Staying Warm with a Buddy (heater)

The Mr. Heater Tough Buddy
Tonight I took the plunge and decided to get a heater for the Trekker Van.  With cold weather coming it seemed like a good idea.  There were several considerations that needed to be addressed before making a purchase.
I wanted a heater than would run on spin-on propane containers.  Though a person can also use a 20 lb propane tank outside the van, I decided to use 1 lb canisters inside the van.  Whatever heater was purchased needed to be easily stored and needed to have protection from tipping and carbon monoxide.
Having read articles from other van campers, I was curious about the Mr. Heater line of products.  The local hardware store had a Mr. Heater Buddy unit for $87.99. Lowe’s was $79.99.  The one at Lowe’s was called a Mr. Heater Tough Buddy.  Other than a little yellow and black plastic (which looks kind of masculine and tough), I didn’t see any differences between the Buddy and Tough Buddy models.   Pretty sure this would fit the need, I bought the Tough Buddy and two canisters of propane.
The first time I fired it up, The Mr. Heater was difficult to light.  The pilot light just didn’t want to work.  It seemed related to running the roof fan and box fan at a moderate speed.  Shutting off the box van and turning down the Fantastic roof vent fan helped.  Once fired up, the heater did its job.  I was roasting in a few short minutes.  Because my Tough Buddy did get so hot, it seemed a good idea to pass along some safety thoughts.
1)  Carbon monoxide is a risk.  Don’t be fooled by “safe indoors” claims plastered on the box.  Put up a carbon monoxide detector before sleeping even one night.  Just because the Mr. Heater Buddy has a detector and shutoff for carbon monoxide, I would not bet my life on it.
2)  The Mr. Buddy gets hot.  Place it as far away from combustibles as possible.  Since the Mr. Buddy  does not require rear clearance, use the hanger holes in the back of the case to suspend it.  For me, the side swing out door is a perfect place to hang it up. 
3)  Run the roof fan (if you have one) on “OUT” to vent the lighter-than-air carbon monoxide.  Even the lowest setting will still move plenty of air.
So far, the Mr. Heater Tough Buddy has been exactly what I was hoping for.  The size is right and it really cranks out the heat.  It will be a lot of fun during ice fishing season in a few short months.
So how do you stay warm in your vehicle?   I would enjoy hearing your stories and comments.  As always, thank you for reading and exchanging thoughts and ideas.
My personal email is

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About VanTrekker

I am a former vandweller in Eastern Iowa who, for several years (off and on), lived in a 2007 Chevy cargo van. I still travel around Iowa with my tortoise shell cat, Jennifer Stefanie. Our favorite place to explore is the Country Heritage Community, the four far northeastern counties of Iowa (Clayton, Winneshiek, Allamakee, and Fayette). Ride along as we fish in pristine trout streams, enjoy fine home cooked camping meals, and meet new people. It's all possible on a shoestring budget. Happy travels always! --- Brad, the "Van Trekker"

3 Responses to Staying Warm with a Buddy (heater)

  1. Anonymous says:

    has this ever triggered your CO2 alarm?

  2. Brad says:

    Nope… Never has. I hit the test button periodically. I did have the heater shut off one night, possibly from low oxygen. It was cranked up to high with the vent closed. Dumb… All of a sudden the heater quietly shut down. I opened the vent and brought in fresh air. Some time later I was able to start it up again.

    Overall, I’m really impressed with the Mr. Heater buddy. It has provided many hours of comfort and relative safety. I recently mounted a fan about it to distribute the air. Just bought another on close-out for $52…

  3. So are you turning on the heater and your vent fan and just going to sleep all night?