Getting a portable water heater certainly isn’t a prepper’s first concern. It doesn’t feed you, house, or clothe you. So why is it important?

Modern-day conveniences allow us to avoid almost every bit of discomfort in our everyday life. And we take these conveniences, such as hot water, for granted. It takes a natural disaster or primitive camping trip to really appreciate the significance of our daily amenities. If you’re an avid outdoor enthusiast but you miss a nice hot shower, a portable water heater will solve your problem.

Truth be told, you can use a campfire or propane burner instead of a portable water heater. Or you can use body wipes to refresh and take care of your hygiene. But, heating takes time and body wipes are useful but it’s not the same as taking a shower.

A portable water heater will allow you instant access to hot water and it goes beyond just taking a shower. And that’s what it’s all about: you can have hot water instantly, wherever you are and whenever you need it.

Why Is It Good To Have an Outdoor Water Heater?

It is all about convenience and preparedness, and not necessarily in that order. Let’s be honest, it’s not like a portable water heater will change your life dramatically. After all, having too many devices and products that we depend on can seriously limit our freedom and our ability to cope with unexpected situations.

However, portable water heaters come with an impressive list of benefits. So, let’s what they have to offer.

Portability

Okay, this is obvious. But it is also essential. Portable and lightweight water heaters will provide an instant supply of hot water when you need it. You can put a portable water heater in your car or RV and enjoy your camping or road trips even more.

Energy Saving

Portable water heaters usually use propane for heating. Propane heaters are much more efficient than electric ones. Furthermore, they provide hot water almost instantly, so you won’t have to spend energy to heat large amounts of water over a long period of time. 

Hot Shower on Camping Trips

Reconnecting with nature is a great experience. But, it becomes less pleasant when you get smelly and dirty after a long day of hiking, cooking, or whatever you do on your camping trips. A hot shower can make your day perfect and ready to enjoy that well-deserved dinner.

It is pretty much the same if you own an RV or camper. The availability of hot water to take a shower or wash your dishes or even do some laundry allows for more freedom and enhances the experience.

Backyard Hot Water

It is more useful than you think. Chances are you have a dog or a cat. Washing your pets will be a breeze if you have hot water in your backyard. And how about your car? Save some money and wash it like a pro. 

Our gardens are convenient to do all kinds of cleanups to avoid bringing the dirt into the house. However, it is quite unpleasant if you have to use cold water. So, any kind of cleaning is easier and more efficient if you use hot or warm water.

If You Want to Go Off-Grid

Off-grid lifestyle is becoming more popular. It is all about self-sufficiency. These people usually don’t trust governments and don’t want to rely on public utilities, especially if SHTF.

However, they need alternative food, water, and power solutions. Portable power heaters are among the most common choices to obtain hot water off the grid.

Cabin In the Woods

If you have a cabin in a remote area, chances are you don’t have access to power or water utilities. But even if you do, getting a large, standing water heater can seem like a waste of resources. Portable water heaters will provide the convenience of the city in a wild environment. Well, at least when it comes to hot running water.

Be Prepared!

While you probably can’t run your household with a single portable water heater, having one as a backup is a good idea. So, in cases of power outages or any disaster scenario, you will have hot water. And if you need to evacuate, you can shove it in the trunk of your bug out vehicle and hit the road. 

Of course, in the meantime, you can use your portable water heater for almost all other aforementioned activities.

best portable water heater

Buying Guide – Top Concerns

With so many choices, it is always difficult to make a decision. But it starts and ends with your needs. So, figure out how you plan to use it before searching for the right model. This is what you should consider.

Power Source

You have to choose between electric and propane water heaters. Propane heaters are more popular because they don’t rely on electricity. So, you can take them practically everywhere you go. Also, they are suitable for outdoor use. On the other hand, you need to carry a propane tank with you.

Most electric heaters can be used only indoors, but they only need a power outlet. So, they are good for very small homes and RVs.

Size and Weight

Every portable water heater is more or less compact. But, more powerful models are larger and heavier. Once again, it depends on your needs. If you plan to use it on camping trips and carry it quite often, a smaller, portable model will fit the bill.

But if you want to install it in front of your cabin in the woods, then you don’t need to move it. So, you can disregard portability and go for a larger, more powerful model.

Temperature Range

Wider temperature range will provide more versatility. You may go camping on the beach or in the mountains. Obviously, you don’t need the same level of heat on both trips. While the lower temperature will allow you to save some energy on a hot day, the maximum temperature is more important. Some heaters aren’t powerful enough to reach the desired temperature in cold weather.

GPM

Gallons per minute or GPM shows a flow rate of your portable water heater. Basically, it is the amount of hot water you can get in one minute. Higher GPM is needed if you want to perform more tasks. Actually, it’s simple: the more hot water you need, the higher GPM should be.

