During my last camping trip it rained most of the time and my tent got wet inside. Needless to say it was pretty miserable. This got me thinking about why tents get wet inside and how I should go about making sure it doesn’t happen in the future.
One of the most nerve racking feelings is going camping and having a tent that gets wet inside. So I did a little research about why tents get wet inside and ways to help keep tents dry on my next camping trip.
Tents get wet inside because the rain-fly is not properly installed or condensation builds up in a humid environment. Tents also get wet inside around seams that aren’t water tight and around the floor if it lacks a sacrificial tarp. Lets look in to these common problems that make tents get wet inside and what you need to do about them.
How Does a Tent Get Wet Inside?
1) The tent leaks in the rain and water pools inside
Rain can enter a tent from every angle possible. Rain will find your tents weakness and infiltrate it with no regard for your personal comfort. Because of this, it’s essential to think about rain protection from the bottom up.
The first place rain might enter is at the floor of the tent or around the base. Water pools up in this area outside the tent and is in constant contact. This is why having reinforced seams and added floor protection is a must.
Wind blown rain is the leading factor of why tents leak from the sides. Instead of rain coming straight down, wind blown rain comes in horizontally. This tough angle can cause even the most weather hardened tents to leak.
Additionally, tents can leak from directly above. This is where it will likely take the most beating from heavy downpours as it channels water away. Any way you look at it, rain can enter from almost any direction, so be prepared.
2) Condensation forms and the tent gets wet inside
Condensation is caused by humid air reacting to a cold surface. People, heaters, and other elements can combine to create a humid environment inside a tent. This humid environment provides the perfect place for condensation to form.
Condensation usually forms on the roof or sides of the tent overnight. Water droplets can then collect and fall onto anything below. Campers often wake up in the morning and everything inside the tent feels damp.
How should you set up a tent so that it doesn’t get wet inside?
Setting up a tent is not extremely difficult, but it takes some time and understanding of the proper steps. Most tents come with a user manual with issues specific to that model, so read up on it. Another proven tactic involves going a step above the standard items that came with your tent, and reinforcing everything.
The Foundation Is the Key to Everything
Your tent will get wet inside if you don’t take the proper precautions with setting the foundation. The best way to lay a proper foundation is to lay down a standalone tarp (the standard blue ones work fine), so that your tent will not be in direct contact with the ground. Most new tents come with their own floor mat, but an actual tarp works better. This will keep water from penetrating the floor during heavy rains.
Install the Rain Fly Correctly
Almost every tent comes with an added rain fly to whisk water away and keep it from touching the tent itself. Think of it as a sacrificial barrier. For a rain fly to work, it has to be installed properly. There must be an air gap between the tent and the rain fly.
This will prevent saturation and water penetrating the tent itself. If your rain fly is too short (i.e. it doesn’t extend down the side of your tent completely), think about installing a stand alone tarp for complete protection.
Use the Terrain to Your Advantage
Most tents can only do so much, that’s why taking advantage of your surrounding or campsite layout is important. Use hillsides and brush lines as wind and rain breaks to keep your tent as protected as possible. Set your door opening so that expected rain and storms will not blow into the tent every time you open it. Look for a tent with a protected front door or vestibule opening to reduce tracking in water.
How to Stop Condensation in a Tent
Stopping condensation in a tent starts with proper ventilation. Reducing the amount of humid air that can build up and react to colder air outside is a top priority. Open all vents, doors, and openings to increase a flow through breeze and pitch your tent under a tree to maximize shading. These tips will help reduce condensation build up and keep the inside of your tent dry.
How can stop your tent from getting wet inside?
The best way to stop tents from leaking and keep them dry inside is proper preparation and good planning. Quality materials and tents constructed well will perform in the rain better than cheaper tents with little to no protection.
To stop your tent from leaking, inspect it regularly for tears or loose seams. Repair these as needed. Use standalone tarps for added protection instead of the items that came with the tent when you bought. These items are often lacking and a rain proof tarp is designed specifically for keeping things dry.
Other tips include positioning your tent using natural obstructions like hillsides or brush to stop rain and wind. You can also strategically place your tent facing the direction that best suits the impending weather in order to keep your tent as dry as possible when you enter and exit.
What to look for in waterproof tents so that you stay dry
If you’re looking for a new tent, there are many things to take into consideration as far as staying dry. Below is a list of must have features that every tent should have to protect from the elements.
Tips for keeping a tent dry inside:
- Full Rain Fly
- Welded Seams
- Weatherproof Material
- Vestibule at the Door Opening
- Ground Protection (Matting)
- Study Construction
- Adequate Ventilation
With these factors implemented, a tent will have the best chance of keeping water out during even the worst storms. Remember, one item alone will not keep water out of tent, it’s many items working together to keep you dry that counts.
Water can come in from anywhere, so make sure you have all your bases covered. Tents with the most rain protection will likely not be the cheapest, but the peace of mind they provide is priceless.
One of the tents I’ve really been impressed with regards to water resistance and the ability to stay dry right out of the box is the Browning Camping Glacier 4-Person Tent. It comes with a full rain fly for complete weather protection and sealed water tight seams to keep the wind blown rain out.
Here’s a great video that shows why tents get wet inside and what you can do to keep them dry
Why do tents get wet inside? Because rain can come in from all angles and condensation can build up from a humid environment. Poor preparation breeds disaster in most of these cases. Always make it a point to inspect you tent for rips and tears that could compromise you camping trip.
Rain can enter from the floor as well, so look into beefing up your tents weather protection by installing stand alone tarps under it and above it. Tarps are designed better than most rain fly’s and mats that usually come with new tents, so take the added initiative and go one step further. Having a nice dry tent will help you forget that its raining!
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