How to Choose the Right Heater for Tents


Camping out in a snowy landscape in wintertime can be a fun activity if you go adequately prepared. Along with warm clothing and sufficient food, a safe heater should be at the top of your list of camping gear to take along. It is, in fact, unthinkable to go camping in cold climes without heaters for tents. When the temperature drops, you will need a heater to keep you warm and comfortable inside your tent.

Choosing the right heater for your tent

First of all, check if the heater has been specifically made for outdoor use and can function at very high altitudes. You do not want to go camping at 7000 feet above sea level and discover that it does not work there. There are various other things to consider too for choosing the right heaters for tents. Here are a few of them:

What power source does the heater need?

Heaters for tents work on propane or natural gas or electricity, and you can select the type that you find more convenient. Electric heaters are becoming popular as they don’t require fuel cylinders, and many campsites have electric outlets for them. However, what if you are camping out in the wilderness? You will need a propane heater then. One cylinder may provide you with enough fuel for eight hours, which should be enough for one night. Depending on how long you are camping and how much heating you require, you may need to take along spare gas cylinders.

Will the heater provide sufficient heat?

You don’t want a heater with such a low heating capacity that it can’t warm up the tent interior, or one that has such high output that it makes it unbearable to stay inside. Check the heater wattage in case of an electric heater and the BTU output for a propane/natural gas heater. A heater with a higher wattage or a higher BTU will supply more heat than one with lower wattage or BTU.

When choosing a heater, align its heat output with the tent size. If you have a small pup tent or a two-person tent, for instance, you will probably be okay with a heater with lower heat output. You will need heaters for tents with greater heat output for larger tents. Preferably, get a heater with a dual heating system so you can get the benefits of radiant heating as well as convection heating.

What is the size of the heater?

As you will have to carry them with you, heaters for tents must be small, compact, and with a handle for easy transport from location to location. Additionally, they shouldn’t be too heavy. You also don’t want them taking up a lot of space inside the tent.

What safety features should the heater have?

Safety is an essential consideration when buying heaters for tents. You don’t want the heater to inadvertently set your tent on fire or fill it up with carbon monoxide. So, look for heaters that have auto-shut valves and will shut off automatically if anything goes wrong. For instance, they should shut off if they tip over or if the pilot light goes out. Most tent heaters come with stable bases, but there is always a risk of accidents. Some heaters also switch off automatically if there is an overheating issue.

In the case of propane heaters, there should be a sensor indicator that alerts you if the oxygen levels go down in the tent interior. Propane heaters use up a lot of oxygen, and their by-product is the toxic carbon monoxide that can be deadly if you inhale it. If the oxygen level decreases inside the tent, you will need to ventilate it by opening the tent flap to let in more oxygen.

Aside from choosing the right heaters for tents, you must also check that the design of the tent itself is suitable for withstanding freezing temperatures. It must have proper insulation and must be able to keep out the cold air. Otherwise, no matter how good the heater it, loss of heat is a certainty through the tent fabric. Avoid that by making diligent preparations before heading out into the wilderness. Dress warmly too.

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