Camping in the summer when the days are long and sunny is every camper’s dream. But hot days can also heat up your tent so it’s unbearable during the day and at night, making it hard to sleep.
The rays of the sun are absorbed into the tent, trapping the heat. And once heated, it can be hard to cool down the interior, quickly ruining your camping trip.
Ready to find out how to stay cool? Use these 17 tips to keep your tent cool even when camping in hot temperatures.
1 – Choosing the Right Tent
If you’re camping in the summer months, purchasing the right tent is your first step for staying cool. You’ll want a tent that’s breathable to allow for lots of air flow.
Summer tents are made from a lighter material than all-season tents and will have several mesh windows and rain flaps that can be kept up during the day.
Polyester tents are a good option if camping in really hot weather, as the material is UV resistant. Nylon is another good choice, with this material allowing more hot air to escape from the tent than polyester.
Cotton tents will be still cooler than those made from polyester or nylon, but their disadvantage is that they’re heavier and can be more difficult to set up.
If it’s in your budget, choose a larger cabin-style tent that has a lot of mesh windows. You’ll get even more ventilation with the bigger space, with cool air circulating to keep the interior cool.
2 – Set Up Your Tent in a Shaded Area
To stay cool, pitch your tent in a shaded area rather than direct sunlight. Look for shade underneath trees and other vegetation. Remember that the sun will move during the day, and a spot that’s shaded in the morning may be in full sun by the middle of the afternoon.
Try to take advantage of any breeze if you can, no matter how small. Even a small breeze blowing through the mesh of your tent can have a cooling effect. Pitching the tent near a lake or river will usually result in a cooling breeze, particularly at night when the temperature starts to cool off.
3 – Dig a Tent Pit
Pack along a shovel, and if possible, dig a pit into the ground that’s about two feet deep. Place your tent inside this trench. Pitching the tent partially in the ground where the soil is cool will keep both the floor and interior of your tent more comfortable.
4 – Pitch the Tent When It’s Cooler
If you arrive at your campsite during a hot day and start to set up your tent, it won’t take long for it to heat up. Pitching the tent just before the sun goes down is almost a sure guarantee that it’s going to be cool inside.
5 – Take Tent Down During the Day
It may seem like a lot of work, but a sure-fire way to keep a tent cool is to take it down during the day and set up again at night. If you’re camping in extreme temperatures, this is one of your best options for staying cool.
Disassemble right after waking up, being sure to pack the tent away in the shade.
6 – Open All the Vents
Open vents, doors, and rain flaps to keep air circulating to cool your tent. It’s this ventilation and moving of air that’s going to help the tent breathe. If you’re worried about bugs coming in, keep the mesh closed – you’ll still be getting air flow throughout the tent.
7 – Use Thermal Reflection
Reflective tarps and sheets will reflect the sun’s rays off the surface of the tent, helping to cool the interior.
The best way to use reflective tarps is by tying them to tree branches and suspending them so they cover the tent like a roof. Be sure to leave about 12-inches between the top of the tent and the tarp to allow for circulation.
Budget-friendly, most camping stores will carry reflective tarps. If none are available, a simple tarp will do the trick as well, keeping the hot sun from shining directly onto the tent.
8 – Cooling With a Fan
Camping fans can be a lifesaver in hot weather. If you’re staying at a campsite that has electricity, use a camping fan that has an extension cord. For non-electricity campsites, opt for a battery operated fan…or two.
Look for fans that are lightweight and that can be attached to the tent walls, floor, or ceiling.
9 – Add the Ice
If you’re not getting all the cooling action you need with a fan, add ice to cool the tent. Place a block of ice in a shallow pan and place in front of the fan. Use a pan that’s big enough to contain the water when the ice starts to melt.
And if ice isn’t available, cold water from the lake or river will work equally as well, cooling you down so you can get a good night of sleep.
10 – Use Cold Towels
In hot weather, pack along a few small hand towels to cool you down. Soak a towel in ice water or water from the lake or river. Placing the towel along the back of your neck can offer instant relief on a sweltering day.
At night, place the cold towel on your forehead – you’ll be able to cool down so that you can sleep in a tent that may still be retaining some of that daytime heat.
Forget to pack along towels? Use a t-shirt instead.
11 – Ice Water Jugs
Before setting out on your camping trip, fill a few jugs with water and freeze solid. Pack into coolers so they don’t thaw too quickly – the goal is to use these jugs of ice as makeshift air conditioners during a hot night.
Before getting into your sleeping bag, even if it’s feet only, place a jug of ice into the bottom of the bag. This is a quick way to cool your feet so you can fall asleep.
After the first night, after the ice melts, use the water as drinking water. And refill the jug for sleeping with water from a nearby cold stream or river.
12 – Take a Cold Shower
If you’re in a campsite that has shower facilities, take a cold shower before turning in. The cold water will bring down your internal body temperature, cooling you down so you can sleep.
No shower facilities? Taking a dip in the lake, river, or stream will work just as well.
13 – Forget the Sleeping Bag
On really hot nights, the last thing you want to do is crawl into a sleeping bag that’s only going to make you hotter. Instead, pack along cotton sheets for comfort and forget the sleeping bag. Lay on top of the bag and use a sheet for cover.
A reminder that nights in the wilderness can get cold, even after a hot day. Have a blanket handy in case you wake up chilled during the night.
14 – Stay Hydrated
Staying hydrated is important when camping in the summer. In hot weather, you can regulate your body temperature by drinking lots of water and staying hydrated. And the colder the water, the cooler you’ll feel.
15 – Pack Lightweight Clothing
Stay away from heavy, dark colored clothes which will absorb heat during the day. Keep your internal body temperature down by choosing lightweight clothes with light colors, such as cotton or linen that release the heat instead of trapping it. This will reflect the heat and provide more circulation through the material.
When turning in for the night, choose cotton long legged and long sleeved items to sleep in. Cotton will keep you cool while still providing enough warmth on those nights when the temperature drops quickly from high heat to chilling cold.
16 – Sleep in the Dark
The early morning sun can quickly heat up your tent…with you inside! Try to call it a night as soon as the sun goes down and wake before the morning sun has fully risen.
Not only will this let you sleep in cooler conditions, you’ll also be able to enjoy the sounds of birds chirping as they start their day.
17 – Skip the Tent
There are going to be those nights when no matter what you do, the tent just isn’t going to cool down enough for anyone to sleep inside. This is the time to forget the tent and bring out the hammocks.
You’ll need a couple of trees so you can tie the hammock between them. You’ll get circulation all around your body and be able to sleep in full coolness.
When buying a hammock, look for one that’s been designed for sleeping and not for lounging in your backyard. A good camping hammock is strong but lightweight and has lots of fabric, so you’re fully supported.
If you’re camping in an area where there are bugs, don’t forget a bug net. And you’ll need a tarp over your head if there’s a chance of rain.
Now that you know how to cool a tent, are you ready to go camping? Using the tips here, you can camp in hot weather, knowing that when it’s time to put out the campfire and head to bed, your tent is welcoming and cool, letting you get a good night sleep so you’re ready for a new day of day of camping adventure.
Ben has a bachelor’s degree in construction engineering. When not constructing or remodeling X-Ray Rooms, Cardiovascular Labs, and Pharmacies, you can find him at home with wife and two daughters. Outside of family, He loves grilling and barbequing on his Big Green Egg and Blackstone Griddle, as well as working on projects around the house.
If you want more backyard tips including recipes, how-tos and more, make sure you subscribe to my youtube channel