10 Camping Hacks to Stay Cool During Summer Camping

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As the winter fades away and the flowers bloom in Spring, most outdoor enthusiasts are gearing up and getting ready for some fun summer camping.  During peak season, however, spending long amounts of time in the great outdoors can lead to overheating, dehydration, and fatigue. Being too hot in your tent or around your campsite will simply result in a bad time for you and your camp-mates. 

10 Camping Hacks to Stay Cool During Summer Camping

In order to maximize the enjoyment of your camping experience this summer, we put together this list of camping hacks to help you stay cool all season long. 

1. Wear Cool, Light Colored Clothing

Sometimes packing is half of the adventure when you’re headed out on a camping trip.  If you’re camping in warm weather, you’ll want to make sure that you have the clothing to keep your body as cool as possible.  

The same rules for hiking apparel, generally apply to warm weather camping clothing.  Instead of a traditional cotton shirt and baseball cap, you may want to opt for a polyester or wool shirt with a wide-brim hat.  The most effective clothing will be able to block your body from the sun, while being lightweight and breathable enough to prevent excess sweating.

For women, here is a great quick dry polyester shirt. For men, we recommend a long sleeve shirt running shirt.  Children and adults of all genders should also consider a sun hat to protect their heads and faces from receiving too much direct sunlight.  

2.  If Possible, Set Up Your Tent in the Shade

Once you arrive at camp, the first thing most people do is set up their tent.  In the midst of a very exciting moment, it can be difficult to take the time to find the perfect tent spot, however where you place your tent will be crucial to how pleasant your night will be

If there are trees around your campsite, the best way to keep the interior temperature of your tent cool is to place it in the shade.  Although it is not always possible to find a shaded area that is both flat and free of roots, rocks, and other objects, if you are lucky enough to find some shade in the heat of the summer, then by all means, that is where you should set up your tent.  The less direct sunlight your tent receives, the cooler it will be in the morning. 

3.  Create Your Own Shade

If you are camping at high altitudes, in a desert, or simply the last available spot at a campground, you may not be lucky enough to have a well shaded site.  Thankfully, there are a few different items you can bring along to create your own shade at camp. These tricks can either be used to keep your tent shaded or to create an outdoor living space that is protected from the sun’s rays.

The most cost effective, portable and dynamic option for creating shade around your camp can be achieved with tools as simple as a tarp and some rope.  A popular choice among restaurants with outdoor dining areas, fastening a large shade tarp above a sitting area creates a cooler environment for people to enjoy below.  While camping, shade tarps are traditionally tied to trees or vehicles.  

If there is nothing to affix a shade tarp to, however, then you will not be able to deploy the product for its intended purpose.  For this reason, bringing along a standalone pop up shade tent is the absolute best way to ensure that your campsite will have at least a bit of shade wherever you choose to set it up.  In dry conditions, some campers will even choose to forget their traditional tents completely and sleep below one of these shaded temporary shelters.  

4.  Let Your Tent Get As Much Air As Possible

On a hot summer day, heat gets trapped inside wherever it can.  You may have experienced this when you got into your car and touched your scorching hot steering wheel.  Tents for camping are no different, as hot summer weather can become trapped inside your tent and raise the interior to an uncomfortable temperature.

In order to prevent this “oven” effect from happening, it is important to get as much air as possible flowing through your tent both during the day and night, depending on the severity of the weather.  Most tents come with a rainfly designed to keep water out, however, rainfly also tend to keep heat in. If there is no rain in the forecast, it is best to put the rainfly aside to allow more airflow through your sleeping quarters.  

In order to maximize airflow, some tents are designed better than others to keep you cool while summer camping.  A good tent for summer camping will have plenty of mesh windows to let air in and keep insects out.  Ideally you will also want to have a tent with two, opposing doors in order to maximize airflow with cross breeze ventilation. 

If you are a very detail oriented person looking to maximize the breeze that your tent will receive, you can go into further calculations in identifying the best spot and angle to set up your shelter.  You can identify the best wind tunnels and breeze direction with a high tech gadget or simply by throwing some grass up into the air!  

5. Get a Portable Fan

Speaking of breezes, you can also make your own wind while camping by bringing along a portable fan.  The size and power of your fan will largely depend on your budget, space for gear, and power capability. 

Read More About Camping Fans : The Best Camping Tent Fan for Summer Camping – Reviews & Buying Guide

If you’re camping in an RV park with electricity hookups, then there really is no limit on how large of a fan you can bring along to stay cool while summer camping.  For the most part, however, campers will be away from electricity. In order to pick out a great portable fan, you will want to choose one that is either rechargeable batteries or runs on batteries.  A rechargeable fan with a long lasting battery life will be best in keeping you cool throughout the night by placing the fan inside your tent.  

Opolar F20 Portable Camping Fan LED Light

Opolar F20 Portable Camping Fan LED Light

If you’d like to be the most popular person at your campsite, you may also want to look into bringing along a portable fan that also sprays a refreshing mist.  There are few things more refreshing than a mist and a breeze during a hot summer camping trip, so you may actually want to bring a few of these along, as it will be tough getting them back from your fellow campers! 

6.  Invest in a Great Camping Cooler

Having ice on hand and being able to enjoy a nice cold beverage are guaranteed to keep you cool while summer camping.  Although it is tempting to buy a cheap or even disposable styrofoam cooler for your next outdoor adventure, owning a great camping cooler is one of the best investments you can make to enjoy camping in the summer.

Coolers like this portable cooler with wheels are made with commercial grade insulation in order to keep the interior colder for longer.  The extra thick walls are capable of keeping ice frozen and food cold for multiple days in the middle of the summer heat.  

