When you're camping in the middle of nowhere, electricity is often a luxurious and not-so-readily available commodity. But without electrical access, staying cool can be difficult. In this article, I'll share some strategies to help you chill out on your next off-the-grid camping trip.
Wear lightweight clothing
When it comes to the clothes you wear, choose lightweight fabrics and light colors. You may want to bring a hat too, as it can keep your head and face cooler.
Lightweight fabrics allow air to pass through them and will make you feel cooler than heavier fabrics like denim or flannel as long as there is a breeze blowing over your skin. Light colored clothing will also reflect heat instead of absorbing it like dark colors do. The lighter the color, the cooler you will feel.
Choose a camping spot close to water
As any seasoned camper will tell you, one of the best ways to stay cool is to pitch your tent in a location close to water. In hot weather, air near the surface of water will be cooler than it is above land as a result of evaporative cooling. If you're not familiar with this phenomenon, it works like this: when water molecules evaporate from liquid water into gas (a process known as evaporation), heat energy from the surrounding area is absorbed by those molecules. The result? Cooler temperatures for us humans!
It's important to note that this trick only works if the water source you're sitting near is safe and clean enough to swim in. If not, keep your distance—you don't want any runoff polluting your campsite or making its way into your drinking water supply.
Select your camping site wisely
When you're selecting your campsite, keep in mind that you'll want to choose carefully. Here are some things to consider when picking out the perfect spot:
Shade is important! A good place to camp will have shade from trees or natural structures.
If possible, find a site with a good breeze. The wind helps keep you cool and feeling fresh.
You may not be able to find this everywhere, but if you can get a site near water, do it! Setting up shop close by means more opportunities for cooling off.
When camping without electricity, it's nice to have something pretty to look at while relaxing at your campsite. Look for a location with beautiful scenery and natural sights (like mountains or forests) so even if the temperature gets uncomfortably high, at least you can enjoy being outdoors.
Try and select a ground that is level as opposed to hilly—this will ensure that your tent won't slide down any slopes overnight (or worse, collapse on top of you).
Last but not least... stay far away from the restrooms! They attract mosquitoes like nobody's business and will make it harder for you to sleep soundly at night if they're too close by.
Stay in the shade.
The best thing to do is to stay out of the sun as much as possible. If you're camping in a tent, pitching your tent in a shaded spot under trees or using a tarp to create shade are great options. Try to pack and plan for some shade during the hottest times of day.
If you happen to get stuck without any kind of shelter, or if you don't have any shade nearby, it's important to act quickly and find shade before you get too hot. You can lean up against your car or another object (as long as it's not made of metal), or go into the water if there's somewhere nearby that's deep enough--just make sure not to swim if it's during midday and the sun is really strong.
Take advantage of the wind.
We already know wind brings a cooling sensation to our body; that’s why it’s so refreshing when we step outside on a breezy day. But do you know how exactly this happens? The phenomenon behind it is called the “wind chill effect,” and it occurs because the wind removes heat from the body by carrying moistened skin away from the body through evaporation. The faster the wind blows, the more evaporative heat is lost and thus, more cooling occurs.
It may not be possible to direct cooling winds into your tent while camping without electricity, but you can take advantage of other means of capturing air currents. Simply place fans or battery-powered bladeless fans in such a way that they are blowing air onto your body or in front of an oscillating fan to create some artificial breezes to help cool you down.
A few important things to remember if you're planning on camping or hiking without electricity:
Drink lots of water. It's important to stay hydrated.
Drink a lot of non-alcoholic beverages. Alcohol makes it harder for your body to regulate its temperature and can make you feel sick. If you do drink alcohol, be sure to drink it in moderation and sip slowly in order to avoid dehydration (ten glasses per day should generally suffice). You don't need to be the girl with the flask, but I did see several people with drinks this past weekend and I definitely noticed that they were drinking a lot more than usual.
Don't warm up before bedtime; it's best if you keep your body at normal temperature when going to sleep so that your body will more easily wake up when it's cold outside. Instead, go for a short walk/jog around the campground or sit by the fire at night and let your body naturally warm up from the sun (or whatever source of heat is present). If you've been out all day but haven't had much time for any physical activity, try going for a short jog during the day before bedtime—it'll get your blood flowing so that when you sleep, it's easier for your body temperature to warm up as well as stimulate your brain into wakefulness. Boosting blood circulation will also help decrease muscle soreness after exercise because they won't have been overworked as much and need time rest or recovery time.* Going without electricity can also cause some fatigue because there aren't many options aside from sleeping while still being able to have a meal prepared each morning since there aren't many appliances available in this type of environment.* Make sure not only that your tent is waterproof but also that you design it so that rainwater doesn't seep inside (the reason why tents are sometimes seen as D shape tents if they're meant for two people—you want rainwater falling down onto both sides of the sleeping
Keep your tent cool
As the temperature climbs to an unbearable level, you're sweating and cursing in your tent. Your body is still damp from a couple of showers, but it's not enough to keep you comfortable. You've got a tent fan that keeps blowing hot air around and an air conditioner that only cools down your sleeping area. The fan is powering up now, so let's see how much better we'll be able to keep our tents cool.
1 (a) Keep your tent in the shade
The sun may be dying on us now, but there are still hours left before nightfall and large swaths of time during which the sun can do its worst. A big tent will get too hot if you spend all day in direct sunlight anyway—there's no reason to tempt fate by trying to find shade with something as small as a tent. While it might be tempting for most people to seek out shade under trees or at a beach with their tents, doing this would defeat the purpose of camping: getting away from normal life for a few days without having to worry about commuters, bills, or kids at home pushing you down into depression-fueled rage every hour. Plus there are all sorts of insects and creepy crawlies that thrive under trees and bushes; some of these are dangerous and potentially deadly if they bite you while you sleep (like spiders). So unless you're one hundred percent sure that they won't bother you while camping (assuming they don't do it in your back yard), don't go looking for shady spots when setting up your tent. That said, there are times when finding shady spots can actually be good idea:
If there's wind coming at you from different directions while setting up camp
If drizzle is starting
During very bright days (#2)
you can stay comfortable while camping without AC or electricity
I don't know about you, but the first thing I thought when we decided to go camping this summer was "how am I going to stay cool?" We live in a place that has plenty of heat at home and is rarely above 75 degrees even in the summer, so it's not like we need air-conditioning. If we did, though—and could afford it—I'd be a cheerleader for AC. And if you want to stay cool while camping without AC or electricity, there are two basic ways:
In our case, we'll be using a few old-fashioned tricks that both work really well and are cheap: open windows (just make sure it's on the cool side of the window), fans (a box fan is cheaper than most ACs) and a campfire! Additionally, sleeping with your windows open will help take some of the heat out. Sleeping without air conditioners might suck for those who can't stand cold temperatures (smile), but if you can tolerate it then sleeping in an airy place where there isn't much insulation will keep you cooler. Especially during the day time in warm weather, these strategies will make all the difference!
So, when you're hiking and camping in hot weather, remember:
Wear cool, light clothing.
Find a shady spot.
Sleep near the campfire at night to stay warm.
Select your camping site close to water.
Select your camping site wisely!