Camping Air Conditioner: Complete Buyers Guide [2020]

Are you looking for the perfect camping air conditioner? Maybe you are fed up of waking up at the crack of dawn with a dry mouth and drenched in sweat! If so, you have landed on the right page. In this article I will cover every type of camping air conditioner imaginable for all situations and circumstances. Whether you need a cordless AC unit, or a heavy duty fixed position model there is something for you! 

Stuffy tents are, in my opinion, the worst part of camping after mosquito bites. It doesn’t really matter where you’re camping, the size of your tent or who you’re camping with- the fug of moisture, heat and anything smelly is enough to make you want to dive out of the tent at 5am and stare, wide eyed, at the sky. It’s about a million times worse when you’re at a festival because you’re probably also hungover and there’s no way to get comfortable. We can’t cure your headache, and your boots will definitely still stink but, with a camping air conditioner, you won’t have to handle the damp, stagnant air that exacerbates the problem. They’ll also soothe hot, tired children and help them get to sleep so you can enjoy your evening and know that they’re comfortable. 

In this article we are going to cover the following: 

  • Best portable air conditioner for camping (power supply needed)
  • Best portable air conditioner for camping (no power supply needed) 
  • Fixed position camping air conditioner

I have also included some handy tips on how to keep your tent cool in summer (for more tips check out my ‘how to make tent camping comfortable‘ article) and how to build your own DIY AC tent unit. 

Camping Air Conditioner: top picks at a glance

Best portable air conditioner for camping (power supply needed) – quick buy on Amazon here

Best portable air conditioner for camping (no power supply needed) – quick buy on Amazon here

Best camping air conditioner fixed unit – quick buy on Amazon here

Camping Air Conditioner: in detail

Best portable air conditioner for camping (power supply needed)

Let’s start by looking at the best portable air conditioner for camping. You’ll need access to a power supply, so you can’t take these hiking if you’re going to be staying somewhere totally remote. They are portable but because of the size you’ll need to consider how far you’d like to carry them. Finally, these work best in small tents. We think this product would be great for you if you like to stay in well-provisioned campsites that you can drive to. If you’ve got a family and you like to have an ‘adults’ tent and a ‘kids’ tent you can easily move these air conditioners between them and keep both tents cool and dry. 

If you’re going to be camping in hot areas, having a cooler is a great idea. This misting fan is bound to keep everyone from getting too hot and stressed, and can be used inside and outside the tent as required. You can also switch the misting setting off so your belongings don’t get wet, or turn it on, crank it up to ‘high’ and let your children play in the mist.  

 
  • You’ll need to be hooked up to a power supply for this to work, so make sure that your campsite has some sockets available! The cord is 72”, so it can stretch if you need it to
  • Because it doesn’t have batteries, it’ll run until it’s switched off. We would recommend only using this when you’re awake and with it, though!
  • There are three different speeds: low, medium and high
  • This is a fairly powerful cooler. It’s designed to be used outside to cool a relatively large area like a patio, so it’ll easily work in your tent. It can also decrease the temperature by up to 25 degrees

If you like to be misted or to just be fanned, this product is perfect for you. It’s cordless so, as a dry fan, it can be taken anywhere, but if you’d like it to mist you you’ll need to be near a hose or have a five gallon bucket of water to hand. This also means it can be used inside or outside your tent without any issues: cool, dry air for inside or a refreshing breeze for outside. Try sitting in the shade with this and get almost instant relief from even the hottest temperatures. 

 
  • This fan has a battery that can be charged by plugging it into a standard socket
  • Each battery will last for around three and a half hours, but be aware that it’ll use up a bucket of water in two hours. If you’d like the fan on for longer, consider buying a backup battery
  • There are two settings for the fan’s speed (high and low) and two settings for the mist level (high and low)
  • This is also quite powerful: you’ll be able to feel the effect for about 10 meters

This camping air conditioner might be more affordable than the others, but we believe that it’s still a great quality and has loads of features that make it an excellent choice. It’s multifunctional and can be used to cool your tent; increase and decrease the humidity and makes a fun night light with different colours- no more scrabbling around in your tent for a torch! It’s pretty small which makes it easy to carry around and won’t take up a lot of room.

