Best Portable Air Conditioners for Camping and Outdoor Activities

There’s nothing like a breath of fresh air in the great outdoors!

However, that same air doesn’t feel nearly as refreshing in the height of summer when you’re sweating in the middle of the night, unable to sleep from the heat.

If you love camping but want to say goodbye to the sweltering heat and humidity that often comes with it, a portable air conditioner might be the answer you’ve been seeking.

The right portable AC can take you from camping to glamping in minutes!

Here’s what to look for in a portable air conditioner for camping and other outdoor adventures.

Enjoy the summer weather — and stay cool!


Are Portable Air Conditioners Good for Outdoor Activities?

If you enjoy experiencing your outdoor adventures to the fullest without suffering from the heat and humidity — absolutely!

Portable ACs are an excellent choice for outdoor activities. As long as you’ve got a convenient place to set it up, you’ll be glad you brought it along. Soon you’ll wonder how you ever lived without it.

Depending on the activity, a portable air conditioner can dramatically improve your experience. It can even enhance safety. Heat stroke and other heat-related illnesses kill many people every year, with the risks increasing for older populations.

A portable AC means you don’t have to succumb to dangerously high temperatures — and you don’t have to give up on outdoor fun. You can’t change the weather, but you can equip yourself with a cooling solution to enjoy the fun even during midday.

Set up your portable air conditioner in your tent, car, motorhome, or campsite to cool off after an afternoon hike. There are many uses, both at home and outdoors. And with the right model, staying cool won’t weigh you down.


What Should I Look for When Choosing a Portable AC Unit for Outdoor Use?

Portable air conditioners designed for use outdoors include small air conditioners, window units, spot coolers, or battery-operated portable units.

Whatever option you prefer, here are some things to look out for when comparing your choices:

BTU Rating

The British Thermal Unit (BTU) rating measures how much heating or cooling power HVAC devices — like ACs and space heaters can provide.

The BTU rating helps you determine if a specific air conditioner model suits the space you’re looking to cool.

If your tent or motorhome is spacious, you’ll require more BTUs from your unit to keep your space cool.

Ambient temperature (the temperature inside or outside the cooling area) also substantially impacts how many BTUs you need to stay cool.

Portability and Size

Outdoor adventures can require moving multiple appliances and gear. You don’t want your portable AC to weigh you down or take up valuable space in your vehicle.

Carefully consider the size of your air conditioner. Larger, heavier units might be more powerful but will add to your load. Small and lightweight units might be much easier to bring along for the ride. However, they might also have less cooling power.

Consider your activities and how much you’ll have to move the AC.

If it’ll stay put in your motorhome, you might be willing to put up with a heavier load.

If you’ll regularly move it from the campsite to campsite, carefully consider how large and heavy your unit is.

Power Source

Most portable air conditioners run on external AC/DC power, a battery, or both.

If you’re at a powered campsite, anything AC runs off AC power will do the trick. However, that’s not always readily available — especially if you’re boondocking. A unit that only runs on AC power severely limits your mobility.

An air conditioner that runs off DC power — like those designed specifically for motorhomes — means you can use your vehicle’s alternator to charge it. But it can eat up significant power.

An internal battery is typical for portable air conditioners, but many have limited run times before needing to recharge.

Expand your buyer’s journey to include other power sources — like solar.

For example, the EcoFlow WAVE 2 operates using AC/DC electricity. Add on a swappable battery, run your WAVE 2 for up to 8 hours off-grid, and recharge directly with solar panels!

For even longer off-grid run times, consider pairing WAVE 2 with solar generators like the DELTA 2 Portable Power Station w/220W solar panel or a DELTA Pro w/400W solar panel for 12 hours of off-grid cooling runtimes and the ability to power additional appliances simultaneously.

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Ease of Use

No one wants to drain their air conditioner partway through a camping trip or to create a ventilation system. Consider how ventilation, drainage, and installation affect your ease of use.

Options like the EcoFlow WAVE 2 have optional air duct adapters and a vent board. You can even run it in your tent, provided your tent has air duct flaps. The WAVE 2 also doesn’t require ventilation or drainage; you can turn it on and get cooling effortlessly.

Newer smart devices may also feature Bluetooth or smartphone app control for even more convenience.


Picture this: one minute, you’re enjoying a serene afternoon and all the great benefits nature offers. The next, the air conditioner gives out, and you’re left in the humid, sweaty air, counting the minutes until it’s time to go back home.

Take a close look at runtime and whether any options exist to expand that runtime, such as by plugging the unit into a portable power station. Ask yourself how long you need the AC to run to keep comfortable and how you can accomplish that.

For example, the EcoFlow WAVE 2 has an 8-hour runtime in Eco Mode, which can keep you cool and comfortable all night. Still not enough? Plug it into a DELTA Pro for up to 18 hours of cooling power in sleeping mode.


Frequently Asked Questions

Do Portable Air Conditioners Work Outdoors?

Absolutely! Many portable air conditioners are suitable for use outdoors as long as you have the means necessary to power them. However, it won’t work as well at maintaining a stable temperature in open spaces — an enclosed area like a tent or vehicle is better for stabilised cooling.

Do Portable Air Conditioners Work in a Tent?

Portable air conditioners work inside a tent and are a great way to keep cool throughout the night on your next camping trip. Look for options that offer easy ventilation and don’t require installation or drainage so you can safely use it without hassle.

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Final Thoughts

Bring the cool with you on your next outdoor adventure by packing a portable air conditioner!

Now you should know what to look for when comparing different models to find the one that best suits your needs. Read carefully about what your portable air conditioner requires to function correctly and what it can offer in terms of convenience and cooling.

Want to start enjoying the cool temperatures now?

Consider the EcoFlow WAVE 2 for a unit that can run quietly throughout the night with no drainage required in cooling mode.

EcoFlow is a portable power and renewable energy solutions company. Since its founding in 2017, EcoFlow has provided peace-of-mind power to customers in over 85 markets through its DELTA and RIVER product lines of portable power stations and eco-friendly accessories.


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