Spending nights in the backcountry can be an enjoyable and breathtaking adventure. Hiking in the wilderness, setting up a campfire, grilling chicken butts, and sleeping under the moon and stars are some of the experiences that will declutter your thoughts and make mind-blowing memories.
But one thing that can really kill the vibe is having an ice-cold drop of a waterfall on your face when you are asleep. Nothing can ruin a good outdoor adventure faster than a damp tent.
When the inside of your shelter gets wet, it could cause dampness in your sleeping bag and clothes, which translates to cold nights and of course, a heavier backpack. It could also put your food storage at risk. Luckily, condensation intents can be minimized. But to do this we first need to understand what it is and most importantly, what causes it.
What Is Condensation?
Condensation is the process by which the moisture in the air changes into liquid and collects on the ceiling and walls of your tent. But where does this moisture come from?
In most cases, tent condensation is caused by humidity and the air we breathe out. When it is warm outside and there is too much water in the air, this water is stored in a gaseous state. But when the temperatures start to drop, the water molecules clump together to form water. If your tent is not waterproof or you haven’t sealed its seams, this water will penetrate through it getting it’s inside wet.
A similar scenario is observed when you breathe. Usually, you breathe out warm air. If the temperature outside the tent drops, that inside the tent goes down too, getting the walls and the ceiling cold. Since the warm air molecules are in constant motion, when they hit the cold surface of the tent, they slow down and condense to form water.
While it’s impossible to eliminate condensation in tents completely, there are a few things you can do to minimize it. Read on!
How To Prevent Tent Condensation
1. Create Enough Ventilation
Did you know that you exhale almost one liter of water while you sleep? Even without going to the basics, we all know how soggy things can get with just half a liter of water. Now imagine you have a 10 person tent with all your crew inside!
The air you breathe out at night while you sleep is the main cause of condensation in the tent. However, if you have adequate airflow, you can get rid of some of that moisture. A great way to do this could be leaving your tent windows open. You can also roll up or unzip the front entry of your tent so that the air inside doesn’t get too damp.
If you are camping in winter or cold weather, you may feel the urge to leave the tent completely sealed so you can stay warm, but tell you what, this should not be the way to go. Your tent should always have some ventilation; otherwise, you will have to deal with condensation, which is even worse.
It would be wise to dress warmly than to leave your shelter completely sealed. Invest in cold weather camping gear like a winter sleeping bag, sleeping bag liner, and a sleeping pad so you won’t have your tent totally closed up.
2. Choose Your Camp Wisely
The best location to set up a tent will be the one that has fewer conditions that can contribute to condensation. Avoid spots that are close to a water body where humidity is high. If you will be pitching your tent on green grass, use a groundsheet or footprint to reduce the moisture that comes up from the ground.
Stay away from low-lying valleys too. These tend to collect cold air and will produce more ground moisture because there isn’t enough airflow.
To be on the safe side, consider elevated grounds with warmer temperatures and good airflow or more wind. If your tent is receiving enough flow of air, the risk of condensation will be minimized and you will be able to spend your nights in the woods without worrying about your sleeping bag getting wet. However, it must be able to withstand the severity of the winds.
1. Don’t Turn Your Tent Into A Kitchen
Sometimes it is just too tempting to cook inside the tent especially when the weather is too cold, but this is wrong. If you are a serious camper and want to use your portable shelter for a longer time, then you must resist the urge to cook your meals inside it. It is unsafe in every way.
For starters, any flame or heating element inside the tent can result in a serious fire. And even if you are extremely careful, there is still a risk of something catching on fire, which can be dangerous.
Second, the steam from the boiling food and water will collect in the inside of the tent, which will be quite difficult to get rid of. The condensed water will hide in the seams and small cracks of your tent and drying this later so you can store the tent away may not be that easy. The result? Mold will develop and start eating your shelter away slowly by slowly and soon you will be making a trip to your retailer to purchase a new one.
Lastly, you don’t want your tent to be the reason why bears and other nocturnal animals will be visiting you while you sleep. If there is any food smell in your tent, you can be sure that the tent will be a destination for bears, crawlers, and many other scavengers in the night. Cook outside no matter how cold it is or how big your tent is; you will save yourself lots of trouble.
2. Bring A Tent Tarp
If you are camping or backpacking in the rain and need to pitch a tent later, be sure to bring a tarp with you. When it is raining, preventing condensation intents can be even harder especially if you haven’t waterproofed your tent.
Pack a large tarp and spread it above your cooking and eating area so that you can shelter yourself from the rain as you cook. This way, you will stay warm and dry as you prepare your meals and won’t be tempted to move your camping stove into the tent.
Your rain fly must cover your tent well. Also, make sure to stake it properly as this will determine how much moisture will enter the tent. Extend it away from the tent’s sides so that rainwater doesn’t blow in.
Staking your tarp right will also allow enough circulation of air inside the tent, which is important in fighting condensation. Just make sure it doesn’t touch the tent so that water doesn’t seep in.
3. Inspect Your Tent Before Camping
One trick to effective camping is inspecting your gear before heading out to make sure that every piece is working efficiently. Your tent, being one of the most important camping equipment is no exception and must be functioning optimally to minimize condensation.
Set it up in the backyard and inspect the vents, seams, and zipper for damage. Fix these if necessary.
Next, spray water over the tent’s roof to see if there are any tears or rips that let water in. Sometimes when the seams dry out, they cause the material of the tent to shrink making it more permeable to water. You can repair this by spraying a tent sealer onto the seam stitches.
You don’t have to do this every time you plan a camping trip. Sealing your tent is only a prevention measure to make it more water repellant to minimize condensation. Doing it once or twice a year will keep your shelter functioning properly.
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Condensation is never completely avoidable, but with proper measures, you can minimize it to have a more dry night in the backcountry. The easiest and most effective ways to prevent condensation intents is to have enough ventilation, avoid camping near water bodies, and avoid cooking inside the tent. If it is raining, have a tent tarp to keep rainwater away.
You will see moisture outside the tent when you wake up in the morning, but if you have followed the above tips, that is exactly where it is supposed to be.
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- 5 ways to reduce condensation in your camper trailer tent, marscapers.com