Keeping your 'Cool' under Canvas !

Submitted: Thursday, Feb 02, 2006 at 20:57
ThreadID: 30358 Views:2882 Replies:11 FollowUps:5
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Hi All

I was wondering if anybody has experimented with trying to keep the heat out of tents or camper trailers?

I am off to Fraser Is next month and my camper trailer has a pale "bone" coloured roof canvas. This tends to let in lot's of light (in the morning) and heat during the day. It therefore makes afternoon naps for the kids (and me if I have had a few "VB lunchies"!) very uncomfortable.
I was thinking of putting a large silver tarp (with the silver side up) over the roof area to see if it helpd with these problems.

Has anybody ever tried this?
Or can you offer some suggestions to try and reduce the heat inside the tent?


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Reply By: Lone Wolf - Thursday, Feb 02, 2006 at 21:02

Thursday, Feb 02, 2006 at 21:02
Still gets hot Stu.

We use one of those 12 ' x 12 ' Marquee type shade thingies when we are up the river, and when we put the slivered tarp over that, to stop rain, it still gets hot, not as much, but still hot.

The only real cool shade, is under a tree.


AnswerID: 152587

Reply By: kev.h - Thursday, Feb 02, 2006 at 21:05

Thursday, Feb 02, 2006 at 21:05
it helps if you keep the tarp at least 300mm above the camper but just putting the tarp over the camper does little
Cheers Kev
p.s. park under shade if possible
AnswerID: 152589

Reply By: Redeye - Thursday, Feb 02, 2006 at 21:06

Thursday, Feb 02, 2006 at 21:06

We use a silver tarp on ours but find it is enhanced by using green shade cloth on the sides of the tarp to the ground. This cuts out a lot of the sun and glare and reduces heat. Leave a gap between the tarp and the top of the camper/tent

AnswerID: 152591

Reply By: Member - Ozdyssey (QLD) - Thursday, Feb 02, 2006 at 21:44

Thursday, Feb 02, 2006 at 21:44
Tried this and that but in the end I bought one of those fold up bunk beds and nap outside under the awning or similar, best thing I ever bought. Also gets used at home.
AnswerID: 152605

Follow Up By: Lone Wolf - Thursday, Feb 02, 2006 at 21:50

Thursday, Feb 02, 2006 at 21:50
"Also gets used at home."

Is that like when, you've been naughty?

FollowupID: 406347

Follow Up By: Member - Ozdyssey (QLD) - Thursday, Feb 02, 2006 at 22:32

Thursday, Feb 02, 2006 at 22:32
Cheeky bugger.....

>> Is that like when, you've been naughty? >>

Not likely ,that'll be the day.

I'm the boss, I'm in charge, I decide where I will rest and when, I know my place..... on the spare bunk.

"Yes dear.....sorry dear" :-(
FollowupID: 406355

Reply By: Member - Duncs - Thursday, Feb 02, 2006 at 22:15

Thursday, Feb 02, 2006 at 22:15
Just got back from our annual piilgrimage to the coast.

Last week we camped at Kiama for a week in the same CV park we have used for a few years now. Last year we sat in the sun of an afternoon and carefully surveyed the sites opposite. We decided to try for one that had shade form a nice big tree. The effort was well rewarded.

We have a Trak Shak and decided it would also be good to put a tarp up to afford us some extra shade and weather protection should it rain. It did.

The tarp was pulled over the Trak Shak which made it quite high, up to 3m or so above the ground. On the hot days ours was voted the site to be on. Shade from the trees and the silver tarp high above our heads combined to make us more comfortable than ever before. The silver tarp did work, but having it high was great.

If you are going to do it you will need plenty of poles and pegs. Our tarp is 26' by 20' and we used 13 poles on 3 sides, the other was held up by the Trak Shak, plus a tall pole in the midddle of the tarp, tennis ball on top. As well as this a couple of ropes over the top of the tarp to help reduce flapping held it down nicely. I'd send you pics but my 12yr old failed to follow Daddy's instructions and photograph the set up. Oh! Make sure you have plenty of give in the guy ropes. We use car inner tube cut into rubber bands on every guy rope. They work great and come free form the rubbish bin at the local tyre shop.

It took us about an hour to put up but was well worth the effort.

AnswerID: 152616

Follow Up By: Sand Man (SA) - Friday, Feb 03, 2006 at 10:21

Friday, Feb 03, 2006 at 10:21
Gee Duncs,

I dunno about that.

What could be worse.
Having the tent heat up during the day.
Having a tree bough falling on you and really spoiling the holiday.

I am rather nervous setting up under any tree and will avoid it where possible.

I tend to live under the awning area. Always plenty of air circulation.

I'm diagonally parked in a parallel Universe!

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FollowupID: 406414

Follow Up By: Member - Duncs - Friday, Feb 03, 2006 at 23:52

Friday, Feb 03, 2006 at 23:52

We were in a very flaxh Caravan Park and we have been watching that tree for a couple of years now. It stood up well in a howler of a storm we had last year. Didn't drop more than a couple of leaves. The other thing is it is not that big a tree but is really well positioned to shade the site as the afternoon draws on.

