Camping skills: Keep cool in your tent in hot weather
Campers are usually more concerned about staying warm and dry.
But, with summers in the UK getting hotter and record-breaking temperatures being registered across Europe, dealing with the heat is becoming increasingly important.
Follow our tips and you’ll be the coolest camper on the site
1 Set up your tent in the shade
Try to find a pitch that provides some shade from the sun during the day. The shadow cast from a tree or building will help prevent heat building up inside the tent your tent at the hottest part of the day. Use a compass to work out where the shadow will be throughout the day and choose the spot that will get most shade.
2 Protect your tent with a reflective blanket or a tarp
If pitching in shade isn’t possible, placing a reflective blanket or sunshade on the roof of the tent is another effective way of staying cool while camping. The covers reflect direct sunlight back up to the sky. A large cotton tarp placed over the tent will also work.
3 Buy a polycotton tent
Polycotton – or technical cotton as it’s sometimes called – is a mixture of polyester and cotton fabric used in the flysheets of some tents instead of polyester and works like old-school canvas. While polyester tents tend to get extremely hot in sunny weather, the increased breathability in a polycotton tent means they remain cool inside even on the hottest days.
4 Choose a tent with lots of ventilation
Most family tents have plenty of ventilation, but some boast more than others, particularly from brands with their roots in hotter climates like Zempire (New Zealand) and Quechua (France). Leave ventilation panels open throughout the day and at night – not only will it keep the temperature down but also reduces condensation. Mesh-backed doors can be left open all day, or even all night, to allow air to flow through without letting bugs in. Keep windows covered to prevent sun coming in.
5 Sleep in blackout bedrooms
In the summer months, the early morning sunshine can make your tent unbearably hot. The darkened bedroom fabric in many family tents is designed to block out the light and keep the sleeping area as cool as possible. Even more effective are Coleman’s BlackOut bedrooms, which use a black PU coating to block up to 99% of external light and are said to keep bedroom areas up to 5°C cooler by day. Decathlon’s Fresh&Black blackout technology, provides 99% darkened bedrooms and UPF 50+ sun protection.
6 Use an electric fan
In sweltering heat an electric fan can provide some welcome relief, but make sure it’s suitable for using on the campsite’s electrical system or you could overload it. Outwell’s quiet but powerful San Juan fan is perfect. For an improvised air conditioning unit, place an ice pack or a bowl of ice in front of the fan and let it blow the cold air around the tent. And if you want to go for the ultimate indulgence, Outwell has introduced the Caleta, an A/C unit specifically for camping that works by blowing air across water to cool it.
7 Store food in a cool box or fridge
Keeping perishables cold in the height of summer is always a struggle. Insulated cool boxes with ice packs can work in the short term but, if you have hook-up, an electric cool box or a mini fridge is a much better option for keeping your milk and sausages cold. Make sure they are well ventilated and don’t overheat. On the continent, it’s not unusual to see tents fitted out with a full size fridge-freezer and there are signs of this creeping in on these shores too.
8 Keep yourself cool
Drink lots of water so your body’s natural cooling system – sweat – can work properly. Other cooling techniques include taking a cool shower before bedtime, dipping your feet in a basin of cold water, laying a damp towel across the back of your neck or placing a small cloth soaked in cold water across your forehead.
9 Sleep under a sheet instead of a sleeping bag
A cozy sleeping bag is perfect for staying warm when the temperature drops but isn’t ideal on a humid August night. Instead, pack a couple of cotton sheets – one to create a comfortable barrier between you and your mattress and the other as a light cover.