Tent Condensation: 11 Solutions to Keep Moisture Out

Do you love waking up in the morning to find that the walls of your tent are dripping wet? Me neither. Soaking wet clothes and gear, damp air, and a musty smell are not the way you want to kick start your day!

But there’s no need to worry – there are many ways for you to avoid that pesky condensation from forming. If you’ve always wondered how to keep moisture out of your tent, I’ve put together a list of 11 super solutions that can help keep the condensation out.

Why does condensation happen?

condensation on tent walls

The material of your tent is perfect for trapping air inside and keeping you nice and warm during the night. Unfortunately, this also means that it can be a breeding ground for moisture.

Water is naturally present in the air, and even more of it is present when we pesky humans have been breathing it in and out. When the warm moist air can’t escape, it rises in your tent and comes into contact with the cold walls. This is where the air releases its moisture and gets condensed into liquid form.

If you’ve ever walked out of an air-conditioned building into a hot, humid day and had your glasses steam up – it’s exactly the same process at work!

1. Pitch carefully

Pitch away from the lake

It’s important that the ground underneath your tent is dry. If you’re pitching on wet or humid land, there will naturally be more moisture in the air.

This increased amount of water vapor can cause havoc when it gets trapped between you and the outside. So before you set up your tent, take a moment to check the ground and make sure it’s dry.

If there is no choice but to camp on wet ground, aim for an elevated location where the air will naturally be warmer, and the ground will be well-drained.

2. Choose the right tent

A double layer tent with a mesh inside

If you’re using a backpacking, hiking, or mountaineering tent, it will most likely be made with a single-wall construction. These types are great for being lightweight and portable, but not so great for preventing condensation. The smaller interior means that the air inside will be recycled many times over, quickly picking up moisture from exhalation.

On the other hand, tents with a double-wall construction usually have a mesh inner tent suspended from the outer portion. These are perfect for separating yourself and your gear from any condensation that might appear on the outer wall. So if you can’t prevent the condensation, at least it will be a lot less likely to cause you trouble.

For both types, it is unlikely that they will be made with very breathable fabric as it would make them way too expensive to produce. The problem with this is the lack of ventilation, so be sure to check out our ventilation tips below to keep that in check.

3. Use a dehumidifier or moisture absorber

A portable tent dehumidifier

If you’re having serious issues with condensation, it may be worth investing in a dehumidifier. These small and lightweight gadgets work by absorbing the moisture in the air, preventing it from building up inside your shelter.

Three main types you’ll want to keep a lookout for are desiccant dehumidifiers, water collectors with cooling coils, and dehumidifier bags.

If you suddenly find yourself unprepared and need to come up with a solution quickly, just about any absorbent material could help you prevent condensation. Cotton balls, newspapers, even cat litter could all serve as emergency solutions.

4. Use a heater with moisture control

A small tent heater

If you’re having a lot of condensation build-up, one way to combat the issue is by using a heater with moisture control. These heaters are specifically designed to reduce humidity levels inside your tent and will help prevent any problems that would usually arise from heating up the air around you.

Buying one will involve a higher cost than some of the other solutions, but if you need a heater in your camping climate, there’s really no way around it. Heating the air inside your tent without any moisture control is the exact opposite of what you want!

5. Use a fan inside your tent

A portable fan inside tent

If you still find yourself battling against tent condensation, another option is to bring along a small battery-powered fan. This will help circulate air inside the tent and hopefully usher it towards a vent, window, door, or dehumidifier.

Just keep in mind that it’s not a long-term solution – eventually, the humidity will build up again if you don’t address the root cause of the problem!

6. Keep ventilation in mind

Mesh ventilation in tent

Make sure to open the windows and doors of your tent during the day to increase ventilation and air circulation. This will reduce the humidity levels inside your shelter, which in turn reduces condensation formation.

It will dry out any damp spots inside your tent and leave it ready for a long night of human breathing. If you’re in a suitable environment, leaving some windows open during the night as well can make a huge difference.

Any vents that are built into your tent need to be open as much as possible; ventilation is your number one natural ally when it comes to condensation.

7. Keep the inside dry

Pitch tent in a sunny location

Keeping your tent and everything in it as dry as possible is crucial for keeping the humidity low. If you’re not careful, the initial condensation can evaporate and cool the tent fly more, causing even more water to condense on its surface.

Before storing your tent, and right after you set it up, it’s important that you ensure all moisture is removed and the inside of the tent is completely dry. This can be done by pitching the tent in a sunny location and leaving it there for a few hours, or by wiping it down with an absorbent cloth or sponge.

If you do notice any droplets starting to form, wipe them up quickly and store the cloth outside. In addition to preventing condensation, drying and airing out your tent regularly in this way will help to stop mildew or mold forming on the inside.

8. Keep wet gear outside

Shoes outside tent

When it’s time for bed, remember not to wear your shoes inside of your tent. The soles of your shoes are often damp with perspiration, so bringing them in the tent will increase moisture in the air.

The same goes for damp clothes, towels, and anything else that isn’t bone dry. As much as possible, try to dry everything out before the sun sets or the fire goes out.

If wet gear absolutely has to join you on the inside, make sure to keep it separate from your other belongings, preferably in a sealed waterproof bag. This will stop the water from evaporating and raising the humidity.

9. Use a physical ground barrier

A tent footprint

A tip that can sometimes help is to place a thick tarp, groundsheet, ‘footprint’, or pad between your tent and the ground underneath. Any amount of extra insulation you can get there will play a part in preventing the cold of the ground from transferring to the surface of your tent.

Anything else you can do to reduce the difference in temperature between the inside and outside of your tent will help in the same way to prevent condensation.

10. Cover exposed skin

A neck warmer

If the weather is particularly hot, it’s important to cover any exposed skin to prevent evaporated sweat from building up. Not only will this help prevent the build-up of moisture inside your tent, but it will also offer protection from any bugs that may be lurking in the area.

Clothes, thin blankets, or something like a bandana around your neck might seem insignificant but can make a whole lot of difference.

11. Leave space

A large green tent

When lots of your gear is bundled in together with you, it’s easy for pockets of humid air to form around you.

Ideally, your sleeping bag should rest clear of any walls and have a good channel of airflow all around it. This way, any humid air being created around your body will have a chance to escape and avoid hitting the cold walls.

An easy way to follow this tip might be to simply invest in a larger tent. A bigger shelter will have more space for airflow and will be less likely to result in moisture build-up.

Conclusion

By implementing some of these solutions into your camping routine, it will be a lot easier to fight off condensation in your tent.

Since some options require more preparation than others, make sure to do all of your research before heading out for the trip. If you take care of this now, it’ll be much easier once you’re out on the trail to just focus on enjoying yourself!

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