Portable Hot Water Heaters’ Guide for Camping and Outdoorst

Discover the benefits of portable hot water heaters and how they can provide hot water on-the-go. Our guide covers factors to consider when choosing the right model, reliable options, and a helpful buying guide to simplify the selection process.

Portable water heater Eccotemp
Eccotemp L5 (photo: amazon.com)

In our guide, we’ll introduce you to popular models from Camp Chef, Zodi, Eccotemp, Camplux, and Coleman, each designed for outdoor use and perfect for heating water for dishes, short showers, washing pets, and more.

These compact and lightweight heaters are easy to carry and install, making them an ideal solution for camping, hiking, boating, fishing, hunting, surfing, RVing, and even backyard use by the pool.

Let’s explore the benefits of portable hot water heaters and find the perfect model for your needs!

Portable Water Heaters: Things to Consider

Types and How They Work

Portable water heaters are devices that can heat water on-the-go and are designed to be easily transported and used in different locations. These heaters are typically used for camping, outdoor showers, or as a backup source of hot water.

There are two main types of portable water heaters: tankless and tank-type. Tankless units heat water as needed and deliver it in a constant supply, while tank-type units store water inside the tank and have a limited capacity.

Based on the fuel type, portable water heaters can be further divided into electric, propane, and solar-powered groups. Among these, the propane-powered model is the most common type.

Propane-Powered Portable Water Heaters

Propane-powered portable water heaters work by heating water as it flows through a heat exchanger. The heater is connected to a propane tank, which supplies fuel to the burner. When the heater is turned on, the burner ignites, heating the water that flows through the heat exchanger. The hot water is then delivered through a hose to a showerhead or other outlet.


  • Fast heating and recovery times
  • Convenient and portable fuel source
  • Can be used off-grid
  • Suitable for outdoor and camping activities


  • Limited hot water capacity
  • Requires regular propane refills
  • Produces exhaust gases and requires ventilation
  • Potential safety hazards if not used properly

Electric Portable Water Heaters

Electric heaters, on the other hand, use electricity to heat water. They work by passing water through a heating element that is powered by an electrical source, such as a battery or generator. These heaters are typically less powerful than propane-powered models, but they are quieter and can be used indoors.


  • Energy efficient and cost-effective
  • Easy to use
  • Safe to use indoors


  • Limited hot water supply
  • Requires electrical outlet
  • Slow heating time

Solar-Powered Portable Water Heaters

Solar-powered models use solar energy to heat water. They work by collecting sunlight using solar panels, which then heats the water in a storage tank. These heaters are environmentally friendly and do not require any fuel, but they are only effective in areas with plenty of sunshine.


  • Low operating costs and environmental impact
  • Reliable and low-maintenance system
  • Long lifespan and durability
  • Suitable for remote locations and sunny climates


  • Dependent on sunlight availability and weather conditions
  • Initial installation cost can be high
  • Requires adequate roof or ground space
  • Backup heating system may be needed for cloudy days or high demand

Choosing a Portable Hot Water Heater

When choosing a portable water heater, there are several factors you should consider to ensure you select the best option for your needs. These factors include:

  • Capacity: The capacity of the water heater determines the amount of hot water it can provide at once. Consider the number of people in your household or the size of your group if you plan to use the heater for camping or outdoor activities. A larger capacity is ideal for bigger groups, while a smaller capacity is more suitable for solo or couple use.
  • Fuel source: Portable water heaters can run on propane, electricity, or solar power. Consider the availability and cost of the fuel source in your area, as well as the convenience of using and transporting it.
  • Energy efficiency: Look for water heaters with high energy efficiency ratings to minimize your energy costs and reduce your environmental impact. Tankless water heaters are generally more energy-efficient than tank water heaters.
  • Size and weight: They come in different sizes and weights. Consider the available space for storage and transportation, as well as the weight you can comfortably carry if you plan to use the heater for outdoor activities.
  • Cost: Portable water heaters come at different price points, depending on the type, brand, and features. Consider your budget and the long-term cost of ownership, including maintenance and repair costs.
  • Safety features: Look for water heaters with safety features such as automatic shut-off, flame failure protection, and overheat protection to prevent accidents and ensure safe operation.

Popular Portable Hot Water Heater Brands

When it comes to portable propane water heaters, there are several well-known brands that stand out in terms of quality and reliability. These brands offer a range of options to suit different needs and preferences, whether you’re looking for a compact unit for camping trips or a more powerful model for use at home.

  • Camp Chef
  • Coleman
  • Eccotemp
  • Zodi
  • Camplux

It’s worth noting that these units don’t come with a propane tank, which must be purchased separately. In many cases, the same type of tank used for barbecues can be used for these water heaters.

An Overview of the Best Models

Camp Chef HWD5 Triton Review

Camp Chef HWD5 Triton is the portable water heater that uses the tankless design to deliver up to 1.5 GPM of hot water – on demand, as long as there is gas in the propane tank and the minimum water flow of 0.5 GPH is met. Using the Camp Chef Triton is simple; it ignites with the water flow and includes features to adjust the heat and water flow.

The unit is made of steel for durability, but due to its small size of 12″ x4″ x15″ and weight of only 14.6 pounds, it can be installed anywhere, hanging on the tree, fence, post, on the truck cargo bed, and wherever it is convenient.

The gas burner, which is able to deliver up to 34,000 BTU, is powered by propane and from the propane tank (capacity of 20 pounds). Hot water is delivered in continuous supply, and according to the manufacturer, the runtime is approximately 11 hrs. with one charge, but it depends on the set temperature.

Coleman Review

If looking to buy a portable hot water heater from an expert in outdoor equipment, the Coleman brand is what you should look for. For many years, the Coleman Company has been making products for recreational and outdoor use, like camping and hiking.

