Summer is the perfect time to go tent camping and enjoy the great outdoors.
However, when the temperatures start to rise, it can be tricky to stay cool in a tent and sleep normally when the heat is unbearable.
I can’t tolerate the summer heat easily so I figured out how to enjoy my summer camping trips and how to stay cool while camping in a tent.
Follow my simple tips that can help you beat the heat and keep reading for some helpful advice on staying comfortable during your next camping trip.
Summer camping hacks to stay cool
How to stay cool while camping in the summer? Summer tent camping can be torture so you should consider some hacks to make your camping trip more pleasurable.
Fresh and cool water is the first thing that comes to my mind when summer camping. Not only will it keep you hydrated, but it can also be used to cool down your body temperature.
Here are some tips for using water while tent camping to stay cooler.
Hydration in the summer months is important so you won’t overheat. Prevent heat exhaustion, weakness, and fatigue by hydrating throughout the day.
Bring water containers with cool drinking water with you if car camping so you will have enough water to drink.
If you don’t have an option to transport the canisters then you can use my water purification methods to have enough drinkable water from rivers, lakes, and other water sources.
If you place your tent near a water source, the wind should bring cooler air.
Place it near the running water like rivers or streams because it is constantly sending tiny water droplets into the air when it splashes as it hits rocks and other obstacles.
Plan your trip around the water! There are plenty of water sports that you can do to avoid the heat and cool down the body.
If you want to stay cool while camping in a tent, consider doing some of the following water activities:
- Take a dip in the lake or river near your campsite. If there is no natural body of water nearby, set up a small pool or bring along a portable kiddie pool if your family will accompany you.
- Splash around: Play some water games with your family and friends. Have a water balloon fight, squirt gun battle, or simply run through the sprinklers.
- Get wet: Take a shower, wash the dishes in a bucket of water, or just get drenched by jumping into a pool fully clothed.
- Play watersports: There’s swimming, diving, kayaking, boating, water skiing, and other water-based sports that you can attend. Watersports are one of the best ways to stay cool while camping in hot weather.
Camping bedding ideas
The optimum temperature for sleeping is between 20 and 30 degrees Celsius. Above 30 degrees, it can be quite uncomfortable to sleep in a tent – even with the best ventilation.
What do you sleep on (in) when tent camping in stifling temperatures?
Here are some bedroll ideas and tips to have a pleasant night’s sleep:
- Use a cot, pad, or air mattress instead of a sleeping bag on the ground. It will help to keep you cooler as heat rises.
- Place a damp cloth over yourself or your pillow. The evaporation will help to cool you down.
- Wear loose, light-colored clothing to bed. It will help your body to stay cooler.
If using a sleeping bag:
- Place a frozen water bottle inside before going to bed. This will help to stay cool during the night.
- Sleep with your head and feet out of the sleeping bag. Your body will regulate its temperature better.
Sleep in a hammock!
Hammock camping is my favorite way to sleep outside while camping in hot weather. Sleeping in a hammock is a great way to avoid stiff air in a tent.
A hammock is perfect for camping in hot temperatures because it allows you to suspend your body off the ground, while the air is circulating around you and keeps you cool.
Additionally, if you’re summer camping with a partner, both of you can fit in one hammock without taking up much space.
You’ll probably want the kind that ties around nearby trees. However, if there are no trees, there are hammocks with frames, but they tend to be pretty heavy to carry around.
Sleeping outside the shelter will let you enjoy the cold air in the evening. Hammocks are pretty comfortable with the right pillow arrangement so you should definitely try it.
Sleeping on top of covers
Sleeping outside your covers is a good way of staying cool while camping. Instead of sleeping inside your sleeping bag, lay on it as if it was a mattress pad.
Instead of sleeping beneath the covers of your air mattress, sleep on top of it. A thin, breathable cotton sheet on top should be alright.
Get a hot weather tent
It’s important to know which tent to use for hot summer camping to stay as comfortable as possible.
Most campers use a single model for all of their camping seasons as tents tend to share features with all of the weather conditions in mind – such as UV protection and waterproofing.
Some find it more convenient to use a shelter for the most extreme conditions. In desert climates, that season tends to be the scorching hot of summer.
When camping in 100-degree weather, look for a unit that will have a good ventilation system (3-season model).
Screen tents are also recommendable but you won’t be able to use them directly in the sun (unless you cover the unit with the emergency blanket or some other cover).
