Right now, in Australia, we are a few months away from entering the summer. But for those in North America, you’re likely in the thick of it with a few months of summer to go, lucky you.
If that is the case, I have written this article as a reference guide for you to look up if you need a few tips on how to stay cool.
These tricks may mean the difference between a warm / hot weather camp that’s nice and comfortable instead of a drill camp, spent sweating it out.
If you have some spare time and in no hurry to get your tent setup. I suggest you invest time in finding a treeline or a ridgeline that will shade your tent when the sun rises and hopefully for the rest of the day.
Now imagine where the sun is going to rise tomorrow morning.
If it’s going to come right up over a treeline nearby, what that obstacle is going to do is prevent the direct sun from hitting your tent first thing in the morning.
There is nothing worse than waking up at 6:00 a.m., absolutely sweating and dehydrated.
Use awnings if you’re out in flat backcountry.
An awning stretched out as a sun blocker works just as good as the natural solution mentioned above because It blocks large chunks of direct sunlight off your campsite. And if all else fails and you don’t have a tarp or a tree line, use your vehicle as shade.
On a side note, do not pitch your tent until it is dusk.
If you pitch your tent mid-afternoon, it’s just going to act like a sauna and trap a lot of unnecessary heat.
Just leave it packed in the car until just before dusk. This way, the majority of your tent’s synthetic materials will be protected from direct sunlight.
Just don’t forget to set it up before you have too many refreshments.
Cooling your body
In todays modern world full of comforts, your body is likely to not be under too much stress.
If you think about how long your body is exposed to air conditioning, it’s going to be around one-third of your day.
Your at home in the morning. It’s cool (hopefully), but if it’s hot weather, you most likely have had your air conditioner or fan running.
You get in your car to go to work or school, and chances are your air conditioner is already running. You get to work, and you guessed it, air conditioning. You go for lunch, and you get the picture.
If you stay in the air conditioning all the time and your body’s used to it being around 80 Fahrenheit (26 degrees Celsius) or below degrees, there is no need for the body to be sweating profusely to cool you.
The struggle is real
So you’re giving your body a false temperature reading over the course of this comfortable lifestyle. Now you come out to go into the woods in the summer, and it’s hot weather, it’s humid, you’re toting a pack.
And unfortunately for you now have hit a slight incline on the hike towards basecamp, and suddenly you dehydrate very quickly.
You succumb to the heat quickly and get heat exhaustion faster than expected because the body is not acclimated to the environment.
So how can you stop the body from overreacting? Well, the first step is to be hydrated. The second step is to acclimatise to the environment.
If your planning on a week-long excursion in the middle of summer into the mountains. Try to start at least a month or so out and focus on spending as much time out in the open as you can.
Instead of downtime at basecamp, where possible, go for walks after eating, try to sit outside as much as possible for meals and social activities. Eventually, over time your body should acclimate to the heat.
Airflow for a good night sleep
The key to a good night’s sleep during hot weather is just a bit of airflow.
That way, when you sweat, there is just a touch of a breeze to evaporate the body’s sweat to cool it down.
Most tents have mesh windows that you can pin open. But if you’re high on privacy, you can look at getting an LED light and fan. This one I got off Amazon is excellent; its affordable, silent, and provides a nice little bit of breeze.
You can get ones that run on AA batteries, but some use USB charging. At first, you might not think they can create enough movement in your tent.
I was surprised by how much wind it could generate. It was more than enough for a gentle breeze all night, which is all you need to keep you cool when you’re sleeping.
Mosquitos, bugs and heat ain’t a fun time.
While im on the subject, I thought you might benefit from this little hack.
Suppose your getting swarmed by bugs when night falls. Swap out your white LED camp lights for orange lights.
Most bugs are not as attracted to red lights as they are to white light.
And orange is not too far white from red on the color spectrum. It’s the perfect middle ground between providing enough light for you to see and not attracting bugs.
And if the bugs are still persistent? Well, an exceptionally light spray of anti-insect repellent on your lights will keep them away.
The most efficient way that your body cools itself down is through sweat.
Perspiring brings water up through the body’s sweat glands to the surface of our skin and dampens the skin, eventually allowing evaporation to cool us.
Now you may ask what does this have to do with clothing?
A recent study of performance wicking apparel when tested on Olympic athletes contradicted what the marketing suggests and actually lowered the athlete’s performance.
Moisture-wicking clothing has been around for decades now, and it’s designed to pull the moisture away from the body, thus keeping you dry.
The controlled study put the athletes on a treadmill within a laboratory chamber and, when put to the test, concluded that the wicking material accelerated the speed at which water was being removed from the subject.
The athlete eventually succumbed quicker.
The baseline test allowed the athlete to wear a pair of shorts and run in light colored clothing material like Cotton, that held that moisture to their body and still allowed it to evaporate.
You guessed it; the Cotton performed better.
Now, some of you veterans already know that Cotton during winter is a no-no. Why? Well it’s because the material retains water and you don’t want cold sweat covering your body.
Well, this is the opposite in summer, you really-really want Cotton in summer.
As you may be aware, Cotton is a moisture-wicking material, but once it gets wet, it stays moist. And this slows down the rate at which moisture leaves your body and the dehydration process.
Cooler and fridge etiquette
If you tally up the reasons you open your fridge when you are camping in hot weather; I reckon 90 percent of the time it will be to get cold drinks out.
Did you know that you’ll let that beautiful cold air out every time you open your fridge?
And, likely, your mom isn’t there to yell at you like when you were young to remind you to stop opening the fridge door.
Opening your fridge often makes the machine have to work unnecessarily harder to replace that cold air and keep everything fresh.
Here’s a solution, If you’ve got an icebox, keep your drinks in it and leave the fridge for food.
That way, the food that you must keep cold stays ice cold.
It should not matter if the ice melts a little bit because your drinks will still stay cold regardless.
If you do not have a cooler, try this one weird trick for a huge difference.
Wherever possible on a hot day. Always try and keep your fridge as full as possible. It’s much easier for any refrigerator to keep a whole load of chilled food cold instead of a half-empty fridge.
Your fridge has less volume to chill and will thank you for it. And remember the golden rule one, if you take a can or beverage out, replace it with another.
This tip is pretty basic, and we all know it, heck every living breathing thing on this planet does. But for extreme situations, it’s always suitable to err on the side overkill, and what I’m talking about is water intake.
Now, this tip is just a reminder to you all that you should try to keep to a water drinking schedule. Doing so will keep your entire body hydrated and cool while maintaining a safe body heat index during stifling temperatures.
You should carry water with you everywhere you go especially during the summer months. Before you head out, take a long swig and get hydrated.
The same applies if you are going out on exploring just after lunch; take another big gulp of H2O. Even before you bunker down, you got it; you should be grabbing the water. And drinking.
You want your stomach to be a canteen, so the body has a resource pool to draw off.
Personally, If I’ve been well behaved and productive during a long hike. I like to cap my night off with a large bottle of ice blue Gatorade with my portable camping fan or maybe just enjoy nature’s air conditioning and the constant breeze in my well ventilated tent.
We all know that summer can bring a lot of great memories, but you should never forget a few bushfire safety precautions, especially if you are camping out near a lot of bushland.
If you’re going to go out of phone range, make sure you know what the bushfires are doing in your area.
Make sure you know what the wind’s doing as well especially in the summer day.
And, of course, observe any total fire bans that your National Parks and Wildlife council have in place in your camping ground.
Remember to drink plenty of water to stay hydrated, don’t overdo the grog and be sun smart too (hats and sunscreen).