Best Portable Air Conditioner For Camping In 2021

If you click and purchase with one of our links, we earn a commission. Thanks.

Anyone who camps in the south during the summer knows about our top challenge.

The heat.

Daily high temperatures can get into the 90s even during a “cool” summer. And at night, things don’t cool off much either.

I’ve had business trips where I have left the DFW airport at 6 am and it was already 82 degrees.

If you are taking your family on a camping trip, you know that your kids are going to complain about the heat. Worse, your spouse might too.

And this can limit how many camping trips they’re willing to take.

While many people buy RVs so that they have access to an air conditioner, you don’t need to go that far.

You can purchase a portable AC for camping instead.

First, you can bring a portable “true” AC unit. I say “true” because this unit works using an air compressor just like the unit in your house.

You can check out the Zero Breeze Mark 2

This air conditioner runs up to 5 hours on battery power or you can plug-it in if your campsite has electricity.

Because it’s a true AC unit, this small (two feet long, 1 foot high, less than 20 pounds) unit can lower temperature up to 30 degrees.

This means if you were to camping when it felt like 100, your tent would feel like 70.

The most common types of AC you will purchase will be an evaporator cooler. They are also referred to as “swamp coolers.”

The way these air conditioners work is they use a tank of water and a fan. As the water evaporates, the fan blows the water droplets across the air.

And this cools the air.

They are simple technology.

Heck, you could DIY your own with a bucket of water and a desk fan. You can learn more about the science here.

Based on our current research, our favorite evaporator cooler is the
Spantron Portable Air Conditioner Fan.

Here is what makes this great for providing portable air conditioning for camping.


First, let’s establish the fact that you are not bringing a portable AC unit on a backpacking trip.

You only bring these on car camping trips. Because you do not want to figure out how to pack and carry this with you. Plus if you are hiking in the backcountry, it’s hard enough to carry the water you need to drink.

You are not going to want to carry the water for an AC unit just to be cooler on a backpacking trip.

That being said, this unit is very small. It’s less than a foot in any dimension.

So it won’t take up much room in your car or your tent.


Empty the unit is not very heavy.

It weighs less than 3 pounds.

It will weigh more than that once you add water. However, once you put water into the unit, you should not try to move it. At the very least you will spill water everywhere.

USB power

Thankfully you don’t need much electrical power to make this unit run.

While we didn’t see any specific power requirements, it does say it can be run off a provided USB cable.

Thus I imagine it’s actual electricity needs are minimal. After all, the only thing that you are powering is a small fan.

Rechargeable battery

Even though the unit can be powered via USB, this doesn’t mean you always want to keep it plugged in.

Thankfully, this device also has battery power. According to the manufacturer, it will last about 2 hours on the rechargeable lithium battery.

Multiple speed fan

You control how much air the fan blows out with a control on the device. This way if you only need a gentle breeze during the spring or full-blast for the hot summer days.

UV filter

It is important to keep the water tray clean. It would be best if you dried it out after your camping trips. And clean it per the manufacturer’s instructions.

However, to help make sure it’s clean air that you are breathing from the device, the device contains an ultraviolet (UV) filter to kill any nasty germs that might be in the water.

Essential oils

Another useful feature for this portable AC unit is the essential oil diffuser.

This won’t help keep you cooler.

But it can help your tent smell better!

If you want your tent to be more cozy and romantic, then you should bring along your favorite scents.

Use This AC Unit Everywhere


If you are camping and needing air conditioning, then most likely, you are thinking about being comfortable while sleeping. And this would be perfect for that.

As long as you make sure that you have plenty of ventilation.

Otherwise, any portable air conditioner is going to add to the condensation you develop in your tent.

Picnic table

Another great spot to bring this air conditioner will be to your picnic table.

Or wherever you are sitting down for your meals.

Though if it’s so hot for an air conditioner, I wouldn’t build a big campfire!

You might want to stick to a camp stove instead.

Other Locations

You can use this portable AC for things besides camping.

Kids sports - keep cool while watching the kids play soccer or baseball Tailgating - make yourself comfortable while getting ready to cheer your favorite team on Office - some offices they get hot and stuffy, but you can solve that problem with this unit Home - keep central air off and run this evaporator instead Workshop - if you have an outdoor woodworking spot or a she-shed then use this product to allow you to spend more time in comfort

Understand The Limitations Of Evaporating Cooling

Evaporating AC units only work if the water droplets they blow towards you can continue to evaporate.

If they cannot do so, you will not feel as cool.

Thus these types of air conditioners don’t work as well in humid environments.

But if you have low humidity, they can make a big difference.

Do Portable Air Conditioners Really Work

Yes they work.

But with some limitations.

These devices require water to function. Thus it can be a hassle to keep filling the tray with water.

But it will work better in hot and dry climates.

Do Portable Air Conditioners Need Water

Yes they do.

Without water, the unit is just a fan.

Are Portable Air Conditioner Worth It

If you are camping in the summer and want to be able to relax in cooler temperatures, then a portable air conditioner can help.

However, you have to decide if you wish to keep filling this water.

And live with the limitations of having the unit not function as well on high humidity days.

Related Articles

What Kind Of Camper Are You?

Outdoor Survival
Car Camping