Camping: How to Stay Warm in Your Tent (Best Tent Heaters & Survival Tips)

Heating for tent

When you’re camping, there are a few essentials that you just can’t go without – a tent, sleeping bag, and of course, a heater.

If you’re like me, then you hate being cold. And there’s nothing worse than being cold when you’re outside. That’s why I always bring a portable tent heater with me whenever I go camping.

Heaters are needed for keeping warm on those chilly nights, and they can make your camping experience much more comfortable.

I will show you the best tent heaters on the market, and help you choose the right one for your needs. Whether you’re looking for a small heater to keep you warm in your personal tent, or a large heater to heat up your entire campsite, there is something for everyone.

But what if you don’t have access to electricity or tent heaters?

Don’t worry!

There are plenty of ways to heat your tent without them. Throughout this article, I will also cover some useful and simple methods you can use to keep warm and not freeze while camping in cold weather.

What You Need to Do to Keep Warm in Your Tent – The Preparations

1. Choose the right camping tent for your climate

Camping: How to Stay Warm in Your Tent (Best Tent Heaters & Survival Tips) 1

When looking for the right camping tent, it is vital to consider the climate you will be camping in.

If you are camping in a colder climate, you will want to ensure that your camping tent is well-insulated, waterproof, and has a good rainfly. If you are camping in warmer weather, ventilation is key to keeping cool.

The most versatile is a 4-Season Tent. It is the perfect tent for every occasion. You can use it in the winter, summer, or fall and not be too hot with its ventilation system that keeps you cool on those warm days.

So make sure to get the right camping tent for your next trip.

2. Choose a campsite that is in the sun and has a lot of trees for shade

Hossa National Park campsite

To make sure you’re comfy and cozy at night, find a campsite with plenty of trees for shade.

You should also take into consideration which direction the wind will be blowing or has blown earlier in order to prevent any tentative breezes from penetrating through cracks between door panels when it gets chilly outside after dark.

3. Bring plenty of warm clothes, including hats, gloves, and scarves

When you go winter camping, it is important to bring along plenty of warm clothes. This means packing hats, gloves, and scarves for each person in your group.

Even if the weather is forecast to be mild, it’s always a good idea to be prepared for colder temperatures. After all, the temperature can drop quickly once the sun goes down.

So make sure to bundle up and stay warm while camping.

SaleBestseller No. 2
Bestseller No. 3
Joyoldelf Tactical Heavyweight Balaclava Outdoor...
Joyoldelf Tactical Heavyweight Balaclava Outdoor...
Material is fleece composite fabric.One Size fits all.; Versatile, can be used as a hat, snood, scarf, mask to use.
$9.99

4. Bring a tent-safe heater

Mr. Heater MH18B Propane Heater, Red

If you’re like most people, the colder weather makes you want to curl up in a ball and hibernate until spring.

But what if you could enjoy the great outdoors all winter long? With the best tent heater, you can! There are many different types of tent heaters available and choosing the right one is very important.

Stay warm and cozy on your next cold weather camping trip with one of these top-rated heaters.

