Best Camping Fan
Last update on 2020-01-27 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API
Few things sound as pleasant during the summer months as a night of sleeping under the stars. Unfortunately, Mother Nature could have other plans in mind and you end up soaking wet if a rainstorm strikes during the night and have no shelter.
That’s why most of us end up pitching a tent with a protective rainfly - not quite as romantic, but it will keep you dry. Tents have their downsides though, mainly that they have poor ventilation and can get quite hot if you’re camping in warmer temperatures.
Fortunately, there’s an economical solution to this problem– just add a fan to your tent! There are a number of models specially designed for this purpose and they’ll help you to get a much better night’s sleep. These are some of the best camping fans on the market right now.
Top 5 Best Camping Fans
If you’re going to be camping in high temperatures and/or humidity, you really need something a little more powerful to get the air flowing. That’s where the Outdoor Floor fan from Geek Aire comes in. With three 12-inch metal blades and a cooling capacity of 1500 cubic feet per minute, this fan packs a serious punch.
The Geek Aire also comes with a speed adjustment that lets you fine-tune its cooling output. It would have been nice if they let the blades run just a bit faster as the fan has a great battery and higher speeds would have given it even more cooling capacity.
It probably goes without saying that a fan of this size needs a big battery to keep it going, which it has with 15,600 mAh of capacity. There’s even a handy LED readout to show you how much charge is left. If your phone’s running low on juice, just plug it into the fan’s USB port and snag a bit of that charge.
One problem with the battery though is that it can only be charged with its own adaptor. That means no recharging via the USB on a portable power bank. This is actually a fairly big downside for the Geek Aire, because it means you’ll need to get back to grid electricity to recharge.
The biggest downside to Geek Aire is that it’s about four times as expensive as some of the other camping fans on the market and it doesn’t even come with a light. However, if you’ve got a big tent or it’s really hot out, this fan can be a lifesaver.
This camping fan from COMLIFE looks like a scaled down version of a box fan you’d use in at home, but with a couple extra goodies. It has an LED light, which can be a real help when you need to find something in your tent in the middle of the night. It’s not a very bright light though, so you still might need to carry a camping lantern.
The COMLIFE also has a variety of mounting options: you can hang it from the center of your tent with the included hook or you could set it upright on the integrated base. That kind of versatility can be useful; it can be hung to provide tent ventilation at night or sit on a picnic table to cool your after a long hike.
Where this fan falters is battery life. While COMLIFE states that it can run for 40 hours, that’s only true on its lowest fan speed. On high, you’ll probably only get four hours out of it, and that’s with the lights turned off. I will give it credit for having an adjustable fan speed and brightness level, which helps to save power.
Normally, such a short-lived battery would be a deal breaker, but it also charges on USB, which means you can attach it to a power bank for a quick recharge. That’s an annoying task to do at three in the mornings when you wake up drenched in sweat from the fan turning off though. It’s also fairly noisy, which can make sleeping difficult.
The COMLIFE is an excellent product, but it should only be used to cool smaller tents or as a personal fan during the day.
We’ll start off with a camping fan from Odoland that does everything moderately well. With its prominent ring of LED lights, it’s clear that this fan was actually designed as a light fixture first and foremost. However, behind the LEDs, there’s a plastic-bladed fan that’s about twenty inches across.
One of the coolest things about this fan is that you can hang it or the light ring can be turned into a base to convert it into a standing fan, though you won’t be able to use the lights when it’s in that position. In the hanging position, the light ring also obstructs the airflow from the fan somewhat.
This fan is also very lightweight, which is good if your tent can’t hold a lot of weight at its center point. Odoland states that all of the components are made from military-grade plastic, but you should probably be careful with it, as a drop from a few feet can crack the case.
The Odoland has an acceptable battery life of five hours on high and 15 hours on low. However, the lights dim a little bit when the fan is running, which suggests that the batteries aren’t sufficient to power both of them at the same time. It also has no internal battery, so if you want to use rechargeable batteries you’ll have to get a separate charger.
The Odoland fan is affordably priced, comes with a light, and has a battery that’s built to last, which is pretty much everything you could ask for in your first camping fan.
This camping fan from Coleman is designed to be the perfect size for cooling down a two-person tent. This mostly comes from having a wide set of blade, so wide that it can feel a little bulky, but that’s the cost of having something that can move a significant amount of air.
