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  1. #1
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    Staying cool while camping

    I'm hoping to camp a few times in NC this summer. Ideally it would be off the grid but I could get camp sites with electric hook ups if I want connect a couple fans.

    Anyway, what do you guys like to do to stay cool while camping in high heat / humidity?

    EDIT: I mainly want to try to stay cool while I'm sleeping. I've been looking into portable fans but wasn't sure if they generate enough power to be worthwhile. If you have one, what do you have and how well does it work?

  2. #2
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    Not much you can do. Sleeping by a water source or any elevation can help. Other than that a small battery powered fan can make a big difference.

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    Shade and air flow, either naturally occurring or made by you.

    If you don't have hookups, but have your vehicle there, maybe a power inverter would help to run a small fan. In lieu of an actual generator, of course.

    Coolers with lots of cold drinks & ice, including dry ice to supplement the frozen water type.
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  4. #4
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    all depends on how you camp. If you have hook ups you can get a simple misting system. They make a 12v portable misting system as well. https://www.canopycool.com/.
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  5. #5
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    The only way I can keep cool when camping is to leave the wife and kids at home.

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    Quote Originally Posted by emu26 View Post
    The only way I can keep cool when camping is to leave the wife and kids at home.
    Heh. Alternatively, "the only way I can keep cool when camping is to leave the wife & kids at camp and go check into a motel."
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  7. #7
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    Battery powered fan. Cheap solution but only viable if you're car camping.

    I bought one of the "As Seen On TV" air conditioners but it didn't work. Like it didn't power on... so I cant say if the technology works.

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  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by bank5 View Post
    I'm hoping to camp a few times in NC this summer. Ideally it would be off the grid but I could get camp sites with electric hook ups if I want connect a couple fans.

    Anyway, what do you guys like to do to stay cool while camping in high heat / humidity?
    It's simple, rent an RV. Hot tents suck. It's nice to have a place to get out of the heat in the afternoon. Also, not sweating in your sleep is kinda nice too.

    Aside from that, keeping the tent out of the sun and finding an area that will have natural airflow, coupled with a fan for inside the tent.
    . . . . . . . .

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by connolm View Post
    Battery powered fan. Cheap solution but only viable if you're car camping.

    I bought one of the "As Seen On TV" air conditioners but it didn't work. Like it didn't power on... so I cant say if the technology works.

    https://www.buyarcticair.com/?mid=93...waAs-0EALw_wcB



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    Swamp Coolers aren't exactly a smart buy in a humid environment. Also, with no way to contain the air your cooling it's really not too helpful.
    . . . . . . . .

  10. #10
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    Camp near a lake or river and sit in it during the day. It’s camping. If your worried about the heat, get a hotel or rent a RV.

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    Thanks all. I should have specified I mainly want to stay cool while sleeping. I don't care about getting hot during the day.

    Any specific recommendations on the portable fans? I was looking into those but wasn't sure if they'd generate enough power. But I figure any air flow is better than none.

  12. #12
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    airflow. pure and simple. it's the humidity that get me, and short of an air conditioner, airflow does the job.

    also shade as mentioned already, but beyond that, what you're inside matters, too. sun beating on tent fabric seems to make things worse. far too many times I've been tent camping and as soon as the sun comes up, the tent heats up like an oven.

    My camper is much better insulated. White alu cladding, birch plywood, and some insulation in the roof helps keep it from heating up so much. I've also got 12v and solar, so I can keep air circulating almost indefinitely with the ceiling fan. I usually set it up to let the air vent naturally out of the roof, and pull fresh air in from the side windows and/or front vents (my front vents are weather protected, so I can keep them open in heavy weather).

    I have the ability to set up a Climate Right portable a/c unit, but that thing requires power hookups and I haven't ever been so uncomfortably hot in the camper that I've felt the need to buy one. I DO feel uncomfortably cold in the wintertime without hookups, so I plan to add a propex heater eventually.

    If I'm roughing it in the summertime, chances are I'm hammock camping. The hammock ventilates exceptionally well and is super comfortable on hot nights. I have a polypro sheet I'll use if it looks like nighttime temps are unlikely to drop below 65F. No additional venting necessary.