So…These are the best tent heaters for a warm and cozy camping experience

Product Comparison

Product
Best Overall
BLUU Propane Heater for Outdoor and Indoor Use...
Best Electric Tent Heater
Portable Electric Heater, Electric Space Heater...
Best Gas-Powered Heater
Campy Gear Wiry 13,000 BTU 2 in 1 Portable Propane...
Best for Large Tent
Mr. Heater MH18B Propane Heater, Red
Best for Small Tent
Mr. Heater F215100 MH4B Little Buddy 3800-BTU...
Title
BLUU Propane Heater for Outdoor and Indoor Use...
Portable Electric Heater, Electric Space Heater...
Campy Gear Wiry 13,000 BTU 2 in 1 Portable Propane...
Mr. Heater MH18B Propane Heater, Red
Mr. Heater F215100 MH4B Little Buddy 3800-BTU...
Power Source
Propane
Corded Electric
Propane
Propane
Propane
BTU
10,080-20,000
2,500-5,100
Up to 13,000
4,000-18,000
3,800
Heats up to
300 sq. ft.
350 sq. ft.
300 sq. ft.
450 sq. ft.
95 sq. ft.
Run time
Up to 5 hrs
-
Up to 42 hrs
Up to 11 hrs
Up to 5.6 hrs
Low-oxygen sensor
Best Overall
Product
BLUU Propane Heater for Outdoor and Indoor Use...
Title
BLUU Propane Heater for Outdoor and Indoor Use...
Power Source
Propane
BTU
10,080-20,000
Heats up to
300 sq. ft.
Run time
Up to 5 hrs
Low-oxygen sensor
Best Electric Tent Heater
Product
Portable Electric Heater, Electric Space Heater...
Title
Portable Electric Heater, Electric Space Heater...
Power Source
Corded Electric
BTU
2,500-5,100
Heats up to
350 sq. ft.
Run time
-
Low-oxygen sensor
Best Gas-Powered Heater
Product
Campy Gear Wiry 13,000 BTU 2 in 1 Portable Propane...
Title
Campy Gear Wiry 13,000 BTU 2 in 1 Portable Propane...
Power Source
Propane
BTU
Up to 13,000
Heats up to
300 sq. ft.
Run time
Up to 42 hrs
Low-oxygen sensor
Best for Large Tent
Product
Mr. Heater MH18B Propane Heater, Red
Title
Mr. Heater MH18B Propane Heater, Red
Power Source
Propane
BTU
4,000-18,000
Heats up to
450 sq. ft.
Run time
Up to 11 hrs
Low-oxygen sensor
Best for Small Tent
Product
Mr. Heater F215100 MH4B Little Buddy 3800-BTU...
Title
Mr. Heater F215100 MH4B Little Buddy 3800-BTU...
Power Source
Propane
BTU
3,800
Heats up to
95 sq. ft.
Run time
Up to 5.6 hrs
Low-oxygen sensor

Best Overall

BLUU Propane Heater

BLUU Propane Heater for Outdoor and Indoor Use...

Camping: How to Stay Warm in Your Tent (Best Tent Heaters & Survival Tips) 2

Power Source: Propane

BTU: 10,080-20,000

Heats up to: 300 sq. ft.

Run time: Up to 5 hrs

Automatic low oxygen shut-off system (ODS): Yes

When the cold weather starts to set in, it can be tough to keep warm. 

Not only is staying warm important for your comfort, but it’s also essential for your health. 

Tent heaters that provide efficient heat while keeping safety in mind are the best.

And the BLUU Propane Heater is precisely that and is perfect for keeping you warm indoors and outdoors. This portable heater features a whopping 20000 BTU burner that can heat up 300 square feet of space!

It also has an adjustable temperature control knob so you can customize the warmth to your liking, and it will turn off automatically when low oxygen is detected or it tips over. Safety grills are also used to shield anything that could easily catch fire.

Plus, this propane heater runs up to 5 hours on a single tank making it a great choice for all-day warmth.

Simply connect one or two 1 lb propane cylinders or a 20 lb cylinder to start using.

Our favorite part is the green color design that can blend well with nature, so that wild animal will be less likely to be attracted.

Best Electric Tent Heater

AEscod Portable Space Heater

Portable Electric Heater, Electric Space Heater...

Power Source: Corded Electric

BTU: 2,500-5,100

Heats up to: 350 sq. ft.

Run time:  –

Automatic low oxygen shut-off system (ODS): –

It’s cold outside, and you want to keep warm, but propane heaters may be too expensive for you.

AEscod Portable Electric Space Heater is an affordable alternative to traditional propane heaters that will save you money on your energy bills while keeping you comfortable outdoors or indoors.

It is lightweight at only 4 pounds and compact enough to fit into almost any backpack or large bag. 

