Mr. Buddy Heater with Oxygen Sensor - NOT FOR USE over altitudes of 7,000 feet???


I just finished watching an information video (put out by the manufacturer) on the Mr. Buddy Indoor-Safe heater, seen at this link on Amazon for reference:

I was leery about using a combustion device INSIDE a tent but was intrigued by this one stating that it was 'indoor safe' and had an oxygen depletion sensor (ODS). BUT, on the informational video, it says that because of this fancy, high tech, oxygen depletion sensor, the heater isn't designed for use over 7,000 feet (which pretty much kills my intended use for it - camping in the mountains of Colorado, Wyoming, etc). I'm assuming this is because there is technically less oxygen in the atmosphere at the higher altitudes and perhaps it trips the pre-set threshold sooner than normal?

So, does anyone know if this is simply an over-conservative 'we have to say it to make lawyers happy' statement or if the heater will truly have problems at the higher altitudes (and lower oxygen levels)? I obviously would like to actually USE it if I bought it (and use it effectively).



I have the Mr. Buddy "Big Buddy (takes 2 bottles but puts out a LOT of heat). We have used is over 7,000 and in a tent trailer. No issues. In reality, what tent or soft sided trailer is air tight anyway...


Interested in this answer too. I've been thinking about getting a Mr Heater for my Skamper but will be camping mostly in Colorado, Wyoming and Montana.


I have a Mr Buddy heater that I used to use in my wildernest. It is true that they will not work so well at altitude, however they don't have a hard cut-off at a certain altitude, they just become less reliable the higher you get. The Oxygen Depletion Sensor, is not some high tech device that measures the oxygen, but is just the relationship between how the pilot flame burns and the position of the thermocouple that keeps the gas valve open. As the oxygen level decreases the flame pulls away from the thermocouple and the gas valve shuts off. If you want it to work reliably above ~9000' (which is where mine gets flakey) you could adjust the thermocouple to be closer to the pilot flame, however this would reduce or eliminate the effectiveness of the ODS. Even with the ODS, I would never sleep with the heater on, and had a supplemental CO alarm. It is also worth noting that with this type of heater all the moisture from combustion ends up condensing on your tent/walls. I no longer use this heater due to the moisture and odor issues.


Expedition Leader
You will find most of the gas heaters available have the same altitude restrictions

when I was looking for an extra heater for my RV just in case the main furnace packed up the only ones i could find without the altitude restriction were the "wave" catalytic heaters- good for 12,000ft

Sadly way more expencive

But when your camping like this at 8500ft- with -20oC

- emergency heat is required !- well just in case- I have a small daughter- which is really the issue- its not exactly rough camping !



It is also worth noting that with this type of heater all the moisture from combustion ends up condensing on your tent/walls. I no longer use this heater due to the moisture and odor issues.

That is some good info there.. I did not know condensation would STILL be an issue even with a catalytic heater...
Odor issues? Can you expand on this.. was it more of a musty smell due to the condensation ? I would have imagined heat would rid the tent of any condensation..but I know nothing about heaters...


The condensation issues are in some ways even worse with a heater, particularly as soon as you turn it off. For every kilogram of propane you burn you are putting 2 kilograms of water into the air, if the walls are below the dew point (which they will be when it is cold out and moist in) the water will all condense there. For comparison, a person will emit about 200 grams of water vapor through respiration/perspiration over night. The odor is from the combustion gases, it is not super strong or particularly unpleasant, but it is definitely there and you will notice it. While unvented heaters are cheap and powerful, they do have their drawbacks.


I certainly appreciate all the thoughtful responses. Here was MY intended use (at least for the near future):

Kodiak 10x10 Deluxe Canvas Wall Tent
Camping in the mountains of Colorado, Utah, Wyoming, Idaho during the summer and would expect to see temps down into the 20's. That's not too bad for a guy like me, with a nice 0 degree down bag and all that, but I'll be taking my wife and young daughter with me as much as possible. I'm definitely not planning on going somewhere -20 or anything that extreme yet. Here's a formula I've learned from a few years of empirical research:

If, Wife+Daughter=Happy, Then, Husband=Happy. Basically, I was looking for a simple way to make the overnights inside the tent more comfy for them. But, with the heavy canvas walls, and a few people, and maybe a dog, plus the luxury of space and ability to take heavy blankets, perhaps bringing ANY heater along is just complicating things.



