Camping in hot weather can be a rewarding experience, but it also comes with challenges related to heat and discomfort. To ensure your camping trip remains enjoyable and safe, it’s essential to know how to stay cool while camping in scorching temperatures. In this blog post, we’ll share 20 valuable tips to help you keep cool and refreshed during your camping adventures in hot weather.

Tips for camping in hot weather

1. Choose the Right Camp Site

Camping in hot weather can be a real challenge, but choosing the right spot to set up camp can make all the difference. When scouting for your camping location or site, prioritize finding a spot with ample shade. Seek out areas in the woods or under large trees with dense foliage that can shield you from the sun’s intense rays. Not only will this provide a cooler environment, but it also offers protection from potential sunburn and reduces the risk of heat-related illnesses.

Certain campgrounds may pre-assign your camping site. If so, track the position of the sun with a compass throughout the day and how the shade will shift. If you’re tent camping, setting up your tent strategically can ensure you have shade throughout various times of the day. The idea of using a sheet or a specially designed material can help create a larger shaded area. You can also use a rain fly to shield against high temps.

Additionally, camping near a water source like a lake or river can offer a natural cooling effect and provide opportunities for swimming or dipping your feet to beat the heat.

2. Dress Light and Loose

Choosing appropriate clothing for camping in hot weather is essential for maintaining comfort and avoiding heat-related problems. Opt for lightweight, breathable fabrics like cotton, linen, or synthetic materials designed for moisture-wicking. These materials allow air to circulate freely and help sweat evaporate quickly, keeping you cooler and drier throughout the day.

Loose-fitting clothing is vital as it allows air circulation and better ventilation, reducing the likelihood of heat buildup. Avoid tight or constrictive clothing, as it can trap heat and lead to discomfort and potential heat-related issues like heat rash or heat exhaustion.

Furthermore, consider wearing light-colored clothing. Dark colors absorb more heat, while only light colored clothing colors reflect it. Neutral or pastel shades are excellent choices for camping apparel as they can help keep you cooler under the scorching sun.

3. Stay Hydrated

Staying well-hydrated is of utmost importance when camping in hot weather. Dehydration can sneak up on you, and it can have severe consequences on your health and camping experience. Drinking water shouldn’t be a negligible thing. Drink water regularly throughout the day, even if you don’t feel particularly thirsty. Don’t wait until you feel parched to reach for your water bottle

Carry a reusable water bottle with you and take regular sips to ensure you maintain adequate hydration levels. If you’re engaging in physical activities or hiking, increase your water intake to compensate for the extra fluid loss through sweating.

Remember that other beverages like soda or alcohol can contribute to dehydration, so it’s best to limit their consumption, especially during the hottest hours of the day. If you’re concerned about your hydration status, monitor the color of your urine – clear or light yellow indicates good hydration, while dark yellow or amber signals dehydration. 

4. Use a Wet Bandana

When the heat becomes unbearable, a simple wet bandana can bring immediate cooling relief from body heat. Think of it as air conditioning on the go!This is a trick many people, including avid campers, swear by.

Soak a bandana or small cloth in water – perhaps a creek, if one is within near direction. Wring out the excess water then tie it around your neck or wear it as a headband. The evaporative cooling effect helps regulate your body’s temperature and adds a lot of comfort, providing some notable benefits.

For additional refreshment, you can freeze the wet bandana before wearing it. Particularly, for those on the adventurous side, as the ice melts, it continues to cool you down. This low-tech and easy-to-implement trick can be a lifesaver during hot weather, something many campers fondly attest to. It’s one of my favorite ways to stay cool while camping, especially when engaging in physical activities.

5. Take Advantage of Water Sources

Camping near water sources can be a lifesaver in hot weather. Take advantage of nearby lakes, rivers, or streams to cool off. Many people find that wading into a pleasant creek or taking a dip lowers body temperature and carries an invigorating feeling of being immersed in water.

Swimming not only cools you down but also offers an excellent opportunity for fun and relaxation. Remember to prioritize safety and only swim in designated areas, where the water is known to be safe and free from hazards. It’s an added benefit that some campers get to enjoy.

