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#82338 - 11/04/07 11:40 PM Single wall tents in freezing temperatures?
Rick Offline
member

Registered: 05/10/04
Posts: 708
Loc: Ontario, Canada
I have an Early Winters Light Dimension single wall tent. The material is Gore Tex.

I'm interested in better understanding how my tent will react in freezing temperatures. Will the fabric stop breathing at some temerature point and condensation begin to accumulate on the inner surface. I have not used this tent in anything below about 32F.

This is a fairly spacious tent for one. Perhaps too big for one individual to create, through body heat alone, any tempertaure differential between inside and outside. As this inside and outside temperatures become the same, will the fabric stop breathing.

Any comments would be welcome. I would really like to know the physics involved here and perhaps anticipate any problems with condensation that may occur.

As Always, Thanks in Advance


Edited by Rick (11/05/07 01:14 AM)

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#82339 - 11/05/07 03:30 PM Re: Single wall tents in freezing temperatures? [Re: Rick]
Earthling Offline
member

Registered: 02/22/03
Posts: 3228
Loc: USA
Great question Rick, something I've pondered for a few years now with the proliferation of single wall tents.
_________________________
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#82340 - 11/05/07 03:31 PM Re: Single wall tents in freezing temperatures? [Re: Rick]
Jimshaw Offline
member

Registered: 10/22/03
Posts: 3938
Loc: Bend, Oregon
Rick
I have a Bibler Eldorado single walled "goretex" . Its the driest tent I have ever used. It will breath just fine, but be aware that there will not be enough "breathing" for you to breath - for this there must be venting. I even cook in it - as in melt snow and brew coffee and the steam warms the tent and goes righ on out through the roof vents. Stays dry.

Let me also say that I haveseen a lot of double walled tents in Winter where the outer shell was totally coated with ice (underneath) from water vapor from people inside. If the sun hits the shell it can melt and rain on the inner tent, not so with a goretex tent.

Jim
_________________________
These are my own opinions based on wisdom earned through many wrong decisions. Your mileage may vary.

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#82341 - 11/05/07 04:37 PM Re: Single wall tents in freezing temperatures? [Re: Jimshaw]
Rick Offline
member

Registered: 05/10/04
Posts: 708
Loc: Ontario, Canada
Jim: Interesting that your experience has shown that you must vent the tent. This is what I would anticipate having to do.

This approach does run contrary to the original brochure:

"Please note: If you you should begin to experience any condensation inside the tent, CLOSE the door securely and shut the back vent. While this may run contrary to normal logic, the reason is simple. With the tent shut tight, your body will warm the inner air and create a higher vapour pressure inside the tent than outside. This in turn will force the moisture laden air out through the microporous Gore-Tex membrane. Leave the back vent open only in very hot weather when you want actual air movement throught the the tent.

Once again, in humid conditions, you will find that the tent will be the dryest when the vent and door are CLOSED.
"

Perhaps the manufacturer is referring to temperatures higher than freezing.

Thanks for your input.


Edited by Rick (11/05/07 04:52 PM)

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#82342 - 11/05/07 04:50 PM Re: Single wall tents in freezing temperatures? [Re: Earthling]
Rick Offline
member

Registered: 05/10/04
Posts: 708
Loc: Ontario, Canada
Yes, I have my eye on a BD Oneshot or BD Lighthouse, both made of Epic material. (I'll have to wait for my number to come in though)

I tested my home sewn Epic bivy week before last. It's not seam sealed yet so I was under a tarp. After two nights, temps about 35F, with the last night in the rain, I packed my sleeping bag and bivy in a dry sack. I weighed them when I got home. Absolutely no moisture was retained, so I know Epic breaths - at least under these conditions.

