Tent Heaters: How To Choose The Best One

If you go down in the woods today … you might get awfully cold!

Which is why we have a whole family of tent heaters assembled to choose from by Mr. Heater!  Big Buddy (daddy bear), Buddy (mummy bear) and Little Buddy (baby bear). Just for good measure our Goldilocks is the Allegro Tent Heater, although Goldilocks was a little prettier.

But what is the need for a tent heater in the first place, you may ask. Surely part of the allure of camping is warming yourself by a campfire and then smelling of bonfire for the rest of your trip?

No? Because if  icicles on your nostrils don’t constitute fun times, you might want to think about a tent heater and a 3 season tent!

Not sure they’re safe? Never fear. For these are not the certain death devices that they may once have been. Safety precautions are there to make sure they either don’t overheat, overturn or just plain explode.

Which is always good news!

Family Sized Heaters

Three of them (all the Mr. Heaters) are propane based cylinder heaters and the Allegro is the only one that is fully electric.

Only the Allegro is actually designed for an industrial setting, but takes no prisoners and keeps going through a storm, literally.

However, if you are somewhere where it is not safe or advisable to be burning propane gas, this would be your obvious choice. Customers love it and it will obviously take quite a bit of punishment too, it seems!

Conversely, the Mr. Heaters are made for camping. But tents aren’t the only scenario you might find yourself using them in. These are handy things to have around the place in an emergency, if the power goes off (more than one customer has attested to the usage of the Mr. Heaters during Hurricane Sandy) and depending on which size you have picked, they will heat between 95 and 450 square feet.

So let’s have a closer look at the design specifications and capacities of each heater in a little more depth!

Mr. Heater F232000 Mh9bx Buddy 4,000-9,000-Btu Indoor-Safe Portable Radiant Heater

Mr. Heater F232000 MH9BX Buddy 4,000-9,000-BTU Indoor-Safe Portable Radiant Heater
Mr. Heater F232000 MH9BX Buddy 4,000-9,000-BTU Indoor-Safe Portable Radiant Heater

Essential Information

Absolute basic stuff that you should know about this product.

  • Dimensions: 25” (L) X 15” (H) X 9” (W)
  • Item Weight: 6 pounds
  • Manufacturer: Heater
  • Model: MH9BX F232000
  • Other Sizes: No
  • Colors: Grey Or Red/Black
  • Warranty: 1 Year Limited
  • Promotional Price: Check on Amazon

Further Details

By all accounts this heater is the thing you want to have around you if the temperatures plummet and you are camping outside.

Some customers have reported being able to keep warm at -7 degrees, which is pretty impressive.

To use, hook this up to a twenty pound tank or use a one pound cylinder. Coming with an igniter included (Piezo) you will be blazing hot in no time.

Loads of customers have left this five star feedback and there seems to be very few of them that have malfunctioned in anyway.

Safe to use within the confines of a tent, if used carefully and this is also a great little piece of emergency kit in power shortages and emergencies. Even if you are not camping in an ultralight tent you could use this for sheds, outhouses and workshops that may get chilly over winter.

On full heat this keeps burning for three hours and on the lowest setting it goes for six.

Highly recommended.

  • BTU/Hour: 4.000/9.000
  • Heating Area: 225 SQ FT
  • Max Run Time: 3 HRS
  • Min Run Time: 6 HRS
  • Fuel Type: Propane
  • Use: Tents, Garages, Outhouses, Shed, Trailers, Camping
  • Safety: Auto shut off if tipped up
  • Safety: Indoor low oxygen detection switch off (ODS)
  • Igniter Included: Yes
  • Cylinder type: One Pound Cylinder Or Connect To 20 Pound Tank

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Mr. Heater F215100 MH4B Little Buddy 3800-BTU Indoor Safe Propane Heater, Medium

Mr. Heater F215100 MH4B Little Buddy 3800-BTU Indoor Safe Propane Heater, Medium

Essential Information

Everything you need to know about this small heater.

