Camping in high humidity
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Nov 11, 2007 at 11:05 pm #1225787
So I had a fun trip out in the weekend where I had my first night out in my first tent, a Tarptent Contrail.
I camped out in the Hunua Ranges (which are near Auckland in the North Island of New Zealand), on clearing on a ridge looking out to sea. No bugs and a perfectly clear night (spring here, so hot sunny day but still fairly cool evening) so I had everything opened up.
Given I'd done everything I thought I could to avoid it (camped high up, no mesh or door zipped up, clearance around the back & side to let mesh breathe), I was still suprised at the level of condensation: enough to start dripping onto the lower half of my sleeping bag. When I was awake it was easy enough to shake off the bag, but I did have to sleep :)
Admittedly the complete lack of breeze (and a hot day followed by a cold night?) weren't ideal, but while in the North Island anyway I'm resigned to it always being humid enough that this is always going to be a problem. (In my limited experience most of the South Island is much dryer – in fact most of the rest of the N. Island is a bit less tropical and sweaty than Auckland).
That's fine, I get to carry a 700g tent to compensate :) I'm curious though, how do other folks in humid spots tackle this?
– a bivy bag? The bivy bags sold here have a Quantum upper, which is no more waterproof than a standard sleeping bag liner anyway – is 2 layers of Quantum really going to help? Plus they cost almost as much as I paid for the tent! And if I'm using a bivy bag, surely I may as well just use a tarp?
– a more water-resistant sleeping bag (endurance, epic) upper? Hmm I hope not because I've already ordered my Arc Alpinist in Quantum :) (if it ever shows up!). Still not waterproof though & hurts breathability+weight.
– a full 2 layer tent (and not just in inner layer of mesh)? Heavy.. pricey..
– be content that a bit of water dripping onto the sleeping bag isn't going to lead to hypothermia on a mild night? (And in the winter.. ?).Nov 12, 2007 at 3:36 am #1408729Einstein XBPL Member
@einsteinxLocale: The Netherlands
A couple of years back I worked at a tentshow. We had a tarp on display and just for fun I decided to camp underneath. These shows are early spring with day time temps in the high 60's and night time lows at around freezing. As you can imagine there was a lot of condensation due to the enormous difference in temperatures. Everything had condensation on it, even the underside of my tarp and my backpack. But my SB has a good DWR outside and so I was dry and warm inside.
Did you get wet in your SB on your last trip? If so could you apply a DWR finish yourself?
Another night I was camping in my GTX bivi on a cold night (about ten degrees). When I woke up the next morning there was a lot of water between the outershell of my SB and the inside of the bivi, yet the down was dry and I was warm. So I'm quite happy with my DWR finish. In addition, the down is also made waterproof, or at least that was what my boss said when I was still selling these SB's.
If this still doesn't work than I'm affraid a synthetic SB is your only option.
EinsNov 12, 2007 at 10:07 am #1408751Michael DavisMember
@mad777Locale: South Florida
I believe that any shelter will collect condensation given the right conditions and, some of us live in areas where those conditions are prevalent. So, a sleeping bag with a high quality fabric and good DWR is highly recommended.
But, to "cure" the root of the problem and not just treat the symtoms, I have found that tee-pee style tents/tarps with their steep walls are just the ticket. Yes, they still collect just as much condensation as any other shelter but, it harmlessly runs down the sides of the walls as opposed to dripping on your bag.
This approach lets your sleeping bag deal with only the condesation that actually forms on the bag and does not over-burden it with condensation dripped from other collectors.
BTW, I do all my camping in Florida, New England or the Smoky (read: in the clouds) Mountains of N. Carolina, all of which are high humidity areas. My attitude is that it's a humid world; get over it!
I remember reading a BPL post earlier this year where a member described a night camping in the Pacific Northwest when a thick fog rolled in one night and went right through his tent. There is no escape from that! So, hence my recommendation of a steep-walled shelter or, an UL battery powered dehumidifier. ;-)Nov 12, 2007 at 2:58 pm #1408784
Ah, good thinking Michael (just make sure the condensation rolls down the sides). Can you suggest specific tents/tarps (of any size – I'm in the market for a 3 person tent)?
The Contrail isn't too bad because at least there's no dripping from above the head or torso, but it rolls to a point around my knees (I'm roughly average height) and then drips from there. I wonder if I peg out the back center hoop it will angle the roof down sufficiently for the condensation to roll further down? Can any other Contrail users comment?
Actually, given it's right down by my knees just laying my rain jacket across them might protect my bag sufficiently, without soaking me in sweat.
EinsteinX – DWR works pretty well, but it's not that durable & I imagine it's a bit of a pain to reapply to a sleeping bag (versus a jacket)? Also I wonder how it would hold out against sustained dripping over a whole night.Nov 12, 2007 at 3:32 pm #1408785
Just checked the weather stats for the weekend: at sea level, Saturday topped out at 21 C (70 F) at 66% relative humidity, then dropped to 8 C (46.5 F). I was at about 400m (1300 feet), so probably several degrees colder overnight.
Really should track down one of those button temperature logger things.Nov 12, 2007 at 5:12 pm #1408799Jonathan DuckettBPL Member
@thunderheadLocale: Great Smoky Mountains
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