Tent in the middle of a field

11 Hacks For Keeping Cool In A Tent

Summer is the best season for camping adventures. The weather is warm, nature’s in bloom and it’s easy to take time from work or school to enjoy it all. However, there are downsides, like excessive heat, which makes lying in a tent very uncomfortable. If it's too hot, you may not be able to sleep at all! 

Fortunately, there are a lot of things you can do to keep your tent cool. In this guide, I’ve compiled some of my best strategies for keeping cool. Each group of tips is broken into three groups, before, during, and after you pitch your tent. 

With these eleven hacks, you’ll be able to keep your body temperature down and your stoke level high.

Before Pitching Your Tent

Follow these four hacks before starting your next adventure. They’ll get you set up for success before you even set foot on the trail.

Hack 1: Buy A Tent Fan

  • Difficulty: Minimal.
  • Time: 30 minutes. Make sure to get a fan that matches your outdoor adventure. Heavier options are only ideal for car camping. Consider the weight, power, and battery life (or solar charging capacity) of backpacking versions.

Camping Fans run the gamut from small to large and can work in a variety of camping situations. The lighter and smaller versions won’t be as powerful, but they can easily accompany you on a backcountry trip. Any functioning device that blows cool air on your face and/or body is a step up from a hot tent!

Hack 2: Bring The Right Clothes & Gear

  • Difficulty: Moderate.
  • Time: 1-3 hours. Finding the right hiking clothes and gear to cool off can take a little time. However, spending a couple of hours finding the best options now will save you so much hassle and frustration when you get going on your trip.

If you prefer to sleep in clothes, choose breathable and lightweight materials like linen. Wearing clothes at night can also help prevent your skin from sticking to sleeping pads or sleeping bags when it’s really hot. Keep your sleeping clothes separate from your hiking clothes. For a deep dive, check out our article on what to wear hiking in hot weather.

You may also want to consider only using a sleeping bag liner instead of a sleeping bag on balmy summer nights. The less material, the more air can pass through it. Another quick and easy strategy is to pour water on a towel and use it to cool off periodically.

Hack 3: Buy The Right Tent

  • Difficulty: Moderate. Look at the features and material, don’t just buy the first tent that looks good.
  • Time: 1-3 hours.

Hot weather tents feature an abundance of mesh and features to increase airflow. Some even employ blackout technology to keep the inside of your tent darker for longer in the morning. With several fantastic options, it's worth getting a tent built to withstand the blistering heat of summer.

Here are some things to keep in mind when selecting the best hot-weather tents for your next summer camping trip:

  • Cotton tents are cooler but heavier than nylon or polyester tents.
  • Canvas is an excellent material, but canvas tents are mostly used for basecamps. With up to 100 pounds of material needed to set up a big one, canvas is best if you’re camping near your car.
  • Size up. If you're solo camping, consider a 2-person tent. Couples should consider a 3-person tent. Larger tents have more space for gear, and they allow air to circulate better. If you’re jammed into a small tent with extra body heat and gear, it’ll get hot fast.
  • Choose cool tents that emphasize the amount of mesh, the number of doors, or any sun-reflective technology meant to reduce heat.
  • Get a separator like a tent footprint or an extra piece of tarp to put between you and any warm ground surface. 

Hack 4: Consider A Hammock

  • Difficulty: Minimal to Moderate. Make sure you set up a good knot-tying and strap system. It becomes a lot easier after you practice a few times.
  • Time: ~30 minutes, mostly tree selection, knot tying, and strap adjustments.
  • You Need: The hammock, weight-bearing carabiners, and strong straps to attach the hammock to.
  • Useful Resources: Setting up a Hammock

I’m a huge fan of hammocks, provided the weather forecast is calm. If it’s supposed to be very windy or wet, this may not be the best option. However, for hot, dry summer days, the hammock has a lot to offer.


Hammocks require a couple of trees and some knowledge of knots to work properly, but once secured, they float above the ground. This allows air to circulate all around you, which is an effective temperature control strategy. You can also swing a little, a motion that may help many fall asleep faster in new environments. Some hammocks also come with bug net attachments.

During Your Stay

When you settle down at your campsite, there are some important things you can do to keep your set up cooler and more comfortable.

Hack 5: Pick The Best Location

  • Difficulty: Moderate to difficult. Finding the perfect tent location can be one of the toughest tasks. Ideally, you want to find a flattish area with ample shade that won’t pool water. You also want to clear the area under the tent by removing pine cones, rocks, and debris. It’s ok to take your time here, or you’ll end up adjusting the tent often.
  • Time: Up to an hour.
  • You Need: A campsite and patience.
  • Useful Resources: How to Pick a Good Campsite , 5 Tips for Finding the BEST Campsite

Mature trees with full canopies can create shaded spots where the temperature is several degrees cooler than the surrounding area. Set up under healthy trees with lots of leaves to help cool off. A bit of shade can make a world of difference. Pay attention to dead trees, snags, and widowmakers. In aggressive wind, dead branches and snags can fall down on you.

If there are no trees around, find a flat area that isn’t hemmed in by hills or rocks. If your campsite is surrounded by dry slopes, it’ll radiate heat on your tent throughout the day. Make sure there's a way the wind can pass through your campsite to increase air flow. In all cases, avoid putting a tent where water could run, like a wash, river bed, or the lowest point of a gully.

Hack 6: Timing

  • Difficulty: Moderate. It’s easy to autopilot when you arrive at a campsite and immediately begin setting up. However, the perfect time to set up a tent is in the late afternoon when the heat begins cooling off. 
  • Time: However long it takes for daytime high temperatures to drop off.
  • You Need: Patience.