If there are no water bodies nearby, you can still use abundant supply of water to cool off. Many seasoned campers bring along a portable shower system or a large water container, using it to splash water on their face, arms, and legs. People often find the simple act of wetting your skin gives instant relief from the heat.

6. Set Up a Shade Structure

When shade is limited, you can create your oasis by setting up a shade structure like a rain fly over your camping area. Many campers bring along a tarp or canopy and set it up on one side of the camp for optimal shading, providing a sheltered spot where they can relax during the hottest hours of the day.

Position your sun shade structure strategically to maximize coverage and block the sun’s rays effectively. Use ropes and stakes – a crucial camping ingredient – to secure the structure and prevent it from being blown away by the wind. Even something as simple as laying tree branches with dense leaves on top of your tent can make a difference. 

Having a designated shady area will not only keep you cooler but also protect you from potential sunburn and reduce the risk of heat-related illnesses. For many adults who often camp, it can become their go-to spot for a siesta, for reading, or for staying cool during the peak heat hours.

7. Limit Physical Activities

Engaging in strenuous physical activities during the morning sun or the hottest part of the day is not advisable, as it can lead to excessive sweating and increased risk of heat-related illnesses. Many campers note this and schedule their activities wisely to avoid the peak heat hours, which are usually between 10 am and 4 pm.

Plan your hikes, nature walks, or other outdoor adventures for the cooler parts of the day, such as early mornings or late afternoons. Doing this offers a lot of benefits as the temperature is usually milder during these times, and you can enjoy your activities without feeling overwhelmed by the heat.

If you do find yourself outdoors during peak heat hours, take regular breaks on the shady side of trails or rest indoors to prevent overheating. Pay attention to your body and its signals – if you start feeling excessively fatigued, dizzy, or nauseous, it’s crucial to get out of the hot sun. Stop and rest immediately.

8. Utilize Cooling Towels

Cooling towels are a fantastic invention for camping in hot weather, ranking amongst the most useful items like sunscreen, appropriate clothes, and a hat. These towels are made from special materials that retain moisture and stay cool for extended periods. To use a cooling towel, simply wet it, wring out the excess water, and then snap it a few times to activate the cooling properties; something as simple as this can make a world of difference.

Place the cooling towel around your neck or drape it over your shoulders for instant relief. The cool sensation will help regulate your temperature, making outdoor activities at the campsite more bearable in the heat – a remedy that doesn’t require you to bring anything extra along.

Cooling towels are lightweight and easy to carry, making them perfect for camping. When the towel dries out, simply rewet it to reactivate the cooling effect. They are reusable and can be washed and used again for your next camping adventure, providing comfort even in the most remote campground.

If your camping destination allows, consider choosing a location at higher altitudes to escape the sweltering heat of lower elevations. This is particularly practical when the campsite does not offer much shade. As you ascend to higher elevations, the temperature tends to drop, providing a much-needed respite from the heat.

9. Camp at Higher Elevations

Before heading out, research the elevation of potential camping spots to find locations with cooler climates. Keep in mind that weather conditions can change rapidly at higher altitudes, so be prepared for fluctuations in temperature and pack accordingly. Key items to remember are sunscreen, light clothes, and a hat, among others.

Summer camping at higher elevations also offers the chance to enjoy breathtaking views and unique flora and fauna. However, ensure you are aware of any potential altitude-related challenges, such as thinner air and increased UV exposure, and take necessary precautions, like using sunscreen and wearing appropriate clothes and a hat, to stay safe and comfortable.

Before heading out, research the elevation of potential camping spots to find locations with cooler climates. Keep in mind that weather conditions can change rapidly at higher altitudes, so be prepared for fluctuations in temperature and pack accordingly. Key items to remember are sunscreen, light clothes, and a hat, among others.

Summer camping at higher elevations also offers the chance to enjoy breathtaking views and unique flora and fauna. However, ensure you are aware of any potential altitude-related challenges, such as thinner air and increased UV exposure, and take necessary precautions, like using sunscreen and wearing appropriate clothes and a hat, to stay safe and comfortable.

