The 4 Best Truck Bed Heaters – Reviews 2020

truck bed heater

Photo by Project LM / CC BY

Getting a truck bed heater if you like the great outdoors. After all, one of the best things about owning a truck is the ability to drive out in to the wilderness, off the beaten path, and spend a night under the stars. And the truck bed is the perfect place to sleep—it’s flat, smooth, and it’s elevated.

As the weather gets colder, though, sleeping in the truck bed while camping becomes more and more uncomfortable. Rather than giving up on truck camping for the winter, you can buy a portable heater to keep the space warm for you.

A good portable heater for a truck bed should be propane powered, not electric, and should have basic safety features that will prevent it from starting a fire. It should also be powerful enough to keep you sufficiently warm. Most portable propane heaters are fairly affordable, so price is not usually an issue.

Here are our recommendations for the 4 best truck bed heaters on the market:

Truck Bed Heater 1: Stansport Infrared Propane Heater

This little heater is a great option for those with light wallets, and it still puts out an impressive 3,000 BTUs of heat. That’s more than enough to heat up the area of a truck bed, and the reflective metal dish allows you to focus the heat right where you want it: directly on you.

It has four heat settings: off, low, medium, and high. It has an auto-shutoff feature that cuts the fuel supply if it’s tilted or if the pilot light goes out so you don’t have to worry about potential fires. It also features a safety cage that makes it impossible to accidentally touch the flame.

It attaches to a standard, 16.4 ounce propane cylinder, and comes with a stable plastic stand to attach to the bottom of the cylinder. Matchless ignition makes it easy to use, and the carrying handle makes it ultra-portable. (One thing, though: this heater is not safe for indoor use so no closed truck beds. That means that it has no oxygen sensor, and could potential burn through enough oxygen in a room, and/or generate enough carbon monoxide, to be hazardous. In an open truck bed, this is no problem.)

Truck Bed Heater 2: Texsport Sportsmate Propane Heater

This is similar in design to the Stansport, but it also comes with a cup holder. It isn’t clear why, or even how the cup holder works since it isn’t attached to anything, but it’s included nonetheless. This one was made for use in golf carts, fishing boats, duck blinds, and the like. Truck beds aren’t explicitly mentioned there, but if it will work in those places it’ll work in a truck bed.

The auto shut-off valve will cut off the fuel supply if the flame goes out. The metal dish behind the burner is a different shape: rectangular instead of circular. It looks like it might focus heat over a broader area than the smaller circular dish of the Stansport. It doesn’t have matchless ignition, so once you open the fuel valve you’ll need to have a match or lighter handle to get the flame going. It still uses a 16.4 ounce propane tank.

Truck Bed Heater 3: Mr. Heater MH9BX Propane Radiant Heater

Mr. Heater is one of the most recognizable brands in the world of portable heaters. While they don’t have the ability to focus heat in a specific direction, these heaters are extremely effective at providing radiant heat for medium sized space.

Capable of generating 4,000 BTUs (see full specs) on the low heat setting (yes, the low setting on this heater is hotter than the highest settings on the previous two) and 9,000 BTUs on the high setting, this heater isn’t going to have any trouble keeping you warm. The ceramic tile mounted with the burner is ideal for radiating even heat throughout a large space. This heater has a built-in ignition, so match or lighter is necessary and it uses the same 16.4 ounce propane cylinder as the others.

In addition to a tip-over safety valve, it also has a low-oxygen shut-off, which makes it safe for indoor use, too. The downside of that feature is that it the heater may not work at altitudes over 7,000 feet, as the ambient oxygen levels are too low. With that caveat in mind, though, you have one of the best truck bed heaters for the money in this unit.

Mr. Heater Portable Propane Buddy Heater

Truck Bed Heater 4: Mr. Heater MH18BRV Big Buddy Heater

Another Mr Heater product, this one is the most powerful heater on our list. It also has 4,000 and 9,000 BTU settings, but it goes a step further with a high setting of 18,000 BTU, so it can handle larger spaces and colder nights. It can heat spaces as large as 450 square feet, so it can handle keeping your truck bed warm without breaking a sweat.

The extra heating capacity (see full specs) means that it can burn through fuel quickly, so it has connections to allow you to use two 16 ounce propane tanks at once. There’s also an adapter that will allow you to connect it with a hose to a larger propane tank. It has the exact same safety features as the other Mr. Heater product, so it too is safe for indoor use and will have trouble over 7000 feet in altitude.

This heater might be overkill for most truck beds, but if you’re out camping in extreme cold, the extra heating capacity of this heater might be what you need.

Mr heater big buddy vs buddy

Truck Bed Heater Conclusion

The qualities you want in the right truck bed heaters are really the same ones you want in any portable heater: sufficient heat generation, ease of use, safety, and easily available fuel supply. All of the heaters are well-made products that will generate plenty of heat for your truck bed, with all the safety features you could want.

The Mr Heater products have the added advantage of being safe for indoor use, making them more versatile, but if you know that you’ll only be using this heater for your open truck bed, then there’s no need to spend the extra money. Just pick the right one for your wallet and truck bed (whether open or closed). Good luck!

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