Car camping is a fun and adventurous activity that lets you see the great outdoors while staying close to home. However, it can be really difficult to create a cozy and safe sleeping environment in cold weather when you’re jamming in the backseat of your car!

If you’re feeling a little chilly one night, worry no more; here is our recommendation for the 8 best portable heaters for car camping.

Quick Picks: My Top 8 Choices

Preview Product Name Price
Mr Heater F232000 Mr Heater F232000 Buy on Amazon
Heat Hog Piglet Heat Hog Piglet Buy on Amazon
Mr Heater F215100 Mr Heater F215100 Buy on Amazon
STANLEY 5100 BTU STANLEY 5100 BTU Buy on Amazon
Dreo Space Heaters Dreo Space Heaters Buy on Amazon
GiveBest 1500W Dreo Space Heaters Buy on Amazon
Selanto 1500W Ceramic Selanto 1500W Ceramic Buy on Amazon
Amazon Basics 500-Watt Amazon Basics 500-Watt Buy on Amazon

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The Key to Safe Heating for Outdoor Camping

In cold weather, you might find yourself using a portable heater for car camping every once in a while. While out there, you don’t want to add to the already-high chance of freezing on your next camping trip.

There are many differences between heating stoves and portable heaters. Heavy-duty heaters with multiple burners and powerful engines can raise temperatures by 200 degrees Fahrenheit or more (Fahrenheit 30°C, Celsius 41°C).

On the other hand, portable heaters for car camping don’t have many options and can only reach lower temperatures. Besides, heaters with a single burner might be able to produce enough heat to keep you warm, but not as much as stoves.

No matter which type of heater you choose, it’s important to make sure that it’s safe for car camping. That way you can prevent a fire or burnout from damaging your vehicle.

Types of Heaters

There are four types of heaters that can use for camping:

Propane Heater

Propane heater use propane tanks as fuel, which are a common, versatile and portable source of energy. There are many fuel options available to you at a reasonable cost. You might think that propane heaters spew out carbon monoxide, but that’s not true; in fact, many models utilize computerized safety mechanisms which regulate CO levels in the air.

Propane furnaces can expel up to 90 percent of their energy as heat. That means propane heating is more efficient than other types of heating systems. Propane heaters are also lightweight and portable, which is why they’re popular among campers.

Ceramic Heaters

Ceramic heater models use electrical energy to produce heat. That makes them more efficient than propane heaters; however, they still aren’t as efficient as electric stoves. Most ceramic heaters are lighter in weight and can run off of batteries or DC power outlets.

Fan Heaters

Fan heaters run off of electricity. They are also light weight, have settings for different heat settings and can also be used with batteries. The price for fan heaters might be a little more than other options, but it’s worth the investment if you need a portable heater that doesn’t cost too much to operate.

Oil Heaters

Oil heaters use oil as fuel, which is highly efficient. This allows them to only require small amounts of fuel to power the heat. Oil heaters also have flame sensors that shut down the unit when they detect a flame. This helps keep your car safe from fire hazards, making them the safest type of portable car heater for camping.

Reviews of the Portable Heaters for Car Camping

1. Mr Heater F232000

Best Overall

1. Mr Heater F232000

Power Source: Gas Powered
Mr Heater F232000

The Mr Heater F232000 is a powerful and versatile portable heater that’s ideal for car camping. It features two heat settings, producing 4,000 or 9,000 BTU, perfect for heating up to 200 square feet of space.

Boasting a gas-powered design and radiant heating. The item weight is just 1.9 pounds and it covers an area of 225 square feet. It can heat rooms to 95 square feet. An inverter is necessary because car batteries produce a DC current but your household heater needs an AC current.

We must emphasize that it is not safe to leave a heater running unattended in a tent or use one while sleeping. Unsupervised heaters can lead to the production of toxic gases and cause fires, so their usage requires caution.

Whether you’re tent camping, winter camping or car camping and looking for hot air, this is the perfect heater to have along for warmth and comfort. The buddy heater is one of the best cold weather gear for every outdoor enthusiasts and indoor use.

Best Value

2. Heat Hog Piglet

Power Source: Gas Powered
Heat Hog Piglet

If you are looking for the best portable heater for car camping, then the Heat Hog Piglet is right gear for you, it will works like you have warm blankets. The Heat Hog Piglet is a compact portable space heater that provides reliable and convenient heat when it’s needed most.

It has a unique fixed 45 degree angled heat head design that provide heat where it’s needed most.