I know what you are getting at though and do consider it when making camp in the bush particularly.

FollowupID: 406636

Reply By: russ36 - Thursday, Feb 02, 2006 at 22:51

Thursday, Feb 02, 2006 at 22:51
building foil comes in a variety of material types. i used to drape a woven mesh type with a highly reflective side up over the top of my tin ute canopy. the heat difference underneath went from unbearable to total relief...but you want to be wearing a real good pair of sunnies if you have to walk towards it. now i have a 50 mm foam roof on the back of my truck and an air con unit fixed to the side... slightly extravagant but as comfortable as you could ever get in direct heat on the hottest days
AnswerID: 152627

Reply By: Member - Melissa - Friday, Feb 03, 2006 at 00:26

Friday, Feb 03, 2006 at 00:26
Hi Stu,

Like you we have littlies, one of whom still requires and afternoon sleep. Here in WA, shade is a rarity unless you camp down south in the forests. To combat the heat we have an "aircell" fly that goes over the top of our camper. It was supplied by out CT manufacturer (Camprite) as an optional extra. Its basically some sort of building inslation material about 5mm thick, silver on both sides, bulky but extremely light. We haul it over the roof of the camper and secure it into place using ocky straps. It is extremely effective. We've never actually measured the temp difference but the manufacturer claims about 8 degrees C and our experience suggests that this is the case.

The second thing we do is we have two 12V fans - one for each kid. Just cheapies from the auto shop. We took the standard base off them and replaced with these nifty wing-nut clamps that allow us to clamp onto the internal poles so we can position the fans virtually anywhere in the CT. They draw minimal power (about 1amp each) and are surprisingly effective at cooling and circulating the air.

These two things mean that even without a shady campsite, the kids can rest quite omfortably even in very hot weather.


Hope this helps.

:o) Melissa
AnswerID: 152642

Follow Up By: Lyds- Friday, Feb 03, 2006 at 11:05

Friday, Feb 03, 2006 at 11:05
hey, I've got one those too! (hi Melissa).

What I've found is that the aircell matt also keeps the heat in. This is good for winter, but in Summer after the sun gets out of the way you can find it cools down quicker without the matt.

FollowupID: 406424

Reply By: K and S - Friday, Feb 03, 2006 at 01:57

Friday, Feb 03, 2006 at 01:57
G'day Stu,

In the tropics where we live I don't see many camps that don't use tarps. We’ve used canvas, blue, white and silver, I used to think that white would reflect the heat best like it does in cars and we invested in a very expensive custom tarp, it was better that nothing but still uncomfortable. Then the silver and green tarps came on the market and they are a huge improvement.

The trap you can fall into is the density of the tarp, a friend bought his tarp about 18 months later from the same place we did, it looked the same with good quality stitching and fittings and wasn't cheap but you could feel the heat coming through it and none through ours. When I had a close look you could see light through his and none through ours, but folded they looked identical.

Since then when I go to buy a tarp I take a torch with me, hold it against the silver side and if I can see any light at all from the green side, it's not good enough.

As Redeye said the shade cloth makes a difference especially in the morning and afternoon when the sun gets under the tarp. It also makes a good wind break but lets some through and doesn’t catch the wind like a tarp would. We have Velcro along the sides of the 24x14ft tarp and two, 4ft high x 12ft long shade cloth pieces that we attach where necessary.

If you buy a tarp as I’ve described your VB induced naps should be very comfortable.

The other thing we don’t go with out is 12 volt fans, if there’s no breeze you will be amazed at the difference these little fans make.

The simplest way is to camp in winter ;~))


AnswerID: 152652

Reply By: Pajman Pete (SA) - Friday, Feb 03, 2006 at 07:59

Friday, Feb 03, 2006 at 07:59
I remember visiting 4 Field Survey (an Army unit) up in the Pilbara once. They had a thumping great generator, airconditioned tents (for the "equipment" of course) and a huge walk in chilly bin stacked full of beer.

Mind you it took a fleet of trucks to get it there ...

Any mug can be uncomfortable out bush

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AnswerID: 152661

Reply By: Mulga Bill - Friday, Feb 03, 2006 at 11:25

Friday, Feb 03, 2006 at 11:25
Aussie Swag camper trailers have an outer canvas skin, just above the main roof skin - lets air circulate between the two - idea is that hot air is moved out by breezes, before it can heat the main lower canvas. Great idea, but you need moving air and it may only make a nominal difference anyway.... as you say, tents can be damned hot at times.

AnswerID: 152704

Reply By: GUMBO - Monday, Feb 06, 2006 at 21:34

Monday, Feb 06, 2006 at 21:34
Stu, watched a documentary on the army in the desert and they did a demo to show the difference in temp under tarps, they put a second tarp 300mm above the first tarp and it dropped the temp about 5deg compared to a single tarp, we set 2 tarps over our camps now and its definitely cooler, takes a bit more time though.
AnswerID: 153464

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