Camping in the summer months can be dangerous. As your tent soaks up the heat of the sun, it doesn’t take long before your sleeping compartment becomes a sauna.
No matter how many windows you throw open, you’ll soon find the temperature unbearable in the hottest climates. Your sweat will soak through your sleeping pad, and you’ll be tossing and turning until the early hours.
Young children and pets are particularly vulnerable to overheating and can soon become dehydrated or get heatstroke if you don’t make sure they have a way to cool down. That’s where A/C units come in.
Best Camping Tent With AC Port
Until recently, A/C units were much too big and bulky to be taken along on a camping trip. Luckily for you, the technology is more affordable and lightweight than ever before, and tent manufacturers have been catching up with this trend.
The following tents come with built-in electrical ports or special vents for use with an A/C unit. That makes it easier than ever to keep your family safe (and avoid the tantrums that can come with a bad night’s sleep!).
5 Tents Designed for Use With an AC Unit
Bushnell Shield Series Instant Cabin Tent 9
The Bushnell Shield Series Instant Cabin is the perfect tent for a summer camping trip.
You can set it up in 60 seconds, so you don’t have to worry about complicated instructions that end in a family argument! Just unfold and extend the legs until they click into position, then crack open a cold drink and start enjoying your trip.
This super spacious tent has loads of floor room and a center height of 6 feet and 6 inches, which makes it a brilliant choice for taller people who are sick of stooping in camping tents. It comes with two AC vents to set up your cooling system and a built-in heat shield to make your AC as effective as possible.
The heat shield is applied to the rainfly’s underside and reflects heat away from the sleeping area. This is better for the planet and your pocket, as you don’t have to waste energy trying to cool down the whole campsite!
I love this tent because you can trust it year-round. Not only is it an excellent choice for the summertime, but the durable and waterproof materials will keep you warm and dry in the rainy months, too.
Do make sure that you spray it with a waterproof coating before using it in the rain. This will prevent leaking and should be done with every tent, no matter its quality.
If you’re looking to invest in a reliable and comfortable tent that will last, this Bushnell Cabin tent is a great choice.
Coleman Montana 6 Person Tent
If you’re looking for something more affordable, the Coleman Montana Tent is my top budget pick for camping with an A/C unit.
Although it doesn’t have a built-in A/C flap like my Best Choice tent, it does have an electrical port so that you can run a free-standing unit to a power supply without letting bugs into your tent.
The rainfly has heat-reflecting colors to help prevent the sauna effect that I warned you about earlier. Also, there’s plenty of ventilation thanks to the angled windows and mesh door section.
I’m not being overdramatic when I tell you how hot a tent can get in the summertime, but of course, it depends on the climate.
Not accustomed to the US temperatures, I had quite a shock when I went to Arkansas to visit a friend. We went camping on the Buffalo River, and it was all very picturesque until I started throwing up from heatstroke. (Plus, a couple of raccoons ate our breakfast supplies in the night. What the heck?!)
I love this tent because you can use it year-round, so you don’t have to worry about buying another tent for the rainy months. Those angled windows come in handy when it’s raining, and the Coleman WeatherTec system will take care of you in foul weather.
This is an excellent choice for a family of four, as it keeps their camping setup simple. It’s also great for a couple who wants to have a super comfortable night’s sleep on a blow-up double mattress.
The tent is simple to set up, but you’d probably find it easiest with a second person to help you secure the rainfly.
Hiker Garden Camping Tent
The Hiker Garden Camping Tent is another great and affordable option for camping with an A/C unit.
Just like the Coleman Montana, this comes with a built-in E-port so you can hook up your A/C unit to an external power port. The strong poles are color-coded, which means you don’t have to do any guesswork when setting this up. Plus, they’re reinforced to help stabilize the tent in windy or rainy weather.
There’s plenty of room for two blow-up queen mattresses and lots of windows to give you a panoramic view of your campsite. These windows are fully bug-proof, so you can let in a nice, cooling breeze without getting eaten alive by mosquitoes.
