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Being outside in the summertime makes your soul sing. Summer camping with a cool breeze, a campfire, and good friends will make life feel complete.
It doesn’t matter why you like to camp. You might be attending a music festival with friends, leaving the city to unplug, or getting the kids out to enjoy some dirt.
It also doesn’t matter what form of camping you enjoy. Whether you are hiking for hours in the mountains with only the things you can carry on your back or you haul an RV large enough to be a tiny house, it is still camping.
The joy comes from leaving your regular home and making a new one in a different location. You might find more joy from unplugging from society and plugging into nature. Or you may still have all the amenities of home but in a different format. Your choice!
No matter what your choice of camping involves, summer is the time to go and enjoy this great pasttime.
You may run into a few challenges, however.
Read through the following tips and tricks to make the most out of your summer camping trips!
One reason that we camp in the summer is that the weather is actually warmer. Some diehards still go camping and sleep outside in the dead of winter. Summer is the most popular camping season though. And you need some tricks to stay cool when the days heat up.
- Take Your Tent Down During the Day – Tents collect heat like greenhouses. Leaving your tent up for the day will turn your sleeping area into a sauna. The sun will beat down on your tent and heat it up really quickly. It will also start to break down the fibers of your tent (UV rays deteriorate fabrics quickly). Taking it down seems like a pain and a waste of time. The time spent taking your tent down and setting it up again will be made up in the time you can actually sleep without sweating while you toss and turn!
- Set Your Tent Up in the Shade – If it is possible, set your tent up in the shade. This will help to keep it cooler (if you aren’t opting to take it down each day). Depending on the quality of the shade you have and if your tent is shaded for most of the day, you might not even need to worry about taking it down.
- Use a Reflective Heat Blanket as a Sunshade – Cover your tent with a reflective heat blanket. Use it as a rain fly only for sunshine. It will reflect heat rays from your tent and help to keep it cooler. A sunshade will make it so you can sleep in a little later than sunrise without worrying about your tent turning into a sauna. The trick is keeping the shade about 12 inches above your tent to create an airspace. (if you can’t find the shiny reflective type of sunshade you can use a regular tarp).
- Check the Weather and Skip the Rain Fly – If you know that it won’t be raining while you are sleeping, then you can skip the rain fly. This will allow for more airflow through your tent. It makes it easier to take advantage of any breezes that might pop up too!
- Try a Hammock – Too hot for the tent? If you have a hammock you can give that a go. Sleep out in the open but up off the ground. If you are in an area with mosquitos make sure you use repellent before you go to bed. You don’t want to wake up covered in bug bites!
- Take a Dip in Cold Water – Go swimming in cold water to lower your body temperature a bit. Or take a cold shower. You will hopefully fall asleep before your body warms up again. It is like turning yourself into an air conditioner.
- Pack Jugs of Frozen Water and Towels – Freeze water in smaller containers. These work great in the cooler but then you can pull them out and put them against your body to cool down. Place them on your neck or forehead and you will cool down nicely. As a bonus, if you fill the containers with drinking water, you can drink the water once it melts. Staying hydrated is very important as well!
- Use a Sheet or Light Blanket – Just because you are camping doesn’t mean you need to use a sleeping bag. Cover up with a sheet or a light blanket if you still want to use a covering. Or keep it close by so you can cover up later in the night when you cool down.
RV or Trailer Campers
Most of the items above will work for you to help stay cool during the summer as well.
You have an added benefit with the ability to use electricity. Below are some additional ways you can keep your cool during summer camping season.
- Service Your Air Conditioner – make sure your AC is in top working order so you can use it when you have electrical hook-ups. If you are camping off the grid, then you can use a generator to produce power in the evenings and cool your camper down.
- Alternate Opening and Closing Your Windows – I even do this one in our regular house. Open your windows during the coolest part of the day. Close them when it is hottest to keep the warmer air from blowing in and filling your living space.
- Block the Light Coming From Windows – during the day (if you are parked completely in shade) you can close the blinds or add reflective shades to your windows to help disperse some of the sun’s rays.
- Don’t Cook Inside – running the heat of the stove or oven will heat up your tiny space fast. Do your cooking outside on a grill or the campfire to keep your sleeping area as cool as possible.
Wearing the right clothing will also help you maintain your cool during summer camping. Choose lighter colors and fabrics that don’t hold the heat. Nylon and polyester clothing will let air flow through to your skin. This helps your body regulate your temperature and keep you cooler.
