Keeping Cool While Camping

By | October 16, 2017

Most camping advice centres around keeping warm and being prepared for abrupt changes in weather – particularly when it comes to getting cold and wet. But what about keeping cool while camping? If you’re headed to Arizona the BC interior or even Alberta during a hot summer you definitely want to know how to stay cool. Not only is being too hot pretty miserable (especially when you’re trying to sleep) but you also need to be careful of dehydration heat exhaustion and heat stroke. So here’s our advice on keeping cool while camping.


First try to choose a campsite near the water as it’s generally cooler (plus you’ll have great access to the water for swimming to help cool you down). If this isn’t an option choose a shaded site or set up your RV or tent in a spot that gets the most shade throughout the day.

If you can’t get a shaded site or you want to provide extra sun protection set up a tarp over your tent or RV and picnic table area. This will give you some shade to relax in.

Open all the windows and vents in your RV or tent. Positioning it to get a cross-breeze will help with air circulation. If it’s really hot and there’s no chance of precipitation take the fly cover off of your tent to maximize nighttime coolness.


You might want to sleep in just a sleeping bag liner rather than a full sleeping bag or even with just a light blanket or sheet on top of your warmer covers. Sleeping on a raised cot can also help keep you cooler. Alternatively consider sleeping outside in a hammock or hammock tent.

You can also use a portable fan or your RV’s air conditioner (if it has one). There are battery-powered units available if you don’t have access to electricity.

Keeping Cool During the Day

The toughest time to keep cool is during the day when the sun’s out. The sun is at its most intense between 11am and 3pm so avoid activity and sun exposure during that period if you can. Wearing lightweight loose light-coloured clothing can help keep you cool and moisture-wicking materials such as nylon wool polyester or blends are best. Sandals are the obvious choice for footwear but don’t forget your hat. You can soak your hat or a bandana in cold water to help cool you off too.

Plan activities such as hiking and biking for the coolest times of the day – early in the morning or later in the evening. Swimming is a great activity to cool you down even during the hottest parts of the day. If you don’t have a lake available bring an inflatable pool to splash around in (or at least stick your feet in). Otherwise it’s best to stay in the shade.

Make sure you stay hydrated replenish your electrolytes and wear sunscreen. Avoid cooking over a campfire until it’s cooler. You may want to avoid cooking in your RV as well as that will warm it up. Instead eat and drink cold food and beverages or at least those that don’t require any heat to prepare. Cereal yogurt sandwiches fruit raw veggies power bars and trail mix are all good options.

If you’re really hot take a shower. You’ll feel refreshed and you’ll get cooled off in the process. You can also sprinkle water over your skin and clothes if a shower isn’t readily available. Alternatively take ice or ice packs and apply them to your neck and underarms.

Heat Exhaustion and Heat Stroke

Heat exhaustion and heat stroke are common when temperatures rise. Make sure you can recognize the signs in yourself and others. It’s best to avoid getting to this point by making sure you stay hydrated and cool but know how to treat individuals suffering from this illness and when to call for emergency assistance.

The symptoms of heat exhaustion and heat stroke include tiredness weakness feeling faint or dizzy headache muscle cramps feeling sick vomiting heavy sweating loss of appetite feeling intense thirst pale and clammy skin low blood pressure fast pulse and having a fever. If you or someone else is suffering from these symptoms cease your activity and move to a cool place. Lie down and raise the feet. Drink water (sports drinks are fine too). Cool skin with water a fan or ice packs. If not better after 30 minutes seek emergency medical attention. You will want to immediately get help if symptoms include not sweating a fever above 40C shortness of breath confusion or a loss of consciousness.

Keeping cool doesn’t have to be hard if you’re prepared and stay aware. Keep hydrated and plan your days accordingly.