22 tips for camping in 100-degree weather

by | May 27, 2022 | Weather

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Ah, summer.

Everybody loves warm temperatures, but what about extreme heat?

Camping in 100-degree weather (that’s around 38 degree Celsius—yikes!) isn’t just uncomfortable—it can be dangerous, too.

Dehydration, trouble breathing, and heat exhaustion are just a few of the dangers associated with camping in hot weather.

Unfortunately, the effects of climate change aren’t doing us any favours.

Average temperatures are rising, which means that we’re experiencing more extreme heat than we have in the past.

This trend is only expected to continue as the world grapples with the consequences of human-caused global warming.

Depressing, but true.

As a camping enthusiast, it’s best to be prepared for extreme heat.

After all, you don’t want your camping trip ruined by weather conditions that are outside of your control.

Here’s what you can do.

1. Check for fire bans

Camping in 100-degree weather means fire bans.

Extreme heat creates dry conditions, which increases the risk of wildfires—either by natural causes or by careless campers.

When this happens, many regions or individual parks will put a fire ban in place.

If there’s a fire ban in place, it means that campfires (including twig stove fires) are not allowed.

You can, however, use a camping stove that uses liquid or gas fuel.

If campfire restrictions are a dealbreaker for you, you might want to consider rescheduling your trip later in the season when the fire bans are lifted.

2. Book a campsite that’s on or close to the water

A campsite on the edge of a lake.

One way to combat extreme heat is by camping near a water source, such as a lake or river.

Not only will this give you a chance to cool off if the temperature gets too high, but the water will also act as a natural humidifier.

You might also get to enjoy a bit of a breeze if you’re camping on a lake.

If you’re frontcountry camping, try booking at a campground that has has a lake or river with campsites right on the edge of the water.

Almost all campsites for backcountry paddlers have water access, so there are no issues there, but if you’re backpacking, make sure to do your research by planning to camp at campsites that aren’t too far away from lakes, rivers, or streams.

3. Pick a campsite that has a lot of tree cover for shade

Camping tent in the shaded trees.

There can be a big temperature difference between open areas exposed to direct sunlight and shaded areas under tall trees.

When you’re camping in 90- to 100-degree weather, the more tree cover you have, the better off you’ll be with beating the heat.

Unfortunately, if you have to book a very specific campsite ahead of time, you may not know whether it will have good tree cover or not.

In this case, it’s best to plan ahead by bringing along an extra tarp, mesh tent, or beach umbrella to create your own shaded areas.

In the backcountry, you’ll probably have more flexibility.

Don’t settle for a campsite that’s in the wide open if the heat is scorching hot—unless you can find tree cover close by.

4. Consider tarp or hammock camping for better airflow at night

Camping in a hammock.

If you’ve ever camped in extreme heat before, then you know how hot it can get inside a tent.

Tents made from nylon and polyester material tend to trap heat and moisture, which means that the air inside can quickly become stagnant and incredibly humid.

One way to combat this is by camping with a tarp instead of a tent, or by camping in a hammock.

Because they’re open at the sides, there’s no way for these types of shelters to hold in the heat, so you’ll stay cooler at night.

This, however, might not be practical if the bugs are bad. If you do plan on camping with a hammock or a tarp, you’ll want to have some sort of mesh coverage to keep the bugs from eating you alive while you sleep.

5. If you’re tent camping, make sure it has great ventilation

Inside a tent.

The best summer tents are the ones that have lots of mesh netting to promote airflow.

If you can, find a tent that has mesh netting on all sides so that you can keep the doors and windows open for cross-ventilation.

Another way to increase the ventilation of your tent is by ditching the rain fly if rain isn’t expected.

The rain fly is the waterproof material that goes over the top of the mesh netting.

It’s great for keeping you dry during a downpour, but it also traps heat inside your tent.

6. Bring a flat bed sheet in addition to your summer sleeping bag

Bedsheet in a tent.

