How to Camp During the Hottest Days of Summer

How Tos & Tips

Ah, summer. We love it for good reason.

Summertime is synonymous with hot dogs cooked over an open fire, cold cans of beer clutched in koozies, and ice cream cones eaten hurriedly so they don’t melt in your hand. Long, sunny days give you ample time to get outside and reconnect with nature, whether that means hiking a flower-strewn mountain trail or kicking back on a sandy beach without a care in the world. The kids are off school, everyone’s a little bit less harried at the office (it’s too hot to stress!), and the open road calls out, just waiting for adventure.

In other words, summer is the perfect time for a camping trip.

But ironically, one of the very same reasons it’s such a great time of year to get outside can make summer camping trips a bit of a challenge.

It’s hot out there, you guys. And even if you’re camping in an RV, that heat can take a toll on you if you’re not prepared correctly.

But camping in the summer heat doesn’t have to mean drowning in sweat and finding yourself exhausted by sundown.

Here’s how to stay cool while camping in even the most blazing summer heat.

Camping During Summer

If you want to make the most of your camping trip in the summer heat, it’s a good idea to follow a few easy tips to help you stay as cool as possible.

First of all, choose your campsite carefully. You’d be surprised how much of a difference it makes if you’re camping in the shade versus in the middle of a field with no tree cover. Even if you’re planning on running your RV’s air conditioner, seeking some natural cover will keep the unit from having to work so hard, which will both help the A/C run more efficiently and also save you money on generator fuel, if you’re boondocking.

And on a larger scale, aim for temperate destinations. Obviously, it’s hotter almost everywhere in the summer, but some places heat up more than others. You’ll probably have a better time camping in central California than you might in Tuscon, Arizona in the dead of July, for example. An August trip to Death Valley may sound like fun… until you realize temperatures can rise well over 110 degrees Fahrenheit.

If you want to stay cool during your summer camping trip, do yourself a favor and avoid those ultra-hot locations altogether. Instead, choose travel spots where average temperatures cap out around 85 degrees, or which benefit from frequent ocean breezes.

Look at it this way: you’ll have an excuse to take another trip to those super-hot destinations during the fall, spring, or winter.

Hot Weather Camping Gear

After optimizing your destination for the weather, our next best hot summer camping tips are all about being prepared with the right kind of camping gear and equipment. The heat is no joke — it can actually be lethal! So here’s what you need to make sure you have on board to make sure everyone stays safe and comfortable.

  1. An extra supply of potable water. Even if you’re at a campground with full hookups, it’s never a bad idea to keep a nice, cool supply of drinkable water on board. Staying hydrated is critical if you want to stay cool — and safe — while summer camping.
  2. Your emergency first aid kit. Obviously, you should never leave home without this item anyway… but in the summer, when heat stroke becomes a possibility, it’s even more important to have basic first aid and emergency items on board.
  3. A cell phone and back-up charger. In the unlikely event that something does happen due to the heat, there’s only so much you can do on your own. Make sure you have a way to get in touch with the proper emergency services if someone in your party should suffer from heat stroke.
  4. Sunscreen. Heat usually comes with lots of sunshine, too. Keep your skin safe!
  5. Freezer packs, frozen water bottles, and personal fans. Nothing feels better than putting a frozen water bottle on your hot neck after a long day of hiking in the summer heat — and it can also do wonders for cooling down your body temperature.

Of course, all of these suggestions assume you’re camping in a motorhome or trailer that has air conditioning, which will have the biggest effect on cooling down your camping party. If you’re traveling in a pop-up trailer or tent, you should also consider purchasing an extra canopy or tarp to provide more shade during your trip, as well as portable, battery-operated fans to facilitate cooling.

Clothes for Summer Camping

How you dress during your hot summer camping trip is just as important as bringing the proper emergency items. The right clothes will keep you cool, comfortable, and safe from the blazing sun.

Choose lightweight clothes that cover a decent amount of skin. It might be tempting to lounge around in a bathing suit all day, but if you do, you need to make sure you’re absolutely bathed in sunscreen. A very lightweight, long-sleeve tee shirt will do much better to keep you protected from harmful UV rays.

If you’re going to be doing outdoor activities, it’s also a good idea to choose clothing that wicks away moisture, so you’ll stay nice and dry even while you sweat.

Finally, don’t forget a hat and a pair of sunglasses. The sun can harm your eyes just as much as your skin, so protect yourself!

Easy Summer Camping Meals

When you’re camping in 90 degree weather, a hot meal might sound less than appetizing. But fortunately, that means that preparing dinner just got a whole lot easier!

Some of our favorite easy summer camping meals include fresh salads, light meats (like that fish you caught this afternoon!) on the grill, or even just plain old watermelon. Psst — you can slap fresh fruit on the grill, too, and you’ll be very happy you did.

By following these guidelines, you’ll have one of the best summer camping vacations ever, even if it is 95 degrees in the shade.

Stay cool out there!