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  1. #1
    NE AT 733 of 733 miles & Long Trail End-to-End Tramper Al's Avatar
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    Default A wet night in my SMD Lunar Solo ?

    Hey,

    So, I had my relatively new Six Moon Design Lunar Solo tarp-tent wth me last week when I hiked the 100 mile wilderness, and I had one very wet night out. Granted, we had some impressive rainfall, and about 3 inches apparently fell the night I had trouble, but I still was quite disappointed.

    I had two sources for water entering the tent, I believe.

    The first was off the ceiling itself. It seemed to me that for every big raindrop that hit the roof (and there were millions that night), one or more little droplets flew off the ceiling and onto me. Perhaps this comes under the heading of condensation? It began to occur just a couple of minutes after I pitched the tarp-tent, however. I had used it the previous night in damp (but not too rainy) conditions, and done what I could to shake it out in the morning. There was no chance to catch any sun or otherwise dry it out on the trail, as it rained pretty well all day.

    The second, and perhaps more concerning water entry was actual pooling at the floor margins, just inside the venting side walls. There was an impressive amount of water coming in somehow, despite my pulling the tarp down low to the stakes (and diminishing ventilation, so doubt). I couldn't tell you if it was splashing through the screen or dripping down it. This pooling resulted in most all of my gear getting rather soaked, including the head and foot of my sleeping bag with me in it! Only the front edge of the floor and the very center of the floor were spared this pooling water. I did a lot of mopping and wringing all night, but of course that's no way to get any sleep.

    What am I doing wrong, do you suppose? I did seam-seal all the seams I could find, including the one I think may be critical - where the screen side walls leave the tarp ceiling. Next time I might mop my ceiling once upon set-up, but am I wrong to expect a relatively dry night after that?

    Needless to say, I was loathe to commit to another tarp-tent night in the rain until I could sort this out. Two nights later fell 6 inches (!) of rain overnight at Baxter State Park, as I stayed dry at nearby Rainbow Springs Lean-to.

    Any help or advice from SMD sleepers, other tarp-tent owners, or users of sil-nylon in general would be greatly appreciated.

    Thanks in advance . . .
    - Tramper Al

  2. #2
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    Both my wife and I have the SMD Lunar Solo-e and both of us have spent several rainy nights in them without getting wet.

    It's pretty hard to say why you had those leaks. When rain comes down hard and steady for a long time there aren't too many shelters (of any kind) that won't spring a leak somewhere. It sounds to me though like you may have pitched your Lunar Solo-e in a run-off path or otherwise low lying area ??

    I will tell you that I spent a lot of time sealing the seams on our tents, especially near the top edges. I also sealed the seams heavily at the floor.

    If it was me I'd take another shot at sealing those seams. Maybe I've just been lucky ...but I believe that the Lunar Solo is an extremely weather worthy tent and should keep you dry.

    'Slogger
    The more I learn ...the more I realize I don't know.

  3. #3
    Dainon
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    If it's any consolation, I was at Siler Bald Shelter on July 9 when the Mother Of All Rains hit. I have a Shires Squall tarptent, and there was a definite "mist" coming through. The rain was hitting so hard that I assumed that the cause of the mist was some of the rain being "forced" through the tarp. My sleeping bag was damp the next morning. Perhaps it was condensation that caused it because I noticed that the ventilation was exceedingly poor that night.

    I didn't have a problem with water pooling, though, or coming through the seams. I followed the instructions to the letter on seam sealing. Perhaps you could check your tent by using a garden hose or sprinkler?

  4. #4
    NE AT 733 of 733 miles & Long Trail End-to-End Tramper Al's Avatar
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    Hey 'Slogger,

    Thanks for the advice. It's good to here that your Lunar Solos have kept you dry. I AM rather hoping that I can remedy this problem by being smarter or doing some more sealing or whatever, because I really liked the tent until that one wet night. It was defintely a very rainy night, but my double walled TNF 2-mans and SD Light Year CD tent have definitely kept me dry on nights like this.

    My site was draining well enough when I pitched - and it had been raining pretty hard all day. Certainly, I was not seeing water pouring over the raised lip of the floor in any one place, let alone all the way around the tent. It was pooling gradually, but accumulating quickly enough. I have the 'heavy' floor option, if that matters.

    Dainon, yes it was definitely as if the rain was 'forcing' it's way through. And yes, I do plan a few backyard experiments with tarp-tent and double walled side by side on a rainy day / night.

