After extensive research and a whole lot of user feedback, we’ve compared all the best tent heaters for you side-by-side to help you easily find the portable heater that is best for you. They have been divided into categories so you can compare the “apples-to-the-apples” and the “oranges-to-the-oranges.”
These tent heater comparison tables are frequently updated so you can be confident that they reflect all the latest models.
Tent Heater Reviews
The best thing about buying a camping tent heater now days is that you can find out what people that have already purchased them are saying about the different functions and reliability of each model.
Tent heater reviews are readily available for anyone looking at a camping tent heater online to make sure that you are making the right purchase. If a particular camping tent heater doesn’t work well, the tent heater reviews for that particular product will likely say so. That’s the beauty of the internet and the availability of user reviews.
Mr Heater Buddy MH9BX Camping Tent Heater
It’s admittedly difficult to give a truly unbiased review of the Mr Heater Buddy MH9BX camping tent heater because I’ve been using a Mr Heater Buddy for years and loved it!
I honestly can’t remember all the situations I’ve used it in, but a few include small 3 man camping tents, my large 6 person tent, my camper shell, rental cabins, my buddy’s RV, my garage, my boat, and even at home when the electricity was out. In all occasions, the Mr Heater Buddy performed flawlessly.
What sets the Mr Heater Buddy MH9BX camping tent heater and all the Mr Heater tent heater models apart from the other brands is their versatility and built-in safety features that simply don’t exist in other portable tent heater options.
It’s a powerful tent heater too, and it couldn’t be simpler to operate.
Safety was the first reason I purchased my Mr Heater Buddy. It has important safety features that no other brands do.
Pilot Light Extinguished
Simply put, if the pilot light gets extinguished for any reason, the heater shuts itself off.
The built-in “Low-Oxygen Sensor” safety feature alone makes the Mr Heater Buddy heater the safest option currently on the market for anyone intending to use their portable heater in small enclosed spaces like camping tents, hunting shelters, fishing shelters, camper shells and tent trailers. With this feature, if the heater detects a decrease in oxygen levels it will simply turn itself off before it gets to a dangerous level for humans.
Personally, I do not completely rely on this safety function alone – but treat it more as an added “insurance” measure. I always make sure I have ample ventilation in any enclosed space I use the Mr Heater Buddy in and would recommend anyone else using any camping tent heater do the same – just to be completely safe.
With the Buddy heater’s “Accidental Tip-Over” safety mechanism the unit will automatically shut it self off when tipped over. Of all the safety features the Buddy has, this is probably the least useful, at least in my experiences. The heater is quite stable on its own and difficult to knock-over even when you try (which I have).
I’ll admit that there is a sense of security just in knowing that if the kids knock it over or something, I don’t have to worry about it burning anything down. Another note on this feature is that it can be annoying at times when you go to re-position the unit and it shuts-off. But I consider this a good thing because it lets me know it’s working and I only need to turn the control knob and click the button and it fires right back up, so I don’t consider this a big deal.
The Buddy is a Powerful Tent Heater Too
At 4,000 – 9,000 BTU of available power, the Mr Heater Buddy MH9BX Camping Tent Heater packs a considerable amount of heat for its size. According to the manufacturer, at its highest power-setting, it will keep a moderately insulated area of 200 square feet sufficiently warm in even the coldest conditions.
In my own experience, I’ve routinely used it while camping in my truck’s camper shell when outside temperatures were in the low 20’s. In this situation, I’ve been warm enough to sleep on-top of my sleeping bag when it was on “Hi” (in a t-shirt) and comfortably in my sleeping bag on “Low.” At both settings, I had the rear slider window wide-open, and both side windows slid open about 6” for good cross-ventilation. In my 3 person tent, the experience has been similar. In a larger 6 person tent, when temperatures get below the freezing point, I end up running it on high most the night.
Different Sized Propane Cylinders for Different Needs
Unlike many of the smaller Coleman tent heaters, the Mr Heater Buddy tent heater will run on both standard-size 16.4-oz disposable propane canisters as well as bulk propane cylinders. I use a 20# propane cylinder when I can – especially in the larger 6-person tent when running the heater all night. With the disposable 16.4-oz bottles you can typically get 4 – 5 hours per bottle.
Features & Specs
- Selectable 4,000 – 9,000 BTU for spaces up to 200 sq. ft.
- Built-in, Auto-Shut-Off Safety Features (pilot light extinguished, tip-over, low oxygen levels)
- Approved for indoor and outdoor use
- Clean burning and nearly 100% efficient
- Fold-down handle for compact storage
- Compatible with disposable 16.4-oz disposable propane cylinders as well as larger bulk-size tanks.
