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#196248 - 08/04/16 10:59 PM Condesation
Jim M Offline

Registered: 11/23/03
Posts: 281
Loc: Kitsap Peninsula, WA
I'm becoming a convert to tarps. However last night I spent a night up high in open alpine country and something interesting happened. We had clear skies and beautiful weather. I suppose it only got down to 45F at night. I had pitched my 7x10 tarp up high of the ground a foot or so in an "A" configuration and there was a nice breeze all night. completely open on two sides, of course. However, I got a ton of condensation on the inside and outside of the tarp. the breeze shook the tarp enough to make it "rain" under the tarp. My sleeping bag also got condensation, but has a relatively waterproof/breathable shell so it was not a problem. I always assumed enough ventilation would take care of the problem, but no way. It all dried out quickly when the sun came up, but had it rained or been cool and overcast I would have had to put everything away wet. Is there any solution to the problem of heavy condensation when atmospheric conditions are prime for it? Oh, and how do I add a jepg photo here?

Edited by Jim M (08/04/16 11:01 PM)
Jim M

#196250 - 08/05/16 09:18 AM Re: Condesation [Re: Jim M]
ndsol Offline

Registered: 04/16/02
Posts: 674
Loc: Houston, Texas
Look at the Admin Policy, Usage & Tips forum for how to post a photo.

Where exactly were you camping up high in open alpine country?

#196252 - 08/05/16 12:01 PM Re: Condesation [Re: ndsol]
BrianLe Offline

Registered: 02/26/07
Posts: 1149
Loc: Washington State, King County
"Where exactly were you camping up high in open alpine country?"

Exactly my question, and if I may elaborate in case that's not clear --- specific location can make a lot of difference in terms of temperature and humidity, such that two people camped in shouting (even loud talking) distance can have significantly different "climate" experiences. So for me, this question means things like, were there any water bodies nearby? Open fields? Particular low or high points nearby? Trees around, a lot, a few, none? What elevation? Wind blowing or not, and how much? Etc Etc etc etc.

I don't pretend that I understand the microclimatology of what goes on, nor that the exact same thing wouldn't have happened to me in your situation (sounds puzzling indeed!), but the local land-form and associated details are also IMO an important (set of) clue(s).
Brian Lewis

#196253 - 08/05/16 01:15 PM Re: Condesation [Re: Jim M]
aimless Offline

Registered: 02/05/03
Posts: 2951
Loc: Portland, OR
Good ventilation can reduce the condensation caused by the water vapor in our breath. It won't make any difference if the water vapor that is condensing was already in the air, in the form of relative humidity.

#196254 - 08/05/16 01:47 PM Re: Condesation [Re: ndsol]
Jim M Offline

Registered: 11/23/03
Posts: 281
Loc: Kitsap Peninsula, WA
It is called
"Camp Freeze Out" on Kalhhane Ridge near Hurricane Ridgej, Olympic Mountains. We took the Switchback Trail up to the ridge and then the rugged trail toward Lake Angeles. Nice camp. Some snow patches, but no water. No bugs. Ref. Robert Woods.
Jim M

#196255 - 08/05/16 02:00 PM Re: Condesation [Re: BrianLe]
Jim M Offline

Registered: 11/23/03
Posts: 281
Loc: Kitsap Peninsula, WA
We were at 5830 feet. We could see the Straits of Juan de Fuca a few miles away and a mile below us. There were some snow patches, small and not many, about. No running water. No ponds or lakes. There was a 1 to 5 knot breeze blowing all the time. Probably 65 degrees during the day and 45F at night. Clear skies. No meteorite showers. No moon.
I think moisture that is in the air during the day wants to condense when the temps drop at night. It is like those little gas molecules are just looking for something to collect on. I remember from high school chemistry that super saturated solutions sometimes need something to start collecting on. If I remember correctly, I think it might be called nucleation. The molecules seem to be gregarious and the more they collect the more they invite others to the party.
Jim M

#196256 - 08/05/16 02:22 PM Re: Condesation [Re: Jim M]
Rick_D Offline

Registered: 01/06/02
Posts: 2802
Loc: NorCal
To oversimplify, temp dropped below the dewpoint and water condensed on both sides of the fabric, no doubt aided by your breath and ground moisture. If you were camped in a swale, cold moist air would have hugged the ground and flowed towards you, making things worse. Stronger wind could have resolved things but I don't know how to order that up. eek

It's sometimes possible to game the local microclimates by camping on a rise or hillside terrace. Not always an option though.

The covered breezeway at my house once had metal roofing that would basically rain on foggy, still winter days. The plastic it has now never does that, so the material has some kind of effect but I can't quite suss out why that is, other than heat conductivity. Do fabrics differ, e.g., material, coating type, color, thickness..? No idea.

Live and learn/rinse and repeat.



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