Tips for Camping In the Heat
Those who camp regularly talk often of being prepared for cold temperatures; there are sleeping bags rated for -50 degrees through 0 degrees for example, and sleeping pads to keep yourself warmer by staying off the cold ground. I am sure I am not the only one who has discovered that sometimes the challenge is not being prepared for the cold, but being prepared for the heat. Just as you won’t sleep well if you are not warm enough, you will struggle to sleep if you are not cool enough. The following will provide some tips on how to stay cool and comfortable when camping in the heat.
You Can Never Have Too Much Water
Perhaps the most important and most simple thing to remember when camping in the heat is to make sure you have plenty of water. And the more active you plan to be, the more water you should have; when camping in the heat dehydration is a risk and it is important to determine how much water you will need and how much water will be available. Should you be staying at a campground when camping, check into whether there will be drinkable or potable water available. Also look into whether there is a natural water source near where you will be spending time, and if you have a way to purify water. The availability of water at your campground and an easily accessed water source will factor into your decision of how much water you should bring. A good sized cooler is great to have to keep you water cool. A great idea is to freeze some bottles of water prior to your departure. Fill your cooler with these bottles to keep other items cool and to offer a special treat at the end of a hot day. It is best to bring more water than you anticipate needing.
Choose the Best Spot for Your Campsite
While this is not always possible, the more shade you can find, the better. It is best to set up your tent in the area where you have the most shade; this will help keep your tent cooler throughout the day, making it more comfortable to be in at night. Also, with shade, you won’t be woken up by extreme heat or really bright early morning sun. Should the opportunity be available to camp near a water source, this is a great way to keep cool and enjoy additional recreation. The water will feel even better in contrast with the heat.
Keeping Cool in Your Tent
If you know you are going to be camping somewhere that gets particularly hot during the time of your visit, invest in a small battery-operated fan. One of these will circulate the air in your tent and help you to stay cool. Another way to stay cool is to sleep on top of your sleeping bag, rather than crawling inside. During a mid-summer trip to Zion National Park, with temperatures in the 90’s, I found that getting in the sleeping bag was not appealing. Bring bed sheets for everyone, and you can sleep on top of your sleeping bag, covered by a light sheet.
Prepare Light, Cold Meals
Many people don’t feel like cooking during the heat of the summer, and when camping, it is no different. Standing in front of a hot stove or campfire when you are already feeling hot is not something to look forward to. You will find yourself even hotter and the warm food will do nothing to cool you down. Take it easy and don’t cook when camping in the heat. You can bring some pasta from home and make a cold pasta salad, with vegetables cut at your campsite. Cold sandwiches are easy to make anywhere and can be enjoyed for lunch or dinner. Cutting up fruit for a fruit salad will help keep you cool and provide you with important nutrients.
Wear Clothes That Are Best For the Heat
Loose-fitting, lightweight clothing are best for being in the heat. Whenever it is hot, even if we aren’t active, clothes tend to stick to our bodies. When wearing heavier clothing, like jeans, this can be very uncomfortable. Since the heat is often accompanied by a lot of sun, choose lightweight clothing that will cover your skin and protect you from the sun. I have a great, lightweight shirt that is long sleeved. While wearing long sleeves in the heat seem counterintuitive, the lightweight fabric makes it comfortable and I don’t have to worry about sun exposure on my arms. Also, invest in a floppy hat and sunglasses; keeping the sun off you face will help you stay more comfortable.
Take the Time to Plan Your Activities
Consider the heat when planning your activities. If you are planning to enjoy a long hike, plan to do it first thing in the morning or in the evening. This is always a challenge for people like me who tend to move slowly in the morning, however it is difficult to enjoy a hike and your surroundings when you are miserably hot. If your plans involve a little time indoors, say at a National Park visitor center, plan that for the middle of the day when the heat is at its highest. A little planning will allow you to do the things you would like to do while keeping you healthy and comfortable.
Don’t Forget the Sunscreen
While sunscreen won’t necessarily keep you cool, it will keep you from getting sunburned. Should you get a sunburn, your skin will feel hot, something definitely important to avoid when camping in the heat. Camping with a sunburn can feel pretty miserable, especially when much of your time is spent outside. When applying sunscreen, make sure to cover all skin that is exposed, and reapply every two hours.
A Little Preparation Goes a Long Way
While many may not be eager to camp in the heat, a little preparation will ensure that you have the experience you have been hoping for. Ultimately, you may find that if you are going to be hot, you may as well be outside surrounded by all nature has to offer.