    Would those in the know suggest seam sealing with the small paintbrush included or better to use a syringe? I have been using the sealant marketed specifically for sil-nylon.

    Thanks again, and keep the advice coming, please.
    Last edited by Tramper Al; 09-07-2005 at 09:17.
    - Tramper Al

  5. #5

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    The syringe is a little less messy but you can use either. I seam sealed both inside (on critical seams) and outside of both my Lunar Solo and Europa tents, and I've never had any issues with hard rains.
    Last edited by batoncolle; 09-07-2005 at 09:37.

  6. #6
    Donating Member/AT Class of 2003 - The WET year
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    [QUOTE=Tramper Al]Would those in the know suggest seam sealing with the small paintbrush included or better to use a syringe? I have been using the sealant marketed specifically for sil-nylon.
    =========================================
    I mixed my own sealant by cutting regular GE Silicon Seal with mineral spirits but the Silnet would work just as well. For application I actually used both a syringe and a small foam paint brush. The syringe allowed me to lay down a nice bead of sealant and then I used the brush to push it it well down into the seam of the tent. Another thing you might try (if you didn't already) is to pull the seam apart slightly to allow the sealant to get deep into the seam and over the stitching.

    'Slogger
    The more I learn ...the more I realize I don't know.

  7. #7
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    Default SMD Lunar

    Oddly enough I've just transitioned from a Lightyear to a Lunar. Had one or two damp nights, but after dealing with a learning curve I consider the Lunar to be the better shelter.

    Two suggestions for reducing the condensation in a Lunar:
    1) Leave the vestibule up as much as possible. SMD recomends this on their website and from my experience this is darn good advice, really minimizes condensation. 4 or 5 additional inches at the guy made a huge difference for me.
    2) Volume helps. Using the back tie-out adds a surprising amount of usable space and allows greater distance between the fabric and your face.

    The combination of getting the fabric a little farther away and better ventilation in a larger volume did the trick for me. BTW, the FAQ's on the Six Moon Designs website are worth reading, possibly more than once, IMHO.
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  8. #8
    NE AT 733 of 733 miles & Long Trail End-to-End Tramper Al's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Two Speed
    Two suggestions for reducing the condensation in a Lunar:
    1) Leave the vestibule up as much as possible. SMD recomends this on their website and from my experience this is darn good advice, really minimizes condensation. 4 or 5 additional inches at the guy made a huge difference for me.
    2) Volume helps. Using the back tie-out adds a surprising amount of usable space and allows greater distance between the fabric and your face.
    Good suggestions, though I was aware of both of them during my wet night. I had a good tie-out set certainly. By leaving the vestibule 'up', I presume you mean tie it back and don't use it? Unfortunately this wasn't (isn't) a viable option in the heavy rains I experienced that night. As I said, the only part of the floor without pooling water was that along the center of the front of the Lunar Solo - thus protected by the vestibule. With driving rain, I think ventilation sometimes has to be compromised. Any ventilation would be at 100% humidity, in any event.
    - Tramper Al

  9. #9

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    I also think that condensation is your problem. Some people produce more heat than others when they sleep, I am one of those. You need to do anything you can to increase air circulation and/or lower your heat production. One way is to have the correct temperature sleeping bag so you do not produce too much heat. I have many tents, the lightest ones I cannot use under high humidity conditions because of this problem. Good luck, often you can find ways to fix this, sometimes you cannot.

  10. #10
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    I have recently purchased a SMD Europa 05 and spent a few nights out in it. One was a pretty rainy night on Black Balsam in August AKA Muggy August. No misting or seam leakage although my seams are not sealed but there was a lot of condensation. I was buttoned up in front and might have done better if the fly was up but then the rain would have come in. Regarding your comment that all tents leak if it rains hard enough, I have to dissagree. I have an old Eureka XT/AT that has been blown flat in rain storms but not leaked. Double wall tents have that advantage but then it weighs close to 5 lbs. My Bibler Awane dosen't leak either.

    Bottom line is, I suspect, that there will be some trade offs to balance the light weight of a single wall sylnylon tent. I have not tried an ID event fabric tents which are supposed to be the best and the Tod Cloth Biblers work but they are heavy. You may get a little wet in a light weight shelter and you wouldn't want to take one into a rain forest but for a weekend the light weight may outweigh the risk of a wet night or two. One management technique might be a light weight breathable bivy sack inside your shelter.
    Last edited by Stale Cracker; 09-08-2005 at 08:48.
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  11. #11
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    Default Misting

    Misting is an issue with silnylon and the misting might very well vary from batch to batch. I noticed TNF is using silnylon fly sheets that have a polyurethane undercoating and this is done to increase the waterproofness to their standards.

