Not everyone gets the luxury of car camping by a fresh cool waterhole, so cooling off on the those awful hot days needs to be achieved manually. Which is where the air conditioning comes into its own.
Sure some people may think this is classified as ‘Glamping’, but I for one really don’t care. Intolerable Summer heat certainly is not my favorite camping pastime. I’d much rather be sleeping under the stars in a cool and comfortable environment, then be sleeping in a pool of my own sweat.
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Where To Install The AC Unit
Even if you don’t use the air conditioner for the whole trip, these ports or vents open up a new means of air flow into the tent. The tents with air conditioning openings are typically placed at the rear of the tent and are raised a foot or so.
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This will allow you to place the AC on top of a stool or box and circulate the cool air around the tent more effectively. When the AC is out of the way, this opening allows air to cross circulate and push hot air up and out of the mesh ceiling of your tent. So all in all, a tent with a ac port is a valuable feature to have.
But not all tents have an air conditioner port. So finding one that meets your requirements can be quite challenging. Without knowing what other tent features you demand, finding the best option is near impossible.
However, below you can find an assortment of tents that have a vent or ac port. Now all that’s left for you to do is choose the right tent for you.
Tents With Air Conditioning Openings
Below these tent review you can find a basic guide on camping in a tent with air conditioning. But before we get into these tents with air conditioner opening ports it’s important to understand that many 3 season tents have a mesh ceiling.
This is extremely important during hot summer days as the mesh ceiling allows hot air to escape through the ceiling.
But it’s a problem when using an air conditioner. All the cool air escapes out of the mesh ceiling and under the rain fly. So keep this in mind when buying a tent with a open mesh ceiling. You will need to put an additional tarp layer between the mesh and the rainfly so that the cool air doesn’t escape and all your efforts to maintain a cooler tent is wasted.
The Best Tent With Air Con Vent
The base of the AC port sits about 10 inches off the ground so you will need a 4 x 6 crate or something similar to keep the air con unit off the ground off the wet floor. The top of the AC port is the tent material which is waterproof, so if you stake the gable over the AC you will keep it safe from the elements. However I do recommend further protection in the even of wet weather such as an outdoors plug.
On the inside the AC port is 100% netted to keep the mosquitoes and creepy crawlies out. So all in all, the AV port up to the task and serves its purpose very well.
It’s Also An Awesome Tent
The Wenzel Klondike is more than just a tent with an AC opening, there’s much more to this awesome tent.
For starters, this is one of the easiest to set up screen tents on the market. Which for a tent with a screened porch is quite an achievement. Speaking of porches, this screen room is the biggest selling point if you ask me.
The Screen Room
So this is a 8 man tent which divides up into two rooms. The normal tent like area and the front screen room. The front room can be used as a porch, lounge, dining room, kids play room as it is completely sealed off with no see um bug netting.
The screen room also has a waterproof floor which many screen rooms don’t have. But the biggest ‘won me over factor’ for me is the fact the front room can also be zippered up for privacy and turned into a separate livable room.
Having the option to turn the front room into a bedroom if needed is just amazing. Combine this and the fact it has the real deal AC port makes the Klondike tent by Wenzel one of the best going around.
The Bushnell 6 Person Tent With AC Opening
Bushnell tents have a reputation for being affordable while maintaining a decent level of quality. Which is great for families on a tight budget wanting a tent that can stay cool all summer long.
The air conditioner port on this Bushnell tent is along the long side of the tent. Very similar in design to the above Wenzel Klondike port, you will have to have the window ac unit raised off the ground.
This tent is part of the Shield series which is designed to keep weather out of the tent. What I really like about this 6 person tent is that the front entry has side vestibules and a small awning. But on the interior of the side vestibules are storage pockets.
Plenty Of Storage
Having these pockets located here is a brilliant idea. It’s the ideal spot for storing toilet paper, torches and anything you need outside but don’t want to keep inside. All while maintaining a dry environment.
But don’t worry there are internal storage pockets on the walls of the tent too. Also the ceiling has a large mesh pocket for keeping things up high and dry. But the biggest appeal to this tent is its value for money and easy set up.
It takes just minutes to get this tent set up as the poles come pre attached to the tent. So you simply unfold and erect the tent. It’s called ‘Instant 60 second setup’ for a reason. But do be generous and give yourself at-least a few minutes to get it set up completely.
