32 Tips for Camping in the Heat (for RV’ers Too!)

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Summertime usually means vacations, no school, and a busy camping season, but along with summer comes the heat! Camping in the heat can be miserable, but it doesn’t have to be. I’m going to share some great hot weather camping tips so you can still enjoy the long days of summer and stay cooler at your campsite.

How to Stay Cool Tent Camping in the Heat

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1. Choose a campsite that has some shade if possible. Look for a site that has some trees to provide a natural canopy of shade. Even if the tent pad is in the sun, trees surrounding it can provide some shade throughout the day.

2. Put up a tarp or canopy. If you can’t find a shady site, put up a tarp or pop up canopy to provide some shade.

3. Use a tent that is best designed for warm weather camping. That usually will be a tent with plenty of mesh. (Save those heavy canvas tents for colder temps.) The mesh will allow air to circulate into and through the tent. Choosing a light color that doesn’t absorb the heat is a bonus too.

4. Open any windows to allow the breeze (if any!) to blow in. Some larger, cabin type tents have windows that can be unzipped and opened to reveal mesh. Also open any vents and your tent door.

5. Remove the rain fly. Check the weather and if no rain is in the forecast, don’t use the rain fly. The mesh top of the tent will protect you from bugs and removing the rain fly will give you the most airflow. Plus, you can get a great view of the night sky this way! Just keep the rain fly handy in case of pop up showers. You can also hang a tarp over the tent.

Related Camping Post: 27 Insanely Easy Tips for Camping in the Rain

6. Ditch the cozy sleeping bag. Fluffy, cozy sleeping bags will smother you if you are camping in the heat. If it is hot and humid, use a silk sleeping bag liner like these. A light weight fleece sleeping bag liner is also a good choice. Or just use a sheet!

7. Sleep on a mesh cot. A cot allows you to sleep off the ground and you guessed it, the mesh will allow the air to circulate under you. These mesh cots are lightweight and easy to pack in its bag – some people even backpack with them!

8. Use a tent fan. We have a little (but powerful) tent fan we have used for years, A tent fan can hang above you to circulate some air, providing some relief.

9. Take a cool shower. If you are staying at a campground with bath houses, take a cool shower. It will be so refreshing to rinse off the sweaty grime and cool down. Now if you are camping in the humid south, you’ll be soaked with sweat by the time you get back to your campsite!

Just Can’t Sleep in Your Tent in the Heat?

10. Try “cowboy camping” or sleeping out in the open air if you know you can’t sleep in your tent in the heat. Sleep under a tarp or canopy if you want a little protection. The tarp or canopy will not trap as much heat as a tent. You can buy mesh cot covers to keep the bugs off you if you are sleeping on a cot.

11. Try hammock camping. Sleeping in a hammock is cooler than a tent. You can put a tarp over your hammock and purchase bug nets too. Hammocks are an affordable, lightweight camping favorite.

Can You Use an Air Conditioner in a Tent?

12. Yes, you can use an air conditioner in a tent. It may not cool the best, but it can work and give some relief if you find it necessary.

Using an air conditioner in a tent is a hot topic in many Facebook groups. Some campers think it is silly to do this and ridicule those who ask. I guess it does look a little odd to have an air conditioner sticking out of your tent, but in some ways the concept and desire for it are no different than having A/C in an RV. Of course, some tent campers think RV camping is not really camping!

If you decide to use an air conditioner in your tent keep this in mind:

  • You will need access to electricity. Most state parks, KOAs, and many privately owned campgrounds have electric hook ups. Air conditioners suck alot of power, and it may not be practical (or cost effective investment) to run them from solar, generator etc.
  • You will either want a tent with an air conditioner port (yep, they have them!) like this Ozark Trail or cut a port out yourself. A small window air conditioner like this one would work for these options.
  • You could also use a freestanding air conditioner like this that would only require an opening for the hose. The air conditioner would sit inside the tent.

Clothing Suggestions When Camping in the Heat

13. Wear light colored clothes. Light colored clothing won’t absorb as much heat as dark colors.

14. Choose moisture wicking clothes. Light weight, polyester blends are cooler than heavy, 100% cotton. Light weight, merino wool shirts are a good option.

15. Wear loose fitting clothes. Loose clothing will be more comfortable than tight clothes that cling to your sweaty body!

16. Wear a hat to keep the hot sun off your head. A light weight, wide brim hat will protect your from sunburn too. This one folds easily to pack and carry.

17. Buffs and neck gaitors dipped in cool water help!

Camping Food and Meal Prep

18. Throw together some no cook camping meals like overnight oats, sandwiches, and chicken salad.

19. Use a small propane stove instead of a standing over a hot fire if you do decide to cook.

20. Eat juicy fruit that has been chilled in the cooler. Fruit is refreshing and light on your stomach in the heat. Fruits like watermelon will also help keep you hydrated.

21. Drink plenty of water. Don’t wait to drink water until you feel thirsty. Sip on your water all day. Keep it cool in an insulated cup or water bottle.

22. Replenish your electrolytes if you are active and sweating alot. These Nuun Electrolyte Tablets are handy and good. Also coconut water has natural eloctrolytes.

Related Camping Post: 54 Camping Food Ideas That Require No Refrigeration

The Best Activities When Camping in the Heat

23. Camp near water so you can swim or just take a quick dip to cool off. Even wading and playing in a small creek is fun and cooling.

24. Kayak, canoe, or go tubing if a river or lake is nearby. Tubes (we love these!) are worth purchasing and many campgrounds and state parks rent kayaks and canoes.

25. Hike in the early morning before the hottest part of the day. If higher elevations are nearby, head to the mountains for cooler temps.

Keep Cool RV Camping in the Heat

26. Park your RV or camper in the shade if possible – just like choosing a tent campsite.

27. Crank out any awnings on your RV. They will provide shade to sit under and keep the inside of your camper cooler.

28. Open the windows and roof vents if you are not using air conditioning in your RV.

29. Close window shades or blinds to block the sunlight and heat if you are using your A/C.

30. Cover your shower skylight to block the sun and heat. Use Reflectix to cover it, some velcro tape and a piece of felt, or a piece of material with hook and loop fasteners. These reviews here and here for the Reflectix have some handy hints and tips.

31. Switch incandescent light bulbs for LED. LED bulbs don’t put out as much heat, plus they will last longer. The little things add up and make a difference!

32. Prepare your meals outside. Don’t heat up your camper even more with the hot stove or oven.

Related Camping Post: Awesome List of RV Tips

How Do You Stay Cool When Camping in the Heat?

I honestly prefer camping in the spring or fall to avoid the crazy hot temps, but I do love camping near water to float the river in the summer. What about you? Do you have any tips for camping in the heat? How do you stay cool camping in hot weather? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below!

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