The summer can be one of the best times of the year to go camping, with nice warm weather, long days, and plenty of outdoor activities to do. However, hot days can also heat you and your tent, making it impossible to sleep or enjoy your camping trip.
That’s why we’ve put this guide together to help you keep comfortable. Continue reading below for 19 hot weather camping tips that will help you stay cool this summer.
1. Set Up Your Tent in a Shaded Area
Finding an area under some trees to pitch your tent will go a long way toward keeping it cool. Especially on a hot day, the sun’s rays beating down on a tent will make it feel like an oven inside.
When you’re choosing a shaded spot, keep in mind that you want it to be in the shade for the longest possible part of the day. This means picking somewhere with some cover directly overhead, which is where the sun will be for the most time, and when it’s at its hottest.
2. Camp Near a Water Source
Because of water’s high specific heat, it will always be cooler right next to a lake or river than a couple of miles away. If you have a choice, it’s smart to camp near a water source so it soaks up some of those hot temperatures.
Being right near a body of water also makes it easy to jump right in for a swim, which is another great way to stay cooler while camping.
3. Try to Catch a Cooling Breeze
Setting up your tent in a spot with a nice breeze will cool your tent down a lot, especially when you’re trying to sleep at night. Check the weather app for the wind direction, and pitch your tent so that the door will be facing the wind.
If there’s a camp guide or experienced campers nearby, you can also ask them where the windiest spots on the campsite are, as they can often be hard to find on your own.
4. Bring the Right Kind of Tent
Bringing the wrong tent on a summer camping trip will have you wide awake at night wishing that you’d never taken the trip. Here are a few tips on tent selection that will help you stay cool:
Plenty of mesh. The small holes will naturally allow fresh air to flow through.
Light colored. Light tents won’t absorb as much sunlight during the day.
Larger. A bigger tent will have more air inside and won’t be as affected by your body heat.
Plenty of other ventilation. You’ll stay cooler if your tent has plenty of vents and rain flaps to open up at night.
5. Take Down Your Tent During the Daytime Heat
While it’s a bit of a pain to set up and take down your tent every single day, keeping it up during the day will make it extremely hot inside.
Tent fabric also degrades under intense sunlight over time, so doing this will help your tent last much longer.
6. Bring a Portable Fan
In the absence of a natural breeze, a battery-operated fan can make the inside of your tent a bit cooler. Look for ones that will be able to attach to the tent walls, floor, or ceiling so it won’t fall over at night. Freestanding air conditioning units are a good heavier duty option.
7. Put a Sunshade Over Your Tent
If you plan to have your tent up during the day, we’d highly suggest covering it up with a sunshade. They will reflect the sunlight away from your tent and stop it from absorbing so much heat. If you don’t have one of the traditional reflective ones, a tarp can work well too.
You can set one up by tying it to some branches or poles placed above your tent. Make sure to leave at least a foot of space in between the shade and the tent so air can circulate through properly.
8. Drink Lots of Water
Staying hydrated will help your body regulate its internal temperature, which will help a lot with staying cool in hot weather. Ideally, you should be drinking at least a gallon of water per day, and probably more when you’re outside on a camping trip.
Bring a cooler or insulated water bottle with you too, as cold water will be better for you than warm.
9. Remove the Tent’s Rain Fly if There’s Nice Weather
Most tents have a rain fly with a mesh layer underneath. Check the weather forecast for rain first, but removing it will help keep your tent cool by letting more air circulate through.
10. Open the Tent Vents and Door
Similar to the point above, you should be opening all the vents on your tent to let more cool air in. You can open your door for even more air circulation, but watch out for bugs if you don’t have a mesh covering there.
11. Pack Frozen Water Jugs
When you’re packing for your camping trip, fill any space in your coolers with jugs and bottles of frozen water. At night, you can bring the frozen jugs into your tent and they will cool the surrounding air as the ice melts. As an added benefit, it can be used as drinking water once it’s melted.
12. Cool Off Before Bedtime
Bringing down your internal body temperature right before bed can help you fall asleep much faster. Try taking a cold shower or going for a quick swim if there’s a lake or river nearby.
13. Try Hammock Camping
If you know that sleeping in a tent is going to be too hot, then hammock camping can be a great alternative for staying cool. Hang one up between a couple of trees and you’ll be all set.
There are a couple of additional things to remember though. First, even on hot days, it can get chilly at night, so bring a sheet or blanket in case. You’ll also be wide open to the nature around you, so it might be smart to put up a bug net and a tarp if it rains.
14. Put a Cold Towel on Your Neck
Your neck releases a lot of body heat, so putting a cold towel down on it is a way to feel cool instantly. Pack a few hand towels in your bag, and when the weather feels hot you can either dunk them in a nearby lake or our favorite method, in icy cooler water.
If you’re struggling to fall asleep because of the heat, A damp towel on the forehead will also help cool you down.
15. Wear Clothes That Will Keep You Cool
If you’re out camping in the summer months, the clothes you wear will make a big difference in how cool you stay. Opt for light-colored clothing that won’t absorb the heat of the sun. Lightweight and loose-fitting athletic clothes will also help your body shed heat.
16. Sleep When it’s Dark
The lowest temperatures of the day are between sunset and sunrise, so if you’re trying to stay cool then it makes sense to sleep during this time.
While it’s probably a little bit earlier bedtime than most of you are used to, the temperature will quickly creep up once the sun rises. Better to get a good night’s rest in the dark than be woken up early by the hot sun.
17. Ditch the Sleeping Bag for a Sheet
If it’s an especially hot night, there’s no reason to suffer inside the warmth of a sleeping bag. Instead, lay on top of it and pack a thin sheet or blanket to cover yourself with instead.
18. Protect Yourself From The Sun
Being in direct sunlight will not only make you feel hot, but if you do it for prolonged periods you could suffer from sunburn. Depending on the severity, this could cause hot and painful skin and ailments like skin cancer down the line.
Use and reapply sunscreen frequently, wear a hat during the day, and try to stay in shady areas when you’re outside.
19. Eat Mostly Cold Food
Camping in hot weather can cause your food to go bad pretty quickly, especially if you’ve packed lots of perishable items. Because of this, a high-quality cooler is pretty much a requirement for a summer camping trip. Pack all of your food in there and make sure it’s filled with enough ice to keep it cold your whole trip.
Also, eating cold food like popsicles or ice cream is a great way to cool off on a hot day. Just make sure they’re packed in a cold enough spot that they won’t melt before you can eat them.
Trying to stay cool while camping, especially on a super hot night, is no easy task. Many campers have had sleepless nights lying out in the summer heat, but if you follow the tips listed here, we’re sure you’ll be cool enough to have a great time. If you find any of this information helpful on your next camping trip, we’d love to know. Happy camping!
Carl is a content writer for The Camping Buddy, specializing in informational camping articles and product reviews. Carl has been a freelance writer for outdoor news sites while spending his time backpacking across the world. His favorite camping spot is Malaekahana Beach in Hawaii.