How to Keep Your Tent Cool

Camping in summer months is great due to the dry weather and the opportunity to get out and see more without the experience being spoiled by wind, rain or snow.

A cool tent can be useful in a lot of different ways, including keeping your dog safe. However, one of the downsides to warm weather is that tents have a tendency to warm up to an uncomfortable level. Unfortunately, this means that, no matter what time of year you camp, you’re going to have to deal with warming a cold tent, or cooling a warm tent. 

Heat usually hits the tent first thing in the morning, which can be irritating if you were intending on staying in bed past 8am. Tents also get progressively hotter throughout the day which can also make napping inside a tent a chore. Luckily, there are a collection of different ways to help keep your tent cool whilst camping, including obvious solutions such as shade and less conventional methods such as cooling mats.

Keeping your Tent in the Shade

Perhaps the most obvious method of keeping your tent cool is by keeping it in the shade. Even if they don’t have tarpaulin draped over them, tents still retain heat due to their structure. One of the best ways of keeping heat out is ensuring that it isn’t reaching your tent in the first place. 

Setting your tent up in the shade keeps it away from the sun for longer periods of time, and will keep it cooler than it would be if camped somewhere where there isn’t shade. 

  • Shade can be found in natural ways, either through trees or other landmarks such as ledges. If you’re camping under a ledge or cliff, ensure that the area is secure and you’re at no risk to falling debris.
  • Shade can also be created using a variety of different methods. One such way is bringing a gazebo along or fashioning shade out of tarpaulin. Providing there are trees or poles at your disposal, a sheet of tarpaulin can be strategically tied onto them to create a cover for shade. 

Setting your tent up at the right time is also helpful if you’re looking to minimize the amount of heat trapped inside. Waiting until the evening is ideal to set a tent up, as it is still light enough to see what you’re doing, and it’s cool enough to comfortably sit inside. Plus – it’ll tire you out enough to sleep soon after! 

Other ways to Keep your Tent Cool

While keeping your tent in a well-shaded area is the easiest and quickest way to keep it cool, there are other ways that can also help. 

  1. Battery Powered Fans

Battery powered fans can temporarily keep a tent cool, but due to the high energy they use, they’re unlikely to last long without needing another set of batteries or charge. Smaller, handheld ones are better suited to camping and some are hands-free and can be worn around your neck. 

  1. Cooling Mats

Cooling gel mats are usually sold as a means for keeping your dog warm in the summer, but there’s nothing to say you can’t use them yourself. Using them to lie on the inside of your sleeping bag might keep you just cool enough to fall asleep in the afternoon. Keep them outside at night time to help them cool down, and use them in the day to keep yourself comfortable. 

  1. Disassembling your Tent

It sounds counterintuitive, but if you have the time, disassembling your tent and reassembling it before needing it is a great way to ensure no heat will be trapped inside. This is a technique best used if you want to stay cool at night, rather than during the day. One benefit of doing this is that it uses much more energy, and will probably help you sleep better once the tent is reassembled. 

  1. Keep Your Cooler in the Tent

Keeping your cooler in the tent can help keep the atmosphere inside slightly colder. If you’re in bear country, disregard this technique as any food should not be kept in the perimeter of your campsite. 

  1. Reflect the Light

Drape a space blanket over the top of your tent as you would do with tarpaulin. If this is done as soon as the tent is erected, it can begin reflecting light away from the tent and hopefully keep the interior cooler. Space blankets, or fire blankets, are often used for insulation but can also reflect light if used correctly. 

  1. Portable AC

Portable air conditioning units are indeed a thing people are using and utilizing when camping in the summer. Whilst this is a bulkier bit of kit, and significantly more expensive than other items on this list, it’s a worthy investment if you just can’t handle the heat. They are more robust than portable fans and will last longer on a single charge, but may be harder to carry to your camping spot if it’s a hike from your car. 

  1. Try to Spend Less Time in the Tent

Spending more time in the tent itself can cause more body heat to become trapped inside. When possible, stay in the shade outside or maybe try and nap outside if it’s warm enough outside. If more than one person is staying in the tent, this advice is even more relevant as even more body heat will be generated. 

  1. Remove your Rain Fly

The rain fly is the protective fabric layer at the top of the tent, which protects the mesh underneath. If you’ve checked weather reports and are entirely confident that you won’t be experiencing rain whilst camping, remove the rain fly from your tent (if it’s detachable). Removing the rain fly removes an area which insulates the tent and it provides an escape for warm air. 

  1. Distance your Campfire

Making sure your campfire is away from the tent is standard fire safety advice, but setting it up even further away can keep your tent cooler in the long run. Campfires are a staple of camping and can be used to keep you warm and also used to boil water and food. Keeping a major source of heat away from the tent will hopefully keep your tent at a much colder temperature.

Keeping Yourself Cool when Camping

Keeping yourself cool outside the tent will help you stay cool inside the tent as well. Whilst some of the aforementioned techniques will help you stay cool outside the tent if utilized outside, there are additional methods which can help. 

  1. Lighter Clothing

Wearing thinner and lighter clothing during summer months is usually a habit that everyone has. This also applies when camping. If your camping supplies don’t already include light, thin clothing, make sure to add some to your camping wardrobe for the next time you plan on camping in summer. 

  1. Stay Hydrated 

Staying hydrated, preferably using cold beverages, is a healthy and useful way of staying cool during camping trips. Not only does it give you some more energy to burn, but it also keeps your body cooler. If you have bottled water, keep it outside of the tent during the night to let it cool down (or keep it in a cooler).

  1. Take it Easy

Engaging in more physical activity than usual is a surefire way of warming yourself up unintentionally. Having a more relaxed experience on your hikes or during activities can have a greater impact on your temperature and can keep you feeling a lot cooler. 

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