Camping is one of the best outdoor activities to partake in during the summer months. Yes, some hardcore adventurers will still camp in the winter months, but summer is an opportunity for anybody to give the activity a go. Whether it’s a fun vacation in a family-orientated campsite, a group of young people heading to a weekend adventure at the lake, or a group of friends going on a multi-day hike, camping is an activity that so many people take part in once summer hits.
There are generally three types of camping: backpacking, tent camping, and RVing. While they all share some tips to beat the summer heat, each one comes with its own special considerations, as well.
General Summer Camping Tips
- Pack only light-colored clothing
There’s no way around this law of nature: Solar radiation soaks into dark-colored surfaces and reflects off light-colored surfaces. Don’t try to fight it. Instead, work with it by packing only light-colored clothes on summer camping trips. These will keep you much cooler during the day. Also, choose fabrics that breathe and release heat, such as cotton and linen. If you are wearing short sleeves or shorts, make sure to apply plenty of sunscreen.
- Drink lots of water
Hydration is the most crucial part of staying cool, safe, and healthy on camping trips. Water has a high specific heat value, which means it takes a lot of energy to change the temperature of the water. Since your body is made of about 60 percent water, keeping it properly hydrated is one of the best weapons against overheating.
- Avoid Sunburn
Pick an SPF (30+) with avobenzone, zinc oxide, or titanium dioxide. These will block both UV-A and UV-B rays. Reapply every two hours and after swimming or sweating madly. Sun-scorched? Wear a wide-brimmed hat.
- Use bug repellent
It’s summer, so you’re probably camping by the water. And that means bugs. The basis of anyone’s anti-bug arsenal needs to be a DEET-based bug spray. One problem DEET does have is that it can reduce the effectiveness of sunscreen by up to one-third. Try to apply your sunscreen at least 20 minutes before DEET to minimize its effect.
- Tarps are the ultimate multitool
The most-mentioned summer camping tip from park rangers was to pack tarps. A lot of them. Tarps aren’t just for keeping the rain off your tent or draping a picnic table; you can use tarps as sun protection, too. They keep the body from overheating and dehydrating.
If you buy nothing else, make it a mesh cot. Lifting your body off the ground allows air to circulate all around you.
- Bring a satellite GPS messenger
A leisurely hike can turn dangerous quickly if you run out of water or lose your way. Every year, thousands of adventurists go missing. Some never return. GPS messengers let you share GPS coordinates, track your adventures, reach emergency responders, and check-in with family or friends — all from the push of a button.
- Campground fans are pretty great
We’ve all been there – it’s 2 a.m., the sleeping bag is far too warm, and there’s no way you’re getting back to sleep without a couple of ice packs. An easier solution? Bring a battery-powered fan that either hooks on to your tent or that you can position at your campsite. You’ll thank yourself in the long run.
Tent Camping Tips
- Set up your tent in the shade
If you can find a camping spot in the shade, take it. Letting trees absorb the sunlight, instead of your tent, will go a long way in keeping you cool. If the trees you are parked under provide ample shade from the sun at all angles you may be able to leave your tent up during the day.
- Choose a tent with lots of mesh
The fine mesh walls of a tent offer protection from biting insects, while also allowing a breeze to pass through, thus providing the best of both worlds. If you will be camping in the summer, it is advantageous to choose a tent with as much mesh as possible.
- Make use of the breeze
The wind is nature’s air conditioning. Even if there is not a significant breeze, making use of it is a critical move in staying cool during summer camping. When you figure out which direction the wind will be blowing, face your tent door into the wind.
RV Camping Tips
- Service Your AC Before You Hit the Road
The air conditioner in your RV will help you beat the summer heat and also the humidity. Before you start it all, you have to make sure that you have had your cooling system serviced and inspected. You should have the filter replaced and inspect the unit for any signs of damage.
- Do Not Cook During Peak Times
You may love having a fully functional kitchen, but do not use appliances in the kitchen that can heat up the space. Your range and stove will become interior heat sources, and it is best to avoid using these heat sources until nighttime. Opt to use a microwave or to cook over a fire or a grill instead to stay cool.
- Make a Checklist
As stated in Everything You Need to Know About RV Camping, make a checklist. There a lot more things to remember to check and do with an RV than a tent or backpack. “With every RV comes a list of precautions and steps to take before you are ready to hit the road. Forgetting even the smallest of tasks can put you, your RV, and others on the road with you in danger.”
Beating the heat is all about buying the right accessories, packing the right clothing, the right food, and being strategic with your activities during your trip. Create memories and stay cool in the process during this summer’s RV camping trip. Enjoy your time lounging in your RV and being active outdoors and keep these tips in mind before you hit the road. Stay hydrated, stay covered, and alternate your time indoors and outdoors during the peak heat of the day.