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5 Ways To Manage Tent Condensation

September 02, 2022

5 Ways To Manage Tent Condensation

Written by Sam Rice and Bec Norman

Camping is full of simple pleasures, but nothing beats the feeling of being inside a tent when it’s raining outside, right? The rhythmic sound of raindrops drumming on taught tent outers while we lay cosy and dry is a surefire way to great backcountry sleep. But let’s face it, waking up in the middle of the night with water droplets dripping from your tent ceiling due to condensation is no fun for anyone.

While eliminating condensation in your tent completely is almost impossible, you can keep it in check and make your nights less aquatic by following these five simple steps.

But before we get ahead of ourselves, let's talk science and learn why this pesky condensation happens in the first place. 

How does tent condensation form?

There’re a few contributing factors at play here, but overwhelmingly, the major culprit in creating tent condensation is your breath. When you sleep you exhale up to one litre of moisture a night. As the warm water vapour in your breath meets with a colder surface (like the interior walls of your tent), water droplets form through the natural process of condensation. Yay, science!

Mix this with high moisture content in the air, wet gear inside the tent, poor ventilation and a bad campsite choice, and you’ve got yourself a one way ticket to a soupy, swampy night’s sleep at camp condensation.

But you don’t want that, do you? And let’s face it, not breathing is kind of out of the question. So here are our top tips to avoid the steam room effect next time you go camping.

1. Ventilation is your best friend

Creating airflow is perhaps the most effective way to reduce tent condensation.

So on a warm, dry evening roll back that rain fly and vestibule door. Open up the vents (if you have them) and let that sweet, sweet air circulate your tent naturally. If it’s not blowing a hoolie you can set your tent up so the door faces the direction of the wind for maximum breeze.

On especially cold nights where leaving the doors open will significantly reduce the warmth of your tent, try to promote air flow by ensuring your tent is properly tensioned and well staked out. If your tent design has them, open up those vents in the ceiling.

The rules for ventilation are easy; increase the air-flow, decrease the condensation!

2. Location, location, location!

Where you decide to pitch your tent really does matter when it comes to condensation. When you’re scouting for the perfect pitch for your nylon palace, you want to prioritise a higher, dryer site that’s preferably away from bodies of water like rivers and lakes.

We get it, drifting off to sleep next to the gentle lull of a rambling river is awesome, and we certainly don’t want to discourage you from doing it. Just bear in mind that as the air temperature cools overnight, the increased humidity from the water will seriously promote that sauna sensation in your tent.

Top Tip:
Where possible, try to pitch underneath the canopy of a tree. The natural micro-climate underneath a tree is ideal for busting condensation. Make sure that the tree is sturdy and safe, without the risk of widow-makers.

3. Use your vestibules wisely

Try to avoid bringing any moisture-laden items inside when you settle down for your forty winks. That shirt you’ve been hiking in for the last three days? In the vestibule. Your backpack or panniers? In the vestibule. Those sweaty boots you’ve been hiking or pedalling in all day? They belong outside the tent, preferably with the removable inner-soles lifted and resting against the heel (you’ll thank me later).

Remember, anything damp will just create more humidity. So if it’s dry outside, hang your clothes and let the breeze work its magic. If it’s wet, consider packing a small tarp to store, dry and air your gear each night. Believe us, it’s worth the extra 300g in weight.

4. Choose your gear wisely

With an overwhelming amount of choice in the market, knowing what gear to look for can be difficult. Undeniably, a well-designed tent with condensation-busting features such as roof vents, breathable mesh interior walls and spacious doors will do a lot of the hard work of regulating airflow and temperature for you. 

You can also help reduce condensation by choosing the right gear underneath your tent too. A ground sheet or footprint underneath your tent can be a condensation game-changer. The extra fabric (usually a burly 60-80d nylon) not only protects your tent’s floor from potential scuffs and tears, but also serves as an extra insulation layer, protecting you from the cold ground underneath, and locking the warm air inside the tent. 

We use the Mont Moondance 2 and recommend it highly not only for its condensation control, but as an all-round 3-season bikepacking, bike touring and hiking tent. We’ve put ours through some seriously challenging environments; from -10℃ in the high mountains of Nepal & New Zealand to +40℃ in the tropics of Thailand.

Shop Moondance

5. Pack a towel

Sometimes, the discrepancy between ambient temperatures (temps outside your tent) and the temperature inside your tent is just so annoyingly perfect that condensation is impossible to avoid. So, instead of fighting it and losing those precious backcountry feels, consider packing a lightweight camping towel which you can use to wipe down the tent walls any time you notice they're damp.


Shop Microfibre Travel Towels


 This method also works really well after a wet night, when the sun's not out yet to dry your flysheet/outer, but you need to pack up and get the day started. Always make sure that your tent is dry before storing it. A damp tent leads to mould which can quickly cause irreparable damage to the material of your beloved tent.

To see more of us and where we’re travelling next, find us on Instagram here: @adventuresbycycle and @becbycycle


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