10 Great Ways to Stay Cool While Camping

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The summer months are a great time to get away and go camping. But unfortunately, in some parts of the country, like the South where I’m from, it can be hot, which can make camping uncomfortable. However, with the right preparation, you can cool things down for an enjoyable camping experience.

beat the heat while camping
Photo by Jon

Here are 10 tips to help you stay cool this summer!

1. Stay hydrated

The first and most important thing you can do to help you stay cool while camping is to simply stay hydrated. When you get hot, your circulatory system carries heat from your vital organs and muscles to your skin. You begin to sweat, and evaporation of sweat is the main way the body loses heat.

If you are not hydrated properly, you do not sweat as effectively. If you are low in fluids, it can also take a higher surrounding temperature to trigger your cooling process; therefore you stay hotter for longer.

2. Take a dip

If you are near a lake or a river, taking a dip can help you chill off. Swimming in cool water will help to lower your body temperature. When you get out of the water and are wet, the air will begin to dry your sopping skin (unless it’s extremely humid). This evaporation is the same cooling process as sweating.

If you are not near a lake or river or maybe it’s not appealing for a swim, you can use a spray bottle to mist water onto your skin. You can also simply pour water over your body to help create the cooling effect.

3. Try to find a spot with lots of shade

Try to find a camp spot with a lot of shade. You may have to sacrifice that great view you wanted, but you will be thankful for the shade, as the sun can raise your temperature significantly.

If your campsite only has a little bit of shade, try to stay in it as much as possible. Unfortunately, the sun doesn’t stay in one place for very long. But by moving your camp chair around with the shade you can keep your body from overheating.

4. Have a well-ventilated tent or RV

If you are sleeping in a tent or an RV without electricity, make sure it is well ventilated. Cross breezes are amazing, so you will want to open a window on each side to let the airflow across. Also, ventilation on the top, like a roof vent or fan in an RV, will help heat escape.

5. Drink ice-cold beverages

There’s a reason we love our sweet tea in the South. Sitting on the wrap around porch is better with an ice-cold glass of sweet tea because it helps lower your body temperature to tolerate the heat. For this Arkansas girl, hearing the clank of ice in a glass is almost as synonymous with summer as watching lightning bugs. You can keep your drink cold longer in something like a Hydro Flask or Yeti Tumbler.

6. Use a cooling towel

Cooling towels are made for hyper-evaporation and are a great way to help keep you cool while camping in the summer. You can place them on the back of your neck or places where you feel the warmest. They are a simple and easy way to lower your body temperature.

7. Wear a hat

Protect your head and the back of your neck from the sun. This will keep your body from taking in more heat and therefore working harder to move heat from your brain to your skin. Your body wants to protect your brain, so by preventing it from getting too hot, you can help your whole body feel better.

8. Dress to impress

Clothing that absorbs your sweat, like cotton, can be counterproductive when you are hot and sweating. It will absorb your sweat and become a vapor barrier that prevents that sweat from evaporating and cooling you down.

You also want to stick with clothing that is light and airy. Loosely-fitting clothing, especially something with an open weave or something breathable, allows air to flow in and around your skin.

9. Put your cooler behind your fan, or near your camp chair

If you have access to electricity or use solar power, you can plug up a fan for a nice breeze. You can also use a mini handheld fan.

Let your fan and your cooler work together. As the outside air attempts to equalize the air near your cooler it lowers the air around it. If you put your cooler on the other side of your fan, it blows that cold air on you. This is how air conditioners work. So in a sense, you can make your very own outdoor air conditioner.

If you don’t have access to electricity or a fan, simply sitting by or sleeping near your cooler can provide you with lower temperatures.

10. String a hammock

One reason I’m not a fan of hammock camping is that I get too cold. But on those hot nights, sleeping in a hammock is a great way to keep cool while camping in the summer. The breeze blowing under and over you keeps you cooler and more comfortable. 

dog hanging out at the beach
Photo by Aluminarium

Lastly, don’t forget about your pup!

Dogs do not have sweat glands; their evaporation process comes from their breathing out hot air. That’s why they pant to cool themselves on those hot camping days.

Here are three ways to help keep your dog cool:

Cooling vest

A cooling vest for a dog works the same way as a cooling towel does for people. It can also simulate sweating by creating that evaporation process.

Cooling cot

An elevated pet bed can help give your dog that same airflow you get when you sleep in a hammock. 

Lots of water

Like humans, dogs need a lot of water when it’s hot out! Be sure to keep a lot of water around so your dog can stay hydrated.

Just because it’s hot doesn’t necessarily mean it’s not a good time to camp. If you use these tips you can have a more enjoyable time in the great outdoors.