Blackout (darkroom) tent
Blackout tents are a good way to prevent heat inside as they have a dark fabric that has light-diffusing or light-absorbing qualities. Opt for a darkroom tent if you are a light sleeper.
Position with shade
Set up your tent in the sunshade, instead of direct sunlight. Choose a spot that’s been shaded for the longest.
Setting up a tent in a shade is a smart solution to keep the conditions inside cooler and more comfortable, especially during hot weather.
If there is no tree or other natural shade available, you can create your own by using an umbrella or tarp. Just make sure to secure it so that it doesn’t blow away!
How do you shade a tent?
Even if you are in the shade already, you can make it a little bit cooler by making more shade.
Put up a tarp above the shelter for a foot or two. This will help hot air to cool down faster by preventing more sunlight from reaching the tent.
If there is no shade available I still recommend a tarp in this situation, but use a reflective one.
Unfold the tent in the morning
To avoid a greenhouse effect, one option is to unfold the shelter and store it in the shade after you wake up. This way it won’t be in the sun all day and heat up.
Maybe you don’t like to do it each day, however, the setup process is simple if you have an inflatable, automatic, or pop-up tent.
Put your rain fly away
Take the rain fly off the tent off if it has one. Having a second layer so close to the unit only traps hot air and makes it even hotter.
Use a footprint
If your model came with a footprint, or you purchased one separately, bring it along. If you don’t have one, try using a normal tarp.
Tip: When using a tarp, make sure that it isn’t larger than a tent’s floor because, in case of rain, water will accumulate on the tarp, making puddles that you don’t want.
Set up your tent over the ground tarp, so that it becomes a second floor under the shelter.
This helps to prevent more heat from coming off of the ground. After all, that ground has been in the sunlight since the sunrise.
There’s an old tip to dig a 2 ft. trench where you will set up the tent and place it in there. The underground creates a sort of a basement that will make things bearable.
Tents that are made for spring, summer, and fall are made of mesh material, vents, and openings to provide airflow and to prevent condensation.
So, after you got a 3 season model, open all the openings so the air can get inside and out.
If there are mosquitos flying around open the windows and tent door but leave the meshed parts closed. This way you will kill two birds with one stone.
As you already know, the airflow can make a big difference so take a look at the next tips for enjoying warm camping.
Small portable camping fan may seem like it’s insignificant, but a few of them can make a huge difference. Small battery-powered fans work efficiently in smaller tents.
Look for the battery-powered fans, such as 12-volt fans, and put some of them in strategic spots to create an air tunnel around where you will be resting.
Pro tip: Use an ice block or ice cubes in front of the working tent fan as the air will be a little cooler because of them. Place the ice in a container as it will melt over time.
Check the article that explains how to use these fans for camping in hot weather.
Find a windy spot
Sometimes you can’t help the weather, but try to find a windier spot to perch your tent to take advantage of nature’s air conditioning.
This is a great way how to cool a tent without electricity. It will help the ventilation as well as keep the air around you cooler.
When using a tent, you’ll want to maximize the window space.
Most models come with a sort of mesh that keeps the insects out but allows air circulation. Look for a unit that has plenty of windows and mesh to keep the air circulating.
You can help yourself to feel cool inside a tent by using electricity (if you have a chance to use it).
You can acquire portable air conditioners that run on electricity but you can also get ones that work on a battery, or fuel source.
The best way to use one is when you camp at the campsite where you have an electricity source close.
Look for a camping tent that has an opening to install an AC and follow the instructions of the manufacturer to set it up properly.
These air conditioners are usually installed in larger family tents for camping.
DIY air conditioning
You can find online schematics and ideas for air conditioners that you build yourself, along with the lines of evaporative cooling.
Use a wet towel
How to stay cool at night while camping? Maybe you know this trick but it is efficient to some extent. When you are inside the shelter grab a wet towel and place it around the neck.
The cold effect of water will make you feel cooler due to evaporation that cools the neck veins and helps to lower the heat load on the brain.
Here is a cooling towel from Tough Outfitters that will help with the quick cool down.
Use a space blanket
If you will camp in a small tent you can cover it with a space blanket. This blanket will reflect the incoming heat so your shelter won’t get as hot inside as usual.
If you won’t find as big a blanket as the tent you can attach one to another and get a full cover one to reflect the summer heat effectively. You shall get two of them for a small model.
A bear hard survival blanket
Here is the UST survival blanket that is thick enough and made of aluminized surface to reflect the heat. It has grommets so you will be able to stabilize it on your shelter so the wind won’t blow it away.
