The process of condensation forming on the inner surface of the walls of a tent, sleeping bag, and other things during a hike are undoubtedly familiar to every tourist. Condensation can often spoil the pleasure of a morning in the mountains and cause additional trouble in drying the equipment before going on the hike.
Condensation is the process of the formation of water in a liquid state from water vapor. The result – condensation – in the form of droplets of moisture can often be observed on almost any equipment in a variety of conditions. Condensation can be both unpleasant in the short term, creating discomfort, and gradually spoil the equipment over time, affecting the materials. Below are some typical situations where a classic hiker may encounter condensation and some tips on how to reduce its impact.
The cause of condensation is based on elementary laws of physics. The air contains water in the form of steam. Settling on a cold surface, warm steam turns into water droplets, which form a condensate.
This regularity is often observed in everyday life. For example, when you get into an unheated car on a cool morning, you immediately notice condensation on the glass. The steam that comes out with your breath settles on the unheated windshield, because of which it is covered with water droplets. In a hot kitchen, windows fall into the same situation in winter.
In the tent, precisely the same thing happens. So, it is essential to know how to keep your tent dry inside. During the night, the air on the street cools significantly, thereby cooling the tent. The heat released during the night by the tourist, as well as his breathing, increases the humidity of the air inside the tent, as a result of which water droplets condense on the walls and roll down.
In a single-layer tent, condensation can cause a lot of trouble. Since the walls of the single-layer tent go directly to the bottom, the drops of condensate that flow down simply have nowhere to go. They accumulate at the bottom, and the tourist has every chance to wake up in a puddle of water.
A double-layer tent copes better with the formation of condensation. Since it consists of an inner sleeping tent with a bottom and an outer protective tent without a base, the water that has settled on the walls of the tent rolls off and is absorbed by the soil. The high breathability of the inner tent material allows steam to pass freely to the awning. One condition: the inner tent and the ceiling must be at a certain distance from each other and not touch each other. In a correctly installed double-layer tent, there are no problems with condensation. Another option is opting for hot tents with floors that provide extra heating or condensation resilience for your tents.
How to prevent condensation?
It’s pretty simple if you take preventive measures.
First of all, regularly ventilate the tent. Keep ventilation windows open. When installing, place them downwind, that is, so that the holes are open to air currents.
In a single-layer tent, ventilation may be insufficient due to the high density of mosquito nets on the windows and the inability to remove them in the presence of gnats and mosquitoes. With a two-layer tent, the matter is simpler. There are two ventilation holes in the upper part of the structure, which can be opened if necessary. An additional advantage is provided by the awning, which does not touch the ground. Thanks to this gap, the air is drawn in from below, passes through the interior space, and exits through the ventilation windows, carrying with it moisture and the possibility of its condensation.
Winter tents often have a snow skirt. It closes the gap between the awning and the ground, which undoubtedly affects the rate of condensation formation. Fold and tie it above. This will improve ventilation.
When choosing a place to set up your tent, try to avoid swampy lowlands, dry river mouths, and other areas where moisture can rise directly from the ground. If it is impossible to find a drier place of land, use an additional moisture-proof bottom footprint.
Do not bring wet and damp things into the tent. Evaporating moisture will settle on the walls, forming condensation.
We do not advise you to roll up a wet tent. Before going out on the route, if the weather permits, dry the tent thoroughly from the inside, opening the entrance, and if there is a second one – both. If you are short on time or in difficult weather conditions, wipe the tent walls with a microfiber towel.
- Set up the tent where the wind will be able to blow the humid air out of it well. It is also worth orienting the tent so that the ventilation windows are open to air currents. In this case, the flow of drier atmospheric air will displace the more humid air collected in the tent.
- Do not set up the tent in swampy areas, lowlands, an oxbow of rivers, and other places where moisture can rise from the ground directly under the tent. Footprint (a special mattress for the tent) also helps to fight this by wetting the tent.
- Do not close the ventilation windows at night and do not completely cover the gaps between the lower edge of the awning and the ground (for example, in the vestibule).
- Tents with a snow skirt are significantly less ventilated than regular tents, so think carefully before closing the skirts entirely at night. Although the condensate that immediately freezes on the walls of the tent bothers less, it can be scraped off for cooking.
- Shake off condensation well and dry the awning and inner tent in the morning before heading out, weather permitting. It is best to hang them on branches of trees or bushes or at least spread them on the ground.
- If it is impossible to dry the awning, you can wipe it with a microfiber towel. The towel will quickly collect all the moisture, and it will dry much faster.
- If you still have to pack a wet tent, pack the tent and the inner tent separately. This way, moisture from the awning will not wet other parts of the tent during the daytime transition.