Keep it cool

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Drink water.
Wear a hat.
Don’t bust it up a mountain in the middle of the day.

We’ve all been schooled on the basics of staying cool. But if you’re new to camping, or haven’t visited a campground during a heat advisory, here are five extras to help minimize perspiration (and prevent expiration!) when you head outdoors this summer.


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1. Choose a shady campsite.

Fairly obvious, but something that can be overlooked in the rush to book those precious campgrounds. If you do manage to reserve a coveted shady spot, you’re one step ahead. But if shade is scarce, position your tent to take full advantage of what you have. Then, consider putting up a nearby camping shelter or tarp, which can offer instant relief for you and your crew. (These guys have an obsessively-researched round-up of canopy-style shelters.)

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2. Consider the humble bandana.

Bandanas have dozens of practical uses, morphing into signal flags, tourniquets, and instant DIY bags to carry any essentials. On hot days, soak one in cold water, fold, and rest on the back of your neck. Or just wear all day for extra sun protection. Interested in the myriad uses of bandanas? Start with this playful fashion-forward tribute from an inspiring outdoors-woman and founder of Shoestring Adventures, Alyx Schwarz.

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3. Dress like a Bedouin.

Ok, not exactly, but kind of. We know shorts and tanks are the unofficial uniform of summer, but allowing the sun to aim its solar rifle directly at our epidermis, well, we’re basically cruisin’ for a… you know… Instead, opt for lightweight, loose layers, especially those that wick. In terms of color, the jury is (apparently) out, with a few folks making the case that black is the new black

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4. Stay cool at night.

For campsites in direct sun, consider taking your tent down during the day and setting up again in the evening. If that sounds like a pain (it does to us…), you could also create a quick sunshade directly over your tent with a couple tarps, or even a reflective space blanket.

If you manage to land an airy spot, orient your tent so the nighttime breezes move in one door and out the other. A small portable fan can also do wonders.

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5. Know the signs of heatstroke.

Heatstroke is serious, and can turn any camping trip into an emergency. (The woman in the picture above probably doesn’t have heatstroke.) Anyway, here’s what to know and how to respond.

What to look for:

• A very high body temperature (usually over 103°F)
• Hot, red, dry or moist skin—no sweating
• Rapid pulse
• Difficulty breathing

What to do:

• Call 911 immediately — this is a medical emergency.
• Do NOT give fluids if they are disoriented or vomiting.
• Move the person to a cooler spot.
• Remove clothing and try to bring their temperature down with cool cloths or even a bath.

While heat stroke is probably not (hopefully not!) something you have to deal with, heat exhaustion is fairly common. Read more here and here to get more information.

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6. Finally, don’t forget to eat.

Ok, we weren’t going to leave you there, dying from heatstroke. Let’s talk food for a second. It’s incredibly important to make up for nutrients lost in hotter climes, whether you’re hiking, scrambling after toddlers, or just trying to get the damn camp stove to work. Replace all that sweat with timely noshing! Aim for salty snacks and foods rich in potassium, like bananas, sweet potatoes, and avocados. A handful of sweet and savory trail mix is always a good place to start. (Sorry, couldn’t help ourselves…)