Highway Handbook: How To Stay Cool While Camping


You’ve got questions? We’ve got answers. That’s the gist of our new educational series, The Highway Handbook. One of our main goals at Luno is to make the outdoors more accessible, and we mainly do that by designing comfortable air mattresses and nifty accessories that help you turn your everyday vehicle into an extraordinary adventure mobile. But gear alone doesn’t remove barriers to the great outdoors, and sometimes, the simple act of sharing knowledge makes all the difference. In The Highway Handbook, our team of car camping experts will answer questions that regularly bombard our DMs. Whether you’re a car camping veteran or new to the game, we hope this series helps you get outside, explore, and enjoy time in nature with friends and family.

Wondering how to stay cool while camping? You’re not alone. It’s a question we get asked all the time (thanks for recognizing our expertise on the subject), and it’s also the theme of this month’s Highway Handbook. 

How do we stay cool here at Luno? Sunglasses, primarily. The right haircut helps, too–mullets are cool right now. But haircuts can backfire, and the wrong haircut can tank your cool score. Lingo is also key, especially when camping with young, hip people. You might say something like, “This campsite is lit.” This doesn’t mean that wildfire is raging through camp, but rather, the campsite is cool.

[Editor’s Note: Ladies and gentlemen, two important errors have come to our attention after the initial publication of this blog post.

First of all, people want to learn how to stay cool, temperature-wise, while camping in the summer heat. They aren’t asking us for grooming and fashion advice. We’ve rewritten the article below to help interested campers avoid overheating this summer.

Secondly, “lit” is also no longer cool. According to our accountant’s teenageer, the youth don’t use the word anymore. We steered you wrong. If you have since used the word “lit” while camping and faced derision from cool Gen-Z campers due to the errors in this article, we are sorry.

Thank you for your understanding.

–Luno Journal Upper Management]

How To Stay Cool While Camping

Staying cool while camping is equal parts art and science. Below, we’ll school you on pre-trip prep work that can help you minimize your exposure to heat, mid-trip tips for airflow and temperature management, as well as gear and apparel we won’t camp in the summer without. If you’re ready to get schooled on cool–for real this time–read up and cool off.

Set Up Camp In The Shade

This first tip is pretty straightforward: park in the shade to keep your camp setup as cool as possible. If you arrive at camp in the dark, think about where the sun will rise in the morning and park accordingly.

Of course, many campsites don’t have shade at all. So what do smart car campers do? They B.Y.O.S. (bring your own shade) from home. How so? Easy. Our Car Window Screens are made from a black mesh material that helps block out UV rays (more on the benefits of these bad boys below). And our Privacy Curtain is even thicker and heavier, keeping the sun out and the sleep in on summer mornings. Pair theses two together for a camp-anywhere summer setup.

Bring a Fan And Window Screens

The heat isn’t always avoidable. Lucky for you, there is a secret to sleeping well while camping in warmer temperatures: airflow.

If you’re camping in the back of your vehicle on an ultra-comfy Luno mattress, you need to check out our Cool Down Bundle. This includes two summer camping essentials: our Car Window Screens, which we already mentioned above for their shade-supplying properties, and our Car Camping Fan.

Our Car Window Screens are crafted from a stretchy mesh fabric, and they pop conveniently over the passenger doors. The mesh allows you to roll down the windows, letting in all of the breeze and none of the bugs.

Our Car Camping Fan is a compact yet powerful three-speed fan that generates impressive airflow. It plugs into portable power banks and batteries (sold separately) and improves your sleep during muggy summer nights.

We bundled this gear together because the sum is greater than the parts. Individually, the screens and fan are kick-ass–together, they’re revolutionary. Plus, you get $10 off when you buy the bundle. That’s a win-win. Or, should we say, a win-wind.

Pick Your Destination Of Choice Wisely

One of the best ways to stay cool while camping is to camp in cool places. Simple as that.

In the summer, here are a few tricks we use to target less-than-sizzling locales:

  • We favor high-alpine zones that are naturally cooler. Higher elevations, lower temps–that’s a recipe for a wonderful summer camping trip. 
  • Go coastal! We venture toward the coast where there’s often mellower weather. If fog rolls in at night, we’re stoked.
  • We head north–not south. There’s a time for exploring Baja and below but it ain’t Agosto (August in Spanish), bebe. The PNW and Montana, Canada and Alaska–these are better summer destinations in our opinion. 
  • Don’t even look at the desert. Don’t you dare.

Bring A Weather-Appropriate Wardrobe And Sun Protection

If heat is in the forecast, packing a lightweight, breathable wardrobe will help you stay cool and comfortable while camping.

Our advice? Ditch the cotton. Instead, embrace lightweight synthetics and merino wool, the latter of which actually has natural wicking and anti-odor properties. 

Sunshirts with hoods, buffs, and sun hats are also smart moves. Don’t forget the sunscreen, either. Avoiding sunburns is a great way to stay cool and comfy on an adventure.

Adjust Your Itinerary As Needed

One of many things we love about car camping is that you don’t have an itinerary you’re forced to adhere to. Unlike air travel, there are no cancellation fees or penalties for changing your itinerary. Weather can and should dictate where and when you camp, so use weather apps like AccuWeather or Weather.gov to your advantage.

Let’s say you’re plan a camping trip to the Uinta Mountains in the middle of July, but a week out from your trip you realize Utah’s in the middle of a catastrophic heat wave and temperatures won’t dip below triple digits. Pivot your trip to an equally rad destination with less hellish weather. Easy peasy.

Let The Temperature And Sun Direction Dictate Your Schedule

Don’t force activities regardless of the weather. If you let temperature and sun direction dictate your schedule, you’ll be much better off.

For instance, if there’s a hike you want to do, wake up before dawn and get after it early before the peak heat of the day. If you’re on a climbing trip, try to time your climbs so they’re in the shade when you’re on the rock.

Stay Hydrated

Staying hydrated is super important anytime you’re camping, but especially in the summer heat. And we hate to be the bearers of bad news, but beer doesn’t count. Sorry, but we already proved how uncool we are.

Bring plenty of water, ideally in large, reusable jugs. Also, be sure to map out water sources and bring a water filtration system as needed.

Embrace The Cold Plunge

When we say embrace the cold plunge, we’re not saying you should jump into your cooler–although the occasional dunk of the head into a melted-out beer chest isn’t out of the question.

When we camp in the summer, we always like to post up near bodies of water. That might be the mighty Pacific Ocean, or a teeny, tiny snowmelt-fed creek. Dunking in water, especially if it’s chilly, is a fantastic way to cool off and reset your body temperature. Sometimes, we’ll go to bed still wet just to fall asleep before we start sweating!

Beat The Heat And Stay Cool

While we’re clearly unqualified to keep you looking fresh and feeling lit hip, we’re hopeful this article will help you beat the heat and camp comfortably this summer.

After all, a little planning–and a little fan–are really all it takes to stay cool while camping. 

As always, thanks for reading, and we’ll see you on the road,

–The Not-So-Hip-But-Very-Comfortable Luno Crew