How to stay cool while camping in a tent


So you have decided to go camping, but you are bothered by the heat. You are thinking ‘just how do I stay cool while camping in a tent – especially one with very little ventilation?’

You are not alone, several thousands of campers ask the same question year in, year out.

A few easily irritated campers take the obvious, yet somewhat irrational way out by dragging down portable air conditioners. But really, we all know that’s quite drastic.

There are more subtle, ‘low-tech’ ideas to stay cool while camping in a tent.

Let’s start with the basics. Staying the cool while in camp is no magic, with a few little life hacks, you could get to enjoy a not-so-hot camping session with your buddies, family or partner.

You don’t have to avoid a fun camping period because of the heat; this article should point you in the right direction.

Step one: Survey

Making a good survey of the region, you would be camping is very important. If you are serious about staying cool while camping, then you should know that a proper survey of your camping environment is the first step in the right direction.

A good survey would point you towards setting up camping tents or hammocks in areas which are great shades (i.e. places with more trees).

A proper survey should also point you in the direction of water – flowing rivers, streams – any body of water which you could jump into on an abnormally hot day.

Step two: Setup

Your next step is to setup tent. As I stated in step one, shades are paramount to staying cool while camping, never underestimate the power of trees! Once you have found a great spot to mount your tent, set up shop. Ensure you place a ground cover beneath your tent that is, just above the dirt. Feel free to use a tarp or two to keep away sunlight if the shades are not high enough or if your tent is located near a body of water instead of near trees.

Step three: When to Dismantle

Just as you set up your tents, there come a time when you should dismantle. Keeping your tent up 24 hours a day would only make it very hot when you need to sleep in.

It’s best that you know when to setup and when to dismantle your tent, an advisable approach would be setting up just before you need to sleep in and dismantling once you are up.

Setups don’t take long, so you shouldn’t be bothered about the amount of time spent setting up the tent.

Step four: Gears

Know the right gears to pack. Camping while it’s hot requires air and lots of cool ones. You can head to camp packing a battery operated fan. These gears don’t come with cut-throat prices, so you might want to stay prepared, and get them.

For best results with battery-operated fans, place a bowl of ice in front of them and have them face you. The ice haze would be spread about by the fan keeping you cool and refreshed!

Step five: Camping clothes

If you are bothered by the heat, have you thought about your camping clothes? Wearing bulky fabrics would only complicate issues and make you sweat more. To minimize the effect of the heat, try dressing in light-colored attires which are loose.

Shoes shouldn’t be all covered, mesh shoes or sandals would do the trick and keep your feet cool while still being protected.

You could make do with hats which are broad-brimmed to keep the sun off your face. Not compulsory but could come in handy are sunglasses to keep the reflecting rays from your eyes.

Step Six: Life hacks

There are a few life hacks you could follow to keep you considerably cool while in camp. These include;

  • Making use of soaked bandanas. Just soak them in ice-cold water and wrap around your neck or forehead. The dripping water would keep regulating your body heat and keeping you warm. You can also dampen a towel with cold water and use it to scrub your face and body.
  • When purchasing pillows, opt for those filled with gel fibers rather than feathers. The gel fiber helps absorb heat and ultimately keeps your head cool.
  • Make do with cotton sheets against sleeping bags.

Step Seven: Water bodies!

You can’t be thinking about staying cool while camping when you have your tent located near a water body. Take yourself out and completely immerse yourself in water for a bit.

If you can’t swim, don’t fret. Go to the water and just roll around but ensure you don't shoulder deep in water.

Water bodies are some of the best ways to keep cool no matter where you are and staying cool while camping in a location with water bodies can be so much fun, as there are tons of water activities you can partake in.

Step eight: Know when to head out

There’s the right time for everything, and the right time to head out for activities depends on each activity. You should know the type of activity you plan on having, and if it’s hot weathered like cave exploration, then you could head out later in the afternoon when the sun is hot.

If its cool weather activities like swimming rafting or other water sports, you can head out mornings and evenings when the sun is at the lowest.

Step Nine: Eat healthy cold foods

You can’t do without food while camping, and while you should eat healthy meals, try to lay off cooked foods and eat cold meals and things that don’t require heating. Food items like fruits and edible raw vegetables would come in very handy.

Bear it in mind that while you don’t need to come with pots, there are a need for items like tin openers, ice, cutting board, coolers and much more if you have space. Plan your diet and eat balanced meals. For instance;

Breakfast: For breakfast, you could have your favorite cereals with milk and take fruits as dessert. There are a wide range of fruits you could opt for like – bananas, apple, and watermelons, berries (straw, blue and much more).

Lunch: Active campers would attest to the fact that lunchtime meals which often are canned foods and sandwiches are most times eaten on trails. There are a lot of sandwich types you could have for lunch which is very nutritious. From Caprese sandwiches to tuna, bean and even rolled up sandwiches.

Dinner: You could have a sumptuous dinner of say roast beef wrap. There are lots of veggies to make this intricate meal fitting for a cool camp dinner. You could wrap your roast beef with lettuce, tomato, cheddar cheese, hummus and several other vegetables to ensure the meal fills you completely.

Also, don’t forget to stay hydrated by drinking a lot of water. While you are eating healthy and staying hydrated with lots of water, you might want to stay off sodas and alcohol as they tend to lead to an increased dehydration.

Step ten: Sleep in a well-ventilated tent

You need sleep and lots of it too. After a hard days hike, you are meant to rest and if you are camping in a tent, ensure the tent is well ventilated. If the area is cool enough, you’ll have a nice rest to cap the day’s activities.

Hammock away!

If you are not so comfortable sleeping in a tent even when all the windows are opened, how about leaving the tent and making do with a hammock? You are sure of a cool rest as air flow circulates and covers all the area, there’ll be airflow above and under you which would help you cool down a lot faster.

If you are concerned about bugs and mosquito bites, there are hammocks which come with nettings to prevent the insects and bugs.

Rounding up!

That said, heading out camping with your family or loved ones could be a great way to bond and get to have intimate family discussions. Letting something as minute as thoughts of staying cool in camp shouldn’t deter your decisions of having a family time.

Summer periods bring its heat and staying on top of the situation should be your chief plan. The above steps could greatly keep you cool while camping in a tent and best still; you still get to enjoy all the perks of camping as you’ve planned.

  • Quick tip:

Don’t get so engrossed in your ‘thrilling activity’ that you miss the signs of heat stroke! Heat strokes are dangerous and occur when the temperature of the body climbs to a hot 104-degree Fahrenheit and stays put or keeps going up. Some symptoms of heat stroke include;

  • High body temperature
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Rapid breathing
  • Racing heart rate
  • Hot skin yet dries to touch without evidence of sweats
  • Headaches
  • Muscle cramps
  • Flushed skin

If you notice any of the above symptoms, it’s best you retreat to shade or inside the tent and call for urgent medical attention. Always remember to stay safe while camping!

    Alison Lawrence

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