    There is one thing I know of that might improve your situation. That is to spray on silicone that is made for fabric and maybe even brush it in a little with a foam brush. I don't know that this is a long term solution but it shouldn't be too hard to repeat the application if it is needed.

    Jim Wood published this article about silnylon's waterproofness and its suitability for a tent floor: http://jwbasecamp.com/Articles/Silnylon1/index.html . It is an interesting article about silnylon and some of it's limitations.

    Youngblood

  12. #12
    •Completed A.T. Section Hike GA to ME 1996 thru 2003 •Donating Member Skyline's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Youngblood
    Jim Wood published this article about silnylon's waterproofness and its suitability for a tent floor: http://jwbasecamp.com/Articles/Silnylon1/index.html . It is an interesting article about silnylon and some of it's limitations.

    Youngblood

    Thanx Youngblood! This may be just the thing I need to try to make my SMD Europa II (04 model) more functional.

    I too have noticed waterproofness not so great in driving rainstorms despite using the optional vestibule, having it sealed first by the manufacturer, then re-sealing it twice myself when that didn't do the job satisfactorily. During a severe "monsoon" that lasted a couple hours last month, water got in again--and I can't tell how, where, or why. Maybe it's misting, maybe it's through the floor?

    On nights when the weather isn't severe, I like the Europa II, but you've got to have gear that works reliably in all conditions it's designed to be used in.

  13. #13

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    Tramper Al,

    The phenomena of “misting” inside a silicone nylon shelter has been described a number of times over the years on different boards. Since I’ve not experienced it personally I can only provide an educated guess as to what is actually going on. The material we use for the canopy has a waterproof PSI of between 8 and 10. This should be more than adequate in preventing rain water from penetrating the shelter.

    What I believe is happening is a thin layer of condensation has formed on the inner wall of the tent. When rain drops fall of sufficient force, it breaks the cohesion of water to fabric and allows little droplets to form. They are then released from the fabric and fall.

    I’ve talked to several people who’ve experience this activity. Then returned home and set a dry tent up in their back yard and performed the “hose test”, only to find that no misting occurred. In all probability the hose created more force than the rainstorm where misting was detected.

    Again this is speculation based upon what I’ve read. When using a single wall tent or tarp, I do always recommend using a good sleeping bag with waterproof breathable shell, as second wall of defense.

    Now to the water pooling around the perimeter of the floor, it wasn’t clear from your email if you had the original or the enhanced model of the shelter. The enhanced has the bathtub floor. Also was water forming in puddles around the outside of the shelter? Since most of tents we shipped have been the newer enhanced models, I’ll assume that’s the one you have for this discussion.

    The bathtub floor should be adequate to prevent most puddles from entering the tent unless you’re sleeping in a lake. Some water may enter the seam between the floor panel and the panels that makeup the side bathtub. I don’t personally seal this seam because I always look for camp locations with good drainage away from the tent.

    It’s not likely that you received a significant amount of water from the “splash effect” of water bouncing under the edge of the canopy and onto the mesh sidewalls, unless you were camping on an established site with compacted ground. Even then there should be plenty of over hang. Also in the morning you would notice the tale-tale debris of litter splashed up and deposited on the side of the tent.

    I would suspect that the water entered the seam where the side walls attach to the canopy. I’d suggest re-sealing this seam. Apply some stress on the seam during the application of sealant. This will help to expose the threads and needle holes to insure the sealant will properly coat the threads and fill up the holes.

    Hope this helps.

    Ron

  14. #14
    Peakbagger Extraordinaire The Solemates's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Footslogger
    When rain comes down hard and steady for a long time there aren't too many shelters (of any kind) that won't spring a leak somewhere.
    'Slogger
    Id have to totally disagree with this statement. Having spent the night out in many rainstorms, I would say that unless you have set your tent up in a low lying or runoff area, then ALL shelters SHOULD be leak free. We have had 4 different tents and have never gotten wet in any of them, with the exception of a couple times when we did indeed set them up in a low lying drainage (read: "bathtub") area.
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    NE AT 733 of 733 miles & Long Trail End-to-End Tramper Al's Avatar
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    Default Thanks

    Thanks all for your comments and suggestions.

    Probably first and foremost I should re-seal my seams, especially those at the intersection of ceiling and wall. My Lunar Solo is I believe the 'enhanced' model, new this Spring. It does have the heavy floor option.

