Condensation in a tent is simply part of camping. There is no such thing as a “condensation free” design. Believe it or not, this is a good thing. Condensation is created when the heat and moisture created by the tents inhabitants attach to other things inside the tent. So, this condensation is created in part by the trapping of warm air (good thing).
As the difference in temperature between moist air and the thing it attaches to play a major part in its creation, condensation can often be found clinging to the walls of the tent. Often times this moisture will collect and gravity will draw it down the side of the tent wall, collecting at the base. A most unpleasant circumstance.
There are however things that you can do to help. First, the type of tent you shoose will play a major part to begin with. Many “mesh walled” tents such as the MSR Hubba Hubba (my own sweet baby), allow the condensation to pass through the mesh inner wall collecting on the outer wall or rain fly. As this layer is technically outside the tent, the water rolls down the wall onto the ground out of harms way.
However, not all tents share this design. Four season tents are particularly prone to this problem. Here are a few things you can do to help.
Don’t use your rain fly on clear nights. You sacrifice a few degrees of heat, but the offset is more than worth it.
Sleep with the door/vestibule open. If you fear a 2am rainstorm then by all means be prepared. But, by keeping the doors or vestibule open until the deluge begins you can significantly reduce the amount of interior condensation.
Pitch the opening into the wind. Again, this will be a bit cooler but the airflow will keep any significant buildup out of your hair (literally)
Use the tents air vents. If it is raining, position the air vents into the wind (as above) and make sure they stay unblocked. This is particularly true of any venting that is near the base of the tent. They easily get blocked by gear.
Prop the vents open. If your tents air vents have a tendency to close on their own use something small and soft (Q-tips work great) to prop open the vents maximizing air flow.
Finally, cooking inside your tent (as well as being a bit dangerous) WILL significantly raise the amount of moist air into the tents air space. Cooking away from your tent is advised for several reasons ,bear safety, fire safety, and other such concerns. But by doing so you eliminate the condensation factor created by cooking entirely.
Until next time friends, I’ll see you on the trail.
Quick Tip: A few small cotton patches coated with a LIGHT bit of petroleum jelly make a great fire starting implement. Make a few and keep them in your tinder box.