Tentilation?

11:30 p.m. on May 5, 2011 (EDT)
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I notice that many Scandinavian tent makers (i.e. Hilleberg, Helsport) put one or two big vents high up on the ends of the fly, while many top American brands omit these. Despite that, all our tents are American and poorly ventilated because the Scando ones are expensive and we get what we can on sale in the US. But good ventilation high up always made sense to me because you would get a chimney effect that would tend to draw warm moist air up and out, helping prevent condensation on the fly and sidewalls, whereas a zipped up dome tent would trap a bubble of warm moist air under the fly. But I have no idea if that actually works in practice. Any wisdom or experience out there? Anyone pitched a high-vented tent next to an unvented tent, with both slept in by two people, and compared condensation in the morning? Why don't top names like TNF or Mountain Hardwear provide better ventilation?

12:03 a.m. on May 6, 2011 (EDT)
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Maybe it has something to do with the fact that many US tents use the method of pithing by first erecting the inner tent, then cover this with the outer layer. This method is ok in dry windless weather, but as you know we have rather the opposite in Scandinavia. Or maybe cost of production may be a difference here. Maybe both. Interestin to see if anyone has tested the difference, I have'nt.

1:54 a.m. on May 6, 2011 (EDT)
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I'm not sure if it's mostly an "americian" thing and/or if it has to do with keeping costs down.  I do know Bibler and Garuda both single wall tents, used venting on their tents.  The larger base camp tents, Mountain hardwear, TNF and I think Marrmot use venting in the tent portion of there double walll tents and Mountain hardewear's  single wall Satillite and Spacestation both use substantional venting. .  The older TNF Northstar and the TNF Two Meter Dome have a single vent on the top of the rainfly.  Also my TNF Dome 5 has vents on the fly as does the Dome 8.  The Stephenson's (3r) has a high vent that lets out humid air while low vents let in heavier dry air.  Many of my tents don't have vents but do have windows in the tent body that act the same as vents.  I remember many a night I had to open or close the windows on the Ring Oval Intention to regulate heat and that most likely helped with venting moisture.  If you have a tent with a snow door that of cource can be used to as an aid for venting as they have openings in the tent wall and the rain fly.  Of all my time in tents I personally never had a problem with condensation in double wall tents  (just bivies and single wall tents).  In the morning there would be condensation inside top of the rain fly but even when you tap on the tent the water drops would lightly fall on the tent and then be absorbed by the tent body material.  There was never enough conseation so that it leaked thru the tent ceiling/roof.  Just my experiance

7:35 a.m. on May 6, 2011 (EDT)
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In the PNW one will nearly always have condensation on the rainfly.

I agree with apeman, I dont think it is an "American" thing. My tents:

TNF Canyonlands, 2 vents

Glaciers Edge Galaxy, 1 lower vent

Halford's Dugdale, 2 vents

Glaciers Edge Hiker, Biker, no vents

Gander Mountian Blaze Solo, one upper, one lower vents

My testing of these tents has shown that the placement of vents does help with condensation on the fly. The smallest of the tents, Blaze Solo, 2 vents. Had very little condensation build up . While the hiker biker, no vents is always wet. But these test are inacrate becouse of the area that I live. I have had the Canyonlands up, with my Noah 9 tarp up over the camp area before. Had no rain. The Canyonlands rainfly was soaked. And the tarp was driping from the underside.

The biggest thing about condensation is to have the rainfly tight so that the water flows down the sides away from the inner tent. And carry a Shamwow so you can dry out fast in the morning.

11:05 a.m. on May 6, 2011 (EDT)
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This is my issue with Mountain Hardwear tents. I really like some of their designs, but they don't have any vents, so I won't get one. Same with MSR. My friend has the Hubba Hubba. If he has the vestibules closed while he's sleeping (raining or what not), he gets a lot of condensation in the morning. I actually got The North Face Quartz 22 because it breaths very well in any weather.  Marmot seams to put some effort into venting.

11:49 a.m. on May 6, 2011 (EDT)
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Well, my Eureka tents(Mountain Pass 2&3 xte) have dual vents up high and even open they still generate a bit of moisture but nothing that makes it to where it matters. Close the vents and its a wash out on the inside of the fly. Still with a taut pitch it just rolls down the inner side of the fly to the ground. In sub-freezing temps it will just "frost up" on the inner side of the fly.

I also have a Big Agnes Copper Spur UL1 and it only has one vent. As long as I leave the vent open there are no issues with condensation. Closed(vents)it will generate a bit more but its a non-issue.

Personally, I look at it like this with double wall tents. If you pitch the tent as taut as possible and make sure ya generate the maximum space possible between a tent inner and fly ya shouldn't have much of an issue. Even if ya do get a bit of condensation(which is inevitable with humid regions) the problems wont be much. Also not zipping the vestibules all the way down will help alot. It adds to the "chimney effect."

