Surviving Summer Camping in Florida

Tips for Heat, Rain, Bugs, and More

Campsite at Longkey State Park in Florida Keys.
••• Summer camping at Longkey State Park in the Florida Keys. Used with permission ©Brigitte Nelson

Camping in Florida during the summer can present some specific challenges. The high heat and humidity, thunderstorms, and an onslaught of bugs may not make for the most comfortable of camping situations. Check out some tips that might help you overcome some potential camping challenges.

Keeping Cool

In the summer, Florida gets hot during the summer—even at night. To help keep your tent or pop-up camper cool, make sure you set up your tent in the shade, open the doors and windows with the screens closed, and remove the rainfly. If you are a first-time camper, a rainfly is the floorless, waterproof outer layer of a double-wall tent. The inner layer, made with lots of mesh to keep the bugs out, is known as the tent body. If you have a single-wall tent, you're essentially dealing with just a rainfly that has a floor on it.

If you have a double-walled tent, make sure to put the rainfly back on as the sun starts to set. The rainfly can help keep out the early morning dew from your tent.

For a hot summer night, you will most likely not want to sleep inside your sleeping bag. Your bags were designed to keep heat in. Some Florida summer nights can remain 90 degrees or more. Instead, you will want to sleep on top of your sleeping bag. Bring a flat bed sheet for a cover.

If you want to keep your food cool over a period of a few days, you might want to consider special tricks for keeping your food and beverages cold. The quality of your ice chest matters. Perhaps consider having two chests, one only for food and another one for beverages. As you can imagine the fewer number of times you dip into a chest, the longer the cold remains.

Keeping Dry

Staying dry is important for your comfort. Most rain showers in Florida pass quickly. You may get wet, but if it is hot, you will not stay too wet for long. It is a good idea to have a Gortex hooded poncho in your camping kit to keep you dry.

It is very important to note that there is a big difference between a thundering, torrential downpour and a rain shower. Listen to the weather forecast before you head out to the campground. It is best to avoid camping when thunderstorms are brewing and reschedule if you can. There is nothing more uncomfortable than being soaking wet inside your tent.

Avoiding Bug Bites

If you want to ward off mosquitoes, a good product to use is Cactus Juice. The product does not have DEET, which is an additive in traditional bug sprays not considered safe around pets, children, and pregnant women. The product is made from cactus extract, rubs on like a lotion, and contains moderate sun protection, SPF 15. You can also use mosquito coils and other area devices to deter mosquitoes, but those only work if there is no breeze and you are immediately next to the device.

Besides mosquitoes, another bug known for its bite, is the pesky no-see-um, a type of tiny fly. So named because they are so small, it is hard to see them. Most tents come with screens that are fine enough to keep no-see-ums out. Be sure to close your doors and windows before the sun goes down to prevent the bugs from getting in your tent.​

Pitching Tent in Sand

Florida is known for its sandy soil. It can sometimes be difficult to plant your stakes in the sand. You can use the standard yellow plastic spikes or tent pegs, they should work fine. But, if you intend to stay longer than one day at the campsite, reset the spikes with every passing day to ensure the stability of your tent.