The Coleman Sportcat tent heater actually comes in 2 versions – there’s the standard version (which this review is about), and there’s the “InstaStart” model, which costs about $5 more but gives you a built-in Piezo ignition that allows you to start the heater with the click of a button (without matches). Click here to see the full review on the Coleman SportCat InstaStart tent heater.
Both Sportcat tent heater models are lightweight, extremely portable, and feature Coleman’s “PerfectTemp” catalytic technology for safe, flameless heat which makes them equally great choices for camping tents, hunting blinds, fishing shelters, and camper shells, as well as outdoor sports events and even golf carts!
The Coleman Sportcat tent heater is the smallest of the Coleman tent heater line-up and offers 1,500 BTU of heating power which should be enough to properly heat an enclosed area up to 40 square feet. If you are looking for a little more power you may want to consider the Coleman BlackCat InstaStart which costs a little more, but gives you twice the heating power.
You can easily compare them all against each other by seeing our Best Small Tent Heaters side-by-side comparison table.
Coleman Sportcat Description
The Sportcat attaches directly to a standard 16.4-oz. disposable propane cylinder. It uses Coleman’s catalytic technology to provide safe, efficient “flameless” heat. It has two simple settings, “On” & “Off”. In the “On” position it will produce 1,500 BTU of heating power which should be enough to warm most small enclosures (under 40 square feet). It can run up to 14 hours per cylinder of fuel. However, unlike the InstaStart version, the standard Coleman Sportcat tent heater requires a match or lighter to ignite it.
Features & Specifications
- The Coleman Sportcat tent heater will adequately heat small enclosures (up to ~40 square feet), such as small camping tents, hunting blinds, small fishing shelters, camper shells, and tent trailers.
- Provides 1,500 BTU output (good for up to 40 Square feet).
- Operates on one standard 16.4 oz propane cylinder
- Will run for 14 hours per fuel cylinder
- Includes integrated handle to comfortably carry
- Detachable base provides wide feet for stability that conveniently fold-in for compact storage
Customer Reviews & Ratings
The Coleman Sportcat tent heater has quite a few customer reviews across the various online retailers. Out of more than 30 verified customer reviews I reviewed, the average rating was 4 of 5 stars.
Negative Customer Reviews
The most common negative comment was that it puts off an odor when brand new…
…the product gives off more of an initial odor than the blackcat but this goes aways after about an hour after first use
…initially had a new burning scent until the factory oils from manufacturing burned off, but is now very clean burning.
… as other reviews have noted, the first thing to do with this heater is to set it up outside and burn off the factory oil odor
At first it looked like this was only an issue with the older Sportcat versions but apparently it still exists. As all the users mentioned, you’ll want to give the Sportcat an initial test burn to burn-off the factory oils prior to setting it up in a tent or shelter. Some recommended burning a full propane canister, and one said an hour was long enough.
The other negative comments were that it did not provide enough heat…
…I did not think that it had heated my tent enough. We were still cold.
…It is compact, easy to light and small enough to fit into small tents and/or spaces. But it was not adequate for the space in our larger Coleman camper.
…Next time I would purchase a heater with a higher BTU output.
In each of these reviews, it seems more a matter of specification not measuring up to expectation. The Coleman Sportcat tent heater is designed for very small enclosures that are less than 40 square feet. At a mere 1,500 BTU it simply does not have the horse-power for larger spaces, and therefore should not be expected to.
Positive User Reviews
Other than that, users seemed quite happy with the Coleman Sportcat and the remaining reviews were all very positive with the typical-type praise such as…
… the Sportcat is a great little portable camp heater that suits my camping needs
… It’s easy and safe to use and keeps my tent nice and cozy even when the temperature falls below 40 degree outside.
… Loved the performance of the sportcat tent heater. Easy to use and kept us warm all night.
… it works great, and keeps my hunting shack 6’x6’x6′ warm enough that I can hunt in just my sweatshirt – even in about 20-25 degree weather.
… it does a great job of heating up the cabin on my 21′ sailboat
… I’m so happy we bought this before our camping trip last fall
With the majority of all customer reviews recommending the Coleman Sportcat as a good buy and considering the low-price point, it certainly seems to be a good portable tent heater and one I would recommend as well – so long as it’s understood that it is not designed to heat large tents and spaces. And, that it does not have the InstaStart feature which means you’ll need to light a match each time to get it going.
With that in mind, my personal preference would be to spend the extra $5 – $10 for the Coleman Sportcat Instastart tent heater. In my opinion, the convenience of not having to search for matches in the middle of the night would be more than worth the few extra bucks.
Another alternative definitely worth considering, is the Coleman BlackCat tent heater. You get the same catalytic propane heater, but with the option of switching it into “Hi” which will give you double the heating power for those colder nights and/or larger spaces that are beyond the limitations of the less-powerful Sportcat.
Best Price & Availability
Regardless of if you go with the Coleman Sportcat tent heater or one of the other models, you’ll find the easiest availability, as well as the best price when you buy online. 9 times out of 10 you’ll find the best online price here.