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Lindy Lee

Heaters for Tents?

41 posts in this topic

We just came back from another cold tent trip where we had no power to run an electric heater, so I was wondering if any one has used the Buddy type heater and if there is any problems like moister build up? Thanks.

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There are heaters that will work in tents. Do some VERY CAREFUL research on the subject. You CAN stay warm in your tent. You can also KILL yourself and your family with the WRONG heater and ventilation.

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Understand that, I do heating and ac for a living. I know I am looking for something when we have no power but I was also told some electric heaters are not safe in tents also.

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I have used a buddy heater in a tent for september bowhunts in WY, overnight lows in the 20's and 30's. It was great for keeping the 'chill' out when the nights got cold. We just ran it on low. I would not hesitate to do it again, and plan to this fall for some grouse hunts.

We slept on cots, to stay off the floor(co falls) and had a vent open on the tent to get a little air movement, just in case. But like I said, I wouldn't hesitate to use the "buddy".

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use a buddy in the tent all the time. Typing this response from my tent right now up on Kabetogama....my buddy heater is 3ft away from me....haven't needed it this week but brought it just in case. I have no trouble running it at night with a vent open just for good measure.

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I'll third the buddy heater in the tent. I also use a cot, and I've been toasty warm on some cold grouse trips

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Personally, I'd never use a heater in a tent. Too many risks. Tents are generally flame retardent, not flame proof. More of a concern, in my opinion, is co poisoning. I don't recommend using a heater in a tent but if you do, please leave something open for ventilation.

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I don't understand all the talk about co poisoning in a tent. My tents are open at the top with mesh. Does this not let enough air in??

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This is just me, but if your tenting your trying to save money from a cabin or hotel. You better be able to rough it a little. Absolutly no heater in my tents becuz of safty issues.

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W-I-W-F, Not all tents are created equal. None of my tents have mesh tops. Am glad the safety issues were brought up.

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My question would be "why do you need a heater in the tent?" If you have a decent sleeping bag what is the need. Also..I have never really hung out in a tent as I always thought they were fro sleeping only.

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Here is a trick I use to do in the bwca...I would take some rocks 5-6 inches in diameter and leave them by my campfire to absorb the heat...when ready to bed down, I would wrap 2-3 in a towel and put them in my sleeping bag and kept me warm all nite. Simple, but it works.

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Here is a trick I still do in the bwca...I wear my stocking cap to bed after consuming copious amount of fried fish and whiskey. Works for me and I don't wake up with a rock in my back!

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Here is a trick I still do in the bwca...I wear my stocking cap to bed after consuming copious amount of fried fish and whiskey. Works for me and I don't wake up with a rock in my back!

I hate to burst your bubble, but the whiskey is not helping. grin

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I've used a Coleman sportcat a few times, mostly just to preheat the tent before I turn in or for about an hour before I get up.

For the overnight hours, I've just been throwing a couple of those chemical handwarmers in the sleeping bag. Plenty toasty, without the worry about co2 and sleeping bag/tent meltage.

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I've been thinking about this today and realize I might be somewhat of a hypocrite. I use a buddy in a portable fishhouse and it has the same flame rating as most tents. I will not sleep with it on, though. A well vented woodstove in a tent that is designed for it might be safer but I still am apprehensive about it. I opt for a warm sleeping bag and not worrying about it.

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I've used a Coleman sportcat a few times, mostly just to preheat the tent before I turn in or for about an hour before I get up.

For the overnight hours, I've just been throwing a couple of those chemical handwarmers in the sleeping bag. Plenty toasty, without the worry about co2 and sleeping bag/tent meltage.

Best advise on this post IMO

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I realize that everyone is entitled to their own reasons and I shouldn't question them, but I have a hard time understanding having a heater in the tent.

The only time I've ever had heat in a tent was using a canvas tent with a vented woodstove inside the tent while winter camping in the BWCA. Even then it doesn't run all night and its cold in the morning.

I don't want to start an argument about why so I'll add warming suggestions.

First of all, dress for the weather. DOn't overdress!! Most people get cold because they wear too much, start sweating and then cool down and can't warm up because of their wet clothes.

Have a sleeping bag rated to the temps outside the tent. Even if you use a heater or handwarmers, you should be able to sleep comfortably without them in case you run out or they don't work. If you can't then you are unprepared for the weather and inviting trouble.

