Touching the sides of my new tent?

Posted by: Jackhammer

Touching the sides of my new tent? - 01/09/11 05:58 PM

Hey all, this is my first post here so bear with me.

Backstory first: I've been camping since almost before I could walk, but this summer me and the girlfriend will be taking our first stab at backpacking. I've spent these cold, dreary winter months acquiring the necessary gear, and I've run into my first snag.

We are tall people (6'4" and 6'1" respectively) and the tent I've bought (Sierra Designs Vaporlight 2XL) seems to be big enough, but only just. My pitch-in-the-basement analysis reveals that while our pads and bags will indeed fit inside, its going to be awfully tough to keep the bags from touching the upper part of the bathtub floor/side of the tent. Now with the Coleman Special tents that I'm used to this would result in a very wet night, but with a modern tent with modern waterproofing, am I going to be all right?

Posted by: Howie

Re: Touching the sides of my new tent? - 01/09/11 07:45 PM

I cannot speak about that specific tent but my experience is that with a double wall tent, touching the sides in not an issue, if it were I would be in big trouble. I sleep with my dog who is constantly either touching or resting against the inner tent wall. We have been in some very heavy downpours and stayed nice and dry.

Back in my Boy Scout days we used Egyptian Cotton tents and being single walled we had to be careful not to touch the sides when it was raining. A nylon tent with a good fly is a totally different matter.

Posted by: lori

Re: Touching the sides of my new tent? - 01/09/11 08:32 PM

Seam seal the fly as indicated by the instructions and don't worry about touching the walls.
Posted by: ChrisFol

Re: Touching the sides of my new tent? - 01/09/11 10:10 PM

Just to reinforce that it is okay in a double-walled tent. When I go car-camping with my wife's family we bring an actual doubled-walled tent and my bag is forever touching the inner wall.

This has never been an issue, although some nights I have woken up to a damp footbox on my bag-- but it is not something that I would worry about.
Posted by: Loomis

Re: Touching the sides of my new tent? - 01/10/11 09:33 AM

Condensation on the inside of a double wall tent is often factored by the temperature, humidity, and amount of ventilation. In warm, dry climates, with adequate ventilation, there will be likely be no condensation on the inside of your tent. In cooler more humid environments with no ventilation (tent windows all closed up) there will be some condensation inside. In either case, touching the sides will only result in a small amount of water getting on the outside of your bag. Ventilation is key. Condensation can be kept to a minimum if you leave vents open in your tent (many 3-season backpacking tents have mesh panels that are always uncovered to allow ventilation).
Posted by: DJ2

Re: Touching the sides of my new tent? - 01/10/11 11:07 AM

Loomis pretty well summarized the issue of condensation on the bathtub walls of a tent. It depends on several factors. I offer my experience for contrast to some of the other replies. I do have trouble with condensation on the bath tub floor walls. From the replies it looks like most people don't.

I very often backpack in the Pacific Northwest early and late in the the season where temperatures are low (20s and 30s F) at night and humidity is high. My clothes are usually wet from rain and/or sweat plus my body gives off quite a bit of moisture, even when at rest. So the inside of my tent is usually pretty humid (even with bagging of wet clothes and venting).

When the humid air hits the cool bathtub walls I get a lot of condensation. Over a several day trip, without drying during the day, my bag can lose significant loft in the foot area if I can't avoid touching the walls.

In some of my home made tents I have eliminated bath tub floor walls because of this problem.

Posted by: TomD

Re: Touching the sides of my new tent? - 01/10/11 05:48 PM

Depending on where you are, you might consider putting your bags in a very lightweight bivy sack like a Black Diamond Winter Bivy, which I have and use for winter camping. It is just a bag with a cross zip and mine is made from Epic. It weighs 8 oz.

They aren't made anymore, but I've seen the remaining stock for sale online. May be hard to find, though. Someone else must make something similar.
Posted by: Jackhammer

Re: Touching the sides of my new tent? - 01/11/11 09:25 AM

Excellent information chaps. Cheers.
Posted by: Byron

Re: Touching the sides of my new tent? - 01/27/11 11:31 AM


This is also my first post! I want to learn more about hiking and camping which is why I have joined. I do have a suggestion that is hopefully helpful. I have found that although the tents of today do seem more water resistant I always water proof the tent especially the seams. I have always been a late spring - early summer camper/hiker and this has always kept me dry. I also, for waterproof and insultion, place a tarp under the tent. This keeps the tent clean and helps protect it from moisture. I hope this was helpful and not a ramble.

Thank you,
Byron "BB"
Posted by: JPete

Re: Touching the sides of my new tent? - 01/30/11 07:38 PM

I also bivy with good results. Two sources: Commercial, ID (like their work, and it's Canadian); Cottage, Ron Bell, MLD (much lighter, and he can, I'm sure, make what you need. Best, jcp