The Easiest Way To Keep Your Tent Cool On A Hot And Sunny Day

After a great morning hike and a scrumptious outdoor lunch, nothing's better than a nap in your tent. But on those warm sunny days, it can be a little uncomfortable crawling into a tent with no airflow. It can feel a lot like you're being cooked in a tent-sized Easy-Bake Oven, which is the exact opposite of what you want when you're napping. But worry not; campers are nothing if not ingenious when it comes to crafting ways to make their camp more cozy!

The easiest way to keep your tent nice and cool is to block the sun's rays with your sleeping bag. No, you won't be getting inside the sleeping bag. Instead, you'll drape the sleeping bag over your tent to keep the sun from turning it into a sauna (and you into a sweaty rotisserie chicken). But why is this the best way to keep your tent cool, and are there other crafty ways to block the sun? 

Here's why your sleeping bag is the key to comfy afternoon napping

If you've never tried this camping hack, you might be wondering why and how this is such an effective trick for keeping your tent cool. As you're probably already aware, sleeping bags are made of insulation — such as feathers or synthetic fibers — that traps your body heat in the little spaces between the fibers and reflects it onto you, keeping you warm and cozy at night. When you place the sleeping bag over your tent, you not only prevent the UV radiation from the sun from penetrating your tent, but you're also trapping that heat in the sleeping bag, thereby keeping the air inside your tent cooler. And since you're not using the sleeping bag to rest on, you may also stay cooler without it trapping your body heat underneath you.

There are a couple of caveats to this hack, though. The most obvious is that you'll be using your sleeping bag to cover your tent instead of sleeping on it, making your nap a little less cushy. However, if you have a sleeping pad with you, that should be enough cushion for a short nap. The second consideration is that excessive exposure to the sun's rays might be harmful to your sleeping bag long-term and can bleach the outer shell and break down the fibers. So, if you do decide to try this, make it an infrequent solution.

Don't want to use your sleeping bag? Here are some other ways to keep cool

If you're not keen on the idea of exposing your sleeping bag to all that UV radiation, we don't blame you. For many, keeping your sleeping bag well-maintained can be more of a priority than creating temporary insulation from the heat for an afternoon nap. So what can you do instead?

The easiest solution is to just pitch your tent under a big shady tree. If you're only hanging out in your tent for a few hours in the afternoon, this should be a good enough solution. On the other hand, not all campgrounds or campsites have trees or trees with ample shade, so this may not be an option for everyone everywhere.

If you know you'll want to take an afternoon nap at some point and you have room to spare in your backpack or car, consider bringing a UV-resistant tarp with you to drape or pitch over your tent. These can be fairly affordable if you're willing and able to DIY your own tarp tent cover. If you can spend a bit more, there are tarps sold at outdoor supply stores like REI that come with tarp poles and guylines for easier set-up.