Summer is a time to explore, to hit the road, find new places and experience the great outdoors. But let’s face it… summer can be just plain hot sometimes! Camping near a swimming hole sure helps, but what else can a camper do to beat the summer heat?
Camping in the Summer Heat
There are lots of things you can do to make your camping trip in the summer heat more enjoyable. Some of them involve common sense and some require an investment. This is also how to keep cool at a festival while camping in a tent.
- Pick the right spot. Know where the sun sets and rises, and choose a place where you can use natural shade to keep cool. Find a spot that stays shaded for most of the day.
- Create your own shade. Use tarps or awnings over your main camping area and over your tent or sleeping area. Set the tarp up at least a foot over your areas so air can circulate. You can fasten a reflective mylar blanket on top of the tarp to reflect the sun to make it more efficient.
- Play the wind. Determine which way the predominant winds will blow and position your sleeping quarters to take advantage of them. After setting up your camp, there are few other things you can do to help stay cool.
- Meal prep. You can plan meals that require no heat at all, or do your cooking outside and away from your sleeping area.
- Create a draft. If you are camping in a tent, keep the rain fly open, unless you expect rain. If you are sleeping in a truck, car, van, or SUV, open all available windows. This is how to cool a tent without electricity, but you can use fans.
- Block the sun. If you are camping in a camper, the right kind of curtains can make a big difference. Cut reflecting material like a mylar blanket into the shape of your camper windows. Or you can use blackout curtains, which will convert your camper into a cave-like dwelling during the day.
- Use some cooling. You can invest in a portable air conditioner, a small desktop unit, 12 volt fans, or battery operated fans for camping. A bowl of ice positioned in front of a battery-powered fan will give a blast of cold air until it melts.
- Take your own power. Generator manufacturers build portable generators for camping that use solar power or use a hybrid gas/solar power source.
- Head for the Hills. The only way to experience cool weather camping in summer is to camp in higher elevations, like mountain ranges. There are 51 mountain ranges in the U.S. Most of them are cooler in the summer. However, some mountains such as Oklahoma’s Arbuckle Mountains are low in elevation and are quite hot during the dog days. So be sure to check the mountain range’s climate before heading to just any ol’ mountain range.
How to Keep Safe Your Camping Trip in Hot Weather
If you are planning to camp in the hottest months of the year in hot climates, just keeping cool at night is not enough. There are safety precautions you must take throughout your camping adventure. You must plan carefully, especially if you will be camping far away from supplies and first responders.
Put safety ahead of all other variables. The temperature you find on your favorite weather source may not give you the most accurate view of how hot your camping trip could be. The humidity of an area also plays a key role. It is very important to consider the heat-index value along with the temperature.
- Above all, stay hydrated. Drink water and sports drinks with salts and electrolytes. Prolonged exposure to bright sunlight at these temperatures has the same effect on a human or animal as an additional 15°F rise in temperature.
- Stay off the booze. Alcohol impairs the body’s ability to cool itself. If you know you are going to be outdoors and exposed to high temperatures, it is best to limit your alcohol intake.
- Sunburn is painful. Take plenty of sunscreen. High SPF products may pose greater health risks than lower SPF products. When used correctly, sunscreen with SPF values between 30 and 50 offers adequate sunburn protection, even for people most sensitive to sunburn. Properly applied SPF 50 sunscreen blocks 98 percent of UVB rays. SPF 100 blocks 99 percent.
- Wear light and loose clothing. The last thing you want is your clothing stopping your body’s ability to cool. Also – stay away from cotton!
- Go swimming! Take advantage of the water and jump in often.
Is It Too Hot to Camp in the Summer?
It all depends on where you are camping in the summer. There is a big difference between camping in July in the Rocky Mountains and camping in July in Texas.
The maximum temperature for camping comfortably is generally considered to be 95°F during the day, and in the low 80s at night. It helps if you camp under shade trees by a lake, where temperatures are a little bit cooler and there is a breeze.
Many campers like to travel to cooler destinations during the dog days of summer for camping. The following information gives great tips on how to beat the heat when camping during the hottest summer months.
