It’s a never ending struggle, the silent battle between your tent and those tiny, brutally resiliant water droplets that accumulate inside your unsuspecting fortress as you sleep. It’s condensation.
What is condensation and what causes it? Condensation is simply the accumulation of moisture inside of your tent. What causes it? When you are sleeping inside your tent, your body warms the air around you, and you expel
moisture as you breath. The air inside the tent becomes humid and warm from your breathing. When the air warms up the particles accelerate and gain energy. When the warm, moist air inside your tent hits the cooler tent walls, they slow down and stick to the tent itself.This causes your condensation.
What can you do?
While you can never fully eliminate condensation, there are a few things you can do to cut the amount of condensation dramatically.
Make sure your tent is well ventilated. Some tents have vents that can be opened, open these whenever possible. Also, keep your tent doors open when you can. Tying back your tent doors or vestibule will allow more air to flow through, which reduces the amount of condensation. You can leave mesh doors and windows zipped up, as they allow air to flow through. A beautiful night? Leave the rain cover off completely. Some tents now have full mesh bodies under their rain fly, this is to minimize weight and also to allow the maximum amount of ventilation. Take advantage of that, and enjoy the star filled night skies.
Taut out your tent:
Tauting out your tent is simply making sure it’s staked out nice and snug. The tent should be without droops and sags if properly staked out. Guying out your tent also helps (attaching the
support ropes that are normally provided with tents). Tauting out your tent allows not only for your tent to withstand high winds, but also to increasing ventilation. Most two wall tents (tent with a rain cover) should be tightly pitched enough that the rain cover doesn’t actually touch the tent below, only the poles. This allows for air to flow around from all angles. Not only will your tent be stronger in a storm, it’ll breath better, and a well staked out tent looks nice. Learn to adjust your guy out lines for best tightness.
After the condensation hits:
If you wake up and your tent is covered in condensation, there are a few things you can do. The easiest, is to pack a rag or pack towel with you on your trip. Anything small that absorbs moisture will work. Simply wipe down the inside of your tent with the cloth to absorb the moisture before you pack up. Hang the rag on the outside of your pack to dry. No cloth? Take off your rain cover, and lie it upside down in the sun to dry out before you pack it up. Packing up in the rain? Have a friend hold the rain cover up while you pack up the rest of your tent under it. This will minimize your exposure to the rain.
Remember, leaving your tent wet when you store it leads to mold, which can do irreversible damage to your tent. If you have to pack out your tent wet, that’s fine. Just air it out and allow it to dry completely when you get back.
Moisture on the outside of your tent?
That’s dew, and there isn’t much you can do about that one. Wipe it down or let it air dry.