Best Heater for Car Camping: 4 Heaters for a Warm and Cozy Trip

Best Heater for Car Camping: 4 Heaters for a Warm and Cozy Trip

12 min read

Are you looking for the best heater for car camping?

If so, you've come to the right place! In this blog post, we'll share our top picks for the best heaters for car camping.

We'll also provide a few tips on choosing the right heater for your needs.

So, whether you're gearing up for a winter camping trip or just need a little extra warmth on those chilly autumn nights, keep reading for the best car camping heaters around!

How We Chose Our Top Picks

Choosing and analyzing the best heaters that meet your car camping trip can be tricky. Hence, we have taken up this responsibility to save you from going in circles and wasting time trying to find the best car camping heaters.

Given below are our selected car heaters that are best for car camping. We have selected these heaters based on certain principles. The first is that regardless of the type, the heater should be reliable as it will be used under harsh and rugged terrain.

Then to avoid fire accidents during the trip, the heater must be of non-open flame function. Another important criterion was based on overall safety.

Modern-day heaters must have a tip-over safety switch which comes in very handy, especially on an off-road drive. It turns off the heater if it falls.

We ensured that Catalytic heaters that run on propane need have an Oxygen sensor to detect the level of oxygen left in the air.

Finally, the heater should operate for a long duration while using a minimum amount of fuel or energy. Let's see which heaters have made it to our list.

1. Mr. Heater, Buddy

Why We Like It

The best in the business

This brand is famous among the camping community because of its reliable, easy-to-use, and camping-friendly feature products. This model of Mr. Heater is no exception. It is a specifically built unit for outdoor camping goers and provides much-needed heat and warmth in rough and difficult weather.

This portable Buddy heater is Catalytic operated and needs propane to function. You can connect one pound propane cylinder to its adapter that can be swiveled out. This makes it easier and safer to plug the canister in place without any extra hardship. It has a simple Knob operating function, which you can turn on & off and even set your heating settings.

It generates up to 9000 BTUs at an elevation of about 7000 meters above sea level. It can operate for around 3 to 6 hours, depending on the temperature.

Mr. Heater Buddy can easily cover an area of about 225 square feet large.

To avoid fire and suffocation, this heater packs all the necessary features that ensure safety. It has a strong wire guard in front of its heating grills which keeps a safe distance between the flammable items and the heater.

Tip-over safety switch helps shut off the heater if it fumbles and falls onto the ground. It also features an oxygen sensor that turns off the heater if it detects less oxygen in the room.

You can throw this heater into a rugged and extreme environment because its solid body makes this product very durable. All in all, this buddy heater is a go-to heater for your camping adventure.

What You Should Know

Be extra cautious

This heater is perfect in all aspects: size, safety, simplicity, fuel efficiency, budget, build, or power. This Mr heater buddy ticks all the boxes. However, do take extra safety measures as it is a catalytic heater. We recommend that you should have a carbon monoxide detector with you.

2. Mr. Heater, Little Buddy

Why We Like It

Size, Shape, and Portability

No list of propane tent heaters is complete without the mention of Mr. Heater Little Buddy. This propane heater is best suited for short distances and single-day car camping adventures. Its unique design and size allow you to place it in tightly confined spaces, making this portable heater perfect as a tent heater or take it with you to explore the outdoors.

But because of its small size, do not think this beast is underpowered. It is one of the best propane heaters. It has changed the way winter fishing games were played traditionally. This heater makes car camping convenient, relaxing and comfortable.

It can throw around 3800 BTUs of heat and can last up to 5 hours nonstop on a single gas canister. You can rely on this little buddy to make you feel warm up to 7000 ft. above sea level and have a coverage of about 95 square feet. This means that it will heat up most of the camps without any problems.

It has an Oxygen sensor and Tips over switch to remove any safety concerns from your mind. It has a simple push-on and off-button mechanism, making it very easy to operate. It also has a solid grill to protect your hand from getting inside the heater.

This thing is not easy to break. It gets durability from its strong structure, which is designed to resist harsh circumstances and provide adequate heat.

What You Should Know

No temperature settings

This little Buddy heater falls short when it comes to temperature settings. It operates in only one temperature setting, which can be a problem during camping nights.

"Not intended for motorized vehicles"

The company states that this heater is not intended for motorized vehicles. With this warning, just be sure that you do not operate this heater when the vehicle is in motion. Also, it requires a four-square-inch minimum for adequate ventilation when in use. So you might have to sleep with the windows open a crack.

