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Thread: Wet tent

  1. #1
    Registered User Suzzz's Avatar
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    Default Wet tent

    How does one deal with a wet tent on the trail?

    I'm thinking I would attach it to the exterior of my pack to help it dry some while I'm walking, lay it out on the ground on my lunch stop and then put it up as soon as possible when stopping for the evening but that only works if it stops raining.

    What about when it rains and rains and rains again? At some point it's either going to get soaked or you'll have to set it up on wet ground. How do you keep it from becoming moldy? And how do you keep it from becoming so wet that it eventually gets your sleeping bag also wet?

    I don't mind walking in the rain for days on end but a wet sleeping bag might just be the thing to send me home.

  2. #2

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    This was always a concern of mine also, which was one of the reasons I bought a CF Duplex. However, after having condensation inside and torrential rain outside I wanted more of a modular system with an inner net tent plus bathtub floor so that I could pack that away dry (to keep my bag and pad dry too) and then just have the roof section wet. There are a couple of Tarptents (Stratospire 1) that offer this option, as does Sierra Designs with the Highroute UL1. However I didn't want a silnylon shelter either.

    I ended up going with a tarp with doors and bugnet inner, adding a separate piece of ground cloth in Tyvek or Polycro. This way I can setup and take down in the rain, packing everything away and keeping it as dry as possible. However, I am also graduating to hammocking which is the same modular system, but off the ground and the tarp and bug net inner work great in that instance too.

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    Registered User MamaBear's Avatar
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    I had a pack towel (like a sham-wow or similar, where you can squeeze the water out and keep using it) and wiped down the inside (any condensation) and the outside of my tent while it was still set up in the morning to get rid of as much water as possible. If the forecast was for more rain, then keeping it attached to the exterior of the pack was the best idea. If you have a tent with a separate rain fly, you may only have to pack the footprint and rain fly on the outside of the pack in extended rain.

    Once I set up the tent in the evening, I wiped down the inside with the pack towel to make sure it was dry before unpacking my sleeping bag and the rest of my stuff.

    When there is sunshine, yes, lay it out or hang it up to dry.

    Eventually, it does stop raining or you'll be in town and can get everything dried out there.

    I have been in six days of rain in VT on the Long Trail and by the end of that stretch, it was definitely time for town! Just about everything was wet and our bags were the only thing mostly dry - just getting damp.
    LT 2013, AT NOBO 2015, MSGT 2016, PCT 2017/2018

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    Registered User q-tip's Avatar
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    I have several sil nylon single wall tents/tarp. Used ATSKO Water Guard and it significantly increased water repellancy. Checked with Henry at Tarp Tent and he sais he uses it. During the day I find a dry spot, even if it's cloudy to spread tent out, drys in 15 min. Not so lucky with tarp, in 4 day rainstorm never dried and my bag got pretty damp.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by MamaBear View Post
    . . . our bags were the only thing mostly dry - just getting damp.
    In endless rain the only things mostly dry are those things that you can mostly dry out from body heat overnight or those things that are kept sealed away and not used.

    If you can readily attach your tent or tarp to the outside of your pack, it keeps the inside of your pack drier and cleaner. If you can't readily put it on the outside, just put it inside your pack. Your pack will be carrying all kinds of other wet things anyway. The real secret is to have a totally waterproof bag inside your pack that holds those things that need to stay as dry as possible even when the inside of your pack is wet . . . yeah, that's where the whole trash compactor bag or other dry bag systems come into play. . . an absolute must in continuous rain.

    As for keeping your tent dry, of course you can't. All you can do is wipe it down the best you can and dry it out whenever there is a chance to do so for a little while.

    In the end, yes, you will be climbing into a wet tent with all your somewhat dry gear that will then be contacting the wet tent and maybe getting a bit more damp. But, your tent fabric doesn't hold enough moisture to soak out your insulation, so you live with damp and that's okay.

    Good luck.
    I'm not lost. I'm exploring.

