When you wake up at 6AM in the morning and its already 30 degrees, and the day tops out at 42 degrees you have to wonder; is it too hot to camp?
In WA, we get some seriously hot weather, usually around November to March. In some parts of WA it can be 40 degrees or more for weeks on end, and up north you can have the humidity thrown into the mix as well.
There’s a lot of things you can do to avoid, or make the heat more pleasant, but where is the limit for you? At what temperature do you say, yeah, nah, lets stay home?
A couple of weeks after Cooper was born, we decided to spend a few days down at Nanga Mills in Dwellingup, with a forecast of 39 and 40 degree days. It was bearable, and actually reasonable in the shade, but we did take a big household fan, and camped under some nice trees for shade.
I think you can get away with camping in anything up to about 45 degrees, but any more and you are really pushing your luck in terms of having an enjoyable time away.
What can you do to make the heat more bearable?
There are more fans available today than you can poke a stick at, and being able to move a bit of air around is imperative to staying comfortable when camping. Most 18V portable tool brands now sell portable fans, and these are a pretty good option.
Alternatively, you can get a huge range of fans that will run from a cigarette lighter plug, or can be hardwired into caravans and camper trailers.
If you have an inverter, and are able to take a normal household fan, you’ll find that this works exceptionally well. They actually don’t draw much power at all (around 60W, or 5A) and they move a huge amount of air around.
You need shade when its hot. There is no way around this. Whether it’s an awning, sitting under the wing of a Ute Canopy, under a tarp or just making use of a nice big tree, its not negotiable. With a bit of air movement, you can actually be really comfortable sitting in the shade during the hottest part of the day, and without it you get fried, and feel shocking.
We drink a huge amount of extra water when its warm, but if you have the fridge and freezer space, being able to drink cold water is a hugely appreciated thing. It doesn’t have to be so cold that you get a brain freeze, but just cool water is so refreshing. We have about 5 bottles of water that we rotate around, to ensure there’s always cool water available when you need it.
Camp near the coast
I would never consider camping too far inland when its seriously hot. There is something magic about the sea breeze, and it can actually be pretty comfortable once it comes in. With a 4WD, your options for beach camping are hugely increased, and spending the day running between camp and the water isn’t a bad way to kick back.
The closer you are to the water the nicer it is too; even walking from Horrocks Caravan Park down to the beach there was a noticeable difference in temperature, simply from the air being cooled down as it blows over the ocean.
Somewhere to swim
As above, having somewhere to swim, or at least get wet is hugely important. In Dwellingup you have the river, or various creeks, and that’s enough to make it pleasant and enjoyable. Whether it’s a lake, dam, river, creek or the beach being able to get wet and stay wet for some time will make it far more enjoyable.
Lots of sunscreen
If you are going to be out in the sun (which you will be), sunscreen is hugely important. Put it on carefully, apply it regularly and when you get home not looking like a crayfish, your body and mind will thank you!
If you are camping in a Caravan Park, or have a good off grid electrical system then you will be able to run an aircon. They draw a fair bit of power, but these days you can even run an air conditioner off 12V completely off grid with a big battery and solar system, and nothing is more enjoyable than being able to retreat to an airconditioned area!
We always keep a packet of fruit icy poles in our Bushman Upright Fridge Freezer, and get them out when its really hot, and you feel like a pick me up. They are the perfect addition; tasty, cheap, easy to use and quick to freeze.
Fire and vehicle movement bans
When its really hot, there will be fire and vehicle movement bans. Fire bans are pretty straightforward; you can’t have any open flames. That means no camping or cooking fires, no Weber’s, no gas burners or anything with an open flame, and it hugely impacts your ability to camp unless you have a caravan where its enclosed, or an induction cooktop.
Vehicle movement bans are much less well known, with a lot of 4WD tracks being off limits when one is in place, as your car can start a fire when driving around. Do the right thing, and stay off the tracks if there’s a vehicle movement ban.
Avoid the heat altogether
WA is unique in the fact that you can actually avoid the really hot weather year round, if you are prepared to move around. In summer time, if you head south towards Albany and Esperance, you’ll miss almost all of the really hot weather, and you can meander back up north as the weather gets colder.
Perth in particular seems to have waves of hot weather, and there’s nothing stopping you moving your camping trip from a really hot weekend to something that is a bit more pleasant.
Above all else, you need to stay safe. Dehydration is a real danger, and can badly affect you if you aren’t keeping the fluid up. Don’t go camping if its too hot, don’t risk your body by staying out in the sun and have fun; its not worth injury or death!