Summer is the season of outdoor adventure: the sun is shining, the snow has melted, wildflowers pop up, and blue skies abound. But summer is also the season of miserable, sweltering, merciless heat - which can make heading outdoors for an adventure seem like insanity.
Whether you prefer the desert, forest, or beach, staying cool in the midst of summer is a challenge. Car campers and vanlifers can enjoy the luxury of bringing a cooler filled with ice along on their camping excursions, but backpacker types have to work a lot harder. Read on for our tips on how to stay cool while camping in the summer heat - no matter how you prefer to adventure.
We learned in middle school that being cool has a lot to do with what you're wearing. When you're headed out under the beating sun, dressing cool makes a big difference.
- Wear loose, light colored, moisture-wicking clothing (no cotton)
- Hats! Keep the sun off your face with a large brimmed hat - plus, hats keep anyone from noticing you haven't showered in a few days. Nice.
- Carry a bandana or towel to dip in water and tie around your head or neck. The evaporating water will cool you down as you hike
- Bring extra socks to change out of sweaty pairs and save those toes from blisters
- Clip some sandals on your pack so you can air out hiking boots or shoes and get a breeze on your feet while chilling at the campsite
Hydrate, hydrate, and oh yeah - hydrate. Water is key to keeping yourself cool and safe when adventuring in the heat. Always bring extra water when heading out into the sun - you never know how much fresh water you're going to need when the temperatures spike. Steer clear of dehydration with a little preparation pre-trip for cool drinks all weekend long.
- Fill a Water Cube jug with that liquid deliciousness and use it to replenish your water bottles throughout your trip.
- Fill your vacuum insulated Microlite with plenty of cold ice water - with 32 hours of cold retention, you'll be rewarded with ice cold sips all day long
- Stash another Microlite of ice water in your car - there's nothing better than finishing a long, scorching hike with a big gulp of cold water.
- Avoid alcoholic drinks that further dehydrate you
- Try an iced coffee recipe as a camp treat to wake you up and cool you down
One you're heavily hydrated, you can begin to think about food. But cooking doesn't always sound good when you've been frying like an egg in the sun all day. Try some hot meal alternatives and find a little solace from the heat this summer.
- Fruit feels cooling and restores vitamins, minerals, and sugars to your body after a long day on the trail. Pack some oranges, grapes, apples, or bananas in your backpack and stash berries or watermelon in the cooler
- A campfire is too hot (and dangerous in fire season). Stick to a small stove and cooking pot for your hot meals
- Opt for cold snacks and simple one-pot dinners: mac and cheese, salad with salmon, rice bowls, cheese and crackers, trail mixes, peanut butter sandwiches, protein bars, etc
After hiking all day in the heat, you don't want to crash in a 90 degree tent. Keep your campsite cool with a few hacks:
- Time to throw shade - find the shadiest spot you can to pitch your tent. If there's a major lack of shade, bring a tarp to set up for some reprieve from baking sun.
- Keep your mesh flaps open for maximum airflow - tents heat up in the sun like hot cars, so leave those windows open!
- Use the footprint for your tent to avoid absorbing the ground heat, but ditch your rain fly unless you expect some drops. The rain fly prevents air escaping and turns your tent into an oven (and we figure you don't want to sleep in an oven)
- If a tent is just too hot, try camping in a hammock instead. Hammocks are less weight in your pack and let you sleep in a nice breeze all night long
- Dibs those campsites by bodies of water - not only can you take a dip in the hot afternoon, but the air near the water will be cooler than air off hot dirt and rock.
Along with these tips, you can plan your adventure to avoid the full force of that giant fire ball in the sky. Midday is not your friend - plan to start your trip in the early morning or late evening and take refuge in the shade during those scorching afternoon hours. Even better, plan your summer adventures around water so you can reward yourself with a dip in an alpine lake or foot soak in the river.
Whatever you plan for your outdoor recreation, make sure you drink plenty of water, wear (reef safe) sunscreen, and take lots of breaks in the shade.