Use all guyout points regardless of weather. This will maximize the distance between fly and inner and give the best possible air flow which will have tremendous effect on condensation.

If this is still an issue consider contacting companies that specialize in adding vents etc. They are out there.

Here is one that came up. Could also help out with a bit of other services shown on their homepage. Happy hiking.

http://www.rainypass.com/

On a side note I(just personal preference) will not own a single wall tent solely because of the condensation issues they have.

11:55 a.m. on May 6, 2011 (EDT)
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Thanks for the link Rick. I could see using them one day.

11:59 a.m. on May 6, 2011 (EDT)
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Tents and condensation: ergo why I sleep under the stars unless it's raining or snowing.  If using a tent I open as many of the openings as weather permits.

Ed

1:17 p.m. on May 6, 2011 (EDT)
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Yes, a vent up high helps.

Some tents have high vents that can also be closed.

2:46 p.m. on May 6, 2011 (EDT)
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Golite does this also, this is the Shangri-la 5 and the grey area at the top near the point is a ventilation port.


Shangri-la-5-tent-from-Golite.jpg

3:34 p.m. on May 6, 2011 (EDT)
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Both Moss and Walrus tents had models with thru-fly hi vents, or what Walrus called "eyelid vents. The Walrus Terramoto has a hi vent which is accessible from the interior of the tent.
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The Terramotto has an additional "eyelid" vent  over the vestibule door.
BVJqSwWkKGrHgoH-DUEjlLlw8DFBKrEKPKCKQ_3.
The Moss vents(2) were also accessible from the tent interior, and were coupled with an additional rear vent.
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To reduce condensation on the underside of the rainfly, and humidity venting into your tent when the door(s) are open, I highly recommend covering the exposed soil inside your vestibule with a plastic sheet.

3:49 p.m. on May 6, 2011 (EDT)
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I am certain a high vent makes a large difference, as I spent several nights in a friends tent that was well vented. During a heavy rain, we closed the vents to keep water out and it became very humid and stuffy inside. after the rain let up, we opened the vent again. The influx of cool fresh air was noticable immediately and was, literally, a breath of fresh air.

I have a Eureka! Pinnacle Pass 3XT, wich has one vent mid level, and the tent has extremely poor air circulation. I bought a remarkably well-built off-brand tent for $38 (Blanca Peak), and it performce just as well as the eureka in almost all respects. The only reason I even considered it was I  got to fully inspect one set up and realized that for $38 it was a steal. I will be waiting to purchases another tent until I can afford something of true high quality and craftsmanship, such as a Hille.

PS- Abman, that Moss is one sessy tent :)

 

3:50 p.m. on May 6, 2011 (EDT)
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My REI tent, the Taj 3, has one of those "eyelid" vents in the fly.  Seems to work very well, as I've never had a condensation problem.

 

4:19 p.m. on May 6, 2011 (EDT)
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OK so some American manufacturers have paid attention to this, some haven't. We have an MH Trango 4 and an MH Lightpath3, both of which lack high vents, but my daughter's new and relatively inexpensive Eureka Spitfire 2 has a nice vent right at the top (not really rain tested yet...). Tents with some kid of awning over the door let in a little more air (I think our old, original Oval Intention had that), but aren't as good when the weather gets nasty. To get the full chimney effect vents should be placed as high as possible, although if placed properly with respect to wind I suppose you might also get a Bernoulli effect to pull air through vents located at the ends of tunnel tents.

So far it seems like the theory pans out. I just can figure out why Mountain Hardwear, who otherwise spares no details on their higher end tents like the Trango 4, can ignore such a basic principle! I may have to look into modifying the fly...

4:26 p.m. on May 6, 2011 (EDT)
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Tents and condensation: ergo why I sleep under the stars unless it’s raining or snowing.  If using a tent I open as many of the openings as weather permits.

Ed

6:36 p.m. on May 6, 2011 (EDT)
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" It's like déjà vu all over again"

10:27 p.m. on May 6, 2011 (EDT)
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" It's like déjà vu all over again"

 

I am seeing that hmmmm... I smell kun-speer-uh-see..... :) oppsy, did I say that?

11:55 p.m. on May 6, 2011 (EDT)
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abman47 said:

" It's like déjà vu all over again"

 Actually senility is the more probable explanation:)  Did I mention I prefer to sleep under the stars?

Ed

12:09 a.m. on May 7, 2011 (EDT)
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Ed, I can relate; this Easter I hid eggs from myself.

10:10 a.m. on May 7, 2011 (EDT)
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Senile? More likely: Ed has a compilation of "Ed-isms" somewhere, maybe as part of an autobiography or "life philosophy," from which he pulls these maxims....They remind me of some of the aphorisms in Nietzsche's Beyond Good and Evil, in their structure and efficiency. I love 'em.

