Best portable air conditioners for camping


When shopping for a generator that can power an air conditioner, you need to check the wattage needs of your air conditioner and purchase a generator that can meet those needs.

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Camping air conditioners

Knowing how to use a portable air conditioner in your tent can make the difference between a miserable camping experience and a memorable one.

What makes camping so enjoyable is having the opportunity to disconnect for a little bit and live free from the cares and concerns of the modern world. However, it might be prudent to bring along a few modern appliances so that downtime can be enjoyed, not endured.

If you are camping in a tent during the hotter months of the year, for instance, it might be difficult or impossible to get a good night’s sleep without air conditioning. While many tents are designed with a built-in air conditioning port to facilitate cooling, there are a few things you will need to know and consider if you want to use a portable air conditioner while camping.

How do I stay cool in a tent?

In those warmer months, you can use several simple strategies to help combat the heat that builds up inside a tent. While these options do not match the cooling power of an air conditioner, they are effective in less extreme temperatures.

evaporative cooler

Portable air conditioners for camping

If the temperature is too hot for the methods in the previous section to provide adequate relief, it’s time to consider getting an air conditioner for your tent. Before purchasing a portable model, however, there are a few factors you’ll need to consider to ensure a portable air conditioner is an option for you.

How do you provide power to a portable air conditioner?

To run a portable air conditioner in a tent, you will need a generator with enough power to run it or a campsite with an electric hookup. If you have no other power source and are desperate for a brief period of relief, a battery-powered air conditioner might be an option.

Which type of air conditioner should I get?

You have two options when it comes to purchasing an air conditioner for a tent: a window air conditioner or a portable air conditioner.

tent with a built-in air conditioner port

Window air conditioner: If you choose a window air conditioner, you will need a tent with a built-in air conditioner port. This port functions like the window in your home, allowing the cool air to come in while dispersing the hot air outside. A window air conditioner will also need a small stand to keep the unit off of the ground. One of the downsides of a window air conditioner is that it is easily visible and offers no protection against theft.

Portable air conditioner: These large upright units are on wheels to be rolled about for transport. Unlike the window air conditioner, these models have a tube for the exhaust which can easily be routed through any opening in your tent. While they offer greater convenience and are placed inside your tent, they take up a lot of space, which could be a deal-breaker if your tent is small.

A larger tent requires more cooling power

Cooling an indoor space that is 10 feet by 15 feet requires an air conditioner with at least 5,000 BTUs. The larger your tent is, the more BTUs the air conditioner will need to have. A tent doesn’t offer the same insulation as a home, so it might slightly diminish the cooling effects. On the upside, the temperature often drops considerably at night outdoors, so the need for cooling won’t be as great after dark.

Other considerations

Weight and size

A portable air conditioner must be light enough to carry – you may not be able to wheel it over rough terrain – and small enough to fit in your vehicle for transport. Since some individuals can lift heavier weights and have larger vehicles, the exact parameters for these two considerations will vary depending on your specific situation.

Noise level

If you are using a portable air conditioner so you can have a better night’s sleep, make sure you choose one that won’t keep you up at night due to operating noise.


Portable air conditioners may have various features you don’t need. These features will drive up the price. For instance, you can get a basic 5,000-BTU window air conditioner for as low as $150, but a portable unit with an abundance of features may cost close to $500 for roughly the same amount of cooling. Do not spend money on features you won’t be using.

Best portable air conditioners for camping

LG Window Air Conditioner

LG Window Air Conditioner

This is the lowest-priced option on our shortlist, making it best for the budget-minded individual. It is a 5,000-BTU unit that runs quietly and features two speeds to get the right amount of cooling in your tent.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Danby Window Air Conditioner

Danby Window Air Conditioner

The washable air filter in this unit makes it a good option for camping. Like the LG, it is a 5,000-BTU unit with mechanical controls and offers the user two speeds.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

MIDEA Window air conditioner

MIDEA Window air conditioner

Suppose you’d like to spend a little more on a 5,000-BTU window air conditioner. In that case, this model features seven temperature settings and four cooling settings along with two air directors (horizontal and vertical), so you can quickly cool down your tent.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

SereneLife Portable Air Conditioner Unit

SereneLife Portable Air Conditioner Unit

This budget option features a cool mode, a dehumidifier mode, a fan mode, and a sleep mode for individuals who prefer a portable air conditioner. It can be operated via a remote, if desired, and has enough cooling power to work on a tent up to 215 square feet.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

BLACK+DECKER Portable Air Conditioner

BLACK+DECKER Portable Air Conditioner

The essential feature of this higher-priced portable air conditioner is its weight. At only 26 pounds, it is the lightest model on our list, making it easier to move about your campsite. Additionally, this model features a timer, which can be helpful if it gets too cold in the middle of the night.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon


Allen Foster writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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