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#82343 - 11/05/07 05:49 PM Re: Single wall tents in freezing temperatures? [Re: Rick]
Jimshaw Offline
member

Registered: 10/22/03
Posts: 3938
Loc: Bend, Oregon
Rick
I didn't want to bring up the thermal thing, but yes it seems that for any particular sized tent, for instance, having more people in it can make it drier because its warmer inside and the warmth seems to drive out the extra moisture - for instance cookin in the tent with my stove. I have a hot cloud of steam in my tent, warm my hands and face in it, yet it seems the heat pushes the moisture right out. I can and have made my tent into a steam bath with the roof vents and front vent open for carbon monoxide safety, and been very warm and dry too? Wierd I know, but there are a lot of "wilderness facts" that fly in the face of "living room planning". <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/crazy.gif" alt="" />

What I meant by venting is that goretex doesn't pass enough oxygen for you to breath. So by venting you also lower the temp a bit but the worst condensation I've seen in my Bibler was some frost on the metal poles which are inside the tent (in the morning when I awoke). I think this evaporated off. Remeber water can go from solid to gas without passing through liquid, all it needs is dry air to evaporate.

I wrote a post about using my TNF mtn24 expedition dome in the snow. Its a 2 layer tent. I keep things open just a bit, in a way that snow can't blow in but a bit of air can pass through. In the morning Kristin and I were totally dry even where the bags were against the side of the tent and the tent was completely dry everywhere. (AND WERE COMPLETELY BURIED IN SNOW) OTOH I have loaned the tent to two buddies of mine who camped next to my Bibler and in the morning they were "sopping wet", and one guy said "there was a river flowing through it last night. Go figure? I have no idea what they did wrong. Thats another problem, when ya get really good at something its hard to imagine how badly other people can do it and you can't help them.

I know I'm a wierdo nut, but my experience allows me to go places and do things that would litteraly kill inexperienced people. Like most proffesional building trade people say, "Its all in the wrist". My wrist knows how to: paint, plaster, cut wood, etc and I have to learn the correct wrist english to do what they do. How about motorcycles? I've ridden 75 thousand miles a lot of it in the dirt - how do you explain to people how to ride a bike in the dirt? Its like just grabbing a water bottle and a bic and going skiing for the day. I can do it, some can't.
Jim <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/cool.gif" alt="" />

Jim
_________________________
These are my own opinions based on wisdom earned through many wrong decisions. Your mileage may vary.

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#82344 - 11/05/07 06:13 PM Re: Single wall tents in freezing temperatures? [Re: Rick]
Trailrunner Offline
member

Registered: 01/05/02
Posts: 1835
Loc: Los Angeles
After 15 or so condensation free nights in my BD One Shot, my luck ran out on my last trip. It was also the first night I used this tent in sub freezing temps. I woke up with soaking wet/frosty walls. Had one of the two windows open. Light snowfall during the night. Overnight low was 22 degrees F. I had no way to measure humidity.

I had read that freezing temps will cause ice to form in the pores of W/B fabrics which of course prevents the escape of water vapor. That's probably what happened to me.

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#82345 - 11/05/07 07:49 PM Re: Single wall tents in freezing temperatures? [Re: Trailrunner]
jshannon Offline
member

Registered: 02/14/06
Posts: 410
Loc: North Texas
But if you have a sleeping bag cover, does that frost on the inside really mean much? It's no different than wet condensation on the inside of a single wall tent. If you can keep it from wetting your bag, no biggie.

Quote:
I woke up with soaking wet/frosty walls. Had one of the two windows open. Light snowfall during the night. Overnight low was 22 degrees F. I had no way to measure humidity.

I had read that freezing temps will cause ice to form in the pores of W/B fabrics which of course prevents the escape of water vapor. That's probably what happened to me.
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#82346 - 11/05/07 08:00 PM Re: Single wall tents in freezing temperatures? [Re: Trailrunner]
Jimshaw Offline
member

Registered: 10/22/03
Posts: 3938
Loc: Bend, Oregon
Trailrunner
________________________________________
I had read that freezing temps will cause ice to form in the pores of W/B fabrics which of course prevents the escape of water vapor. That's probably what happened to me.
_______________________________________

where did you read that? I don't think they'd make space suits from goretex if watervapor froze in the pores. It certainly has not been my experience camping at -5F. I'm sure its a lot colder in the himalyas where biblers of toddtex were a standard. There are a lot of urban (wilderness) myths. You need to contact Myth Busters dude...
Jim <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/cool.gif" alt="" />
_________________________
These are my own opinions based on wisdom earned through many wrong decisions. Your mileage may vary.

