2 man tent choice - 3 season.

6:42 p.m. on July 26, 2013 (EDT)
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Hi Folks, first post.

I'm looking for a lightweight 2 man tent, max weight of 2 kg (4.4 lbs). I used to have bigger and heavier Hilleberg Nammatj 2 GT. After a terrible experience with it, I ended up returning it. I have never experienced any amount of condensation like it before. I refer to condensation on the inner of the inner, so much so, that everything was soaked including of course, our down bags. The tent was erected perfectly with nothing touching and with equal space all round, everything taught. The second night was spent in extremely unpleasant conditions because I opened up as much of the tent as possible, i.e., entrance to sleeping area totally open, porch zip mostly undone and any vent open. It was only slightly better but still a heavy layer of frost on the inner walls of the inner. The trip had to be cancelled because we were unable to dry our bags and gear and hypothermia wasn't part of the plan. Weather was -10 degrees C (14 F) during the night and around 4 degrees C (39 F) during the day, dry and sunny then light snow.

Briefly, I was told by Hilleberg that their tents were used in the World's most serious expeditions (one of my reasons for originally purchasing) and that it must have been my fault etc. Snow must have been pressing the outer onto the inner! Said I should have periodically dried the inside with a rag, put my jacket over the foot end (a entire Gore-Tex bivi bag would have been the best way!), light a candle to dry out the condensation, open the vents etc., etc. To me, that's not good enough. To suggest lighting a candle is not worthy of comment in my opinion, nor is taking it in turns to wake up throughout the night to dry the inner. I also couldn't understand that having a four season tent must be used with the doors open, creating a 2  or 3 season tent. That defeats the object of having a four season, surely.

Unbelievably, after all this and a few years later, my search is once again bringing me to Hilleberg. The construction is very good and I do really want to like them.

I wanted to know if anyone else has had similar situations with their Hilleberg (whatever model) tents. Whether anything has changed on them to improve such incidences. To me, it seemed that the yellow inner was simply not breathable, at all. Do they still use the same yellow material? Mine was bought in 2009.

I like the look of the Anjan but am afraid to go ahead in case of similar problems.

How about MSR Hubba Hubba? How are they in winter, being mainly mesh inner?

I understand that these questions are somewhere on the internet but I wanted to find out about people's experiences.

Sorry for the long post and thank you for any suggestions.

7:45 p.m. on July 26, 2013 (EDT)
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A few months  ago the proud user of an expensive solo tent proclaimed in the local forum that he gets ZERO condensation in his tent. At about the same time another owner of exactly the same tent defined his shelter at Backpackinglight as a "condensation machine" Same shelter,different users , different location.


Of course design comes into play but after having had many dozens  of tents set up on my lawn (different brands too)  over the last few years (I seam seal them and or just play with them...) the constant thing is that if the grass is wet in the morning (not from rain) the tent will be wet too.

As well as what Hilleberg suggested, volume can help. A larger tent will have a better chance of dissipating the warmer and humid air you produce but you cannot get a tent at certain temps to be warm and dry unless you have a heat source that dries your moisture.

9:59 p.m. on July 26, 2013 (EDT)
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As Franco says, There are a lot of factors that come into play. I have had no problems with condensation with my Hille Suolo, including in heavy wet blizzards in the Sierra.
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On the other hand, I have had a fair amount of condensation in my Sierra Designs Clip Flashlight, which is a 2-person 3-season tent with the upper part of the main body mostly mesh, so presumably very breathable. The situation there was a summer thunderstorm in the High Uintas (desert climate, but mountain thunderstorms can be "firehose" intensity, leaving the air very humid and a rapidly dropping temperature, so the fly gets lots of condensation, which drips through the mesh onto everything).

Having noted that I have experienced the extremes in condensation, I very rarely have condensation problems in any of my 3 or 4 season, including expedition and mostly-mesh tents. The main thing is making sure you have flow-through ventilation. Another thing is picking your tent location - wind can carry mist from rain or powder snow under the edges of the fly and through the mesh. In one winter camping course I taught, one fellow pitched his all-mesh body 3-season tent in a location that seemed to be ideal for funneling the wind-blown powder under the fly - within an hour of pitching the tent, it had over a foot of fluffy powder inside the tent. Luckily, he and a partner were digging a snow cave to sleep in. But it did illustrate why 3- season tents are not appropriate for winter camping.