  13. #13
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    Large quantities of very cold adult beverages.
    Or an RV with AC.
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  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by Harold View Post
    also shade as mentioned already, but beyond that, what you're inside matters, too. sun beating on tent fabric seems to make things worse. far too many times I've been tent camping and as soon as the sun comes up, the tent heats up like an oven.
    True, and I'll add that a tarp covering even just one "plane" to provide shade can heat up like a mofo and make it more uncomfortable (unless there's good air flow not blocked by the tarp).
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  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by bank5 View Post
    I'm hoping to camp a few times in NC this summer. Ideally it would be off the grid but I could get camp sites with electric hook ups if I want connect a couple fans.

    Anyway, what do you guys like to do to stay cool while camping in high heat / humidity?

    EDIT: I mainly want to try to stay cool while I'm sleeping. I've been looking into portable fans but wasn't sure if they generate enough power to be worthwhile. If you have one, what do you have and how well does it work?
    Move away from the humidity, then camp at the elevation that suits your sleep needs.

    Twenty years of living in the southeast, nothing can be done except use AC to suck the moisture out of the air.

    Camp as high as possible, top of the Blue Ridge, go to bed as late as possible.

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  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nurse Ben View Post
    Camp as high as possible, top of the Blue Ridge, go to bed as late as possible.

    Sleep nakid
    going to bed as late as possible is a good one, stay outside by the campfire, drink whisky and then crash and you wont even notice the heat.
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    Suck on ice all day.

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    Quote Originally Posted by bank5 View Post
    Thanks all. I should have specified I mainly want to stay cool while sleeping. I don't care about getting hot during the day.

    Any specific recommendations on the portable fans? I was looking into those but wasn't sure if they'd generate enough power. But I figure any air flow is better than none.
    Try sleeping without a tent. Unless the bugs are real bad. Hammocks are nice cause you get air flow all around. But I personally just throw down my cot and sleep on that in the open.

  19. #19
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    The OP mentions “NC” – does he/she mean the sweaty buttcrack known as “North Carolina”, or the overpopulated flea-bitten tax-laden “Northern California”???
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  20. #20
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    Wait until the Fall. As much as I like to camp dealing with a hot tent and swarms of bugs sucks all the fun out of it.

    I'm happier camping like this...

    Staying cool while camping-f48ffeaa-71cd-4628-bdf6-f64175d6c460_1_201_a.jpg

  21. #21
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    Don’t go camping if you can’t handle the heat.

    Roughing it is just that.

    Ward, weren’t you a little rough on the Beaver last night?
    Quote Originally Posted by mileslong View Post
    I passionately remove rocks and corners and other stuff I find too hard to ride.

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    It's a b*tch in the humidity. I've raced 24 Hr events in such conditions, and began sleeping on a cot under the stars. A tent was like an oven.
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  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by Crankout View Post
    It's a b*tch in the humidity. I've raced 24 Hr events in such conditions, and began sleeping on a cot under the stars. A tent was like an oven.
    Yep, best way but set up some mosquito netting.
    Quote Originally Posted by mileslong View Post
    I passionately remove rocks and corners and other stuff I find too hard to ride.

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by Leopold Porkstacker View Post
    The OP mentions “NC” – does he/she mean the sweaty buttcrack known as “North Carolina”, or the overpopulated flea-bitten tax-laden “Northern California”???
    North Carolina. I’ve lived all over the US including Hawaii and California. I wouldn’t call NC a buttcrack but it does get hot

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by bank5 View Post
    North Carolina. I’ve lived all over the US including Hawaii and California. I wouldn’t call NC a buttcrack but it does get hot
    “Hot” as in humid hot. Not much you do about that kind of heat. What goes with humidity? Bugs. So, you are dealing with two issues, I’d say sleeping under the stars to keep the air flowing over you but creating a tent out of mosquito netting for the bug problem.
    Quote Originally Posted by mileslong View Post
    I passionately remove rocks and corners and other stuff I find too hard to ride.

  26. #26
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    It's all about the swimming hole.