A proper ground pad is worth more than a better sleeping bag. Cots may be comfortable but they will make you colder unless you use the sleeping pad. It allows the cold air to circulate around you. The pad will insulate you from the ground or the air below the cot since you are compressing the insulation in your bag underneath you. Get closed cell foam. Air mattresses do nothing for insulation unless they have foam or the new down filled air mattresses.

If your bag is rated for the weather and you've got a good ground pad, don't over dress for bed. Wear some breathable long underwear (NOT COTTON!!), breathable socks or sock liners and a stocking cap at the most. I still rarely sleep in more than underwear unless its below zero. (SOrry about the TMI).

If you have to use a heater cause you want to (you don't need it), then consider a catalytic style heater or a wood stove with a chimney. They can work well and don't produce extra water vapor that will collect on the tent.

Duffmans suggestion about the handwarmers is really catching on. They sell larger packs now and even come with a small nylon sack to keep it away from your skin. Its the safest route by far and the lightest and most portable.

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Powerstroke is dead on about everything.

As an alternative to hot rocks or using chemicals in your bag, try boiling water and then putting it in a nalgene at the bottom of your bag. It works well.

The winter trick is to pee in a nalgene instead of getting out of your warm bag. It saves you from getting cold outside and the warm bottle helps as well. Gross but it works. Just don't get any drips in the bag.

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I got my dad a 96 ounce collaspable nalgene bottle/bag since he used to pee in a nalgene bottle. Never knew which was mine and which was his until I got him his father's day present. That said, when camping in the winter, I tend not to use a tent when I'm by myself. First time i need to pee, roll over three times and let her fly, next time, roll over twice. You get the idea. Tents make everything more difficult if there is no rain. An empty bladder will keep you warmer than you might expect.

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The empty bladder is a very good tip. If you have a full bladder, then you're body has to use energy to heat and keep it warm. This wastes extra energy. Go to the bathroom, even if its in the middle of the night. You will sleep better cause you're not "full" and your body can spend more energy keep you warm and not your urine.

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The one thing I like about a source of heat in the tent, is the ability to dry out my gear. I put off moisture big time while I sleep, so the heater thaws the frozen condensation on the walls of my tent in the morning and then dries them. I also hang any damp clothing on my tent gear loft, helps with drying that as well.

I am starting to move away from a heater in the tent that burns propane and back to my three-candle candlier. That's right, open flame in my nylon tent. smile But not as much co2 and more predictable than a propane heater. Had a buddy almost become heat shrink wrapped a couple of winters ago due to operator error and changing out a tank in the middle of the night.

As for peeing, my buddies go the wide mouth gatorade bottle route. I actually somewhat enjoy getting up out of the tent at night to relieve myself. Do the midnight shiver as I stare at the heavens and take in the crisp night air. My handwarmers are keeping the sleeping bag toasty until my return. Jump back in the tent, rub the snow off the socks, and cuddle with the hand warmers. laugh

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I also use the candle lantern. It will keep the air warm enough to keep from freezing and the condensation will vent out on its own. Most of the candles last 8-10 hrs which is more than enough to last all night.

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The ability to dry out gear is important. That's why I choose to use almost exclusively black winter camping gear. Throw it out on a big rock or on a rope and the light helps get the moisture out. My friends thought I had something for Johnny Cash until I pointed out my theory. Sleeping bag, Carharts, dog harnesses, ditty bags, you name it, it's almost all dark.

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Wow over 640 views, seems other people are wondering about heaters in tents also. Just to clear a few things up.

I would never trust the lifes of my family to a oxygen sensor on a gas heater that could fail. To me it would not be worth the gamble.

I have a 4 1/2 year old that can not stay in her sleeping bag at night and is always waking up cold. I also have a not so good back or neck and wake up quite a bit with a stiff neck after a cold night. To remedy this problem I am thinking about sleeping with a turtle neck or hunting necky on to see if that helps.

And to answer the part about being cheap, I am not cheap, with my job I have found it easier to take a few long weekends over the summer instead of a week at a time and have not been able to find a resort, on the lakes we want to go to, that will rent a cabin for anything less than a week. Nor have I found a Hotel that will let us have campfire in the parking lot or let my dog sleep on the bed.

We now sleep on cots with cot pads, as some of you have mentioned we have also found out over the years you need additional insulation under you. When we used our old air materess for the first time on a May camping trip we found out after the first night they get very cold if you do not have a thermal break between you and it, as it will pull the cold from the ground.

Anyway thanks to all for the comments it has been fun to read. As I stated earlier I did not think soo many people would be interested in this topic.

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