How to control condensation
What is condensation?
Air contains moisture. The warmer the air the more it contains. When warm air hits a cold surface it cools and cannot hold as much moisture so releases it onto the surface as condensation.
This is what happens in a tent. Water condenses out of warm air where it hits a cold surface − including any point cooled by the cold outside temperature, such as tent walls, windows and ceiling. Inflatable tent air tubes are also cooler than the ambient temperature inside a tent so are prone to condensation.
If left unchecked, condensate will eventually create drips and even pool on the floor – especially around the base of an air tube. This is often mistaken for a leak.
Where does the moisture originate?
Water evaporates creating water vapour and this is held in the air until it becomes saturated. At this point, water escapes either as condensate or in its various natural forms like mist, fog, rain, snow…
While there are countless sources of water vapour, we can minimise those that create condensation in a tent – except for breathing! A camper can expel around ¾ litre of water through breath and sweat during the night. This ultimately ends up in air.
Other sources are things like damp clothes and footwear, hot food and drinks and, of course, cooking. The last item can be easily avoided through good camping practice − keep your kitchen safely outside. In fact, anything that burns not only creates a potential risk from fire and carbon monoxide poisoning, but it also adds to condensation.