Thursday, 31 March 2016

Condensation in Inflatable Tents & How To Avoid It

Has My Tent Leaked!

Inflatable tents have become massively popular over the last couple of years with ranges available from all the leading brands including Vango, Outwell, Coleman and Kampa. Their quick, one man pitching coupled with quality fabrics and large living areas make them the obvious choice for larger groups and families. Their air pole structure is more reliable than fibreglass poles, and you certainly aren't in danger of forgetting your poles and spending the night in the car!

All of the tents we sell are subject to vigorous weather testing by their manufacturers and most are rated far more waterproof than anything the English weather can throw at them. However, one issue of note with inflatable beamed tents is that unless the tent is adequately ventilated, condensation can form on the air beams, drip down and form puddles at their bases. Condensation can be an issue in any under ventilated tent but because the air in the beams is isolated from the air around it, it cools at a slower rate forming water droplets and exasabating the problem. 

One person on their own in a tent overnight can produce up to a pint of water in condensation, so imagine how much a family could produce. 
Say you've got a family of five in the same tent, that's five pints of water without taking in to account wet shoes, coats, dogs and even the air itself.

A six man tent, without anyone in it, can hold as much as one more pint of water just in the air inside it. So, before we even start with the weather, there is the potential for a lot of condensation. All of the air, combined with heaters, people and dogs creates a warm, humid environment inside the tent.

Even at the height of the summer in Cornwall, night time temperatures can get down to as low as eleven degrees, making the outside air and the outer fabric of the tent pretty chilly. When the hot air inside the tent hits the cold fabric, condensation occurs rapidly, creating those pools of water which are so often the cause for panic.

All of the manufacturers try to ensure their are plenty of mesh panels and ventilation points throughout their tents as the circulation of air removes damp moist air and can prevent condensation completely. It is important to note that unless vents and panels are open this circulation can not take place and in humid or damp conditions condensation will form.

Here is a set of guidelines for keeping levels of condensation to a minimum (although sometimes it is inevitable):

  • The first thing to look at to prevent condensation is whether the tent has an inner to it - and if it does, make sure that there isn't anything leaning on it or causing it to push against the outside layer of fabric, else the condensation will seep through.

  • Make sure all the vents in the tent are open, and even keep the doors open a little bit if it isn't too cold. Keep the vents unblocked by bags and people as this will allow the air to flow through the tent much more freely.

  • Definitely do not cook inside!!! This is a huge no-no, even if it's chucking down outside and you need to eat - find a restaurant. Not only can this contribute hugely towards condensation, the levels of carbon monoxide that smoke from cooking gives off can be lethal. Definitely no cooking in tents please.

  • Store wet things outside. Wellies, coats and towels will all hold moisture that you don't want in your tent. Tarps, awnings and hubs are all available at a reasonable price, and these will provide shelter for all your gear while keeping them out of the tent itself.

  • Turn your heaters off! Invest in a good sleeping bag and some warm jumpers, and leave the heaters at home. The warm air holds more moisture, so creates much more water vapour. The warmer the tent is, the more evaporation and perspiration will occur as well, adding to the amount of water in the air.

  • Where you pitch your tent is also crucial to the amount of condensation in your tent. Obviously you don't want to search out the most exposed spot available else you'll be blown away before your holiday is up, but do try to pitch it in a light breeze. This will further help the air exchange through the vents in the tent. Also try not to pitch too close to a source of water - for obvious reasons, the nearer to water you are, the more moisture will be in the air.

And finally,
  • Take extra towels!! The best way to deal with condensation once it's happened is to lightly brush the inside of the tent with a towel - so make sure you've got some extras handy just in case. If you're a bit space conscious and don't want to fill your car up with towels, we have some microfibre ones that will do the job just as well but pack down much much smaller

Hopefully this information will enable you to have a much more enjoyable holiday, but more than that, it should've set your mind at ease if you've been contemplating buying an air tent and a friend or relative has told you that they leak. Actually leakages in the air tents are super rare - they are all made out of top quality materials and undergo rigorous quality control!

A lot of this information was helpfully supplied by Vango, and we have included their video further explaining the problems that might occur and how to combat them.

To view our full range of pole tents and air tents, visit our website, and if you have any questions, queries or concerns, please don't hesitate to give us a ring on 01872 270213.

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