How to keep tent cool in summer: 7 Practical Tips

Cheerful young backpacker couple wearing trekking hat sitting near lake with coffee and breakfast and making fresh coffee grinder while camping trip on summer vacation
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Camping in the summer is something that many outdoor enthusiasts look forward to. The nice weather, beautiful scenery, and plentiful recreational options. Yet, the summer heat can put a damper on a camping trip if you don’t have or know a way to keep your tent cool.

We are here to give you some tips on how to stay cool while you’re out camping and enjoying your free time. To make the most of your summer camping adventures let’s go over the best ways for you to stay cool and beat the heat so it doesn’t become unbearable in your tent.

Choosing the right tent

Woman and boy choose a camping tent in the store

If you are going camping in the hotter months, then the major issue you will face is how you can keep your tent cool. One of the first steps you can take to solving that problem is to choose the right tent.

A three-season tent will be ideal because it will have more ventilation to let air through. Winter tents are designed with less ventilation and stronger or thicker material to withstand the harsh freezing elements. This means that an all-season tent is designed to better keep the warmth in, which during the summer months is not ideal at all.

A summer tent is much more breathable with more or larger windows on the sides and doors to allow maximum airflow. This way condensation from your breathing or the outside won’t form as much and create a hot and muggy environment inside of your tent.

There is also the option of getting a camping hammock. They are far more lightweight and many find them very convenient and great for hot weather conditions. The hammock will keep you off the ground and more exposed to cool breezes on a summer night. The material is flexible and breathable as well.

Picking the coolest campsite

Summer camp with tent, campfire, trees, lake and mountains on background.

Use the environment to your advantage to stay cool while camping! This comes in many forms no matter where you are or what kind of environment you will be camping in. Set up your tent in a place of shade or natural coolness.

Let’s list a few examples of this:

  • Beneath a cluster of trees to protect it from the harsh rays of the sun.
  • Next to a large unmovable boulder on the side that gets the least sun.
  • In the shade of a cliff or of canyon walls.
  • Notice the theme? Keep the tent out of direct sunlight!
  • Close to a body of water like a brook, stream, pond, etc. The water helps to keep the surrounding environment cool because it doesn’t heat as the ground does. It is a rule of thumb that being near to water in summer helps you to stay cooler, and during the winter can help you stay warmer.
  • Uninhabited caves if there are any in the area you are camping.
  • Any kind of low spots on the ground like the base of a hill, a depression, or a hole. You can even dig a shallow hole for your tent to sit in. The soil just under the surface is nearly always cooler.

The best way to beat the heat

There are many things that you can do to prepare yourself for the hot weather in the middle of summer. Items you can bring for your tent and yourself, and things you can do for yourself so that you don’t succumb to heat exhaustion.

In this next part, we will give you some tips on things you should consider binging and doing to help keep you cool during your camping trip:

The Positioning your tent

Camping tent in summer forest

We already went over the kind of camping site you should look for to initially set up your tent. Now, let’s go over how you should have it positioned.

By doing any number of these things it will help to keep your tent cooler throughout the day. Thus, it will make your stay in nature much more comfortable especially when trying to fall asleep at night.

  • Make sure your tent is out of direct sunlight.
  • Place your tent so that it is in the shade for as long as possible as the day goes on.
  • Face your tent door in the opposite direction that the sun will rise from to keep that side of the tent shaded for longer and out of the sun’s rays.
  • Face your tent door and the windows and vents open throughout the day.
  • Face the door of your tent in the direction that the wind is blowing. If there is a breeze during the day it will help to have constant air circulation through the tent so it won’t get as hot. The mesh material on your tent will allow this airflow through it.
  • Make sure you have a footprint or tarp to set your tent upon so that the heat of the day doesn’t leech through the floor.
  • Also, set up your rainfly to further protect your tent from the intensity of the sun’s rays.

Takedown your tent during the day

Rain tent folded

Yes, part of the hassle of camping is setting up your tent in the first place. However, if the weather is predicting more hot days than anticipated, disassembling your tent may be the best option.

By taking your tent down in the mornings and storing it in a shady or more protected place, it will help keep it much cooler. Rather than the hot air and combined sunlight beat down on it all day while you are out, take it down.

Sure, that means you’ll have to pitch your tent every night when you come back to your campsite, but after a couple of times doing it, you’ll be so proficient at disassembling and pitching your tent that it won’t take more than a few minutes. Besides, it’ll be worth it as long as you’re not sleeping in a hot and muggy tent.

Items to keep a tent cool

If all else fails, then there is always the portable technology you can bring with you into the woods. Most of the time we all go into nature to get away from civilization and technology, but certain conditions make you long for the creature comforts while out there. Excessive heat is one of them.

Let’s list all these convenient items you can pack to beat the hot weather and stay cool:

Sleeping bags

Depending on where and how you’ll be camping you may want to pack light, and a heavy-duty sleeping bag is an unnecessary weight in hot weather. That is why there are summer sleeping bags you can purchase that are much lighter in weight and for sleeping.

You don’t want to sweat all night, but if the night gets cool you don’t want to get a chill. A lightweight and warm-temperature sleeping bag is ideal. It’s comfortable and it is much thinner. Or if you favor just bringing along a light blanket or sheets, that can work just as well.

Battery operated fans

We’ve all seen them and used them at some point, but the best time to have one is when you’re in the backcountry camping in the middle of summer. Just these small portable fans can make a difference.

It’s all about ensuring you have airflow in your tent so that the heat is constantly pushed out. You don’t want to let hot air condense in your tent because it will make it muggy and hotter than outside even. The condensation from it will not only create an uncomfortable and humid environment for you to sleep in but could also lead to possible mold growth later on.