Just because there’s a heat wave doesn’t mean you should skip bringing your sleeping bag altogether.

It can still get cold at night, so make sure you bring a summer or three-season sleeping bag with the appropriate temperature rating.

You can, however, bring along a flat bed sheet made from light fabric like cotton or linen to use in place of your sleeping bag if it’s too hot.

This will give you the coverage you need without adding any extra warmth.

7. Have a plan to keep the bugs away

Mosquito swarms in summer.

When the weather is hot, muggy, and not very breezy, the bugs will be out in full force. It’s miserable enough to be hot and sweaty, but it’s even worse when you’re being attacked by mosquitos and other biting insects.

Mosquito repellent is one solution, but it’s not the only things you can do.

Be sure to check out our guide to keeping mosquitos away while camping.

You’re going to need it!

8. Wear a wide-brimmed hat

A woman wearing a wide-brimmed hat.

Wearing a hat can help lower the level of thermal stress on your body by preventing less sun from reaching your head.

It might also slow down convective and evaporative heat loss in extreme heat.

A wide-brimmed hat is also a good choice just for sun protection.

The sun is incredibly strong in the summer, and you want to do everything you can to prevent sunburn.

A wide-brimmed hat will keep the sun off your face, neck, and ears.

9. Wear light-coloured clothing made from light, moisture-wicking material

Ross wearing UPF clothing.

It’s tempting to wear shorts and tank tops in extreme heat, and while this is certainly okay if you’re spending most of your time in the shade and applying SPF frequently, it’s still probably best to go for pants and long-sleeved shirts.

Believe it or not, you can get ones that can keep you just as cool as having your skin exposed.

First, choose pants and shirts made from light, moisture-wicking material like nylon, spandex, and polyester.

These fabrics will help pull the sweat away from your skin so that you can cool down more quickly.

Next, go for light colours like white, tan, or light blue or green.

Dark colours absorb heat, which is the last thing you want in extreme heat.

Light colours will reflect the sun’s rays and help keep you cooler.

They’ll also help deter the bugs since mosquitos are more attracted to dark-coloured clothing.

Many types of outdoor summer clothing also have built-in UPF (Ultraviolet Protection Factor) of 50+, which will protect your skin from the sun’s harmful rays.

Wearing them is much easier and safer than trying to remember to apply SPF every 30 minutes after sweating it off.

10. Keep a towel handy

Sweat towel.

You can expect to sweat quite a bit when you’re camping in 100-degree weather.

To make things a little more comfortable, bring along a small towel or handkerchief made from moisture-wicking material like microfibre.

We’re huge fans of the BOGI microfibre travel towel, which are super lightweight, absorbent, and come in all sorts of different colours.

Use it to wipe the sweat off your face and neck when necessary.

Splash your face with water first for an added cooling effect or alternatively, wet the towel with cold water and drape it over your forehead or back of your neck.

The evaporative cooling will help lower your body temperature.

11. Bring lots of SPF and reapply frequently

A woman applying sunscreen.

We can’t stress this enough.

The sun is incredibly strong in the summer, and you want to do everything you can to prevent sunburn.

Bring along a high SPF sunscreen and reapply it frequently, even if you’re not sweating or swimming.

An easy way to get yourself to reapply regularly is to carry around a small stick of mineral sunscreen in your pocket—like this one from BLUE LIZARD, which is SPF 50+ and designed for sensitive skin.

It’s also a good idea to bring along a lip balm with SPF as well—like Banana Boat Sport Ultra SPF 50 lip sunscreen.

12. Don’t bring too much food that needs to be kept cool

A cooler filled with food.

You’re going to have enough trouble keeping yourself cool without having to worry about keeping your food cold too.

If possible, bring along foods that don’t need to be kept cool or that can be eaten without cooking.

We recommend dehydrating your food and entire meals if you can, which takes out most of the moisture content and increases their shelf life without refrigeration.