With an adjustable thermostat dial control and automatic shut-off protection feature when overheating, this heater will maintain a consistent temperature without having to worry about turning itself off in the middle of use like some other models do.

Unlike other electric heaters, this model has a 90-degree tilt-head design, allowing you to conveniently adjust the heating angle to suit your needs.

Use it for car camping, tailgating, hunting, fishing, construction sites, or any other activity where a small but heavy-duty heater would be helpful.

Best Gas-Powered Heater

Campy Gear Wiry 2 in 1 Portable Propane Heater & Stove

Campy Gear Wiry 13,000 BTU 2 in 1 Portable Propane...

Power Source: Propane

BTU: Up to 13,000

Heats up to: 300 sq. ft.

Run time: Up to 42 hrs

Automatic low oxygen shut-off system (ODS): Yes

Are you looking for a new heater/stove in your next backpacking, hunting, or ice fishing trip?

The Campy Gear Wiry 2 in 1 Portable Propane Heater & Stove is one of the most loved portable propane heaters on the market. A wealth of features make it easier, more enjoyable, and more productive to live your life every day.

In the freezing cold winter months, this propane heater can efficiently warm up you and your loved ones quickly with its powerful output of up to 13,000 BTU.

You will be able to easily prepare any food if you use the adjustable flame control and collapsible pot stand, which can hold pots with a diameter of 3.9 to 12 inches.

Like the other products in this category, you will be glad to know that it also features a tilt switch in case it tips over accidentally and an ODS switch that will immediately turn off the unit when low oxygen levels are detected.

In our testing, the gas hose and regulator proved durable, with no problems connecting to the propane tank or heater unit.

This heater and stove combo is truly one-of-a-kind. If you want to get more out of your heater, this is the thing for you.

Best for Large Tent

Mr. Heater MH18B Big Buddy Indoor Propane Heater

Mr. Heater MH18B Propane Heater, Red

Power Source: Propane

BTU: 4,000-18,000

Heats up to: 450 sq. ft.

Run time: Up to 11 hrs

Automatic low oxygen shut-off system (ODS): Yes

This heater is just as big and powerful as it sounds. It has a maximum BTU output of 18,000, and despite its high performance, it is quite portable, thanks to the solid carrying handle.

With Mr. Heater Big Buddy, you have the advantage of running it on two one-pound propane tanks rather than one, giving you a longer runtime on its lowest setting and reducing the need to switch tanks as often as with a smaller heater.

By simply pushing and turning the knob, the piezo sparking mechanism will ignite. With an Oxygen Depletion Sensor and an accidental tip-over safety feature, you can be assured of years of reliable, safe outdoor heating.

Best for Small Tent

Mr. Heater F215100 MH4B Little Buddy Indoor Propane Heater

Mr. Heater F215100 MH4B Little Buddy 3800-BTU...

Power Source: Propane

BTU: 3,800

Heats up to: 95 sq. ft.

Run time: Up to 5.6 hrs

Automatic low oxygen shut-off system (ODS): Yes

Are you a fan of the Mr. Heater brand but don’t need the vast heat output of the Mr. Heater Big Buddy? Then you may be interested in the cute and compact Mr. Heater Little Buddy.

The tiny size of this tent heater makes it easier to travel with. Despite its size, it still has a solid, stable foundation, and you can feel the warm radiant heat throughout the small tent.

There are, of course, the usual propane heater’s built-in safety features, such as a low O2 sensor and a tip-over sensor.

In our testing of this product, we discovered that it is very efficient and can provide heat for up to 7 hours using a 1 pound gas cylinder.

How to Choose the Best Best Tent Heaters

Mr. Heater F215100 MH4B Little Buddy 3800-BTU...

When you’re looking for a portable tent heater, it can be hard to decide whether gas or electric is the right choice. The two most important features that will help in your decision process come down to how they run and what capacity each type offers.

However, there are other considerations, such as safety features involved with both heat sources too! You’ll want to take all these things into account before settling on one power source, so don’t forget about them when making up your mind either way just yet.

