How To Prevent Condensation in a Tent

How to prevent condensation in a tent

Ever woke up in the morning when you’re camping and rub your arm up against the side of the tent, only to be soaked and try squirm back into the depths of you’re sleeping bag?

I’m sure anyone who has camped knows this feeling!

This is only increased if you live in a very temperate country such as ourselves in Ireland here.

Well I’m going to try shed some light on how to prevent condensation in a tent so that you can wake up refreshed and hopefully a lot drier.

So, before we get into how to prevent it, let’s look at what actually causes the build up of condensation in your tent.

What causes condensation in a tent

It’s actually quite scientific but being able to understand the cause allows you to prevent the condensation build up.

So, lets talk science!

When water vapour in warm air meets with a cold surface, water droplets form (Condensation).

The molecules in the warm air are in a gaseous state and once they meet with the cold surface of the flysheet, these molecules slow down and combine together to form a liquid state.

The higher the air humidity and the bigger difference in temperature between the air and the surface of the tent, the faster the condensation occurs.

So, when you’re sleeping at night, the heat from your body and your breath heat the air inside the tent.

During the night when the outside temperature drops, the surface of the tent cools down and the air condenses forming water droplets.

This builds up and leaves the tent walls and floor wet.

Science part over!

Let’s have a look at how our friends over in Vango break it down.

How to prevent condensation in a tent

Without question, the key factor here is……ventilation!

With the warm air from your body and breath being trapped inside the tent, it raises the temperature which will inevitably cause condensation.

During any night camping, you’ll exhale around a pint of water and that has to go somewhere – which will form condensation.

Now, there is no real way to stop condensation – it’s simply a part of the camping experience but the best way to reduce it is with proper ventilation.

Top tips for cutting condensation in your tent

  • Try to avoid eating hot food in your tent as the heat will rise and gather at the top of tent
  • Whenever you are cooking, try to keep it away from the tent so that the heat and steam is not blowing into the tent
  • Perspiration and Respiration will increase the temperature of the tent so try to avoid large groups gathering in the tent
  • Whenever you have the opportunity, remember to ventilate! Keep doors and pop out windows open to allow better airflow into the tent
  • Leave any wet clothes outside the tent or even store away in dry bags which come in a variety of sizes.
  • When you’re packing up, try to dry out the tent as best you can with an old towel or cloth.
  • Once you get home, avoid throwing the packed up tent away for next time. It’s best to take the tent out and let it air out overnight. This will not only take away any moisture but it stops it the fabric becoming compromised and going mouldy.

Now, obviously if you’re camping during a cold night, you’ll want to make sure that the door, windows and ventilation panels are all closed to retain the heat inside.

Survival comes first at the end of the day and you need to make sure your body stays warm throughout the night or hypothermia can set in. So I’m sure you’ll take a condensation over a freezing nights sleep anyday!

Like I said, camping and condensation go hand in hand but being prepared and having the right equipment can make for a more drier camping experience.

Purchasing a tent that doesn’t have a sewn in groundsheet can help improve better airflow around the tent. Although it may be slightly more draughty compared to a one unit tent, it allows fresh air in helping to reduce condensation.

Make sure to open the ventilation panels when setting up camp, don’t leave it to later on when the heavens are pouring down and you get soaked. By you going back into the tent to dry off, will only increase the condensation.

If you get the chance, leave open the zip door and even zip closed the insect proof mesh panel. It may be more chilly inside but any good sleeping bag will certainly keep you warm. You don’t even need to close the door fully, you can leave it partially open at the top and the rain gutter will make sure no rain gets inside.

It’s about where you pitch your tent

The location of where you pitch your tent can also have a big effect on the condensation inside the tent.

Let’s have a look at some of the things you should look at

Wind Direction

So when pitching your tent, try to judge the wind direction in the area. By pitching it in the direction where the wind is blowing, it will allow air to flow more easily into your tent rather than against it and will remove any unwanted moisture.

Pitch away from water sources

By setting up next to a river, lake or an ocean, the humidity and moisture levels will increase. This sometimes can increase the condensation in your tent so if your out fishing or performing watersports, simply pitch your tent slightly further back away from these water sources.

Avoid pitching in hollows or depressions

Cold air is more dense than warm air so it drops. By pitching in a hollow or some kind of depression in the ground, cold air will more likely gather around here.

Once you have the warm air inside your tent mixing with the cold air outside, there will be more chance condensation will form.

Simply pitch in a more elevated spot and you will notice less condensation.

Avoid pitching in areas with tall grass

As tall grass or shrubs gather moisture during the night, not only can these can block ventilation but will add to the condensation build up within the tent. Simply find an area that is wide open where wind can naturally flow through.

Choosing the right tent

Now, as I said, condensation cannot be stopped but there are ways that you can prevent it and choosing the right tent for you is also another big factor.

Size of the tent

When camping in a tent, make sure it fits the maximum amount of people so basically don’t be cramming 4 people into a 2 man tent. Not only is this unsafe in the case of a fire but it will certainly increase the levels of condensation very quickly as there are more people who are breathing and giving off heat in a smaller place.

Groundsheet

Like I said before, by having a groundsheet that is not sewn into the actual tent itself will increase better airflow as the gaps within it allows fresh air in and removes any warm air inside.

Ventilation panels

You want to make sure when purchasing a tent, that it has plenty of ventilation panels around the tent. These should be aimed downwards so that cool air can get in and flow around inside but also making sure that rain cannot enter.

Having a built on outdoor area

There are some good quality tents that have an outdoor area or a shelter basically built on to the sleeping area of your tent.

If you’re camping during a calm, summer night the rainfly of the outdoor area can be left open. This means you can leave you’re sleeping area rainfly open also and simply zip close the insect mesh door. This will improve better airflow around your tent and the outdoor area will keep out any showers of rain.

So, hopefully this gives you a better understanding of how condensation can be prevented and better handled when your out camping. By even taking away some of these points and implementing them, I’m sure you will wake up that bit drier!

Any questions at all, please don’t hesitate to ask!

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