    There's a spot at Kingdom Trails in VT right behind the bike shop parking where a mountain stream runs into the East branch of the Passumpsic. You can pick how warm or cold you're going to be by how close you get to the mountain stream.
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  27. #27
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    Quote Originally Posted by DIRTJUNKIE View Post
    Yep, best way but set up some mosquito netting.
    For sure.
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  28. #28
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    +1 on the bug protection and flowy netting if you can get it. Sea to Summit makes some good products for smaller footprints (i.e. 1-2 person layouts). Some have permethrin embedded in the fabric. You may need to get creative on how you pitch it.
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  29. #29
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    I should also mention that I often camp with my family - wife and 2 young kids. We have a large 8 person tent and can keep the windows open and rainfly off to help with airflow and ventilation. Will do an electric site and hook up a couple fans if it's really hot.

    I also plan to sleep with just a sheet in boxers and not a nylon sleeping bag. May even keep some extra ice packs in the cooler and put them on my chest if thing get really hot.

    But yeah, at a certain point it's not that enjoyable so better to get an RV / hotel or just stay home.

  30. #30
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    Quote Originally Posted by bank5 View Post
    North Carolina. I’ve lived all over the US including Hawaii and California. I wouldn’t call NC a buttcrack but it does get hot
    I don’t know how you endure it – that humidity would have killed me long ago.
    Don’t frail and blow if you’re going to Braille and Flow.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Miker J View Post
    Wait until the Fall. As much as I like to camp dealing with a hot tent and swarms of bugs sucks all the fun out of it.

    I'm happier camping like this...

    Click image for larger version. 

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    Yeah, I also prefer cool weather camping, particularly winter.
    No heat, no bugs, plentiful water sources.
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    Have you tried a hammock?
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  33. #33
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    Quote Originally Posted by Leopold Porkstacker View Post
    I don’t know how you endure it – that humidity would have killed me long ago.
    I'm from New Hampshire but summer is one of my favorite seasons here. I tend to acclimate pretty well (but like it cool when I sleep). I love water sports too, so usually take a break from biking in the summer and do stuff on/in the water. Mountain biking in Moab or cliff jumping in Hawaii is tough to beat, but wake boarding, SUPing, paddling to and camping on an uninhabited island and especially taking a jet ski 100+ miles through the Outer Banks is right up there too.

  34. #34
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    Back before o2cool became a beach trinket company, they made some pretty decent battery fans. I bought the big on that has a magnetic plate for mounting to the tent fabric. The battery case was novel, it had a fan speed controller, but it ran through the 8 D cells pretty quick. The fan was separate from the case, and has two windings inside the motor and a two-speed switch on the fan. I ditched the battery pack for a car charger, it will run the fan for a week's worth of hot nights.

    TL;DR Get a large 12V fan and a car charger.
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  35. #35
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    Quote Originally Posted by Flamingtaco View Post
    Back before o2cool became a beach trinket company, they made some pretty decent battery fans. I bought the big on that has a magnetic plate for mounting to the tent fabric. The battery case was novel, it had a fan speed controller, but it ran through the 8 D cells pretty quick. The fan was separate from the case, and has two windings inside the motor and a two-speed switch on the fan. I ditched the battery pack for a car charger, it will run the fan for a week's worth of hot nights.

    TL;DR Get a large 12V fan and a car charger.
    That's what I started looking into. I have a small portable battery pack (https://www.amazon.com/DBPOWER-18000...699189&sr=8-18) that will run a 12W fan for a while but the fan is only about 5" and 1 speed. I may try something like this instead - https://www.amazon.com/AboveTEK-12V-...699441&sr=8-15

    EDIT: actually I was just looking into the specs of that fan and it looks like they're only 4". It's 15W but I don't think it would generate much more power than what I already have. I'll try what I already have next time I'm camping but don't think it'll make a big enough difference in the heat / humidity. I'll probably need a ~50W fan with electrical hook up to feel the difference.

  36. #36
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    Quote Originally Posted by bank5 View Post
    I should also mention that I often camp with my family - wife and 2 young kids. We have a large 8 person tent and can keep the windows open and rainfly off to help with airflow and ventilation. Will do an electric site and hook up a couple fans if it's really hot.