There’s no need to set up a tent during the hottest part of the day. If you arrive at a campsite in the blistering afternoon hours, try waiting. It’s much more enjoyable setting up your home when the sun is on its way down, and temperatures have dropped. It also gives the tent less time to accumulate heat.

Hack 7: Leave The Rain Fly Off During the Day

  • Difficulty: Minimal.
  • Time: 5 minutes or less.
  • You need: A place to store the rain fly, and to remove all straps or hooks attaching the rain fly to your tent.

If you’re setting up a campsite for a couple of days and going off to explore, leave the rain flaps open or take the whole rain fly off. Let the mesh sides take in as much air as possible. This will help the tent stay cool when you come back from an excursion or from hanging around camp. With the rain fly on, heat will just increase and circulate inside your tent.

If it’s forecast to pour, or there's a bigger chance for afternoon t-storms, the rain fly may be necessary. In that case, leave the rain fly off when it’s clear and only use it when necessary.

Hack 8: Tarps

  • Difficulty: Minimal to Moderate .The difficulty will be moderate if it’s your first time trying out a tarp. However, like hammocks, the process becomes easy with practice.
  • Time: Up to 45 minutes.
  • You Need: A place to store the rain fly and to remove all straps or hooks attaching the rain fly to your tent.
  • Useful Resources: Knots That Make Camping Easier!Tarp Setup for Beginners

Cheap and easy to find, tarps are awesome. If you find yourself in an area with some tree cover, consider stringing a tarp above your tent. Once properly secured, which will take some knowledge of knot tying and a supply of rope, the tarp can block nearly all sunlight. With the use of a tarp and the presence of calm weather, you can even forgo the tent altogether.

If you’re camping in an area without considerable tree cover, consider the lean-to setup. Secure a tarp to the ground with stakes or rocks and use trekking poles to elevate the other side. The angled tarp blocks the sun effectively, and the open portion facilitates air movement throughout.

After The Tent Is Up

Once you’ve picked a spot and your tent is up, consider the following quick steps to create the coolest possible experience.

Hack 9: Try Adjusting Your Sleep Schedule

  • Difficulty: Sliding scale, it can be difficult if you have pre-existing sleep issues.
  • Time: Ideally, less than half an hour, but it will depend on your relationship with sleep.
  • You Need: Patience, soothing items, for example: melatonin, eye mask, comfort items like a favorite pillow or stuffed animal, a relaxing playlist to lull you into slumber, etc.
  • Useful Resource: 10–Minute NSDR Meditation

For people who rely on white noise to fall asleep, the deep quiet of the outdoors may be a little unnerving. The nice thing about backpacking to a campsite is that you’re likely tired when you get there. Perfect. Settle in, eat some food, drink some sleepy tea, and go to bed when the sun does.

If you match your schedule to the sun, it’ll help you reset your body clock and help you get a good night of sleep. The earlier you start dreaming, the less likely a blistering morning sun will wake you up the next day. Early risers in the outdoors don’t have to deal with wild temperature fluctuations or waking up drenched in sweat.

There is a caveat to this hack. If it's the peak of summer in more extreme latitudes where the sun doesn't go down until 10 PM (or later), bring a dark eye mask. Additionally, position your tent so the side you don’t use is facing the afternoon sun, then sleep facing the other way.

Hack 10: Don’t Be Afraid To Move Your Tent

  • Difficulty: Minimal.
  • Time: ~30 minutes.
  • You Need: Patience, a willingness to adjust your setup, and a better campsite candidate than your first.

If you don’t like your setup and you're in a campground for several nights, consider moving your tent. Once it’s set up, it should be easy to loosen the guy lines and tent stakes if you’ve found a better spot. It’s not worth suffering needlessly if you find a cooler or more sheltered site.

There's a reluctance amongst campers about moving things once they're set up. It makes sense; you hiked to the campsite, and after putting up a tent, you don’t want to move it. However, no one’s stopping you from finding a better spot. If you have a half hour to spare, adjust as needed.

Hack 11: Water, Water, Water

  • Difficulty: Minimal with a water filtration system and access to plenty of water.
  • Time: Less than 20 minutes.
  • You Need: At least 3-4 liters for backpacking plus a water filtration system and a nearby source of water. For car camping, you may want a cooler, a block of ice, water jugs, and additional filtration or access to fresh water.

First, make sure you’re hydrated enough to keep your body temperature regular. Then, consider some other nifty water tricks. Drop a bit of water on the inside of your wrists, the back of your neck, and the top of your head. These areas of the body have blood vessels close to the skin, so the cool water will drop your body temperature faster.

Store all your water under shade. Hot water is uncomfortable to drink anyway. If you’re camping by a rushing mountain stream or lake, take a dip to cool off. At night, if you have cool water close by, put it in a water bottle and stick it in your sleeping bag liner or hold it near your wrists to cool off.

Car camping can bring a lot of advantages too. If you’re not camping far from your vehicle, bring a cooler with ice, frozen jugs of water, or a stronger fan that has a water mist feature. If you’re at a well-supplied campground, consider taking a cold shower to lower your body temperature.


There are several ways to stay cool in a tent during the hotter months of the year. Think about where you're setting up and look for shade, or increase your own shade with a tarp. Buy tents with great airflow capacities, or opt for a hammock. Always stay hydrated and have access to water to help you cool off.

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*The information on this site is based on research and first-hand experience but should not be treated as medical advice. Before beginning any new activity, we recommend consulting with a physician, nutritionist or other relevant professional healthcare provider.