I’m one of those people that likes to go camping year-round, which means I’m out there in everything from freezing temperatures in the winter to blistering temperatures in the summer. Over the years, I’ve learned all the tricks and tips on how to stay cool while camping, and I’ve tried out all kinds of different camping gear designed to beat the heat.
Some of the best ways to stay cool while camping in hot weather won’t cost you a dime, and we’ll cover them all here. We’re also going to look at the best camping gear for staying cool so you can get your hands on everything you need to take on the summer heat and plan your next camping trip.
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If you’re a regular here at Outdoor Andrew, you know how much I love camping. If this is your first time visiting, thank you for stopping by and I’m confident you’ll find what you’re looking for here.
This complete guide on how to stay cool while camping comes not only from me and my personal experience but also from other camping experts and enthusiasts.
Does it Get Too Hot to Go Camping?
Before we get into the actual tips and tricks themselves, let’s tackle the elephant in the room.
Does it ever get too hot to go camping?
I get this question so often that I actually have an entire article about how hot is too hot to go camping, where I did a deep dive into the heat and humidity levels that make camping uncomfortable. On top of that, I also went into the biggest risks associated with camping in the heat, so make sure you check that out for more info.
For brevity’s sake, I’ll hit the high points here.
In my own opinion and through discussions with other campers, I’ve found that anything above 90°F – 95°F during the day and over 80°F at night, while you’re sleeping, makes it too hot to go camping without being a little uncomfortable. Throw high humidity into the mix, and 85°F to 90°F can feel too hot.
That said, you can still go camping at these temperatures and have a great time, but it’s even more important to know how to beat the heat. So without further ado, let’s get into the good stuff.
Here are all the tips, tricks, and camping gear you need to stay cool while camping.
Tips, Tricks, and Gear Essentials to Stay Cool While Camping
Drink Plenty of Water and Keep it Cold
The best tip I can give you for staying cool while camping is to drink a lot of water the whole time and keep yourself hydrated. I’m just as guilty as anyone else of getting my hands on a few adult beverages during my camping trips, but I never skimp on water, especially when it’s hot out.
Not only should you bring water in general, but it’s even better if you’re able to keep it cold the whole trip. This is where a high-quality cooler comes in. Sure, you could opt for something like the YETI Roadie 24 Cooler, but it is one of the most expensive brands out there.
I’ve always used Coleman coolers like the 316 Series since they get the job done at a lower price point. A good cooler like these options will hold ice for 5 days or more, ensuring that your water and everything else stays cool all trip.
Another tip for staying cool is to use frozen water bottles as a substitute for some of your ice. They’ll provide the same cooling effect as ice to keep your drinks and food cold, plus you’ll be able to drink ice-cold water any time you need one once the ice melts away.
Set Your Tent Up in the Shade or Bring Your Own Reflective Sunshade
Once you’ve gotten to your campsite, the first thing you should do is find a good place to set up your tent. When you’re hot weather camping, you should try to find somewhere to set your tent up that has shade during the day so that it keeps the sun off of it as much as possible.
The easiest way to find shade when you’re camping is to look for trees with plenty of leaves and foliage that will block out the sun. While this will certainly help keep you cool during the day as it blocks out the hot sun, you should always think about the potential risks of a branch falling on you or your tent unexpectedly.
If you can’t find the perfect shady spot to set up your tent, but there are plenty of trees around, you can create your own shade! With something as simple as a reflective sunshade, you can block up to 70% of sunlight to keep your campsite cool all day. Just pitch your tent right underneath and voila, instant shade!
Use a Dark Room Tent
Depending on where you’re camping, sometimes you just simply cannot find any shady areas to pitch your tent. Even if you can, the shade doesn’t last all day as the sun moves around, and nobody wants to move their tent from one site to another just to be in the shade.
That’s where a dark room tent comes in, and this is arguably my favorite way to stay cool while camping. A dark room tent is designed to block out much of the sun’s rays and heat, keeping the inside way cooler than a normal tent.
I’ve personally been using the Coleman Carlsbad Dark Room Tent for a long time, and it’s without a doubt one of my favorite tents in my arsenal. It blocks out 90% of sunlight, which keeps you cool through the day and lets you sleep in long after the morning sun rises.
Invest in Some Camping Fans
Since it’s just about impossible to keep your tent air-conditioned while you’re camping, the easiest way to make it more comfortable is to grab a couple of portable fans for your campsite and your tent. I have a complete list of the best camping fans on the market for you to check out, so I won’t bore you with too many details here.
One of my favorites is this portable camping fan from JINLICTE that moves a lot of air, has a built-in LED light to illuminate your campsite or tent at night, and is battery-operated so you don’t have to worry about wires running all over the place.
Setting up a couple of these fans around the campsite or in your tent is essential to getting a good night’s sleep, but when you’re sitting around relaxing and enjoying nature — or even going for a hike — you should pick up a personal neck fan. These small fans just wrap around your neck and keep a focused stream of air flowing at your neck and face, keeping you cool.
Sleep in a Hammock
While having some camping fans set up around your tent will move more air around and help you stay cooler, sometimes even that can’t be enough airflow. After all, you’re still laying on your air mattress or sleeping pad, and the air can’t move all around your body, so there’s a chance you’re still going to feel hot.
