How To Stay Cool While Camping – 12 Refreshing Tips & Tricks

a group of friends swimming in a lake

There’s no better time than the summer months for a camping trip.

However, sometimes the heat can get a little intense, and you need some relief.

If you’re wondering how to stay cool while camping, we’ve got you covered.

Stick to these tips and you’ll stay nice and cool no matter how much things heat up.

Ready to hear what they are?

Let’s get straight into it!

7 Tricks To Regulate Your Body Temperature

Heat stroke is no joke, and spending all day under the hot summer sun can take its toll.

That’s why it’s important to stay as cool as possible.

From food and drinks, to clothing to skin protection – these tips and tricks have got you covered.

Don’t Underestimate The Power Of A Wet Towel

This may not necessarily be the most crucial tip you’ll read here today, but nonetheless it’s my personal favorite, and that’s why I’ve put it right at the top of the list.

Story time!

When I was a little kid living in sunny Perth, Western Australia, the summers would get really hot, and we didn’t have any air conditioning.

Whenever it would be too hot to fall asleep, I’d get a towel and soak it in cold water. After wringing it over the sink, I’d take the towel to bed and for as long as it was wet, I’d be nice and cool. It was absolute bliss.

Nowadays, whenever I’m feeling too hot on a camping trip, the first thing I reach for is a nice, cold, wet towel. Just slinging it around your neck makes a world of difference, believe me.

If you haven’t tried cooling off on a hot day with a wet towel – do it!

Nothing beats the feeling, I swear.

Eat The Right Kind Of Food

Think fresh. Fresh fruits. Fresh veggies. Salads. Sandwiches. Granola with yogurt and wild berries. That kind of thing.

There are 2 reasons you should avoid heavy, hot food while you’re camping in the heat.

First off, cooking them is going to require you to spend some time in close proximity to a heat source, which isn’t much fun in scorching weather.

But, more importantly, a filling, hot meal is going to leave you feeling de-energized and lethargic. This, in combination with the sun blazing down on you, isn’t going to leave you feeling up to much action.

Stick to cold, fresh food options that’ll leave you feeling light and satisfied.

Stay Hydrated

a woman drinking water from a bottle

This may very well be the most important tip on this list. Drinking enough water is absolutely vital!

Not getting enough fluids will lead to dehydration, which can then lead to other more serious heat related illnesses, such as heat stroke.

In hot weather, you’ll want to drink more water than you usually would. How much more exactly depends on how much physical activity you’re doing. If you’re going hiking on a hot day, you might need as much as double the amount you otherwise would need.

It’s better to take a few sips frequently, rather than drinking large amounts at once. It isn’t very common, but you can actually get water poisoning if you drink more water than your body can process in a short amount of time.

Keep Your Electrolytes In Check

OK, so you’ve lost a good amount of fluids through sweat, but you’ve been drinking lots of water all day, so you’re all good.

Right?

Not exactly.

While this is important, water isn’t the only thing you lose through sweat. You also sweat out important minerals like potassium and sodium. To avoid heat exhaustion, you need to replace these minerals just as much as you need to replace the water you lose.

One way that you can replace them is by eating salty snacks with complex carbs, like trail mix for example.

Another thing you can do is drink sports drinks like Powerade and Gatorade that contain electrolytes.

Get Wet As Often As Possible

a woman jumping into a lake

This is another one of my favorites. Nothing does a better job at cooling you down than a nice, refreshing dip in a beautiful, ice-cold river, stream or lake.

Even if you only come across a shallow stream, take your shoes and socks off and get your feet wet. You’ll be amazed at how well it’ll cool down your entire body.

I’ve already told you about the cooling towel trick, but you can also get your clothes wet for the same effect. When I’m camping on a blazing hot day, I frequently wet my shirt and hat to cool off.

Stick To Light Colors

It’s a well known fact that dark colors attract heat. That’s why you should always stick to light colors – whether it’s your clothes or your equipment in question.

You’ll feel a lot hotter if you’re wearing dark clothing than you would dressed in lighter shades.

Similarly, the space inside your tent will be much hotter if the tent is made of dark colored materials, so it’s a good idea to go with light fabrics.

The exception to this rule are tents with light blocking technology. These tents tend to be darker in color, but they block out direct sunlight, keeping the space inside the tent nice and cool.

Slip, Slop, Slap!

This might not be something that everybody is familiar with, but anybody from Australia will know all about slip, slop, slap! It’s a slogan from a decades-old advertising campaign about sun protection and avoiding the dangers of skin cancer.

Slip stands for slip on a T-shirt, slop stands for slop on some sunscreen, and slap stands for slap on a hat. Slip, slop, slap!

Growing up in Australia, everybody knew that these were the rules for staying safe while playing out in the sun.

And, it’s solid advice. By covering your shoulders and wearing sunscreen and a hat, you greatly minimize the risk of getting a sunburn. Plus, you’re less likely to suffer from heat exhaustion and heat stroke.

5 Tips For Keeping Your Campsite Cool

Let’s face it – If your surroundings are hotter than an inferno, you’re going to have a hard time staying cool.

Don’t worry though, there are a few things you can do to make sure you have a cool, shady campsite on your summer camping trips.

Choose The Right Tent

Choosing the right camping tent is going to make a huge difference in how comfortable it’ll be inside for sleeping.

First of all, you need to make sure you have a tent with a suitable season rating.

If you’ve got a 4 season tent, you definitely don’t want to take it on a summer camping trip.