 
  • This air conditioner will need to be plugged into a power supply at all times. However, it is compatible with a lot of different power sources: you can use a portable USB power bank (like for a phone), you can plug it into your car or you can use a normal plug socket connected to the mains. 
  • Because it doesn’t have its own battery it won’t need to be charged- but it won’t work without being plugged in
  • There are three different speeds: low, medium and high
  • This air conditioner is powerful enough to cool down a small to medium tent

Product you may need with your best portable air conditioner for camping

Jackery Portable Power Station

Some people like camping because it gives them an opportunity to get away from today’s hypertech world. This product is for the other kind of people. If you like camping but don’t want to miss out on using your phone, laptop, portable fan/air conditioning unit and fairy lights this will be perfect for you. The Jackson Portable Power Station allows you to charge various devices as a kind of giant battery, so you don’t have to be completely without technology while you’re camping. This model can be charged by plugging it into the mains, a car (make sure the car is switched on so you don’t drain the car’s battery) or solar panels if you’re somewhere really remote.

Best portable air conditioner for camping (no power supply needed)

Still feeling hot and bothered? Let’s move on to look at the best portable air conditioners. These are much more compact, so it’s easier to take them with you to more remote campsites without access to electricity. They’re also versatile: you can use them when you’re camping, but they’re also good for use in your home and workplace, too! Some people are more affected by the heat than others, but these portable air conditioning units are great for anyone, anywhere. 

This camping air conditioner unit is portable, and it cools, oscillates and humidifies. It’s perfect for small, enclosed spaces like tents but it can also be used in cars or at your desk. There’s a battery so you don’t need to keep it plugged in to a power source at all times, which makes it good for camping. It also humidifies the surrounding area, so if you’re going somewhere with a lot of dry heat this will be perfect for you. The humidifying part can be filled with water and ice, and you can add more ice if you’d like to be even cooler. 

 
  • This air conditioning unit uses lithium polymer batteries, which are included. The battery will last for around nine hours, and then it will need to be charged via a USB cable
  • It will then take three/four hours for the battery to completely recharge
  • There are three temperature settings, and two settings for oscillation. These are easily controlled with a panel on the front of the device
  • This device is not powerful enough to cool down a whole room, but it should work perfectly in tents to keep you feeling refreshed

 

This is our favourite option for anyone on a budget. It’s still small enough to be portable and is battery powered so you don’t need access to electricity all the time. The CRMPro is also designed to be used at night: it can last for eight hours, which is the recommended amount of time to spend sleeping; it has a nightlight built in, perfect for children or anyone who doesn’t like the dark, and it’s quiet so it won’t disturb you. This is a great value camping air conditioner. 

 
  • This option has a rechargeable battery. You’ll need to charge it for around three hours, by plugging it in with a USB cable. It also works whilst it’s charging, if you want to have it on for longer.
  • When it’s been charged the battery will last for up to eight hours, depending on the setting you use
  • There are three different speeds: high, medium and low. There’s also an ‘intermittent’ mode, where it cools for 10 seconds, turns off for another 10 seconds and then repeats
  • It is powerful enough to keep a tent cool

This air conditioning unit is very similar to the previous one, but with two key differences: firstly, it’s a little more expensive, and secondly you can add scents to the water so your tent smells nice. Much like the best value air conditioner, this works as a nightlight and attaches to a water bottle that can be chilled and contain ice, as you prefer.

 
  • This unit can be charged with a USB cable. You can plug this into your car, the mains or a portable charging pack- try the Jackery Portable Power Pack, discussed above
  • You’ll need to charge this for three hours, but the battery will then last for eight hours
  • There are three different wind speeds: high, medium and low
  • It’s powerful enough to cool a tent, but would not work for a full room

Best camping air conditioner fixed units

If you’ve looked at our other options and decided they’re a bit lightweight for you, try one of the air conditioning fixed units. Most of these are bigger and bulkier, kind of like old fashioned TVs. However, they’ll be much more powerful and look more like the air conditioning units you’re used to, with panels for easy use and much closer control over the temperature. These are also designed to be used in houses and offices, which means that if you do decide to invest in one you can install it at home and bring it with you when you camp, so you’ll always have access to pleasant, temperate air. These are much more of an investment, so they’re great for people who live in or regularly visit really hot areas.

