Portable Air Conditioner For Tenting?

My wife and I have a six month old daughter. We haven’t been camping since she was born.

We are tentatively scheduling a camping trip for May in Ft. Myers Florida. We’re both concerned that it may get too hot in the tent for the little one.

While I’m all for roughing it… the thought of the baby being fussy and crying through the night because it’s too hot has us concerned.

Anyone have any recommendations on how to keep the tent cool? We will be in a campground with electric outlets available. I’ve looked at some portable air conditioners but they are all $400 or more.

I read some scathing reviews on a product called KoolerAir which most people found useless.

Any ideas?

Tarp, fan, ice
Make sure you put a tarp over your tent to block the sun from heating it up all day, but high enough above tent to allow good air flow so your not trapping hot air under it and warming the tent. Use small Quiet portable table top fan(s) on low. If it is still hot, take a 16/20# bag of ice and stand upright in small plastic container (to hold melting water) and put the fan behind the bag of ice and blow some cool air toward you and your baby. How hot does it get in MAY in southern Florida?

sounds good
Its funny how people perceive air conditioning as a necessity nowadays.

When I was six months old and in Florida too six decades ago, there was no ac and we did fine. There was electricity and fans and ice.

I still dont feel the need for a/c and have never had it in the house. Fans make a big difference as keeping the blinds closed and the windows closed during the day. Just avoid heating up your tent in the day.

Advice from a non-parent
which makes me an EXPERT on children!

How about some form of hammock for a cradle? In hot & muggy conditions nothing is cooler than my Hennessey Hammock. I imagine it would be the same for a baby.


AC your tent
Junior Doughty is a cultural anthropologist based in Tullos, Louisiana. He travels the Mississippi Delta, camping out of his $400.00 1983 Chrysler 5th Avenue and spending his nights doing research in Juke Joints. Junior has developed a neat and frugal way of air conditioning his tent during those hot Delta nights.


Air conditioner
My wife and I went to the Florida Keys in June about 6 years ago. We camped in our van and a friend told us to get a box fan. We suffered through the heat of the sunny south all the way to the Keys (we did have a small oscillating fan) before giving in…and bought a box fan…What a difference! Just having moving air made the nights more than tolerable. We also used it around camp during the day to keep the bugs at bay.

Big, I mean BIG fan
When I camped at Fort McAllister State Historic Park Campground (near Savannah, Georgia) last April 21 to 26, a group of fisherman set up camp with a fan that was six feet in diameter. It kept them cool day and night. Sounded like a plane warming up for take-off. They knew that the temperatures would be in the upper 90s and came prepared…

It was 76 today in North Florida
and that was with a strong wind blowing. Without the wind it probably would be around 80.

Good stuff
Since I enjoy camping for different reasons, I found this bit funny “I can now sleep late in the mornings. The hum of the fan and compressor motors drowns out the sounds of morning birds and insects.”

Juniors Juke Joint

– Last Updated: Feb-27-07 7:44 AM EST –

I found Juniors site while surfing for info on the Delta Blues, his front page is:


there are a lot of great stories about the juke joints of the Delta region and the denizens who inhabit them.

I especially like Willie Fosters Garden

I built one…
and it works pretty good in PA in the Summer.


I’m not sure how well it would work in FL. I think it would be good to make it out of an actual plastic cooler rathter than styrofoam. I made mine out a styrofoam with 3" thick walls used to ship live bugs and worms. Good luck.


Didn’t read all of the preceding, but
I assume people know that there are FANS available which attach to the screen of a tent. If that, and a relaxed mind, don’t suffice, I suggest a motel.

We camped for a week on Cumberland Island in 1980, at a time when highs were approaching 100. At night, even though we had two adults and two kids in a Eureka Timberline 4, with the screen zipped, we were able to sleep without difficulty. I doubt that the Ft. Meyers night time temperatures are going to exceed what we had on that trip.

I’m confused, given your needs and concerns, I would be staying in a motel, not camping. Why make things harder than necessary?

re; motel
Normally, I would totally agree with you.

Camping is about withdrawing from modern life and enjoying time in a natural setting sure… but it’s also about relieving stress and downplaying the seriousness of modern life. More than waiting for an easier time,; which is a totally valid concern by the way… neither one of us want to spend a night with a unrestfull fussy baby… any parent knows well what those

nights are like., if buying an air cooler will motivate us to go then it’s well worth it.

Maybe we should pick a day soon when it’s hot and put up the tent. We can lay her down like we would at the campground and see if she is able

to sleep… not sure what we’re gonna do with the dogs though.

What do you think?

re; sounds good

Posted by: kayamedic on Feb-23-07 10:21 PM (EST)

Its funny how people perceive air conditioning as a necessity nowadays.

When I was six months old and in Florida too six decades ago, there was no ac and we did fine. There was electricity and fans and ice.


I’d be interested in getting the opinion of ‘we’, which i’m assuming are you parents… also, were you used to a/c on a daily basis or was it normal?

I guess I’m trying to avoid a debacle.

Portable AC from Sharper Image

I gotta agree with kayamedic…
Growing up here in Florida back in the '50s and '60s very few families I knew of (including mine) never had AC. The hammock for the baby is a good idea as we would do that for visiting families with infants. We would also moisten the window screens or moisten sheets hung loosely over the windows so that any breeze passing through the house would help with the evaporative cooling effect.

Taking this a step further, when I camp near or on the gulf coast during the summer I use my tall tent (more than 6 ft. tall to allow warmer air to rise and flow out the screened top) and take a spray bottle with me to lightly spray the no-see-um screening on the tent. Sleeping on the beach also helps due to the almost constant gulf breeze. By combining the three (tall tent with all windows open, misting the screens, and camping just above the high tide mark on the beach) you’ll find the muggy evenings far more tolerable. It’s no AC but your family will sleep a lot better than you all would without using these methods.

I hope this helps.

What about A/C babies?
OK… so in the 50’s and 60’s your family didn’t have A/C and it was no problem.

My concern is we do… and the day care does too.

Our little girl hasn’t been in the South Florida heat for more than a few minutes at a time.

Should we get a cooling unit for camping? or will she be OK her first night?

Tent A/C
Your profile suggests you reside in Florida so one might assume you have an idea of the weather. In case you have just moved there I might suggest asking some local folks about their experiences. As to “if” your baby can weather the temps…that question can only be answered by you. The month of May can be a bit warm at times with humidity.

Go for it. Here in Texas…similar
conditions…its the humidity, not the heat, stupid…lots of people get the cheap 110 air conditoners, set them up to blow into the tent, sometimes rigging a tarp tunnel to direct the air conditioning. With a tent that has a fly coming near the ground, it should work pretty well to put the air conditioner under the fly, just don’t block the exhaust. Its not perfect, but will coold the tent 5-10 degrees and help keep down the humidity. To hell with what people say, keep that baby happy and enjoy the trip.