Keeping Cool on Camping Trips

Going camping in 90+ degrees isn't always comfortable, but it can be done. With a few tricks of the trade and the right camping equipment, you can easily keep cool on even the hottest summer trips.

Staying Hydrated

To stay cool and to replenish the fluids lost when sweating, plan on bringing more water than you think you need. Depending on your activity level, it’s possible to lose up to 7 quarts of water on a hot day. Bring along a powdered electrolyte mix that you can add if needed.

Keeping Water Cool

Double-walled metal bottles like those made by Hydroflask will keep water cold for hours at a time. If you can, put ice cubes in the bottle before you start out. Also, if you are camped by a stream or river, submerging your filled water container will help keep the water temperature down.

Tent Ventilation

If you know you will be camping in hot environs, pick a tent made with mesh panels or walls. The more mesh, the better the air flow. Also, if there is no imminent threat of rain, consider keeping your rainfly on the ground, yet still attached to one side of the tent. If it starts raining, you can run out and quickly fling the rainfly over the tent. It’s a little risky, but it will help keep the temperature down inside the tent.

Campsite Selection

Place your tent in the shade if possible. As you place your tent, keep in mind that the shade will move. Your campsite should also ideally be near a water source—both because natural bodies of water help keep the surrounding area cool, and because you'll want to refill your water supply in the heat.


String a plastic tarp to surrounding trees and place it either above the tent or above the common area to create shade.

Towels & Bandanas

Soak a polyester pack towel—or cotton bandana—with cool water and either drape it around your neck or over your head to lower your body temperature. There are also some products, like the Magic Cooling Towel from Grabber that have sealed in chemicals to keep the fabric cool longer.


Keep the sun off your head! Wear a ball cap to protect your face, or better yet, wear a brimmed hat with 360º protection for your neck. You can also opt for a French Foreign Legion-style hat with a sun flap in back to protect your entire neck, or jury-rig a bandanna to do the same thing.

Shorts & Short Sleeves

Wear shorts instead of pants and short sleeve shirts instead of long sleeve shirts. If you are camping out in the desert, consider zip-off pants that can convert to shorts and then back again. The fabric should be as light as possible. Also wear light-colored clothing to reflect the sun, rather than dark shades that will absorb it and essentially bake you.