Type

Camping can be a fun and relaxing experience, but it is also uncomfortable when you are cold.

Most campers use propane or electric heaters to stay warm in their tent.

Remember that these heating methods also have some drawbacks that outdoor enthusiasts don’t like. 

-Propane Heaters

A propane gas tent heater is a device used to heat a tent. It uses liquefied petroleum gas as fuel and typically has a fan to distribute the heat. 

Propane heaters are pretty portable, but they get very hot and vent gas out of the top of the heater into your tent, causing carbon monoxide poisoning if an exhaust fan provides not enough fresh air.

-Electric Heaters

Portable electric heaters are safe, but they only work well in small spaces because they do not emit much warmth compared to other types of space heaters.

They also require extension cords and electricity which may be hard to find at certain campsites during winter months. You can bring a portable battery generator. Solar panels and chargers are also available to power electric heaters with batteries.

Safety

The most important aspect is their safety. Before each usage, inspect your heater and any propane or kerosene tanks for signs of fault and check your connection for leaks or damage if you detect that awful rotten egg stench from it.

They are designed to emit an efficient amount of heat, so they won’t overheat or cause you harm when used correctly.

It’s a no-brainer that tent heaters should not be placed on slopes, steps, or anything else that might collapse or shift throughout the night. They shouldn’t be used for cooking and other purposes, and only attachments and attachments from that heater should be used.

In some tent heater models, the heater shuts off automatically when the unit overheats or topples. For gas heaters, buy models with ODS (Oxygen Depletion Sensor) feature that shut off itself when they detect a low oxygen level.

Heat Output

Mr. Heater F232000 MH9BX Buddy 4,000-9,000-BTU...

The maximum square footage a heater can effectively warm up is determined by its BTU rating.

British Thermal Units (BTUs) is a unit of measurement for energy. BTUs measure the amount of energy required to raise the temperature of one pound of water by one degree Fahrenheit.

Heaters with higher numbers are more powerful and will be able to heat larger areas for you, but they also cost consume more fuel.

Most campers choose a propane heater that generates between 3,000 and 20,000 BTUs according to their tent size.

For corded heaters, heat output is measured in Watts, while battery-powered heaters are measured in Volts. 

If you need something lightweight and portable, look for electric heaters that are rated for between 750 and 1,500 watts. More powerful electric heaters will be larger, so keep that in mind.

Runtime

Flame King YSN5LB 5 Pound Propane Tank Cylinder,...

Fuel type and size are very important factors in calculating the maximum runtime.

The size of the heater needed depends on the size of the tent and how quickly it is to heat up.

One gallon of propane will provide a good amount of fuel for a small-sized tent but may not be enough to last through a cold night if your use is heavy. Some propane heaters accommodate multiple tanks, which can make it easier to ensure you have enough heating power.

A larger tank can also hold more gas, which means less time will be spent refilling.

Based on the size of the fuel tank, the runtime varies widely from just one hour to 42 hours for a gas tent heater.

Coverage

It is common for tent heaters to be rated for a certain area, typically 100 square feet or less, which is enough space for most tents for four or fewer people.

A big heater can heat an area of more than 300 square feet, so it is enough for large tents.

The type of material used to make your tent can also affect how quickly it traps heat in cold weather.

For example, a family camping trip where everyone is packed into a tiny space with no ventilation will feel warmer than if they were out on an overnight excursion that had plenty of insulation but didn’t cover them from chilly breezes or snowfall above freezing point.

Noise

We all know that gas heaters are noisy, but did you also realize they make more noise than their electric counterparts? It is especially true for more extensive and more powerful gas heaters.

The lack of whirring and clicking in electric heaters makes it easier for those who share the same tent or have light sleepers syndrome. This could be one reason why some people prefer them over gas-powered radiator heaters. 

Durability

Mr. Heater MH12HB Hunting Buddy Portable Space...

When you buy a tent heater, you need to make sure that it’s rugged and made from durable material. This is so that it can survive if it’s dropped or knocked around.

