If your gear and clothing get wet during your backpacking trip, it is best to dry them. We often spend so much time planning our daily trips and achieving mileage goals that we don’t set aside time to keep our homes clean.
On weekends or short trips, the problem is accentuated by the need to reach a destination by a certain time to meet the shuttle driver. During the day, that can cut down on maintenance stops or rest breaks where you can watch the clouds drift by, take in great views, and let your gear dry in a wet backpacking tent.
Performing these “household chores” regularly becomes even more important when backpacking for your health and safety on longer trips. Dry your gear, wash your socks, rinse your clothes, air out your feet, brush your teeth, and get rid of grunge. An essential aspect of long-distance backpacking is incorporating them into a routine.
Why does Tent Condensation Occur?
Condensation occurs when humid air comes into contact with a cold surface, such as the interior walls or roof of your tent. This is similar to what happens when you take a hot shower and the steam drenches your bathroom mirror. When steam hits the mirror, it turns from a gaseous state to liquid water droplets that cover the mirror.
Tents and Shelters for Drying
A wet tent or tarp is the worst thing to pack up in the morning (except for wet socks). Heavy morning dew, internal condensation, or rain are commonly responsible for the problem.
It may be worth delaying your morning start by letting your shelter dry before you pack up and leave if you have morning sun and a good breeze at your campsite. When these conditions exist, lightweight tents and tarps tend to dry quickly, often within half an hour.
You may want to take a gear-drying break later in the day when you stop for a snack or to take in the sights if the conditions aren’t ideal for gear-drying. The first thing you need to do is separate your gear from the clothing and gear you need to stay dry.
A dry, shady location is preferred
Because trees are warmer than wide open fields, rain flies will also be warmer under trees. Aside from that, condensation occurs on top of the foliage rather than on the tent itself.
Your tent should be as moisture-free as possible
There are three sources of moisture in a tent:
- A measure of how moist the air is (humidity)
- Every breath you take at night adds moisture to your inner airspace
- Any wet items inside your tent will add moisture
As soon as you pick a place to pitch your tent, the humidity level of the air is determined. No matter how much moisture you exhale throughout the night, you can’t avoid breathing.
Wet clothes can be hung or stowed inside a tent, but you can’t decide which option to use. The best way to control condensation is to dry things out during the day (and don’t let a soggy dog sleep in your tent).
Make sure you breathe deeply, early, and often.
You should replace the moist interior air in your tent with drier outside air to balance the humidity level. Among the ventilation strategies are:
- The tent door should face the breeze if there is one.
- To maximize the airspace between the tent wall and the fly, stake the tent tautly out and tension the fly.
- When the rain starts falling, open all rainfly doors and rollup sections.
- Make sure all rainfly vents are open, especially the opposing ones.
- All tent windows should be opened.
What if it’s raining?
You’re more likely to experience tent condensation if it’s raining because the air is more humid. There is a lot in common with camping near a stream or pond, but it is many times worse.
A small camp towel or bandana can be used to wipe away tent condensation before it drips onto your gear if you have a single-wall tent or shelter.
Be sure to stretch the rain fly as far as possible away from the inner tent, especially along the sides and corners. Consider staking out your fly separately if it clips onto your inner tent’s base to promote better airflow.
What if your sleeping bag gets wet from tent condensation?
Water-repellent fabrics are usually used for sleeping bags and quilts to repel water.
When the shell gets wet or damp, however, you should dry it in the sun during a rest period or while you’re having breakfast. It’s good to get in the habit of drying wet gear, tent flies, and clothing whenever necessary when backpacking.
How significant is moisture in your breath?
About 1 liter of moisture is exhaled by you during sleep. You may not be aware of it, but it may contribute to your thirst in the morning and at night. As you add more people to the tent, condensation increases by 2 liters per person in the tent.
When you sleep dry in a wet backpacking tent in winter, you’ll usually find the inside of the rain fly frosted with frost, mainly due to the breath of the occupants.
Even if your tent is waterproof, you should always use a large tarp under it to stop moisture from leaking in. Ideally, your tent should come with a waterproof rain shield or large rain fly.
When you put your tent away after a camping trip, you should make sure it is completely dry to prevent mold and mildew from growing. As a result of water getting trapped in the seams, mold can build up. Camping in a moldy tent can result in leaks in the future and health risks.
You should aim to store your tent wet for no longer than two days when you must store it wet. Yes, that’s correct. After 24 – 48 hours, your tent’s fabric starts to show signs of mold growth.
On a camping trip, a tent can keep you warm and dry because it is lightweight, portable, and easy to set up. Having said that, all tents will require some TLC in order to perform at their best, so make sure you do it right away.
When it comes to dry a wet backpacking tent, if you ask yourself, “Do I have to?,” then the answer is not so simple. The seams of some tents can be sealed to help prevent leaks, while others need some seam seal.
What would we recommend? When you are ready to take out the tent for the first time, set it up in your yard. Before your camping trip, inspect the seams and the fabric to determine if it needs waterproofing.
Read More: Best Winter Sleeping Bags