We start camping in early spring and don’t stop until late fall. That makes for some cold evenings in a tent! We’ve done the research and came up with the best tent heater on the market. It goes with us on every camping trip because you never know how cold it will get in the mountains.

We’re going to review our chosen tent heater and talk a bit about camping tent heater safety. After all, the best kind of camping trip is a safe one.

How to Stay Warm with a Tent Heater

Tent Heater Mr Heater

Tent Heater Safety

Here are a few tips on safety before we take a look at our top tent heater pick.

Don’t Leave the Tent Heater On Unattended

While a propane tent heater is one of the safest tent heaters you can use, we should point out that you need to be careful using one.

For one thing, do not ever sleep with the heater on. If you leave the tent heater on for too long, it can overheat and become a fire hazard. Plus, with propane tent heaters, you don’t want to waste your gas supply.

If you wake up feeling cold, feel free to turn the heater on for ten to fifteen minutes. That should give you enough heat to fall asleep comfortably.

Think of it this way: you can best use tent heaters while you’re awake, and the sleeping bag can help when you’re asleep.

To use a heater for a tent safely, you can start the tent heater when getting ready for bed, but turn it off shortly before bed.

Keep the Tent Heater Away from Other Items

Make sure you keep the tent heater clear of other items, especially flammable items. It might help to have a metal dais to put the heater on to protect the ground.

Do Not Tip the Tent Heater Over

If it falls and you immediately prop it back up, it shouldn’t be a big deal. Some tent heaters turn off automatically if you tip them over. Nonetheless, always keep the heater propped upright.

Keep Your Space Properly Ventilated for Propane Tent Heaters

Finally, make sure to ventilate the space where your tent heater sits. This is especially important if your tent heater uses propane since, without proper ventilation, you risk carbon monoxide poisoning.

Carbon monoxide is hazardous because it is odorless and tasteless. If you suspect there is carbon monoxide present, turn off the heater, ventilate your tent, and stay out of it for a while.

It might be tempting, especially in the winter, to keep your tent closed off to trap the heat. That’s still a dangerous idea if there’s carbon monoxide, no matter how little, present. Always, always keep a window or door slightly ajar.

You might consider keeping the door open and keeping the heater in that space. Even then, the heater should still do some hard work keeping your space warm enough.

Other Ways to Stay Warm Inside Your Tent

Tent heaters are not the only way to stay warm inside your tent. In fact, you could try some of these items before turning on a tent heater.

Hot Water Bottles

Hot water bottles might seem old-fashioned, but if you place them next to your sleeping bag or perhaps under your pillow, you can stay nice and cozy. We think this long hot water bottle looks super cool and ideal for slipping into a sleeping bag!

Keep in mind that putting boiling water in them can be dangerous, not just for you but also for the bottle. Boiling water can cause the material to deteriorate over time, and the extreme temperature might burn you.

High-Quality Sleeping Bag

A sleeping bag with inner linings, insulated pads, and sturdy zippers can make a huge difference too.

We use the TETON Sports sleeping bag because, as a double sleeping bag, we share body heat. It has kept us warm and toasty. Remember that a good sleeping bag and warm clothes are your first defenses against the cold when sleeping outside. While tent heaters can help keep out the chill, they are not safe to run all night unattended.

You might also consider using a sleeping bag liner or a sleeping pad. A liner can slightly increase your sleeping bag’s temperature, while a sleeping pad elevates your bag slightly and protects you from the cold ground. These things will also help you stay dry, which is crucial for your safety and comfort, especially during cooler camping seasons.

Use a Wool Camping Blanket

We always bring a wool camping blanket with us to throw over top of the sleeping bag. We love our Pendleton Wyeth Trail Blanket as it’s not only stylish but is made from pure American cotton and wool, so it proves a functional AND beautiful way to stay warm on a colder camping trip.

As with clothing, you can layer as many blankets over your sleeping bag as you like. It’s super easy to strip them off if you become too warm.

stay warm in a tent

Keep Your Head and Feet Warm

This one goes without saying. If you’re camping in cold weather, keep some high-quality socks and winter hats on hand. You can even layer extra socks if you wish.

