Wet tents and tent condensation are an inevitable part of camping.
However, there are ways to prevent the inside of your tent from getting wet… or at least minimize the effects.
So, let’s learn the most common causes of excess moisture in a tent, plus how to keep your tent dry inside using a few tried and tested tips.
What Causes The Inside Of Your Tent To Get Wet?
There are a few main causes for the inside of a tent to get wet:
- Water Seepage – Whether it’s from rain or an excessive amount of morning dew, if your tent is not properly water-proofed or has a tear in the fabric or seam, water can leak in.
- Tent Condensation – Condensation occurs when hot, humid air hits the colder surfaces of your tent, such as the roof or interior walls. The cooler temperature converts water vapor into liquid water droplets, which accumulate on your tent’s inner surfaces, causing them to get wet.
- Wet Gear – If it’s raining outside or you just got done tubing down the river, for example, and you enter your tent with wet clothes and gear, you are bound to have a wet mess in your tent.
Why Is It Important For Your Tent To Remain Dry When Camping?
It is essential to keep your tent dry inside to:
- Ensure a comfortable living space while you’re tent camping
- Keep yourself safe and protected from disease-causing insects, like mosquitoes and mites, which may be attracted to a wet environment
- Protect your camping equipment, saving you from replacing them sooner
How To Keep Your Tent Dry Inside
While you may not effectively get rid of all the moisture that enters your tent, there are several things you can do to keep your tent as dry as possible, including:
1. Applying Water Repellent On Your Tent
Your tent consists of waterproof material that will defend you from the elements to a large extent.
However, tent waterproofing doesn’t last forever.
If you expect rain on your upcoming camping trip, it’s always a good idea to test out the waterproofing on your tent before you leave. You can do this by simply setting up your tent and spraying it down with a hose for a few minutes. If you notice water seeping in through the fabric or seams, it’s time to waterproof your tent.
2. Setting Up Camp In The Right Location
Where you choose to set up your camp is one of the most important factors when to help keep your tent dry inside.
An appropriate camp setup should protect you and your equipment from rain, wind, and annoying insects while giving you enough ventilation.
Avoid setting up camp at a low point in the landscape, which pulls in cold air at night, and ventilate your tent well to allow humid air from your breath to escape as you sleep.
You should also avoid tent camping near a water source such as a pond, lake, or stream or in marshy areas where the air’s humidity tends to be higher.
3. Always Have A Wet To Dry Transition Zone
Establishing a transition zone is essential when thinking of how to keep your tent dry inside.
This buffer zone between the outdoors and your tent’s interior will help limit moisture inside the tent. Set up a location where you can remove your shoes, jacket, and other outerwear (especially if it’s been raining) before settling inside your tent.
Look for tents with vestibules or awnings to help you establish a transition zone. Otherwise, you can create a transition zone by attaching a small canopy to your tent using tarps, rope, or poles.
4. Setting Up Camp With The Weather In Mind
When camping, set up your tent to anticipate bad weather.
Being prepared for all types of weather will help you minimize the chances of getting your tent wet.
Set up your tent on a slight slope so that if there’s a heavy downpour, the water doesn’t pool inside your tent but flows past you.
Ensure that you secure your tent with guy lines, keeping them tight and at opposing angles, which exerts equal tension on both sides of your tent. You should also set up your tent with the entry away from the wind to prevent it from being blown away.
Lastly, set up your tent in good weather conditions. Of course, this is easier said than done. So, if you do get caught in the rain, check out our guide on how to set up a tent in the rain to stay as dry as possible during the process. Plus, we have a few important tips to keep your tent dry while camping in the rain.
5. Reducing Wet Items Or Vapor-Producing Activities Inside Your Tent
Do not store wet clothes, camping gear, shoes, and other items inside your tent as much as possible. If they are wet, dry them outside or put them in a waterproof sack to reduce the humidity overnight.
Try as much as possible to cook outside your tent. Grill food and boil water in the outdoors where vapors can dissipate instead of gathering inside your tent, which could significantly increase the interior’s humidity levels.
How To Choose The Best Tent To Stay Dry And Protected
When looking for a tent, choose a waterproof tent with a minimum rating of 3,000HH.
Tip: Check out our guide on how long waterproofing lasts for a breakdown of waterproof ratings and what “HH” means.
If your current tent doesn’t meet the minimum waterproof rating I recommend (and you don’t want to buy a new one), you can always apply extra waterproofing to your tent using a quality tent waterproofing spray like Nikwax.
Also, choose a tent with a vestibule, if possible, to store wet gear. And be sure you can properly ventilate your tent to allow moisture to escape.
How Do I Stop Condensation in My Tent in Winter?
Condensation in a tent can be a real problem, especially in Winter. Here are a few tips to help reduce the amount of moisture in the air.
- Keep your tent well-ventilated
- Do not bring any snowy or wet gear into the tent
- If you must bring wet gear into your tent, keep it sealed in a bag
- Do not cook in your tent
Should You Place a Tarp Under Your Tent?
Yes, I recommend placing a tarp under your tent. Not only do they help keep your tent dry on the inside, but they also improve the durability of your tent, effectively improving its lifespan.
Can You Touch the Inside of a Tent?
If you have a modern tent made of polyester or nylon, for example, and it’s been properly waterproofed, you can touch the inside of the tent without worrying about water leaking through. Older tents that are canvas or cotton and haven’t been properly waterproofed can seep water through the fiber capillary’s when touched.
Can You Put Away a Wet Tent?
We never recommend putting away a wet tent. But, if you have to, then be sure to unpack it as soon as possible to allow it to dry properly.
Putting away a wet tent can affect the durability of your tent and make your tent susceptible to mold or mildew. This can lead to the tent’s material rotting or, at the very least, smelling terrible.
Always allow enough time for your tent to air dry before storing it away. And as tempting as it may be, do not put your tent in the dryer to speed up the process. Finally, since it bears repeating, if you have to pack up a wet tent, immediately unpack it to dry as soon as you get home.