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I cannot stand being cold. I cannot stand it. That’s fine when I’m at home and can just turn up the thermostat but it’s not so fine when I’m in the jon boat at 3 a.m. on a frigid December morning. As such, I’ve spent a lot of money and a lot of effort investing in the best cold weather hunting gear. But even the famed Sitka Hudson jacket, a good pair of wool socks, and all the HotHands hand warmers in the world can never keep me from being miserably cold.
So when my husband pulled the Mr. Heater Buddy out of our garage before one especially cold morning hunt, I was skeptical. Seeing as all the above have never been able to keep me warm, how could I have hope in one tiny little portable heater? But keep me warm it did. And so, it became my favorite duck hunting partner (second to my husband, of course).
Here’s my review of the portable propane heater that I would recommend to anyone who spends time outside in the colder months, whether you hunt, fish, camp, or just sit out on the back patio.
- BTU: 9,000
- Heating Area: 225 sq. ft.
- Max Runtime: 6 hours
- Weight: 10.6 lbs
- Dimensions: 14.25 x 9 x 15 in.
- Fuel Type: Propane
What I Like About the Mr. Heater Buddy
Warmth and Heating Power
The thing I love most about this Mr. Heater is, well, its heat. For something so small, I’m always shocked at how powerful it is. Almost every time I use it, I’m pleasantly surprised by the amount of heat it puts out. Even when it’s below freezing outside, this thing provides enough warmth to keep you comfortable for up to six hours on its lowest setting. That’s more than enough time—I’ve never encountered it dying on me in the middle of use.
With 9,000 BTU and a heating area of 225 square feet, the Mr. Heater Buddy is proof that good things come in small packages. It’s tiny but mighty. We use it to warm up our garage if we’re working inside on a cold winter day and it heats up that small space in under 30 minutes. I like that you can use the heater indoors and outdoors, and that it’s so effective at warming up its surrounding area.
Size and Portability
When you’re already lugging around a ton of gear, the last thing you want is to add more weight and more bulk. Fortunately, the Mr. Heater Buddy doesn’t add a lot of either. It’s very compact, weighing just 10 pounds and measuring just 15 inches tall. I really like the carrying handle, too, which makes it easy to tote around.
Ease of Use
I am always the person who has to ask for help figuring out how to work anything that requires more than pushing a button. But the Mr. Heater Buddy is incredibly easy to use and operate—even for me. All you have to do is turn the knob and push. The built-in Piezo igniter does all the rest of the work. The trickiest part is just hooking up the propane canister (and that’s not tricky at all). I’ve never had a problem getting it to light, and I can’t downplay that enough. When you’re freezing your butt off, the last thing you want is to have to struggle to light your heater. This one is as reliable as they come.
Portable heaters are famously fire hazards, which is why I appreciate all the safety features included in the Mr. Heater Buddy design. The tip-over shut-off function automatically turns off the heater if it’s tipped over, jostled, or turned upside down. And yes, it really does work, as tested in a very bumpy boat ride.
It also has an Oxygen Depletion Sensor (ODS), which senses when the oxygen level in the air gets low and shuts the heater off. This is particularly important if you’re planning to use the heater indoors or in a smaller space to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning.
Good news for anyone who’s rough on their gear—this little heater can take a beating. Despite its light weight, it’s surprisingly very heavy duty and durable. We’ve owned ours for years and have used it in some pretty extreme conditions and it’s survived every time without any operating issues.
The sturdy wire guard around the heating element keeps it well-protected from scratches and damage. It’s fallen out of the truck onto asphalt, tipped over onto the concrete garage floor, and been banged around in the bottom of the boat and is still kicking.
What I Don’t Like
The only downside about this Mr. Heater is that it requires clear weather conditions. If it’s windy, forget about it. Any heat it emits just gets blown away in the wind. I learned this the hard way on one particularly windy morning heading out to the island where we hunt. However, I was able to get creative and use a tarp to block out the wind, which allowed the heater to do its job. Basically, there are ways to get around this inconvenience if you’re resourceful, so it’s not a dealbreaker by any means.
Is the Mr. Heater Buddy Worth Buying?
Without hesitation, yes. You can either spend $150 on this powerful heater that will keep you plenty warm or waste $150 on disposable hand warmers that only last for a few hours and rarely work as well as you’d hoped. I’ll choose the former any day, thank you very much.
The Mr. Heater Buddy portable heater has kept me warm on the coldest of days. And as someone who thinks 50 degrees is basically freezing, that’s saying a lot. It’s very versatile—you can use it almost anywhere for anything—and it’s ridiculously easy to use. More importantly, it’s reliable. It is, as the name suggests, a true buddy for the outdoors. Stay warm, friends.
Q: Can you use a Mr. Buddy heater indoors?
Yes, it is safe to use the Mr. Heater Buddy indoors if you take precautions and use the heater properly. It has a low oxygen sensor and automatic tip-over shutoff for added safety. However, be sure to check your local and state regulations as well, as some areas have restrictions on the use of propane heaters inside.
Q: How long does a Mr. Buddy heater last?
The heater has a max runtime of up to six hours on its lowest setting and three hours on its highest setting.
Q: How do you vent a Mr. Buddy heater?
Ventilation is always important when using any kind of propane heater to minimize the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning. Be sure to use the heater in a well-ventilated area and follow the manufacturer’s specific instructions.
Why Trust Us
For more than 125 years, Field & Stream has been providing readers with honest and authentic coverage of outdoor gear. Our writers and editors eat, sleep, and breathe the outdoors, and that passion comes through in our product reviews. You can count on F&S to keep you up to date on the best new gear. And when we write about a product—whether it’s a bass lure or a backpack—we cover the good and the bad, so you know exactly what to expect before you decide to make a purchase.