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Simple and Effective Ways to Cool a Tent Without Electricity

Camping offers a great way to enjoy the outdoors. But when the weather warms up, your tent can get hot. How can you beat the heat without electricity? It’s not always easy to find ways to cool down when you’re out in nature.

Luckily there are some really great tips and tricks for cooling off without electricity. Keep reading for tips on how to keep cool while camping.

There are quite a few methods to keep your tent cool without electricity at camp. In this blog post, we will cover how to use fans, ice and strategically set up your tent as ways of cooling yourself down when you don’t have power or an air conditioner.

Why do tents get so hot?

Camping in sunny conditions is excellent, but the sun is also the biggest culprit when it comes to your tent heating up. The temperature inside a tent can rise quickly, making it uncomfortable to sleep or relax.

Without getting too much into the weeds, the space inside a tent gets hot due to an increase in thermal energy as it absorbs solar radiation, known as solar gain.

Proper ventilation and other steps can help to keep the tent cooler. That said, let’s talk about ways to cool a tent without electricity.

Pick the right time to set up your tent

One great way to keep your tent cooler is to set it up during the cooler parts of the day. If you can wait until evening hours when the temperature drops, that’s a great option.

The problem is if you want to get your camp all set up, with sleeping bags, pads, cots, etc., inside your tent, it’s hard to wait until evening to do all of this.

Especially if you arrive at your campsite in the morning. You probably want to get all set up so you can relax. I get it.

If you can’t set up your tent during those times, make sure to avoid setting it up during the hottest part of the day. The sun will only make things hotter inside the tent, and it will be more challenging to cool down.

Use your cooler

One of the best ways to cool down your tent is to use your cooler. If you have a cooler full of ice, for drinks and food, you can use it to keep the tent cool. All you need to do is place the cooler in the middle of the tent to enjoy the cool benefits.

This will help to cool down the inside of your tent and make it more comfortable to relax in. You can also place fans near the cooler to help circulate the cold air.

The major downside to this option is your ice will melt faster with the lid of the cooler open. So if you’re using a cooler this way, make sure to pack plenty of ice so that it will stay cold for a while.

Make your own air conditioner

This option requires a little more planning upfront. Okay, a lot more planning.

One way to make your own air conditioner is to have a dedicated cooler with a lid that you don’t mind putting holes in. You can use a styrofoam cooler. These are much cheaper.

On the top of the cooler lid, you will cut two holes (using a jigsaw). Next, cut one hole on the left side of the lid, which is the size of a small battery-powered fan.

On the other side, cut a hole that can fit a 4″ 90° angle piece of PVC pipe.

Fill the cooler with ice, set the fan face down in the larger hole, turn on the fan, and viola, cold air.

If you are so inclined, you might be able to buy a small solar kit to run the fan, but a battery-powered fan works just fine.

If done effectively, making your own air conditioner is a geat way to cool a tent without electricity.

Battery-powered fan

So, you’re out camping, and the temperature is on the rise. You’ve tried everything to cool down your tent, but it’s still hot as heck in there. What do you do?

One option is to use a battery-powered fan to help circulate the air and cool down the tent. This is a simple solution that can really cool down your space.

The fan might provide you with enough cool air, or as mentioned above, you can set the fan next to an open cooler with ice in it.

Choose the right kind of tent

If you’re looking for a way to stay cool while camping, it’s essential to choose the right kind of tent. Tents with mesh doors and windows and lots of ventilation are a great option, as they allow for airflow and help keep the tent cool.

Lightweight nylon tents made of polyester and nylon don’t breathe very well but are great for packing and typically have a lot of ventilation. But these tents are prone to getting hot.

Although this might be counterintuitive, canvas tents are breathable and good at maintaining temperature even when it’s hot. The problem with many canvas tents is they don’t always have enough mesh windows to get enough airflow in the tent.

Canvas tents are also much heavier than other options, so these are best suited for car camping. If you are in the market for a good tent for hot weather check out our article here.

Another option is a floorless tent (think circus tent). With these tents, you have a constant flow of air from the bottom of the tent. The downside is that a tent without a floor leaves you exposed to critters.

Choose your tent site wisely

It might seem like common sense, but it’s essential to consider how well the tent will be cooled when choosing a spot to set up your tent. One of the best ways to keep a tent cool without electricity is to set your tent up in the shade.

If possible, avoid setting up in direct sunlight and instead find a shady spot.

Keep an eye out for natural vegetation like trees and bushes that can help shade your tent and keep it cool. If you can find a spot that is shady all day long, that’s great, but it’s imperative to have shade during the heat of the day.

This will help keep the sun from beating down on the tent and make it hotter inside.

If you can’t find a shady spot, try to find a spot out of direct sunlight. This will help keep the tent cooler and make it more comfortable to relax in.

Ventilation

One of the best ways to keep your tent cool without electricity is to make sure that it has proper ventilation. This can be done by choosing a tent with plenty of mesh windows and doors.