On the other hand, Coleman used foam blades, which really decreased the fan’s cooling capacity. It’s just not capable of spinning fast enough without deforming the blades. The cage protecting the blades is not very protective though, so at least it won’t hurt if your fingers touch the blades while they’re spinning.
The fan also comes with an LED light in the center, which at 99 lumens is actually bright enough that you won’t need a camping lantern to go along with it. It also has a night mode that you can turn on to find things without waking up your tent mate.
It comes with a small stand that can convert it into an upright fan, which is great if you have a big tent and need something that can sit closer to you at night. The stand is quite small though, and there’s a real chance of it tipping over in a light breeze.
I’m not sure Coleman’s weight-saving foam blades really paid off either since it runs on four D cell batteries, which adds some heft when installed. Those batteries are another big downside as D-cells can be quite pricey, especially when the fan goes through a set of them in a day or two. You’ll definitely want to get rechargeable batteries to save some money.
The Coleman fan could have been better with a rechargeable integrated battery, which would have made it lighter, and solid blades that could have moved more air. However, as a hanging fan, it’s a solid option with a fairly bright light and multiple speeds to give you a comfortable night of sleep.
This is probably the most lightweight fan that you could bring on a camping trip and its portability is its greatest asset. The OPOLAR sports a quick recharge time that makes it perfect for trips where it might see a lot of use. It also has multiple speed settings, which can help you to conserve energy when maximum air movement isn’t necessary.
The fan has a rechargeable battery, which is nice, especially since it can be quickly charged with a power bank. However, the internal battery doesn’t hold a charge for very long, just a few hours when the fan is set to high. Fortunately, it doesn’t take very long to recharge.
Unlike most of the fans being reviewed, this one cannot switch between being a stand up fan and a hanging one. In terms of tent ventilation, this could be a deal breaker, as stand up fans do not circulate air nearly as well. It also just doesn’t move a whole lot air due to it having relatively short blades.
Given the limited functionality of the OPOLAR Travel Mini, this fan is best suited for users that need something to cool them down for an hour or two after a day in the sun. It’s not a great fan to use overnight due to its inability to hang, short battery life, and louder than average blades.
How to choose a camping fan
Why buy a tent fan?
One of the biggest discomforts involved with camping is extreme temperatures. It’s fairly easy to combat cold weather with a warmer sleeper bag, thicker ground pad, and insulating clothing. Hot weather is a different story though.
Nylon tents trap hot air along with the moisture from your breath to create a disgustingly warm and humid environment. One way to combat this problem is to leave the rain fly off, which is like sleeping under a glorified mosquito net. No privacy and no protection from the rain should it pour during the night.
Another option is to add a tent air conditioner, which can drastically lower the temperature and humidity inside the tent. However, they require a lot of power and thus need to be plugged into grid-supplied electricity.
A third way to keep cool is to add a fan. This won’t actually lower the temperature of the air inside your tent, but through the evaporative cooling properties of sweat, will make you feel like it’s less hot.
Additionally, camping fans increase air circulation, which will prevent your tent from feeling so stuffy and makes it easier to sleep.
What are the Mounting Options?
Standing camping fans are the most common mounting option available for camping fans. Most models come equipped with a small stand that can be propped up on picnic tables or the floor of your tent. Don’t expect them to oscillate like the fan you have at home though.
These are a bit less common and they have some limitations – your tent poles need to be able to hold up the weight of the fan. This not only precludes larger fans that can move more air, but also prevents you from using it with ultralight tents.However, hanging fans have an advantage too, they’re better at circulating the air inside the tent. Warmer air rises and with a fan pushing it back down, you’ll get a pretty nice convection current flowing inside the tent.
How do I power it?
The simplest and most versatile method for powering a camping fan is good old-fashioned batteries. You can pick up a set of them at even the smallest backcountry stores and with careful planning you should never run out of juice.
The downside to batteries is that they’re expensive and they don’t last that long. Running the fan for just one night could go through a set, which adds up on a weeklong camping trip. That’s to say nothing of the environmental costs of using disposable batteries.
Many campers buy rechargeable batteries for their fans, which cuts down on costs so long as you have a way to charge them, which may not be possible in the backcountry. They’re also more expensive than their disposable cousins, but if you use and charge them frequently, they’re well worth the higher price tag.
USB powered fans are a popular option since many of us already have portable USB power banks lying around. Depending on the model you have, these banks store considerably more juice than a set of AAs, making them one of the best options for fans that draw a hefty current.