Overall the Bushnell Shield Series 11 Ft x 9 Ft instant tent is great value for money. It has the all important air conditioning port while boast a good selection of other features. But it is important to remember that this is not a $500 tent. It’s far cheaper and it won’t boast the same superior quality as a $500 tent. But for what you pay, I think it’s a steal.
Best Family Tent With AC Port
Massive Family Tent With 2 AC Ports
The air con vents are the same design as the above tents meaning a window ac unit can slot right in without having to sacrifice any of the interior living space, or insect protection.
More About This Spacious 3 Room Tent
Being a 3 room tent means it’s the perfect tent for families with multiple kids. But when you typically think of a large family tent like this you instantly think of the headaches the assembly and take down pose.
Fortunately, this 16ft x 16ft tent is a instant cabin style tent. So the poles are pre attached and assembly takes just minutes. It’s very hard to miss this one up Dads. But to make life easier, do ask Mom to help set it up. It’s best suited to a 2 person set up.
Each room is separated with a divider and each room has enough room for a queen airbed. So the kids wont be fighting over which room is bigger here. One less drama taken care of.
Overall it’s a great choice if you have a large family. Even without using an air conditioner, this tent breathes very well. The very large window, vents and doors allow for great cross breeze. The fourth room is outdoors and is a great area to escape the heat while protected from the patio ceiling above. For the price of this tent you really do get bang for your buck and the fact it has two ac ports means you and your family will be staying cool this summer.
The Wenzel Kodiak 9 Person Tent Review
This is because this unique tent has 2 external storage hubs which can be accessed from inside the tent. So to turn one or both of these storage hubs into a AC port all you need to do is cut along the material and make a flap.
If you’re handy with stitching you could attach some Velcro or a zipper yourself to create a very simple AC opening. The air conditioner simply slides under the top of the storage port and you still have protection from the elements while being cool inside the tent.
It would be quite ingenious if Wenzel were to add this AC port feature to one of the hubs as it is the ideal location. But for now if you’re willing to make 3 cuts in the ‘U’ shape along the bottom of the hub you can have your own custom made AC opening.
More About The Wenzel Kodiak Tent
The feel you get when you walk inside the Kodiak tent is that you are stepping into a home away from home. It’s a cozy and luxurious tent. The 2 x Bay windows and the large ‘D’ shape door give this tent a nice cozy cabin feel to it.
With a huge 14 foot by 14 foot interior, this tent makes the perfect 2 room tent. The divider is stitched in place to keep privacy within the tent to a maximum. While the floor is a heavy duty tarp material, sadly it is not a bathtub flooring. So the base of the tant does not run up the sides of the tent a few inches.
What this means is in the event of a down pour any running water along the ground could penetrate the seams where the base and the vertical walls join. So it’s extremely important you keep the tent seams sealed. It’s quick and easy to do. Otherwise, the Wenzel Kodiak makes for a great tent with a nice homely feel. It even comes with a cute mud mat.
Best Portable Air Conditioning Unit For Tents
Another option to keep the inside of your tent crisp and cool is to use a portable air con unit. To get the actual ‘air con’ coldness and not just an evaporator cooler, which doesn’t do a great deal in my opinion, will cost you a bit more. But if an air conditioned tent is what you’re after, it’s worth every cent.
Provided you have access to power or a generator, you can have the inside of your tent feeling like winter with the Black + Decker 14,000 BTU portable air conditioner. For a unit that is 14,000 BTU it’s considerably small, which is ideal for camping. But don’t get me wrong, it’s not so small you can hold it in your hand like some of those so called portable air cons that don’t really work from my experience.
With any air con unit like this you need to vent out the hot air. So to use this inside your tent you would simply run the 5 foot exhaust hose out through one of the air vents of the tent or through a side door and zipper it closed to the exhaust hose. If you want to go the extra mile you can place towels around the hose or tape the hose to the tent material so no hot air sneaks back in. This is of course if your tent has 2 doors.
Making The Tent Air Conditioned
This unit will make your tent, up to 300ft2, feel like an air conditioned home. It’s not just a cooler, but it actually produces cold air in which you can control the temperature. It comes with a handy remote so you can play around with the settings to control temperature and auto shut off and things like that.