Expedition Leader
IBasically, I was looking for a simple way to make the overnights inside the tent more comfy for them. But, with the heavy canvas walls, and a few people, and maybe a dog, plus the luxury of space and ability to take heavy blankets, perhaps bringing ANY heater along is just complicating things.
I wouldn't give up too quickly. The Buddy heater is not that expensive and it doesn't take up (comparatively) that much space, and having it around might be of great value in nasty situations. There's certainly nothing that requires it be used when it doesn't seem helpful enough to warrant the hassle.

That said, though, I seem to be unusual in thinking catalytic heaters to be a first-rate system worthy of anyone's consideration. They do require care in their use, and some sensible ventilation, but I've found all of the problems can be worked around (though high altitudes are admittedly a problem for the OD sensors). In fact, I chose to use my Wave 3 cat heater over the fancy petrol heater in my XV-JP most of the time.

There is a school of thought, which I subscribe to, which says that any indoor portable heater is too dangerous to use while people are sleeping, and there's something to that. But even if, quite sensibly, you don't run one while in bed, it can heat the sleeping bags up before you turn in, warm things up before the whole crew gets up in the morning, and generally make life more pleasant.

If we were talking thousands of dollars, things might be different. But for $86 and a couple bottles of propane, I think it'd be worth having around.


Expedition Leader
Wall tents are'nt exactly known for being draft proof
and vent alot better than than a modern 4 season nylon tent.

If the budy physivally works - its a good little heater I have one for my garage- run off the out of season BBQ cylinder

But hows about a packable tent stove

crackling flames- no stink- enviromentally fuelled- any altitude

less issues with carbon monoxide- but if sleeping with it- I'd still run an alarm


Tail-End Charlie
If there's not enough oxygen to keep the pilot alive - then there may not be enough to keep the family alive. Higher altitudes are already oxygen depleted before you even fire up the heater.

People DO die from CO poisoning in tents:,d.cGE&fp=fd95b790197b9192&biw=1333&bih=620

There's no problem as long as there is enough oxygen coming in, to replace that which is consumed. If you're going to sleep with the heater on, then open a window.


Regarding running a tent stove - the tent I'm considering isn't THAT big and doesn't have a 'grommet' for a flue and all that.

Speaking of CO detectors, I'm GUESSING that everyone is running a BATTERY POWERED CO detector? Is there one specifically made for camping? What are you guys using?

DWH - All good points. I'm typically an over-conservative guy and the thought of perishing while sleeping in a tent, with my family, in a place I love is absolutely horrifying! Anything I can do to prevent that is worth it at any cost.
I have a Mr Buddy, Big Buddy heater and love it. It will cook me out of whatever area I am in so I cannot leave it on overnight even if I want to. The battery draw on the fan is very low and I am still on the same batteries event after going through 5-6 large propane tanks of fuel.

Regarding CO2 deaths, here is a recent story from a family who lost two loved ones during a Utah outing and lost the lawsuit against Coleman:

What the article does not say, is that the pair was using both a heater and a lantern at the same time to heat the tent.


Expo this, expo that, exp
I have a portable buddy heater and we recently used it in our Kodiak 10x10 tent. We ran it all night on low. We opened the side windows at the top to create two 4" x 6 " vents and we also vented the tent door 3" x 4" (this is where the propane hose comes in anyway). It worked perfectly for us. It was so warm at night I did not even use the sleeping bag haha. We were also in a low desert environment in February so it did not get too cold. Zero issues with condensation.

Also, there are reports of the buddy heaters working fine above 7000' feet. Look:

Me and my son used our little buddy at 9,500ft with no problems 2 weeks ago. Having on med in the lower annex made for a great nights sleep.

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