If you’re anything like us, you’ll know that waking up in a stuffy tent, sweating in your sleeping bag after a fitful night’s sleep is almost enough to put you off summer camping for good.
That is, once you’ve scrambled over your snoring friend to unzip the tent door for some much-needed ventilation, and you breathe in that sweet fresh air in anticipation of the day ahead – life seems not so bad after all, eh?
Nevertheless, what can you do to avoid over heating whilst camping in warm weather?
Here at =ZIP= we’re all for doing everything we can to stay cool while camping, and we don’t just mean looking good! Camping and hiking often tend to be summertime activities, for obvious reasons, but the heat can be annoying at best, and at worst downright dangerous.
So grab a glass of ice water and let’s powwow about how to stay cool while camping – and beat the summer heat.
First off, the best way to stay cool is by being smart – do a little extra planning when you know the weather is going to be hot and sticky. The right shelter, clothes, and plenty of water will go a long way to keeping you cool.
Tents can act like mini-greenhouses when it’s really hot. One way to avoid sleeping in a sauna is to ditch the tent altogether and grab a hammock.
There’s multiple benefits to hammock camping, but the setup is a bit more nuanced, especially for first-timers. Clearly, ventilation is going to be much better and you’re actually sleeping under the stars too, which is always a bonus. The extra air flow around your body when you’re sleeping will help keep you cool and avoid waking up sweaty.
Try to be mindful about the type of hammock you choose as some materials may not be made for warmer climates. Plus, it’s not recommended to simply string up a tarp to two trees and call it a day – you’ll need to buy a hammock made specifically for camping. Comfort is key here, after all.
Beach hammocks, pool hammocks, Mexican hammocks – they might feel comfy at first but they’re definitely not made for camping and backpacking.
Instead, these are the types of camping hammock you should be going for: lightweight, waterproof, easy to set up, and, most importantly – ideal for sleeping. Look for the widest and longest you can, and check material quality and strength too.
Be sure to bring a quality sleeping bag that allows you to stay cool but also keeps you warm when necessary. You should try to find a sleeping bag that unzips and allows you to use it as a blanket in addition to a sleeping bag. It isn’t easy getting in and out of a hammock while you’re zipped up in a bag!
You’ll want to set up your hammock with a tarp below and one above you. Tarps can help keep the ground cool below your hammock. They can also act as a barrier from the ground in case it happens to rain, and as a vital shelter to protect you from the elements as you sleep.
One of the easiest ways to cool a tent without electricity is with a portable fan. You can find these types of fans at most outdoors stores or department stores. Consider whether it’s battery powered or rechargeable, and whether it needs a stand or it can be hung from the tent ceiling, which is often a better option.
Try to find a campsite with ample shade. You’ll want to take a look at the foliage around your site to ensure that you won’t end up drenched in sunlight when the sun moves throughout the day. Try to find a nearby river or stream to cool down in when it gets too hot. Even better, go beach camping and swim in the sea.
You can buy a tent for virtually any type of weather. Summer tents should have plenty of ventilation options and tons of mesh. You can usually find tents that have mesh screens with sashes that zip up to cover the openings in case it gets cold.
The larger your tent, the more ventilation you’ll get. Try to buy a large tent for camping in warm weather. If your group is large, don’t try to stuff everyone in one tent. Split your group up between a few tents to stay cool.
Read more about our recommended tents here:
We debated whether to put this in…but yea, AC for camping does in fact exist.
So if you’re feeling super flashy, buy an air conditioner especially designed for camping. These AC units aren’t as good as the ones made for homes, but they pack a cold punch. They aren’t cheap, so you’ll want to find one that has good ratings and only use it when you absolutely need it. Kind of defeats the point of camping if you ask us, but there you go.
This is more up our street. Make yourself a poor man’s air conditioner. Simply wet a few towels in cold water and hang them in front of a window with your portable fan placed behind…hey presto! Enjoy some (slightly!) colder air. This is a neat tip too:
The best thing you can do for Fido in the summertime is give him plenty of fresh water. Dogs have natural cooling systems that only work if they’re fully hydrated. Check out this awesome trick to create a self-filling water bowl.
Try to keep your pooch as cool as possible by packing a few towels and a bottle of cold water. Whenever your dog looks too hot, pour cold water over the towel and place the towel on your pooch’s back to keep him or her cool in the hot sun.
Before heading out on your camping trip, it’s a good idea to take your dog to the groomer. Ask them to trim your dog’s fur to an appropriate length for camping in the hot sun. Some groomers will recommend going short while others will recommend keeping a bit of fur for shade.
If you’re really worried about your dog’s safety while camping, you can always buy your furry friend a cooler vest. These vests keep your dog cool for several hours.
As humans, we sometimes forget that our pets experience more of the elements than we do. It’s important to make sure that the ground is cool enough for your pet. Put your hand on the pavement or dirt to find out its temperature. Don’t let your dog stay anywhere you can’t comfortably rest your hand for a few seconds.
Try to buy clothes that wick away sweat to make sure you stay as cool as possible on your summertime camping trip. Also, try to look for clothing with breathable material to help keep the airflow moving around your body.
Certain foods naturally keep your body cool. Try to find alkaline foods that have a high water content. Foods like watermelon, cucumber and lettuce can all help you stay cool when camping in hot weather. For more ideas, check out our best backpacking recipes.
Your body’s natural cooling system is heavily dependant on water. Buy plenty of water before your trip in case you can’t readily find water sources at the campsite.
Larger tents allow for plenty of airflow. Don’t try to stuff your family in a small tent that doesn’t have any mesh to allow the air to flow in. In the summertime, buy a larger tent to keep it cool day or night.
Don’t forget to take lots of breaks from activities. It’s easy to get wrapped up in a game of baseball or a long hike and forget to take a break to allow your body to cool down.
One of the easiest ways to cool down while camping is to simply camp near a water source. Try finding a campsite on the beach, near a lake or on the banks of a river. Whenever you feel too hot, you can simply jump in the water. This is also great for pets too.
It’s easy to make a cold compress. Just fill a Ziploc baggie with some ice. Or, run a towel under cool water. You can even buy chemical cold compresses at a drugstore or outdoors store before your trip.
This one may sound like a no-brainer, but plenty of people forget to wear light colors when it’s hot out. Dark colors can absorb light, so light colors are best to deflect light (and heat). Try to wear white as much as possible. If white isn’t your thing, wear pastels.
While driving somewhere in your car may not sound much like camping, it’s inevitable that you’ll need to head into town at some point during your journey. Plan your car trips wisely. This may be the only time you’ll feel the air conditioner during your camp out. Try to plan a car trip once a day or once every two days. You might even want to treat yourself to a trip to the grocery store or an ice cream shop while you’re at it!
Some people abhor campsites that don’t offer hot water. Yet, taking a cold shower can help cool you down and help your body temperature reset. Take one cold shower in the morning and one at night. If you’re not camping by a water source, take another cold shower after strenuous activities, too.
How do YOU stay cool while camping? Let us know if we’ve missed any cool tricks in the comments. =ZIP=