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Best Portable Camping Heater: Staying Toasty Warm Where Ever You Go

portable heater on floor

Camping is a great experience, you get to go out and enjoy the nature. The downside is that most humans have gotten quite used to living in a house, with all the conveniences that that entails. The chief thing that people tend to miss when they go out and spend a few nights in a tent, especially during winter or autumn, is the warmth.

One poorly timed trip will send some people either vowing to never go out again, or pulling up Google for the best portable camping heater. And you can search high and low, but you might run into a few various roadblocks along the way. Luckily, we’ve gone through tricky stuff and will review the top choices.

Of course you cans till light fireplaces or make a bonfire, but we believe that it’s easier and safer to have a camping heater with you. That’s why, besides coming up with the top choices, we take a good look at the main features to consider before buying any camping heater. Hopefully, by the end of the article you’ll find the one you are looking for.

Product NameWeightSizeSpecific FeaturesPrice
Texsport B000P1.75 pounds6 x 9 x 10.5 inchesLarge base, auto shut-off valve, built in igniter.Check price on Amazon
Mr. heater F2151005 pounds11 x 11 x 11 inchesSingle heat settings, tip over shut off, indoor safe.Check price on Amazon
Tooluze 60116L5.4 pounds11.6 x 10.9 x 7.9 inchesCeramic burner, uses standard butane gas cartridge, pressure sensing safety shut off valve.Check price on Amazon
Mr. Heater F2320009.5 pounds14.17 x 8.87 x 14.37 inchesTwo heat settings, safety features, indoor/outdoor uses.Check price on Amazon
Broan 62015 pounds5.88 x 6 x 5.25 inchesOverheating sensor, rugged steel construction, 3 settings.Check price on Amazon
Lasko 6759198.79 pounds11.98 x 10 x 12.1 inches3 settings, comes fully assembled, easy grip handle.Check price on Amazon
Lloytron F2003WH3.3 pounds9.8 x 4.72 x 9.44 inchesProne or upright positioning, 2 heating settings, auto safety cut-off.Check price on Amazon
Quest B006J3.8 pounds9.84 x 7.87 x 15.35 inchesTip over sensor, two heat Settings.Check price on Amazon
Honeywell HCE100R1.1 pounds5 x 4 x 7.8 inchesSmall size, tip over protection, cool touch materials.Check price on Amazon

Features To Consider Before Buying

There are a few things that you will want to figure out for yourself before you start looking for a specific heater. You will want to read through and determine not only what styles and such you prefer, but also which options are the most important and which you can live without.

Some of this may be influenced by your camping style, your preferred locations and how easily new items will work with other gear that you have.

Fuel Source

One of the major things that you will need to consider is how is this device going to produce any heat at all. There is any range of choices, from chemical reactions, like those little hand warmers, to electric to a burnable fuel.

We won’t bother looking at any of the chemical options since they don’t normally do much more than warm a boot or a pocket. Electric, however, can be a great option, but you’ll need to look into how you are getting the electricity to it.

Image showing fuel source for portable heaters

Your home model might work if you are taking an RV or generator, but anything that needs to be pulled in to run really limits portability. There are options on the market for heaters that can charge, either from a standard plug or off a car battery through the cigarette lighter port.

Also, your electric options can include battery powered options. If you are going this route, be sure to bring the correct battery size as well as some backups to ensure you have heat. If you got with a burnable fuel you have a world of possibilities open to you.

While there are a number of choices that you could make, normally it comes down to propane or kerosene. While they both have their pros and cons, in general, a propane powered option is normally better, as you can get a small bottle that adds to the portability. This fuel source is also useful in many other camp items.

Heat Output

You are looking at a heater to stay warm, right? It would only be natural to want to look at a measure to see how much warmth one would put out. This is normally measured in BTU (known as British Thermal Units). This gives you the ability to fairly easily compare one heater to another in terms of output.

Image showing two small portable fan heaters

While a bigger number will give you more overall heat, also consider if there is an adjustable option. This lets you have just a bit of warmth to take the chill off or when needed you can blast it on those frigid nights.

Controls

A heater is a simple thing. While you will want an ON/OFF switch and perhaps a way to select how much heat it makes, anything more could be trouble. Remember, you are looking to take this into the great outdoors.

Image showig the little-buddy-heater-controls

There are a number of different ways for it to get banged, bumped and knocked around. As a general idea, the more controls there are, the more things there are to be broken if your heater gets knocked over.

Ruggedness

Like we mentioned above, this device will need to take some abuse. That is not to say you should plan to be hard on it, but sometimes things happen. There are rarely a lot of flat places to put a heater, so a minor bump may cause it to fall. You’ll need to give some thought to how it is protected, though.

