Best Water Heaters for Camping

4 Best Water Heaters for Camping

Updated on January 10th, 2024

If you love to camp off-grid or don’t like using campground shower houses, you’ll need a portable water heater if you want to stay clean. Finding the best water heaters for camping may seem overwhelming with so many choices on the market. That’s why we put the top portable water heaters to the test and highlight the four best below.

While camping, having a hot water source is a convenient luxury that won’t blow your budget or be difficult to set up and use. So please stick around to learn more about the benefits of portable water heaters and read our reviews of the best models.

Important Portable Water Heater Features

A water heater electric conversion kit

The best portable camping water heaters are tankless, so we aren’t going to bother reviewing those with tanks.

Why tankless? Because a tankless water heater is more portable. It weighs less and is smaller than a water heater with a tank.

A tankless water heater is also more user-friendly. A tankless or on-demand water heater uses heating elements inside the unit to warm the water as it flows through, so you have an endless amount of hot water.

Traditional water heaters use heating elements to warm only the water inside the tank. Once you drain the tank, there’s a waiting period until the water that refills the tank can heat up.

Here are the things to consider when looking at camping heater models:

Size and Weight

The best camping water heater will be compact and light enough to bring along on RV trips or camping outings without causing stress.

However, it would help to consider your needs when selecting the proper size portable water heater. Don’t skimp on size or weight if you don’t need to carry it far and you have a large family and stacks of dishes to keep clean on your trip.

BTU Rating

The BTU (British Thermal Unit) rating of a portable water heater will tell you how fast the heater can warm the water as it passes through the unit.

Look for a high BTU rating when shopping for a portable water heater for camping, especially if you plan to use it during cooler weather.

Power Source

You have the option to buy an electric water heater for camping, but its usage is restricted to campgrounds or places with electrical access. Alternatively, carrying a generator or a power station capable of running the heater expands its usability beyond areas with electrical hookups.

The best portable camping water heaters run off clean-burning propane and typically require batteries to power some low-draw internal components.

Adjustable Heat and Ample Water Flow Rate

Atwood RV water heater

You’ll want to get a portable water heater that allows you the most range for water temperature so you can control the heat level to suit your needs for the task at hand. You may only need warm water for washing dishes but want it hotter for a shower.

Another key feature to consider is the water flow rate of the heater. Look for a number on the packaging or product details that indicates GPM (gallons per minute).

The GPM rating will tell you how much water will pass through the heating elements for your use at your desired temperature.

Look for a camping water heater with at least 1.5 GPM to avoid frustration, but the best models offer a GPM of 2 or above.

Another excellent feature of a portable water heater is settings for winter or summer use. The settings allow the unit to operate more efficiently to provide the hot water you need.

For example, the water flowing to the water heater will be warmer in the summer, so the burners will run lower and save on propane. In the winter setting, the burners will crank up so the water can heat faster and offset the cold temperatures.

Energy Efficiency

The best camping water heaters offer energy-efficient operation that uses less propane or electricity. Great portable water heaters save you money during use but are also good for the environment.

Safety Features

Never buy a portable water heater for camping without some or all of these safety features:

  • Auto shut-off for low or no gas detection
  • Overheating protection
  • Protection from freeze
  • Low or high water pressure protection
  • Auto-shut off for excessive tilt

Remember the Accessories

Using an adapter, you can connect a garden hose to most portable water heaters. This option is ideal if your campsite has a water spigot.

Always carry a 15-25 foot hose and pick up an adapter at a hardware store if it doesn’t come with your water heater.

If you camp where there is no water spigot, a water heater for camping will require a water pump and power source to move water from a bucket, container, lake, river, or pond. To power the water pump, you’ll need some type of portable power station. We recommend considering a power station that can recharge via a solar panel for more camping flexibility.

If your water heater requires batteries for ignition or the digital display, always pack extra in your supply bag.

Some portable water heaters do not include the showerhead, hoses, and any adapters or connections. Read the packaging closely so you aren’t shopping at the last minute for these items.

If you want privacy while washing up, get yourself a portable shower tent that stores away compactly.

Lastly, no one wants to shower and get muddy feet. So, pack a rubber shower mat to go under the showerhead so you can buffer your feet from the ground.

4 Best Portable Water Heaters for Camping

Max BTUs: 41,000
GPM: 1.58
Power Source: Propane and 2 D-cell alkaline batteries
Size: 11.8 x 6.1 x 17.3 inches
Weight: 15.42 pounds

Gasland BE158 Portable Tankless Water Heater is a top model for reliability, ease of use, energy efficiency, and ample hot water delivery that won’t run out unless you run out of water to feed the unit.

We all agree that the best feature of this Gasland tankless water heater is the ability to use it immediately without having the annoying preheat mode found on other brands.

The hot water temperature is also impressive, enough for a luxuriously long shower that you’ll never get inside an RV with a traditional water heater with a tank.

The design is also impressive, with weather-resistant materials and a strong handle so you can hang it from a sturdy object. In addition, you control the water flow by pushing the button on the handle, helping you conserve more water.