3. Caframo True North Heater

Why We Like It

Old School Style but nothing old about it

This Canadian brand makes a perfect blend of old and new. It incorporates an old look of an electric heater and mixes it with the features of modern-day space heaters. As a result, you get this amazing heater. It has a manual dial on the top of the heater that reminds you of old times.

Through these dials, you can select your setting from one to five. This gives you control over your temperature and provides you with the warmth you want inside the camp. In this space heater, you have an in-built adjustable thermostat that adjusts according to your heat preference and maintains it throughout its operation. This feature helps save energy.

You will be amazed to know that this heater has an anti-freezing mode. It automatically starts off the heater if the temperature of the camp gets below 3 degrees Celsius or 38 degrees Fahrenheit.

Its low profile shape makes this heater almost impossible to tip over, making it safer to use inside camps. Because it is a space heater, it does not release any toxic fumes. So you do not have to worry about ventilation while using it.

This electric heater comes in a melted body structure that helps give this product durability. You can easily store it as it is very compact as well.

What You Should Know


You may find it a little disturbing if you go all out and select the highest heating temperature because it can become noisy.

4. Vevor Happybuy Diesel Heater

Why We Like It

Everything you wanted in the car camping heater

This bad boy is for those serious enthusiasts who love outdoor off-grid adventures. It is specifically built to take you to the coldest regions of America, where normal heaters cannot even operate because of the high altitude, extreme weather conditions, and Low-Oxygen.

This diesel heater can work under bone-chilling -40 Celsius temperatures, making it reliable and your go-to heater for extreme winter camping. It requires very minimum fuel as for only a half-full tank; it can let you spend two to three nights comfortably in a ruthless climate. This helps you avoid carrying extra diesel and save room for other camping equipment.

The best part is it requires only 12v of electricity for its LCD control panels.

You can navigate and adjust your thermostat through the LCD panel. It has a remote control device that lets you operate it from a distance.

The best part is that it's not an open flame heater, which significantly cuts down the fire emergency risk. It also has an exhaust mechanism, which ensures to vent out all the carbon monoxide gasses from the camper. As a result, you get a toasty and pleasant camp and nothing to worry about.

Its slim and compact design requires minimum space in the car and makes it perfect for long car camping adventures. You get all this by spending very few bucks.

What You Should Know

Installation Technicalities

It's slim and compact and can fit easily in your car without taking up much space. However, it requires a lot of modifications in your car body. You need to be accurate when you install this heater. You need to understand how to assemble the parts because it will be a problem for you if anything has a wrong placement.

Car Camping Heating Essentials


If the heater is expensive, it does not necessarily mean that it is the best for you. We will get into more details about this later, but I want to emphasize that your truck cargo bed should incorporate suitable materials and the right gadgets to complement your heater.

Making your camper heated and pleasant to give you the desired relaxation and sleep is like a team game. In this game, the heater alone will not let you win the game against chilling cold weather, no matter how powerful, reliable, or expensive your heater is.

Even the best heater will become useless if there is no insulation to retain heat inside the car for longer durations. Insulation also helps eliminate condensation while using a heater. This ensures that the heater consumes less fuel or energy for maintaining heat. There should be spacing between your sleeping bag and the vehicle flatbed, as it helps stop the cold from coming onto your bed.

Maintain Ventilation

While ensuring insulation, you should also maintain ventilation as it can become fatal without it.

Do not forget to carry a carbon monoxide detector with you. It is a very crucial device, especially when you love a toasty car.

Why Do You Need a Separate Heater for Car Camping

While driving, your car's heater will warm you just fine since it only relies on the engine. This makes it less fuel efficient and falls short on power to heat your camper. This is where portable heaters plays its role.

Car camping heaters come in different sizes and shapes. There are three popular types of camping heaters in the market. All three have different working mechanisms to generate heat.

These heaters are ceramic, catalytic, and diesel based. Each one of them has its pros and cons. The type of heater you should choose depends on where you want to car camp and for how long. For those who rarely go out for an off-grid winter car camping adventure, the Catalytic and Electric heaters are best. Those individuals who are serious about outdoor activities and will experience extreme weather should go for diesel-operated heaters.

Things You Should Not Compromise While Buying Car Camping Heaters


Do not compromise on the reliability of the heater if you are planning to go for an off-grid adventure. It helps if you do not fall short of the budget and opt for trustworthy brands. The last thing you want during winter camping is your heater malfunctioning.

