Best Portable Camping Heater: Keeping Yourself Warm in the Colder Months

Tent heater
Bradley Page
Written by Bradley Page

The majority of people would consider camping to be one of those activities that you only partake in during the summer months, simply because summer offers warmer weather at night than the other seasons do. If you want to camp comfortably then you need that warmer weather. But, the temperature outside can be a real hindrance for people who genuinely enjoy camping, especially if they camp with their families.

Imagine getting directly in to a bed that feels as though it was carved directly out of a block of ice, it does not sound nice, does it? Where there is a problem, there is a solution. If you spend some time looking around the internet you will quickly see examples of products that consider themselves to be the best portable camping heater. A portable heater is exactly what you need, then you will no longer have to worry about the weather.

Types of portable camping heaters

The majority of camping heaters that you can find readily available on the market fall directly under two completely different category branches – gas and electric. The option that is right for you will depend entirely on your own requirements as a camper, and each of the two options has pros and cons depending on your point of view.

Most of the gas heaters that you can find are called propane heaters, and the majority of them feature a very similar design structure. But there is a bit of variety when it comes to their electric counterparts.

Halogen Heaters

Halogen heaters operate in a relatively unique way compared to other camping heaters. This is because most camping heaters directly warm up the air that surrounds them, meaning that they warm your surroundings up.

Portable halogen heaters

Whereas halogen heaters use a specific type of infra-red light, this infra-red light allows them to strike and heat up an object directly. There is no need to warm up the entirety of your surroundings with a halogen heater.

Fan Heaters

Fan heaters are considered to be a good option among campers because they work instantly. They can actually be used to blow warm air around your tent within just minutes.

Portable fan heater

There is only one slight drawback that you should be aware of before purchasing one, the noise. Some fan heaters are considerably noisier than other products that you can easily access on the market, and you do not want to suffer with a restless night while camping. You also don’t want to cause any unnecessary sleeplessness for any campers next door!

Oil Filled Radiators

If you tend to be good at remembering things then an oil filled radiator could be a really good, and really safe option for you. You need to be good at remembering things because an oil filled radiator will need to be turned on around an hour before you actually intend to use it. It does not offer instantaneous heat like fan and gas heaters do. The warmth that an oil filled radiator can provide your tent is often described as comforting by campers – opposed to a deadly warmth.

Oil filled radiator

One thing that you also really have to consider is the standing method that your portable camping heater features. Most of the propane heaters on the market feature a well-shaped paddle foot. This foot has been specifically designed to minimize the risk of knocking the product over while it is turned on, a situation that can be a real risk with gas heaters. If you want to know more about the risks that are associated with heaters that run on gas, then go down to our ‘Gas Heaters and Safety’ section below.

What to consider when looking at camping heaters

When it comes to choosing a portable camping heater, there are several important questions that you need to take into consideration. How important these factors are will depend on what you intend on using your portable heater for.

How large is the portable camping heater?

One of the first key things that you will need to consider is actually the size of the portable camping heater that you are looking to purchase to go camping with. Remember that you will need to carry the portable camping heater around with you, unless you are camping somewhere near your car of course, then you won’t have to carry it too far!

Philips fan heater

The ideal camping heater for the majority of people will be relatively small, so that you can carry it directly to any campsite that you want to, while still carrying the rest of the gear that you need to take with you. You definitely do not want to make two trips in the colder weather.

How much warmth can the portable camping heater offer?

The amount of warmth that a portable camping heater can offer you depends mostly on the type of heater that you purchase. The thing is that most portable heaters can actually offer you more than enough heat, and a lot of them actually feature several different heat settings. The main thing that you should consider is not the amount of heat that a product will give off, but rather how long the product will take to heat up the area.

Camping gas heater

If you are looking for an instantaneous heat that will warm up an entire area, including your sleeping bag, then you should be looking for either a propane heater or a fan heater. Remember that most propane heaters need to have their tank changed after several hours. On the other hand, both halogen heaters and ceramic heaters will tend to immediately heat the area that surrounds them, but that heat will not radiate far enough to heat up the area that you plan on sleeping in.

