the best way to heat a tent, there are several options. An excellent alternative to a tent with a stove is a tent heater. Following are several types of heaters and, in our opinion, the best tent heaters on the market:
Battery Powered Camping Heater
Anything that generates heat, like a heater, microwave, or hairdryer, uses a considerable amount of electricity. Therefore, battery-powered tent safe heaters require much more juice than small batteries generate. For example, having a power storage device like a car battery or power bank may allow you to run a small 12-volt heater depending on its size.
The downside to a battery-powered tent safe heater is you’ll eventually run out of power, and probably quickly, without a way to recharge your battery. Recharging a battery requires something like a solar system or plugging into a wall outlet. Additionally, these batteries are often cumbersome, meaning they’re best for camping where you don’t have to pack them very far.
The bad news is there are not many battery operated safe tent heaters for camping. Fortunately, there are lots of other good options as we’ll talk about next.
Electric Tent Heater
An electric heater will require a power source, which is best for campsites with an electrical outlet. They will also work if you were to plug into an RV that is hooked up to power. For example, perhaps you set up a tent next to your plugged-in RV. You could use the outside RV outlet and run a heater into the tent.
A small tent heater is similar (if not the same!) to the small electric heaters that you would use in your house. Most come with adjustable thermostats and a safety feature that will shut it off if it tips over. These are lightweight, but since they require electricity, they are not an option for packing into the backcountry. The electric heater heats up an attached heating element and produces a good amount of heat for smaller spaces or indoor spaces. You’ll use these in the backyard or at a campsite with an electrical hookup.
Propane Tent Heater
Propane tent heaters are a popular portable tent heater option. Many of these heaters use the green disposable 16.4-ounce propane bottles. These bottles contain about one pound of propane.
However, there are also many options for running them off larger propane tanks using various attachments and hoses specially designed to do so. However, you must make sure you are using the right equipment because propane can be deadly if not handled properly.
The downside to this type of safe tent heater is they weigh quite a bit, so they don’t make sense for backpacking. However, horse packers and rafters will haul this option to take the chill off in their tents if not packing a wood stove. They’re also a good option for car or tent camping at the trailhead.
Kerosene Tent Heater
Kerosene heaters are another option of gas heaters. They work similarly to propane heaters in that they don’t require an electrical source since they run off kerosene. You can buy kerosene by the gallon at some gas stations or purchase it at most home improvement stores. Next time you are at the gas station, consider picking up some kerosene for your gas tent heaters.
Kerosene is typically cheaper than propane but burns more efficiently and will produce more BTUs per gallon than propane. This makes it an efficient heating source.
It is also a heavier option than some, so it won’t likely be useful for packing very far. But it is a good option for dispersed or campground camping where there are no electrical hookups. It’s also an excellent option for outdoor use at home.
Candle Heater For Tent
While it may not seem like a candle is enough to heat a tent, there are specially designed heaters that do just that. These heaters use candles to provide light and enough heat to warm a small tent. Many hold multiple candles that can burn simultaneously or one at a time, depending on how much heat and light you need.
A candle tent heater is a relatively light option that theoretically could be used for backpacking if it was a desired luxury. Candles are lightweight and typically burn for many hours, so definitely an option to consider.
Best Tent Safe Heaters
We’ve researched, combed through reviews, and personally tried heaters to find the best safe tent heaters for camping. Below are options we believe will suit almost every camping situation and preference, including propane, kerosene, electric, and candle heaters.
Battery Powered Heater For Camping
We don’t have full battery powered tent heater option because, as we mentioned above, there are not any good battery powered heaters that just run on batteries. Lithium batteries however are soon changing the landscape for a battery operated heater for camping.
For now, if you’re looking for a battery heater for tent that will run overnight, you’re basically looking at an entire electrical setup. In that case, you’d be powering a 12-volt battery utilizing solar power or a generator, in which case you would just use an electric tent safe heater.
Safe Tent Heaters For Camping Battery Operated
We do however recommend battery powered hand warmers. These units pack a lot of punch (and heat) in such a small heater. The OCOOPA Hand Warmer is one of our favorites and boasts a lithium battery that could be used in your sleeping bag as one of the safe tent heaters for camping battery operated. For maximum comfort, place a heater by your feet, another by your waist, and another by your shoulders. Your sleeping bag will be warm in minutes if not seconds.