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#82347 - 11/05/07 08:03 PM Re: Single wall tents in freezing temperatures? [Re: jshannon]
Trailrunner Offline
member

Registered: 01/05/02
Posts: 1835
Loc: Los Angeles
Even without a sleeping bag cover it was not a huge issue. Only the foot of my bag was wet. My bandana took care of most of it. After I opened the windows and let the sun shine on the tent for an hour or so it was almost completely dry. I suppose it could be a problem after multiple nights in cloudy weather.

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#82348 - 11/05/07 08:13 PM Re: Single wall tents in freezing temperatures? [Re: Jimshaw]
Trailrunner Offline
member

Registered: 01/05/02
Posts: 1835
Loc: Los Angeles
This isn't where I read about it originally but if you were to do a quick Google search you'll see other references. If you scroll halfway down the page you'll see this:

Quote:

"Some will warn you that at temperatures below freezing Gore-Tex can clog up with ice crystals from sweat that your under garments wicked up. True enough. However, when this happens it is no worse than any other non-breathing wind-breaker or shell, and until that point you've gained the advantage of a breathable top layer.

So don't abandon your rain jacket just because it is too cold to rain, you can continue to use it until its just plain too cold. Its usually time to switch jackets from a comfort point of view about the time the Gore-Tex is rendered in-effective by the cold temperatures. For me, this occurs at about 20F.

On the other hand you were sold this magic fabric with the hype that it DID "breath" and would pass moisture even in the cold.
The truth is that moisture venting through the Gore-Tex in really cold weather gets as far as the outer layer and freezes, progressively plugging all of the highly vaunted pores. If you are passing enough heat through your outer layer to prevent this freezing, the jacket may continue to vent as advertised, but in that case you are likely overheating under your other layers, or suffering a heat loss you can ill afford."

End Quote.

I'm not an expert on space suits but I do know that, unlike a tent, they are (1) pressurized and (2) hot enough inside to require their own liquid cooling systems.

Edit: Another reference here. Bottom of page 1.

Even the great Ryan Jordan writes that frost can clog some, but not all, WB fabrics. Here's a quote from that article:

"2) What happens below 15 degrees? Does Epic compare more favorably to other alternatives here?

Not in bivies. We are finding that ice is still clogging interstices in the fabric and reducing breathability."

Still looking for the original article which was tent specific.......

Sorry it's no myth.

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#82349 - 11/05/07 09:46 PM Re: Single wall tents in freezing temperatures? [Re: Trailrunner]
Jimshaw Offline
member

Registered: 10/22/03
Posts: 3938
Loc: Bend, Oregon
Trailrunner
Well thanks. <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/laugh.gif" alt="" /> seriously.

I do not see anything in these quotes that makes me believe that goretex freezes up. I do know that some manufacturers use cheapo fabrics to laminate the goretex to and Marmot goretex garments are very different than cheap goretex garmets.

What I'm saying is that what I read here is someones intuitive response - no science. I've never had a layer of ice on my goretex. How could a layer of ice freeze to goretex? Wouldn't it just pop off of all but the dullest finishes on rough material with no DWR? <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/blush.gif" alt="" /> I mean I believe mythbusters could make it freeze up, but they would have to physically hold it immobile and subject it to extremes to make it happen. I've never seen it on the outside of a goretex tent even after a major storm.

Has anybody here ever had ice form on the outside of their goretex jacket? I've sat in snow storms buried in snow and still been dry inside my goretex. I'm afraid that my experience with quality goretex garments in all kinds of weather is that they do not fail, they do not freeze up, they do not stop working in ANY weather that I've used them in. <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/wink.gif" alt="" />

And as far as Ryan Jordan 's opinion... <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/crazy.gif" alt="" /> <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/shocked.gif" alt="" /> Lets just say that I have had teams of very experienced PHDs fight over their proffesional specialities only to show them something they never believed could happen. First and second order thought are nice and intuitive but don't prove anything that way. Ryan Jordans opinion is not enough.

And trailrunner please take no offense here. <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/laugh.gif" alt="" />
Jim <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/laugh.gif" alt="" />
_________________________
These are my own opinions based on wisdom earned through many wrong decisions. Your mileage may vary.