There is a drip dray built into the Black + Decker air conditioner which needs to be emptied periodically. However the unit typically emits the the moisture in the air through the exhaust pipe as a mist. But the drip tray is also there for when it’s very humid and there’s lots of moisture in the air.
The unit also has a self shut off feature once the drip tray gets full. So you won’t expectantly wake up in a pool of water. For best measure just check the drip tray before you go to bed, that way you can get a good nights sleep in perfectly cooler conditions.
While it is a little on the large size, remembering it is a real air conditioner, it’s quite portable as well. It’s on caster wheels so you can roll it around easy to best position it. But the beauty of this unit is you can take it home and use it around the home too. This is because it comes with a window installation kit which is super easy to use. So once you’re done camping you can keep the office or your bedroom cool as well.
If you haven’t got a tent already, I would recommend you buy a canvas tent, either a Kodiak or Springbar tent. This is because canvas is better at keeping the temperature inside the tent compared to a nylon tent. Also most nylon tents have mesh ceilings, so the cold air escapes quite easily.
On the Kodiak tent the ceiling is hydra-shield canvas. So the cool air cant escape as easily as it would through a mesh ceiling. If you have a nylon tent you will need to insulate the ceiling so the cold air doesn’t escape. To do this you will need some sort of all weather blanket and have it between the mesh and rainfly layers. This will help keep the cool air inside your tent.
What’s The Best Option?
So far I have listed off some tents with built in AC ports, these are ideal for people whom already have a window air conditioning unit. These are very suitable for camping, but you are limited in the number of tents available. Unless you want to cut a opening in any tent (see below) that is.
But if none of the above tents appeal to you or are not suitable to your situation, I would certainly go down the portable air conditioning unit track. While they are a little pricey upfront, they will serve many purposes. Not just for camping, so it’s quite a solid investment.
Because the Black + Decker does such a good job at cooling down such a large area, I probably would suggest buying one of these over a larger tent that may require multiple window air con units. Which is especially important to understand if you need a family size tent to be air conditioned.
The larger the space, the more air con units that may be needed, depending on your units BTU rate. The Black + Decker has a high 140,000 BTU rate so it can cool down a larger tent no worries. Which is why I would look into this option if you need to cool down a family size tent over buying a window air con.
Guide To Safely Using A Air Conditioner While Camping
There are two types of air conditioning units you could potentially use while camping. They are your classic window unit which will require a stool underneath and the newer portable air con units. Both of which will have separate safety guidelines to follow.
While window ac units are more difficult to install, they require less maintenance over a portable unit. A portable air con is far simpler to use as they come with hoses in which you can run out through the tents vent or electrical port. This will circulate the hot air out of the tent.
However, there is an ongoing maintenance issue with portable air cons. That is making sure the reservoir does not overfill. The water will need to be emptied many times a day (if left on all day) depending on how humid the weather is.
Which AC unit you choose to take camping will have its ups and downs. But both will provide you with a cooler tent. The portable units are typically more expensive and a lot heavier than a window AC. Regardless of which unit you have, a tent with air conditioning openings is a must.
Size Of Tent Determines Size Of AC
Some air conditioning units come pretty small so that they can be operated by batteries. So it would be pretty silly to think that you could keep a 160ft2 cabin style tent cool with such a small unit.
So it’s important you either buy a tent suitable to the AC you already have, or buy a AC to suit what size tent you buy. On the air con unit will be a number stating how many BTU’s it has.
Northcool explains in more detail about how many BTU’s you will need to keep your tent cool while camping. However, for most tents you won’t typically need a air conditioning unit with more than 6000 BTU’s.
Connecting A Window Air Conditioner To A Tent
For maximum results, its recommended to attach a boot or sock like material around the air conditioner. This can be done in a couple of ways. Both require you to buy additional ripstop waterproof material similar to that of the nylon tent.
- Pay an upholster to sew and attach a sock to the tents air conditioner opening. This is the professional and better looking route. Ask for a drawstring to be inserted so that once you have the sock around the AC, you can pull it tight for a better fit.
- A more DIY approach is too manually sew the sock onto the tent opening. A more basic route is to use gaff tape on the inside of your tent and stick the sock so that it it’s opening is on the exterior of the tent. Once you have enclosed the AC unit inside to sock simply use some bungee cords or rope to tie the sock material down to the AC.