10000 mAh Lithium Quick Charge Rechargeable Battery
The OCOOPA could serve you well as a Camping Tent Heater Batter. This OCOOPA Waterproof Hand Warmer Rechargeable has three ultra-fast heating levels with three levels of temperature at your fingertips in seconds. The OCOOPA has a 10000 mAh lithium rechargeable battery that provides up to 15 hours of long lasting heat. There is also a OCOOPA 5200 mAh lithium rechargeable battery version. This battery operated heater has a built in USB-C charging port. The OCOOPA can also be used as a waterproof portable power bank.
3 Adjustable Warming Levels
- 95 to107°F Fahrenheit
- 104 to 118°F Fahrenheit
- 118 to 131°F Fahrenheit
There are certainly many good options on the market, so, here are our top choices for safe tent heaters without further adieu!
Best Electric Tent Heater
You probably already have one of the many electric tent heaters on the market at your house. There is little to no difference between an electric tent heater for camping and one you use in your home. In fact, we recommend this Brighton Portable Ceramic Space Heater for use in your tent as long as you have a reliable source of electricity. This is also an excellent heater for home use.
It’s small, lightweight, and portable, making it easy to stow in your car or camper. Not only can it be used in a tent, but also in your RV, trailer, or camper shell. It has three settings, a high and low heat setting and a fan for use in the summer. Reviewers rave about the heat this little device gives off. It will warm a small room or your tent in no time!
A nice feature of this heater is you can set it to a predetermined temperature, and it will shut off and kick on as it reaches that temperature and then cools down again. It also runs very quietly, so it is suitable for running on cold nights while you sleep to ensure you wake up nice and cozy in the morning.
Automatic Shut Off
As with other heaters, it will automatically shut off when tipped over. This is nice because you don’t want it running facedown on a flimsy tent floor since it would likely melt it or burn the place down!
If you have an electric hookup, whether at home or a campground, this little heater packs a big enough punch to keep you warm even when it’s cold. And for the price, it’s a no-brainer choice for a good camping heater.
Best Propane Tent Heater
If you’re looking for a reliable winter camping tent heater, the Mr. Heater Portable Propane Radiant Heater is an excellent option. Using a Mr. Buddy Heater in tent is doable, especially with this particular model.
There are several options in the Mr. Heater Buddy line, from the smaller Mr Heater Little Buddy to the Mr Heater Buddy Flex, all of which are excellent if you want to use a Mr. Heater in tent. However, we like the Portable Buddy Heater because it is relatively lightweight at 9 pounds yet still heats up to 225 square feet of space. This means it will quickly warm up almost any tent.
Mr. Heater Portable Buddy Heater
The Buddy portable propane Heater starts with a piezo ignition and has high and low settings. It runs on one-pound propane cylinders that are inexpensive to purchase and run up to 5.4 hours on the low setting and 2.4 hours on the high setting. The cylinders attach on the side to a swivel regulator, making them easy to thread on and off.
With the right attachments and hoses, you can also run this heater off larger propane tanks for a much longer burn.
Using this Buddy Heater in tent is a good option due to its safety features. It comes with an Oxygen Depletion Sensor, so when oxygen gets low in your tent, it will automatically shut off. It does begin to flicker a little and make sort of a whistling noise when it’s getting close to shutting off. Additionally, if this heater tips over or is moved to uneven ground, it will automatically shut off. Both of these features are good for both personal safety and keeping your tent from melting and burning.
This heater is also suitable for use in a camper shell camping setup and will warm it up quickly and easily. Just be careful not to put your coat too close, because it doesn’t end well! It will melt a tent wall just as quickly, so make sure there is plenty of space between the heater and the material wherever you use it.
Best Kerosene Tent Heater
A good kerosene tent heater will quickly warm an entire tent or small indoor space like a propane heater. We think the Sengoku HeatMate 10,000-BTU Portable Indoor/Outdoor Radiant Kerosene Heater is an excellent heating option and another great winter camping tent heater.