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#82350 - 11/05/07 10:48 PM Re: Single wall tents in freezing temperatures? [Re: Jimshaw]
Trailrunner Offline
member

Registered: 01/05/02
Posts: 1835
Loc: Los Angeles
No offense taken Jim.

Quote:

What I'm saying is that what I read here is someones intuitive response - no science.


If the moderators deleted all the posts that were not based on pure science this entire forum would have maybe 2 pages <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/grin.gif" alt="" />

Quote:
I've never had a layer of ice on my goretex. How could a layer of ice freeze to goretex? Wouldn't it just pop off of all but the dullest finishes on rough material with no DWR?


According to the articles I cited, ice doesn't block certain WB fabrics by forming a layer on the surface. It does it by forming inside the fabric in the pores, or "intersticies". The ice is not on the fabric, it's in the fabric.

Let me be clear that I'm not just talking about Goretex. My original post on the subject was about my Epic tent.

If you want science, no one has done a better job of applying it to lightweight backpacking than Dr. Ryan Jordan. If you're going to summarily dismiss a guy like that there's certainly nothing I can do to change your thinking. Let's just agree to disagree.

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#82351 - 11/05/07 11:36 PM Re: Single wall tents in freezing temperatures? [Re: Jimshaw]
Rick Offline
member

Registered: 05/10/04
Posts: 708
Loc: Ontario, Canada
Yes Jim, I will try this and develope my own technique that works. As a tenderfoot, when I ask a question I understand the answer is not ironclad. There are a mirad of variables that prevent such an answer from being given. Through a combination of venting, earlymorning sun, candle, or simply mopping up., I'm sure I'l manage. Suffice to say I'm not headed for a disaster if I take some common sense precautions.

When one spends several nights in structures that end up looking like this, one learns to adapt.

.

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#82352 - 11/06/07 08:55 AM Re: Single wall tents in freezing temperatures? [Re: Trailrunner]
Xelif Offline
member

Registered: 07/04/07
Posts: 241
Loc: Bay Area, California, USA
Quote:

If the moderators deleted all the posts that were not based on pure science this entire forum would have maybe 2 pages <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/grin.gif" alt="" />


And a whole lot of argument about how X post was scientific or wasn't! <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/grin.gif" alt="" /> You think me bringing up all my 'science' is bad... <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/smile.gif" alt="" /> <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/grin.gif" alt="" /> Yet we all manage to hike and enjoy ourselves... and if anyone tried to say hiking or backpacking was evil, we'd all turn as one and tear them apart! (with arguments hopefully)

I think a Mythbusters of the wilderness is a great idea! I'm tempted to grab a camera and assemble ideas, except I have a strong feeling 80% of them would be far beyond my reach and too dangerous for me to test. <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/shocked.gif" alt="" /> <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/laugh.gif" alt="" />


Edited by Xelif (11/06/07 08:56 AM)
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#82353 - 11/06/07 09:27 AM Re: Single wall tents in freezing temperatures? [Re: Rick]
Earthling Offline
member

Registered: 02/22/03
Posts: 3228
Loc: USA
Quote:
Yes, I have my eye on a BD Oneshot or BD Lighthouse, both made of Epic material. (I'll have to wait for my number to come in though)

I tested my home sewn Epic bivy week before last. It's not seam sealed yet so I was under a tarp. After two nights, temps about 35F, with the last night in the rain, I packed my sleeping bag and bivy in a dry sack. I weighed them when I got home. Absolutely no moisture was retained, so I know Epic breaths - at least under these conditions.


So something in Epic fabric would seem to be the next generation of single walled tents to look for in a Winter shelter. Depending on the complexity of a particular tent design, one could just use the pole set(of a favorite tent) and sew their own Epic tent to go with them if so inclined/experienced. You get the use of a prexisting aluminum poled tent structure, and utilize your own labor to produce said tent, saving you money, no?

Also, why no pyramid or tepees in Epic yet?
_________________________
PEPPER SPRAY AIN'T BRAINS IN A CAN!