In this case, you should try sleeping in a hammock so that air can circulate and flow around your entire body, keeping you much cooler. I’ve spent many nights nestled up in a hammock and it’s actually a lot more comfortable than you might think.
That is, as long as you invest in a quality hammock like the ENO DoubleNest, which has enough room for two people, or a little extra room for one to spread out. ENO hammocks are among the most popular brands among avid campers, and I’ve always loved mine.
If you’re a bit iffy about staying in a hammock all night, check out my full guide on how to set them up. As long as you have a good hammock and it’s set up right, it should be plenty secure and you’ll have no trouble staying comfortable all night long.
Use a Silk Sleeping Bag Liner
Sleeping bags are part of any camping essentials gear list, acting like our personal little cocoons to keep up cozy while we sleep. But when it’s hot out and you’re trying to stay cool, a sleeping bag can just make it worse. That’s why it’s a great idea to have a sleeping bag liner that you can just use instead of the whole thing.
A sleeping bag liner is great for adding extra warmth in the cool months, but it’s also a viable option on its own for when it’s hot out. You get the same cozy feeling of being wrapped up in something without the misery of being stuck inside something as warm as a sleeping bag.
Polyester and cotton blends work well and are affordable, but silk is the perfect material for its softness, comfort, and breathability. In the winter, a silk liner will keep you warmer, and in the summer, it allows for a bit more airflow to circulate, keeping you cooler while you sleep.
Use Cooling Towels Throughout the Day
If you’re trying to stay cool while you’re camping, you might want to check out something that’s designed solely for that purpose such as cooling towels. This popular 4-pack from Amazon comes with multiple 40”x12” cooling towels designed to cool you off through the evaporation process.
All you have to do to use these towels is soak them in water, wring them out, and put them around the back of your neck when you start getting too hot. Through evaporation, the moisture of the cooling towels will pull heat away from your body as it evaporates away, cooling you off for up to 3 hours depending on the outdoor conditions.
Camp Near Bodies of Water or Bring an Inflatable Pool
One of the easiest ways to stay cool while camping is to camp near bodies of water if you’re planning a trip in the dead of summer. The air near bodies of water is usually much cooler than further inland, so it’ll feel much more comfortable even if the temperature is hot.
Plus, you can always go for a dip to really cool yourself off!
If camping near bodies of water is not an option – most campgrounds aren’t on lakes or ponds – then you can bring along an inflatable pool to have a quick way to cool down. While this is especially great for kids and will keep them entertained, having a kiddie pool full of water is a great option even for adults.
Dip your feet in to cool off, or heck, join the kids and splash around for a few minutes. You might feel a bit weird popping out your inflatable pool at a campground, but I assure you everyone else will be jealous when they’re struggling to cool off in the heat.
Protect Your Skin and Keep Bugs Away
No matter how many of these tips and tricks you use or what gear you buy to stay cool, camping in the summer brings more problems than just the heat. Any time you’re spending that much time outdoors in the sun, it’s important to protect your skin with some high-quality sunscreen so that you aren’t overexposed to those harmful UV rays.
Besides the sun and heat, the other thing you need to worry about is insects. Few things are worse than spending a camping trip getting eaten alive by bugs and mosquitoes. On every camping trip go on, I bring along a Thermacell Rechargeable Mosquito Repeller that creates a 20ft protective dome around you, repelling mosquitoes and other bugs.
Each pod of repellent lasts for 40 hours, and you can buy refills without having to get an entirely new unit. For most camping trips, you’ll only need one or two pods at most, so it’s an easy and affordable way to keep the bugs away.
Beat the Heat on Your Next Summer Camping Trip
With all of these tips and gear recommendations, you should know everything you need to know about how to stay cool while camping, even in the dead of summer. If you’re camping in hot weather on a budget, some of the tips above won’t cost you anything and will still go a long way toward keeping you comfortable inside and outside your tent.
Anytime you’re camping or hiking in the heat, just make sure you have plenty of water on hand and you stay hydrated. I’ll be the first to admit I like to enjoy a few cold drinks stronger than water when I go camping, but nothing will do more to keep you cool than some ice-cold water!
Lastly, no matter if you’re brand new to camping or you’re a seasoned veteran that wants to learn as much as possible, check out my complete list of camping tips and hacks. In that article, I go over everything from setting up a campsite and how to cook while camping, to camping safety tips and more.
In any case, get out there and get camping, even in the heat. Just make sure you stay cool!
- The single easiest way to stay cool while camping is to drink a lot of water and keep yourself hydrated. This is affordable, takes little to no effort, and doesn’t require any special gear (except a cooler!).
- Setting up a couple of portable fans around your campsite and in your tent will make it way more comfortable even when it’s hot out. Having a neck fan when you’re sitting around or going on a hike also makes a huge difference!
- I can tell you from personal experience that it’s worth spending a few extra bucks and taking a bit extra time to be more comfortable while you’re camping. Trying to sleep in a tent when it’s hot and muggy is miserable.
- If you ever feel yourself getting too hot, cramping, or overheating, make sure you find some shade to rest and cool down as quickly as possible. Do not overexert yourself when it’s hot out!