This heater is designed for indoor use and outdoor use and heats up to 380 square feet. If you’re camping, you can also set it up outside where you’re cooking or hanging out, which is handy if you’re in a place that doesn’t allow campfires. If fire restrictions are in place, just be sure to check regulations to make sure it’s allowed.
It’s also a handy heater for using outdoors while at home on those chilly fall or spring days where you want to be outside, but it’s still pretty cool out. Set this up next to the BBQ and stay toasty while you cook the first or last burgers of the season! It’s also an excellent backup source of heat in the event of an emergency power outage or for use while working in your garage.
Push Button Start
It has an easy push-button start, a flame-adjuster, and will shut off if tipped over. It also comes with a safety grill to protect you and other items from the flames; however, this still needs to be kept an adequate amount of space away from flammable and meltable materials, like tent walls!
As we said before, kerosene can typically be purchased at most gas stations or home improvement stores. This particular heater will run for 14 hours on 1.2 gallons of kerosene! This makes it more cost-effective than a propane heater. Further, kerosene is more efficient than propane, burning less while producing more BTUs per gallon.
Because this has such a high heat output at 10,000 BTUs, use it cautiously in tents. It will be better to use larger tents with plenty of peripheral space or wall tents, teepee tents, or bell tents if you don’t want to use a wood stove.
At 22.5 pounds, it is a bit heavy for packing around too far, so it is suitable for trailhead use or setting up a tent in your backyard. It makes an excellent option for glamping!
Best Candle Tent Heater
If you’re looking for a good candle heater for tent, look no further than the UCO Candlelier Deluxe Candle Lantern. Made in Seattle, Washington, this is a great lightweight non-electric alternative to heavier propane or kerosene options.
This nifty little gadget provides both light and heat. It holds three candles that each burn for nine hours, resulting in 27 hours of burn time if lit separately. They can generate up to 5000 BTU if used together, enough to heat a small space like a tent.
This heater also generates enough warmth to heat a small amount of water or food on the top shield. It weighs about 18 ounces with the candles, or just over a pound. While it probably isn’t enough to replace your cooking equipment, it is the best potential option on this list for heating a tent when backpacking. The only downside is it has glass panels for viewing the candles. It should be handled with care when packing around.
The UCO also comes with a bail handle for easy carrying or hanging. As with the other tent heaters, it is imperative to keep them away from tent walls. Otherwise, it could melt or burn them. Additionally, it doesn’t give off enough heat for temperatures below 40. It does a good job of taking the chill out of the air. When air temperatures start to linger in that range.
Candle Lantern Tent Safe Heater
Finally, it doubles as a lantern. Many reviewers like the warm glow of the burning candles rather than a harsh LED light. It makes an excellent gift for any outdoor person you know at this price point. The candle tent heater can be used in tents for camping. It can also be used on a picnic table at home, or in a campground to set a nice ambiance.
Probably the biggest downside to this heater/lantern is it does require the purchase of unique candles to go with it. However, the positives likely outweigh this small fact, depending on what you’re using it for.
Final Tent Safe Heater Thoughts
Getting outside and being in nature is key to a happy and peaceful life. Whether you choose to camp year-round, or you live in a more basic form of housing. Just like a wall tent or RV, there are lots of options for staying warm year-round.
While tents with stoves are a popular option, a good top pick tent safe heater will likely work just as well. Safe tent heaters will be useful in more types of tents. You don’t need a stove jack to use a tent safe heater. The heater will even work in much smaller spaces if you choose wisely.
We think a Buddy Heater in tent is an all-around option as a great tent heater. It can be used in relatively small tents and other spaces. The Buddy Heater can heat up to 225 square feet. This makes it useful in small canvas tents instead of a stove.
Depending on if you have access to electricity or not, there is a heater to suit your needs. Even the UCO candle heater gives you an excellent backpacking option if you want something lightweight and packable!
There is no good excuse not to get out in the cold weather seasons. Summer is awesome, but a fall or spring camping trip can be very rewarding. The grass is starting to get green in the spring, and the creeks are flowing full. The leaves change colors in fall, and you can’t beat the bluebird sky brought on by cooler temperatures!
Let this be your inspiration to buy a good tent heater with safety features. What are you waiting for? Get your tent out, and head for the nearest campground or outdoor camp site and fire up your best heaters!