You won’t find that many camping fans that run off solar, but there are a few and they’re a very environmentally friendly option if you’re camping in sunny conditions. It can take a long time to charge the internal battery though, and once the sun goes down you won’t have access to any more electricity.
If you do most of your camping at RV parks or campgrounds with electrical outlets, it might be worth it to find a fan that plugs in. Fans running on grid electricity can be much larger and have a far greater cooling capacity.
Are there different blade types?
Plastic blades are the most common ones used in camping fans. They’re lightweight but strong enough to have a respectable cooling capacity. To prevent them from getting broken, most have a durable cage surrounding them.
If you need some serious air movement, metal is the only way to go. Not only are they incredibly durable, but also they can run at the highest speeds to move lots of air. They are heavier though, making them uncommon in camping fans.
As you might already expect, foam blades are not the best at moving a lot of air. They’re flimsy and have to run at lower speeds to prevent them from deforming. However, they are the most lightweight of any fan blades.
Is noise an issue?
Many campers find the noise of a fan to be akin to a white noise generator, which can help them fall asleep. Others hate having mechanical sounds intruding upon their pristine wilderness experience. It’s all a matter of preference.
If you’d rather have something quieter, look for fans with plastic blades and smaller diameters. These should rattle less and have less noise from buffeting air.
How heavy is too heavy?
This is a highly subjective question and depends on how you’re transporting gear. Most camping fan users are only lugging their gear a dozen or so feet, from the car to somewhere near the campfire, making weight a non-issue.
However, nobody wants to lug a full-sized box fan around the campsite, so you’ll find that most camping fans weigh somewhere between one half and two pounds. Many of them could easily be held in your hand if there was nothing to set it on or hang it from.
The one major issue with weight comes when you need to hang your camping fan. Most tents are not designed to have any more than a few ounces hanging from their center point without the poles buckling. If you’re going to get a heavier fan, make sure your tent can support it first (look for the max load on your tent’s gear canopy).
How long will it run for?
This is easily my biggest issue with camping fans; most of them have an incredibly short battery life - it just goes with the territory of being lightweight. Most fans will run for less than eight hours on their highest setting, not even allowing for a whole night of sleep.
For most campers, I would suggest getting the fan with the largest battery that you can comfortably cart around. An even better idea though is to find one that will charge off an external power bank. This way you’ll have the flexibility of a large battery, but you don’t need to carry it with you when it’s not needed on a trip.
Are camping fans durable?
By and large camping fans are not particularly durable and it’s primarily a function of them being lightweight. Plastic blades and a plastic housing do not make for a durable product compared to the beefy box fan you might use at home.
Again, you’ll have to decide for yourself what kind of tradeoff you’re willing to make – should you get something heavier that will last a long time or a lightweight fan that you’ll have an easier time schlepping around?
If you want your fan to last more than a season or two, I highly suggest getting one with a thick plastic housing and metal blades.
What extra features should I look for?
Some of the less expensive camping fans will have just one setting and this is particularly true for hanging fans. However, others will have a few speed settings, which can be really useful if you don’t need it to run at full speed and would like it to be quieter and conserve power.
Many hanging fans come equipped with a light just like your ceiling fan at home. If you don’t already have a lantern to use inside your tent, this can be fairly useful. Most models have just a few small LEDs, which don’t use too much power.
Those lights will run down the fan’s battery faster though, so having a camping fan with a light is really only useful if you don’t have other options.
The best camping fan for you
Only you can decide which camping fan is right for your needs, but for most people, I would suggest the COMLIFE fan as it’s portable, can be hung or stand on its own, and charges via USB. Most users will be satisfied with a fan like this because it can be used in so many situations: in a tent, mounted on a picnic table, or even on the trail.
The fact that it charges via USB and can be recharged with a power bank offsets its biggest problem – short battery life. As long as you’ve got a decent sized power bank, the fan’s small battery pack won’t be a problem and it prevents the unit from becoming overly bulky.
However, if you know that you’ll be camping in hot conditions or you have a larger tent, the Geek Aire High Velocity fan might be your best option. It’s the only fan on this list with metal blades and as a result, the only one that can move a lot of air.
It’s quite heavy though and is really only suitable for more luxurious camping trips – the kind where you set up tables and have a legit kitchen. It doesn’t feel very portable compared to some of the other camping fans that were reviewed.
Ultimately the best camping fan is the one that you actually bring; think realistically about what you’re willing to pack and how much a fan would improve your next wilderness experience.