If you do decide to take fresh foods on your trip that need to be kept cool, make sure it’s stored properly and plan on eating it within one to two days at the very most.

Bringing fresh or frozen meat poses the biggest risk for spoilage and potential food poisoning.

Check out our guide on how to safely take meat camping so you can avoid these issues.

13. Avoid foods that are too heavy or spicy

A cooked camping meal.

You’re going to want to avoid eating anything too heavy since it will make you feel sluggish in the heat.

Spicy foods are also a no-go since they can make you sweat even more, which is the last thing you want.

Some of our favourite camp meals are chilli and curry with naan, but if we know the weather is going to be scorching hot, we skip these meals and go for slightly lighter dishes like chicken alfredo and fresh-caught fish with rice.

Focus on eating light meals that are packed with plenty of electrolytes and fluids like fruits and vegetables, yogurt, whole grain bread, trail mix, and granola bars.

Our favourite fruit to bring along with us in the summer is red grapes—they’re great for hydration and sweet like candy!

14. Be sure to have unlimited access to clean, filtered water

Filtering water from a stream.

If you think you’ll be fine with a certain amount of water on your trip, think again.

When it’s hot out, you’re going to need to drink a lot more water than usual to stay properly hydrated.

We don’t really recommend taking a trip where you need to bring all of your water with you because there’s a good chance you’ll run out—or at least have to ration it to make it last longer, and risk hydration.

If you’re frontcountry camping in a campground, chances are you’ll have access to clean drinking water at a nearby tap or spigot.

Be sure to fill up your water containers before heading out for the day and again when you get back to camp.

If you’re camping in a more remote area, you’ll need to filter your water to make sure it’s safe to drink.

We recommend using a personal water filter like the BeFree water filter.

It’s small, lightweight, and can filter up to 1,000 litres of water—more than enough for even a long camping trips.

At camp, we use a gravity filter so we can fill up our Nalgene bottles while we’re doing camp chores.

Since we’re canoe campers, we’re always near water.

But if you’re backpacking, you’re going to need to plan to fill up as you approach lakes, rivers, or streams.

15. Use flavoured water electrolyte enhancers to make hydration easier

MiO Sport Electrolytes

Everyone knows you’re supposed to drink plenty of water throughout the entire day, but that’s easier said that done when you’re busy.

Water is also completely flavourless, meaning there’s less of a draw to drinking it in large amounts.

We find that using water electrolyte enhancers like MiO Sport electrolytes helps us drink more water and stay hydrated—especially when we’re working hard in the heat.

Just squirt a little bit into your water bottle for a healthy does of electrolytes with a delicious flavour.

16. Skip or limit the alcohol

Two beer bottles at sunset.

We know, we know—camping and beer go hand-in-hand.

But when it’s hot out, alcohol is the last thing you want to be consuming. It’s a diuretic, meaning it makes you need to urinate more frequently, which can lead to dehydration.

If you’re going to drink while camping in the heat, limit yourself to one drink and make sure you’re drinking plenty of water in between alcoholic beverages.

Our favourite summer camping cocktail is a vodka soda with a splash of grapefruit juice.

We also love to mix our MiO Sport Electrolytes with water and a splash of rum or vodka.

This way, you get the benefits of electrolytes with a little bit of a buzz.

17. Take advantage of the early morning and evening hours

A man stepping out of his tent at sunrise.

Camping in 100-degree weather doesn’t mean temps are going to reach 100 degrees at all times of the day.

In fact, the hours between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. tend to be the sunniest and the hottest—with peak heat usually hitting around 4 p.m.

We recommend planning activities in the early morning or evening when it’s cooler out.

For instance, you could plan to set out for a hike as early as the sun rises so you’re done before noon, or consider going fishing around sunset.

You’ll find it’s much more bearable to be active when the sun isn’t beating down as hard. and temperatures aren’t at their highest.