While some devices can just be wrapped in a plastic guard, this one will need a little more thought, as it will be getting warm. A straight metal body may show some dents and dings of previous adventures but may keep on ticking.

Weight

Since one of your goals is to have a device that is portable you will need something that is somewhat lightweight. In this, you will need to consider the heft of the heater, but you will also want to factor in a full load of fuel. When you are looking at how much weight you are comfortable with there are a few ideas that should cross your mind.

Image showing a small portable heater

First, how much carrying are you planning on doing? Is this only going to take you from the fireside back to the tent or will this be your all day companion?

Next, will you be bringing this with you after a day of backpacking where you are worn out or after a day of relaxing in the woods? And of course, only you are able to make the call of how light a lightweight choice should be.

Carry Options

Are you planning on being able to set this down somewhere and then turn it on? Or should this be a device that you can carry while it is in operational mode?

Image showing the Sherri-James Heater

You will need to take a look at the handle placements and how you would carry this if you want to bring it with you, while it is warm. Even if it is meant to be placed and then turned on, how long after turning it off do you need to wait until it is safe to bring with you.

Safety Options

Of course, you should consider safety, especially with anything that produces heat. Take a look at the materials and the design of the heater. Some will have a base to keep it from tipping, others have a tip sensor. While the sensors can be great, they may also shut off the device if you pick it up with it is running.

Also, consider where it puts the heat out. This can be very important when placing a device. You may want to be very careful about cleaning away leaves, sticks and other small debris from your heater before firing it up.

Top Products on Today’s Market

Now that you know what to look for in a top camp heater, let’s take a look at the best choices that are available. The following list includes the best-reviewed camping heaters, so take a look at each and every one of the, carefully, as they have different features, prices and specifications. Depending on what kind of trip you have planned, you’ll choose a different one.

Texsport Portable Outdoor Propane Heater
Texsport 14215

Price: $30 – $40

Weight: 1.75 pounds

Dimensions: 6 x 9 x 10.5 inches

Specific features: Large base, auto shut-off valve, built in igniter

Best use: Camping, hiking

Description: The Texsport Portable Outdoor Propane Heater is the model to go for when you are looking for that basic model that does its job well. This model is powered by propane and will work with either the 16.4 oz or the 14.1 oz bottles of propane.

These are a very popular size and are used for a number of common camping items, such as stoves and lanterns. This set up comes with the heater assembly which screws on top of the propane bottle and the wide paddle foot base that keeps the whole thing from toppling over.

The reflector dish and guard are made of aluminum which can get rather hot during normal use. The propane bottle itself, can be rather cold as the propane is being burnt. This model does come with a basic wire handle to allow you to carry it about while in use.

The controls are rather simple. There is a dial that functions both as the ON/OFF switch and the adjustment knob, letting you control how much heat you need.

The unit has a push button igniter, so you don’t have to worry about striking a match to get your heater going. And for safety, this model is equipped with an automatic shut-off valve.

If something causes the flame to go out, the unit will stop the flow of propane. This way you don’t have to worry about an explosive situation when you relight the heater.

PROS:

  • Very light weight
  • Doesn’t need electricity to function
  • Auto shut off valve

CONS:

  • A bit too small
  • Propane fuel needed to light it (which means carrying more than one cylinder depending on the length of the trip)

Related: The Coleman’s Propane Fuel Bottles are ideal to buy alongside this heater. You’ll need them to refill the heater base to light it up.

Check the price on Amazon

Mr. Heater F215100 Propane Heater
Mr. Heater F215100

Price: $40 – $50

Weight: 5 pounds

Dimensions: 11 x 11 x 11 inches

Specific features: Single heat settings, tip over shut off, indoor safe

Best use: Workshop heating, camping, tailgating

Description: If you are looking for a heater that will not only work out at a campsite, but one to heat up that garage or workshop the Mr. Heater F215100 Propane Heater could be the right choice for you.

This heater has a single heat setting, as the name suggests it produces 3800 BTU/HR. This is enough to keep you warm, but may fall short of blasting the heat on frigid nights. The heat source is a ceramic burner tile that is mounted with shock absorbing insulation.

This unit was also built with safety in mind. First, it has an accidental tip-over sensor that will cut off fuel to the unit if it tips. Another safety shut off is the low oxygen sensor. This one will shut down the system if it detects too low a level of oxygen in the room. These sensors make it safe for indoor uses and it can heat a room up to 95 square feet.

