Getting the most from the great outdoors

Why do tents get so hot? How to cool your tent down

why do tents get so hot

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Unless you are a budding polar explorer you’ll most likely camp in the summer. Long days, dry and warm weather and the freedom of the outdoors all make for the best time to head off with a tent.

There is only one problem, it can get really warm inside a tent.

So, why do tents get so hot?  Being an enclosed space a tent can trap heat really effectively. If your tent is in direct sunlight and you have no ventilation, then even on a cool day, the interior will warm up quickly. The sun’s rays penetrate into the tent, warming the interior. The heat can get in but it can’t get out as easily, so the tent heats up.  If the ground inside the tent is damp then things get even more uncomfortable due to raised humidity levels.

How to cool your tent down during the day

The main cause of your tent becoming too hot is the sunshine and there are a few things that you can do to lower the temperature inside the tent:

Consider the area where you will pitch your tent. Thinking about the location, before you pitch your tent, is a good exercise anyway.

As well as the sun, you should think about wind and potential summer storms. Try to find an area where your tent will be in some natural shade at the hottest parts of the day.

Use the ventilation doors and windows. Keep these open on all sides of the tent to create a natural flow through and movement of air.

If your tent has a flysheet then make sure that is correctly installed – often they will trap heat and this can become worse if it is not fitted properly.

Try to get a light coloured tent – dark colours absorb heat more readily whereas a lighter colour has a greater tendency to reflect the sun’s rays.

How to stay cool in a tent at night

You won’t get the blazing heat in your tent at nighttime that you experience during the day but, it can still be uncomfortably warm, particularly if you are in an area that has high humidity levels.

If you have a few people with you in your tent, perhaps it’s a family camping trip, then the heat from bodies will also create extra warmth, this is added to of course if you have a dog camping with you.

As in the daytime, the key action is to make sure that your tent is ventilated. A breeze of cool night time air drifting through the tent will help to reduce the temperature.

Get a bigger tent. It takes more energy to heat a larger space and simply having a larger tent will mean that your camping nights will be cooler.

If you can, put extra equipment and gear outside. Objects will absorb heat during the day and then radiate that heat out when it goes cooler. It may not be noticeable to you but those rucksacks could be behaving like heating radiators keeping you warm.

How you can cool your tent with electricity

Some campsites have electrical hook ups that are suitable for people camping in tents.

This facility provides you with a handful of options to keep your tent cool and the most common way is to use a fan to keep the air moving. 

You also have the option to use an air conditioner to keep your tent cool. There is a good selection of portable devices to choose from. We found this exceptional air conditioner which will work well. You can see it here on Amazon.

Rechargeable fans are good too

There are also some really good value rechargeable fans that you can use in your tent to stay cool.

Most will charge quickly via a USB charger which connects to a car cigarette lighter. They often come with hanging hooks as well so that you can locate them in the warmest parts of the tent.

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Try solar power

If you want to try rechargeable fans to keep your tent cool but don’t have a power source then don’t rule out solar power.

It is now possible to get solar panels that produce good levels of power which can be rolled or folded up into a small size, making them easily portable and useful for camping expeditions.

This 100w foldable panel on Amazon makes an ideal choice.

Other things that you can do to cool down when camping

Have a shower or go for a swim before you bed down for the night

Set up camp near to a river or lake so that you benefit from the cooling effects of the water

Remove the flysheet from your tent

Change your sleeping bag to a lighter weight

Make sure that you drink plenty – water is the suggested option, but cold beers go down well on camping trips

Final Words

It can get very hot when camping in a tent. Pick your site well and try to use natural shade. Opening windows to make the best use of the breeze will also help.

If it gets too hot for you then why not try camping at a different time of the year for a totally different camping experience?

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