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Best Heater For Truck Bed Camping – Camper Shell Or Tent – Stay Warm

best heater for truck bed camping
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Often times the reason people search for the best heater for truck bed camping is because using your truck bed as your camping space is common in late fall and winter. If you are camping in the fall, winter or even early summer it might be necessary for you to find a way to heat up your tent.

It’s really important to make sure you have enough clothes/equipment to stay warm in those cold months. Today I’m going to show you some heaters for truck bed camping to make sure you can safely keep warm. Below my recommendations for heaters I will also be discussing safety tips and ways to help keep the warmth in your tent. Make sure to keep reading beyond the heater recommendations or you can just scroll straight down to that section. 

If you want to get serious about truck bed camping, check out my ultimate guide to camping in a truck bed below. See tents, accessories and setup ideas with lots of great tips!

Camping In A Pickup Truck Bed Guide

best heater for truck bed camping

Best Heater For Truck Bed Camping
Camper Shell or Tent

I’m making my top heater recommendations based on the idea that you don’t have access to electricity. There are many portable electric heaters out there that would be great for a tent or confined space. I will be recommending propane based heaters. Propane is easy to get and these all run on the 1 pound propane tanks that can be found almost anywhere. 

The best heaters for truck bed camping are below. You want a heater that is safe, portable and puts out enough heat. Our favorite portable heaters for truck bed camping are all small and easy to move around but also put out enough heat to warm up your hands or even heat up a small room. You can click on each one below to find out more!

Best Truck Bed Camping Heaters For Camper Shell Or Tent

We take a lot of things into consideration when recommending products. One of the most important things with indoor heaters is safety. After I discuss the heaters below I’m going to give some safety tips and ways you can use a propane heater safely inside of a tent. 

We also want to make sure we are recommending a product that works well. Some things you will want to consider is, are you using a truck bed tent? Or are you using a camper shell? This will determine how hard it might be to keep the heat in the tent. 

If your goal is to actually heat your tent it might be more of a challenge. Tents are not designed to keep heat in when it’s cold. Its just a thin layer of fabric and you may need to figure out a way to insulate the tent. We will talk a little about that below as well. If you are using a camper shell it will be much easier to keep your heat. 

Whether you are truck bed camping in a tent or a camper shell, any of these heaters will be great. I’m going to recommend them in the order that I would personally buy below. I will also recommend a budget pick in case you are on a budget while looking at heaters for truck bed camping. 



Mr. Heater Little Buddy Propane Heater

heater for truck bed camping

The Mr. Heater Little Buddy Propane Heater is our top pick and most recommended portable heater for truck bed camping. This little heater packs quite the punch and will genuinely help you stay warm on those cold nights. 

This is a safe heater as it has an oxygen sensor and will turn off when it detects low oxygen. It also has a feature that turns it off if tipped over. Having a heater in a tent there is a high likelihood that it gets knocked over a few times. The canisters will last around 5 ours of continuous use. It puts out about 3800 BTU and can heat a room of about 95 square feet. 

Just remember that if you are wanting to use this to heat up your tent, you will likely need to figure out a way to insulate your tent to keep the heat in. Even if it’s not keeping the tent super warm it’s great to have  heat source in the tent with you. 

We highly recommend this great portable propane heater for truck bed camping. It comes from a trusted brand and should do a great job keeping you warm. Check out out on Amazon below.


  • Long Run Time At 5.6 Hours
  • Odor Free 45-Degree Heating Angle
  • Small And Portable
  • Low Oxygen Sensor and Tip Over Shut Off Switch


  • Turn On Button Can Be A Little Stiff
  •  Not A Good Option For Golf Carts Of Moving Vehicles
Runner Up

Mr. Heater Buddy Portable Radiant Heater

mr buddy portable heater for camping in truck bed

The Buddy portable heater is basically the big brother of the little buddy. It’s a great heater and if heat output is your 100% top priority over portability it’s probably the best option. We weighed in heat output, portability and affordability. Overall the little buddy came out a bit on top but this is a great portable heater. 

If you don’t need it to be portable as much and just need more heat this is definitely your top option. It’s portable enough but is larger than our top pick. It does have a wider base and will be harder to knock over which is great. It does have a low oxygen shut off and turns off when it gets knocked over. Depending on your setting you can be putting out 4,000 to 9,000 BTU and can heat a room of up to 225 square feet. 

This heater also serves as a great option if your power goes out and you don’t have another heat source. It’s big enough to heat up a small room and is nice to have on hand for those crazy situations none of us can predict. 

The run time is a little shorter at max BTU output, you will get about 3 running our out of a propane canister. If you just need something to keep you warm this is probably your best option. You can see more photos and read user reviews on Amazon below!


  • Puts Out A Lot Of Heat
  • Auto Shut Off When Tipped Over
  • Auto Shut Off When Low Oxygen
  • Fold Down Carrying Handle


  • Not As Portable Slightly Bigger
  • Consume A Lot Of Propane Due To Larger Heat Output


Texsport Sportsmate Portable Propane Heater

truck bed camping heater

The Texsport Sportsmate portable propane heater is a great option. It’s not quit as good as the Little Buddy but it’s a little bit less expensive so there is a trade off. This also comes with a cup holder for golf carts so if that’s something you might need, it also doubles as that. 

This heater puts out 3,000 BTU’s and has a nice base that holds a standard 1 pound propane canister. The burner valve adjusts the heat output which is nice to have. There is a safety feature that shuts the heater off if the flame goes out so it doesn’t put out any propane. Although I suggested a different budget option, this model is only about $10 more but I recommend it over the budget option if you can afford the extra bit of money. 

