Getting a good night of sleep when camping in the summer can be a challenge.
A hot tent will keep you from getting the sleep that you need for another full day of outdoor adventure.
Fortunately, we have some tips on how to keep a tent cool when the weather is hot.
Table of Contents
Start with the Tent Itself
When camping in the heat of summer you will want to seriously consider the tent you are bringing. A 2-season tent is ideal for hot weather. Tent material will make a difference; while heavier, a cotton tent will stay cooler than tents made of nylon and polyester.
A larger, cabin style tent with mesh windows is a good choice for summer camping. Ventilation is important and the windows will help keep the tent cooler by allowing air in; the greater amount of space will allow the air to circulate. If you are not expecting rain, keep the rainfly off so that it does not trap heat in the tent and limit air circulation.
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Should your tent be easy to set up and break down, consider setting it up as the sun is setting and breaking it down in the morning. This will keep the tent from heating up during the warmer daylight hours and retaining its heat through the night.
When setting up your tent, place a ground cover (tarp or footprint) between the dirt and your tent. Instead of your tent floor absorbing the heat the comes from the ground, the ground cover will soak it up.
Seek out the Shade and Get Digging
When your tent is in the sun, it will warm up during the day and stay warm. Choosing a shaded spot to set up your tent will help keep it cool as it will not be in direct sunlight.
Another consideration when pitching your tent is the direction of the wind.
If you can, pitch your tent so that the wind will blow right into your mesh windows. Keep your windows open through the day so that heat can be extracted.
If you are able to, dig a pit that is two feet deep where you can place your tent. Placing your tent partially underground will help keep your tent cooler.
Cooling the Air
If you are at a campground with an electric site, bring a camping fan with an extension cord. If you don’t have electricity, choose a 6 or 12-volt battery operated fan. Many fans can be attached to your tent; set up your fan to blow on you while avoiding having it blowing directly at the tent wall.
Putting a block of ice in a shallow dish directly in front of the fan will help make the air feel cooler. Make sure your dish is large enough to hold the water once the ice has melted, or empty it occasionally.
A portable tent air conditioner is also an option should you have electricity at your site. There are units that are compact and portable, making them easy to transport and set up or you can put a window unit on a stand. Either type of unit can be arranged to blow directly into your tent.
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Since your tent is not insulated, the air conditioning unit will have to work harder to keep it cool. When considering purchasing a unit, one that is rated 5000BTU should be sufficient for 150 square feet of tent space. Make sure to bring a heavy duty outdoor extension cord that is rated at least 15 amp.
There are HVAC systems for tents or you can choose to make your own sleeve and an air duct that will run into your tent.
Feeling DIY? Learn how to make your own air conditioning unit by viewing the video below:
Use a Reflective Tarp
You can use a reflective tarp or reflective space blanket to make a sunshade. Place a couple of these on the roof of your tent or tie them to trees that surround your tent, leaving a few feet between each layer. This will reflect the sun away from your tent and minimize the heat that enters and becomes trapped inside.
There is no need to avoid camping during the warmest months of the year. With a little effort you can keep your tent cool during summer camping trips. The ability to get a good night’s sleep means that you can enjoy spending the night outdoors year-round.