This unit uses the one pound propane bottles that are a very common choice for camping gear. This keeps the overall weight of the unit down, even with the fuel attached. It sports a carry handle that can easily tuck away when not required. One note, though, this item cannot be sold in Canada or Massachusetts.

PROS:

  • Lasts very long
  • Not heavy

CONS:

  • Too heavy for some
  • The control valve seems to be defective on some models
  • Must be attached to a propane tank

Related: The Camco Cylynder Stabilyzing Base is commonly bought alongside this heater, since it needs a propane tank to operate, and the tanks aren’t very steady, buying this base will ensure the tank and the heater don’t fall down.

Check the price on Amazon

Tooluze 60116L Butane Heater
Tooluze 60116L

Price: $45 – $55

Weight: 5.4 pounds

Dimensions: 11.6 x 10.9 x 7.9 inches

Specific features: Ceramic burner, uses standard butane gas cartridge, pressure sensing safety shut off valve

Best use: Camping, emergencies

Description: The Tooluze 60116L Butane Heater is a good choice if you just need a bit of heat or want to have something ready in case of an emergency. This model works off of a butane heat uses and is built to run off a standard sized butane cartridge.

While this means you won’t accidentally use the fuel for this device in another camping device, it also means that you need to have a second type of gas canister on hand. On the other hand, some propane heaters can run into problems if they are for long periods without being purged of gas. These problems don’t come into play with a butane heater.

This choice puts out about 3000 BTUs worth of heat. While it does not make it the most powerful option on our list, it does make it a good choice to have as a backup just in case things get a little too chilly. Reviewers have stated that a single bottle of fuel lasts between 4 and 6 hours, so it might not make it through a whole night.

This heater does not have some of the safety features that others sport nowadays. Without a tip over sensor, this will keep running even if it gets knocked over.

Also, since there is no low oxygen sensor it can easily start things on fire if they are placed too close. These aren’t problems, it just means that you need to exercise a little bit more caution if selecting this model of heater.

PROS:

  • Ideal for carrying anywhere as it comes with a handle
  • The shape is really good for transportation

CONS:

  • No safety features, if you tip it, it will keep running
  • No low oxygen sensor, can light things on fire

Related: The Gas One Butane Fuel Canister  is a must with this heater, since it uses Butane as a fuel to be lit up. These canisters will make sure you have enough butane for many trips.

Check the price on Amazon

Mr. Heater F232000
Mr. Heater F232000

Price: $75 – $85

Weight: 9.5 pounds

Dimensions: 14.17 x 8.97 x 14.37 inches

Specific features: Two heat settings, safety features, indoor/outdoor uses

Best use: Shop heat, camping, tailgating

Description: If you want a system that can easily and safely go from your small home shop to your favorite camping site, check out the Mr. Heater F232000. This heater has dual heat settings, one at 4000 BTU/HR and another at 9,000 BTU/HR.

This gives you the ability to fire up the heater when you need to take the edge off of a chill, but still, have the power to fire your heater up when the nights get really cold. The porcelain-coated heating surface is large enough that it directs heat over quite a large area.

This unit sports a whole range of safety features. First, the system will shut down if it determines that it has been tipped over. Next, a low oxygen sensor can detect if there isn’t quite enough oxygen and will cut off fuel to the system. This could come from something being placed over the heater.

Lastly, if the pilot light for the system goes out the system will shut down. This stops flammable gas from being vented into the area. With all these features the heater is considered safe for indoor use and can be used to heat a room up to 200 square feet.

It sports a swivel out adapter that is designed to attach to the smaller size disposable propane bottles. This paired with the large handle makes this a highly portable option. However, between camping trips, if you are looking to heat your shop, you can get the optional hose extension and run this heater off of the larger style tanks of fuel.

PROS:

  • A very good handle that makes it great to be carried anywhere
  • Auto shut-off feature when tipped over
  • Works indoors and outdoors
  • Works extremely well

CONS:

  • Heavier and larger than most

Related: The Sandure Camping Lantern for tents is a good match not only with this, but with all the other heaters. Use it to read, or simply to have some light at night. It’s small and easy to use.

Check the price on Amazon

Broan NuTone 6201 Heater
Broan 6201

Price: $45 – $60

Weight: 5 pounds

Dimensions: 5.88 x 6 x 5.25 inches

Specific features: Overheating sensor, rugged steel construction, 3 settings

Best use: RVing, shop use

Description: The Broan NuTone 6201 Heater puts out a fair bit of heat for such a little package. It has three different settings, high, low and fan only. The fan only isn’t going to add an additional heat, but it will move the air around the room to stop there being warm and cold pockets.