Another option will always be an oil filled radiator. Remember that they can take anywhere up to an hour to warm up, but if you can remember to turn them on an hour before you really need them, they are one of the best options on the market.

How much power it takes to power an electric portable heater?

If you have decided that an electric portable camping heater is the best option for you, then you need to make sure that you check the wattage requirements of the product. Also make sure that you are definitely going to a campsite that has the access to plug your electrical items in!

Power consumption

When you are at a campsite that features the use of electrical appliances, you tend to plug quite a few things in. If the wattage of your camping heater is too high, when combined with other items you could risk tripping the power out.

How much noise will the camping heater product?

Noise is not always the first thing that campers think of when they purchase a portable camping heater, but it should definitely be one of the things that you try to take into consideration. One of the main culprits when it comes to noise production would have to be fan heaters, they are notorious. To the point where there are horror stories about embarrassed campers keeping the strangers in the tent next to them awake all night. Kiss goodbye to a good night’s sleep.

Outdoor heater

If noise is one of your worries, then you should go with an oil filled radiator. They are generally considered to be noiseless, making them worth the hassle of turning them on an hour before you actually need to use them.

Is the camping heater safe?

On the most part, camping heaters are incredibly safe, especially electric camping heaters. There are several risks that can come into play when it comes to propane heaters, and there are precautions that you should make sure you take when using a propane heater. You can find out more about those precautions in the next section.

Gas Heaters and Safety

Anything that involves the use of gas, or a propane tank, should always be approached with a mixture of both caution and an open mind. When using a gas powered portable camping heater there are several precautions that you should take to keep yourself, and anyone camping with you, safe. Due to these necessary precautions the majority of campers will go for an electric powered heater, but by taking adequate safety measures you will not have to worry at all.

One of the main things to remember when using a propane heater is that you should never have it in use within your tent, this is due to the risk associated with the use of gas products in enclosed spaces. Unfortunately, your tent simply will not offer you enough ventilation to use the product safely. To use it you would be unintentionally running the risk of succumbing to carbon monoxide poisoning, and it is dangerous, especially when you consider that there are no tell-tale ways to detect carbon monoxide in the air.

Tent heater

If you absolutely have to use your propane heater in your tent then you need to make sure that you also purchase a Carbon Monoxide Meter for yourself, and make sure that you remember to take it camping. There are certain circumstances where you may need to use a propane heater within a tent, for example, there may be no electricity access at the campsite you plan on camping on.

You should make sure that you never leave a propane heater turned on while it is unsupervised. This is because a propane heater involves the use of both a naked flame and gas, and the two together could provide you with a terrible combination.

There is usually only a fire risk if the propane heater is knocked over. Luckily, the majority of propane heaters that are available on the market feature a safety feature to combat exactly that. An automatic valve can directly shut off the fuel supply when the propane heater is knocked over, or when the flame goes out.

Our Portable Camping Heater Reviews

Texsport Portable Outdoor Propane Heater

Weight: 3 poundsTexsport Portable Outdoor Propane Heater

Dimensions: 6 x 9 x 10.5 inches

Top features: A safety valve, individual regulators, and a large paddle foot base

Best use: Camping, hiking, and ice fishing

Usually the added security of a reputable company can really make a product ideal, and this propane heater has come directly from a company that has over four decades’ worth of experience in the outdoor recreational industry. This probably explains why the Texsport Portable Outdoor Propane Heater also manages to last on just one tank for around 7 hours, a lot longer than the majority of propane heaters that you can find on the market.

Safety is always a customer’s key concern when it comes to purchasing a portable heater that runs on gas. The design of this product really reflects on that worry. It features an overly large paddle foot base to add extra stability to the product, meaning that the product is highly unlikely to fall over, and it is likely to stay standing when accidentally knocked. It also features a perfect automatic shut off valve that will immediately shut the fuel supply off if ever the flame within the product goes out.

