7 Best Tent Heaters for Winter Camping

Winter camping can be an adventurous way to enjoy the outdoors and have nature all to yourself. Unlike the busy summer camping season, you’ll likely have your pick of campsites and few, if any, neighbors. But how do you stay warm in the cold and snow? With a 4-season tent, warm sleeping bag, strategic layering—and a tent heater. We’ve researched some of the best tent heaters for winter camping and will help you choose the right one for you.

First, if you’re new to winter camping, there are some special considerations when you’re planning a cold-weather camping trip. Read about the gear you’ll need in our post on winter camping essentials. Then check out our winter camping hacks and tips. These ideas will make a winter camping trip warmer and consequently, more fun.

Of course one of the best ways to stay warm is by using a tent heater on extra frosty nights.

In a hurry? Our picks for the best camping tent heaters are the Honeywell 360 Degree Surround Heater for electric heaters, and the Mr. Heater Hunting Buddy for gas heaters.

Choosing a Tent Heater

Here are some things to consider before purchasing a tent heater:

Weigh the pros and cons of electric and gas-powered heaters.

There are two main types of tent heaters, electric and gas. Electric heaters are safer because they don’t produce carbon monoxide, but they also require access to an electrical hook-up and a long extension cord.

On the other hand, gas-powered heaters are more convenient because they don’t require a separate power source but they’re also a bigger safety hazard. They produce carbon monoxide and deplete oxygen within a space. (That’s why you should always choose a gas-powered heater that has a built-in carbon monoxide detector and oxygen depletion sensor.) The heaters on our list use propane but there are gas-powered heaters on the market that use butane.

In general, gas-powered heaters are better for staying warm outdoors (for instance, if you’re hanging out at the campsite). If you do want to use a gas-powered heater to warm up your tent, use it only before you head inside to sleep, keep your tent well-ventilated while it’s running, and always use a heater that has the necessary safety features.

Determine the size of your space.

For safety reasons, it’s better to use a tent heater in larger tents but if your tent is too large, the heater might not be effective. Make sure the heater you choose is sufficient for the amount of space you want to heat.

Keep safety in mind.

Any heater—electric or gas—has the potential to start a fire. No matter which heater you choose, be sure to set it up in a place where it won’t tip over or lean against fabric or other materials. It’s also a good idea to use the heater to warm up your tent before bed and then shut it off before you go to sleep.

The best tent heaters come with safety features like carbon monoxide detectors and oxygen depletion sensors. There are also heaters that are designed to shut off if they’re tipped over. (When sleeping inside a flammable structure, you can never be too safe.)

using a tent heater while camping in the mountains in winter

Best Tent Heaters for Winter Camping

Electric Heaters

This rugged electric heater from Stanley is a good choice if you have a campsite with an electrical hook-up. Like any heater, make sure to keep it away from flammable material including the sides of your tent. This heater has two heat settings plus an adjustable thermostat so you can find your ideal temperature. For extra peace of mind, it has a built-in tip switch if the heater is knocked over.

Unlike most portable heaters, this streamlined option from Honeywell is designed to provide heat in all directions. It has two heat settings and an adjustable thermostat. If the unit gets too hot, it has an an automatic shut-off safety feature. Even better, it has an automatic timer feature in case you forget to turn it off.

Pro Breeze’s ceramic heater is lightweight, portable, and easy to use. It has two heat settings, an adjustable thermostat, and can also be used as a fan (with no heat). Its safety features ensure that it won’t overheat or continue to run if it’s accidentally tipped over. And if you’re a light sleeper, this heater is designed to be quiet while it’s running.

This mini heater is the smallest on our list and is designed for personal use (not to heat entire rooms), but it’s worth considering if you have a small tent. It’s easy to pack, has an exterior that stays cool to the touch, and has safety features that prevent it from overheating. It’s also fairly inexpensive and is available in four colors. As with all the electric heaters on this list, you’ll need to use an extension cord to connect this heater to your campsite’s electrical hook-up.

Gas Heaters

This small but mighty heater is popular among hunters but it works great for camping too. It runs on a 1-lb propane cylinder which means you can use it at non-electric campsites and when you’re camping off the grid. It also has important safety features like a tip-over safety shut-off and an oxygen sensor, plus a rugged built-in handle that makes it easy to carry.

If you’re looking to heat a smaller space or want a powerful heater at a lower price, consider the Little Buddy heater. This mini heater can heat 95 square feet—much bigger than a tent—and uses a 1-lb propane cylinder. Like other options from Mr. Heater, it also comes with safety features like automatic shut-off and oxygen sensors.

Alternatives to Tent Heaters

If you’d prefer to not use a tent heater but still want some ways to warm up on a winter camping trip, consider adding these items to your packing list:

These hand warmers are a classic for a reason. They keep hands and feet toasty even in the coldest weather. No electricity or batteries required!

This rechargeable device from Zippo doubles as a hand warmer and a powerbank to charge phones and tablets.

Use this heavy-duty wool blanket to add an extra layer of warmth on top of your sleeping bag.