Cotton clothing will trap heat and warm you up more. Darker clothing warms up faster in the sun’s rays. This will warm you up faster as well. Wearing lighter clothing will definitely keep you cooler!
As badly as we would like to just throw some food in the cooler, grab the tent and GO, we have to prepare for a few other things.
Cuts and scrapes.
(because climbing up that rock outcrop or practicing your parkour over the picnic table was fun at the time!)
Mosquitos (and Biting Bugs)
Nothing will ruin a camping trip faster than a hoard of mosquitos. We have been known to just pack up and go home. Even though we were covered with military grade bug repellent. It was that bad!
Try to make your camp in an area away from stagnant waters. Marshy areas, still ponds, and slow moving rivers are breeding grounds for mosquitos. You will get chewed on!
Pick a brand of repellent that you know works. If you are okay with more of a chemical cocktail, any OFF variety bug repellent is a great choice. The Deep Woods mix will also repel tics and is something to consider if you are in an area known for these blood suckers. Ewww.
Pets Like Summer Camping Too
Almost all of the things that you do for yourself when you are out camping you can do for your pet as well.
Pay attention to their behavior and make sure they get plenty of hydration (when you hydrate they can too).
They will need to stay cool when the temperature starts to rise as well. Don’t let this discourage you from taking them along. A quick dip in some water or a spray down with a hose or water bottle will help them regulate their temperatures as well.
To start, you should always let a friend or relative know where you are going. Especially if you are going to be out of cell service for more than a few days. If something happens and you don’t come home or make contact they should contact help.
Pack a first aid kit. You are playing outside. Sharp rocks. Things that bite. Uneven ground. Sunburn. Pocket knives. There are all sorts of things that can hurt you when you are out in nature. Have a first aid kit that covers the basics.
- sprain wraps
- anti-itch creams for bug bites and stinging plants
You have a lot to think about when you leave the house for more than a few days. Food. Water. Plans for activities. Shelter. Use some of these tips to make your summer camping trips even more enjoyable.
Bring a Tarp
Pack a tarp. Pack a few tarps. They are the ultimate camping tool and can be used for so much. Ground cover. An extra shelter. A rain fly. Shade for your RV windows.
Organize Your Camp Gear
The best way to make camping easier is to keep your camping supplies organized. You can do that by using clear totes and tubs.
Keep all your camping gear in the same place when you return home will make it easier to go back out the next time.
While you are out camping, if you have stuff organized in clear or labeled totes you will be able to access things quickly and easily. Don’t waste your time digging for things.
Clean up all your supplies and return them to their proper place when you are finished. This will make your next trip quicker, more organized, and more fun!
Ways to Stay Clean
Baby wipes. It isn’t a shower. But it is the best way to feel a little bit better when you are out in the woods for days.
Clorox wipes or cleaning wipes for surfaces that come in contact with foods and bacteria. You don’t want to use these for personal cleaning. Don’t use these on your skin!
Check out these camping hacks for more cleaning station ideas.
Know Your Surroundings
When you go out camping in the summer you need to make sure you know your surroundings. Know where you are camping. If you are camping in an area that flash floods, you need to know where to put your camp. Is it expected to rain upstream from where you are?
What is the forecast for the next few days? Should you be expecting a wind storm or heavy rains?
You can check with your camp hosts if you are staying in a campground. Talk to the clerk at the local gas station if you don’t have cell service and forgot to check the forecast. Be informed.
Clean Your Camp and Hang Things Up
If a wind storm comes up, will it blow everything off the table? Are your clothes going to end up in the stream or the neighbors camp?
Using something like a shoe organizer can help you clean up clutter and keep items from being scattered around your camp. You can read about other camping hacks to help you organize your camp in this post.
Pack it In
Sometimes you just need to know when to pack it all up and head home. Best laid plans sometimes go awry.
The camp trip was the one thing you have been looking forward to all week. And you did your best to make it work. But the location totally sucks. Or the bugs are way worse than you expected. Mother nature pulled a whammy and rained you out.
Sometimes, the trip just sucks. That’s part of camping You either stick it out and make the most of it or you pack it up and try again later. We have done both. Just don’t let it deter you from going out again.
There is still fun to be had. You have a whole season to try your hand at summer camping!