13 Tips: How to stay cool camping in a tent

Nothing is worse than walking to a tent and hitting a wall of heat. The cool box is humming away, and you immediately sweat. The worst part is wondering if you can sleep at night.

How can you stay cool or reduce the heat inside your tent whilst camping?

You don’t need to have EHU to keep cool inside a tent. Yes, having EHU is a bonus. However, there are several ways to make camping in a tent more comfortable without paying a fortune.

How does heat reflective shelter over your tent work

Heavy-duty reflective tarps can reflect heat away from your tent by pitching your tent underneath. The silver underneath the tarp must be facing away from your tent, so the sun rays bounce away from your tent.

The silver backing will reduce the heat; however, it will not help if the heat is in the wind. Think of your car windscreen shades with the aluminium backing. The heavy-duty tarp is a larger version but with a waterproof backing.

I use the UTOOL 3-Layer heavy-duty tarp from Amazon. Not only can it be reversed to reflect heat, but it is also a thermal barrier during the colder season, so it has a multi-purpose. The tarp is 7ft x 5ft (2.13m x 1.5m). It is a suitable size for my smaller 4-man tent we use during the colder season.

How using your surroundings can keep your tent cool

When pitching your tent, check for natural foliage such as trees or high hedges, as this will offer natural shelter. It may not be possible to have shade all through the day. Positioning your tent, so the sleeping area is shaded during the late afternoon and evening will help to reduce the temperature inside.

The best way to keep cool is underneath or near high foliage, but you need to be aware of dangers during a thunderstorm. Are you aware of what you should do if this happens? Or how does lightning react if it strikes a tree? When lightning strikes a tree, it travels away from the point of strike. Keep yourself and your family safe b following our safety recommendations whilst camping during a thunderstorm.

How the sun location will help to cool your tent

The sun moves during the day, it rises in the East, sets in the West, and at midday, it is South. However, this does depend on your location. Unless your tent is fully undercover, you will not be able to avoid the sun. Pitch your tent, so it is not in direct sunlight during the afternoon. Give your tent time to cool down before nighttime.

If you are like me and unsure of your direction, purchase a small, reasonably priced compass. Not too cheap as they are not always accurate. Or, if you have a hiking pole, some have a compass on the top of the handle.

Why you should open all doors and vents in your tent

We automatically keep our house cool by closing windows, curtains and doors. However, in a tent, it does have the opposite effect. Your tent can become a sauna. Not only will it make it unbearable to enter during the day, but it will cause issues if you have a cool box stored inside.

Opening the main and side doors will allow the air to flow, especially if there is a slight wind. Although keep mesh doors closed to stop bugs from entering. Keeping the vents open will help with the airflow but not as effective as the doors.

During hot weather, I open all doors and keep my window covers up to avoid direct sunlight into my tent. It does not make a massive difference, but it does help to keep the inside cool.

How removing the rain fly will cool your tent?

Double walled tents have a rain fly cover, the cover you place over the inner tent layer. Single-walled tents do not have rain fly covers. Removing the rain fly will allow air circulation and reduce the temperature inside. If you are confident it will not rain, you can keep the cover off at night.

However, the inner tent lining is not waterproof, so you will need to check the weather forecast, especially if you intend to leave during the day.

You can place a tarp shelter over your tent, unlike a rain fly outer layer. It just offers protection against the elements. It gives you a chance to air your tent effectively during the daytime. You can keep the rain fly off during the night.

How a small tower desk fan can cool your tent

Dr Prepare 3 speed Oscillating fan

If camping in the UK, invest in a good tower fan and use the ice or damp towel method in front. It’s the cheapest and easiest way to cool down a tent and your family.

You can turn the fan into a mini air con unit with a towel or bottles of ice.

I have the Dr Prepare Oscillating desk fan 3-speed settings, Straightforward press button controls, on and off, oscillating, and timer settings for 2 hr, 4 hrs and 8 hrs. The height is from your fingers tip to your elbow, so it does not take up much space when packing for your trip. It is quiet compared to other fans, and the noise blends into the background. It is quieter than an electrical coolbox.