This camping air conditioner unit is very different to everything we’ve looked at before. It’s much bigger, more powerful, and much more expensive. It also offers heating and de-humidifying as well as a fan and air conditioner. Let’s break this down: you can use this in the colder months as well as when it’s warm, so it’s versatile and you’ll always be comfortable. Tents are also always waterproof, which makes them really stuffy and uncomfortable at times. This unit’s dehumidifying abilities can remove 2.2 pints of water every hour, so your tent will be nice and easy to breathe in. You also have the fan and air conditioning aspects: they’re pretty standard, but they’re much more powerful with this unit: it can cool 350 sq ft, so it’ll work all over a tent, even if it’s a six or eight person tent- but make sure that any pods and compartments are unzipped. Because it’s bigger, you’ll need to put more effort into transporting it, and you won’t be able to take it with you in your backpack if you’re going hiking. There are wheels on the bottom but they won’t work on muddy or uneven ground. 

 
  • This doesn’t hook up to a battery or use a USB charging port: you’ll need access to a full battery (like the Jackery Portable Power Station) or, better, just mains electricity. 
  • There are four different modes: heating, cooling, fan and de-humidifying. You can adjust the temperature by degrees, which gives you a much more precise idea instead of just high, medium and low.
  • It’s powerful enough to cool a 350 sq ft room, so it’ll definitely  have the power to cool the entire tent, regardless of size, and you can use it in gazebos and marquees- although check the size for these

This unit is designed for use in houses, and it shows! It’s supposed to fit into a window, so the back part is outside and the rest stay inside and cools or warms as you prefer. However, it can be used for tents as well, and will do a good job. You can cool or warm a large area, so it’s perfect for bigger/family tents. However, like the other options it’s much bigger and bulkier and you’ll need access to electricity to make this work.

 
  • This unit is battery powered and takes two AA batteries. How long they last will depend on how much you’re using the unit, but we’d recommend bringing spares just in case
  • You can adjust the fan speed and temperature by degrees
  • This unit can cool around 350sq ft

As much fun as it might be to share a tent with eight of your friends, a dog and someone’s girlfriend who you don’t really know, sometimes it’s nice to just have your own space and camp alone. But that doesn’t mean you should overheat! This air conditioner is perfect for one or two man tents, and won’t take up much room- which is good, because they’re often pretty tight! This also runs with batteries (3xAAA, included) so you won’t need to be hooked up to electricity, which gives you more flexibility with where you camp.

 
  • How long the batteries last for will depend on the temperature you set this to. There’s an energy saver mode if you’re looking to make it last a long time, or you can just bring spare batteries
  • You can set the temperature by degrees, so you can be precise in how warm or cold you’d like your tent to be. You can also adjust the fan speed to high, medium or low
  • It’s powerful enough to cool a 150sq ft room, so it will easily cool your tent

My favourite part of camping is sitting next to a newly erected tent and having a drink. Carrying your stuff to a campsite is effort, putting up a tent is effort, making food is effort and the last thing I’d want to do is struggle to install an AC unit. Luckily, we’ve found one that’s really easy to get working so you don’t have to spend ages faffing around with it. The Haier is extremely quiet, cools, dehumidifies and fans nicely so you can relax. There’s also an energy saver mode so it lasts longer, and you can set it up on a timer so it’s only working when you need it. 

 
  • You’ll need to hook this up to an electric supply or bring a battery pack with you. Make sure you check your campsite first to make sure this is doable
  • Because this doesn’t have batteries, it’ll run until it’s switched off or unplugged. You can also set a timer so it only turns on when it’ll be needed
  • There are three speeds for the fan and you can adjust the temperature by degrees
  • This unit is designed to cool 151-250 sq ft, so it’ll definitely be powerful enough to keep a tent at a comfortable temperature

Other products to go with your camping air conditioner

So, you’ve got an AC unit? Cool! Literally, cool. But, having spent a fair amount of money on a nice piece of equipment, you don’t want to put it on the floor and risk one of the following happening: 1) someone stepping on it or tripping over in the middle of the night. 2) that one ant that lurks in every tent to get inside it and block up one of the vents or 3) It damaging your tent floor and ripping holes in it. So, why not try a camping stand? You’ll be able to put the AC unit on it and there should be space underneath for storage. We’ve found two different options for you….