Top Features:

  • Auto shut-off for low/high water pressure, low fuel, or loss of pilot light
  • Adjustable for winter or summer use
  • 11.5% more energy-efficient heat exchanger and burner
  • LED display
  • Includes showerhead, hoses, and mounting hardware

Please note that this camping water heater is unsuitable for use over 3,300 feet in altitude or under extreme wind conditions.

GASLAND Outdoors BE158 Outdoor Portable Water Heater (Video)

No products found.

Max BTUs: 75,000
GPM: 3.0
Power Source: Propane and 2 D-cell alkaline batteries
Size: 32.25 x 14 x 7.75 inches
Weight: 22.4 pounds

The Eccotemp L10 is a powerful portable water heater that delivers a high rate of water flow, so you aren’t struggling to wash up after a fun day of camping activities.

We really like the user-friendly manual controls for water temperature and gas flow so that you can find the perfect balance between hot water and fuel economy. The on/off switch is convenient. The water heater has weatherproof housing, mounting hardware, a shower set, a garden hose quick-connect adapter, and a CSA-certified gas regulator and hose included in the package, upping its value for budget-minded campers.

This unit is ideal for family or group camping trips because it is built for rugged outdoor use and will perform well season after season. The temperature range is also convenient, letting us set it to the exact heat level necessary for the task at hand so we don’t waste propane.

Top Features:

  • Auto shut-off for low fuel, overheating, or exceeding 45° tilt
  • 50-120°F temperature range
  • Can operate on as low as 20 psi
  • Works up to 5500 feet in elevation
  • Includes showerhead, hoses, regulator, adapter, and mounting hardware

Want to Connect With a Community of Over 1,078 RV Enthusiasts?

Sign up now and get access to our best content, absolutely free!
We respect your privacy and you can unsubscribe anytime.

Please note that this model is larger and heavier than other portable water heaters for camping, so it’s not the best choice if you need to hike to your campsite.

Eccotemp L10 Portable Tankless Water Heater (Video)

No products found.

Max BTUs: 19,500
GPM: 1.32
Power Source: Propane and rechargeable lithium-ion battery
Size: 16.54 x 20.87 x 9.84 inches
Weight: 17 pounds

The Coleman H2Oasis Portable Water Heater is from a camping industry expert who understands the need for a reliable, durable, and user-friendly way to have hot water no matter where you love to camp. If there isn’t a water source nearby, you can open and fill the collapsible bucket for convenient operation.

We like the thoughtfulness that went into the design of this water heater, starting with the propane connection surrounded by a metal bumper to prevent accidental damage. In addition, the handle has an adjustable holder that allows you to attach the showerhead so you can use it like a faucet for washing dishes or hands.

We like the way this unit sits on the ground or tabletop, making it very stable and without the hassle of trying to mount it like other units. The Coleman H2Oasis also has a built-in lithium-ion battery that powers the pump and display. Charge the battery at home or from your vehicle’s 12-volt plug with the charger included in the package.

Top Features:

  • Auto shut-off for low water pressure or overheating
  • Electric submersible pump with water flow and pressure stabilization
  • Heats water 54°F-125°F
  • Instastart Ignition and heat control knob with a lock setting
  • Includes accessory storage bag and 5-gallon collapsible water carrier

Please note the GPM of this unit is lower than others, but the features and durability of this model make it a good buy.

Coleman H2Oasis Portable Water Heater (Video)

No products found.

Max BTUs: 55,000
GPM: 1.32
Power Source: Propane and 2 D-cell alkaline batteries
Size: 20.5 x 12.6 x 6.1 inches
Weight: 14 pounds
Price: $239

The Camplux 8L Portable Propane Water Heater is a lightweight, low-noise portable unit that burns LP gas efficiently, so you don’t have to refill as often.

We like the ability to switch over to eco-mode to conserve energy or flip to full power to quickly heat water during cold weather. The unit also operates on water pressure as low as 3.0 PSI, which is too low for other models.

Another thing we appreciate about this model is the drain plug at the bottom, which allows you to empty any water from the interior pipe to reduce the chance of corrosion, scale build-up, or freeze damage during storage.

Overall, Camplux 8L provides the right balance between a nice amount of water flow, excellent safety features, reliable heat output, and a reasonable price.

Top Features:

  • Flame failure shut-off, anti-freezing, and overheating protection
  • Auto shut-off for low or high water pressure
  • Stainless steel burner and tinned copper heat exchanger
  • LED temperature display
  • Includes showerhead, hoses, regulator, and mounting hardware

Please note this camping water heater isn’t operable at elevations over 2000 feet, and the pilot light can blow out under high wind gusts.

Camplux 8L Portable Propane Water Heater (Video)

Camping Water Heater Wrap-Up

When you own a camping water heater, you’ll have an easy, portable solution to avoid busy shower houses or have a way to produce hot water when tent camping or RVing off-grid.

When you add one of the best water heaters for camping to your outdoor adventure gear, you’ll always have hot water to bathe, wash your pets, clean dishes, or rinse out clothes.

After a long and tiring day out hiking or exploring the local scene, washing up at your campsite is the perfect way to relax and get comfortable, so check out our top picks and upgrade your camping experience today!

"Man cannot discover new oceans unless he has the courage to lose sight of the shore."
-- Andre Gide