Evening temperature drops at higher elevations can often be extreme, so be sure to have proper clothing and be prepared to light a campfire if needed. As with all campfires, be sure to completely extinguish the fire, ensuring there is no smoke emanating from still-burning coals or embers before you leave the campsite.  

10. Sleep Off the Ground

Getting a good night’s sleep when tent camping is essential for an enjoyable experience, but it can be challenging in hot weather. Sleeping directly on the ground can be uncomfortable and trap heat, making it difficult to rest especially if your campsite offers little to no shade.

To improve your sleep quality, elevate your sleeping arrangement/bed with a camping cot or hammock. Sleeping off the ground allows air to circulate beneath you, providing better ventilation and reducing heat retention – it’s something as small as this that could make your camping experience all the more enjoyable.

Camping cots are available in various sizes and styles and can be folded and easily transported. They elevate you above the ground, creating space for airflow and providing a cooler and more comfortable sleeping surface. In essence, transforming anything, even a campground, into a personal paradise.

Hammock camping is another excellent option for hot weather nights and summer months. Their open design allows for better airflow, and the gentle swaying motion can be relaxing and soothing. However, make sure to use a bug net and rainfly if needed to protect yourself from insects and the elements.

If you are at your campsite and the temperature plummets in the late evening, sleeping bags might be needed. If so, a lightweight sleeping bag is recommended. After all, having something warm to snuggle into is better than not having anything at all.

When tent camping in hot weather, you can create a DIY tent fan or evaporative cooler to lower the temperature inside your tent or camping area. All you need is a fan and a wet cloth or towel. Remember, even the smallest contribution can change an entire experience at a campground.

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11. Make a DIY Evaporative Cooler

Place the wet cloth in front of the fan so that the cool air blows through the damp fabric. The evaporation of water from the cloth will cool the air, creating a refreshing breeze that helps regulate your body temperature and can help your tent stay cool. These simple but effective measures can make your camping experience all the more enjoyable, helping you make the most of your outdoor adventures.

Under the clear sky of a summer’s day, the sun can often beat down unmercifully. In those moments, this top-notch makeshift cooler on the mat may feel like your saving grace. It’s especially effective in dry climates, where the evaporation process is more efficient. It serves as an excellent solution for those hot days and windless nights when the air seems to stand still – when everything feels too static, too unchanging in an almost unnerving way.

Here’s another DIY hack to keep your tent cool, complementing the makeshift air conditioner/cooler:

12. Keep Your Feet Cool

Your feet play a crucial role in regulating your temperature, much like the foundation or the “boots”, if you will, of your body. By keeping these ‘boots’ cool, you can lower your overall body temp and stay more comfortable in hot weather.

When camping near a stream, river, or lake, take advantage of the water to cool off your feet. Dipping your boots in the cold water can be an incredibly refreshing way to feel rejuvenated.

If you don’t have access to natural water sources, bring a portable foot bath or basin and fill it with cold water. These things can serve as your personal streams or mini-lakes where you can soak your feet whenever you feel overheated.

Taking care of your feet during warm weather camping is as essential as having good boots for a long hike, preventing blisters, and keeping them cool means comfort and foot health will both win out.

13. Close Your Tent During the Daytime

During the hottest hours of the day, it’s essential to keep your tent closed to prevent it from turning into a stifling oven. It’s best to keep it buttoned up, much like a warm sweater in winter, from the time the sun rises and starts heating up your camping area, all the way until it sets.

By closing the tent during the peak day, you create a barrier between the hot outdoor air and the cooler air inside your tent. Much like a thermal mat keeping you warm during the night, this tactic maintains a more comfortable temperature and creates a refreshing space for you to rest during peak heat hours. Plus, it helps prevent your tent from being overrun by bugs or a mosquito army!

Before closing up your tent, make sure it is well-ventilated in the early morning, letting the cool air flow freely, much like the swell of the tide against the shore. This initial ebb and flow of cool, morning air will help remove any latent heat and help your tent stay cool overall. The last thing you want after a hot day of hiking is to walk into a sauna.

