How To Cool A Tent Without Electricity (7 Simple Hacks)

Nothing will ruin a good night’s sleep like a hot, stuffy tent!

And if you’re out in the wilderness with no access to electricity, you can’t just flip on a big fan to help keep you cool.

But that doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice comfort just because there’s no electricity.

So, let’s look at how to cool a tent without electricity with our seven tried and tested hacks!

Plan Your Tent Location For Optimum Cooling

The location where you pitch your tent will have a significant impact on the temperatures you’ll experience during the day and night.

If you set up your tent in an area that receives direct sunlight during the summer, you will subject yourself to higher temperatures than someone who pitches their tent in the shade, for example, under a tree.

The ideal campsite location is an area that offers shade from hills or trees during the hottest times of the day. Plan by selecting an area that’s well shaded from the hot sun, so your tent doesn’t trap in the heat.

Also consider taking advantage of natural cooling elements such as the breeze from a water body, on a raised area, or somewhere close to plants taller than the tent. If there’s a thicket or forest nearby, use it to shield the tent from direct sunlight. You’ll also benefit from the temperate breezes that can bring down temperatures outside and inside the tent.

Choose The Right Tent Material

Most camping tents are made of nylon and polyester. Both materials are lightweight, cheap, and highly durable. However, they are awful at insulating the inside of a tent from the outdoor heat.

If you’d like to cool your tent without electricity, you will want to get one made from canvas. While it’s a tad more expensive and heavier than both nylon and polyester, canvas material is very good at maintaining the optimum temperature inside the tent even when the outside gets hot. Canvas is significantly heavier than nylon or polyester, so canvas tents are best suited to car camping rather than backpacking.

Did You Know…
Along with the material, the color of your tent has an effect on the temperature inside! The best color depends on your location and priorities. So, check out our guide to what tent colors are the coolest in hot weather!

Some regular campers have different types of tents that they use in different seasons of the year or at different campsites. Camping in the summer months requires a tent that is breathable enough to allow for air to flow in and out of the tent, cooling it in the process.

Some designs incorporate mesh windows as well as rain flaps that a camper can open out and keep up on a calm sunny day.

Some of the best warm weather tents blend different materials. For instance, some summer tents are made from canvas but coated with polyester to make them UV-resistant.

Check out our guide titled What Material Are Tents Made Of for more information on choosing the best material for your camping needs.

Choose A Tent With More Headspace

Many campers prefer dome tents as they are easy to set up and anyone can fit inside comfortably. On the flip side, they run the risk of getting crazy hot during sultry weather. The next time you go shopping for a summer tent, consider one with a sufficiently large headspace as it allows more room for air circulation and is easier to cool down. Better airflow in the tent makes it easier to cool down when the inside heats up.

A great example of a tent with sufficient headspace is the ALPS Mountaineering Camp Creek 4-Person Tent, which boasts a 7 ft height at it’s center!

ALPS Mountaineering Camp Creek 4-Person Tent

ALPS Mountaineering Camp Creek 4-Person Tent

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Some tent designs such as the Bell tent are foldable, meaning they can provide good airflow whenever necessary. This design also makes it possible to change the tent’s canopy to create an extended headspace during the temperate seasons or a compact one when temperatures plummet.

Set Up The Tent At The Right Time

One big mistake many campers often make is attempting to pitch camp as early as possible when they arrive at the campsite. Even though they’re not planning to sleep until nighttime, you will find people setting up their tents at noon, letting the sun bake their tents the entire afternoon when they are not in use. The problem is that the midday and afternoon heat will raise the temperature of the air inside the tent. This heat can linger until the evening, when you want the tent to be cool and relaxing.

The ideal time to pitch your tent is later in the day, preferably just before or during sunset. Before you do so, ensure you have completed setting up and preparing other camping-related tasks such as clearing the area around the tent and collecting wood for the fire. It’ll take you roughly 15-20 minutes to do so.

Provide Sufficient Ventilation

If you are wondering how to cool a tent without electricity, then the answer lies in proper ventilation. A properly ventilated tent is the easiest to cool down without power because it lets in cold air through one side of the tent and lets out warm air via the other side. When shopping for a tent, pay attention to the ventilation as it’ll determine whether you’ll have a cool and comfortable interior or a stifling one.

A tent accumulates uncomfortable heat from:

  1. Direct sunlight warms up trapped air, causing it to rise.
  2. The heat released by your body heats up the air, causing the surrounding air to get warmer.

To prevent this effect, choose your tent wisely. The right one should have ventilation opening on the sides towards and away from the natural wind or breeze flow direction. In other words, you want the air to flow through your tent!

Dress To Be Cool

And we don’t mean dress cool to be on the cover of GQ magazine!

In many cases, the answer to the question “how do you keep a tent cool in summer?” lies in changing the way you dress and how you prepare for camping.

For instance, rather than packing heavy, dark-colored clothes that absorb heat during the day, bring lightweight, bright-colored clothing made from materials such as cotton or linen. These materials dissipate heat instead of retaining it.

Nights can get chilly out in the wilderness, even if the days are hot. Sleeping bags are great for keeping you warm at night if the temperatures drop. But if the night weather stays warm, you may want to bring a sheet or light blanket as well. If the nights are warm enough, you can sleep on top of your sleeping bag and cover yourself with a sheet or blanket while you sleep.

Tip: Check out our post on the most comfortable way to sleep in a tent for more tips to ensure you get the rest you need while camping.

Cool The Air

Lastly, improvise cooling tools that you can use to cool your tent when out in the wild. If you have ice with you, that’ll help. Simply place a block of ice on a pan or plate and place it close to the tent’s air ventilation. As the ice melts, it will absorb the tent’s heat, creating a mild cooling effect on you.

Battery-powered fans can also be a lifesaver from the heat. While they’re usually not as powerful as electric fans, every bit of breeze helps when the sun is beating down on you.

Battery Operated Fan for Camping

Battery Operated Fan for Camping

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Bonus Hack
Another way to keep cool inside a warm tent is to soak a few towels in ice water, or cool water from a lake or river, then place them at the back of your neck on a cold day or evening. If you don’t have towels, even a T-shirt can come in handy. The secret here is to have a wet surface that will generate a cooling effect when the water evaporates.

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