A heater that isn’t built to last won’t do you any good when you’re out in the middle of nowhere and need it the most. Do your research and find a heater that will stand up to whatever you can throw at it.

Camping Heaters FAQ

What is the recommended BTU rating for tent heaters?

You will need a heater with at least 2,500 BTUs or more when camping in cold weather when the temperature is 20 degrees or higher. 

Check out this BTU calculator to estimate how much BTU your tent requires.

However, in modern tent heaters, there is usually a choice of heat settings, so you don’t have to buy one with a specific BTU.

Can you put a propane heater in tent?

One of the first questions a camper will ask is: do I need ventilation when using a propane heater?

When you use a gas-burning heater, it’s essential to ensure that the room is well ventilated. This will reduce any risk of carbon monoxide poisoning and make for a safer environment in your tent.

Manufacturers incorporate multiple safety features into their propane heaters as a result of safety concerns and health concerns. Thus, they can be used in tents without any problems.

Electric and battery-powered heaters are also excellent choices if you’re concerned about carbon monoxide. If you get your propane heater regularly inspected to ensure there are no problems, you will not have any issues.

What is the proper way to set up a tent heater?

Tent heaters should always be placed on something stable and kept upright.

And keep your tent heater out of reach from anything that could burn, like furniture or paper. You should also follow the safety precautions in its user manual.

The Best Ways to Stay Warm in a Tent Without Electricity

1. Stay active – move around and do some exercises to generate heat

Staying warm when camping without electricity can be a challenge, but it’s not impossible.

The solution to staying warm when camping without electricity is simple – stay active and keep moving! That means getting up and doing exercises or even just walking around.

By staying active, you’ll generate more heat and stay warmer. So don’t just sit around in your sleeping bag – get up and move around!

2. Drink plenty of fluids (hot tea, coffee) before bedtime to stay warm from the inside out

Camping Storytelling

To stay warm from the inside out, drink plenty of fluids before bedtime. This includes hot tea or coffee and other liquids that will help keep you hydrated throughout your sleep cycle.

By drinking fluids before bed, you’ll not only stay hydrated but also help your body to maintain a comfortable temperature as you sleep.

This is especially important during the winter months when the air is cold and dry. Enjoy your drink and stay warm.

3. Use a camp stove to cook food and generate heat

open fire cooking equipment

When you go on a camping trip, the first thing most people will do is cook their food and make sure there’s enough fuel for warmth. 

That’s where these handy camping stoves come in. They can be set up anywhere with an open flame, so you don’t have to worry about not being able to cook your food and generate enough heat.

4. Eat hearty meals

The best way for you to be warm on these chilly nights? Eat hearty meals such as chili hot dogs or beef stew. These will keep your body temperature up.

Soup is also a great way of staying energized during these cold days, as well as making sure you have enough nutrients in your diet for optimal health throughout this season with its rich source food groups.

I remember one time when I was camping with my family. We were out in the middle of nowhere, and the only thing we had to eat was a can of soup. It was a cold, winter night, and that heated soup was the best thing I’ve ever tasted. It was so warm and delicious, and it really hit the spot.

5. With hot water bottles, you can heat a tent and yourself

Hot water bottles can be used to heat a tent or to keep yourself warm. This method is simple, inexpensive, and accessible to everyone.

There was one time during camping night as I huddled inside my sleeping bag, I debated whether or not to get up and put a hot water bottle inside. It was cold outside, and the thought of getting up and starting a campfire outside the tent was unappealing. But if I didn’t do something, I would be freezing by the morning.

I finally decided to get up and put the hot water bottle inside. As soon as I got back in the sleeping bag, I could feel the warmth radiating from the bottle. Within a few minutes, I was nice and toasty.

SaleBestseller No. 1
SaleBestseller No. 2

6. Wear lots of layers while you sleep – down or synthetic materials are best

The preparation phase of the trip stipulated that you should bring a lot of clothes and camping gear. If you feel cold, wear lots of layers while you sleep. Down is best, but synthetic materials are also good.