And the curved plaque technology provides 33% greater heating area than standard small tent heaters. This camping heater has a power output up to 4,000 BTUs of radiant heat output. And is powered by a 1lb LP cylinder, so no electricity is required.

If you need to have precision over your camping heater’s about how much heat output, Heat Hog Piglet will be a great choice for you. Perfect for tent camping and other outdoor activities. The Heat Hog Piglet delivers reliable heat so you can stay warm and cozy.

Editor Pick

3. Mr Heater F215100

Power Source: Gas Powered
Mr Heater F215100

The F215100 Gas Heater is the perfect solution for heating little enclosed space like tents up to 95 square feet. It provides a continuous, odorless 45-degree angle of heating.

The maximum elevation it can be used at is 7,000 feet. And it safety features an automatic low oxygen depletion sensor for extra safety. With this tiny heater you can enjoy up to 5.6 hours of continuous warmth with the use of one 1-pound disposable propane cylinder.

Plus, this propane heater comes with a low-oxygen sensor and accidental tip-over switch with auto shut-off for extra protection. The better ones need to be set up directly with your car’s battery.

You can use it with a small propane tank and control it with a remote or by a toggle switch. So if you’re looking for a reliable and safe propane heater heater to take with you on your next camping adventure, the Mr. Heater F215100 Heater is the perfect choice.

Budget Kit

4. STANLEY 5100 BTU Electric Heaters

Power Source: Corded Electric
STANLEY 5100 BTU Electric Heaters

The STANLEY electric heater is an ideal device for those who are looking to quickly and effectively heat up their living or working space. This portable electric heater is equipped with two different heat settings, allowing users to customize the amount of warmth they need.

The adjustable thermostat enables further customization, meaning that users can easily adjust the temperature to their desired level.

Additionally, this powerful heater is able to heat up to 165 square feet in an incredibly short amount of time, making it perfect for car camping.

These electric heaters completely different than other heaters, which keep your car warm and cozy. So, if you want to stay warm you can use this car camping heater.

Carbon monoxide poisoning is not an issue when using these in a enclosed space because there’s no flame; however, they typically need to be plugged into an electrical outlet. With its compact size and lightweight design, the STANLEY electric heater is a must-have item for those looking for a reliable and efficient portable heating solution.

Space Pick

5. Dreo Space Heaters

Power Source: Corded Electric
Dreo Space Heaters

The Dreo Space Heater is powered by a revolutionary Hyperamics Technology, an advanced heating technology that provides powerful and efficient heating. With a maximum of 1500W working power, these space heaters can quickly reach your desired temperature.

This electric heater best work for indoor use that provide constant heat without any cold spots. Great for car camp and any camping trips.

Not only is it fast to heat up, but these space heaters come equipped with an ETL-listed Shield360° system for your safety. This system provides tip-over protection, overheat protection, and a safety plug for ultimate safety during use.

The EC Mode allows you to adjust the heat level automatically (auto shut off), saving on energy bills while giving you precise temperatures from 41 to 95°F.

Best Compact

6. GiveBest 1500W

Power Source: Corded Electric
GiveBest 1500W

The GiveBest 1500W portable car heater is an excellent choice for car camping, especially during the winter months. This ceramic heater comes with two heat levels (1500W and 750W) and one cool air fan, so it’s suitable for both winter and summer use.

It also features a thermostat control that will turn the heater off when it reaches a preset temperature and turn it back on when the temperature dips below the thermostat setting. The heater has a flame retardant material for safety, an automatically shut off system if it overheats.

And a tip over protection system that will shut off if it is knocked over. It also has a build-in carry handle for easy portability. The noise level is under 45 decibels and it can heat up 200 square feet quickly with the PTC ceramic heating tech and high speed fan.

Finally, it comes with an upgrade ABS material for extra flame retardancy, a six foot lead cord, and a two prong connection for lasting life.

Affordable Pick

7. Selanto 1500W Ceramic

Power Source: Corded Electric
Selanto 1500W Ceramic

Selanto 1500W Ceramic is one of the best portable car camping heaters for camping available in the market. It is equipped with four settings, namely high heat, low heat, ECO and fan summer cooling use.

It has a PTC ceramic heating element allowing for faster and more efficient heating than traditional heaters. The heater is also equipped with an over-heat system that shuts the unit off when parts of the heater become overheated.

Additionally, it features a tip-over switch to shut off the unit when tipped forward or backward. The power indicate light will also let you know at a glance that it is plugged in.

