Tips for Staying Cool while Boondocking

As we rapidly approach the summer season, temperatures are climbing all across North America, leading many RVers to begin to rely on their air conditioning units to stay cool. This can be a great choice if you are driving, camping with hookups, or running a generator. However, if you are without hookup resources temporarily or prefer to boondock, then that can complicate things when trying to stay cool. Before the summer is in full swing, check out Boondockers Welcome’s tips on beating the heat while boondocking or dry camping. 

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What is boondocking?

Boondocking, also known as dry camping, means foregoing hookups such as electric, water, and sewer, instead using freshwater holding tanks for water and a generator, solar, or just stored battery power for electric. The perks of boondocking include access to more private campsites and more affordability when compared with campgrounds. Many boondocking sites also boast greater privacy, better views, and incredible locations. Not to mention, almost all Boondockers Welcome and Harvest Hosts locations are dry camping only. Staying at either a Boondockers Welcome or Harvest Hosts location can actually be a great way to practice boondocking to lead up to longer dry camping experiences.

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The biggest challenge of boondocking is the lack of consistent resources. Your power and water consumptions need to be rationed, and the longevity of your camping spot is also shorter. Because your resources are limited, you will need to get a bit creative in order to stay cooled off in the hot season, especially if you are visiting locations with warmer summers.

Cooling off the Rig

Depending on your boondocking setup, cooling off your rig can be easy or challenging. Having an RV equipped with solar means that you can run your vented fans and possibly plug in small items, such as tabletop fans, to help beat the heat. Without solar, you will need to run your generator periodically, which will consume gas. However, the generator will give you access to all appliances, including the air conditioners. When boondocking, it’s important to conserve resources, so plan to use these methods at the hottest (and sunniest!) points of the day to make it worth your while.

The size of your RV will also impact how easy or difficult it is to keep cool. Larger RVs will have more space that needs cooling, while smaller rigs, such as vans, can be easier to cool off. Be sure to open up all possible windows and make good use of the screen on your front door. A best practice is to wake up as early as possible and begin opening your windows. If you can wake up before the sun rises, this can get you off to a good start for the day before the temperature begins to rise.

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Staying Cool Individually

Keeping yourself cooled down can also be a challenge. Clothing is the first step, so try to wear breathable fabrics if possible, focusing on t-shirts, tank tops, and shorts as much as possible. It can also help to use cooling towels, such as these ones from Dick’s Sporting Goods, to provide some relief while not using any resources. 

If possible, try to get outside and into the shade or water. RVs aren’t the most insulated homes and can sometimes become hotter than the temperatures outside. Remember to drink water, and use plenty of sunscreen!

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Keeping your Pets Cool

If you’re struggling to cool off, your pet most likely is too. No matter what species your pet is, make sure they have ample water to drink and access to shade. For mammals like cats and dogs, try giving them a damp towel to lay on to cool their body. Panting is normal but should be monitored to ensure they aren’t overheating. When possible, allow your dog(s) to go for a quick dip with you as well to periodically cool off.

Cold-blooded pets like lizards should be given access to shade but may enjoy some sunshine too. Smaller caged animals like hamsters or ferrets may forego their warm bedding and should have access to a cool surface to lay on as well.

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Campsite Tips

Certain tips can help you to stay cooler just based on how you are parked and how your campsite is set up. Let’s dive in.


The location of your campsite can have a huge impact on how cool you and your RV will be overall. Try to park in the shade, whether it be under a tree or next to a building. A tall neighboring RV can also provide some much-needed shade. Be sure to take the time of day into account as well. If possible, estimate where the sun will be during the hottest points of the day, and ensure that your RV is shaded during those times at the very least. If shade is hard to come by, then be sure to use your awning if you have one! These are great for providing a cover for some of the RV’s windows while also offering a comfy and shaded outdoor space to enjoy.

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Another way to potentially beat the heat is by parking near water, specifically running water. Creeks, rivers, lakes, and the immediate areas around them tend to stay cooler. Not to mention, you can take a dip to cool off wherever permitted.

Location and Weather

Choosing where you vacation can also really help if you are planning to boondock. Consider adjusting travel plans if the area you plan to visit is becoming too hot. Moving on even a few days before a heat wave is about to begin can save you from experiencing too hot of temperatures. 

As boondockers, it’s important to choose destinations and plan trips around temperatures and weather in order r to stay comfortable. Be sure to check the weather forecast of wherever you’re heading to ensure you won’t get too warm. Many RVers try to travel with the seasons and will head north when the temperature starts to climb. This can mean visiting northern states or even just a higher elevation. If a heat wave begins coming in, you can even temporarily break camp and seek cooler temperatures during the heat of the day, and then head back to your original site later. If you do decide to leave and come back, be sure to bring your pets with you so that you can continue to monitor them for signs of overheating.

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For RVers, summer camping with hookups is a breeze, but boondockers have their fair share of challenges. However, by with plenty of planning and preparation, you can avoid a lot of discomfort from the heat. It’s definitely possible to stay cool while boondocking in the summer so that you can keep enjoying the sights and surroundings of whatever beautiful places you plan to visit.

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Where are you heading this summer? What other tips do you have for boondocking in the heat? Tell us all about your secrets for beating the heat in the comments below!

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  1. Frank
    16th June, 2022

    Do you have a list of locations to view before signing up?