Check the price on Amazon

Mr Heater MH15 Propane Heater

Weight: 1.9 poundsMr. Heater MH15 Single Tank Top Outdoor Propane Heater

Dimensions: 8.8 x 8 x 12.8 inches

Top features: A safety valve, sturdy construction, and a noise reduced design

Best use: Camping, multi-day trips, and ice fishing

If you are looking for an incredibly lightweight propane heater, then Mr. Heater MH15 Propane Heater could be the ideal model for you. During the design process of this product, multiple day trips were heavily taken into consideration, as well as the requirements that a camping heater for multiple day trips would have to meet.

One of the features that embodies this is the noise reduction system that this product features, as a lack of sleep on a multiple day trip could prove to be incredibly dangerous, especially if you are hiking or taking part in another outdoor activity.

It is worth noting that there is no sensor on this product, so if you do have to use it within a tent we would highly recommend that you also purchase a carbon monoxide meter for an additional level of safety. You do not have to worry though; this model has been structured in such a way that makes it highly unlikely to knock the product over – something that you should be careful with when it comes to all propane heaters.

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Dyna-Glo TT15CDGP 15000 Liquid Propane Heater

Weight: 2.42 lbsDyna-Glo TT15CDGP 15,000 Liquid Propane Tank Top Heater

Dimensions: 7.1 x 8.3 x 12 inches

Top features: A safety valve, multiple heat settings, and a rear safety grill

Best use: Camping, garden parties, and staying warm at night

One of the best features of modern-day propane heaters is that a lot of them actually feature multiple different heat settings. These heat settings are actually useful for two different reasons.

Firstly, you can control the overall temperature of your environment, making it comfortable for yourself. Secondly, the lower the setting, the longer the heater will last on one tank. Dyna-Glo TT15CDGP 15000 Liquid Propane Heater features three heat settings: Low – 48 hours, Medium – 33 hours, and High – 28 hours.

This particular type of heat is known as a radiant heat, as it disperses heat in highly concentrated areas. This concentration of heat means that external elements, such as wind, will rarely affect the product. Be aware that some customers have found that one of the valve sticks on this product is susceptible to breakage, but there are ways around that. We believe that the best thing you could do in that situation would be to contact the company directly as soon as any issue arises.

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Lasko 6462 Ceramic Heater with Remote

Weight: 9.05 lbsLasko 6462 Full Circle Ceramic Heater

Dimensions: 8.4 x 9.2 x 25 inches

Top features: Full-circle heat production, a thermostat, and quiet fan-powered technology

Best use: As long as there is an electric supply, this product can be used for anything

If you do not need to carry your heater around hiking with you, then Lasko 6462 Ceramic Heater is known to be one of the best options on the market. It is both larger, and heavier than other products, but it does an excellent job at heating absolutely everything that surrounds it. This is mostly due to the design of the product; it offers a 360-degree motion that heats the entire room. This means that it could easily be used to heat a multiple occupancy tent for the entire night.

An advanced ceramic heater, it also features a digital thermostat that is fully programmable. This means that you can set a heat at which you want the device to turn off at, and it will. There are also both high and low options if you do not want to set the thermostat to a certain temperature. Unlike other fan options available on the market, this particular model offers a type of fan-powered heat delivery, reducing the noise of this product.

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Holmes Portable Desktop Heater

Weight: 2.5 poundsHolmes Portable Desktop Heater

Dimensions: 7.5 x 4.5 x 11.3 inches

Top features: A safety valve, a thermostat, and summer/winter features

Best use: Heating a tent in winter, or cooling a tent in the summer

Most people see a heater and think, but what will I do with it during the summer months? What if you could use the same product that you use to heat your tent in the colder months, to cool your tent during the summer months?

That is the reality with Holmes Portable Desktop Heater, as it offers both heat and fan settings due to the fan-powered design that it consists of. In the winter the fan blade blows directly across a wire element, providing you with a warm heat rather than cool air.