The high setting is listed at 1500 W and the low setting is 1200 W. To help compare that to other heaters they come to 5118 BTU/HR and 4095 BTU/HR, respectively.

This unit has a metal housing and face grill. The handle and the knobs are made from plastic so you can touch them without burning yourself while the heater is running. And the heating elements inside are crafted from ceramics. There are also rubber safety bumpers on the edges that keep the housing from getting too beaten up.

This system is designed to shut down when it gets too hot or if it tips over or onto its face. One drawback of using this system while camping, is that it requires a standard 2 prong plug.

It sports a 6-foot extension cord, so if there is a power source at your camping site you are in business. Otherwise, this is a better choice for the RVing community. They do not currently offer a cigarette lighter adapter for this model.

PROS:

  • A good handle that makes it very easy to carry around
  • Automatic safety shut-off feature when tipped or when it’s too warm
  • Electric

CONS:

  • If there is no plug, it can’t be used in the outdoors
  • Faulty thermostat
  • Gives out a strong smell

Related: The Farm Innovators Thermo Cube  is a good item to buy with this heater. If the heater gets too warm, it might melt the socket it’s plugged into, hence why this controlled outlet will come in handy.

Check the price on Amazon

Lasko 675919 Utility Heater
Lasko 675919

Price: Approx. $50

Weight: 8.79 pounds

Dimensions: 11.98 x 10 x 12.1 inches

Specific features: 3 settings, comes fully assembled, easy grip handle

Best use: RVing, Shop use

Description: The Lasko 675919 Utility Heater is a good choice to take with you while you are going on an RV trip. This heater comes with 3 settings, a fan only, a low setting (of 1200 W) and a high setting of (1500 W).

These come out to be about 4095 BTU/HR and 5118 BTU/HR, respectively. The fall in line with most of the other portable heaters that are listed here.

This unit has a very directional output, that can be pivoted to put the heat right where you want it. While this option might not be the best for heating up an entire RV or a small shop, it can be handy. If you are sitting out front of your RV and don’t want to heat up the whole area, just where you are, you will enjoy the directionality.

This device has the same safety features that are found on many of the top heaters today and due to them is a very safe heater. This is an electric model that will need to be plugged in, so if you are going to a site that doesn’t have electricity you’ll need to bring a generator or consider a different model.

PROS:

  • Work very well in the indoors
  • Great supporting legs

CONS:

  • Not durable
  • If not cleaned often, it will give a lot of trouble

Related: The Active Research Portable LED Lantern is an ideal product to buy with a heater if you are planning a camping trip. The lantern will help you move around at night.

Check the price on Amazon

Lloytron F2003WH Fan Heater
Lloytron F2003WH

Price: $25 – $35

Weight: 3.3 pounds

Dimensions: 9.8 x 4.72 x 9.44 inches

Specific features: Prone or upright positioning, 2 heating settings, auto safety cut-off

Best use: Home or shop use, RVing

Description: This lightweight heater is a great option to warm up a room in your home or your shop. The Lloytron F2003WH Fan Heater is more of an indoor unit, but could work well in an RV.

With its small size and ability to either lay it down or stand it up, you’ll be sure to find a good place to store it and an out of the way place to run it to heat your RV.

Since this is another electric option you’ll need somewhere to plug it in so that you can stay warm. It sports a 1.5-meter cord, giving you a bit of reach from the outlet.

Though, note that this is a British standard, so that if you are outside that United Kingdom you may need an outlet adapter. It is rated at 2000 W for the high setting, this can be viewed as 6824 BTU/HR for an easy comparison.

As an added bonus this device features a cool blow setting. This allows you to use it all year round, giving you that refreshing, cooling breeze in the warmer months when you don’t need to add some additional heat.

It features a control to adjust the heat level and the air flow level, letting you customize the settings to how you would like them to be.

PROS:

  • Works as a heater and as a fan, to be used also during summer
  • Very lightweight

CONS:

  • Only works well indoors
  • Electric, not ideal for camping trips in the wild
  • Uses a British plug

Related: The Ceptics US Travel Plug Adaptor is the item that you need with this heater to be sued all around the world without any problem of plugging it in.

Check the price on Amazon

Quest B006J Electric Heater
Quest B006J

Price: $25 – $35

Weight: 3.5 pounds

Dimensions: 9.84 x 7.87 x 15.35 inches

Specific features: Tip over sensor, two heat settings,

Best use: RV, Camping

Description: The Quest B006J Electric Heater is a good basic little device that can keep you nice and warm. It sports two settings, a 1000 W and a 2000 W.

The higher setting comes in at 6824 BTU/HR and the lower at 3412 BTU/HR. It also comes with an automatic tip sensor that will shut off the device if it gets knocked over, adding safety to your trip and allowing you to enjoy a tense-free sleep.