In the summer months, you can leave off the rainfly and enjoy stargazing through the mesh roof. If the weather turns, just pop on the rainfly and you’ll stay nice and cozy thanks to the robust frame and waterproof floor.
I would recommend this mostly as a summer tent because all that fantastic ventilation could cause the tent to lose too much heat in the cooler months.
Coleman Tenaya Lake 8
If you can’t stand it when your campsite turns into a big, unorganized mess, the Coleman Tenaya might be the best choice for you.
It has a built-in closet area, so you can hang up your clothes and zip them out of sight. This will make your space much less cluttered, so you have more room for decent sleeping pads and hanging out as a family.
The Tenaya is also a great tent for taller people because the center height is an impressive 80 inches. If you’re going to be stuck inside during the hottest hours of the day, you’ll want to be able to stand up and move around!
Because heat rises, the extra headspace will also help dissipate warmth and keep the ground level nice and cool for sleeping.
As well as being spacious and comfortable for group camping, the tent has a room divider for extra privacy. This is a lifesaver when you’re camping with friends. I always sleep better when there’s a separator.
The separator isn’t going to be soundproof, though. So, if there’s a snorer in your group, you’re going to want to banish them to a different tent. (I’m looking at you, Dad.)
This might be a fantastic tent for the summer, but there’s no reason not to use it in the rainier months, too. The Coleman WeatherTec system is great for keeping out the rain.
Now, a Coleman tent is not going to be as good as top-of-the-range expedition tents, so don’t have any unrealistic expectations. But you get more than you pay for with this model. The welded floor, strong frame, and protected zippers will take care of you if any bad weather rolls in.
Just make sure you know what you’re doing if you’re going to camp in the rain. You can check out this guide for camping in rainy weather.
CORE 9 Person Instant Cabin Tent
The Core 9 Person Instant Cabin Tent has some of the best user reviews I’ve seen.
People consistently report that this is the best tent they have ever owned, saying that the quality of materials and workmanship is exceptional for a tent of this price.
The Core 9 Person Cabin Tent is super easy to set up. Just flex the preconnected frame into place and then extend the telescopic poles. You’ll find this easier with at least two people working together, but once you know what you’re doing, it should take only a minute to pitch.
There is plenty of ventilation to keep you cool in the summer months, including a ground vent designed to pull fresh air in and up through your sleeping area. If you’re camping in a sweltering climate, you can use this alongside an air conditioning unit, thanks to the built-in E-port.
Just like with the Coleman Tenaya, there’s a built-in room divider for extra privacy. You could use one room for storing kit and getting dressed, or create separate bedrooms so everyone has more space.
The tent might claim to be suitable for nine, but you’d find yourself seriously cramped and tangled up with your kit if you tried to camp with that many people. Realistically, you can fit a couple of queen-sized air mattresses with a bit of room left over for your kit.
What I love about this tent is the enormous T-style door, which gives you sweeping views of the campground and lets you connect with the great outdoors. Don’t worry about creepy crawlies, though. The door comes with a bug-proof mesh, so you can enjoy the best of nature without turning into a giant snack on legs.
Camping Tent With AC Port Buying Guide
With so many competing tents on the market, it can be hard to know which ones to trust. In this guide, I’ll give you a few helpful tips, so you don’t end up making any choices that you’ll regret.
Things to Consider When Buying a Tent With AC Port
AC Flap vs. E-Port
There are two main types of AC-compatible tents: models with a dedicated AC flap and models with an E-port. You’ll notice that four out of the five tents that I recommended came with E-ports rather than AC flaps.
This is simply because the overall quality of the E-port tents was much better. In addition to running your AC unit, you can use the port for lighting and charging. Also, the much smaller port is a better choice if you’ll be camping in the rain.
However, both types have advantages and disadvantages, which I will touch on now.
AC Flap Tents
Tents with dedicated AC flaps have a large opening at the ground level, which you can use to house a window-style AC unit, just like what you might use at home. With this style of tent, you’ll place the AC unit outside your living area so it can draw in air from outside.
If you want to use a window-style AC unit, this is the type of tent you’ll want to buy.