Camco Adjustable Height Aluminum Platform Step

  1. This is strong. Like, it can hold 1000lbs of weight. You and 4-9 friends could balance on this and it’d be fine (check their weights first). It’ll hold your AC unit with no problem, and if you need a step, table or seat when you’re camping, you can use this too.
  2. It’s adjustable! You might have got that from the name, so let’s look into it. This will sit a few inches off the ground, but if you’d like it higher or lower that won’t be a problem. This means it’s great if the fan doesn’t oscillate or isn’t adjustable: the cool air will go onto you, not the empty space above your head! You can also adjust the legs individually, so your AC unit will stay flat on uneven ground. 
  3. The legs fold into the top of the stand, so it’s easy to pack away and won’t take up a lot of room in your car

Quick Products QP-FASAL Adjustable Aluminum Platform Step

  1. This product is very similar to the one before it, but with two key differences. Firstly, it can only hold 400lbs, so you can’t pile as many friends onto it at the same time. It’ll hold any of the AC units we’ve discussed, though. Secondly, it’s much cheaper
  2. Like the Camco, you can fold up the legs when you’re not using the stand, which will save space and make it easier to transport. It’s also adjustable, so you can smooth uneven ground and get the AC unit to the right height for you
  3. The top of the stand is 19×14.5 inches, so make sure that this is wide enough for your air conditioning unit. If you have a smaller AC, you could use the other space for torches, phones or other objects you like to keep in easy reach

Tents are warm. Summer is warm. Camping in the summer is, you guessed it, warm. An air conditioning unit won’t always be right for people: between the price, access to electricity and the size of the unit, you may well decide that you’d prefer to find another way to stay cool. Here are my top tips.

  • Camp near water. There are a bunch of reasons it’s fun to camp by a river or lake- like you can kayak or canoe to them;  or you can go fishing. But water tends to stay cooler in the summer- it’s because heat molecules move more slowly through liquids, which is why inland areas have a wider range of temperatures, so you’re already off to a good start. Additionally, you can paddle or swim in the water to cool down. Check that it’s safe to do so, but it’s usually a lot of fun and you can even set up a rope swing or bring rubber rings or inflatable toys to splash around on. Also, a good way to cool down is to run your wrists under cold water. There’s lots of blood veins in them, so it cools down your blood before it’s transported to the rest of your body.

 

  • Keep the cold air from the night trapped. Wake up around dawn and unzip your tent as much as possible. Let all the cool air in, and then zip it all up. The inside of your tent won’t get as warm, and you can enjoy the sunrise.

 

  • Turn off your electronics. Camping is supposed to be an opportunity to get away from modern life and technology and reconnect with nature. Leave your laptop at home and the machine and the charger won’t heat up your tent all day. Additionally: never leave electronics running or charging in your tent when you’re not there. If they overheat they could start a fire, and the material tents are made from is notoriously flammable. 

 

  • Camp in the shade. If you’re a pro camper, figure out which tree will give you the most shade and if it’ll cover your tent through the hottest part of the day. If that’s not your thing, just try to find a big tree and set your tent up there- it’ll offer some relief and trees are nice. You will come across more bugs, but they’re mostly harmless so just make sure that your food is well protected

 

  • Bring a cool box with you. Fill it up with ice creams and cold drinks, so you’ll always have something available and ready to go. Plus, if you put the cans/packaging on your neck or wrists, it’ll cool your body down much faster and you can then return the product to the cool box to consume later

Make you own camping air conditioner

We have a final option for anyone who doesn’t want a full air conditioning unit but doesn’t think my top tips will keep them cool enough. That’s to make an air conditioning unit at home! It’s actually much simpler than you’d expect, and you’ll save money and it’s much better for the environment.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  1. A small desk fan. You can use either a battery or solar powered one
  2. An old ice box cooler
  3. A tube that curves to 90 degrees
  4. Ice, or water bottles with ice (if you’re freezing water in bottles, don’t fill them all the way up as ice expands and can damage your bottles)
  5. Duct tape
  6. A pen or pencil
  7. A knife, or a drill and jigsaw

Here’s what to do.

Step one: get your ice box and sit it normally, so the lid is on top. Then, take the fan so it’s facing down on the lid and draw around it so you get a small circle. 

Step two: now, take your tube and do the same thing at the other end of the ice box. You should now have two circles.

Step three: cut the circles out. You can either drill a small hole and insert the jigsaw to cut around, or you can use the knife. Use appropriate safety measures. I would recommend cutting the holes slightly smaller so your tube and fan don’t fall inside the box. 

Step three: attach the fan and tube to the lid of the ice box, using the appropriate holes. If you’d like it to be extra sturdy, use the duct tape.

Step four: put ice in the ice box and turn the fan on. The fan should blow air into the box, over the ice and then come out of the tube as cooler, more refreshing air. 

Step five: enjoy

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