Franco's point about volume is an important one. I have seen waterproof bivies (non-breathable polyethylene coated) becoming like a fully wetted sauna (this was in the very humid bayous of Mississippi - guaranteed condensation!). A 3 person tent with properly set flow-through ventilation in the same campsite got no condensation at the same time as the bivy was floating.

11:06 a.m. on July 28, 2013 (EDT)
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Alot of people out there want to blame the tent(any tent) as the problem when experiencing condensation. Granted, there are some styles of tents or otherwise poor design that can lend themselves to being more prone to the problem than others.

The first step here is to understand what causes condensation. Condensation occurs when the water vapor equilibrium in the air is exceeded either due to the moisture in your breath or the dew point(based on temperature and humidity). Condensation can only occur when that moist air(no matter its source) encounters an object that is either at or below the dew point.

If the dew point for any given day is relatively high(temperature here is kind of irrelevant as many factors contribute to this) you will experience very high amounts on condensation. In the warmer months this will be in the form of water droplets on a surface, and in the winter this will be in the form of frost.

Once you understand what causes condensation then you can go about trying to prevent it.

To prevent condensation you have to do one of several things.

1)Stop breathing

2) Increase the ambient temperature

3) Increase ventillation

4) Directly vent moist air

5) Capture the moist air

6) Cry

Ok, in all seriousness the only things you can do are 2-5. By increasing the ambient temperature you dont allow the inside of a tent to ever reach the dew point. This is really only feasible in the winter, when the dew point is low. A simple candle lantern is a good and easy method to use(care has to be taken to not knock it over and turn your tent into a blazing inferno though).

Increasing ventillation. You can open all the vents and mesh openings in your tent and still be plagued with condensation if there is no air flow. Something has to move th moist air out of the tent. The tent needs to be oriented where the wind does this for you. Not saying you need the wind whiping through your tent, but if the vents arn't alligned with the prevailing winds then your tent may not vent efficiently.

Directly vent the moist air. This is done by sleeping in a way where your exhaled breath goes directly out of a vent to the outside. This is really only possible based on tent design. Many tents out there have vents directly above where your head should be, or directly on the bottom/floor point near where your head should be for this purpose.

Capture the moist air. This is really only effective in the winter, but its using something called a frost bib. Essentially its a piece of cloth usually cotton or fleece that you have arranged/worn/hung so that your exhaled breath hits this piece first and it captures the moisture in your breath and it freezes to the bib. Wearing something like a balaclava works to an extent, but is not as effective as a frost bib.

That all being said, sometimes it just happens despite your best efforts to prevent it. So.... what do you do? You break out your sham wow, or pack towel, or bandana and AS SOON AS YOU WAKE UP, you immediately wipe down the inside walls of the tent, you brush all frost off your bag, and you squeeze all air out of your down bag several times to get rid of the moist air in the down before it has a chance to condense since you(the heat source) are no longer in the bag preventing it from condensing.

Condensation is usually more severe the more people you have in the tent. I find that the times of year i get the worst condensation are in the early spring, late fall, and mild winter conditions. Essentially temps ranging from 20-40F. So if the nightly lows are going to be dipping to these temps then the chances are high that you will experience condensation.

The take away. Airflow, tent orientation, and wiping down the tent are the best ways to combat this problem. Its a fact of backpacking and camping, its going to happen you just have to stay one step ahead.

11:47 a.m. on July 29, 2013 (EDT)
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I have the Soulo and the Kaitum.  I have had very minor condensation on the outer portion of the inner tent but not like the OP mentioned.

1:08 p.m. on July 29, 2013 (EDT)
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Thank you for your in-depth replies. Yes, I am aware of how condensation is formed, and yes, the tent was orientated correctly, according to the wind, with vents open. It's just that this is the first time I've had the problem to such an extent as this. I have used lesser tents in very similar conditions and have not experienced the same amount of condensation, sometimes, none at all as in the case of the very old cotton Vango Force Ten 2 man, many years ago but they weigh around 8 kg!

