Staying Cool When Boondocking

The trick to having a great camping trip in hot weather is learning how to stay cool when boondocking.

Running a generator so you can run the air conditioner is noisy. Trying to get to sleep when you're hot and sweaty isn't fun. Mosquitoes make sleeping outside miserable.

There are some simple things you can do to make boondocking in summer bearable.

Use USB Cable Fans To Stay Cool

USB Cable Fans are fantastic when boondocking.

We tried fans that ran off household batteries, but the batteries would drain in a couple of days. So we looked for another way to circulate the air inside our travel trailer.

The solution we found was fans that run off a USB outlet. USB fans draw a small amount of power from our batteries. We run them during the day and night without worrying about draining the RV's batteries.

USB fans are quiet and they keep the air circulating. Even on nights when it would be too warm to sleep, the fans make a huge difference. If your rig doesn’t have any USB outlets, they are inexpensive to buy and easy to install.


Use Cooling Towels

Cooling towels are an amazing way to stay cool. We keep them with us year-round.

If you've never heard of them, cooling towels hold moisture. Sports athletes have used them for years. Using them in the desert where the air is dry, they stay damp for an hour or more even on a hot night.

The cooling towels we use are about 40" long by 12’ wide. They’re big enough to drape over your body. And they cool us down fast.

TIP: For the best effect, try using a cooling towel with a USB fan. The circulating air dries the towel faster, but you'll be sound asleep before that happens.

Park Your RV In The Shade

This seems pretty obvious, but we’ve seen a lot of campers park their RVs in the full sun. With the sun beating down on the trailer or RV, it heats up. And it takes hours to cool it down. Even with good insulation, an RV can't overcome the summer sun. Whenever we can, we find a good shady spot with trees or tall shrubs.

TIP: Park your trailer with the door on the opposite side of the afternoon sun. This way you can keep your door open to catch whatever breeze is available in the morning before the day gets hot.

Extend Awnings Early and Close The Shades

If your RV has an awning extend it early. We’ve had days where the temperature beneath the awning was down 10 degrees. At the same time, it helped keep the temperature down in the trailer.

Inside the trailer, keep the shades halfway down and the windows open. It will help keep your RV cooler during the hottest part of the day.

Use An Awning Shade

RV awning shades attach to the trailer awning. They help keep the summer heat from direct sunlight down as well. They’re easy to install. You can also secure it to the ground with tent stakes. And they are a great way to expand your outdoor living space.

Staying Cool In The Kitchen

One of our great joys in camping is eating. But cooking in the kitchen during the summer adds to the heat inside the trailer. Cooking in a hot kitchen isn't fun. So as much as possible we avoid cooking inside.

TIP: We prepare our meals in the morning before it gets hot. We also buy prepackaged salads and pre-cooked food that is easy and quick to prepare.

Stay Hydrated

In the high desert where we camp, everything dries out, even our bodies. So we keep plenty of water and sugar-free drinks on board our RV.

TIP: An insulated water bottle can keep liquids cold for up to 24 hours. And they'll also keep liquids hot for up to 12 hours.

Even in areas that are not as dry and hot as where we camp having plenty to drink is good for our bodies. A side benefit of staying hydrated is it helps our bodies regulate the heat. It’s kind of like having an internal cooler.

Run the Air Conditioner

There are days it's warm but bearable. Usually, by evening, the wind comes up and we cool down. Then there are times when it is so hot inside the trailer and out that we have to use the air conditioner.

TIP: Try turning on the air conditioner 2 hours before going to bed. Also, open any cabinets or closets where hot air can get trapped. It's amazing how much hot air gets trapped inside the trailer cabinets. And the cabinets can radiate trapped heat for hours.

Don't Forget To Keep The Pets Cool

It’s easy to forget that a pet can be even more uncomfortable in the heat than we are. And an overheated pet can end up in serious condition or worse.

We have a dog that travels with us. During hot days, we make sure she has plenty of water to drink. Sometimes we add a couple of ice cubes. I don't know if she likes chilled water, but she loves trying to bite the floating ice cubes.

Pet Cooling Mat

A couple of things that will benefit your pet are a pet cooling mat and an evaporative vest.

Cooling mats don’t need water. They have a gel interior that stays cool.

Pet Cooling Vest

Pet Cooling vests work like the cooling cloths that we use for staying cool. Instead of a cloth, they are a vest. We've seen these at pet stores.

Whether it's a cooling mat or cooling vest or both, your pet will think you for it.


Boondocking is a lot of fun, but it has some challenges. Staying cool in the summer without running the A/C is one of those challenges. With a few minor changes, you can make boondock camping in summer, at the least, bearable.

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