Our Top 5 Picks for Best Portable Water Heater

There are many excellent models out there and they come in different sizes with different features. While compiling the list, we focused on high-quality models that are very portable, compact, and affordable, yet versatile.

But, each manufacturer on our list offers more powerful models as well. They are a little bit larger, heavier, and pricier. If you prioritize power over portability and don’t mind a hefty price tag, these larger versions offer the same quality as basic models and then some.

1. Eccotemp L5 Outdoor Tankless Portable Water Heater

portable water boiler

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While our list is in no particular order, Eccotemp L5 would be a strong candidate for the top spot. It is a perfect partner for your outdoor adventures of any kind. This portable water heater is very lightweight and compact. Moreover, it is very easy to use. It is also affordable. So, what else would you need? It can even fit into your backpack, even though I wouldn’t recommend it. It just takes too much space, and it’s not like you’re going to use it along the track or at the top of the mountain.

With a flow rate of 1.5 GPM, it is in the middle of the pack. This is a pretty much typical GPM for the size and weight. You can adjust both water temperature and water flow. Water temperature can range from 50 to 140°F. Did I mention that it runs on liquid propane? It comes with a stainless steel hose, garden hose adapter, and showerhead.

Pros

  • Lightweight and compact
  • Adjustable gas and water flow
  • Easy to set up and take down
  • Excellent water pressure
  • Automatic shut off
  • Convenient and affordable

Cons

  • The flame is not protected well, so it goes out easily in windy conditions

2. Camp Chef HWD5 Triton Water Heater

best portable water heater reviews

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This is another highly portable and lightweight model. It’s a great and versatile little heater. While it is compact and portable, it also comes with notches to mount it if you want. It uses 2D batteries for ignition and it starts heating as soon as you turn the water on. You can adjust the water temperature and gas flow.

The showerhead is included and it has 4 different settings to provide a regular home shower experience. Furthermore, it comes with an 8-foot shower hose. This gives you more flexibility as you don’t have to stand right next to the heater when taking a shower. Immediately, you start to wonder why other manufacturers commonly use shorter hoses.

Pros

  • Made of durable materials
  • Compact and lightweight
  • 8-foot hose included
  • 4 shower settings
  • Adjustable gas and water flow

Cons

  • No automatic shut off

3. Foruee Portable Propane Tankless Water Heater

portable water heaters

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This portable water heater is the best choice if you prioritize maximum safety. Oxygen depletion safety shut off, thermal protection, overheating protection, anti-freezing protection, and flameout protection provide as much safety as you can get. Mini and open design is also helpful. It needs only 2.5 PSI of water pressure to start heating water. It is the lowest figure that I know of.

Apart from these features, the rest is more or less typical and similar to the majority of portable water heaters. 1.32 GPM flow rate is not impressive, but it is enough. If you like your water to be really hot, you might need to turn the flame to the max and the flaw to low.

Pros

  • Nice design
  • Maximum safety
  • It doesn’t need high pressure to work
  • Copper heat exchanger
  • Easy to install and uninstall

Cons

  • Water may not be hot enough at maximum flow

4. Camplux Pro 1.58 GPM Portable Tankless Water Heater

best outdoor water heater

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Camplux Pro is yet another little monster from this renowned camping gear manufacturer. While this model is lightweight and compact it offers a little bit more power than the competition. It will work when water pressure is between 3.0 and 11.0 PSI, which is pretty low. And 1.58 GPM flow rate just beats the competition. Minimum and maximum temperature raises are 46.4°F and 114.8°F respectively.

Furthermore, it is very efficient and less noisy than previous models. There are also several safety functions to avoid any potential accidents.

Pros

  • Powerful
  • Great flow rate
  • Low gas consumption
  • Low noise
  • Excellent safety
  • Plenty of accessories

Cons

  • It is not recommended for high altitude areas above 2,000 feet

5. GASLAND Outdoors BE158 1.58GPM 6L Outdoor Portable Gas Water Heater

portable boiler

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GASLAND BE 158 is yet another powerful water heater, considering its size. It can produce 1.58 gallons of hot water per minute. Also, it stands out for its design. It is available in three colors: white, silver, and red. While this won’t improve the performance, it is nice to have a choice when it comes to appearance. 

Besides power and good looks, this model doesn’t come up short in other areas. It needs only 2.5 PSI to start running. Multiple protection functions provide safety. Also, it uses advanced technologies to reduce gas consumption. So, overall it is an excellent, high-quality unit.

Pros

  • Easily reaches high temperatures 
  • Low gas consumption
  • Low pressure
  • 1.58 GPM
  • Available in three colors

Cons

  • It is not suitable for elevations over 3,300 feet and strong wind conditions