Most winter camping spots have very unpredictable weather. Sometimes, weather changes so quickly that you are already too late to react and have no choice but to endure the extreme weather. To cope with these calamities, you should rely on your camping gear and equipment. During snowstorms, one of your most crucial survival kits is your heater. If your heater dies down for any reason, you could get into a very difficult situation.

So always go for those brands whose products can withstand harsh climate conditions and have good durability.

Safety Features

Using heaters in tight and confined spaces is always dangerous. There is a high possibility that it can start a fire if it is near a flammable object. It could also suffocate by releasing harmful carbon monoxide. Thankfully, nowadays, some heaters are perfect for car camping.

They are free from open flames, which reduces the risk of accidental fires. They even incorporate tip-over safety switch technology, which shuts off the heater automatically when it falls on the ground and saves your camp from catching fire.

Oxygen Depletion Sensor

Unlike a gas heater, non-open flame heaters do not produce carbon monoxide gas which can suffocate you to death. Having said that, these heaters use oxygen to function and can deplete oxygen levels to a fatal degree. So, good manufacturers have placed an oxygen sensor that switches off the heater whenever the camping place is left with insufficient oxygen. Always ensure that it has this life-saving feature when you buy a Catalytic propane-based heater.


In car camping, space matters a lot. You don't want a heater that takes up a huge space in your camper. Try picking a car camping heater that is compact and easy to fit in your car. It should be portable and easy to carry everywhere. The larger the heater is, the harder it becomes to handle. This is because it requires taking extra preventative measures and creating a larger safety zone in an already tight space to avoid catching fire.

If you think that size of the heater is directly proportional to its heating, you are wrong. Some heaters are compact but can give you a summer-like feel, even in the Alaskan region.

Fuel Efficiency

As discussed earlier, in these sorts of adventures, there are some risks involved. These issues could be related to bad weather, car fault, wrong navigation, or your health. With all these issues, the last thing you would want to deal with is a lack of fuel.

So, if your plan on camping far and for a long duration, go for a fuel-efficient heater. This also gives you extra room to store other essential items for your camping trip, which are more often occupied by fuel canisters. Nobody wants to refill the tanks or recharge the battery after every hour on chilly nights.

Frequently Asked Questions About Heaters for Car Camping

We've put together this guide to answer the most frequently asked questions about heaters for car camping.

What type of heater is best for camping?

There are a few different types of heaters that work well for camping, but the best option depends on the specific needs and preferences of the camper.

One popular choice is a propane heater, which is easy to use and relatively efficient. However, some campers prefer an electric heater because it doesn't produce any fumes and is quieter than a propane heater. Another option is a charcoal heater, which is typically less expensive than other types of heaters and can be used to cook food as well as heat up the surrounding area.

Ultimately, the best type of heater for camping depends on the individual's needs and preferences. Some people might prefer one type of heater over another, while others might find that they're

Is there any kind of heaters that run on batteries?

There are a few battery-powered heaters on the market, but they tend to be small and not very powerful.

How do you heat a car while camping?

One option for heating a car while camping is to run the engine and use the car's heater. Another option is to use a portable generator to power an electric space heater.

How do you keep warm camping without electricity?

There are a few ways to keep warm while camping without electricity. One way is to use a camp stove to generate heat. Another way is to use a propane heater. And finally, you can use a campfire to generate heat. These methods will help keep you warm and comfortable while camping in the winter.

What kind of heater is safe to use in a car?

An electric heater is the safest kind of heater to use in a car.

They don't produce any flames or sparks, so they're much less likely to start a fire in the car. And they generate heat by using electricity, which means that they don't rely on any fuel source that could run out or leak.

Some people choose to use portable propane heaters in their cars, but they can be dangerous if not used properly. They produce flames and sparks, which can easily start a fire if any kind of fuel source is available in the car. They also release fumes, which can be harmful if you breathe them in for long periods.

What Option of Heaters for Car Camping Is Best For You?

If you're looking for the best heaters for car camping, any of the options we presented can be great choices. It really comes down to personal preference and what type of heater will work best in your home.

We hope this article has clarified what you should look for when choosing a heater for your car camping trip.

Thank you for reading!

Car heaters are a great way to stay warm when the temperature in your car just won't cut it. Check out this article on more portable car heaters on Resilient Reviews.

Here is the list of items reviewed:

1. Mr. Heater, Buddy

2. Mr. Heater, Little Buddy

3. Caframo True North Heater

4. Vevor Happybuy Diesel heater

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