    The idea of using a bivy sack or other cover for a sleeping bag would of course keep it more dry with water leaking into the tent. I have to say, though, that this might rather defeat the weight advantage of carrying a tarp-tent, yes? My double-walled solo tent runs just under 3 lbs. I was using my 16 oz. Marmot Pounder on this late summer trip, and of course it does not have any integrated water-proof or -resistant shell. I have always stayed dry in tent or shelter, so have opted for synthetic sleeping bags designed to let moisture from within get out.

    So, more seam-sealing and a backyard shower or two, and I'll go from there.

    Thanks again . . .
    - Tramper Al

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    Default Rain events

    Quote Originally Posted by The Solemates
    Id have to totally disagree with this statement. Having spent the night out in many rainstorms, I would say that unless you have set your tent up in a low lying or runoff area, then ALL shelters SHOULD be leak free. We have had 4 different tents and have never gotten wet in any of them, with the exception of a couple times when we did indeed set them up in a low lying drainage (read: "bathtub") area.
    Tramper stated that about 3" of rain fell overnight. 3" in 12 hours would be on track for a 25 year rain event in the part of the country I live in. In a 25 year storm I WOULD expect difficulty staying dry.
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    Peakbagger Extraordinaire The Solemates's Avatar
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    Okay, now that we all are up to date with our weather history, I still say that a tent should keep you dry, no matter how much water is coming down. Of course, I am talking about a fully enclosed tent, not a tarptent, where water can obviously enter from exposed areas. Thats why we have a tent. If we had a tarp, you are right, I wouldnt necessarily expect to stay dry, its just part of the trade-off.
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    Default Staying dry

    Sorry, can't agree with you. By nature all tents, tarps, hammocks, etc are portable. Portable structures cannot provide the level of protection offered by permanent structures. Get enough rain and you will start having trouble staying dry. Double wall tents will resist rain longer than a single wall tent, but they also will begin demonstrating dampness, etc, if the rain is intense enough. If nothing else, rain can splash high enough to get on the breathable portion of a double wall tent. I have had that happen to me in a Clip Flashlight, which is a very dry (but heavy) tent.

    Short version: If monsoons, typhoons, hurricanes or cyclones are predicted and you really object to getting wet you may wish to revise your plans. I certainly would.
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  19. #19

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tramper Al
    The idea of using a bivy sack or other cover for a sleeping bag would of course keep it more dry with water leaking into the tent. I have to say, though, that this might rather defeat the weight advantage of carrying a tarp-tent, yes?

    Thanks again . . .
    I would agree and I don't recommend carrying a seperate bivy to use within the tent. My recommendation is to make sure the shell of your sleeping bag provides a layer of moisture protection.

    There are waterproof / breathable specific fabrics that perform this task such as Epic fabric, GoreTex or Pertex. There are also a range of good microfiber shells with DWR finishes that provide excellent protection. With a good shell you should be able to pour a half pint of water on the shell and have it just sit there and not be absorbed.

    Shells used in cheaper sleeping bags will tend to draw the water into the bag thus compromising the insulation. The primary purpose of a sleeping bag shell is to contain the insulation, provide a wind barrior and keep the insulation dry. If it doesn't perform theses tasks well, the bag should be replaced.

    Al, these are just general comments and recommendations and arn't necessarly directed at you. I don't know what kind of sleeping bag you carry so I can can't comment directly on your situtation.

    I do think it's important when selecting ultralight gear to match it together well. Gear that works together as a system provides better protection than when acting as just a set of individual components.

    Ron

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    Peakbagger Extraordinaire The Solemates's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Two Speed
    Sorry, can't agree with you. By nature all tents, tarps, hammocks, etc are portable. Portable structures cannot provide the level of protection offered by permanent structures. Get enough rain and you will start having trouble staying dry. Double wall tents will resist rain longer than a single wall tent, but they also will begin demonstrating dampness, etc, if the rain is intense enough. If nothing else, rain can splash high enough to get on the breathable portion of a double wall tent. I have had that happen to me in a Clip Flashlight, which is a very dry (but heavy) tent.

    Short version: If monsoons, typhoons, hurricanes or cyclones are predicted and you really object to getting wet you may wish to revise your plans. I certainly would.
    Ok, you win. But short of our on fault in setting the tent up, we have never been that wet in our single wall tent, which has seen over 200 nights on the trail in its 3 year lifetime.
    The only thing better than mountains, is mountains where you haven't been.

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