    I also plan to sleep with just a sheet in boxers and not a nylon sleeping bag. May even keep some extra ice packs in the cooler and put them on my chest if thing get really hot.

    But yeah, at a certain point it's not that enjoyable so better to get an RV / hotel or just stay home.
    with a big cabin tent, you pretty much need an extension cord and a box fan or two. none of the battery operated crap is going to be sufficient for a tent that large.

    This is the kind of crap that convinced the wife and I to get a teardrop camper. We still are outside all day, but we have improved shelter for sleeping, and onboard power with solar so we can keep it ventilated as needed. No kids, though.

    Younger kids can stay in a smaller tent outside. Something easier for a smaller fan to keep ventilated. Older kids can use a rooftop tent. Mine has enough room for toddler bunks (some people have done this, but I haven't needed it).

  37. #37
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    No matter what you use it’s still going to be difficult to keep the tent cool. Best thing in conjunction with whatever cooling device you decide on is finding a spot that has shade mid to late day to set up the tent.
    Quote Originally Posted by mileslong View Post
    I passionately remove rocks and corners and other stuff I find too hard to ride.

  38. #38
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    I stop camping at around 90. You have to have a breeze and shade. Went to Roosevelt lake camping last year about this time. It was 89° outside, 124° in the tent. It's just like a car in the sun.

    If you have water and e hook-up use it. Dispersed camping gets tricky

  39. #39
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  40. #40
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    Quote Originally Posted by emu26 View Post
    lord. $500 for the shell tent plus the insulated liner (for 2p)? The big cabin versions are insane for tents.

    They claim it does a nice job protecting against the sun, but seems to me like it'll also reduce airflow, which, IMO, is more important in a humid environment. Clearly developed with western US climates in mind.

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    camp on the river as close to the water as possible.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Staying cool while camping-img_2219res.jpg  

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  43. #43
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    Quote Originally Posted by tim208 View Post
    camp on the river as close to the water as possible.
    Or you could camp in a van down by the river.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cornfield View Post
    Or you could camp in a van down by the river.
    Staying cool while camping-57ac50dc-73b1-4c1f-8fdb-6cbd4a188349.jpeg
    Quote Originally Posted by mileslong View Post
    I passionately remove rocks and corners and other stuff I find too hard to ride.

  45. #45
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    wanna stay cool you gotta get high. like real high.

    11,500ft
    Staying cool while camping-2012-08-26-11.01.36.jpg

    also make sure to check that the tent poles are in the tent bag. you really have to get creative without trees at that altitude.

    Staying cool while camping-2012-08-24-18.27.50.jpg
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    Quote Originally Posted by tim208 View Post
    camp on the river as close to the water as possible.
    Hahahaha, curious how often you've camped next to the water in the eastern half of the country.

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    Quote Originally Posted by azimiut View Post
    you really have to get creative without trees at that altitude.
    Yep, and no trees = no hammocks.

    On our PCT section hikes, as we venture into NorCal, OR & WA, we'll be below treeline pretty much 100%. I'd like to invest in a hammock at some point.
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  48. #48
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    A couple of things I've learned through the years:

    Most low-end tents only take into consideration being able to see outside when they add no-see-um mesh. During the summer, you want maximum ventilation. Having mesh windows three feet off the floor and a foot from the ceiling do not ventilate. For ventilation, you want as much of the tent as possible from a few inches off the floor to be mesh. My better tents are all mesh from that point up, and a few have vents in the fly to let the heat generated by the fly flow out without warming the user space. I have napped in my tents in 90ºF+ during the day, with part of the tent in the sun.

    Shade. Can't beat it for keeping the sun from bumping the temps in a tent.

    Valleys. As the sun sets, cold air moves towards low points. I've camped in places where there was a 10º difference between where my tent was set up, and 15 ft higher at the crest of a ridge. Heat will follow ridges in the direction that they gain altitude, and cooler air will sink between them.