Perhaps the main advantage of this style of tent is that it doesn’t take up any of your interior living space, as the AC unit is placed outside the tent. This also means that no wires will be running into your living area.
Keep in mind, however, that very few AC flap tents are on the market. These tents are the exception, not the rule. Plus, while some tents look like they have AC ports, these flaps are really just small vents, which are not large enough to accommodate an AC unit.
While AC flap tents are better for use with window-style AC units, E-port tents are better for people who want to camp with a free-standing air conditioner. This style of air conditioner is generally much more portable but also substantially more expensive.
With an E-port-style tent, a small flap is located along one of the walls. This flap is just large enough for an extension cord. You can plug the extension cord into your stand-alone AC unit to cool down the inside of your tent.
The primary benefit of E-port-style tents is that they’re easier to find, affordable, and more versatile. While many car camping tents come with an E-port these days, make sure you check the product description carefully or you may be disappointed.
The drawback of free-standing air conditioners is that they take up space inside your tent, which can limit the amount of sleeping room available for your friends and family.
In addition to purchasing a tent that's compatible with your AC unit, you’ll want to consider how a tent’s design features impact your ability to cool it down on a hot summer’s day.
For example, a tent with heat-blocking or reflecting technology will be much easier to keep cool than a dark tent. The larger the tent, the more room heat has to dissipate. Ground vents really help to draw fresh air in and up through your sleeping compartment.
You’re probably not going to want to keep your A/C on all day, as it will consume a tremendous amount of energy. You’d be better off using it during the hottest part of the day as needed, or you might have a shock when it comes time to pay the electricity bill.
Windows and other ventilation systems are essential because they allow for adequate airflow on hot days. However, any tent that you plan to air-condition should also have zippered panels that you can use to close up these windows when you turn on the AC unit.
Well, if you’ve ever tried to air-condition a house whose windows are open, you’ve probably noticed that you use a whole lot of energy without doing much to improve your comfort levels. This is because all of your nice, air-conditioned air simply escapes through your open windows.
The same is true for tents with open windows. If you leave the windows open, you’ll never be able to create a comfortable sleeping environment.
Luckily, most tents with windows also come with zippered panels that can seal off the windows in the rain. These panels can do double duty when you turn on your AC unit.
Can Portable AC Units Cause Fires?
Like any electrical device, a portable AC unit can cause a fire in exceptional circumstances. However, so long as you follow the user instructions and don’t leave your AC turned on when you’re not in the tent, the risk will be minimal.
Can a Tent Be Air-Conditioned?
A tent can be air-conditioned to some extent, but not in the same way your insulated home can be. An A/C unit will certainly make your summer camping trip more comfortable, but you should still pitch your tent in the shade and choose a tent with heat-blocking technology when possible.
Can I Make a DIY Tent Air Conditioner Port?
You can make a DIY tent air conditioner port by cutting a perfectly measured hole into your tent wall and creating a fabric sleeve to prevent the tent from unraveling any further. If you get this wrong, though, you will have ruined a perfectly good tent. You’ve been warned!
If you’re going to be camping in the summer months, don’t underestimate how hot your tent can get. While an AC unit isn’t essential in every climate, it may mean the difference between a restful weekend in nature and a hellish nightmare where nobody gets any sleep and, in the worst case, you get struck down by heatstroke.
In my humble opinion, the best tent on the market with an integrated A/C flap is the Bushnell Shields Instant Cabin Tent. A combination of your air conditioning and the heat-blocking technology will keep you cool in some of the hottest conditions.
If you’re going to be using a free-standing A/C unit, you can save a load of money by going for the Coleman Montana instead. It’s a great tent for a range of climates, and it’s a brilliant value for the quality.
I hope you found this article on the best camping tent with ac port helpful, and I wish you many happy camping adventures with your new tent!
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About the author
Gaby is a professional outdoor educator, guide, and wilderness medicine instructor. She holds a master's degree in outdoor education and spends most of her time hanging out with penguins and polar bears in the polar region. When she's not outdoors, you can find her traveling, reading Nietzsche, and drinking copious double espressos.