  • Dimensions: 12” (L) X” X 9.75” (W)X 11” (H) approx
  • Item Weight: 85 pounds
  • Shipping Weight: 7 pounds
  • Manufacturer: Heater
  • Model: MH4B F215100
  • Other Sizes: No
  • Colors: Tan
  • Warranty: 1 Yr LTD
  • Promotional Price: Check on Amazon


Further Details

Additionally more essential information.

  • BTU/Hour: 3.800/HR
  • Heating Area: 95 Sq Ft
  • Fuel Type: Propane gas
  • Use: In tents, small spaces
  • Safety: Accidental safety tip off switch
  • Safety: Automatic low oxygen detection cut off (ODS)
  • Igniter Included: on/off switch
  • Cylinder type: One Pound Cylinder

Smallest and the most portable of our selected tent heaters, consequently the Little Buddy is not that big and provides slightly less heat than its family members. Reading between the lines, one or two reviewers have been a tad unfair to it. Because it’s smaller  you  naturally will have to sit nearer to it! Unbelievably, people even whinged about the automatic switch off. Yes, we don’t want to get toasted if we should trip over this and can’t believe anyone else does too! Regardless, we think this is a great safety feature!

Clearly intended for use in tents and not to heat up large areas. This probably wouldn’t be masses of use to you if you wanted it as a replacement household heater, but it will help keep your hands warm outdoors whilst engaged in tasks in freezing cold climes.

With a fold down handle to help store it better when it’s not in use and two positions for greater flexibility, this is portable heat on the hop that won’t weigh you down or bulk your bags out. The fact it is reasonably small and light makes it a better choice for anyone actually carrying their condor backpacks over a longer period, rather than just parking up and camping.

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Allegro Industries 9401‐50 Tent Heater

Allegro Industries 9401-50 Tent Heater

Essential Information

The lowdown on the Allegro tent heater.

  • Dimensions: 12” X 8” X 12”
  • Item Weight: 14 Pounds
  • Shipping Weight:8 Pounds
  • Manufacturer: Allegro
  • Colors: Green
  • Warranty: 1 Yr Ltd
  • Promotional Price: Check on Amazon


Further Details

More that you will need to know about this product before purchasing it.

BTU/Hour: 5000 BTU

Watts: 1500 Watts

Heating Level: 50F increase

Fuel Type: 11 V AC Battery

Use: Work tents, larger tents etc

Safety: Sealed Motor

Material: Steel

Before we go any further, we must say that while this is designed to be used in a tent, it has been built with industrial use, with work tents, in mind.

That said, it has still been built to be used under canvas and to operate long and efficiently.

It looks as if it can weather a few knocks as well, the housing being made from solid steel.

The fact that it looks like it was made for King Kong to go camping with and is virtually indestructible means it is rather a lot more pricey than the other heaters in this list.

This is not the only distinction from the other models, as this is the only one not to run off propane gas cylinders, instead using a battery. Possibly this makes it safer for various types of use or just for anyone who feels unsure about being in such close proximity to a propane gas heater.

In terms of design, this is firmly practical and won’t be winning any beauty contests – but who cares – you stay warm!

One thing’s for sure you won’t stay chilly for long when this thing is on – it will raise the temperature by up to 50F.

It’s more expensive, but we think it’s money well spent and it ought to stay the distance.

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Mr. Heater MH18B, Big Buddy Portable Propane Heater

Mr. Heater MH18B, Portable Propane Tent Heater

Essential Information

Basic specifications of the Big Buddy Portable Propane Heater.

  • Dimensions: 19” (L) X 12” (W) X 17.8 (H) Approx
  • Item Weight: 10 Pounds
  • Manufacturer: Heater
  • Model: F274830 MH18B
  • Colors: Grey/ Red-Gray
  • Warranty: 1 Yr Ltd
  • Promotional Price: Check on Amazon


Further Details

More to know about this heater.