    Sunny side. Are you an early riser? Camp on the side of a hill that faces sunrise. You'll be warmer in the morning, cooler in the evening.

    Cots. Cots let heat from your body pass through, the ground, not so much.

    Air motion. Even in the worst tent, having warm air blow on you is more comfortable than nothing. Even when it's humid, it evaporates some of your sweat, which drops your surface temperature. Think about airflow when setting up a fan, you can do it in a manner that pulls cooler air from outside, blows it across you, and pushes out warm air from the tent.

    Wear yourself out. The more tired you are, the better you will sleep. I did a camp with my boys one year where we were hitting 104ºF during the day, I think two of the nights did not drop below 95ºF. One of my earlier tents with not great ventilation, and no fans. We had zero issues getting to sleep or remaining there. We did set up on the proper side of the ridge, so that at bed time, temps were already in the mid-90's. After a day of 102-104ºF, low to mid-90's felt comfortable.

    Wear a big, goofy, boonie-style cap. And sunscreen. And sun rated clothing. The body dilates blood vessels in the skin to repair damage from sunburn and your nerves don't know it isn't external heat. Even a burn that does not turn red will have you feeling like an egg on a summer sidewalk. Don't add that to your misery.

    Hammocks. The ground retains heat that it releases all night. A tent floor traps heat, releasing it slowly into the tent. Hammocks can be a touch cooler.

    Performance clothing. I know we all love the feel of cotton... but synthetics evaporate sweat faster and move heat quicker. You stay cooler during the day, and also at night, when you might not even be sweating.

    I've got more, but can't release all my trick in one location!
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  49. #49
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    Quote Originally Posted by Flamingtaco View Post
    A couple of things I've learned through the years:

    Most low-end tents only take into consideration being able to see outside when they add no-see-um mesh. During the summer, you want maximum ventilation. Having mesh windows three feet off the floor and a foot from the ceiling do not ventilate. For ventilation, you want as much of the tent as possible from a few inches off the floor to be mesh. My better tents are all mesh from that point up, and a few have vents in the fly to let the heat generated by the fly flow out without warming the user space. I have napped in my tents in 90ºF+ during the day, with part of the tent in the sun.

    Shade. Can't beat it for keeping the sun from bumping the temps in a tent.

    Valleys. As the sun sets, cold air moves towards low points. I've camped in places where there was a 10º difference between where my tent was set up, and 15 ft higher at the crest of a ridge. Heat will follow ridges in the direction that they gain altitude, and cooler air will sink between them.

    Sunny side. Are you an early riser? Camp on the side of a hill that faces sunrise. You'll be warmer in the morning, cooler in the evening.

    Cots. Cots let heat from your body pass through, the ground, not so much.

    Air motion. Even in the worst tent, having warm air blow on you is more comfortable than nothing. Even when it's humid, it evaporates some of your sweat, which drops your surface temperature. Think about airflow when setting up a fan, you can do it in a manner that pulls cooler air from outside, blows it across you, and pushes out warm air from the tent.

    Wear yourself out. The more tired you are, the better you will sleep. I did a camp with my boys one year where we were hitting 104ºF during the day, I think two of the nights did not drop below 95ºF. One of my earlier tents with not great ventilation, and no fans. We had zero issues getting to sleep or remaining there. We did set up on the proper side of the ridge, so that at bed time, temps were already in the mid-90's. After a day of 102-104ºF, low to mid-90's felt comfortable.

    Wear a big, goofy, boonie-style cap. And sunscreen. And sun rated clothing. The body dilates blood vessels in the skin to repair damage from sunburn and your nerves don't know it isn't external heat. Even a burn that does not turn red will have you feeling like an egg on a summer sidewalk. Don't add that to your misery.

    Hammocks. The ground retains heat that it releases all night. A tent floor traps heat, releasing it slowly into the tent. Hammocks can be a touch cooler.

    Performance clothing. I know we all love the feel of cotton... but synthetics evaporate sweat faster and move heat quicker. You stay cooler during the day, and also at night, when you might not even be sweating.

    I've got more, but can't release all my trick in one location!
    More tricks, please!
    "Nobody likes me."

    DJT

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