I still believe much of the problem is due to type of yellow material used for the inner of the Hillebergs. My friend's Tarp Tent was totally dry inside, erected several meters away (not forming a wind break for mine).

The outer of the inner was completely dry, no moisture had penetrated from the inside at all, it seemed, unlike Rob above has said, I would expect some moisture on the outside which is acceptable and to expected. The inner of the outer was soaked but it had run off down to the ground, again, normal. This made me think that the weave only worked in one direction and mine had been made inside out! I doubt it.

I know that raising the temperature with a lantern type thing would help but I'm just worried to risk a fire or CO inhalation. After walking many miles and being tired, trying to stay awake watching the candle is difficult over the period of the trip.

We honestly would have been much better off sleeping outside of the tent in the bags on top the Thermarests, eventhough it was 14 degrees F!

Thank you again for your replies.

 

 

 

 

4:47 p.m. on July 29, 2013 (EDT)
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Cotton fabric does not accumulate condensation, while the cotton and canvas tents are heavy, this is one of their main benefits because the fabric itself breathes better than anything else out there. And what little condensation does occur is captured by the fabric.

Your friend's tarptent did not have condensation because of the nature of the tarp tents construction. The fabric stays the same temperature as the outside and thus will typically only get condensation on the outside of the tent if the temperature reaches the dew point.

What happens with a double wall tent, such as yours, if your creating a micro climate inside the tent. You essentially created an artifical dew point inside the tent that would be different than the actual dew point outside. Both of you were slightly warming the inside of the tent, exhaling moisture, and when your breath hit the wall it immediately condensed due to the temperature difference. between the inside of the tent and the temperature of the outer fabric This is very very common. It can be really hard to vent a 4 season tent enough to prevent condensation in mild winter conditions such as you were experiencing.

The more people you have in a tent the higher the chances that you will experience condensation. In this case you said there were two of you, and I would bet that between the two of you you created a micro climate perfect for forming condensation.

 

7:54 p.m. on July 29, 2013 (EDT)
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I have a clip flashlite, and while it gets condensation, never like what the OP experienced. of course I live and hike in southern California, and we don't get the humidity here that they get back east and in the south or the great lakes region.

8:19 p.m. on July 29, 2013 (EDT)
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"Your friend's tarptent did not have condensation because of the nature of the tarp tents construction."*

I suspect that Stambecco was in fact describing a TT Scarp, one of several double wall Tarptent . It is possible that the TT fabric used for the inner is more breathable than some and  or that the available volume inside the TT was greater.
BTW, just to prove how it works, the shelter I commented about in my first post ("zero condensation" and "condensation machine") was one that another poster here stated he has no problem with and same with the SD ClipFlashlite you will find plenty of complaints about condensation there ( I had one...)

 

*BTW, oddly I have seen many commenting that tarp tents (and Tarptents) produce more condensation because of their construction..however I have pointed out many times that often it is simply because with a single skin you can see it but with an inner you may not.

 

9:19 a.m. on July 30, 2013 (EDT)
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Yes, indeed my friend's TT was a double walled type. It was dry and made me wish I'd have bought one of those, except I though they didn't appear to very robust.

I would definitely expect condensation on a single walled tent, that is unavoidable. The way I see it is, the inner is breathable allowing your breath moisture out and the outer non breathable is waterproof. If both walls are  non breathable then obviously condensation will form. This is what I am saying about the Hilleberg had.

Also, being a tunnel tent where the wall goes all the way to the ground enhances this micro climate. Interestingly, for the three season Hillebergs, I see they have seriously reduced the wall height of the fly, even too much! This must have been done to allow for better breathing, therefore, acknowledgement that their fabric  might not be amongst the most breathable.

