Mr. Heater Little Buddy Portable Heater Review

Our top-rated “best on a budget” tent heater for winter camping.

The Mr. Heater Little Buddy Heater reigns supreme as one of the best portable heaters for those on a budget.

Clocking in at well under $100, this budget propane heater is not only lightweight and compact, but it’s also surprisingly powerful and efficient (although it does have its limitations). Built-in safety features ensure your safety, even in enclosed spaces.

Although the slightly larger and more powerful Mr. Heater Portable Buddy is perhaps a better tent heater overall, don’t overlook the Little Buddy if want something a little smaller and more compact.    

Heat Output★★★
Safety Features★★★★
Size & Weight★★★★
Ease of Use★★★★★
Durability★★★★★
Overall Value★★★★★
Final Rating26/30

Table of Contents


Our Opinion of the Mr. Heater Little Buddy Heater

I’ve always been a big fan of winter camping – but, boy, can it get cold.

A cold-weather sleeping bag and 4-season tent keep me warm enough, but the extra heat from a portable tent heater is a blessing when the temperatures dip well below freezing.

Although the Little Buddy from Mr. Heater is far too bulky for backpacking, it’s the perfect size for car camping. It’s also ideal to use in an RV, trailer, or camper van. I also use mine at home while working in the barn and as an emergency heater for power outages.

As much as I like the Little Buddy Heater for its power output and efficiency, it does have its drawbacks. Namely, it’s really not all that little. It also has only a single heat setting which somewhat limits its functionality.

That said, I still love the Little Buddy for heating up an unheated workspace, warming up my tent before bed and when I wake up in the morning, and especially around the campsite when I can’t build a campfire.

Heat Output

The Mr. Heater Little Buddy produces 3,800 BTUs per hour. It has a single heat setting (no heat adjustability) and runs for roughly 5.5 hours straight on a single 1-lb cylinder of propane.

Mr. Heater claims that the Little Buddy can efficiently heat a space up to about 95 square feet. I’ve found that, although this is true, it doesn’t really warm up a room as much as it provides a direct heat source. The Little Buddy is definitely a personal heater.

I’ve used the Little Buddy in a variety of different settings. Most often before sleep and upon waking in my tent, in my unheated workspace, and working on projects outdoors. It’s provided adequate direct heat, even in temperatures below freezing. It heats up my 2-person tent to a comfortable temperature in just minutes.

Safety Features

Mr. Heater gives the Little Buddy an oxygen depletion sensor and an accidental tip-over shutoff for improved safety. There is no high-limit safety shutoff or even a built-in carbon monoxide detector like you find on many other winter tent heaters.

Although I certainly appreciate these safety features, the accidental tip-over shutoff is a bit too sensitive. When using the heater on an uneven surface (like the ground outside), the switch is prone to automatically turn the heater off with the slightest jostling.

Interestingly, Mr. Heater simultaneously states that the Little Buddy is for outdoor use only while also labeling it as a tent heater safe for small, enclosed spaces. 

Personally, I don’t run the Little Buddy during the night. I know a lot of people that do run the heater through the night in confined spaces (with proper ventilation and a separate carbon monoxide detector) with no problem. I prefer to only run my propane tent heaters for shorter periods of time while awake but, then again, I stay plenty warm even on cold winter nights in my 0° sleeping bag.

Size & Weight

The Mr. Heater Little Buddy clocks in at 5.85 lbs (not including the weight of the 1-lb propane canister).

Naturally, this is much too heavy for winter backpacking, but the weight is no big deal for car camping, hunting, RVing, or anything else where you’ll largely in the same place. 

Because of the name (and my prior experience with the slightly larger Mr. Heater Portable Buddy), I expected the Little Buddy to be smaller. But it’s relatively bulky. Once again, this isn’t much of an issue as the heater isn’t exactly meant to be compact and lightweight to begin with. An integrated carry handle does make it easy to move from place to place. 

Ease of Use

Ease of use is one area where the Little Buddy really shines.

The two-part tent heater consists of an 8-inch base piece and the actual heater. Screw your 1-lb propane cylinder onto the underside of the heater. Then set the bottom of the propane cylinder into the base piece to act as a stable platform.

From here, using the device consists simply of using the piezo ignitor ignition button to light the heater. With no temperature control, the Little Buddy will take care of the rest itself.

Durability

Like all Mr. Heater products, the Little Buddy is built to last.

Built from a combination of metal, high-temperature plastic, and ceramic materials, this winter tent heater will last for years on end, even factoring in the bangs and bruises of camping.

Overall Value

You won’t be disappointed by adding the Mr. Heater Little Buddy into your winter camping arsenal.

Not only does the heater get the job done by quickly and efficiently heating small spaces, but it’s rugged and durable design ensures it will continue doing the job for years on end.

The Little Buddy typically sells for between $80 and $90, although it can almost always be found for around $50 with a little shopping around.


Mr. Heater Little Buddy Features & Specs

Mr Heater Tent Heater

Here are the most important features and specs for this Mr. Heater tent heater:

Use: CampingFuel Type: Propane
Dimensions: 12×9.75 inchesWeight: 5.85 lbs
BTUs: 3,800 per hourHeat Settings: One
Piezo IgnitorStable Base Platform
Integrated HandleAccidental Tip-Over Shutoff Switch
Oxygen Depletion SensorNo Carbon Monoxide Detector

For more information on the Little Buddy’s tech specs, visit Mr. Heater.


Is the Mr. Heater Little Buddy Heater Right for You?

Little Buddy Tent Heater

The Mr. Heater Little Buddy ranks as one of my favorite tent heaters for winter camping.

It’s simple and straightforward with a rugged and durable design. It’s so easy to use that it’s all but impossible to use it incorrectly.

Furthermore, at 3,800 BTUs per hour, the Little Buddy provides decent heat output for a portable propane heater. It can run for up to 5.5 hours off a single 1-lb propane cylinder, although I find it more effective to run it in short spurts rather than continuously.

The Little Buddy is ideal for heating smaller spaces and for those on a budget. It’s fantastic at warming up a camping tent and will work well for most glamping tents too. In an outdoor setting or any interior space larger than 100 square feet, the Little Buddy is best as a personal heater only.

If you think you need something a little bit more powerful, then consider upgrading to the Mr. Heater Portable Buddy. Two heat settings enable you to alternate between 4,000 and 9,000 BTUs per hour to heat an indoor space up to 200 square feet (according to the manufacturer).


The Verdict

Mr Heater Little Buddy Portable Heater

You can’t go wrong with any winter tent heater from Mr. Heater.

The Little Buddy stands out as their most portable model. Although it’s not small by any means, it is small enough for use in most camping tents. Despite its smallish size, it’s still powerful and efficient, providing a more than decent amount of heat, even on the coldest nights.

If you’re in the market for a tent heater and don’t want to break the bank, you’ll be hard-pressed to go wrong with the Mr. Heater Little Buddy.

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