- 1-year manufacturer’s warranty
- Dimensions: 9″ x 14″ x 14″
- Weight: 9.5 lbs
Best Price & Availability
The Mr Heater Buddy tent heater can sometimes be found at local hardware stores and camping equipment stores, but of course, you’ll typically find the best price and availability online. 9 times out of 10 you’ll get the best price here.
Mr. Heater Little Buddy Tent Heater
The Mr. Heater Little Buddy Tent Heater (model F215100 MH4B) is a lightweight, portable heater that packs a little more power than the Coleman models and has some additional built-in safety features that make it a good choice for enclosed spaces like camping tents, fishing shelters, and hunting blinds.
Like the other small tent heater models, it uses standard 16.4-ounce disposable propane cylinders, and each cylinder will last 5-1/2 hours on average. It is designed to safely and efficiently heat an enclosed area of up to 100 square feet in area. It uses a 45-degree angle of direction for its heat output for maximum efficiency.
One thing that sets Mr. Heater tent heaters apart from the other brands is the additional safety features they offer. The Mr. Heater Little Buddy tent heater incorporates several safety features, such as an accidental tip-over mechanism that shuts off the heater should it be accidentally knocked over and pilot-light extinguished auto shutoff that will turn the heater and propane off if the pilot light goes out for any reason.
Low Oxygen Sensor for Added Safety
My favorite safety feature of all Mr. Heater tent heater models is their integrated “Low-Oxygen Sensor” and shutoff system. Using a heater in a small enclosed space can be dangerous if there is not sufficient ventilation. This should not be a problem with using the heater in a tent with ample ventilation, for example, but it could be a problem if it is used in places where doors and windows are sealed well (like camper shells), preventing oxygen getting in to renew the oxygen being burned. The Mr. Heater Little buddy takes care of this for you, however. Before the oxygen in a confined space is depleted to a low, and therefore potentially dangerous, level, the Little Buddy will automatically shut down to maintain a safe oxygen level.
The Little Buddy Offers 25% More Heating Power Than Comparable Tent Heaters
Another plus to this tent heater is that the Mr. Heater Little Buddy delivers 3,800 BTU of heat which is 25% more heat than comparable catalytic heaters in this class. The downside to this is that it uses fuel more quickly, but it is quiet, and it burns efficiently and cleanly. In fact, it is practically 100% efficient.
Features and Specifications of the Mr. Heater Little Buddy Tent Heater
- The Mr. Heater Little Buddy tent heater is a portable propane heater safe for use indoors.
- It can be used in rooms that measure up to 100 square feet in floor area.
- Will provide continuous odor-free heat for up to 5-1/2 hours.
- Features a 45-degree heating angle.
- Has simple on/off button.
- Runs on regular 16.4 oz disposable propane cylinders that are available most anywhere.
- Incorporates a low-oxygen sensor for safety.
- Has an accidental tip-over switch that triggers an auto shut-off feature for safety.
- Comes with a 1-year limited warranty.
Best Price & Availability
Finding the Little Buddy tent heater in stock can be a bit of a chore at times as not many retailers stock it, and the ones that do seem to constantly be sold out. Some local outdoor equipment & sporting goods stores occasionally carry it, but you will have a much easier time buying it online (where 9 times out of 10 you’ll also get the best price). The best availability and price at the time of this writing can be found at this link here.
Coleman Sportcat Tent Heater
The Coleman Sportcat tent heater actually comes in 2 versions. There’s the standard version (which this review is about), and there’s the “InstaStart” model, which costs about $5 more but gives you a built-in Piezo ignition that allows you to start the heater with the click of a button (without matches). Click here to see the full review on the Coleman SportCat InstaStart tent heater.
Both Sportcat tent heater models are lightweight, extremely portable, and feature Coleman’s “PerfectTemp” catalytic technology for safe, flameless heat which makes them equally great choices for camping tents, hunting blinds, fishing shelters, and camper shells, as well as outdoor sports events and even golf carts!
The Coleman Sportcat tent heater is the smallest of the Coleman tent heater line-up and offers 1,500 BTU of heating power which should be enough to heat an enclosed area up to 40 square feet properly. If you are looking for a little more power, you may want to consider the Coleman BlackCat InstaStart which costs a little more but gives you twice the heating power.
You can easily compare them all to each other by seeing our Best Small Tent Heaters side-by-side comparison table.