This will allow for airflow and help keep the tent cool. The more you can open up your tent and allow the air to flow, the better you will cool down your tent.

Another thing to watch out for is that the rainfly doesn’t sit directly on your tent and smothers it. The rainfly needs to be set up, allowing air to flow through.

Use a space blanket

Space blankets (aka survival/emergency/reflective/all-weather blankets) are a great way to keep your tent cool without using electricity.

They are made of a reflective material that helps deflect the sun’s heat. This can be really effective in keeping the tent cooler.

Depending on the size of your tent, you might need to use multiple space blankets. Space blankets are pretty inexpensive, so it might be a good idea to have several on hand for camping trips.

You can use small clamps to attach the space blanket to the frame (poles) of your tent. This will create a barrier and help reflect the heat away from the tent.

Here are some instructions to set up space blankets no your tent.

Remove your rainfly

If you’re looking for a way to cool down your tent without using electricity, one option is to remove the rainfly.

The rainfly can act as a barrier between the tent and the sun, trapping in the heat and making it hotter inside.

The rainfly is meant to keep moisture out of your tent but can often trap heat inside as a result.

Removing the rainfly allows more air to flow through and helps keep the tent cooler. It’s also a good idea to remove the rainfly when the sun is at its strongest during the daytime.

So, if it’s not raining and the sun is out, take down your rainfly and let some airflow through.

Take your tent down during the day

It might seem like a huge pain in the butt to take down your tent during the day, but this is an effective way to cool down your tent.

As you have probably learned, tents hold heat, and they can feel like an oven during the day. So when the sun is at its strongest, and you’re looking for a way to cool down your tent, taking it down during the day might be the best option.

So, take your tent down during the day and keep it in a shady spot out of the sun. Then, you can put the tent back up in the evening when it’s much cooler.

This can help keep the tent cooler and more comfortable to relax later on.

Sleep on top of your sleeping bag

Sleeping on top of your sleeping bag can help keep you cool when your tent is hot. Sleeping bags are designed to retain heat to keep you warm. So there is no point in hopping inside the bag when you are already hot.

It’s also a good idea to have a light sheet or blanket to put over you while you’re sleeping. This will help keep you cooler during the night and make it more comfortable to sleep.

Put a blanket under your tent

One way to keep your tent cool without electricity is to put a blanket under your tent. You can also use a tent footprint.

This will help block the ground heat (from the sun) from radiating into your tent. The more you can block the heat from entering the tent, the cooler your tent will be.

You can use any type of blanket for this, but I would recommend using a lightweight blanket to avoid adding too much extra weight or bulk to your gear.

Set up a sunshade

When it’s hot outside, and you’re looking for a way to cool down your tent, one option is to set up a sunshade.

As we discussed earlier, there are a few different ways you can do this, using a tarp or even a reflective (space) blanket.

One way to set up a sunshade is by using a tarp. You can use poles or stakes to support the tarp or space blanket. The poles need to be deep enough in the ground to stand upright.

Then you need to tie a rope around the poles’ tops and drape your tarp over the top. Leave enough space, so the tarp is not resting on (or smothering) the tent.

Make sure to use ropes and stakes to secure the tarp. You don’t want it flying away during a windy night or blowing into your tent and causing damage.

Set up camp by a waterway

There are a few different ways to beat the heat when it comes to camping. One option is to set up your tent near a river or lake.

Typically it will be cooler near the water, and you can take advantage of the cooler breezes to help keep your tent cool. Point your tent to catch the cool air.

You can also take advantage of the natural shade from vegetation growing closer to the lake or river.

Sleep in a hammock

Sleeping in a hammock is another way to keep cool when your tent is hot. Hammocks are designed to allow air to flow through and around you, keeping you cooler than sleeping in a tent.

Plus, they are super comfortable and can be a great alternative to traditional camping gear.

Some tents are designed for sleeping in a hammock. So instead of sleeping on the warm ground, you can be suspended with airflow all around you.

Of course, you can always opt to set up a hammock between two trees. Just make sure they are big enough to support the weight of you and your gear.

Try a darkroom tent

Some tents have darkroom technology designed to block 90% of sunlight. These tents are designed to keep the tent darker, so you can sleep longer without getting woken up by sunlight.

They also claim to help keep the tent cooler. I can’t attest to this personally, but it might be worth a shot.

Conclusion

There are many ways to cool your tent without electricity. However, sometimes you have to get creative. Picking the right spot to set up camp is probably the most critical part of keeping your tent cool. 

If you are in a pinch and you have ice to spare, you can try opening your cooler in the tent.

No matter which method you choose, make sure to find what works best for you and enjoy the cooler temperatures.

Steve and Kris
ABOUT THE AUTHORS
Steve and Kris are avid campers, outdoor lovers, and founders of Camp S'more Worry Less. When they are not camping, they enjoy other outdoor activities, including fishing, kayaking, and hiking with their family. Read more.

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