What Temperature Is Too Hot for Camping?
In regions where heat-index temperatures rise to over 100°F, campers usually prefer to either camp during the summer in the mountains or during the spring and fall at lower elevations.
Heat-index values above 105°F are designated as “dangerous or “extremely dangerous”. Definitely avoid camping in dangerous and extremely dangerous heat-index values. Once the temperature reaches 90°F, the heat-index values become dangerous.
What Do You Sleep In When Camping in the Summer?
If you want to go tent camping or camping in your truck bed, SUV, car, or van in the hottest summer months, like thousands of people do in the states with hotter climates, there are ways to sleep more pleasantly than on the ground in a sleeping bag.
Sleep on a cot in a tent instead of a sleeping bag so air can circulate around your body. In a truck bed, truck shell, van, car, or SUV, invest in an air mattress. Your body heat will dissipate more quickly. Lower your body temperature by jumping in the lake right before you retire.
Heat Exhaustion and Heatstrokes
Heatstrokes are no picnic, and require a trip to the hospital. Camping in high temperatures requires careful planning to avoid heat exhaustion and heatstroke. You usually become heat sick before you suffer from a heat stroke. This condition is most common in the summer months.
Heatstroke is a condition caused by your body overheating, usually as a result of prolonged exposure to or physical exertion in high temperatures. This most serious form of heat injury, heatstroke, can occur if your body temperature rises to 104°F or higher.
What Is the Difference Between Heatstroke and Heat Exhaustion?
Heat exhaustion may be treated without medical intervention, but if you are or someone else you are with is vomiting and cannot stop the vomiting by cooling down with water or ice packs and hydrating with water and sports drinks, you need to see a doctor. That is a sign you are entering into heatstroke. Heatstroke must be treated with medical intervention.
Heat Exhaustion Symptoms
- General weakness.
- Increased heavy sweating.
- A weak but faster pulse/heart rate.
- Nausea or vomiting.
- Possible fainting, lightheadedness, dizziness.
- Pale, cold, clammy skin.
Causes of Heatstroke
- Exposure to a hot environment. In a type of heatstroke, called nonexertional, or classic, heatstroke, being in a hot environment leads to a rise in core body temperature. This type of heatstroke typically occurs after exposure to hot, humid weather, especially for prolonged periods. It occurs most often in older adults and in people with chronic illness.
- Strenuous activity. Exertional heatstroke is caused by an increase in core body temperature brought on by intense physical activity in hot weather. Anyone exercising or working in hot weather can get exertional heatstroke, but it’s most likely to occur if you’re not used to high temperatures.
- High body temperature. A core body temperature of 104°F or higher, obtained with a rectal thermometer, is the main sign of heatstroke.
- Altered mental state or behavior. Confusion, agitation, slurred speech, irritability, delirium, seizures and coma can all result from heatstroke.
- Alteration in sweating. In heatstroke brought on by hot weather, your skin will feel hot and dry to the touch. However, in heatstroke brought on by strenuous exercise, your skin may feel dry or slightly moist.
- Nausea and vomiting. You may feel sick to your stomach or vomit.
- Flushed skin. Your skin may turn red as your body temperature increases.
- Rapid breathing. Your breathing may become rapid and shallow.
- Racing heart rate. Your pulse may significantly increase because heat stress places a tremendous burden on your heart to help cool your body.
- Headache. Your head may throb.
Untreated heatstroke can quickly damage your brain, heart, kidneys and muscles. The damage worsens the longer treatment is delayed, increasing your risk of serious complications or death. Heatstroke requires emergency treatment.
When to See a Doctor
If you think a person may be experiencing heatstroke, seek immediate medical help. Call 911 or your local emergency services number.
Take immediate action to cool the overheated person while waiting for emergency treatment.
- Get the person into shade or indoors.
- Remove excess clothing.
- Cool the person with whatever means available. Put them in a cool tub of water or a cool shower, spray with a garden hose, sponge with cool water, fan while misting with cool water, or place ice packs or cold, wet towels on the person’s head, neck, armpits and groin.