Remember that we lose extra heat through our feet and head, so always keep them covered in cold weather.

Layer Clothes

Similar to the previous point, layer as many clothes as you need. Loose sweaters and long underwear can prove helpful.

Keep an eye on the weather forecast and plan accordingly. Depending on the season, though, the temperature can swing from night to night. It’s better to begin with too many layers and then work your way down.

The Best Tent Heater: Mr. Heater Buddy Portable Heater

Let’s not dilly-dally any longer. Let’s break down why we think Mr. Heater Buddy is the best tent heater available right now is well worth your attention.

Widespread, Comfortable Heat

You don’t need to huddle around the Mr. Heater portable heater to stay warm. We sat at least six feet from it while it ran on the highest setting for a couple of hours, and it warmed us up pretty well. The product boasts that it can heat up to 225 square feet, and it seems to do just that.

We also tested the Mr. Heater portable heater in a tent during a particularly cold weekend, with wind chills just above zero and a frost on the ground. Not surprisingly, the heater kept the tent comfortably warm.

Easy to Use

Turning on the Mr. Heater portable heater is just like turning on a gas kitchen stovetop. You press the knob in, turn it to the desired setting, and then let go. The heater should start heating up the space within 5-10 minutes.

Slim, Compact Design

The Mr. Heater portable heater may be powerful, but it comes in a comfortable small package. Unlike other heaters, it’s pretty inconspicuous. Plus, even with a one-pound propane cylinder attached, it’s still easy to carry around. You can even push the handle down when you’re not carrying it.

Nice Safety Features

You would hope that a propane-consuming tent heater is a safe tent heater, and the Mr. Heater portable heater does well in that regard.

Automatic Shut-Off

The Mr. Heater heater shuts off automatically whenever it tips over, which is an important safety feature. However, the product seems quite sensitive to movement. If you move it around too much, even if you keep it upright, it can still shut off. While it’s not a big deal to move it once or twice during use, you’ll want to know where to place it to avoid this problem. Still, we like that the product prioritizes safety that highly.

Protective Steel Cage Around Heating Unit

The heating unit is going to get hot, so it’s protected with a steel cage. However, it’s not like it’s safe to place anything on top of the unit, like a piece of clothing, for instance. Given enough time, objects could melt or start a fire.

While using propane will emit tiny, tiny amounts of carbon monoxide, Mr. Heater portable healers have measures in place to further limit it. Even if you run it at full capacity for a long time, its carbon monoxide levels should not be dangerous at all.

That said, we recommend you take a few safety measures when storing the heater. If you’re storing the heater inside, you’ll want to disconnect the propane cylinder from the heater. Vice versa, if you’re storing it outdoors, you can probably leave the cylinder attached. Either way, you don’t want to keep it near anything flammable, mainly wooden patio furniture.

Best for Outdoor Use

It’s good to note that two Mr. Heater models are available: the Canada/Massachusetts model and another model for the other 49 states. You cannot use the Canada/Massachusetts model indoors for safety reasons, mainly because those regions prohibit the use of propane products indoors.

Propane releases carbon monoxide, so using them in airtight spaces is dangerous. It’s okay to use them in tents, in that regard, but electrical heaters are much safer for indoor use.

Another nice thing is that even if you leave the portable heater out in the rain or snow, it should still work just fine.

Best for Small Spaces

The Mr. Heater portable heater can only produce 9,000 Btu (British thermal units) on its highest setting (compare that to the 40,000 Btu that larger outdoor heaters can make). It’s optimal for smaller spaces in that regard, but a couple of them should take care of a larger group. To get the best heat, you’ll want to sit in front of the unit, though you can get a little warmth from the back.

Propane Usage

You can only get about 3 hours’ worth of heat from a single one-pound portable tank. That’s also if you’re using the heater on its highest setting. We only ever use it on low for about 10 mins each time just to heat up our Annex area attached to our roof top tent before bed and when we wake up in the morning.


While there are several ways to stay warm when camping in colder weather, trying high-quality sleeping bags and a propane heater is the best way to go. You’ll have to be careful to ventilate your camping area, but your camping things, not to mention you yourself, should stay toasty and dry.