Most electric heaters also feature an emergency shut off valve like propane heaters do, as the product could be a fire risk if it is knocked over. You can use the thermostat on this product to set your desired temperature, or there are two different heat settings that you can choose from instead. This particular model is absolutely ideal for use in small, one or two man tents. But, Holmes do also offer ceramic models that are larger, and thus better for large tents.

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Mr Heater F242300 Cooker

Weight: 1.1 ouncesMr. Heater F242300 MH15C 10,000-15,000 BTU Cooker

Dimensions: 10.8 x 11.5 x 10 inches

Top features: A double use design, a safety valve, and a temperature regulator

Best use: Camping, and cooking

If you usually cook on a propane stove while you are out camping, and you also want to purchase a propane powered heater, then why not kill two birds with one stone? Mr Heater F242300 Cooker can be used as both a cooker and a heater, at the same time. This means that you can take less products with you when you go camping, and you get two ideal uses out of the same product.

This product also features an automatic shut off valve, so you do not have to worry if the flame within the product goes out. The gas flow will stop immediately. You can use this product with both disposable cylinders, or a 20lb refillable tank. That on its own is quite unique, as most portable heaters have not been built for use with refillable heaters.

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Texsport Sportsmate Portable Propane Heater

Weight: 3 poundsTexsport Sportsmate Portable Propane Heater

Dimensions: 8 x 8 x 11 inches

Top features: A large paddle foot, a safety valve, and a plastic cup holder

Best use: Camping, fishing, and golf carts

Safety is our main concern, so just like the other propane heaters that you have seen featured on our list, this particular model features a highly required automatic shut off valve. The shut off valve on the Texsport Sportsmate Portable Propane Heater will shut off the gas flow immediately if the flame goes out, or if the product is accidentally knocked over. For an additional layer of safety it also includes a rather large paddle foot platform, meaning that you can happily stand the product up, even on uneven terrain.

This particular model has also been designed for use on fishing boats, and in golf carts, so there is a plastic cup holder that you can use to warm up either your drink, or some soup. In the cold weather you might find that warming yourself directly from the inside out is helpful.

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Lasko 6435 Ceramic Oscillating Heater with Remote

Weight: 8 lbsLasko 6435 Designer Series Ceramic Oscillating Heater

Dimensions: 8.25 x 8.25 x 16.05 inches

Top features: An aesthetically pleasing design, full-room coverage, and a self-regulating ceramic element

Best use: Outside your own home, especially if you have children camping in the garden

Sometimes, it can be nicer to have something that is a little bit more aesthetically pleasing to the eye than the average propane heater that you commonly can find on the market. This particular product would not be suitable for use while hiking, but it is ideal for situations where you are parking near your tent, or if you have children camping in the garden.

Lasko 6435 Ceramic Oscillating Heater is fantastic mostly due to the way that it oscillates, the oscillating design gives you full room – or full tent coverage. You can also use the fully adjustable thermostat to set your desired temperature, so that the product keeps on working until it reaches that temperature point. For safety measures, it also has a 7-hour timer and it will automatically shut off after that point. Luckily, with an electric heater you don’t have to worry about taking safety precautions.

Check the price on Amazon

Enjoy Camping All Year Round

So with the right camping heater you will never have to worry about seasonal camping again. If you would like to go camping right in the depths of winter, then you can. You don’t have to worry about succumbing to the cold, as your night will be full of a radiating warmth.

Just remember, if you have an electric camping heater then you need to make sure that your campsite features an electricity supply. If it doesn’t, you might be in for a rather cold night!

So, would you enjoy camping in winter? Or, do you already have a camping heater that keeps you warm during the winter months? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!


Bradley Page

Bradley Page

With several decades of experience as a backpacker and outdoor adventurer, Bradley is an open encyclopedia when it comes to gear, clothes, and other items that matter on the trail. He tested hundreds of shoes, pants, jackets, and backpacks in his long career and is always up to date with the new appearances in the niche. His experience makes him one of the authority figures in backpacking and he can help anyone to get prepared for a great adventure!