As an added bonus, these are some of the most beautiful times of the day—when the light is softer and wildlife is more active.

18. Don’t plan strenuous physical activities during the heat of the day

Napping in a hammock while camping in 100-degree weather.

This really goes hand in hand with taking advantage of the early morning and evening hours.

If you’re camping in 100-degree weather, the last thing you want to do is hike up a mountain or chop a bunch of firewood in the middle of the day.

It’s best to plan for more downtime during midday to help beat the heat.

We recommend opting for activities that don’t require too much physical exertion during the heat of the day—like swimming, stand-up paddleboarding, fishing, reading, hammocking, and even napping.

19. Go for a swim as often as possible

Swimming in the rain.

One of the best ways to beat the heat when camping is to take a dip in a nearby lake, river, or swimming hole.

Not only will the water help cool you off, but it’s also a great way to get some exercise without feeling like you’re working too hard.

We recommend going for a swim at least once a day, typically in the afternoon when the heat is at its worst, but more if you have the time.

Splashing your face with water or dipping your feet in for a few minutes can give you a similar cooling effect.

We also like to take a dip in the evening before bed to help us cool down so we can sleep comfortably through the night.

20. Know the signs of heat exhaustion

A man wiping the sweat off of his face.

Heat exhaustion is one of the most common health-related issues among campers and a serious condition that happens when your body temperature gets too high—often due to dehydration and/or overexertion.

It’s important to know the signs of heat exhaustion so you can seek medical help if necessary.

Signs of heat exhaustion include:

  • Headache
  • Nausea
  • Light-headedness
  • Dizziness
  • Weakness
  • Muscle cramps
  • Excessive sweating
  • Pale skin

If you or someone you’re camping with starts to experience any of these symptoms, it’s important to help them cool down by moving to a shady spot, removing any excess clothing, and applying cool compresses to the back of the neck or forehead.

It’s also important to have them drink lots of fluids—preferably water or a sports drink with electrolytes. If symptoms don’t improve within 30 minutes, it’s best to seek medical help.

21. Have a small twig fire instead of a bigger campfire

Boiling a pot of water by the lake with the Bushbox XL titanium stove.

A campfire is a camping staple, but if you’re camping in 90- to 100-degree weather, it’s might just make the heat even more unbearable.

A small twig fire will give you all the benefits of a campfire—like warmth, light, and ambiance—without putting off as much heat.

Plus, it’s less work to build and maintain, which is always a bonus.

We love our Bushbox XL titanium stove for having quick and easy twig fires, which we use almost every day (often multiple times a day) on our trips—mostly for cooking.

22. Bring warm clothing just in case

A sweater with a water bottle and sunglasses.

Last but not least, don’t forget to bring warm clothing just in case the temperature dips at night.

It might seem counterintuitive, but even if it’s hot during the day, temperatures can drop significantly at night—especially if you’re camping in the desert.

We recommend packing a few extra layers so you’re prepared for whatever Mother Nature has in store.

Mid-weight merino wool long underwear is ideal, but you can also bring along regular sweatpants, a sweater, and some socks if you just need to keep warm at night.

Camping in 100-degree weather requires proper planning

You’re less likely to run into trouble on a fair-weather camping trip than you are on a trip in extreme heat.

But if you take the proper precautions, camping in hot weather can be just as enjoyable—and safe—as camping in milder conditions.

By following the tips above, you’ll be able to camp comfortably and safely in 100-degree weather.

Just remember to stay hydrated, take it easy during the heat of the day, and still bring a sleeping bag and warm clothing for nighttime.

Enjoy your trip, and stay cool!

Next up: 10 of the best luxury tents with air conditioning features

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Elise & Ross

We’re Elise and Ross, avid backcountry campers and outdoor adventurers! We started Gone Camping Again as a way to share our knowledge and experience about wilderness living and travel. Our hope is that we inspire you to get outside and enjoy all that nature has to offer!

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