Wait, hang on. I can use a 4 season tent all year round, can’t I?

Nope.

You see, the name is pretty misleading. 4 season tents are actually meant to be used in cold weather, while 3 season tents are better suited to camping in warmer climates.

For extremely hot weather conditions, you’ve even got 1 and 2 season tents.

Aside from the season rating, you also need to make sure that your tent is properly ventilated. A good tent for summer camping should feature large mesh windows, mesh doors, roof vents and ground vents.

Some tents even feature a mesh roof and a removable rain fly, so you can get plenty of air circulation through the tent when it isn’t raining.

Finally, make sure you get a tent made of UV resistant materials. A canvas tent, for instance, provides excellent UV protection – but so do certain types of polyester.

Find A Shady Campsite

3 tents set up in a shady spot

Keeping your tent in the shade during the day is essential! Try and find a camping spot with natural shade all day long.

If you set up your tent in a spot where the sun hits you as soon as it rises, you’re likely to wake up in a pool of your own sweat, gasping for air. I’ve made this mistake and believe me, it’s not a fun way to start the day.

If you can’t find a spot that remains shaded throughout the day, you’re better off folding your tent up until sunset, so that it doesn’t accumulate heat. This might seem like a hassle, but it’s better than sleeping in a furnace.

This is important when it comes to the rest of your stuff, too.

In particular, your cooler and any other food you have packed. A cooler in the shade will retain ice and keep food cold and fresh for much longer than a cooler in the sun.

Get High

Try and get as high as you possibly can.

I’m talking about altitude, of course. Jeez. What did you think?

Temperatures are always cooler at higher altitudes. So, it’s always better to set up camp in a place that’s higher up whenever possible.

Use A Fan Or Tent AC

a portable fan

While keeping your tent in the shade will definitely help, sometimes it just isn’t enough. In these cases, a camping fan or, even better – a tent AC – will make all the difference.

Having a portable fan inside your tent will get a nice amount of cool air blowing through the tent, cooling the space down and making it much more comfortable to spend time in.

A tent air conditioner is an even better option. One of these babies can turn a hot, stuffy tent into an ice cool place to relax and take shelter from the scorching sun outside.

Consider Hammock Camping

Aside from the fact that it’s insanely comfortable, sleeping in a camping hammock is also a great way to stay cool on hot nights at the campsite.

No amount of windows and ventilation flaps on a tent can compete with the fresh air you’ll have cooling you down while hanging between the trees in a hammock.

The fact that you’re suspended in the air means you’ll get a nice breeze blowing across you from above, as well as from below. Now, doesn’t that sound nice?

What About Your Furry Friends?

a woman and a dog in a hammock cuddling

On a hot summer’s day, your pets will be feeling the heat just as much as you. In most cases, even more.

My dog, Bane, has black fur, so he doesn’t have the option of wearing light colored clothes to stay cool.

Whenever we’re camping in hot weather, I always make sure he has plenty of water to drink, and every time I get myself wet to cool off, I make sure to get him wet as well. He’s not a huge fan of this, but it helps him stay cool, so I figure it’s worth putting him through 15 seconds of torture.

Another interesting option to help your furry friends stay cool is dressing them in an evaporative cooling vest. These vests are wet, and the evaporating water helps keep your dog nice and cool. Basically like when you wear a wet T-shirt, except it stays wet a little longer.

Signs Of Heat Related Illnesses

If you spend too much time out in the sun, and your body is unable to regulate your internal temperature, you could fall victim to a heat related illness. These can be less serious, but they can also be deadly serious, in extreme cases.

Heat related illnesses you should be aware of include:

  • Dehydration
  • Heat exhaustion
  • Heat cramps
  • Heat stroke

These are pretty much listed from least to most serious. That being said, should you experience any of these conditions, you should immediately find a shady spot, drink a good amount of water and get yourself nice and wet to cool down as much as possible.

Dehydration occurs when you don’t get enough fluids, and it can give you a headache and make you feel dizzy and nauseous. If it goes untreated, it can lead to other heat related illnesses like heat cramps and heat stroke.

Signs that you’re experiencing heat exhaustion include heavy sweating, a rapid pulse, dizziness, nausea and a headache. If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms on a hot day, make sure to take immediate action.

Heat cramps mostly happen when you’re doing intense physical activity on a hot day. They’re painful muscle contractions, and if you experience them you definitely need to slow down and take it easy. If you keep pushing yourself, you risk the onset of heat stroke.

Heat stroke is the most serious risk you face while camping in hot weather. Symptoms of heat stroke range from a headache, nausea and confusion, to seizures and coma.

In order to avoid heat stroke, and other heat related illnesses we’ve talked about, be sure to follow the tips in this article. By doing the things we mentioned above, you’ll be able to stay cool and protected while having fun in the sun.

Stay Cool!

So, you see, staying safe and cool while camping in hot weather isn’t too difficult. It’s just a matter of making smart choices.

  • Set up your campsite according to the position of the sun, and the natural sources of shade you have available
  • Try and find a spot at the highest possible altitude
  • Dress in light colored clothing that doesn’t absorb heat
  • Drink lots of water and eat cold and salty foods
  • Get wet and wet your shirt, hat and dog
  • Sleep in a hammock
  • Slip, slop, slap!

That’s all there is to it. Now you’re ready to face the summer heat.

Remember, if you feel any of the symptoms of heat related illnesses coming on, get yourself out of the sun and cool down as quickly as possible.

Stay safe and have a great summer camping adventure!