Crank It Up: Outdoor Heaters for Cold Weather Tailgating

The game doesn’t stop when there’s frost on the ground, when the snow is falling, or when there’s a chill in the air. We’ve covered tents and canopies to help protect you from the elements elsewhere, but it’s hard to celebrate when you’re swaddled in so many layers of extra clothing that you can’t move your arms. For that, you’ll need a good outdoor heater—something that’s not too loud, reliable, doesn’t draw a lot of power, and won’t break the bank.

For starters, let’s look at a fan favorite—no pun intended, but this does in fact resemble a typical oscillating fan, though it’s intended for the opposite effect! From Optimus, we have the H-4438 14-Inch oscillating dish heater, with energy saving mode and remote control.

#1: Optimus H-4438 14-Inch Energy-Saving Oscillating Dish Heater with Remote Control

So, aside from its delightful appearance, what does this particular option have available? Well, for starters, it produces warm and natural heating, without that dry and crackly feeling that outdoor heaters often generate. It has two settings, depending upon how much heat you need—so it’s suitable for different times of the year, depending on the prevailing conditions. It uses less energy than a conventional outdoor heater, it’s ultra-quiet, and it has cool-touch housing. Combined with its small size and light weight, this heater is portable, easily transportable, and quickly and conveniently stores away while not in use.

Time to Chill Out?

There are a lot of good things to say about this heater, including its various timer functions and its automatic shutoff to prevent overheating; ultimately, the only problem is that its range and area of coverage is limited. This heater will work fine to help keep a small group of people warm around the back of a truck or an SUV, but for larger crowds, you would need several—or else you’d want to turn to another option. For its moderate price, the Optimus H-4438 performs excellently well!

Next, let’s look at something a little heavier, an 80,000 BTU propane convection heater from Mr. Heater. With a name like that, you know… Well, you know that they make heaters. Or, possibly blankets (they do in fact make heaters).

#2: Mr. Heater 80,000 BTU Propane Convection Heater #MH80CV

Are you having a sizable outdoor gathering, or taking advantage of a large, available space such as a barn, tent, canopy, or pavilion? You’ll want something like this: a 360-degree heater which heats up to 1900 square feet (a little more than 42’ x 42’). This industrial-strength heater includes a 10’ hose and regulator for convenience; a standard size propane cylinder must be purchased separately. This heater is advertised for use in heating construction sites, barns, and other large and open areas; it requires adequate ventilation, so keep that in mind when setting it up! For the area which it covers, this is a more than affordable option!

Time to Chill Out?

Aside from the dependence on propane, which bothers some people more than it does others, this is a somewhat large and bulky option that isn’t the most convenient to transport. That, along with its area of effect, makes it primarily suitable for larger events; more convenient electrical options are your best bet for something smaller, family oriented, or otherwise more intimate. You don’t want to have this heater blasting away from the back of a truck!

Let’s look at another convenient electrical option for our last item: the 5586 digital ceramic tower heater from Lasko. It’s designed primarily for indoor use, but is another convenient option for smaller parties provided it receives protection from the elements: it’s a particularly good option for a small tent or canopy!

#3: Lasko 5586 Digital Ceramic Tower Heater with Remote

To start things off, Lasko’s 5586 model includes a programmable thermostat to help regulate the exact amount of output required, making it a little more useful than some of the heaters that are readily available on the market today. It has an 8-hour timer, making it suitable for “fire and forget” operation for most small to mid-size tailgating events; it will also automatically shut off if it starts to overheat, which—while it’ll leave you out in the cold—is far preferable to the device burning itself out. Its shape allows it to spread heat over a generous area without that whole “overheating” thing becoming a major issue, and its cool touch housing means that it can be redeployed as need be—assuming, of course, that the oscillating action isn’t enough, which it normally will be!

It’s not as small as some of the other options available, but it’s lightweight, durable, easily transportable, and it includes a remote for optimum convenience.

Time to Chill Out?

Because it is designed primarily as an indoor heater, the Lasko 5586—while perfectly functional, provided a power source—is not going to efficiently warm up an exceptionally large area. To meet the needs of a large tailgating party or other event, you’ll require either a series of electrical heaters or something more along the lines of a propane heater (like the Mr. Heater model presented above).

That aside, if it’s just you and a couple of friends—and you’ve got someplace to put it where the snow isn’t falling directly on top of it—this heater should more than adequately do the trick. Take care of it, and it’ll last you through years of regular use!

Hot Stuff, Right?

Having a reliable outdoor heater or two can make all the difference during cold weather tailgating. The selections we’ve provided above cover a variety of circumstances, including different attendance levels. Of course, please remember to follow all product instructions included with your purchase regarding personal safety! Improper operation can lead to injury and product damage, either of which is likely to dampen everybody’s spirits—and leave you out in the cold.

That little reminder aside, have fun, and enjoy your next tailgating engagement while basking in the comfortable warmth of a specially designed outdoor heater! For more suggestions concerning critical tailgating event essentials, feel free to have a look at our essential tailgating guides; they’ll help ensure that your next party goes off without a hitch!