Pros: no open flame, great for small spaces
Cons: heats a very small space, propane bottles can be heavy and bulky
Catalytic Heat for Small Spaces - Coleman Sportcat
No More Shivering
For me, camping has always meant shivering in a tent at night. Even when others are perfectly warm, I seem to lose body heat while I'm sleeping outdoors. I never tried a portable camping heater before. I simply do not trust portable heaters, since burning fuel can mean a burning tent, as well as toxic gases that could kill me.
The Coleman Sportcat heater offers a great solution to camping on cold nights. It is rated to put out 1,100 BTU, which is enough to heat up a small tent. In my experience, it works best for a two- or three-person tent, but it is okay for a six-person tent, depending on the outside temperature. In winter, especially if there is snow, I would use two Sportcats in a tent designed for more than three people.
Less Danger than Conventional Heaters
I would never fall asleep with this little heater on, since I do fear that it might start a fire. However, it is much safer than most heaters. It puts out a gentle heat, and the metal grill on the top will stop the hot, glowing pad from touching fabric and other flammable things. But the grill itself is hot, too.
There is no open flame because it works through a catalytic pad that contains platinum. This pad glows as it gently heats a small area around the heater. The catalytic process also means that it does not use up as much oxygen as heaters with open flames. In addition, it does not emit as many toxic gases.
This little heater is about 8 inches tall and 8 inches in diameter, when it is not attached to a propane bottle. It weighs about one pound.
If you are planning a long hike and several days of camping, you need to consider the size and weight of the propane bottles that you will need to feed this heater. It uses the fat green Coleman propane fuel bottles. Each bottle weighs 16.4 ounces (465 grams, 1.02 pounds), and is about 8 inches tall and 4 inches in diameter. Depending upon whether it is just cool spring or autumn weather, or winter snow, you will probably need one bottle every day.
When added to the weight of your backpack, tent, food and other supplies, these bottles can add up to more than you want to carry. Their size might also be a problem when you are packing all your gear.
Using the Sportcat Heater
The Sportcat screws onto the top of the propane bottle.
Important: Tighten it only finger tight, to avoid stripping the threads and breaking the seal between the heater and the propane bottle.
The propane bottle fits into the round plastic base that comes with the Sportcat. Make sure that the bottle is fitted snugly into the base, so it will stand up securely and not fall over.
When you are ready to use your heater, remove the plastic cover from the top of the heater.
Turn the knob all the way to the left (counter-clockwise), hold it there for 10 or 15 seconds, then hold a lighted match or a butane lighter up to the metal grill on the top of the heater. When the pad lights, you should hear a "poof". Let go of the knob, and put out the match or lighter.
A Nit to Pick
The heater has two settings - high and low. It bothers me that the knob works backwards. Counter-clockwise turns it on and turns it up, while clockwise turns it down or turns it off.
Care and Replacement of Catalytic Pad
Always keep the plastic cover on the top of the heater when it is not in use. This will keep out dirt and dust that could ruin the catalytic pad. You will eventually need to replace the pad, depending upon how often you use the heater. The metal grill on the top can be removed by taking out two screws, and Coleman sells the replacement pads at nearly every sporting goods store, as well as Target and other variety stores.
I like to use this little heater on cold mornings, when I do not want to heat up the whole house. Don't you just hate to waste heat, when you know that the weather will be warm in a couple hours? I set up this little Sportcat heater under my desk to keep my feet and legs warm, put on a sweater and write reviews for Epinions until the sun comes out and heats up my house for free.
It's a great little camping heater, too!
Thank you so much for reading my review!