Don’t cancel your weekend campout because it’s too hot! Be prepared and enjoy the warm weather. As we reach record high temperatures across the U.S. it’s probably a good time to review some of the tips for hot weather camping. Here are some tips to beat the heat that I have learned from my 25+ years camping with the Boy Scouts.
The 3 big personal issues to take care of are Heat, Humidity and Hydration:
As your body heats up, evaporation is the way your body handles cooling off. As moisture (perspiration) on you is released it carries the heat away. This works well in dry, hot areas.
Air saturated with moisture is going to have a tough time absorbing additional moisture by evaporation. So, in humid areas you need to create air movement to encourage evaporation. Breezy areas around lakes are good for this.
Perspiration draws water out of your body, which must be replaced frequently. Being thirsty is not a good indicator of your need for water. Surprisingly enough, your urine is the best indicator. Drink often enough so that your urine is light-colored or clear. If it’s dark colored, drink more water!
Water drinking tips:
- Keep water easily obtainable and drink often
- Avoid drinking lots of caffeinated drinks. They act as diuretics and remove fluids from your body.
- Drink lots of water. Especially during a strenuous activity such as a hike. Take lots of water on a hike or hike to a known water source.
Hot Weather Clothing
Picking the right clothing for a hot weather campout can go a long way to making you a happy camper! Keep these tips in mind:
- Pick light-colored, breathable fiber that don’t absorb heat. Leave your black “Metalica” t-shirt at home! ☺
- use a hat. Not only for shade, but to ward off sunstroke and over heating
- Nylon or polyester shorts and shirts are always good. The fabric is cool, lasting and will dry quickly when you perspire
- Cotton is also a good choice. But I find it doesn’t dry as quickly and at night I don’t want a wet, cold shirt on my back
If you are in a bug-infested area, you may need a hat with netting or need to use long, light-colored pants and a long sleeved shirt. Above all, apply and re-apply insect repellent (DEET-based), especially around your ankles, neck, and ears.
I hope everyone is “programmed” to put on sunscreen and use a hat when going on a summer campout, let alone a hot weather camp. In humid climates buy the waterproof sunscreen so it won’t come off when you perspire. And, always use at the minimum 15 SPF. Don’t forget some lip balm! You can get this in 15 SPF also.
There’s nothing worse than trying to sleep with a bad sunburn. ☹
Find shady places to set up camp, bring a canopy or make one by stringing a tarp between some trees.
Hot Weather Gear
When camping in hot weather you can bring the same gear as you would typically take on a campout, except your bedding should be lighter and cooler. What I average by this is, bring a light nylon sleeping bag, or a bed sheet and a associate of blankets.
In hot, dry weather sleeping under the stars is the best camping has to offer. Slip a sleeping pad under your sleeping bag and you are set. If you need more shelter you can tie up the ends of a tarp in the trees or sling the tarp over a tight robe, tied between two trees.
Most good 3 season tents have a rain fly that goes over the top of the tent to prevent moisture from coming in. This is good in humid, hot camping, but I would remove the rain fly in hot, dry areas so you have a “screened” roof to keep the bugs out and watch the stars as you doze off.
Keeping things Cool
Once you are settled into camp and you have your personal hydration under control, your tent in the shade, and maybe a canopy setup to get out of the sum, you are pretty much ready to enjoy the campout.
Keeping food and drinks cool in hot weather is not difficult. In the desert camping I do, I bring two coolers, one for drinks and one for food. Knowing ahead of time that the drink cooler will be opened and closed all day, but the food one will not. I bring additional ice and store it in the food cooler and as the drink cooler looses ice, I replace it My coolers will keep my food and drinks cold for about two days. Any campout longer than that and I’ve got to make a trip for ice.
If you are prepared and follow these tips you can enjoy hot weather camping and especially the “under the stars” sleep out that is totally rare! I am regularly in awe of the number of stars in the sky on a clear, hot night.