How to Stay Cool While Camping in the Summer

Couple in their shorts and t-shirts camping while children run in the background

Couple in their shorts and t-shirts camping while children run in the background

However much we love to complain about the weather in Britain, the fact is: our summers are getting hotter. As pleasing as this might sound, hot weather can bring risks. Dehydration, sunburn, heatstroke, to name a few.

But does any of this mean you should miss out on camping holidays? Of course not. Whether you’re planning a staycation in the UK or you’re heading abroad to pitch up, it’s perfectly possible to stay safe and comfortable while camping in the great outdoors even in warmer temperatures.

With the right camping equipment and a little know-how, you can enjoy your camping adventure without worrying about getting overheated.

What clothes to bring camping in the summer

It might be tempting to get most of your clothes off when it’s roasting, but is that really the best idea? Lack of coverage means lack of protection against UV rays, which can be problematic even with cloud cover. 

So what should you wear?

  • Your clothing should be loose and ideally vented, to allow cool air in and heat out. Nylon and polyester are good for this.
  • While cotton clothing might feel a little heavier, it holds moisture longer, which can help you cool down as it evaporates.
  • Light colours, like white, tan or khaki are ideal, as they reflect more of the sun’s rays.
  • You’ll want to keep your head and neck covered; however, this is tricky since that’s where you lose a lot of body heat. A breathable hat with a wide brim is ideal to keep the sun off. Thin scarves or bandannas can also be useful, and some even have polymer crystals that retain moisture.
  • Resist the temptation to free your feet. You can quickly get blisters without appropriate footwear. Synthetic socks are particularly useful in this regard.
  • If you’re bringing your kids, make sure you pack plenty of changes of clothes. It’s sunny, you’ll be out and about. You know how messy they can get.

How to keep a tent cool

The purpose of a camping tent is shelter and to protect you from the elements. In the summer, the “elements” are the sun and the heat. To help ensure your tent does that, whatever make and model you have, follow these tips:

  • Set your tent up somewhere shady, with good wind circulation. Pitching by trees works well, or by streams (pointed upstream) or lakes (facing the water).
  • Tents are designed to hold heat, so when you’re not using them, take them down, and only pitch them when it’s cooler.
  • Groundsheets can protect you from heat radiating from the ground, and tarps/shades can reflect heat from above.
  • Once your tent is pitched, you can keep yourself cool by:
    • Bringing your food/drinks cooler inside, to chill the air. Containers of frozen water work well too and can be used as drinking water once melted.
    • Placing a portable fan near the doorway to aid ventilation (you can even combine this with the cooler).
    • Removing the rain fly, and opening doors and vents (if you don’t expect rain).
    • Sleeping on top of your sleeping bag.

What colour tent is coolest in hot weather

Let’s say you’re interested in a new tent - one to help you stay comfortable even in hot weather. What should you be looking for? 

You might not be surprised to learn the same rules that apply to clothes also work for your tent. Light, reflective colours will divert more of the sun’s rays away from your tent, keeping it cooler. Bear in mind, though, that brightly coloured tents are more likely to attract bugs, so you may want to invest in some repellent.

However, don’t despair if you do have a darker coloured tent. They can be more effective at keeping out UV radiation. And certainly think twice before painting a tent. You’re likely to damage any waterproof coating. Chances are it’ll be more cost-effective to get a new one, or just use a tarp or shade.

Any other considerations for staying cool?

Again, look for tents with vents and mesh. These allow the breeze to pass through, which will keep your tent cool.

Anything else?

All the equipment in the world is no replacement for common sense and, without being dramatic, survival skills.

When it’s warm out, make sure you stay hydrated. Try to avoid prolonged exposure to the sun by staying in the shade. Apply sunscreen regularly and wear a hat and light scarf when you’re out and about. If you’re staying on a camping site with shower blocks, take a cool shower if you feel too hot. If there’s no shower nearby, splash yourself with cool water.

One more thing to consider is the type of sleeping bag you bring. Ideally, you'll be wanting a 1-2 season single sleeping bag, as double sleeping bags will only make you overheat through the night if you're sharing with another person.

Other than that, enjoy the weather while it lasts!

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