How to cool a tent: 26 Easy Camping Hacks!

It’s hot. Too hot to sleep. And you’re camping a million miles away from your air-conditioning. Everyone is tired and grumpy from lack of a good night’s sleep and you’re thinking that camping at the peak of summer isn’t for you.

Summer seems like a great time to go camping until it’s time to crawl into that little hothouse of a tent you bought with you and try to sleep while you feel like you are being baked alive. Packing up and going home can actually seem like a viable option. 

To be comfortable on your next summer camping trip we’ve put together lots of tips, hints, and ideas to help you be cool in a tent while camping this summer! Here they are!

Follow along with our rating system below:

Cool:❄️ Cooler: ❄️❄️❄️ Coolest: ❄️❄️❄️❄️❄️

1. Set your tent up in the shade 

Not all campsites are created equal, find the shadiest AFTERNOON spot under the canopy of some trees to set your set up in so your tent is cool in the evenings when you are ready to go to sleep.

Impact: ❄️❄️❄️❄️❄️

Related: Looking for a tent that will keep you cool? Check out our review of the best tent for hot weather.

2. Use a reflective sunshade over the tent 

Use the heat-reflecting blankets on the outside of your tent, shiny side up to shade your tent if there is no other shade.

Impact: ❄️❄️❄️

3. Use a portable air conditioner or cooler 

Great if you are at a festival campsite with power, using a portable air-conditioner or cooler will definitely keep the inside temperature of your tent a good temperature for sleeping in when we have hot weather!

Impact: ❄️❄️❄️❄️❄️

4. Use a sheet instead of a sleeping bag 

If it’s hot, just use a sheet instead of a sleeping bag or a blanket. Keep coverings as light and loose as possible to stay cool.

Impact: ❄️❄️❄️

5. Check the weather and remove your rain fly 

If you have a double walled tent, remove the rainfly and let the inner mesh let in all the cool night air. If it looks like rain or heavy dew, it would pay to leave the fly on and open the doors and windows for increased airflow.

Impact: ❄️❄️❄️

Man on a chair next to a mesh tent on a mountain meadow
Keep your fly handy – just in case the weather changes unexpectedly!

6. Open your tent’s door and vents if it has any 

Most tents have mesh screens on the windows and doors. Open the solid parts and let the breeze flow through to help keep you cool at night.

Impact: ❄️❄️❄️

7. Choose a tent with lots of mesh ventilation 

If you camp a lot in hot weather, choose a tent that gives you a lot of mesh and ventilation options. You can open and close them to suit the temperature of your campsite.

Impact: ❄️❄️❄️❄️❄️

8. Take tent down during the day 

A tent that stands in the hot sun all day will keep all that lovely hot air inside it. If you don’t need the tent up, take it down and pitch it again after the sun has gone down.

Impact: ❄️❄️❄️

9. Bring jugs or bottles of ice or iced water into the tent 

The evaporation of the ice will cool the air in the tent and by extension, you! Put the jugs in a place where they can’t be knocked over and spill their icy cold water onto you… You could end up cooler than anticipated!

Impact: ❄️❄️❄️

10. Take a cold shower or a swim before going to sleep 

Lower your body temperature before you hit the sack and cool off in a lake, stream, or camp showers. You’ll be clean and cool enough to sleep. 

Impact: ❄️❄️❄️❄️❄️

11. Use a rechargeable battery-operated fan to circulate air 

So cheap and easy, grab a small fan that can be charged off a phone battery or even a small portable solar panel during the day and convert the sun’s energy into cool moving air during the night!

Impact: ❄️❄️❄️

12. Try sleeping in a hammock instead of a tent 

Skip the tent entirely and sleep in a hammock for a 360-degree breeze and cool air on your body. Grab one with a mosquito net and spend the night swinging in the cool night air.

Impact: ❄️❄️❄️

13. Drink lots of water and stay hydrated 

Give your body the water it needs to sweat and keep you cool before you go to bed.

Impact: ❄️❄️❄️❄️❄️

Man with a headlamp in a dark campsite with a lit tent.
Headlamps are great for putting up a tent in the dark to free up your hands!