For convenient hot water use, the Coleman Company offers one propane tankless water heater, which is the top seller on amazon.com, with many positive reviews – H20asis model.

Installation is simple; just connect the pump to the 5-gal water carrier. Set the temperature on the thermostat, and in less than a minute, hot water with a maximum temperature of 125 F is ready.

The unit comes with a built-in rechargeable lithium-ion battery that can be recharged when plugged into the 12 V car outlet. On a single battery charge and when using one 16.4-ounce propane cylinder, Coleman can heat up to 40 gallons and the run time is approximately 80 mins.

The battery is used to power the electric pump and LED display where you can find useful info such as the battery status indicator, so you will know when the unit has to be charged again.

The unit provides steady performance no matter the weather condition, thanks to the PerfectFlow technology and convenience with the Instastart ignition system, which allows automatic ignition.

It comes with the showerhead and 6-ft silicone hose making the heater ready to use right from the box.

With the approximate size of 16.7″ x10″ x21″ and weight of 18 lbs., the Coleman H20asis model is slightly bigger/heavier than the above Camp Chef Triton but is still easy to handle. The gas burner is able to provide up to 19,500 BTU which is much lower than the Triton model from the above text.

Due to heavy-duty construction and elements, Coleman is able to provide a warranty of 3 years.

EccoTemp Review

EccoTemp is the North American manufacturer of tankless water heaters that also offers one L5 portable hot water heater model. The EccoTemp L5 is a 5-liter outdoor mount propane heater that uses tankless technology, specifically for the outdoor showers, when camping, RVing, hiking, boating, within the cabins…

The EccoTemp L5 portable hot water heater is very simple to install, and one of the reasons is the small and lightweight design; so just hang it on the tree or your RV, plug it, and open the tap – it automatically ignites with the water flow, making hot water ready in seconds. Another element that makes the Eccotemp portable is that it can work in off-grid areas simply by using provided two “D” cell batteries used for the ignition.

The gas burner is big as the burner from Camp Chef Triton – 35,000 BTU, heating water from 80 F to 150 F while providing the flow rate of 1-1.5 GPM.

With the size of 16.5″ x5.5″ x11.5″ and a weight of 8 pounds, EccoTemp L5 is much smaller and lighter than Triton.

With the provided gas regulator and by attaching it to the standard 20-pound BBQ propane tank, it can run up to 18 hours. It also has a shower hose with an ON/OFF nozzle, multiple spray patterns, standard 1/2″ NPT pipe fitting, and the garden hose adapter.

Zodi Review

Zodi is a company that specializes in outback gear, including portable propane water heaters. These are also called instant hot-showers as they can produce hot water almost instantly with a temperature up to 100 F.

Zodi portable hot water heaters are designed specifically for camping, RVs, hiking, boating, and other outdoor activities.

From the Zodi program, I will mention two popular and easy-to-use portable propane water heaters; Single Burner Hot Tap and High-Performance Double Burner Heaters, with two propane tanks. A single burner hot tap is excellent for campers as there is an option to buy a hot shower with the soft case, which expands to 4-gallon storage, making it ideal for transport.

Zodi portable water heaters are built to last, designed with premium quality materials for extra durability. Using Zodi portable heaters is incredibly easy; simply place the pump in the water and you’re ready to go. There is no assembly required, so you can start using your heater right away.

With the simple push of a button, Zodi portable water heaters deliver high performance heating for all your outdoor needs. The compact design fits snugly into a rugged, waterproof case, making it easy to carry with you wherever you go.

Zodi portable water heaters are capable of heating up to 60 gallons of water on a single battery and propane refill. So whether you’re camping, fishing, or just enjoying the great outdoors, Zodi portable water heaters have you covered.

Here are the main features:

  • Powerful pump that delivers great pressure with the installed debris filter for protection against dirty water.
  • Water-tight battery case with 48″ power cable and holds 4 D-cells.
  • Altitude-rated regulated valve, installed on the propane tank, with the ignition push button and heat control.
  • Metal housing that carries the propane tank is built tough and durable.
  • Long shower hose and wide spray shower head.
  • Plastic storage case that protects the shower and holds 4 gallons of water.

The Zodi manufacturer is the only one among the above three that offers different types of portable heaters specifically designed for camping and other outdoor activities.


The Camplux AY132 is one of the cheapest of the top 5 selected here and is the best-selling product for portable water heating on amazon.com.

While the above models are designed for outdoor use only, the Camplux, thanks to the Oxygen Depletion Sensor, can also be installed indoors as long as there is proper ventilation.

It is equipped with all the necessary parts for easy installation, but it requires two lithium-ion batteries for the automatic ignition. The gas burner of 34,000 BTU can heat water to the maximum temperature of 115 F and provide 1.32 GPM.

Even with an easy connection to the propane gas tank, the unit is pretty safe to use. It is equipped with a 20-min automatic safety device, oxygen depletion safety shutoff protection, an anti-freeze system, and a flame failure device.


Having access to hot water is a necessity in our daily lives, but what happens when we are away from home, like in the great outdoors? This is where portable water heaters come in handy, allowing you to have hot water anytime and anywhere you need it. The top five models reviewed in this article are perfect for a variety of settings, including camping, traveling, RV-ing, cottages, cabins, farms, and backyards. They are versatile and can be used for a variety of purposes, from washing dishes and taking a shower, to making a hot beverage or cleaning a pet or vehicle.

It’s important to note that while these portable water heaters are perfect for warm regions, they are not suitable for use in winter. To avoid damage due to freezing, they must be correctly drained and winterized. If taken care of properly, these portable water heaters can provide you with a reliable source of hot water for all your outdoor adventures.

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