How to Keep a Tent Cool

January 31, 2021

If you’ve ever gone camping in the dead heat of summer, you know how hot a tent can get. Your sleeping bag’s interior sheets become drenched with sweat each night and you pretty much avoid entering your greenhouse-like structure during the day. But it doesn’t have to be this way! Here are some tips on how to keep a tent cool so you can make your hot summer nights more enjoyable.

Choose a Breathable Tent with Mesh – Lots of It!

If you plan to go camping in the dead heat of summer, make sure to choose a tent with lots of mesh sections. Mesh offers lots of advantages, allowing you to create a cross-breeze on hot days and giving your interior some breathability when things start smelling kind of ripe on week-long trips. Plus, the mesh is so fine it keeps out the mosquitoes.

Seek Out a Shaded Campsite

A little shade can do wonders on a sunny day. If you can, check out campsites ahead of time using sites like CampsitePhotos. Sometimes, the National Park Service offers site photos, too. If you find photos for a campground, seek out sites near trees and be mindful of the sun’s path. The trees not only shade your tent, but will absorb the sunlight. Plus, if you find two close together, you can hang up a hammock for a refreshing nap, keeping your back cool.

Use a Sunshade or Tarp

Whether you have ample shade from trees or not, use a sunshade or tarp above your tent. If you have trees, you can use them for support, but if not, some sunshades come with convenient extendable poles and stakes, allowing you to adjust the height and keep it secure.

When setting up your sunshade or tarp, adjust it so that it hangs at least 12 inches above your tent, allowing for more airflow while keeping the sun from baking your main sleeping quarters. As a layer of precaution, make sure to keep any electronic equipment like cameras and phones in a protective case to withstand any moisture that might creep into the tent.

Remove the Rainfly for Cross-Breeze Ventilation

A mostly mesh tent and shade is great, but remove the rainfly and it’s even better! Mesh might make your tent breathable, but a good cross-breeze allows moisture and condensation to escape. Unlike exterior tarps hung above, a rainfly is designed to neatly encapsulate the tent and protect against rain; however, it can also trap heat. Using both a secondary sunshade and tarp while removing the rainfly is the best of both worlds. Should an unexpected rain come in the middle of the night, you’ll still be protected.

Also, figure out what general direction the wind blows and face your tent door into the wind. Whether you use an app to prepare your tent’s position on the site or use the old-fashioned wet finger-in-the-air trick, find the wind’s direction and set your tent and tarps up accordingly.

Get a Portable Fan

tips on how to keep a tent cool

A battery-operated or rechargeable portable fan is a wonderful addition to your camp gear. Many portable fans also feature a clip, allowing you to attach it to your tent’s ceiling or walls or even nearby camp gear beside your head.

Seek out a relatively quiet fan so that you can appreciate the sounds of nature. And foam blades are obviously a safe choice when camping with kids. Overall, this simple investment can help you sleep better on a balmy summer night.

Swap Out the Sleeping Bags for Sheets

On a hot summer day, a synthetic- or down-filled sleeping bag is the last thing you want to crawl into. Instead of sweating the whole night, simply use only the sheets. Cotton sheets are also much more breathable than most sleeping bag sheets, but can also keep you adequately warm should the night turn chilly.

Extra Tips to Keep You Cool

Stay Hydrated – Drink plenty of water to keep your body from overheating. When you head to bed at night, remove a cold water bottle or frozen water jug from your rolling cooler to keep in the tent and stay cool.

Take a Cold Shower – Before heading in after dusk, strap on your camping headlamp and make your way to take a cold shower to bring your internal body temperature down. Not only will it help you fall asleep quickly, but it removes all the dirt and grime that can turn your sleeping bag dirty. Alternatively, you can place a cold rag across your forehead or neck as you fall asleep. Just wet a rag and place it in the top of your cooler for a few minutes.

Sleep at Night Only – Don’t crawl into a sauna-like tent for a midday nap unless you want to wake up in a pool of sweat or worse. Call it an early night when temps go down and wake up before the sun starts baking you in the morning.

With these tips, you’ll know exactly how to keep a tent cool on a scorching hot day! Try a sunshade and pick up a portable fan to transport yourself to a camping paradise.

shop pelican cases


Sign up for our newsletter and get exclusive access to new product launches, special offers and much more.