It happens to almost every camper—even the highly experienced ones. One night you will wake up to find your tent dripping from inside. Checking the seams, they are perfect. Checking your roof is not leaking. But, the drops continue. Do not worry. Whatever you are experiencing is a normal phenomenon that follows a basic law in physics.
So, why does the tent become wet in the inside?
The immediate answer to the question is condensation. Generally, whether it is raining or dry outside, the tent will drip due to condensation. This process normally occurs when the temperature outside is lower than the temperature inside the tent.
Why I Condensation Happen In My Tent
Condensation in the tent normally occur under three conditions, namely:
1. Cold night
Sometimes you will wake up to find a clear night with not even a tinge of a cloud. No rain. But, the tent is dripping. Due to factors such as intense heat during the day, the night in your locality may become immensely cold. As a result, any tinge of water vapor automatically condenses.
3. During a wet rainy condition
Rainy periods are often associated with cold nights. This happens mostly in areas experiencing relief type of rainfall. During the day, such areas experience intense heating.
As a result, the moisture from the surface rises and gets held in the stratosphere. During the night, the temperature in the atmosphere drops hence resulting in drops of rain with low temperatures.
When the raindrops heat the surface of your fabrics, they cause a difference in temperature level inside and outside the tent.
3. High altitude
As you rise above sea level, the air temperature decreases inherently. This drop range between 6 to 10 degrees celsius for every 1 KM covered.
Meaning, when you camp on top of a mountain, 10 km above sea level, the air outside your tent will be 60 to 100 degrees Celsius lower. By going even higher, you will be increasing your chances of experiencing a dripping night.
Other Factors to Tent Condensation
However, you can safely camp even with the prevalence of the three conditions. How you carry yourself matters a lot.
Here are some other factors to condensation inside your tent:
1. Breathing in the tent
Whenever you breathe overnight, you produce the amount of water that totals to 1 liter.
The water is released from the body in the form of vapor. The water vapor released is then trapped on the inner surface of your tent. Meaning, if you are six people, your tent will hold up to 6 liters of water vapor.
During the night, the air temperature outside your tent can go down to as low as below freezing point. Whenever this happens, the held water vapor on the surface of your tent’s fabric condenses.
You will notice this through tiny little drops or damp surfacing. By increasing the number of your tents occupants, you will notice that the amounts of drops become even more.
This also happens whenever you allow your pet e.g. dog to sleep inside your tent.
2. Cooking in the tent
You will be tempted to cook inside the tent more so during bad weather. And, the temptation is even more intense when you are camping in expedition tents that feature large utility bays.
Don’t try it. Generally, you need water to cook most of your recipes. Whenever you boil water inside the tent, a large amount of water vapor is attached to the inner surface of your roofing.
However, the moment the temperature outside drops, all the water vapor will condense in the form of drips. As a result, you will end up with soaked belongings including your sleeping gears.
3. Pitching near water bodies
Yes, you love the view of the lakeside whenever the sunsets. You love to see the docking boats and the numerous lights over the lake during the night. But, do you know that docking beside the lake can do you potential harm than favor.
The air near the lakeside is usually warm, heavier and humid.
During the day, the lake waters undergo intense heating hence resulting in vaporization. When a breeze occurs, the vaporizing water can be carried into your camping tent.
When such a bizarre incident occurs, any cold night will result in massive dripping that can turn into a real misery.
4. Keeping wet gears into the tent
Wet gear such as boots and soaked clothing carry a huge load of water. Whenever you keep them inside your tent, you are enhancing vapor formation more so during the day when heating is prominent.
Vaporization can also occur when you are using the heater. Therefore, keep soaked clothes or boots covered with ice particles outside the tent until when they are fully dry.
5. Exposure to damp ground or grass
Often, you will be required to relocate. And, relocating here relates to setting up the tent in another place that you may not be familiar with.
Whenever you set up your tent on a damp surface, there is a high likelihood of vaporization. Choose your location well and observe that you do all the preparatory cleaning before setting up your tent.
6. Natural humidity
Some places are highly humid while others are dry. Also, depending on the prevailing weather conditions, your camping site may experience a humid day or night.
However, in this context, condensation happens under one condition—when the tent amasses humid air during the day and gets exposed to a dry and cold night. Where this factor is a cause for concern, you will see the tent drip mainly at down.
A damp and dripping tent is a huge turn-off in any camping session. It can bury your passion for camping for life. Therefore, before going camping, keep in mind the aforementioned factors.
But first, you need a highly breathable tent. A double-walled tent with both the outer fly and inner fabrics should remain your first priority. Nevertheless, even with a single-walled and ultra-light tent, you can remain safe by keeping the tent overly ventilated.
Ventilation helps in keeping a good airflow in the tent and reducing internal humidity.