Many of the users mention that it works quite well in keeping a tent toasty. It has taken the place of a campfire for a number of them. Be aware that as of the writing of this brief review that the heater is currently unavailable for purchase.

One final note, this item is listed on the Amazon.co.uk page, this isn’t an issue, just something to be aware of and factor into shipping times if you want it to be shipped to the Unites States or somewhere else in the world.

PROS:

  • Automatic shut-off sensor if tipped
  • Two different heat settings for different temperatures

CONS:

  • At the moment it is only available in the UK

Related: The Scent Bomb Air Freshner is commonly bought alongside this heater. Apparently, if used at the higher temperature, the heater might give a bit of a burning smell, so the air freshner will keep the room smelling good.

Check the price on Amazon

Honeywell HCE100R Ceramic Heater
Honeywell HCE100R

Price: $18 – $25

Weight: 1.1 pounds

Dimensions: 5 x 4 x 7.8 inches

Specific features: Small size, tip over protection, cool touch materials

Best use: RV, room heat

Description: If you just need a low wattage small sized heater, take a look at the Honeywell HCE100R Ceramic Heater. This is a heater that has been sized for personal heating, instead of room heat.

And since it is made to be your little heating companion, you have your choice of four different colors to select from. Each is crafted from a cool touch material so that you don’t have to worry about burning yourself if you bump into your heater while it is running.

The heater comes with a number of safety features, such as tip over sensors and overheat shutoffs. It adds to that list an operational light that lets you know from across the room, whether the heater is running or not. This means that you don’t have to go up to it and double check the ON/OFF switch if you can’t remember if you powered it down.

For heating options, it has a 250 W and a 150 W setting. These come in at 853 BTU/HR and 511 BTU/HR respectively.

Now, these numbers might seem rather low, but you need to remember the goal of this device is only to heat you, not the whole area. This is also an electric heater, so you’ll need to have somewhere to plug it in or you will have to be cold.

PROS:

  • Extremely lightweight
  • Compact and ideal to take anywhere

CONS:

  • Only good on very small spaces
  • Won’t give out much heat, it’s really small

Related: The Coleman Twid LED Lantern is another good lantern to take with you on camping trips. Whether you are sleeping indoors with the heater on, or outdoors, the lantern will help you move around at night.

Check the price on Amazon

Wrapping Up

Used properly according to the manufacturer’s guidelines a portable camping heater can be a great addition to your camping gear. Don’t think that these should just be a winter camping equipment either. There are plenty of cold nights during the springs and the fall, that such a device would be a grand way to take the edge off the cold.

Image showing a tent-Heater-Idea-for-Winter-Camping

Remember when you are making your selection consider your style of camping, your gear and what your goals are for a new device. The first and perhaps most important thing to consider is how will you power this device? Some of the choices in our list can run off a canister of fuel, others will need to be plugged in.

This may very well drive you to quickly narrow the choices for you. If you look through and make a list of the features that are important to you and which are merely nice to haves, it will make your selection a lot easier.

And once you have made that selection we’d love to hear which one you picked. Tell us in the comments below. And if you have that one friend that can never seem to be warm enough while camping, go ahead and share this article out to them.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Rebecca J. Crawford
Rebecca J. Crawford

Rebecca lives in USA, but loves hiking all over the world. Her favourite is Everest Base Camp Trek in Nepal. It usually takes 16 days, but she likes to slow down, enjoy mountains, company of other adventurers and take more pictures, so it took her 28 days last time. Another passion of Rebecca is ocean, so all short and long hikes along the ocean shore bring a lot of joy.

  • Mackenzie Travis

    Just came back from using the Texsport Portable Outdoor Propane Heater while ice fishing and was impressed by its performance. It wasn’t too terribly cold outside (25 degrees) but the heater did an excellent job of keeping my shelter warm. I fished without hat or gloves, and was very comfortable. I believe it will work just fine to keep me warm in even colder weather as well.

    • Rebecca J. Crawford

      Great to hear!

  • Jerry Little

    It was nice having the Mr. Heater F232000 heater during my last hiking event. It warmed the tent nicely for each of the three mornings that I was in the woods. I could, therefore, sleep in a warm tent and dress up the following morning without feeling rushed to beat the cold. I ran it off a 20lb propane tank outside the tent and found that I didn’t need to run it long to warm the tent.

    • Rebecca J. Crawford

      Mr. Heater F232000 is the ideal companion for all your overnight outdoors, especially camping. It is indeed a great product that has met the goals of more than a thousand users.

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