Safety and comfort should always be your top considerations when car camping or family camping in a tent. Having a tent air conditioner in hot or humid climates are an important consideration for comfort, but in very extreme cases it is also a safety consideration. Below we list out the components needed for having an air conditioned tent: the recommended tents with an included ac boot, the tent air conditioner we recommend, how to support the tent air conditioner, and some sealing products to help prevent cold air from escaping your tent.
Tents With Air Conditioner Ports
The easiest way to camp with an air conditioner for your tent, is to choose a camping tent with an air conditioner port. These tents have pre-cut air conditioner holes that usually double as ground vents to help air flow. Using a tent with a port is a nice option because you don’t have to worry about damaging the tent by cutting holes. The hole included is seamed around the edges for you, eliminating the need for you to have to glue or sew edges onto your tent. We have reviewed 3 tents below that come with these air conditioning ports.
The Ozark Trail 12 Person 3 Room L-Shaped Instant Cabin Tent should be one of your top picks if you’re looking for a large family camping tent with an air conditioner port. The reason we feel it is the best tent for families wanting to bring an air conditioner, is the huge 3 room design which is great especially if you have older and younger children camping together. The tent is considered an instant tent so setup should be relatively easy. Another great feature is a large awning for a shady spot near the tent.
Here is a closeup picture of the ground vent being used as the air conditioner port for the tent. The other great feature of this tent is the E-Port that allows convenient access for an electrical cord without unzipping the door of the tent. This allows electricity to be run for the air conditioner inside the tent through a separate hole, rather than trying to run it through the same port for the air conditioner.
Ozark Trail describes the tent: “The Ozark Trail 12-person instant cabin tent sets up in under two minutes! This 12-person tent requires no assembly because the poles are pre-attached to the tent, just unfold and extend. This three-room, cabin-style tent has large windows on all sides and room to stand up with a huge 6’10” center height. It features a large front awning for relaxing under the shade. In addition, it comfortably fits three queen airbeds or up to 12 campers in sleeping bags on the floor. Two internal room dividers allow you to create separate sleeping and living spaces. Keep cool with the oversized ground vent that also fits an air conditioner. Rainfly and carry bag are also included.”
Some things to keep in mind are that this tent is not a tunnel shape like our top pick for 12 person camping tents. This makes this tent more susceptible to winds and harsher weather. However, if you are a fair weather camper who is not camping every weekend and are looking for a large camping tent with an air conditioner port included, and the convenience of a super easy setup, this is an excellent choice for your needs. Read All Customer Reviews on Amazon Check Price on Amazon
Having an air conditioner port is a great feature of this tent, but in order for it to be a good option, it has to be a good tent first. The Bushnell Shield Series has 3 tent sizes with air conditioning ports. They are listed above. The buyer reviews are limited on these tents but Bushnell is a very respected company and the features listed for these tents are what you would find on any good tent. The tents include Weather Shield Technology that provides weather protection, heavy-duty 150D fabric that is twice as thick as standard tent fabric, and a large rain fly that creates a nice awning for outdoor shoe and gear storage protected from the weather.
Here is a closeup picture of the ground vent which can be used as the air conditioner port for the tent. The other great feature of this tent is the Utility Port for electrical cord access that allows convenient access for an electrical cord without unzipping the door of the tent. This allows electricity to be run for the air conditioner inside the tent through a separate hole, rather than trying to run it through the same port for the air conditioner.
We recommend taking a look at these Bushnell tents if you prefer a tent that might provide some better weather protection when compared to the Ozark Trail tents listed above. Some addtional features that these tents include Heat Shield technology featuring a special reflective coating on the underside of the rainfly which blocks the sun’s UV rays keeping the tent darker and noticeably cooler. Weather Shield features defend from the toughest weather and the water repellent fabric and fully taped waterproof seams seal-off your tent from the rain while strong frame construction and heavy duty tie-downs stand tough against the wind. Read All Customer Reviews on Amazon Check Price on Amazon
The Best Portable Tent Air Conditioner for Camping
This Frigidaire Air Conditioner is the perfect air conditioner to take camping. The tent is small, lightweight, and will fit into the air conditioning ports on the tents we listed above. The air conditioner also uses low power start-up and is very quiet on both low and high fan speeds. As a courtesy to other campers, you really should look at air conditioners that make a point to operate at low volumes.
The air conditioner is rated for a 150 sq. ft. room. This air conditioner should do just fine in 150 sq. ft. to 200 sq. ft. tents considering the ceiling heights in tents are well below that of a home or apartment. Many of the car camping and family camping tents in this size range use a thicker fabric material for durability and weather resistance. Because weight is much less of a factor when car camping, the manufacturers of these tents are free to use thicker materials which retain air conditioned air fairly well.
When running the air conditioner, you’re going to obviously want to cover as much of the mesh on the windows and doors by zipping up tent fabric. Also use the rain fly and be sure to stake it properly to provide a tight and secure fit.
There are portable air conditioning units on the market which are tempting. However, they are just as big, if not bigger, than a window unit and they have some downsides. They are expensive, because they use smaller round air vents to hot air outside the tent they simply don’t move as much air. If you are convinced you want to use a portable model as a tent air conditioner, we’d recommend the Black & Decker 10,000 BTU Portable Air Conditioner.
Support Stands for Your Camping Tent Air Conditioner
As you can see in the picture here, you’ll need something to support your camping tent air conditioner and keep it off the ground. The picture included here displays a simple metal step stool like the Eva Medical Step Stool. While these step stools are relatively cheap and sturdy, we prefer folding models that store easily with your camping gear and at home.
Our favorite option is the Camco 43676 Adjustable Height Aluminum Platform Step. This stool is not only foldable, but has adjustable legs that allows you to adjust to the height needed to support the tent air conditioner. It also can be adjusted to provide level support on any uneven ground.
Check out the Camco 43675 Folding Step for a sturdy metal option that can be stored easily and is a bit cheaper. This Plastic Folding Step Stool is another option made from sturdy durable plastic at an even cheaper price.
Weather Sealing Your Camping Tent Air Conditioner
In order to properly air seal your air conditioner in the ac port, we recommend creating a simple air conditioning boot sleeve that can be brought through the hole into the tent and extend outside the tent to wrap around the air conditioner. You can do this simply from nylon riptop fabric they use for kites. It’s very cheap and easy to cut and seal. The fabric is airtight, waterproof, and lightweight. Use simple duct tape to seal the seams or Fabri-Tac. We don’t recommend gluing or taping the actual boot to the air conditioner itself, so you will want to use bungee cords to wrap the fabric around the air conditioner. If you’d like to see more about this type of ac boot, or you’d like to put an air conditioner in a tent you own with an ac port, Instructables has a pretty decent outline of how to do this.