Furthermore, the mini heater is easily portable with its built-in carry handle and adjustable thermostat for comfortable warmth. Selanto 1500W Ceramic is ETL certified and allows you to have it working in minutes after taking it out of the box.

Best Portable

8. Amazon Basics 500-Watt

Power Source: Corded Electric
Amazon Basics 500-Watt

The Amazon Basics heater is an ideal choice for car camping, offering a compact and lightweight.

This reliable space heater features efficient ceramic coils that heat up incredibly quickly, perfect for when you need to warm up fast. It also comes with tip-over protection, which adds an extra level of safety.

This low wattage electric heater is the perfect solution to a chilly vehicle. It quickly melts snow off your windshield on a cold winter day and warms up front or back seats for passengers so they don’t mind waiting in the car.

Available in four colors, you can find one to match your car’s style perfectly. It’s an economical choice for small spaces and on-the-go heating needs. So if you’re looking for a great portable car heater for your next camping adventure, the Amazon Basics 500-Watt is a reliable option.

How to Choose the Best Portable Heater for Car Camping

Although you may feel tempted to avoid road trips during the temperature drops, it doesn’t have to be that way. That said, if you plan on camping in wintertime, you’ll need to take extra steps for preparation. Consider following factors when buying portable camping heaters:

Safety features

The safety of a heater is a major concern for car campers. You don’t want to use a mini heater when it’s too hot. Instead, it’s better to buy one that turns off automatically, which reduces the chances of burns. If you’re planning on using an oil heater, make sure that it has an automatic shutoff system.

Ease of Use

As with any other piece of gear, camping heaters should be user-friendly to ensure they’ll be used as intended. For example, if you have to use an electric heater on a daily basis, you might want to choose one that has automatic shutoff features so you won’t forget to turn it off.

Power Source

Choose a model with a built-in power cut fuse. Standard heaters have plugs that run on different types of electricity, while these require only one common source. If the power is interrupted during an emergency, your heater shouldn’t be damaged by an outage.

Preventing Burns

The best way to prevent burns is by preventing contact with the heat source. Consider camping heaters that have a thermostat or an automatic shutoff feature, so you can regulate the temperature without help from a friend.

A thermostat automatically senses when the room is warm enough and turns off the unit. You can also choose a heater with a radiant barrier, which reflects rays from heating coils. This prevents contact with up to 90 percent of the heat source, according to Energy Star guidelines.

The duration and intensity of the criticism

It’s important to remember that not all car heaters are created equal. Smaller electric heaters might be easy to pack, but they don’t put out enough heat.

Heat output varies widely between different types of mini heater for car camping. Oil and propane heaters usually provide more consistent heating. Keep in mind that a heater needs time to warm up, which means that most heaters might only reach their full potential after 20 minutes.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q. Can I put a portable heater in my car?

A: With the right precautions and safety measures, you can use a portable heater in your car while camping! However, it is important to research the type of portable heater that best suits your needs and to follow any safety instructions included with the device.

The most common types of portable heaters include catalytic, radiant, propane-fired, and electric. Be sure to select one that is designed specifically for use in small, enclosed spaces like a car. With the proper precautions, you can make your next camping trip.

Q. Is there a heater that runs on batteries?

A: Yes, there are some portable battery-operated heaters that you can use while car camping. These heaters usually come with safety features to help ensure they don’t overheat and catch fire.

For the ultimate in convenience and portability, look for a model that is lightweight and easy to set up on the go. With a reliable heater like this, you can stay warm and cozy no matter where your car camping adventures take you.

Q. How long can a car battery run a portable heater?

A: This depends on the capacity of your car battery and the wattage of your heater. Generally speaking, a 12-volt car battery can run a heater up to 150 watts for around 3 hours before needing to be recharged or replaced. Be sure to check the user manual for more specific information regarding your particular model of portable heater.


At the end of the day, it might come to personal preference or which one is most suitable for your needs. Whatever your choice, make sure that you are able to select a model that’s safe and easy to use. Be sure to take all of these things into consideration when you’re going through the buying process so you can maximize the amount of time you can enjoy your camping experience with family and friends.

Sukhen Tanchangya

Sukhen is a passionate blogger and traveler who visited many historical places in Bangladesh, Myanmar, India, and Thailand. He’s an avid camper, so he shares his knowledge of camping and wildlife with his readers. He also helps readers plan their own camping trips. To know more, stay connected with Outdoor Awaits.

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