14. Pitch the tent when it’s dark and cooler 

Wait till the late afternoon or evening to pitch your tent and so you don’t trap hot air inside. Look for a site that has afternoon shade to set up in.

Impact: ❄️❄️❄️❄️❄️

15. Use cold damp towels on your head and neck 

Dip some microfiber towels in water and place them on the parts of your body where the blood comes near the surface, like your neck and head. Your body heat causes the water to evaporate which cools the towel and helps keep you feeling cooler until they dry out.

Impact: ❄️❄️❄️❄️❄️

16. Wear lightweight and light-colored clothing 

Black and dark colors absorb heat making you hotter and light colors reflect heat. Swap out your dark clothes for light-colored ones and feel the difference! Find the lightest weight materials that you can as well. Loose-fitting clothes should also keep you cooler than tight-fitting ones. 

Impact: ❄️

17. Go to bed when it’s dark 

Trying to sleep when the sun is up in a tent is often way too hot! Unless you are camping to be out working in the bush at night, it’s probably best to get your eight hours of sleep in before the sun rises!

Impact: ❄️❄️❄️❄️❄️

18. Sleep off the ground 

Let the cool night air circulate around your body by sleeping on a stretcher or even in a hammock. An air mattress will keep you cooler at night as the air inside tends to be as cool as the ground it’s sitting on.  

Impact: ❄️❄️❄️

19. Sleep in a bigger tent to stay cooler 

Try a family tent – even if there is only one of you! The more air there is inside the tent, the harder it is to warm up. Open up all the vents, doors, and windows and get a larger volume of air circulating around you as you sleep!

Impact: ❄️❄️❄️❄️❄️

20. Get a light colored tent for summer camping 

Just as light-colored clothing stays cooler in the sun, so does light-colored tent. White will reflect the most heat. The darker the tent the hotter it will be. 

Impact: ❄️❄️❄️❄️❄️

21. Take advantage of any breeze 

If there is any breeze whatsoever, face the door of your tent into it and open the doors wide! Let Mother Nature’s breeze be your natural air conditioner!

Impact: ❄️❄️❄️❄️❄️

22. Remove your rainfly to allow more ventilation 

If you are sure it isn’t going to rain, take off the rainfly and let the night air circulate more freely through the mesh panels in your tent. 

Impact: ❄️❄️❄️❄️❄️

Tent set up on a lake edge with a canoe in the water
Watch the weather in case of changes in the water level and know the tide times when camping by a water source

23. Set up next to a water source 

It’s always cooler next to a stream, lake, or river. If you can set your tent up close to some water source you’ll be taking advantage of a naturally cooler part of the area you are camping in, but make sure to keep the tent ventilated to avoid any condensation issues.

Impact: ❄️❄️❄️❄️❄️

24. Choose a canvas tent. They are cooler than nylon 

Nylon tents heat up more quickly than canvas tents, though nylon allows the air to escape more easily too.

Impact: ❄️❄️❄️

25. Put a tarp over your tent

Add another layer to keep the hot sun off the roof of your tent. Make your own artificial shadow if Mother Nature hasn’t provided one for you. 

Impact: ❄️❄️❄️

26. Don’t sleep in the tent! 

That’s right! If it’s cooler outside, drag everything out of the tent (if it’s safe to do so, of course) and sleep outside in the cooler night air. You might need insect repellent, a mosquito net, or a tarp in case of dew or a shower. It’s often cooler outside than inside!

Impact: ❄️❄️❄️

Camping in the Summer isn’t everyone’s idea of fun when it’s too hot to sleep. Taking advantage of a few of these tent camping hacks will make you much more comfortable in your tent at night and we all know what difference a good night’s sleep can make to your attitude and your day.

You can be cool. You can be comfortable. You can enjoy camping this summer!

Happy camping!  😊

Was this post helpful?

Author at Wilderness Redefined camping website

Kara grew up in New Zealand where camping in the backyard as a child turned into multi-night trips in the National Parks as a teenager and then a full blown backpacking adventure for a year in Asia, by herself in her early 20's. Camping, bush walking, car camping and road trips still feature heavily in her current life style. She lives right next door to a World Heritage National Park on Springbrook Mountain and highly recommends having them as next door neighbours!