7. Make sure your head and feet are covered with a hat and socks

The importance of wearing warm clothes cannot be overstated. Make sure you cover your head and feet with a hat, gloves, or stocking cap as well.

The cold weather can be very dangerous if you’re not properly dressed, so make sure you stay warm and safe this winter.

Bestseller No. 1
Carhartt Men's Knit Cuffed Beanie, Heather Grey,...
Carhartt Men's Knit Cuffed Beanie, Heather Grey,...
Carhartt label sewn on front; Prev. Name: Acrylic Watch Hat
$16.99
SaleBestseller No. 3
SaleBestseller No. 1
SaleBestseller No. 2
Carhartt Men's WP Waterproof Insulated Glove,...
Carhartt Men's WP Waterproof Insulated Glove,...
Durable, all-purpose polytex shell; Digital-grip palm and stick-grip fingers and thumb; FastDry technology lining wicks away sweat
$29.99 −$3.00 $26.99
SaleBestseller No. 3

8. Put a reflective blanket over you if you’re cold

Feel the warmth of a reflective blanket.

Mylar blankets or space blankets are also referred to as “reflective blankets” because they can help maintain body temperature in cold environments by trapping up to 90% of body heat that would otherwise be dispersed into the surroundings. This makes them perfect for camping trips when the weather may not always cooperate.

In one case during my car camping trip, the cold air whipped through the campground, chilling me to the bone. I wrapped my shivering body in my mylar blanket, trying to get warm. I had been out camping with my friends for the weekend, but the weather had taken a turn for the worse. We were all huddled around the campfire, trying to stay warm. The Mylar blanket was our only hope.

Luckily, the blanket worked its magic, and soon I was feeling much better. We spent the rest of the evening around the fire, telling stories and roasting marshmallows.

SaleBestseller No. 1
SaleBestseller No. 2
SaleBestseller No. 3

9. Invest in quality sleeping bags that are rated for the temperature you will be camping in

Best Double Sleeping Bags

The quality of your sleep will depend on the temperature you are camping in. Make sure that any sleeping bag is rated for what’s expected, and buy accordingly.

10. Use an insulating pad to keep your body heat from dissipating into the ground

Lightspeed Outdoor Air Mattress

Winter is a cold time of year, so keep yourself warm by tucking in with an insulating pad. You’ll be more comfortable and won’t have to worry about getting sick because you’re not coughing all morning long.

Because the ground conducts heat away more quickly than your sleeping bag, you’ll want to insulate yourself from it. While your sleeping bag protects you from losing body heat to the air, the ground absorbs it even faster. A sleeping mat prevents this from happening, so you stay warmer throughout the night.

You can read our reviews for some of the best sleeping pads here.

11. Avoid opening the tent door unnecessarily, as this will let in cold air

The cold air seeps through the tiny cracks and, before you know it, your tent feels more like an icebox than a refuge from the storm.

Every breath feels like a battle against the numbing air, and the darkness only makes things worse. You can’t help but wonder how you’ll make it through the night.

Clearly, the door to your tent should be kept closed as much as possible, and you’ll want all seams sealed tight. This includes not opening the zip when inside or outside of it in order to preserve heat stays trapped within.

That’s a wrap!

big tents

Now that you know about the different types of tent heating techniques, it’s time to choose the one that is best for your next camping trip. Will you go with a portable propane heater? Or will you try using an electric blanket?

No matter which option you choose, make sure to take safety precautions and enjoy your warm and cozy camping experience.

Have you tried any of these safe tent heating methods before? What was your experience like?

Share via

Price last updated on 2022-05-26. Links & images are from Amazon Product Advertising API. Our editors independently research, test and recommend the best products and services. We may receive a portion of sales from products purchased from this article at no additional cost to you.

Don’t Miss Our Stories
Enter your e-mail below and sign up for our newsletter

I have read and agree to the terms and conditions

>
Send this to a friend