Without having to restock constantly on ice, a well-made cooler will save you time and money while providing a nice cool home for your favorite summer drinks and treats.  If you’re really hot, for a temporary cool fix, you can also simply take an ice cube from your cooler and either place it on your head or slowly move it around your body. After a nice long hike, an “ice cube bath” can be quite refreshing. 

7.  Bring Along and Drink A Lot of Water

Dehydration and overheating are intertwined as the dangers of summer camping.  In order to stay cool inside and out, it is extremely important to have and drink plenty of water when spending time outdoors.  

Most modern campsites and even some more rugged campgrounds are equipped with a source of fresh drinking water.  Before you set out on your adventure, it is best to know, or at least have a good idea of how you will be refilling your water supply throughout your trip.  If you are primitive camping, you will need to pack a lot of water or bring a water filter to purify the water from a lake, pond or stream. 

The best way to limit the number of trips you take to the well, hose, or store to refill your water is to pack in a large, durable container.  Most campers have one or more refillable water jugs in order to store and pour water whenever it is needed.  For an extra cool refreshment, don’t be afraid to stick a few ice cubes inside to get your water nice and cold. 

8.  Keep Your Head Cool With A Wet Cloth

Not only will you stay cool by ingesting water, but you can also lower your overall body temperature by utilizing a nice cool wet cloth.  For this, you will need a bandanna, rag, or small camping towel.  

The instructions here are quite simple.  Gather some ice water together from your cooler and put it into another small container, as you will not want to possibly contaminate your food supply.  Then, take your cloth and plunge it into the ice water for at least five seconds. Pull out your cloth, ring out any excess liquid, and wallah, you’ve got yourself a nice cooling device ready to go.  

Putting a wet towel or bandanna on your head or around your neck is a great way to cool off both immediately and for a long period of time.  In order to keep your system going for as long as possible, you can store your ice water container separately inside your cooler or at least in a well shaded area.  

9.  Take a Shower or Go for a Swim!

What’s a better way to stay cool summer camping then a little bit of water on a towel?  Completely submerging yourself in water, of course. Whereas a little bit of water goes a long way to keep you cool, a lot of water will go even further to refresh your body temperature.

Most people don’t automatically relate camping and showering, but after a night in the woods it should come as no surprise that campers have found ways to stay clean during long periods of time outdoors.  Some developed campgrounds, especially those in State or National Parks, will include a shower facility. Sometimes the showers are included in the price of a campground fee, while in other situations, you may have to pay extra or purchase tokens in order to use the facilities.  If your campsite does not have a shower, you can bring a large, portable shower tent for a quick, but satisfying outdoor option. 

You can cool off temporarily by showering in the morning or the afternoon, but if you are only going to take one shower per day, the evening is going to be the best.  Once the sun goes down, a shower will cool down your body temperature without the risk of it rising rapidly again due to the sun’s heat.  

Arguably, the best way to completely cool off while summer camping, however, is to go for a swim!  If there is a pool, lake, or lazy river that is safe to swim in near your campground, then an early morning, midday, or late night swim will be the quickest and most fun way to cool off while camping.  In the heat of the summer, an ideal camping spot is always going to be near a watering hole of some kind.

10.  Choose the Right Sleeping Equipment

Last, but certainly not least, camping with the right sleeping equipment will ensure that you stay cool during the evening in order to achieve a good night of rest.  Although it is not nearly as scorching hot as it is during the day, summer evenings in popular camping destinations like California and Utah can also be well above 90 degrees Fahrenheit.  In the East of the United States, humid conditions from Florida all the way up to Minnesota can also lead to sweat inducing heat waves.

As mentioned above, a well ventilated tent is a good starting point to keeping cool during a night of summer camping.  Sometimes however, even the best tents are too contained for the sweltering heat of an August evening.  Some campers choose to sleep in the open air by setting up a hammock between two trees.  

With the air flowing above and below your hammock, you will be able to stay much cooler throughout the night, which makes them a popular choice for camping in the summer, rather than the late or early seasons.  Hammock camping is comfortable for some people, while others morally oppose it. It is also limited in that a hammock requires fixed points in order to set up.  

Whether you are out in your hammock or inside your tent, you will also want to have the best sleeping bag for summer camping to keep you cool and warm you up when you need it.  Here, you will want to find a thin, lightweight sleeping bag that will not insulate your body temperature too much.  Whereas some sleeping bags have an extra compartment for your feet, the ideal summer sleeping bag can be fully unzipped so that it can basically act as a light blanket during extreme temperatures.

If you are camping somewhere with high elevation, such as Colorado or Montana, it is best to err on the side of caution and bring along a bag that is rated for 3 seasons.  It can be surprising how quickly the temperature can drop when the sun goes down, or rise in the morning when the sun reappears.  

Lastly, if you are camping on the ground, then your body heat will be insulated against your sleeping pad, keeping you quite warm.  In order to minimize this effect, you can stay cooler camping in the summer by having an inflatable camping pad or an inflatable pillow.  With nothing but air and a few layers of fabric below you, your body temperature will be able to escape and keep you cool throughout the entire evening.  Plus, inflatable mattresses can be quite comfortable. 

Conclusion

Camping is one of the best parts of summer, and staying cool during the hottest months of the year will help make your adventure the best it can be.  Overall, having access to water, wearing the right clothes, bringing the right equipment, and optimizing the location and setup of your campsite are the best ways to not overheat while camping this summer.

We hope you enjoyed these camping hacks to stay cool during summer camping.  Now it is time to get the right gear, gather your friends and head towards the great outdoors!