How to Stay Cool While Camping Without Electricity

Learning how to stay cool while camping without electricity is an essential skill if you’re planning to spend time in the wild this summer. Excessive exposure to heat can quickly sap your energy.

At best, this will reduce your enjoyment of your trip; at worst, it can result in serious health issues, like heat exhaustion. 

Following the 7 tips in this article will give you the skills you need to avoid these problems and get the most out of your camp.

A girl in a white top washes her hands outside.

7. Harness Your Natural Cold Sensitivity to Stay Cool

Certain parts of your body are naturally more sensitive to cold. Learn to harness these spots on a hot day to stay cool while camping without electricity. 

Your blood transports heat around your body. So it makes sense that, by cooling your blood, you can cool yourself all over.

Research has shown that an effective solution to heat is putting ice cubes or a cold beer from your cooler onto your wrists, where your blood vessels are near the surface. This rapidly cools your blood and, when it circulates, it cools your whole body.

Plunging your hands in cold water has much the same effect.

Spray water onto your face to achieve a similar result. Water is a better conductor of heat than air, so it will quickly transfer your body heat away from you. This will cool you down faster.

Your face has a high density of nerve endings, which means that it’s more sensitive to temperature change. Spray or splash water on it and you’ll feel much cooler much quicker.

6. Bury Your Water and Supplies to Keep Them Cool

The earth a foot below surface level is usually several degrees colder than the air above it on a hot day. This is because it takes a while for the heat to penetrate so deeply, so the soil does not heat up as quickly during the day. 

Dig a small trench, wrap your water and other supplies in a tarpaulin and then place them at the bottom.

See our guidance on how to choose the right tarp for your camping trip in our detailed article.

You don’t have to put the earth back on top if you need easy access. But, if you’re going to be away from them for a day, consider burying them completely to benefit fully from the temperature difference. 

Just make sure to mark the spot and double check that you have carefully sealed any food containers. You don’t want leakage!

5. Choose the Right Campsite for Maximum Comfort

Always think carefully about the type of ground that you’re planning to set up camp on.

Studies have demonstrated that the air above asphalt is up to 10 degrees warmer than that above grass.

Soil, which absorbs more heat due to its darker colour, lies in between the two. It’s cooler than asphalt but warmer than grass. 

Due to the air pockets within it, long grass often stays coolest. Longer grass has more air pockets, meaning that it’s better at keeping you cool when you camp on top of it.

So, if you’re looking for somewhere to set up camp, make sure to find the lushest, longest grass around.

Additionally, tree cover is essential if you want to stay cool. Even on a very hot and humid day, shade cools the air by at least one or two degrees, compared to spaces in direct sunlight.

Crucially, shade will also help you to avoid over-exposure to the sun. This can quickly cause sunstroke.

Pack clothes with light colours and natural materials when planning how to stay cool while camping without electricity.

4. Choose the Right Clothing to Keep Yourself Cool

Shorts and short-sleeved shirts will obviously be the better option on a hot day. But the material that they’re made from also plays a vital role in helping you to stay cool while camping without electricity. 

Key to this is how well they allow sweat to evaporate from the surface of the skin. Loose clothing, particularly made of materials like cotton and linen, create room for air circulation underneath. This contributes to a cooling effect that provides a much better alternative to skin-hugging clothes and polymer fabrics like nylon.

Another important feature to pay attention to is colour. Dark clothes will absorb and retain heat, creating a kind of greenhouse effect for your skin and quickly heating you up. Lighter colours, like white or beige, have the opposite effect and help you reflect away the heat.

Our article on how to pack minimally contains more useful guidance on how to plan out which clothes you should take.

3. Choose a Tent that Will Keep Cool

Colour is a key factor here as well. Lighter tents will reflect away the heat much better than dark ones. If you want to improve this reflective quality, you can wrap your tent in a reflective space blanket. This will keep the interior of your tent nice and cool during the heat of the day.

Ventilation also has a huge effect on the temperature inside your tent. Tents with removable flaps or rainflies are ideal because they allow a through-draft.

Similarly, bigger tents will allow more space for the air to circulate inside. By comparison, the heat of a summer day combined with your body heat will quickly heat up the air inside small tents.

2. Set Up Your Tent Correctly

Here are three tips for keeping your tent cool while camping without electricity. First, don’t sleep in the same tent as other people, wherever possible. Your combined body heat will heat up the interior twice as fast!

Secondly, try to stay off the ground when sleeping. This will allow the air to ventilate beneath you, preventing your body heat from being trapped in the ground directly beneath you. 

You can achieve the cooling effects of air circulation by sleeping on top of pallets, with a blow-up mattress for comfort.

If you’ll be carrying your camping gear, you could use a simple (and lightweight) hammock. Set up a tarp over the top to keep off the rain without trapping heat. See our article on tarps for guidance on which one to choose.

Thirdly, open your rainfly and place a wet towel over it. Research has shown that, as the air blows through it, it will be cooled by exposure to the moisture. This will significantly cool you down. Kevin Purdy over at Lifehacker has written an informative article with more information on this effect.

Pay attention to your tent set-up when planning how to stay cool while camping without electricity.

1. Plan Your Activities Carefully According to the Temperature

This is a key way to keep cool. By performing certain tasks at certain times of the day, you can maximise your ability to stay cool.

A good example is setting up your tent at night, just before you sleep in it. By doing so, you trap the cooler evening air.

This is much better than leaving the tent to gradually heat up like a greenhouse during the day.

The same applies if you’re planning to do a particularly labor-intensive task. Setting up a tent for a large number of people or carrying water to your campsite are activities best performed in the cooler hours of evening.

If it’s really hot, try to have a siesta in the middle of the day. By doing so, you will not be exhausted later on and you can get more out of your mornings and late afternoons.

Conclusion

Learning how to stay cool while camping without electricity is all about planning ahead. Follow the tips in this article will allow you to have a much better trip. They’ll also help you to avoid dangerous health problems like heatstroke.

A canvas tent under a night sky.

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