Different Types of Tent Heaters

Tents have required heating for as long as they have existed. Wealthy ancients used braziers to contain coals. In the modern world armies heated wall tents with wood burning stoves, making sure a stove pipe extended well above the ridge line to carry away sparks. Modern campers who use these large tents may still find such units useful, particularly for semi-permanent installations where weight is not an object. Most frequently, though, modern campers use one of three types of more recently developed heaters.

Electric Heaters

For a semi-permanent installation where electricity exists, or for car camping in organized campgrounds it is possible to use the same type of electrical space heater employed in homes. These are singularly inefficient devices and there is considerable danger of kicking them over, but they will keep a tent warm.

Pellet Stoves

During the fuel crisis in the 1970s a new type of heater came to the market. These units used compressed pellets for highly efficient heating. Where the size of the stove is not an object and the pellets are available, these can be a good choice for heating a large, semi-permanent tent.


Gas Fueled Catalytic Heaters

For small tents or for remote areas, the best choice for efficient warmth is the new gas catalytic heater. These units produce such small amounts of exhaust that they are advertised as ventless. Since they produce no actual flame and have a safety cutoff, they are less likely to cause fires. They still need a clear area around them to keep fabric from melting, charring or bursting into flames.

When any sort of heater is used in a confined space like a tent, a CO2 detector is highly recommended. There must also be adequate clearance around the heater. Campers should not use the heaters while sleeping. They work best when used in the evening and morning to warm the tent enough to allow comfortable dressing and undressing.

Camping may be recreational, or it may be part of organized exploration or exploitation of resources. In any case, the use of tent heaters can extend the camping season into late fall or early spring when cold weather would make it uncomfortable otherwise, or in mild areas even through the winter. The use of small catalytic heaters even makes it possible to camp comfortable in back country areas in cold weather. They are truly the modern solution to an age-old problem.

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