Camping is fun in any conditions as battling these conditions is a part of the fun. However, sometimes they can have such an influence on us that we wish we were dead. Most hikers and survivalists say they’d rather camp in cold conditions than in high humidity. This makes humidity probably the camper’s worst enemy.
Humidity is a challenge, even for experienced campers. Not only does it make you feel the temperature more intensely, but it can make you out of breath even over short distances. It makes all of your equipment wet and increases the pace of its deterioration, all the while draining water from your body through sweat. These conditions are not to be trifled with and you’ll need skill and experience to overcome them.
But, you don’t have to suffer its oppression every time you go outdoors in the summer. Read on and learn how to deal with high humidity when camping and have an amazing adventure, no matter the conditions.
Table of Contents
Hydration and Nutrition in High Humidity
The first thing you’ll need to pay attention to is whether you’re taking in enough water. Don’t be fooled, the fact that everything is wet in high humidity doesn’t mean your body won’t lose water. In reality, people are more likely to dehydrate in high humidity conditions, as it’s hard to keep track of how much water they lose through sweating.
Sweating is your friend and it will help cool your body down, but it will expel precious water out of your body. So, make sure you hydrate enough!
You can lose salts and minerals through sweat, as well. Unfortunately, our sweat glands can’t choose exactly what they expel, and it is easy to lose precious salts without which your body can’t function, through profuse sweating.
To battle this calamity, make sure you ingest enough food and drink enough water when camping and hiking in high humidity. A hiker in extreme humidity can go through a gallon of water in a little over an hour. This number can go down or up, depending on the amount of your physical activity and the humidity levels.
As far as nutrition is concerned, you should eat enough to keep your energy levels up. Wet conditions, especially in the heat, can make you feel more tired than you are. So, eat foods with high energy values, but make sure they’re easy to absorb and digest. Avoid products made of bread dough and focus on nuts, energy, or protein bars.
Dress Accordingly When Camping in High Humidity
Never camp in any conditions unless you have the proper gear! This is pretty obvious for most extreme conditions, but it also applies to situations we don’t consider extreme. Like camping in a park in the middle of spring or experiencing humid conditions in the summer.
Wherever and whenever you choose to camp, you must be absolutely certain you have the right clothes.
High humidity will make you “feel” the temperature more. 32 degrees F feels a lot different in dry and humid weather, where the humid one is colder. The same goes for heat – the more humid it is, the hotter you’ll be.
How Should We Dress When Camping in High Humidity?
First off, don’t pack thermal resistant clothes. These are usually meant to trap your heat inside to keep you warm when hiking in subzero weather. In a hot and humid environment, this kind of clothes will make you sweat out every single drop in your body within the first fifteen minutes.
You will need aired clothes, with lots of mesh and netting. Basically, garments that allow for good ventilation.
The materials can be whichever you like, as long as they allow your skin to create. So, no completely closed nylon leggings, no unbreathable hoddies, etc.
Finally, cotton can work in high humidity heat. Now, I know that anyone who has ever camped (or watched the McGyver tv series) knows the campers’ mantra of “COTTON KILLS”. However, this mantra is based on pretty specific conditions – mostly camping in freezing and humid weather. And it is true, cotton can drain your body heat when you’re in the mountains.
However, in very hot and humid conditions, cotton can come in extremely handy as it allows your skin to breathe and if it attracts too much moisture (which is cotton’s main issue) you can use it to cool your body down.
Bring Several Changes of Clothes
Camping in high humidity will demand you keep especially good hygiene. Sweat can cause various skin irritations which won’t go well with the lack of hydration your body will be experiencing.
The best way to keep your clothes clean, short of washing them every night before sleep, would be to bring a couple of alternative outfits when camping in high humidity. This isn’t a joke, when I go camping and hiking in Texas in the summer, I can go through three different outfits each day.
If you can’t find the spot in your gear for extra clothing, at least focus on bringing a couple of extra pairs of underwear, an extra shirt, and three additional pairs of socks.
Never forget the socks! The extra underwear is easier to carry and use than getting a bunch of anti-rash lotion or powder, but the extra socks are essential. I never leave home without an extra pair, and when I am hiking, I always carry at least four spare ones.
Regularly changing your socks is a must when walking in hot and humid conditions. You’re not only keeping your feet clean and rash free, but you’ll also be preventing foot fungus and even trench foot, which hikers can experience in extreme conditions.
Needless to say, the location of your camp is crucial for many things.
When trying to avoid humidity, you’ll need to adjust your usual shelter building methods and choose a different kind of place to raise your tent.
Find that breeze – set up your tent away from sheltered places and embrace the wind circulation. The windier – the better, as all that airflow will chase away bugs that like wet air (the cursed mosquitos) and disperse any moisture. Of course, pitching your tent on a wind-blasted top of a hill might turn it into one giant sail, so you’ll have to compromise.
Do not camp near bodies of water. Even though swimming is the perfect way to alleviate the heat made by humidity, camping near water will only increase the moisture in the air. The best solution would be to have an accessible swimming hole near your camp, but not too close by it causes your tent to “perspire”.
Finally, you can choose to camp in shadowed areas, specifically under trees. Vegetation can increase the humidity, but it also absorbs moisture from the air. And shadows from trees will prevent the sunlight from hitting your shelter directly and evaporating the water more quickly. When camping under trees, make sure there aren’t any dead branches above the place meant for your tent.
Air Conditioning in High Humidity
If there’s no way you can adapt your camp’s location to fight humidity, there are a couple of ways you can make the most out of the place you have to use.
- If your tent has a bug net, keep that closed and the doors open throughout the night
- Ventilate your tent every hour or even more frequently
- Find a place to swim to keep the heat away for at least a couple of hours a day.
- Have enough skin lotions or anti-rash powders to make moving around less stressful and more enjoyable
- Get a portable battery-powered fan or other types of airconditioning
- Bring many alternatives for fire as every natural source of tinder will probably be soaking wet in these conditions
Protect Your Camping Equipment From Humidity
You’re not the only one that’ll be suffering when camping in high humidity – your equipment will have a rough time, as well.
Every piece of your gear from your knife to the straps on your backpack will need increased maintenance if you’re in humid conditions. Oil your knife with mineral oil before setting off on a camping adventure and make sure you keep your ropes and straps in a resealable plastic bag.
Apart from your cordage, your books will suffer the most from high humidity. If you love to read when in the wild, you will need to pay special attention and ensure you protect your books when camping in moist conditions.
Reducing Tent Humidity and Condensation
One of the most annoying consequences of high humidity when camping is condensation inside your tent. No one likes to wake up soaking wet from water accumulated on the walls of the tent. Luckily, we know some tricks that will help you keep condensation to a minimum. This what you should do:
- Avoid overcrowding your tent – If your tent can take 2 people, in humid conditions this means 2 people can sleep there without making too much condensation. So, not hang out there for the entire day, but sleep. And no more than 2 people.
- Avoid spending too much time in there – Your shelter should be a place you turn to for sleep and avoiding the elements. Don’t hang out in there most of the day. Explore and enjoy nature.
- Do not cook or eat in the tent – If it’s raining outside, it might seem like a good idea to cook on your portable stove inside the tent. In humid conditions, it isn’t.
- Minimize other sources of moisture in the tent – No food and no water in the tent, not even in closed containers
- Add a dehumidifier – Charcoal briquettes do the job and are very cheap. Of course, you can use any dehumidifier you want.
- Opt for a different style of tent – Tee-pees or two-layer tents make camping in high humidity much easier