Coleman Sportcat Description
The Sportcat attaches directly to a standard 16.4-oz. Disposable propane cylinder. It uses Coleman’s catalytic technology to provide safe, efficient “flameless” heat. It has two simple settings, “On” & “Off.” In the “On” position it will produce 1,500 BTU of heating power which should be enough to warm most small enclosures (under 40 square feet). It can run up to 14 hours per cylinder of fuel. However, unlike the InstaStart version, the standard Coleman Sportcat tent heater requires a match or lighter to ignite it.
Features & Specifications
The Coleman Sportcat tent heater will adequately heat small enclosures (up to ~40 square feet), such as small camping tents, hunting blinds, small fishing shelters, camper shells, and tent trailers.
Provides 1,500 BTU output (good for up to 40 Square feet).
Operates on one standard 16.4 oz propane cylinder
Will run for 14 hours per fuel cylinder
Includes integrated handle to comfortably carry
Detachable base provides wide feet for stability that conveniently fold-in for compact storage
Best Price & Availability
Regardless of if you go with the Coleman Sportcat tent heater or one of the other models, you’ll find the easiest availability, as well as the best price when you buy online. 9 times out of 10 you’ll find the best online price here.
Coleman BlackCat Tent Heater
The Coleman BlackCat tent heater offers a few advantages over the slightly less expensive SportCat models. The BlackCat comes in 2 versions – the “Standard” version and the “InstaStart” version. The only real difference between the 2 is that the Coleman BlackCat InstaStart version has a built-in Piezo ignition system which allows you to quickly light the heater with the simple push of a button.
If you don’t mind using a match or lighter to ignite the heater, you can save about $5 by going with the standard version. This review is focused on the standard BlackCat, the one without the InstaStart feature.
What sets the Coleman BlackCat tent heaters apart from the lower-cost Coleman SportCat models, is more powerful. Unlike the single, 1,500 BTU power setting of the SportCat, the BlackCat offers 2 power settings, Low (1,500 BTU) and Hi (3,000 BTU). At the highest setting, the BlackCat is capable of heating an enclosed area up to about 80 Square Feet, which is twice the heating capability of the SportCat.
The trade-off for the extra BTU’s is less run-time. At its “Low” power setting, the BlackCat is capable of running an impressive 14 hours per propane cylinder. However, at its “Hi” power setting you can expect about half that, at 7 hours run-time.
Coleman Perfectemp Catalytic Technology for Flameless Warmth
The Coleman BlackCat tent heater uses a catalytic technology that produces heat without an open flame. This makes it a very safe heater to use in small enclosed spaces, such as tents, hunting blinds, ice fishing shelters, camper shells, and so on. However, as with all portable tent heaters, it is never recommended that you leave them on while sleeping.
Not only is the BlackCat an excellent camping tent heater, but it is also a good portable heater for sports events and golf carts and will also work for knocking-the-chill down in small workshops and garages too.
Portability With Power
The Coleman BlackCat Tent Heater is built to be portable. It has a built-in easy-grip handle that makes it easy to carry. As it only weighs 4 pounds, it is an easy heater to transport around too, and its small size means it isn’t bulky and awkward to manage. Despite its small and easy portability, however, the Coleman BlackCat Tent Heater can produce an impressive 3,000 BTU heat output which is enough power to keep an enclosed area up to 80 Square feet warm.
Coleman BlackCat Features and Specifications
1,500 – 3,000 BTU (Enough power for up to 80 sq. ft.)
14 hour runtime per 16.4-oz. propane cylinder on Low (7 hrs on Hi)
Works with standard 16.4-oz. Disposable propane cylinders.
PerfecTemp Catalytic technology for safe, efficient, flameless heating
Easy-grip handles for convenient, comfortable portability.
Folding legs provide compact storage
5-year manufacturer’s warranty.
Best Price & Availability
Both Coleman BlackCat tent heater models can occasionally be found at local sporting goods stores and outdoor camping equipment retailers, but you’ll obviously find the easiest availability, as well as the best price (9 times of 10) when you buy online. The best price I’ve seen for the Coleman BlackCat heater is at this link here.
A camping tent heater can greatly improve the camping experience for the camper that just doesn’t like to be cold. The addition of a propane tent heater to the supplies that are kept inside the tent can make the inside of the tent more comfortable in chillier times of the year. Those fall mornings that can be so cold that they make a person miserable when camping can be made so much better when you wake up to the heat given off from a camping tent heater.The camping tent heater got its start as a primitive container holding hot coals to keep the inside of a camping tent warm which was usually completely cold by morning, so they weren’t much help in the long run.