14. Eat Light Meals

When camping in hot weather, it’s essential to eat foods that nourish and hydrate your body while keeping you cool. Choosing the right ingredients helps keep the body’s internal temperature in check, much like the way a nicely ventilated tent works for your camping spot.

Salads, sandwiches, wraps, and fresh fruits are excellent choices for hot weather camping. They are the metaphorical ‘boots’ of your camping diet – reliable, healthy, and essential. Cold foods like chilled pasta salads or fresh fruit salads are also a great way to beat the heat and help your core stay cool.

If you do decide to cook, opt for quick-cooking methods that won’t generate excess heat, such as using a camping stove or a small portable grill. Think of it like rolling out your sleeping mat at dusk: it’s all about timing to avoid unnecessary heat in your camping area.

15. Hydrate with Electrolytes

Summer camping trips in hot weather can wreak havoc on your hydration levels. Much like the scorching sun in the sky can dry out the ground, it can quickly deplete your body’s water supply. Your body loses not only water but also essential electrolytes through sweat. Replenishing these electrolytes is crucial for maintaining proper hydration and supporting your body’s functions.

In addition to drinking cool water, consider consuming beverages that contain electrolytes, such as sports drinks or electrolyte-enhanced water. These drinks contain minerals like sodium, potassium, and magnesium, which are vital for muscle function and overall hydration.

Electrolyte drinks can help you stay properly hydrated and avoid symptoms of dehydration, such as dizziness, fatigue, and muscle cramps. However, keep in mind that these drinks may contain added sugars or artificial ingredients, so read the labels and choose healthier options when available. Prioritizing hydration is one of the most crucial things to remember when preparing for a summer camping trip.

16. Utilize a Reflective Sunshade

When camping in areas with limited natural shade, you can create a cooler environment by using a reflective sunshade or tarp. These specially designed materials reflect sunlight, helping to reduce heat absorption and create a shaded oasis.

Choose a reflective sunshade that is large enough to cover your camping area adequately. Set it up over your tent or seating area, positioning it to block the sun’s rays during the hottest hours of the day.

In addition to providing shade, a reflective sunshade can also help protect your camping gear from direct sunlight, keeping them cooler and potentially extending their lifespan.

17. Choose the Right Tent

Selecting the right tent is crucial for staying cool during hot weather camping. Look for a tent that is well-ventilated and made from breathable materials, like mesh panels and lightweight fabrics.

Consider choosing a tent with a rainfly that has adjustable vents to keep the hot air out. During the day, you can partially or fully open the vents to encourage airflow and reduce heat buildup. At night, you can close them to retain warmth when the temperature drops.

Tents with mesh panels in the tent door or windows provide excellent ventilation, allowing fresh, cold air to circulate through the tent and preventing it from becoming stuffy and hot. They also offer the added benefit of stargazing on clear nights when you leave the rainfly off.

Size matters too. A larger tent may offer more space, but it can also trap more heat. Opt for a tent that comfortably accommodates your group without being excessively large for your needs.

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18. Use Cold Packs

Bring along cold packs or frozen water bottles in your cooler to keep food cool and provide an extra cooling method when needed. Placing cold packs in your sleeping bag or under your pillow can help create a cooler sleeping environment.

You can also use frozen water bottles as makeshift ice packs. As the ice in frozen water bottle melts, you can drink the water or use it for other purposes while still benefiting from the cooling effect of the frozen bottle.

Cold packs can be especially helpful during daytime rest periods. Place them on your forehead, neck, or wrists to quickly cool down your body temperature and stay comfortable during the hottest hours.

19. Limit Alcohol and Caffeine

While it might be tempting to enjoy a cold beer or a cup of coffee during your summer camping trip, it’s essential to consume alcohol and caffeine in moderation, especially in hot weather.

Both alcohol and caffeine can contribute to dehydration. They act as diuretics, increasing fluid loss through increased urine production. When camping in hot weather, it’s crucial to maintain proper hydration, so limiting alcohol and caffeine consumption can help you stay adequately hydrated.

If you do decide to indulge in a cold drink, make sure to offset it by drinking additional water to rehydrate your body.

