This summer has been a sizzler—and super weather can put a steamy damper on outdoor activities. Camping in hot weather can be a challenging experience indeed. But you may not need to cancel your trip just because the temps are a bit high (within reason—extreme heat waves may call for a cancellation; listen to the weather experts!). With proper preparation and a few expert tips, even a scorcher of a weekend can be a memorable adventure. Keep reading for tips on how to stay cool when camping in hot weather.
1. Choose the Right Site
When it’s hot, selecting the perfect camping spot can make a huge difference for your comfort level. Look for shaded areas with plenty of tree cover to shield you from direct sunlight. Locations near rivers or lakes can be a major bonus as they offer an opportunity to cool off when the mercury rises. Avoid valleys and low-lying areas where hot air tends to linger, and opt for higher ground where breezes are more likely to pass through.
2. Time Your Activities
When the sun is at its peak, it’s best to seek shade and rest your body. Plan strenuous activities for the cooler parts of the day – typically early mornings and evenings. This way, you can enjoy your hikes, exploration, or any physically demanding activities without risking heat exhaustion. Bonus: catching the sunrise and sunset out in the wilderness only adds to your camping experience.
3. Dress Wisely
Pack lightweight, loose-fitting, and light-colored clothing, preferably made from moisture-wicking materials, to wear while camping during hot weather. This type of attire lets your body breathe and allows sweat to evaporate more effectively, keeping you cooler. Don’t forget a wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses to protect your face and eyes from UV rays. Sunburn and heatstroke are unwelcome guests on your camping trip.
4. Stay Hydrated
Hydration is key! Always carry an ample supply of water—it might be more than you think in extreme heat—and drink regularly, even if you don’t feel thirsty. Consider using a hydration pack to have easy access to water while hiking. Pack electrolyte-rich beverages or hydration tablets to replenish lost minerals due to sweating. Avoid alcohol and caffeine, as they can dehydrate your body further.
5. Set Up Smart Shelter
Your tent can quickly turn into an oven in hot weather if not set up strategically. Choose a shaded area to pitch your tent and use a reflective tarp or tent footprint to minimize ground heat. Keep your tent well-ventilated by using mesh windows and doors. A battery-operated fan can also be a lifesaver during sleepless hot nights. And a camping hammock can be an excellent alternative to sleeping on hot ground.
6. Embrace Wet Cooling
Take advantage of evaporative cooling by wetting a bandana or towel and wearing it around your neck or forehead. You can also drape a wet cloth over your tent or hammock to create a cooler environment inside. If there’s a water source nearby, go for a refreshing dip or use it to wet your clothes, but make sure you’re well-prepared for water activities.
7. Create a DIY Swamp Cooler
Ready for an ingenious cooling hack? Try building a swamp cooler using a large bucket or cooler filled with water and ice. Point a battery-powered fan towards the wet surface, and it will blow cooler air as the water evaporates. This can be a game-changer in exceptionally hot conditions.
8. Eat Light and Fresh
Hot weather can suppress your appetite, but it’s essential to nourish your body properly. Opt for light and fresh meals that require minimal cooking. Fruits, vegetables, salads, and sandwiches are excellent choices as they are hydrating and easy to prepare. Avoid heavy and greasy foods, as they can make you feel sluggish in the heat.
9. Mind Your Pets
If you’re camping with pets, remember that they are susceptible to heat-related issues too. Keep them hydrated and avoid exposing them to direct sunlight during peak heat hours. Provide a shaded spot for them to rest, and if possible, let them take a dip in a nearby water source to cool off.
10. Know the Signs of Heat-Related Illnesses
Familiarize yourself with the symptoms of heat exhaustion and heatstroke, such as dizziness, excessive sweating, nausea, confusion, and rapid heartbeat. If you or any of your camping buddies experience these signs, take immediate action: move to a shaded area, hydrate, and seek medical help if necessary.