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#82354 - 11/06/07 09:40 AM Re: Single wall tents in freezing temperatures? [Re: Jimshaw]
Earthling Offline
member

Registered: 02/22/03
Posts: 3228
Loc: USA
Quote:
Rick
I didn't want to bring up the thermal thing, but yes it seems that for any particular sized tent, for instance, having more people in it can make it drier because its warmer inside and the warmth seems to drive out the extra moisture - for instance cookin in the tent with my stove. I have a hot cloud of steam in my tent, warm my hands and face in it, yet it seems the heat pushes the moisture right out. I can and have made my tent into a steam bath with the roof vents and front vent open for carbon monoxide safety, and been very warm and dry too? Wierd I know, but there are a lot of "wilderness facts" that fly in the face of "living room planning". <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/crazy.gif" alt="" />

What I meant by venting is that goretex doesn't pass enough oxygen for you to breath. So by venting you also lower the temp a bit but the worst condensation I've seen in my Bibler was some frost on the metal poles which are inside the tent (in the morning when I awoke). I think this evaporated off. Remeber water can go from solid to gas without passing through liquid, all it needs is dry air to evaporate.

I wrote a post about using my TNF mtn24 expedition dome in the snow. Its a 2 layer tent. I keep things open just a bit, in a way that snow can't blow in but a bit of air can pass through. In the morning Kristin and I were totally dry even where the bags were against the side of the tent and the tent was completely dry everywhere. (AND WERE COMPLETELY BURIED IN SNOW) OTOH I have loaned the tent to two buddies of mine who camped next to my Bibler and in the morning they were "sopping wet", and one guy said "there was a river flowing through it last night. Go figure? I have no idea what they did wrong. Thats another problem, when ya get really good at something its hard to imagine how badly other people can do it and you can't help them.

I know I'm a wierdo nut, but my experience allows me to go places and do things that would litteraly kill inexperienced people. Like most proffesional building trade people say, "Its all in the wrist". My wrist knows how to: paint, plaster, cut wood, etc and I have to learn the correct wrist english to do what they do. How about motorcycles? I've ridden 75 thousand miles a lot of it in the dirt - how do you explain to people how to ride a bike in the dirt? Its like just grabbing a water bottle and a bic and going skiing for the day. I can do it, some can't.
Jim <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/cool.gif" alt="" />

Jim VERY important point to bring up concerning carbon monoxide in tents, as we know some folks who read and don't post; might not realize the inherent dangers of something as benign as lighting a votive candle in a sealed up tent in the Winter <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/blush.gif" alt="" />

The fact that you are body warming the air inside a Winter tent is enough for it to need adequate airflow/venting to allow moisture burdened air to exit the tent before condensing on the walls. But when you have a single wall tent then you want the interior air pressure built up enough to force the vapor through the walls before condensing. What happens with excessive snowfall onto the exterior fabric while you are asleep though? If you have'nt vented a small amount, as you did, then surely you'd have your buddies situation, the loanees, 'river runs through it' scenerio <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/tongue.gif" alt="" />

Again, because heat rises, and carries the water vapor with it; it would seem logical that a pyramid or tepee style with peak venting and door venting would be ideal if setup in a slightly more sheltered area than say a bombproof tent IMO.

Jim
_________________________
PEPPER SPRAY AIN'T BRAINS IN A CAN!

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#82355 - 11/06/07 09:42 AM Re: Single wall tents in freezing temperatures? [Re: Trailrunner]
Earthling Offline
member

Registered: 02/22/03
Posts: 3228
Loc: USA
Trailrunner, that sounds logical; my question would be why did you not open both vents slightly?
_________________________
PEPPER SPRAY AIN'T BRAINS IN A CAN!

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#82356 - 11/06/07 09:50 AM Re: Single wall tents in freezing temperatures? [Re: Jimshaw]
Earthling Offline
member

Registered: 02/22/03
Posts: 3228
Loc: USA
Jimshaw, then a teflon coated fabric would be the way to go for Winter, no? Teflon coating would negate the breathability IMO of hi tech fabrics, thus relagating it to the lesser fabrics of tents of the 3 season kind. Still, it might be beneficial to those tents with regard to wetting out because the rain would have less to hang onto fabric-wise IMO.
_________________________
PEPPER SPRAY AIN'T BRAINS IN A CAN!

