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How To Stay Cool While Camping On Warm Nights

Camping is one of the world’s most loved outdoor activities. Every summer, millions of Americans pack up their cars, trucks and trailers and head out for their favorite wilderness spot.

And while the fun of camping simply cannot be matched, sometimes the heat of the midday sun can become unbearable, especially for high-risk groups such as children and seniors. So just how do you go about staying cool when camping? This is the question we will tackle in some detail below.

Playing in the great outdoors is a lot of fun. However, when the temperatures rise on those hot summer days, you will need to take some measures to prevent potential heat sickness and even heat stroke.

To give you a better idea on how to avoid such maladies, below we have listed several things you can do to stay cool while camping.

Find or Create Shade

When camping, you will need to think ahead in order to plan for the heat. And the first step in this process is to make sure you have some shade in your campsite—a place to wait out the heat of the day until the nighttime festivities begin.

To ensure you have a shady spot under which to place your camping chairs, table and game area, look for a campsite that is surrounded by a lot of trees.

camping under trees

Trees will provide a canopy of shade during the heat of the day and effectively drop the noon time temperatures by as much as 15 or 20 degrees. Trees with a lot of branches and leaves are what you will want to seek out.

But what if you are camping in an area that is absent of trees, such as at the beach or in the desert? How do you go about seeking shade in these instances?

Well, you will need to create your own shade. There are several things you can do to help block the sun in a treeless area.

Most camping supply stores sell canopies and umbrellas that work great for this purpose, and in most cases, they are very easy to assemble and use. If you do not have a canopy or umbrella, you can always use a tarp instead.

Plan ahead when camping to ensure you will have access to a nice shady area—somewhere to enjoy the company of friends and family without getting pummeled from the heat of the sun.

Drink Cool Drinks

When the sun starts beating down relentlessly, our bodies begin to sweat as a defense mechanism. However, as you lose water from your body, you will find that you begin to get thirsty.

This is the body’s way of telling you that it is beginning to get dehydrated. So what do you do when your body sends this thirst signal? You quench it.

Having plenty of cool drinks on hand is a great way to stay cool while camping. However, you will need to stock the “right kind” of drinks if this strategy is to be successful.

Below we have listed some of the cool drinks that will help you beat the heat and stay safe, and some of the drinks that may have the opposite effect.

What to Drink

water on camp table
credit: nps.gov
  • Water. Water is an absolute MUST if you plan to be camping in the heat. In fact, it is a MUST even when the temperatures are not blazing. According to medical professionals, we should all consume about 8-10 cups of water a day to prevent dehydration. Of course, when it is very hot and you are losing water through perspiration, you will need to drink even more water to replace what is being lost.
  • Juices. When you get bored or tired of the bland taste of water and you want to tempt your palate with something a bit sweeter, fruit juices are a great way to go. Juices contain a good deal of water along with some of the vitamins and minerals that will help our bodies cope with the heat of the sun. Orange juice, apple juice, or whatever juice you prefer is fine to drink when camping, just be wary of the sugar content if you are watching your calorie intake.

Beverages like coffee and tea when camping are also fine to drink, just be sure to limit those beverages and drink lots of water, too. Both have caffeine, which can speed up the dehydration process.

What Not to Drink

  • Energy Drinks. Energy drinks are definitely sweet and they are very popular right now. However, they are an absolute no-no when you are trying to ride out the heat of the day. Energy drinks are loaded with caffeine, which can quickly dehydrate the body. And when you are already perspiring heavily, these drinks can be a recipe for disaster.
  • Alcohol. Let’s face it, part of the fun of camping, at least for a good majority of adults, is to have a few beers or cocktails while enjoying the company of friends. However, drinking in excess can have disastrous effects when it is very hot outside. Alcohol also speeds up dehydration, even more so than caffeine. So, if you plan to tip back a few beers on your next camping trip, just make sure you are drinking at least one full glass of water after every alcoholic drink.

Wear Light, Loose-Fitting Clothes

Staying cool while camping has a lot to do with what you wear. Thus, it’s important that you pack lots of light and loose-fitting clothes for your next camping adventure.

In today’s technological age, clothing manufacturers have done a wonderful job in creating clothing that is perfect for a hot day at the campsite. Shirts and shorts that are made for athletes are a good example of this.

These types of clothes actually wick the moisture away when you perspire, helping you to stay cool and comfortable despite the temperature. Cotton clothing is also okay when camping, but make sure you wear light-colored shirts/blouses that are also loose-fitting.

Loose fitting clothes help prevent binding and over perspiration, and light-colored clothing helps to reflect sunlight away from you. On the flip side, dark colors, such as black, brown and dark blue, tend to absorb the rays of the sun, making you feel hotter and causing you to perspire that much more.

Take Advantage of the Cooler Times of the Day

When camping, there are literally scores of activities to pursue, from hiking and backpacking to fishing and boating to nature walks and simple explorations.

Sometimes, there are so many things to do that people fail to recognize the rising temperatures and end up getting caught out where this is no shade for miles. This is definitely something you want to avoid.

One way to make sure you can enjoy all the activities you want to pursue and still remain protected from the heat of the sun is to take advantage of the cooler parts of the day, such as morning and dusk, right before the sun goes down.

If you plan to take advantage of a nearby lake for some trout fishing, be sure to plan it for the morning or late, late afternoon. Truth be told, these are the times that fish are most active anyway, so you have a much better chance of nabbing your limit.

The same goes for hiking and other activities as well. As avid hikers will tell you, mornings are some of the best times to head out on an excursion, before the sun begins beating down—and thus slowing you down.

Camp Near Water

Camping next to a body of water, such as a lake, river or even the ocean, can have many advantages.

camping by water in mountains

First, areas near a body of water tend to be cooler than areas that are not. When the wind picks up, it carries the coolness of the water in the air, acting like a type of air conditioner for your campsite.

The second advantage to camping near a body of water is the opportunity to swim or go wading during the hot part of the day. Nothing beats the heat like a plunge into a lake or the ocean.

Even sitting on a bridge and just dangling your feet in the water can make you feel cooler than you otherwise would be.

Bring a Portable Fan or AC

Finally, staying cool when relaxing in your campsite can be made much easier with a portable fan or air conditioner. These days, there are many popular products out there that allow you to cool your campsite and/or tent without having to spend a fortune.

Battery operated fans, when placed strategically around your camping area, can create a nice cross breeze, and portable ACs, when placed inside your tent, can create a type of oasis that has to be experienced to truly appreciate.

Last Word

Camping during the summertime does not have to be marred by an excessively hot day. By following the simple tips above you can be sure to remain cool while taking advantage of all the benefits camping provides.

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