Frozen bottles of ice in front of your fan: Create your air-con unit

It may seem strange, but placing a frozen bottle of water or a bag of ice in front of a fan will help to keep you cool. If you use a bag of ice, place a dish underneath capture water as it melts. As the fan passes over the bottle, the air will cool.

If you do not want to use ice, you can hang a damp towel in front of the fan. It has the same effect but is not as effective as frozen bottles.

If camping without EHU, you can buy rechargeable fans. However, they are not as big in diameter as electrical fans. But you can recharge while driving or via a power bank.

Replace your sleeping bag with a liner or bed linen

Nighttime can be daunting. Wondering if it will be too hot to sleep. Using a sleeping bag liner made from cotton or silk are great replacement. Especially if you have to sleep covered. Regular cotton bed sheets if you do not have a sleeping bag liner.

Sleeping bag liners are ideal for sleeping in during the warmer nights and also great for keeping your sleeping bag clean. They are available as single or double bags. Silk sleeping bag liners are expensive, and I prefer cotton. I use NICoLa, available on Amazon for just under £20. It washes easily, and there is ample space for movement. The only negative is that the colour runs when washing.

If you are cold during the night, keep a spare blanket to add warmth. Sleeping bags are available for different seasons.

I only have one season sleeping bag, a Colemans Basalt Season 4, and I do not camp without it. I use this during all different seasons, as even though it is hot during the day, it often cools drastically during the night. I use a sleeping bag liner, which allows me to sleep without using my sleeping bag, or I open my sleeping bag fully, and it works well as a quilt. However, the hood section can be challenging at times.

How a damp tea towel or bath towel can cool you down

YOXCC Cooling pad towel for your neck, wrists

If you are overheating, an easy way to cool down is to place a damp tea towel around your neck. The benefit of placing a damp towel around your neck is that the veins are close to the surface, and it is the quickest way to cool the body. You can also place a damp towel on your wrist and chest.

If you do not have a small towel, you can soak a bath towel and place it over your chest. It will reduce body heat faster.

I use YQXCC cooling towels from Amazon instead of tea towels or bath towels. You soak in cold water and wring to remove any excess water. The towels are sport cooler towels and remain damp after two hours and retain the coldness. They are lightweight, not heavy when damp and cool when soaked in water. They pack away easily and are great to tuck into your bag on a day out.

Are portable air con units worth buying for camping?

Portable air conditioners are suitable for camping during warm weather, providing you have EHU. Although, I do not feel the smaller units are worth the money. Due to the cost and size,

I purchased the IIFONII Portable Air Condition. I returned it as it was not worth the money. I did not want a bulky air con unit for camping, so I decided not to invest in an air con unit and to continue with my Dr Prepare desk fan, which is sufficient for my tent.

How to create a thermal barrier to block heat from the ground

This may be strange but placing leaves underneath your tent footprint. It will create a barrier and block heat from the ground. You need a thick layer of leaves on the floor, not just a few scattered leaves.

During the summer, this may be difficult, and I advise not to start stripping the leaves from trees. Not only will this cause an issue with the campsite owner, but it is also damaging natural surroundings.

What type of clothes should you wear in hot weather?

Wearing clothes that a loose fitting, breathable and light colours. The best clothes are either linen or cotton. Light-coloured clothing will reflect heat, whereas dark colours absorb heat.

Short sleeve tops, 3/4 length linen trousers or shorts will be suitable. But because temperatures can considerably reduce during the night, additional layers can be added if needed.

Always make sure you always wear a hat to reduce sunstroke.

How can a cold shower cool you at night?

A cold shower before bedtime on hot nights will help to reduce your body temperature temporarily, but long term, it can make you feel warm. A lukewarm shower will keep pores open and allow you to sweat naturally.

During warm weather, our blood vessels are closer to the surface, opening pores to create sweat which cools us down. So having a cold shower will restrict the blood vessel and close pores, stopping you from sweating to stabilise your body’s temperature. A cold shower may feel refreshing, but you will not benefit long term.


I'm a single parent who loves pitching a tent and exploring the countryside at any opportunity. I am working with a glamping pod company and helping them to set up a family campsite in East Riding Yorkshire.

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