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    Registered User jjozgrunt's Avatar
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    I have a duplex and like previously stated, wipe out the inside but then I just shake any water off the outside and roll it up. It goes into a long CF bag that fits in one of the side pockets of my pack. Dry it during the day if possible or set up a bit earlier, but for days of rain I just make sure to keep the inside dry.
    "He was a wise man who invented beer." Plato

  7. #7
    Garlic
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    Don't worry about mold under normal trail use.

    Your pack and how you fill it will dictate the best way to carry a wet tent. For me, it's easier on the inside.
    "Throw a loaf of bread and a pound of tea in an old sack and jump over the back fence." John Muir on expedition planning

  8. #8

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    Wet tent gets carried on the outside of the pack. I use a bandana to wipe down the interior of the tent after setup. Do my best to keep my sleeping bag on my air mattress and off the floor of a wet tent. After several consecutive days of rain however sleeping bag may get damp from touching tent walls or floor. Eventually the rain will stop and you can dry things out!
    "No Worries" 2015 GA-ME; 2016 LT End-to-End

  9. #9
    Registered User Suzzz's Avatar
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    Thanks for all your input!

    I'm in the process of tent shopping and trying to find the best one for quick mounting and dismounting in the rain. So far I'm leaning towards a Tarptent. I really like their designs, versatility, light weight, and their bathtub floors.

    My current hiking tent is a 20 year old Sierra Design Orion that I absolutely love and it still looks brand new but I'd like something lighter.

  10. #10

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    I have a Zpacks Duplex. When wet, I just shake it off and stuff it in the sack. When I get to the next camp site I set it up and let it dry a little before putting my gear in it. If it is still raining, I will wipe the floor down with a camp towel and try to keep my bag off of the damp floor material.

    When i used my tarptent Notch I never bothered separating the fly from the tent body to keep the inner dry. Wasn't worth the effort. It dried super fast with a little wind and sun.

  11. #11

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    How to deal with a wet tent? Dry it out the first chance you get, which is often later that afternoon. Good excuse to take a break in the afternoon sun. A typical sly nylon tent will dry out in 1/2 an hour or so and if you can find a sunny and breezy rest spot (like a vista) it goes quicker.

    I don't carry anything of value outside my pack. If I need to carry a wet tent, I put it in a wastebasket sized trash bag which I have a few of for this purpose.
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  12. #12
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    Yes, the lunch set up works well especially if the sun pops out. Don't be lazy and just lay it out, set it up fully and it will dry much quicker. Always be aware when you have a wet tent that you either should set up at lunch, and if that's not an option set it up ASAP when you reach your final destination for the day. Even if it's not that warm the interior of your tent will dry pretty well once set up with the fly open. Also carry a small camp towel to wipe it down before packing...probably the most useful "you shouldn't bring that" item for my entire thru-hike.

  13. #13

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    I have a Tarptent notch. It performed well in the rain. Set the foot into the wind, shorten your poles, stake the sides more inward and you can minimize all but the strongest of wind driven rain. I got the foot of my sleeping bag wet one night before I learned to properly set it up. It dried out quickly. Even set up wet the bathtub floor is small enough that you can easily wipe up any stray moisture on the floor. Condensation flows away from the inner tent. The only night I got wet was during a massive downpour that hit hard and actually knocked the condensation off the inside of the tent onto the mesh. The bathtub floor didn't leak even after months without a footprint. I rigged a tiny clothesline at the top, that was sufficient to dry out bandanas, or air out smelly shirts as I slept.

    It's a small tent, and the only negative in the rain is the vestibule is really too small to cook in on a rainy morning without a serious risk of lighting the whole thing on fire.

    I carried it outside, on the bottom of my pack.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by Suzzz View Post
    How does one deal with a wet tent on the trail?

    ...
    Setup in the next shelter? <G>

    Seriousely, there is no other way to deal with this than (a) wipe it dry as good as possible, (b) spread it in an airy and sunny place if possible or (c) live with it.
    Up to my experience here in the Alps, nothing will dry without external warmth (read: sun). Just hang/setup it in a dry place would still take it days to dry up.
    The higher the geographical elevation the dryer the air the easier it seems to dry out stuff.

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