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We love to camp in the summer. However, in many regions of the country, it can be sweltering hot. Staying cool can be a challenge, whether you are inside or outside of your camper. We have discovered a few ways to keep cool during the hot summer months.
Helping the Air Conditioner
When you first arrive at the campground, there is a good chance that the inside of your camper will be very hot (unless you are traveling in a Class A or Class C). Though it may sound counterintuitive, do not turn on the air conditioner at first. Instead, go into your bathroom, open the vent, and turn the speed on high. The bathroom vent will suck the hot air out of the camper. Removing that stale hot air will make it easier on the air conditioner because the air conditioner will not have to cool the hot air first.
Let the vent run for about 90 seconds, shut the vent off, close it, and turn on the air conditioner. Most camper air conditioners have a dump vent that will force all of the cold air into the main living area of your camper. Open the dump vent, and it will cool off your living space quickly. Close the dump vent, and it cools off the rest of the camper. Watch our video on the process.
While it does get hot in Georgia, the hottest place that we have visited in our camper was a three-night stay in Las Vegas. We were in Las Vegas during the last week of June, and temperatures were over 110 degrees every day. Also, there is no shade in the desert. We should have known it was going to be hot when we arrived at the campground because they had window tinting available onsite.
It was in Las Vegas that we discovered the benefits of Reflectix. Camper air conditioners are designed to keep a camper 20 degrees cooler than the outside temperature. If it is over 110 degrees outside, it can still be over 90 degrees in the camper with the air conditioner working efficiently. We went to a local hardware store and purchased two rolls of Reflectix (Check it out on Amazon). Reflectix reflects up to 97% of radiant heat. Reflectix is available in widths of 24 or 48 inches depending upon your needs.
The Reflectix was easy to install. We cut it to length and slid the Reflectix in between the blind and the window, allowing the blind to hold it in place. As a bonus, Reflectix acts as an insulator that will keep warm air in your camper during the winter months. Reflectix was a lifesaver as we continued our trip through the western desert, and we were a lot more cooler.
Another way to keep your RV cool is to tint your camper windows. Windows can be professionally tinted, or you can purchase tinting and do it yourself. Gila Heat Control Static Cling Window Film (Check it out on Amazon) is popular among RV owners. You will probably need to buy a Gila Installation Kit (Check it out on Amazon) as well. Window tinting significantly cuts down the heat inside your camper. Just remember that tinting is considered a permanent option, although there is a process to remove the film. Window tinting provides additional privacy, especially during the day.
Cooking can heat your camper quickly. As a result, we do our cooking outside of the camper. Our cooktop, oven, and microwave are used as storage. We do travel with a convection oven. However, when using the microwave or convection oven, if you have a 30-amp connection, you are likely to flip the breaker if the air conditioner and microwave or convection oven are powered on at the same time. For this reason, we take our convection oven outside and use an extension cord to plug it directly into the 120-volt outlet on our power pedestal.
Choose a Campsite with Shade
Always be selective when choosing your campsite, and select a site with shade. Camping in the shade will make it easier to keep your camper cool. Finding a campsite with shade is not always easy. Some campground webpages have pictures of each campsite, and this can be helpful. You can also read reviews of campgrounds, and many times people will talk about the amount of shade available. Use Google Earth along with the online campground map. Using Google Earth and a map is a great way to check out campsites and get an idea of the amount of shade at each one. If you still have questions, call the campground and ask them which sites have the most shade.
Awning Sun Shade
Extend your awning to provide extra shade at your campsite. Although an awning will not cool the area, it will provide shade from the sun. You can also purchase an awning sunshade (Check it out on Amazon) that attaches to your awning and extends for additional shade. To learn about awning safety, check out our video below.
Do not forget your pets when battling the heat. If you are planning to leave your pet inside the camper, we recommend that you purchase a pet monitoring system to ensure that nothing happens to your air conditioner while you are gone. We recommend the Nimble RV Pet Monitor (Check it out on Amazon). The Nimble RV Pet Monitor runs off of the Verizon cellular network, which is great because you do not need WiFi for it to operate. No Verizon subscriber plan is needed to use the monitor. Nimble has its own separate subscription service, which is $20 a month to use the monitor. The Nimble RV Pet Monitor will let you know the temperature, heat index, and humidity inside your camper.
A Pet Cooling Mat (Check it out on Amazon) is an excellent way to keep your pet cool inside the camper. The mat helps keep your pet cool while absorbing its body heat. Unlike other pet mats, this one contains no gel so you do not have to worry about your pet chewing the mat and getting poisoned by the contents.
Chances are that while you are camping, you will be spending a great deal of your time outside. You will want to remain as cool as possible outside as well.
Non-campers will look at us crazy when we state that that we run a fan outside at the campsite, but it does help. The act of keeping air moving when sitting outdoors will help you feel much cooler. Another bonus that a fan provides is that it helps keep flying insects such as mosquitoes or flies away. Flying insects find it challenging to fly and land in the jetstream created by the fan (Check out our article on insect control). We recommend using a 20-inch industrial fan (Check it out on Amazon). When using the fan, we plug it directly into the pedestal to avoid tripping a breaker while the air conditioner is running in the camper.
The Water Mister
One of our new favorite options for surviving the summer heat is to hang a water mister (Check it out on Amazon) on our camper awning. The water mister is easy to use. Attach a “Y” connector (Check it out on Amazon) on your water spigot and connect a second hose, which you connect to the mister. The mister provides a steady stream of water, which is a great way to stay cool. You probably do not want to do the mister on a dirt site, but it works great on gravel and concrete pads. You can connect the water mister to your hose using a cut-off valve (Check it out on Amazon), making it easy to turn on and off as needed. If you travel with kids or pets, they will love the mister.
You can also set the water mister up with one of the misting nozzles hanging by the fan. If you do not want the full hose mister, another excellent option for the campground is a stationary mister that you can set-up by the fan, and that allows the fan to blow the cool water on you. We use Zero-G hoses (Check them out on Amazon) because they are flexible and easier to store than a traditional hose. The RV version is drinking safe.
Camping Chairs with Canopies
You can purchase a camping chair with a built-in canopy. Whether you want a traditional camping chair (Check it out on Amazon) or a zero gravity chair (Check it out on Amazon), they are available with sun shades. We are always worried about UV exposure regardless of the season. These sun shades can minimize the sun’s harmful UV rays.
Pop-up canopies are increasing in popularity at campgrounds. They have become simpler to set-up and break down, making the canopies great options for campsites. The canopies provide extra space in the shade to sit and visit. Two people can set up the Eurmax Canopy (Check it out on Amazon) in a matter of minutes.
A Coleman Screened Canopy (Check it out on Amazon) is another great option for staying cool. This screened canopy sets up quickly and allows you to enjoy the outdoors while keeping the bugs away. If you choose a screened canopy, you may want to run a fan to keep the air circulating within the enclosure.
Camping during the summer is a great way to enjoy outdoor activities. However, staying cool can be a challenge. Preparing ways to keep cool is an excellent way to ensure that you and your family enjoy your camping trip and create fantastic memories!
Do you have methods or options that you use to stay cool at the campground? We would love to hear from you. Please drop us a line in the comment section below.