Well, TheRambler says I was experiencing mild winter conditions but minus 10 centigrade certainly felt cold to us, the ground was solid, but in the UK, we don't have the same type of weather as you guys, there is always a lot of humidity, even when they say it's dry! I understand you get way colder winters depending on your location. I wouldn't have thought to use a 3 season but I think that mat be the best bet. I originally bought the Hilleberg to go to Sweden but the dates changed and I never got use it for full winter. After my experience with it in England, I ended up using a tarp and had a fire nearby!

I agree that there are many factors involved.

10:00 a.m. on July 30, 2013 (EDT)
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Stambecco said:

Interestingly, for the three season Hillebergs, I see they have seriously reduced the wall height of the fly, even too much! This must have been done to allow for better breathing, therefore, acknowledgement that their fabric  might not be amongst the most breathable.

Hilleberg 3 season tents.

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...Yeah, they push the parameters of the height of the outer way too much imo.

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I wrote this review on the Anjan 2 sometime back.

Well, I took it out on a 12 day 115 mile solo a few weeks back and I used it 1 night.

That was enough for me. 

I am currently coming up with a design to extend the outer downward another 2" all the way around. 

After I come up with something I am happy with I will send the tent off to Rainy Pass out in Seattle to have them do the mod. 

As this tent is I would NEVER use it for backpacking.

...then again I wouldn't use it period.

For more on what I experienced here is the trip report. 

If you don't feel like reading all of my babbling just scroll down and look for the pics of the gold inner which I am sure you are familiar with. There are a few photos. 

I have not had problems with my Soulo and I use it year round in very humid conditions at times. 

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Feb-2012-LHHT-006.jpg

8:54 a.m. on July 31, 2013 (EDT)
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I rently purchased a Marmot Limelight 3P, three season.  I am really impressed with the tent and how it handles rain, wind and humidity.    I have not used it in snow but see not reason whay it sould not handle a light snow fall. 

4:21 p.m. on July 31, 2013 (EDT)
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You hit the nail on the head. Those milder winter temps mixed with high humidity are a condensation super recipie, haha. You provide a slightly warmer micro climate inside the tent and it just condenses like crazy when it hits that cold tent fabric.

Surprisingly enough with my single walled Nemo Meta 2P I get very little condensation. 

I am a relatively new convert to tarps and hammocks. I now much prefer my tarp for winter use, and for year round use really. A nice large tarp with end flaps/doors makes a very nice versatile shelter option which can be sealed up nearly as good as any tent. Never once had a condensation issue with a tarp.

6:25 p.m. on July 31, 2013 (EDT)
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I have suggested this many times , not that anyone ever does it but : just Google " tent condensation " substituting tent with the actual name of the tent, and you will find comments from both sides, that is "too much condensation" as well as "zero condensation".

For example Google "Nemo Meta 2 condensation" , one of the first links is to a video of two guys getting dripped on, the next is from a guy saying he had no condensation...( I know that guy, he is now using the TT SS2...)

Over time some designs will prove to be better or worse but unless you have a few shelters set up side by side it's hared to tell.


BTW, the reason I "knew" that Stambecco was referring to a Scarp is because on a few occasions camping side by side next to  "4 season tents" my TT shelters have done VERY well condensation wise (in comparison...), in fact I have had orders placed for them from those occasions.

franco@tarptent.com

8:09 p.m. on July 31, 2013 (EDT)
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Interesting thread. I believe Franco has indeed hit the nail on the head here.

The very same tent will get rave reviews by some and total condemnation by others. The Sierra Designs Clip Flashlight has been mentioned several times in this thread, with good reason. This tent has been in production a solid 30 years now and is a real classic design. It is said to have been the first-ever-sub-four-pound-two-man tent.   

I too used to own one. I was looking for a new tent a few years back and I figured "Heck, surely the bugs have been worked out of this tent by now!" So I got one.

 

Can you say condensation? This tent, although well built, was to me a cramped, wet doghouse with a poorly designed entry and no venting in the rain fly at all! I remember thinking "What the heck! This tent has been on the market way to long for these kinds of problems!"


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I got rid of that tent after only one season with it.