Get a shower or jump in water
The best way to cool yourself is to have a cold shower or to jump in the lake or a river that you have near the camping place.
By doing this your body heat will drop. Refresh yourself before going to sleep as you will be able to fall asleep easier.
Is it safe to go camping in extreme heat?
Going camping in extreme heat isn’t the best idea. It is safe to some extent if you consider my tips to stay cool. However, you are in danger due to heat-related diseases such as:
- heat cramps
- heat exhaustion
How hot is too hot for camping?
If you listened to a weather forecast and the temperatures for the day were predicted to be above 95 degrees Fahrenheit, it would be best not to camp. The temperature inside a tent can easily exceed 100 degrees on hot days.
How do you camp in the desert heat?
Going to desert camping requires a lot of preparation because the climate is so different than other camping locations.
Here are useful tips to beat the summer heat and have fun while camping in a hot desert.
- Stay hydrated. Bring lots of water and drink it regularly, even if you don’t feel thirsty. Camelbacks or water bottles that attach to your belt are a good way to always have water with you.
- Wear light clothing. Dark colors absorb the sun’s heat, so stick to light colors instead. White is the best choice for keeping you cool in the desert sun.
- Stay in the shade as much as possible. If you’re not in the direct sunlight, you’ll be cooler. Set up your camp in the shade of a tree or use an umbrella or tarp for additional shading.
- Use a fan. A battery-operated fan can help circulate air and cool you down.
- Avoid strenuous activity during the hottest part of the day. If you must be active, do it in the cooler morning or evening hours.
- Plan your trip for the cooler months. Desert camping in the summer can be brutally hot, so try to go during the spring or fall instead.
How do you keep your tent cool while camping?
Staying in a hot, sufficed tent is a common problem of all campers during the summer camping season. If you don’t have air conditioning in your tent, there are a few ways you can stay cool while camping.
First, make sure to choose a well-ventilated campsite.
A campsite that is surrounded by trees and other vegetation will provide natural shade and help to keep the air inside your tent cooler.
If possible, try to camp in an area that has a breeze. The moving air will help to keep you cool.
Second, set up your tent in the shade. If there is no natural shade at your campsite, you can create your own by setting up an awning or tarp over your tent.
Third, use a fan. A small, portable fan can help to circulate the air inside your tent and keep you cool. If you don’t have a fan, you can hang a wet towel over an open window or door to help cool the air.
Fourth, dress in light, loose-fitting clothing. Natural fibers like cotton are best as they allow your skin to breathe.
Fifth, drink plenty of fluids. Dehydration can make you feel tired and overheated, so it’s important to drink plenty of water or other (electrolyte) fluids while summer camping.
How do you keep your tent cool in the morning?
To wake up in a cool tent, you can do a few things to keep the temperature down while you sleep. Make use of a night’s constant breeze by opening up the flaps on your tent.
Set up your tent in a shaded area if there is one available.
Some canvas bell tents have an option to roll up the walls to have better views and ventilation so you can consider them appropriate to use while camping in hot weather.
How to keep a tent cool at night?
Increase the airflow inside the tent by opening the vents, doors, and windows before going to sleep. Keep the mesh closed to avoid pesky pests.
This is the best way to cool a tent while camping. You can also use a fan or an air conditioner if your outdoor tent has an opening for it.
What to wear when camping in hot weather?
Wear light, breathable and lighted-colored pieces of clothing such as cotton T-shirts and pants. Choose camping clothes that are not tight.
As your skin will be exposed to hot temperatures make sure you will put sunscreen on and wear a hat and sunglasses.
How to keep your baby cool while camping?
Make sure you bring light and light-colored cotton clothes along so your baby will have an easier time dealing with the heat. Opt for a baby bathtub or a baby-sized pool to keep him satisfied.
Baby’s skin is sensitive so don’t forget to put some suncream on (don’t forget putting the suncream on his ears and nose as these body parts get sun-burned easily).
If you are thinking of bringing a baby on a colder camping trip, take my advice by reading the post on how to camp with a baby in cold weather.
The next time you go camping, take some of these tips with you to make sure that you stay as cool as possible.
With a little bit of preparation, you can enjoy the outdoors without feeling too hot and bothered.
Have you ever gone camping in the heat? What did you do to keep yourself from overheating? Let me know in the comments below – I’d love to hear your tips!