Stay Cool in Summer While Camping

A tent against a sunrise.
I love the idea of backwoods camping in summer but with the heat, bugs, and often humid conditions, enjoying it seems a bit out of reach. This article will dive into the topic of how one can certainly beat the heat when camping, but also give tips and advice on a variety of summer elements to improve one's outdoor experience.

Camping Spot Choices

A green tent opening up to a lake and a bike in the foreground.

When camping while I was in Boy Scouts, we were instructed to set up our tents in a row with our doors uniformly facing the center of our site. In retrospect, this was probably more for efficiency than staying cool during the warmer months. When setting up camp, here is what the experts claim will keep you the most cool for the longevity of your stay.

First, choose a location that stands away from most natural elements. Though it would make sense to be as close to shade as possible, avoid boulders if at all possible. Rocks hold on to heat attained from direct sunlight and radiate it easily, making an environment seem even hotter than it really is.

Next, be sure to arrange your tent so the opening flap faces toward a breeze. It may seem illogical to do so since the tent may feel like it can fly away, but the added air flow against the skin creates an illusion of a lesser temperature. This can make your outdoor experience much more pleasurable.

What to Bring

A blue cooler with a red top sitting on the grass.

Packing a bag to take camping in heat is different than packing for any other season. When the suns out, everything seems that much more intense, from bug bites to food choices.

Bug Spray: I once read in a magazine that in heat, the smell of bug spray makes it too intense to use. When it’s hot and muggy and your skin already feels sticky, the last thing one feels like doing is putting on an obnoxious spray, but it's also during these conditions that pests are at their worst. In this case, I always recommend putting the spray on washable clothes rather than on direct skin, so you at least have some protection against bites and swarms that may find you.

Tent: For hot weather, tents that feature space and ventilation are ideal. The tent I grew up with had removable rain flys, which helped immensely. New models in 2016 offer thinner, more breathable fabric than ever.

Cooler: When preparing food and beverages for this trip, place them in a plastic cooler with a block of ice. A block will last twice as long as cubes or chips, providing cool foods and drinks in your time of need. Keep the cooler out of direct sunlight and keep it covered with a lightly colored blanket or towel, if possible.

Use Common Sense

A pair of hiking boots and a first aid kit on a rock with trees in the background.

Finally, my last piece of advice to stay cool in hot weather is to simply be smart about it. Like so many others, I often think myself capable of anything. Yet in the wilderness, heat exhaustion is a real and dangerous thing, as is the escalation of sun poisoning, heat stroke, and dehydration. Have a first aid kit handy, and attempt to have a working phone in case you really need it. The heat isn’t anything to play with, but with a bit of preparation and aforementioned thought, you can enjoy it without complication.