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The Best Camping Heaters For Camping In Cold Weather

Updated on November 21, 2010

Camping is a great way to escape the dizzying world of today. A weekend excursion with the family can really perk everybody up, so you start the week off refreshed and invigorated. However, once the days get cold, many people think they have to stop camping. But, there are also lots of people who prefer cold-weather camping.

Camping on chilly days can be fun because insects are not a nuisance and it's nice to huddle together in a tent and then wake up in the morning and see nature from a different vantage point. Pouring a cup of joe from your coffee pot and then walking through the woods feeling cold outside but warm inside is very invigorating. You're not sweaty and hot and everything seems to be in slow motion which makes everything seem calmer. That is what cold-weather camping is all about.

Tent camping during the winter months is not the same as tent camping during the summer in terms of your camping needs. It’s not enough that you have your tent, backpack and other camping gear. You must have thicker clothes, easy-to-cook food and possibly a heater for warmth.

Camping with a portable heater can obviously greatly increase your comfort level. In my travels, I have tried a number of portable heaters and learned a few things about them. I learned that no matter what fuel you use with them they still emit gases, emissions and smoke so if you will be using them inside your tent, make sure you have enough ventilation to keep the invisible toxic fumes moving outside. You must also secure your portable heater while inside your tent because you never want it to fall over and cause your tent to burn. Some portable heaters can put out as much as 14,000 BTUs, so if your heater accidentally falls on your nylon or polyester tent, this can be dangerous.

Here I recommend to you the safest, most durable and efficient portable gas heaters I know. If you will notice, I did not include any kerosene heaters because I will only recommend heaters that are ideal for heating tents. Kerosene fuel heaters shouldn't be used inside a tent because of toxic fumes.

Coleman SportCat PerfecTemp Catalytic Heater
Coleman SportCat PerfecTemp Catalytic Heater

Coleman SportCat PerfecTemp Catalytic Heater

This portable Coleman heater can give you 1,500 BTU and its 16.4 oz propane (sold separately) can run the heater for up to 14 hours so it is very ideal for overnight camping or even ice fishing. It has the PerfectTemp Catalytic technology so it is very efficient in giving off flameless heat. I chose this heater because of its safety features. It stands securely so you don't have to worry it will fal over and it has built-in eyelets so you can tie it to any surface for added security. It also has a detachable base and an integrated handle for easy carrying. This small heater is ideal for cabins, tents or if you want to get out on chilly nights and watch the stars because you can actually focus the heat towards you. It weighs only 4.2 pounds; at that size and weight, you won’t believe it's that efficient, reliable and durable. One reminder, though. When it’s new, you have to heat it outside your tent first for an hour or more because it has to burn off residues left on it from the manufacturing process. After the oil dissipates then its ready to go with you anywhere.

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

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

This radiant heat heater is not as noisy as other types of heaters. The Mr. Heater can give you 4,000 to 9,000 BTU radiant heat for up to 200 square feet so it is perfect for family tents. It can be used outside the tent as well and will still emit efficient heat. This camping heater is very safe because of its auto shut-off technology. If it accidentally tips over, it will automatically shut off. It's small and weighs 9.5 pounds. Among Mr. Heater products, this is one of the best sellers, mainly because it has proven itself very reliable, effective and will make you really comfortable even it is freezing outside. It runs on propane gas; one pound of propane can last 4-5 hours. If you want to save fuel, turn it off when your tent gets comfortably warm. Many people also use this reliable heater for garages and cabins and it is an ideal companion for camping, fishing trips, hunting and any other outdoor explorations during cold weather.


Coleman GolfCat Perfectemp Catalytic Propane Heater
Coleman GolfCat Perfectemp Catalytic Propane Heater

Coleman GolfCat Perfectemp Catalytic Propane Heater

This Coleman weighs only 8.2 pounds, has a push-button electronic ignition so you can light it without a match, which is brilliant. With a 3,000 BTU output it is best for single-person tents. With a 16.4 ounce propane bottle, you get seven hours of comfortable warmth. It can stand on flat surfaces like on a table, on the floor and on top of a rock. This small mobile heater will surely add a bit of comfort to your camping adventure even on the chilliest days and you can carry it anywhere using its carrying case that comes included. And are you wondering about the name? Well, many people who love to play golf even on the coldest days like a heater which they can keep inside their golf cart. Because of its reliability, this became popular as a camper’s companion and indeed, it serves its purpose as a reliable portable camping heater.

Mr. Heater Portable BuddyTM
Mr. Heater Portable BuddyTM

Mr. Heater® Portable BuddyÂTM

This little buddy can pack crank out 4000-9000 BTU despite its small size. It is very safe to use in small tents and has an automatic low-oxygen sensor shut-off system. It uses 1 pound cylinders of propane and can be attached to a 20 pound cylinder as well. It is also odor free, very quiet and in low setting can provide up to 108 hours of use. This portable heater is loved by fishers, hunters, hikers, and campers especially when the snow starts to fall from the sky. So don’t be put off by its small size because it is packed with efficient power that can keep you warm for many hours.

Mr. Heater MH12CS 8,000- to 14,000-BTU Propane Radiant HeaterCooker
Mr. Heater MH12CS 8,000- to 14,000-BTU Propane Radiant HeaterCooker

Mr. Heater MH12CS 8,000- to 14,000-BTU Propane Radiant Heater/Cooker

If you want a heater tha can double as a cook stove, this Mr. Heater/Cooker is for you. During the cold months this is a necessity that does double duty. It has a push button piezo igniter and can provide 8,000 –14,000 BTUs for the adjustable (low, medium and high) settings. With its powerful heating element, you can even use it for ice fishing out on the lake or camping out with friends in the backwoods. It uses 1 pound cylinders of propane (not included); one cylinder can last for one and a half hours when on high. It has an automatic shut off system so if the flame goes out, the gas is shut off. It weighs about 7 to 8 pounds and is about 15 inches tall.

This heater/stove ideal for a tent large enough for 8 people, but if you plan on staying in the mountains for days, be sure to bring extra propane bottles. Aside from the fact that I like the versatility of this unit, I also like that it's not a noisy heater and it can reach its full heating potential in seconds.


Submit a Comment

  • profile image


    8 years ago

    I went with the Mr. Heater Big Buddy, because it can go 12 hours on low at 4,000 BTUs, because it has 2 hook-ups for propane tanks. It can also be kicked up to 18,000 BTUs to quickly warm up the tent in the morning, but will last only 3 hours if left there.

    Big Buddy also has a battery powered fan to stir the heat around.

  • jeanie.stecher profile image


    8 years ago from Seattle

    I love camping. But I still do prefer the natural way of rubbing an object to produce fire.


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