20. Monitor Your Body

Knowing how to stay cool while camping can keep you from serious injury. While camping in hot weather, it’s vital to pay attention to your body and recognize the signs of heat-related illnesses. Heat exhaustion and heatstroke are serious conditions that can occur when your body is unable to regulate its temperature adequately.

Common symptoms of heat exhaustion include profuse sweating, weakness, nausea, dizziness, and headache. If you or a camping companion experience these symptoms, take immediate action to cool down.

Move to a shaded area, rest, and elevate your feet to promote blood flow. Drink water or electrolyte drinks to rehydrate and cool down your body. Use a damp cloth to apply cold compresses to your forehead and neck.

If symptoms persist or worsen, seek medical attention immediately. Heatstroke is a life-threatening condition characterized by a body temperature above 103°F (39.4°C), confusion, seizures, and loss of consciousness. Call emergency services immediately and take measures to cool down the person until help arrives.

To prevent heat-related illnesses, stay hydrated, take regular breaks in the shade, and avoid excessive physical activity during peak heat hours. Remember that prevention is key, and taking proactive measures to stay cool and comfortable during hot weather camping is essential for a safe and enjoyable experience. Below are some frequently asked questions about heat exhaustion that will provide further helpful information.

Heat Exhaustion FAQ

1. What is Heat Exhaustion?

Heat exhaustion is your body’s response to excessive heat and dehydration. It happens when your body can’t cool itself adequately. If left untreated, it could lead to heatstroke, a life-threatening condition. More info at the CDC.

2. What are the Symptoms?

Look for heavy sweating, weakness, cold, pale, and clammy skin, a fast but weak pulse, and nausea or vomiting. You might also experience fainting. Learn about the full list of symptoms at WebMD.

3. Who’s at Risk?

Anyone can suffer from heat exhaustion, but infants, the elderly, athletes, and those who work outside are more at risk. Check out risk factors on the Mayo Clinic.

4. How Can I Prevent Heat Exhaustion?

Stay hydrated, take frequent breaks if you’re outside, wear lightweight clothing, and never leave anyone in a parked car. Prevention tips are also available at the American Red Cross.

5. What Should I Do If I Think Someone has Heat Exhaustion?

Move them to a cooler location, have them lie down, apply cool, wet cloths to their body, and seek medical help if symptoms worsen or last longer than an hour. The NHS guide offers detailed first aid steps.

6. Can Heat Exhaustion Affect My Pets?

Yes! Pets can also suffer from heat-related illnesses. Provide plenty of water and shade, and never leave them in a parked car. More on pet safety at the ASPCA.

Remember, friends, heat exhaustion is no joke. Enjoy the sun, but stay safe and be smart about it! If you ever feel like something’s not right, don’t hesitate to seek medical attention.

Staying hydrated when camping in hot weather

Wrapping it Up

Being in the great outdoors during hot weather can be a memorable and enjoyable experience if you know how to stay cool while camping. Choosing the right camp spot, dressing light and in loose clothing, staying hydrated, and utilizing cooling methods like wet bandanas and swimming can help you beat the heat and stay cool camping. 

Setting up shade structures, limiting physical activities during peak hours, and using cooling towels and DIY evaporative coolers are practical strategies for staying comfortable in hot weather.

Remember to camp at higher elevations when possible, sleep off the ground for better ventilation, and eat light, refreshing meals to nourish your body while staying cool. Hydrate with electrolyte-enhanced drinks and utilize reflective sunshades to create a cooler camping environment.

Choose the right tent, use cold packs, and limit alcohol and caffeine consumption to prevent dehydration. Check the weather forecast to find optimal times to seek shade. Finally, always monitor your body for signs of heat-related illnesses, and respond promptly to any symptoms to ensure your safety and well-being.

By following these 20 tips, you can embark on a camping adventure during hot weather with confidence, knowing that you have the knowledge and tools to stay cool in the summer heat and enjoy every moment of your outdoor experience. Stay cool(er), and have a fantastic camping trip!

Scott Meldrum

Scott founded FunOutdoors to connect his professional life with his passions. When Scott isn’t working, you’ll find him on the bike trail, riding a wave, or skiing down a mountain.

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