Yet just last week some old feller came to my office and we got to talking about backpacking.  He is quite experienced, starting off with a month long hike on the AT just out of high school in the 1970's, continuing all his life and is now section hiking the PCT.  At one point he said "You'll never believe what tent I'm still using, I bet they don't make 'em any more" 

Of course I answered "Sierra Designs Clip Flashlight", and I was right. His is over twenty years old and although he mostly uses it as a solo tent he had slept three people in it on occasion(!), and to him it is the ultimate tent, best ever invented by mankind!  

Go figure.

After my fiasco with the Clip Flashlight I discovered Tarp Tents, and am now using a Squall 2 as a solo tent ( really a two pound, two man tent ) and a Rainshadow 2 ( a three man, about 2-1/2 pound tent ) when camping with my wife. Despite what some say about single wall tents and silnylon, so far so good, nothing negative at all to report. These tents are very light, very spacious, no condensation to speak of and well made. 

Rainshadow 2 on the Salmo Loop. 
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But for true nasty conditions, freezing temps, blowing snow and sleet, I still use a tried and true double wall tent, a Eureka Timberline 2.

 

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This tent has been in production since 1973, 40 years! Millions of these things have been made. It is heavy at 6-1/2 pounds, but they did get the design right. In twenty years of use in all conditions I've never, ever had any condensation in this tent. ( Eer, but that's just my example, and I often do use a candle lantern when winter camping...And I bet somewhere you can find a review of this tent calling it a sponge...)

But nothing constricts the ventilation under the rain fly and nowhere does the fly contact the tent. The inner wall is 1.9 ounce nylon, very breathable yet warmer than and offering more protection than a mesh inner. The ends have a good overhang so one never has to totally close the windows on the end walls.

Many modern tents have vestibules covering the doors that stake right to the ground, and when the tent it totally battened down it looks like someone inverted a bowl on the ground, like the pictures Rick posted above. Well gee, of course that rainfly isn't going to vent very well now is it? The result is moisture captured inside the tent.

Stambecco, if yer really looking for a new tent I'd recommend waiting till the new TT Cloudburst 3 is shipping. It looks like a truly amazing tent, and although I don't need a new tent I must admit I am very impressed by it.

http://www.tarptent.com/cloudburst3.html

Order one with the optional third pole and the winter liner, then configure it as needed for any particular trip. Looks about a perfect as any tent can get.

 

    

 

  

 

8:26 p.m. on July 31, 2013 (EDT)
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A few have mentioned a lantern to reduce condensation.

Not for the ones that like a drink or two in the evening or for the accident prone (well you need to be honest with yourself here...) but with a very basic amount of common sense they do indeed help and well they warm your spirit too...

This is an easy and very light (1 oz) and almost free version that is WATER COOLED so somewhat less dangerous than others : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C37N142UlUA

I modified someone else idea 

8:44 p.m. on July 31, 2013 (EDT)
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I think the big lesson here is that no tent is condensation proof, any tent can experience it if all of the factors line up. Best solution is to understand what causes it and address what factors you can, and as a final step have that pack towel handy to wipe it off.

9:20 p.m. on July 31, 2013 (EDT)
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TheRambler said:

have that pack towel handy to wipe it off.

 Absolutely:

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Although this is not from condensation but is by design flaw. :p

1:24 a.m. on August 1, 2013 (EDT)
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The best way to avoid condensation is to stop breathing.

Glad I could be of some help.

4:31 p.m. on August 1, 2013 (EDT)
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I have a lot of reading and researching to do. I'm on the road at the moment using a McDonald's wifi so no time to acknowledge all the points.

I had a very quick look at the Cloudburst and I'm most definitely interested.

I agree Family Guy, that would do the trick or maybe use a snorkel and have it poking out through the zip. It would have to have a U bend in case it rained though!

3:04 a.m. on August 2, 2013 (EDT)
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14-stambecchi-sulla-diga-di-cinghino_zps


15-zoomata-su-giovani-stambecchi_zpsdadd

For Stambecco... here are some of your mates up on a dam wall near to where I come from .

Tip : if you find yourself on one of their trails make sure you are a VERY good climber.

 

http://news.nationalgeographic.com.au/news/2010/11/photogalleries/101101-ibex-goats-dam-italy-bighorn-sheep-wyoming-science/

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