Having a battery-operated fan that could have blowing inside your tent could help blow some of the hot air out (if you set it up inside the tent facing out the door) during the day, and/or blowing the cooler air in during the night (if the front of the fan is set up facing you).

You’ll have to bring along plenty of spare batteries just in case! If you choose your campsite wisely and position your tent as we listed above, then that will lessen how much you may need to use the fan.

Portable fans

A portable fan is great if you are in a place where you have outlets. This is more common in higher-use campgrounds. With a plug-in portable fan, it will be easier to cool your tent for longer periods than with a battery-operated fan.

Just remember to bring an extension cord with you just in case. The constant airflow of a portable camping fan will help significantly to keep the hot air from building inside of your tent, and it will prevent condensation from gathering and creating not only a hot environment but a damp one as well.

Air conditioning

If you are someone that has the tendency to run hot a lot and has a hard time staying cool, then looking at a portable air conditioning unit may be the best option. Yes, they do indeed make little air conditioners for you to bring with you on your camping trip.

You can find a wide range of options online depending on what you are looking for and what you want to spend. They can get very pricy, but there are significantly cheaper options too. Having an air conditioner while camping is a luxury, but it’s important to do what you can to beat the heat and sleep comfortably at night.

Keep yourself cool

Cheerful young backpacker couple wearing trekking hat sitting near lake with coffee and breakfast and making fresh coffee grinder while camping trip on summer vacation

Trying to keep a tent from getting too hot and stuffy is one thing, but keeping yourself cool even will help just as much and is just as important. Being outdoors in the heat doing any activity is not only uncomfortable but can be dangerous.

Heat exhaustion and heat stroke are something you want to avoid because they can put a huge damper on what was supposed to be a vacation. This is why you plan and prepare as best you can. If you know that the weather is going to be hot, then plan accordingly.

Prepare for the heat

What you pack ahead of time can make a difference and what you do while out there can help you to stay cool. Camping in the summer is a great time, but only if you are prepared.

First, let’s discuss the things you should bring for yourself:

  • Light clothes: make sure you bring and are wearing the proper clothing for the weather. If it is going to be high temperatures it is best to wear things that are light and light-colored, wicks moisture, breathable and can help keep you cool.
  • Hat: keeping the sun off your head and face can make a difference. Also, to help cool you off throughout the day you can get your hat in a stream, pond, bottle of water, etc. to help keep your head cool for longer.
  • Water: always bring lots and lots of water! If you’re camping far in the backcountry, then make sure you bring a way to purify water. Drinking fresh cold water from a stream after you’ve purified it is amazing and it’s imperative to stay hydrated in the heat.
  • Ice: If you have a way to keep ice while out camping, then utilize it. Bring lots of ice to keep drinks and snacks cold and yourself cool.

Other tips

Another way to stay cool, especially before settling down to sleep at night is to take a cold shower. If you are at a campground and they have showers, take a cold one to help your body cool down from a hot day.

When things start to cool off at night it is even better, because it can be more comfortable going to bed cold and warming up than going to bed already too warm.

If you aren’t at a campground that has a shower, but you are by water then go take a quick dip. In a lake, pond, stream it will help, even just washing your face and neck with the cool water from a small brook will help to cool you off.

Conclusion: Don’t sweat it!

Rear view of young backpacker couple sitting to relax at front of the tent near the lake with coffee set and making fresh coffee grinder while camping trip on summer vacation

Camping in the summer is what most people look forward to because the weather is beautiful, the kids are out of school, and you have more free time to go on these extended outdoor adventures. It is easy to get lost in the excitement of eager preparation for camping.

Take your time and be thorough, watch the weather for the area you plan to go to, and pack accordingly. It is no laughing matter if you are poorly prepared for the summer heat. Making sure that you have ways to stay cool yourself and prevent your tent from heating up too much can be a determining factor for how much you enjoy yourself.

Frequently Asked Questions

How can I cool my tent without Electricity?


You can make sure your tent stays cool even without electricity in multiple ways. You can purchase a battery-operated fan to bring with you and have inside the tent. Though, be sure to bring extra batteries depending on how much you intend to use them.

You can also cool your tent through more natural means. Set up your tent in the shade, whether it’s under trees, the shady side of a cliff, hill, canyon, or pitch your tent close to a body of water. Face the opening of your tent into the wind so that there is constant air circulation. Also, just take your tent down in the morning to prevent it from gathering all the heat of the day.

Can you put a portable AC in a tent?


Yes, you can do it, and they make small portable air conditioning units for camping! There are countless options for AC units for your tent available online. Just be aware that the prices can range quite extremely, some units are very expensive.

There are still plenty of cheaper options for you to choose from though. Also, some options may be much heavier than you may want to pack out, especially if you intend to backpack into your campsite. Be sure to get one that will fit comfortably in your tent and not take up too much room, so know the size and dimensions of your tent while searching for the right portable AC unit.

What temperature is too hot for camping?


Typically when it starts reaching temperatures over the 90°F then you should start considering other options. Some people tolerate the heat much better than others too. If you know you are not one of those people then you should start to consider whether or not you will be able to keep yourself cool enough to enjoy the trip and consider the area that you are going to.

If you will be somewhere that has plenty of shade, is by the water, or very breezy then the temperatures won’t feel as bad. Watch the weather and follow the heat index advisories because they can give you a better idea of what it will feel like. If it is humid and 95°F, then the heat index could be at 105°F. Being outside in that kind of weather can be detrimental if you don’t have any way of staying cool.

Julie
Julie
I was fishing before I could walk and it's been a family tradition for centuries. Fishing is my life, or at least as long as I can remember. In the Lake Champlain International Fathers Day Fishing Derby, not only have I won first place twice but also third place! Also, in addition to majoring in Wilderness Recreation Leadership, I also happen to be a licensed camping, hiking, and hunting guide for NY.

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