How to prevent condensation in your tent


How to prevent condensation in your tent

You can't.  Unless you can defeat the power of thermodyamics.  Or harness it with one of our wood stoves.  A wood stove puts out a dry heat that will dry out the inside of your tent in nothing flat.

Sure...every new tent on the market touts their ability to reduce or eliminate condensation.  Double wall tents don't prevent condensation either - the mesh walls just provide a cue to keep you from touching the wet outer walls of the tent.

Condensation is simple - the moisture in the air condenses on a cold surface when the temperature of that surface drops below the dew point.  When you're in your tent, you are exhaling water vapor in your breath.  When the warm air  hits the cooler walls of the tent, the water vapor it contains condenses.

Tent vents help...but not as much as you might think.  Actually most vents do very little to vent warm air.  There's not much air movement in a tent with the doors shut.  To mitigate condensation, you need air flow...lots of air flow...a good stiff breeze to move the air through.  You'll still get some condensation from the radiative cooling of the tent fabric, but it will help.  So open the doors, open the peak vents, tie up the snow skirts, and face the doors into the wind.  Our pyramid tents have huge doors - just tie them back and let the breeze in.

Site selection helps - a lot.  Don't camp in the open where the nighttime radiative cooling effect can cool the tent fabric and cause heavy dew (condensation).  Camp under tree cover instead.  Don't camp over grass - the grass transpires moisture vapor - camp over bare soil or forest duff.  Don't camp near water - pick an area at higher elevation away from water.  Pick a breezy site and orient your tent doors to catch the wind.

Other tips: Don't cook in your tent.  Boiling water dumps a lot of moisture into the air that has to go somewhere.  On cloudy days, try to select campsites at lower elevations out of the clouds.  Carry a microfiber towel to wipe down the inside of the tent before you pack it up, and make time to stop and dry your gear during the day if possible.

One last tip for defeating cold weather condensation.  Warm dry air can contain more moisture than cool air.  So to prevent condensation, you just need to heat the ambient air enough to prevent the air from significantly cooling when it hits the tent wall.  Heat it enough and it will absorb any condensation that is already there.  Using one of our wood stoves in your tent will allow you to reduce or eliminate condensation while staying warm and out of the drafty breeze.

By James Dick