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If you’re shopping for the best portable air conditioners for camping, you’ll need to think about your trip and what is most compatible with that experience. People who want to travel light or change campsites frequently will prefer evaporative coolers while more stationary campers or people bunking in cabins can benefit from a portable air conditioner. Consider the BTU rating or the water tank capacity to make sure you’re not picking a unit that’s too powerful or needs to be refilled frequently.
After conducting thorough research through countless consumer reviews, we nominated the Ontel Arctic portable camping air conditioner as our Top Pick. Keep reading to learn more about our criteria and to review our recommendations for the best air conditioners to suit your needs.
Award: TOP PICK
WHY WE LIKE IT: A portable air conditioner for the outdoors that’s affordable and relies on evaporative cooling technology to keep people cool within a 45 square foot range.
Depending on your version of camping, you’ll want to make sure that you’re traveling light. With a total weight of three pounds, the Ontel Arctic is a great portable air conditioner for the outdoors. It relies on evaporative cooling technology and is battery-powered. This portable AC measures 7.95 inches long, 7.95 inches wide, and 10 inches tall. This simple solution is great for smaller tents and cools up to 45 square feet from wherever it’s placed.
Depending on your fan speeds, you can get up to eight hours of cool air with a full tank. Note that the tank can hold up to 750 milliliters of water. We like that this pick also purifies as it cools the air. You’ll like that this model can work either by plugging it into a traditional electrical outlet or through USB power with either a laptop or power bank. You’ll also get seven LED colors with your choice of one hue or a rainbow cycle. For your home, you may want to compare this with the best LG air conditioner.
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Award: HONORABLE MENTION
WHY WE LIKE IT: An outdoor portable air conditioner that’s ideal for larger tents or cabins with a removable and washable filter and a dehumidifier that removes up to 80 pints of water per day.
If you’re glamping or heading to a cabin in the woods that has power but no air conditioning, then the Honeywell HL10CESWK is a great option. While this pick won’t make sense for people who want to travel light, it’s ideal for larger camping or “roughing it” trips where campers still want their creature comforts. With 10,000 BTUs you can cool spaces up to 450 square feet. You’ll also get a decent 80 pint per day evaporation rate if you turn on the dehumidifier. Still, this outdoor portable air conditioner might not be a practical pick for every camper since this unit weighs 64 pounds.
You’ll get three fan speeds, a sleep mode, and a 24-hour programmable timer along with an energy-saving mode. Manage settings either with the included remote or with the sleek control panel. And since it’s on castors and comes with a window installation kit, this pick is fairly easy for setting up. However, if you put this in a tent, keep in mind that you need to make sure the exhaust hose feeds through your tent flaps — otherwise the heat built up from the portable AC can negate the cooling effects. Also, keep in mind that this is more like a traditional air conditioner so it needs an external power source. If you’re in a cabin or campsite with power, you can plug into their system, or else you’ll need to bring a generator. And for a self-cleaning, eco, and follow-me mode unit, have a look at the best ductless mini-split air conditioner.
Award: BEST QUALITY
WHY WE LIKE IT: A portable AC that can be quickly installed in tents or cabins with 14,000 BTUs of power to cool rooms up to 350 square feet, and a dehumidifier mode.
Campers that prefer a more traditional air conditioner will appreciate the Black & Decker BPACT14WT portable air conditioner. This unit can be quickly installed even in tents by simply venting the exhaust hose through the tent flaps. You’ll get 14,000 BTUs to cool up to 350 square feet. You’ll get three modes, cooling, fan, and dehumidifier. Other key features include a 24-hour programmable timer and an eco mode to save energy.
Keep in mind, this pick requires you to supply the power. So you’ll need to either bring a generator or know that you’re camping somewhere with a reliable power source. Also note that this tent air conditioner weighs 68 pounds which makes it impractical for people that are trying to pack light or be truly mobile, moving from site to site during their camping trip. And for anyone spending their hot summer days on the patio, or for people who live in drier climates, the best outdoor air conditioner is just perfect.
Related: Comparable units can be found in our best portable air conditioner buying guide.
Award: BEST RUNTIME
WHY WE LIKE IT: The smallest portable air conditioner from our research has a built-in rechargeable lithium-ion battery that can run for up to nine hours and a 700-milliliter capacity tank for up to nine hours of cooling comfort.
If you’re focused on a truly portable solution, you’ll like the evaporative cooler from Nexgadget. This is the smallest portable air conditioner that we found during our research thanks to the light 2.88-pound size. This is another USB-powered solution that has a built-in rechargeable lithium-ion battery. While it needs three to four hours to fully charge, once charged, the brand claims you can get up to nine hours of cooling power depending on your fan speed.