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#82357 - 11/06/07 01:19 PM Re: Single wall tents in freezing temperatures? [Re: Earthling]
Jimshaw Offline
member

Registered: 10/22/03
Posts: 3938
Loc: Bend, Oregon
Earthling
Goretex is teflon foam. sort of.

Thats why I question that water vapor molecules can "freeze" inside of pores too small for water molecules. <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/confused.gif" alt="" />

We used a megamid in a windy snowstorm. Spindrift aside, the condensation was so bad (because the moist air freezing high in the tent) that it snowed inside the tent as the frost broke off. Without bivy bags our sleeping bags would have been covered with frost. <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/confused.gif" alt="" />

Trailrunner,
don't misunderstand me, and my rejection of Dr Jordans idea. I worked in a large lab with 1/3 doctors on the staff. As you mentioned about the forum, if we only used science that all the doctors agreed on, there wouldn't be much. I was a principle engineer with teams working for me. I respected all the doctors, but I was responsible for shaping what they designed so all the pieces fit together. The more ya know, the more ya question. I look for chaos, others look for simplicity. <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/laugh.gif" alt="" />

I do believe that woven "breathable"fabrics that depend on fabric pores can freeze up.

Jim <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/cool.gif" alt="" />
_________________________
These are my own opinions based on wisdom earned through many wrong decisions. Your mileage may vary.

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#82358 - 11/06/07 07:29 PM Re: Single wall tents in freezing temperatures? [Re: Jimshaw]
hikerduane Offline
member

Registered: 02/23/03
Posts: 2123
Loc: Meadow Valley, CA
I picked up a BD Hilight last Spring, but haven't used it yet. I got it to use in early Spring and early to late Fall. I have read mixed reviews on the material, so I have been a little leery about using it, plus, after seam sealing it, I found out it weighted 3.5 lbs. not 2.5 as its trail weight was listed. If I had weighted it before I spent hours seam sealing, I would have returned it to REI. I thought packaged weight included the box it was packaged in and so forth.

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#82359 - 11/08/07 11:41 AM Re: Single wall tents in freezing temperatures? [Re: hikerduane]
Earthling Offline
member

Registered: 02/22/03
Posts: 3228
Loc: USA
Jim, well that explains the fact they we'll be here to the cows come home <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/confused.gif" alt="" /> arguing the merits of various fabric enclosures due to regional weather anomalies that can occur anytime we leave home <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/smirk.gif" alt="" />
_________________________
PEPPER SPRAY AIN'T BRAINS IN A CAN!

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#82360 - 11/08/07 07:12 PM Single wall GTX tents in winter... [Re: Rick]
300winmag Offline
member

Registered: 02/28/06
Posts: 1342
Loc: Nevada, USA
I know that Gore-Tex needs warmth to "push" out the vapor. To do that effeciently the tent needs to be as small as possible - say a hooped 1 person tent that you can't sit up inside.

If ya still want single wall breathable then win a lottery and make yerself an eVent tent.

Eric
_________________________
"There are no comfortable backpacks. Some are just less uncomfortable than others."

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#82361 - 11/08/07 07:13 PM Re: Single wall tents in freezing temperatures? [Re: Earthling]
300winmag Offline
member

Registered: 02/28/06
Posts: 1342
Loc: Nevada, USA
Earthling,
Gore-Tex Is PTFE (Teflon).

Eric
_________________________
"There are no comfortable backpacks. Some are just less uncomfortable than others."

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#82362 - 11/08/07 10:06 PM Re: Single wall tents in freezing temperatures? [Re: Rick]
canyonS Offline
member

Registered: 08/08/03
Posts: 601
Actually, any 4 season tent in very cold weather will condense. I had a Garuda single wall which was fine above 20 degrees but around 10 degrees it snows inside bit. I think Gore Tex is less breathable in moderate temps because of the flocking on todd Tex but in super cold that stuff doesnt do anything anyway. East cost cold will=interior snow. I have had no problem in california.

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Lite Gear Talk - Featured Topics
Butane Stove
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Backcountry Discussion - Featured Topics
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Make Your Own Gear - Featured Topics
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