  • BTU/Hour: 4.000/9.000/18.000
  • Heating Area: 450 SQ FT
  • Fuel Type: Propane
  • Batteries: 4 D batteries required.
  • Use: Tents, campers, garages, outbuildings, sheds
  • Safety: Accidental safety tip off switch
  • Safety: Automatic low oxygen detection cut off (ODS)
  • Ignitor Included: Yes
  • Cylinder type: One Pound Cylinder Or Connect To 20 Pound Tank

The third of our trio of Mr. Heater tent warmers, this one is the daddy of them all. Weighing in at seventeen pounds, this will heat up an area of 450 square feet, which ought to be surely enough for even the largest of tents. It is also recommended for garages, outbuildings, sheds, or anywhere it gets cold and is safe to run.

Like the other two, this has all the same safety features of low oxygen detection cut off and an automatic off function if it’s tipped, so you won’t easily start any unintentional fires, or burn yourself.

Design wise, this is like a slightly larger version than the F232000 and as such is considerably nicer to look at than the Allegro work tent heater.

It also kicks out a goodly amount of heat with satisfied customers attesting to a temperature climb of about thirty degrees Fahrenheit – going from 35F to 65F in about ten minutes on high heat. This is quite impressive feedback, although the manufacturers don’t boast about it.

There is additionally a blow heat setting on the Big Buddy which requires batteries, for added heat options.

Most of all, this is great not only for tents, but also cabins and larger outhouses that need heating up quick.

This comes up trumps again and again for value for money and especially relevant, customer feedback seems excellent.

See on Amazon

In Conclusion

To conclude, all four of our chosen products are damned good heaters. Which  you pick, is more to do with your requirements, budget, the size of the area you wish to use and – of course – how cold you are!

The ‘three bears’ are solid, reliable heaters, ranging from the ultra-portable ‘Little Buddy’ which has a footprint the size of Cinderella and is the easiest to transport around in a rucksack, if you are lumbered with carrying it yourself.

What we like about the ‘Little Buddy’ is it can be hand held and simply used as a warming device for your person, if you find yourself standing around outside in a chill, with no camp fire lit.

Want a medium sized option? Then this is simply your ‘Buddy’. Perfect for small to medium sized tents or other areas, it won’t let you down and additionally should warm things up quick sharp when you require it.

In all honesty, then ‘Buddy’ is probably the tent heater of choice for you if you are in a standard sized tent and not going to live in the arctic circle or anything. It offers value for money, with essential portability and enough heat to keep it toastie in your tent for up to six hours.

Want more? Then the Daddy bear of our selection aka ‘Big Buddy’ will come racing to the rescue!

Crucially, this giant beast kicks out enough heat for 450 feet and also has three setting levels.

Just like the other two, if it’s ever knocked it will cut off immediately and provides the best value heat for your dollar you can get.

But it’s our final contender – the Allegro– which is most likely to give you a long term warm front, being designed for usage in work tents.

Fairytale Ending

But does our tale of four tent heaters have a happy ending?

While you cannot go wrong with any of our four, as long as you read all the safety information carefully and understand that the smaller models (i.e. Little Buddy) can’t be expected to heat up the same space as the larger ones do, one will be better for your needs ultimately. Maybe obvious, but it is still surprising how many people moan about a smaller heater not being as powerful.

Like it hot and steamy under the canvas at night? Then it really is a face-off between the Big Buddy and the Allegro.

Because unlike the other three, this is battery operated and does not take cylinder gas, so for anyone concerned about the safety of propane gas, this would be the natural choice.

Although, picking a winner is really not easy, as it boils down to personal choice – or what is appropriate – between gas and battery power. Got money to spare, then the Allegro is a winner, but pricey with it. Which gives our Big Buddy the final edge as the gap narrows in the race.

Ultimately, if you buy any one of these tent heaters you should live happily ever after.

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