However, through our research of consumer reviews, you’re more likely to get three to four hours of use between tank fillings. This portable AC has a 700-milliliter water tank and offers three wind speed levels. Since it’s battery-powered, it comes with a USB cable and an AC adapter. But we also liked the oscillation support that could direct air in a 60 and 120-degree direction. If you prefer, you can also add ice to the water tank to cool the air faster and more intensely. Also note that this model comes with a humidifier, purifier, and water indicator for the tank. This is important especially if you live in drier climates where the humidity levels are relatively low, where you may need the best evaporative air conditioner.
Award: BEST FOR CABINS
WHY WE LIKE IT: A serious portable air conditioner that offers 14,000 BTUs to cool up to 500 square feet, with a dehumidifier that removes up to 71 pints per day, making it ideal for cabins.
Cabin living is fun unless your cabin is stuffy or lacks air conditioning. The EdgeStar portable AC is a great option for more permanent residences like a week getaway to a cabin in the mountains. You’ll get 14,000 BTUs that can effectively cool up to 500 square feet. This is a three-in-one solution that includes cooling, a fan, and a dehumidifier. And we like that this dehumidifier can remove as much as 71 pints of moisture from the air in 24 hours.
While this is a heavy option at 72.8 pounds, we do like that you get three fan speeds, an intelligent auto mode, and a 24-hour programmable timer. Also, note that this has one of the lower decibel levels ranging from 49 to 55 decibels depending on the settings. We also like that this has a self-evaporative system so you don’t have to deal with manually draining excess water. As is standard, this model comes with a window installation kit. Note though, that tent campers will need to either bring a generator or pick a campsite with power. Another model that comes with an installation kit is the best through the wall air conditioner.
Award: BEST TANK CAPACITY
WHY WE LIKE IT: A lightweight truly portable air conditioner that can last up to 12 hours on a full tank with five spray settings, and that relies on USB to power the device.
A truly portable air conditioner that can be easily slipped into camping packs is a smart choice if you’re trying to stay light or plan to move frequently between camping sites, the NTMY air conditioner is a great pick because it only weighs 2.88 pounds, making it the lightest portable AC from our research. While this pick does have a smaller tank capacity at just 600 milliliters, we did like that depending on your settings, you could get as many as 12 hours of use between refills.
This is another great USB-powered option that comes with a USB cable and AC power adapter. In addition to cooling the air, this pick can also work as a humidifier. You’ll get five spray levels which will impact your refill frequency. At the lowest level, your tank can last for 12 hours while at the highest spray setting you’ll get about two and a half hours. The wind speeds are also adjustable along with manual controls to adjust the wind direction. Three automatic timers allow you to choose between one, two, or three hours of use before it automatically shuts off. And as is somewhat common with these types of portable evaporative coolers, you’ll get seven LED colors that you can cycle through or set in a continuous mode. Also, check out the best dual hose portable air conditioner that ensures compatibility with the square footage of the area you wish to cool.
Award: BEST FOR ALL SEASONS
WHY WE LIKE IT: A traditional portable air conditioner that includes supplemental heat that is rated for spaces up to 500 square feet with a low 50-decibel noise output.
Summer isn’t the only time that people go camping, which is why we’re including this portable air conditioner from Haier. In addition to offering 14,000 BTUs of cooling power, you’ll also get 10,000 BTUs for a heat mode. That makes this a great four-in-one solution for heating, cooling, fan, and a built-in dehumidifier. Keep in mind though that this unit weighs 75.1 pounds and requires a power source so it’s better for stationary campers and people outfitting their vacation cabins.
Still, you’ll like that this air conditioning unit has a low noise output at just 50 decibels. While that’s not the lowest from our research, as far as air conditioners go, this is pretty good. Choose from three cooling speeds, three warm air speeds, and three fan speeds. As is standard you’ll also get a 24-hour programmable timer, an eco mode, and your choice of operating this portable AC through the control panel or the included remote control. To compare with other options that compete in terms of BTUs, energy efficiency, single- vs. double-speed, and programmability, have a look at the best central air conditioner.
Award: BEST FOR TENTS
WHY WE LIKE IT: A serious camping tent AC with four wind speeds that can run on battery or electric power and also has IPX4 moisture protection is perfect for tents and RVs.
The Zero Breeze portable air conditioner has been gaining recognition as a truly portable AC unit that’s specifically designed for tent and RV campers. This 16.5-pound device is relatively lightweight and makes it less cumbersome to manage than some of the traditional portable air conditioners we’ve highlighted. While this pick is only currently available through the manufacturer, it’s designed to drop temperatures by as much as 30 degrees Fahrenheit in as little as 10 minutes. You’ll get four cooling modes and four wind speeds.