This little heater doesn’t put out as much heat as the top options but will run forever at about 8 hours per 1 pound propane tank. Many hunters and campers use these in tents and hunting blinds and it helps keep warm in the fall and winter months. 


  • Small And Portable
  • Auto Shut Off When Flame Goes Out
  • Very Dependable
  • Puts Out Good Heat For Small Size
  • Great For Golf Carts & Boats


  • Low Heat Output When Compared To Others

Budget Option

Hiland LP-195C Portable Propane Camping Heater

Hiland LP-195C Portable Tank Top Propane Camping Heater, 3000 BTU, CSA Certified, Uses 1lb Propane Tank, Variable Heat Control, Small, Silver

If you are looking for a nice little portable propane heater on a budget the Hiland might be your top choice. This little heater is going to cost you the least amount of money but will still put out 3,000 BTU of heat. It does have a dial so you can control the amount of heat output. Maybe you are trying to warm your hands or crank it up to heat your truck bed camping set up. 

It connects to standard 1 pound propane canisters. You turn it on by turning on the propane and holding down the button, it will light and start heating. You will want to be a little more careful with this heaters since it’s made with lighter materials, it needs to be handled with a little more care. It does come with a stand to help keep it more sturdy and has an off switch for when it’s knocked over. 

I do like this little propane heater but strongly recommend going with one of the Mr Heater options as their performance and build are quite a bit better for not a lot more money but if you have to stay in the budget, check it out! 


  • Small And Portable
  • Auto Shut Off When Tipped Over
  • Puts Out Good Heat For Small Size


  • Not As Well Made Could Break
  • Low Heat Output When Compared To Others

Heater For Truck Bed Camping Safety & Tips

There are some things you should consider when using a heater for truck bed camping. If you are using a camper shell or tent being responsible and safe is important. Safety should be a high priority and you want to always make sure you are not careless with products ran on a propane tank. 

I’m going to go over some tips and safety ideas below to help you keep your truck bed camping trip fun, warm and safe! 

Does A Propane Heater Put Off Carbon Monoxide?

They definitely can. It’s important to be safe and prepared for this possibility. If you are in the camper shell of a truck, it’s even more important due to less ventilation. If you are in a truck bed tent there is much better ventilation and the risk is significantly reduced. 

The best way to completely eliminate any risk of Carbon Monoxide is to just get a small cheap battery operated Carbon Monoxide detector. The one below is great and will detect and send off an alarm if any Carbon Monoxide is detected. It’s always better to be safe than sorry, especially in the camper shell of a truck. 

Battery Operated Carbon Monoxide Detector

Don’t risk carbon monoxide when you can get such an affordable and easy to use option to completely eliminate it. All the heaters I suggested above should give off an ideal burn and not put out any carbon monoxide, but the risk is always there and its always better to be safe in this instance. 

Prevent The Heater From Tipping Over

The heaters for truck bed camping I recommended above all have a shut off feature when tipped over. I still don’t like 100% relying on that feature to work every time. One thing you can do is get a nice camping end table for less than $20 to prop your heater up off the floor of the tent and give it a more sturdy base to stand on. 

This also allows you to position it where you want up off the floor so it does a better job of heating and is closer to the top of your tent or camper shell for better ventilation. It’s also great to have a little table if you have any kids or dogs in the tent. 

This makes it harder to knock over and much easier to see (not that it completely matters for dogs or kids) but does help a little bit. Not to mention, these table are nice to have in the tent for small clock or light. They are also nice for setting your food on when eating around the campfire! 

Click Here To See One On Amazon

tent side table

How To Keep A Tent Warm In Cold Weather

Having a portable heater for truck bed camping is really just part of the solution to keeping your tent warm. If you are in a camper shell you will probably retain quite a bit of heat. If you are in a truck bed tent, it’s going to be much harder to retain the heat. 

I’m going to give you some tips below that are mainly for tent camping but can also be used in a camper shell. Getting the heat in your tent is easy, keeping it in there is the harder part, the tips below will help with that! 

1. Use A Small Tent

Using a smaller tent will make it much easier to keep everything warm and will be easier to insulate the tent. If it’s just two of you consider going for smaller options. Try not to get anything too oversize if it’s not necessary.

2. Ground Insulation
Using a rug, mat or blanket on the floor of your tent can help insulate the floor and assist in retaining heat. You can get sleeping mats and blankets specially designed for keeping in the heat. 
3.  Cover Your Tent
Having a waterproof rain fly, tarp or over for your tent is a great way to keep the rain and dew out. This also helps with adding layers to your tent and assisting with keeping the heat in. You can also get a large tarp to cover your tent if you don’t think the rain fly is enough. 
The B-Air Grizzly Tarp below is a great option. Try to secure it to your tent and have it snug and tight. This will help you keep a lot of your heat inside the tent and it will give you optimal waterproofing. 
4. Thermal Blanket Inside Tent
Using a Thermal foil blanket on the inside of your tent will help reflect the heat and keep in inside. Just use some tape and tape it to the top of your tent, on the inside. This will really help keep the heat in, the reflective blankets are only a like $8, check one out below!


Staying warm when you are camping is really important. I hope I was able to recommend the best heater for truck bed camping and you stay nice and warm on your next trip. Make sure to also go over my tips and stay safe when you are using the propane heaters. 

My goal is always to help people have fun and stay safe, especially in the great outdoors! If you have found this article useful or helpful, please make sure to share on your favorite social medial platform. It means more to me than you could ever imagine! 

I love truck bed camping. I wanted to make sure I helped you find the best heater for truck bed camping plus more. I have written a huge guide on truck bed camping that I think you should check out. See it below!

Ultimate Truck Bed Camping Guide

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