A camper needs some sort of project to work on. Mine is to tolerate summer better than in the past.
1. Let's start with the easier improvements: hats. Baseball hats are OK, but they provide sun protection only on the face. Barmah hats have been popular; their dark leather brim is surprisingly hot.
The breakthrough was the Henschel Australian Breezer, with the widest brim provided. The crown is mesh. Besides all that, women like to look admiringly at that hat.
2. As a beginner I used to smear my arms and face with sunscreen in order to mountain bike in the western sun. Basically OK -- but that greasy glop distracted me at the desk, after the ride. You are forced to take too many showers.
Then I started wearing Da Brim over the bicycle helmet. It does not restrict air flow to the slots in the helmet, so it is much cooler than a baseball hat or cotton bandana under the helmet. They make Da Brim for horse people's helmets, too. I am surprised more bicyclists don't wear Da Brim; perhaps they are afraid they would flop around in the breeze. They don't.
I haven't found it necessary to sunscreen-glop my face if I wear Da Brim.
3. It seemed weird to start wearing long sleeve shirts in the summer. But it is a good idea, and not just to escape putting sunscreen glop on the arms. Long sleeve shirts help you escape blasting your arms with bug repellent. That means fewer showers are necessary.
But after returning to camp, it makes sense to switch into a short-sleeved rayon shirt.
4. Fabrics: avoid polyester and nylon as much as possible. Cotton, rayon, and linen are the coolest fabrics.
5. Evaporative cooling. I have had partial successes with evaporative coolers in my camper/travel trailer. Would it work better to douse cotton, rayon, or linen shirts in water and then sit in front of a (12 Volt DC) "Breeze" fan?
It is easy to suggest doing this, but it will take some real discipline to get used to wearing a soggy rag of a shirt.
6. Air conditioning? Trying to run an air conditioner with solar panels seems to be all the rage these days, for boondockers and nomads. Permit me to remain skeptical for awhile. The best air conditioner is a tree, and solar panels won't work under a tree.
I don't know why people are such purists about solar energy. Their whole lifestyle is based on a gasoline-powered automobile engine, so who are they kidding?
I only learned recently that a 1000 Watt Yamaha inverter/generator will power one of the standard 5000 BTU/hr window air conditioners that you would buy at one of the standard big box stores. That is the approach I would take.
7. Shorts. The only time I wear shorts is when I bicycle. A couple trips to Mexico converted me to the traditional view -- seen as recently as in our grandparents' generation -- that shorts are unmanly. They are for little boys who would otherwise be wearing holes in the knees, or for women because they have pretty legs.
8. When sitting at a desk, it makes sense to soak the feet in a bucket of water. Feet get so dirty when camping, and a couple minutes in a navy shower won't clean them off. So cleaning the feet and cooling the feet can be accomplished at the same time.
9. Stay away from tilt-out windows in your camper. They are bad at providing cross-ventilation. Small sliding windows are great. Obviously roof vent fans are a good idea. I am astonished at vanners' and RVers' penchant for increasing the solar load by putting too many windows in their rig, and then not tinting them to 90%.
10. Finally we have the sandal conundrum. I was discussing this with an Arizona friend who always wears sandals, even in the winter -- easier said than done if your heels are bloodied in 6% relative humidity. Mine were, so I would wear socks with sandals, which negated most of the cooling effect.
Perhaps enough years in the arid West has acclimated my skin. Or perhaps the blame goes toward sandals that were river sandals with deep heel cups and knurled hard-rubber on the tops of the soles.
Or perhaps I will just do outdoor activities in shoes, and then step into inexpensive flip-flops when I come back to camp.
I spent a couple frustrating hours online recently, shopping for sandals. The prices were outrageous, considering how cheap the materials are. And they had me rolling my eyes with all their marketing gimmicks: "eco" this or that, recycled pop bottles, all vegan materials, etc. Why do they try so hard to make them good with rivers? There ain't no rivers with moving water in this god-forsaken part of the country. What sort of dream world does the big-city-tourist live in?
11. For the grand finale of this list, let's choose something that will make your eyelashes flutter.
But somehow this doesn't seem practical for me, especially if the parasol is Victorian and frilly around the edge.
But the parasol can be brought back in to the modern world.