How to camp in hot weather
If you have a camp planned this summer, check out these top tips from weather forecaster and Guide and Rangers leader Jo
What a summer it's been so far; hot dry and sunny
I’m just back from a week’s camping, and it was so strange to actually take part in easy camping, leaving things out all day, nipping in and out of the tent without full wet weather gear. Eating outside in a leisurely fashion, it was like being in the south of France, but I was in central Scotland.
As a Guide leader, I have been on a fair amount of soggy camps. Living in wellies, moulding into my cagoule, shrieking “don’t touch the sides of the tent!” This was different, and I did enjoy the fine weather experience.
This summer, as the UK sits in temperatures into the thirties it can be a great time to get out there. But for units who booked their camp months ago, this intense hot weather could be causing a few worries. Camping in very hot weather brings its own issues. It can still be very warm at night, being outdoors for hours means you have to be more vigilant about UV and hydration. The ground is tinder dry and rock hard. Apart from hijacking an ice-cream van, how do you keep yourself and the girls cool?
1. What to pack
It does still cool off a bit by night but you won’t need a 3-season bag. A cotton duvet cover works well as an alternative to go on top of a summer weight sleeping bag. They can be taken out to sit on the ground as well - rather than unnecessary blankets, or melting groundsheets
- Pack decent sun hats, not just baseball caps, which don’t protect ears or necks.
- Remember your sunglasses - your eyes need protecting from UV too.
- Neckers are great although they can make you feel hotter, dipping them in water is a great cooling trick.
- Another thing to watch for are biting beasties. They like the heat. It’s worth taking a long-sleeved top and full-length bottoms just for that insect time of day.
- Go for natural fibres not manmade - cool, cotton clothing to protect the skin works best. Vest tops and short shorts are not going to be ideal in the midday sun.
2. Think about tents
Lightweight modern tents are going to get roasting. In this weather Icelandic ridge tents, the old style canvas ones are the best. There’s decent shade but plenty of fresh air.
Keep your mesh screens zipped up against the mozzies in the South East, midges further north. I had a wasp hide in a sleeping pod once which then woke everyone up in the middle of the night after a triple sting attack.
Hitting my metal pegs into the ground for a lightweight tent was okay but trying to get them out was a nightmare. I did have a little metal tool to help but in the end, they needed twisting and slowly edging out, which took a while. Maybe factor that in if you are looking for a quick get away.
For those camping with more traditional canvas ridge tents and wooden pegs, it could be easier to make holes with metal rock pegs and then water the ground to get your main pegs in.
3. Cooking and eating
Keeping food cold
Some people take a fridge, others make do with cool bags hidden in the shade of trees, just don't leave it in your tent by day. If you can get ice, put that in the cooler and in your thermal cup. We always take a bucket and a muslin cloth/tea towel for the milk. Half fill the bucket, pop in the milk carton and drape the damp cloth over the top with the edges in the water. You could take a pint of milk frozen which then acts as a large ice cube in the cool bag.
Most areas are now under fire bans due to the dry ground, with no barbeques or fires allowed. Even with stoves, do think about the ground underneath.
4. Stay safe and hydrated in the sun
Make sure girls stay properly hydrated. I’ve heard of summer camps where they have had the “wee colour” chat with youngsters. That if it is dark orange or you are not going at all, then they need to drink more. Taking a jug or large water container to keep filled up is useful, so girls can help themselves. Make sure everyone has their own water bottle too. They’re good by day to reduce plastic waste and good by night to help cool down.
Check out the NHS advice on avoiding dehydration.
- Know the signs of heat exhaustion and heat stroke and how to treat them.
- Make sure girls keep topping up their sunscreen.
- Remember insect spray and ice for bites, as well as anti-histamine (though do check for allergies).
6. Keep an eye on the weather forecast
We have had some thunderstorms alongside the heat and humidity and could get more. The Met Office issue severe weather warnings when there is a risk of thunderstorms. They can be isolated when they arrive (within a large warning area) but with there's the risk of flash flooding and lightning so just keep an eye out.
7. Take it easy
It’s a ‘holiday’ (leaders laugh) so take time to slow down. Play quieter games or read in the shade. Do the active stuff early and later in the day. When I was a Guide on camp, we would always have a rest hour after lunch. We had to stay in our tents, which we always moaned about and didn’t see the point of. But time “chillaxing” and keeping hydrated is vital in this heat. Enjoy.
About Jo Guide advisor for East Lothian and leader
Jo is a Guide Advisor for East Lothian and a Guide and Ranger leader too. She's also a Netweather Weather Forecaster. Jo's favourite thing about guiding is camp and she loves to have eggy bread while there!