Guide to Condensation in Tents
Condensation in tents does happen even to the most experienced campers. Have you ever woken up and found there is moisture on the inside of your tent, or a small puddle of water in your tent? You would be forgiven for thinking that your tent has leaked, or you might have had a small accident.
Don't panic this is a normal part of camping and nothing to be concerned about. Most likely this is simply condensation. To help understand this natural occurrence please read the guide below.
Is it condensation or has your tent leaked?
If you have found water in your tent, it is very unlikely that your tent has leaked. Most tents like Vango or Outwell are made to the highest specification using quality materials and components. From tough, waterproof fabrics to strong stitching techniques and heat-sealed seams. The tents are designed to keep the wet weather out.
How much condensation can form in a tent?
A single person can produce up to 1 pint (568ml) of condensation per night. For example, if you have 5 people staying in a tent, that’s 5 pints (2.36L’s) of water inside your tent. Adding to these other likely sources of moisture for example: Wet shoes, wet clothes, dogs, cooking and air. Warm air can hold more moisture than cold air, as the temperature falls at night. This means the moisture is released from the air, even if there are no people inside the tent.
The volume of moisture held in the air inside a 6-man tent when empty is equivalent to 1 pint of water.
Causes of condensation in tents?
Heat from people, electric or gas heaters and closed or poor ventilation airways can cause condensation. As the air warms up it meets the cool fabric of the surface of the tent the moisture in the air then condensates into liquid. e.g. similar to cars in the morning. As we sleep the process continues through the night and when we wake up in the morning there can be a lot of moisture in the tent.
Do all tents suffer from condensation?
Tent design & fabric type can reduce the amount of moisture that can turn to water inside your tent. Tents designed with inner bedrooms in the tent and good ventilation panels will have less condensation than a single skin with no ventilation. Weather conditions can also affect the amount of moisture in the tent e.g. on a cold night with no wind to circulate the warm air out of the tent, condensation will be likely.
In Vango Air tents, the air that is held in the beams of an Air tent circulates within the beams. If the outside temperature is much cooler than the temperature inside the tent, then the cooling of the air in the beams is quite quick. The warm humid air inside the tent then condensates onto the area of the beams inside the tent. This moisture can then appear as water droplets on the Air beams and in some cases may create pools of water at the base of the beams. If the prevailing conditions are particularly prone to condensation, remove items from around the base of the beams.
Polycotton Tents breathe better than most polyester tents because it is a blend of cotton and polyester together, allowing the tent to breathe much better than a normal polyester tent. If the tent can breathe then condensation will be less of an issue.
Which weather conditions make condensation worse?
There is an increase in condensation when the external temperature of the tent is significantly colder than the temperature inside the tent. Days when there is a large temperature drop in the evenings will see more condensation than usual and campers will have difficulty stopping the formation of condensation. Poor rainy conditions increase the likelihood of condensation as there will be more moisture in the air than usual. The fabric of the tent can be colder when it's raining, increasing the rate at which condensation is created.
Does location of pitch increase condensation?
Yes, if you're camped beside a river, waterfall or forest there will be extra moisture in the air and the likelihood will be that you will experience a temperature drop, increasing the likelihood of condensation.
My tent is wet from condensation, what should I do?
- Wipe the walls with a towel or cloth to remove condensation from the surface and stop any drips.
- Make sure all doors and vents are unobstructed.
- Leave all wet or damp items outside.
- Refer to the manufacturer's manual to ensure you are aware of the correct ventilation options for your tent.
- If weather permits and the tent is fitted with mosquito net doors, leave these open to ensure maximum air flow.
Helpful tips to enjoy your camping experience
Turn Heaters Off
Heaters warm the air inside the tent, this will increase the amount of water the air can hold. Warm humid air can hold more moisture than cold dry air. The warmer the tent is the more moisture will be released from the air onto the tent surfaces. Instead of heating the tent, warm yourself up with the right clothing and good sleeping bags.
Location, Location, Location
Pitch in an area where the wind can easily vent your tent/ Don’t camp too close to water as this will increase humidity.
Cook only outside your tent
Primarily for safety but cooking also releases large amounts of moisture into the air. Remember that extractor fan in your kitchen at home when the moisture is running down the splashback?