This unit can run on battery or electrical power. It comes with a three-pin power adapter so that you can connect it to an electrical outlet. However, you can also use a 24-volt battery to power this device. If you prefer, you can also opt for their rechargeable lithium-ion polymer battery that can be fully charged in five to six hours and promises to give you three to five hours of cooling time. While the brand claims that this unit is fairly quiet, customer reviews claim otherwise — even though the rated noise output is 52 decibels. For your bedroom, you will need a unit that features a low sound output and white noise functionality, like the best tower air conditioner.
Award: BEST QUIET OPERATION
WHY WE LIKE IT: A tent air conditioner that’s battery powered and can be recharged via USB, and runs up to 6 hours on a full tank with a built-in air purifying filter.
Air conditioners are normally noisy, but when you put them in a smaller space like a tent, that noise can be amplified. If you don’t like the idea of some noisy appliance keeping you up at night, then the Anbber portable AC is a great option. With a 30-decibel noise output, this air cooler is one of the quietest camping tent air conditioners that’s battery-powered and also incredibly portable. At just 3.74 pounds, and 8.2 inches long, 7.4 inches wide, and 6.9 inches tall, it’s also fairly compact and lightweight.
This compact air conditioner also features a seven-color LED. While the brand promises up to six hours of operation on a full tank, keep in mind that this depends on the fan speed you choose. Also, the tank has a maximum capacity of 300 milliliters and can only cool to a maximum distance of one and a half to two feet. Note that this pick is also battery powered and can be recharged via USB and comes with a USB-C cable. For increased cooling comfort, you can add ice to the water tank to cool the air faster. And for other options regarding a self-evaporative technology to remove condensation and purify the air, have a look at the best portable air conditioner for RVs.
Award: BEST COMBINATION UNIT
WHY WE LIKE IT: A multipurpose option that combines the practicality of a cooler chest with an evaporative cooler for an intuitive device that’s perfect in a variety of locations.
If the idea of adding extra gear to your camping supplies that can only serve one purpose sounds terrible, then you’ll like the IcyBreeze portable AC unit. This ingenious pick combines a traditional cooler chest with a portable evaporative air conditioner to serve as a dual-purpose piece of essential camping gear. This pick features a lithium-ion rechargeable battery that promises to run up to six hours on the lowest setting without needing to be recharged.
This cooling pick promises to reduce temperatures up to 35 degrees below the current ambient temperature thanks to the ice or water inside the cooler. You’ll get 38 quarts of space in the cooler, along with a three-speed fan. The design is ergonomic so that it’s easy to lift or move the cooler, along with large sturdy wheels that can work on a variety of terrains. There’s also a large drain so that you can easily empty the contents when your camping trip is over. For an auto-drain feature, you should also have a look at the best portable air conditioner and heater.
Portable camping air conditioners are essential if you’re camping in warmer weather and want to be comfortable, especially when it’s time to set up camp. To create our guide, we focused on the following key features — BTU ratings, water tank size, overall dimensions, ease of installation, power source, and style.
In our guide, you’ll see that we had a relatively even mix of evaporative coolers and portable air conditioners. The one you pick is going to depend on how much gear you want to bring, and how you’ll be camping. People that will be traveling frequently on their camping trip are better served by the compact evaporative coolers since they require less space and don’t need large accessories like generators to work. In contrast, if you’re camping at a site with power or spending time in a cabin with electricity, a portable air conditioner can be a smart choice since you’ll have easy access to power and they can be easily installed.
Depending on the air conditioner you choose, you’ll need to focus either on BTUs or the water tank capacity. Evaporative coolers rely on water or ice to help cool the air so the tank capacity will often correlate with how frequently you’ll need to refill it. In contrast, portable air conditioners that rely on electricity use BTUs and are rated to cool spaces up to certain square footage. Keep in mind, you’ll want to be mindful of the square footage if you’re trying to cool a tent with a portable air conditioner. Picking a model that’s rated for a large space when your tent is small can end up leaving your tent freezing and damp because it’s too powerful.
Most evaporative coolers contain a rechargeable lithium-ion battery. So, even once the charge has gone down, you can usually plug it into a power bank, which makes it a lightweight choice. In contrast, portable air conditioners require electricity. So, you’ll either need to bring a generator or be close to a reliable power source.
Yes, but you’ll need to consider ventilation and airflow. Depending on the power consumption of your unit, you may need to add additional ventilation support to make sure that the unit is safely installed.
It can be done, but you’ll need to do more than simply set it up, turn it on, and walk away. By default, most tents aren’t well insulated. So, you will need to focus on pitching your tent in a shaded area as well as working on insulating it to improve the efficiency of your portable camping air conditioner.
If your tent is on a campsite with easy access to power, unlike a window ac, then yes in theory it should work. But to make life easier, look for a compact unit with at least 5,000 BTUs of power which is enough to effectively cool a tent with 150 square feet of space.
Failing to vent your portable air conditioner can cause heat to build up in your tent. The build-up of hot air will negate any potential cooling effects that the air conditioner would have.