2:48 a.m. on May 8, 2011 (EDT)
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Virtually ALL of the U.S. made TarpTent models, whether single or double wall are WELL ventilated.

Eric

3:29 a.m. on May 8, 2011 (EDT)
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pillowthread said:

Senile? More likely... .."Ed-isms".. ..remind me of some of the aphorisms in Nietzsche's Beyond Good and Evil...

It is flattering you find any resemblance between my prosaic flatulence and Nietzsche’s dissections of traditional philosophies.  Apparently deft application of smoke and mirrors have deceived.  Nietzsche is deep in a cerebral manner, whereas I am merely deeply submerged, like a sump pump with a blown fuse.  But I accept the perhaps unintentional comparison, that I am on the eve of going mad, my ramblings here on Trailspace suffice as my own Wahnbriefe.

 Ed

12:08 a.m. on May 9, 2011 (EDT)
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Ed ~~

You may find solace in the words of my fellow-Marylander, Edgar Allan Poe:

I became insane ... with long intervals of horrible sanity.

Yogi Robt

6:38 a.m. on May 9, 2011 (EDT)
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Robert Rowe said:

Ed ~~

You may find solace in the words of my fellow-Marylander, Edgar Allan Poe:

I became insane ... with long intervals of horrible sanity.

Yogi Robt

Actually I find reading Poe an unpleasant pastime, verging on torture.  Granted I only had exposure to his dark Gothic projects, but his obsessions with death and other seamy dark facets of life, as embodied in those works, turned me off to his prose.  

I myself am not insane; I am mentally ill (subtle difference?), a consequence of living amid a society that has gone insane en masse.

Ed

8:13 a.m. on May 9, 2011 (EDT)
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BigRed said:

I notice that many Scandinavian tent makers (i.e. Hilleberg, Helsport) put one or two big vents high up on the ends of the fly, while many top American brands omit these. Despite that, all our tents are American and poorly ventilated because the Scando ones are expensive and we get what we can on sale in the US. But good ventilation high up always made sense to me because you would get a chimney effect that would tend to draw warm moist air up and out, helping prevent condensation on the fly and sidewalls, whereas a zipped up dome tent would trap a bubble of warm moist air under the fly. But I have no idea if that actually works in practice. Any wisdom or experience out there? Anyone pitched a high-vented tent next to an unvented tent, with both slept in by two people, and compared condensation in the morning? Why don't top names like TNF or Mountain Hardwear provide better ventilation?

 I recently took out an MSR Fury tent on a long trip and carefully studied its condensation issues as compared to two Hilleberg tents, the Keron and the Staika.  I practically had no condensation with the MSR tent, and attribute it to its fly not coming all the way down to the ground as on Hillebergs.  See below fotogs:


TRIP-118-039.jpg


TRIP-121-430.jpg
The top Keron has a silnylon fly fitting snugly to the ground all the way around the tent, while the Fury below keeps a lot of space between the fly and the ground which helps in ventilation.  Many people think the Hilleberg vents prevent condensation but the ground hugging flys negate these vents, at least in my opinion.  The Keron end vents, for example, look great and may help some, but there's a long horizontal ceiling from one end to the other which collects warm condensating air and where a vent really needs to be. 

I've always had condensation issues with the Hillebergs and it was common to wake up most mornings with a "wet" sleeping bag shell.  No big deal, but irksome otherwise.  I blame their design of a fly which hangs on the ground.

10:58 a.m. on May 9, 2011 (EDT)
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Tipi,

Do you think the Helliberg design would be the most beneficial in a cold dry climate vs. a wet humid climate like we have in the S. Appalachians?

On my MH tent I have always opened the upper portion of the vestibule zipper to get air flow between the inner & the fly, and just used that as a vent for the fly. This works pretty well, but in heavy rainfall you do get a little water in the vestibule (not the tent) which is an acceptable trade off for me in order to get some air flow.

11:01 a.m. on May 9, 2011 (EDT)
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trouthunter said:

Tipi,

Do you think the Helliberg design would be the most beneficial in a cold dry climate vs. a wet humid climate like we have in the S. Appalachians?

Appalachian winters can sometimes be tough on in-tent living due to the combination of cold temps and long periods of cold rain and snow.  I wouldn't get a particular tent just for certain conditions as in my mind one good tent should work in all conditions whether dry or wet.  The elusive search for the perfect tent is neverending, and I do rate the Hillebergs at the top of my list, and their problems can be dealt with and overcome, but I've been brainwashed so long by the Hilleberg mystique that I decided to go back and explore other four season options---a tent with a poled inner and a separate fly, i.e. the usual off-shore Taiwan/Chinese stuff.

I already miss my Hilleberg fix:  the pretty yellow inner canopies, the great zippers and zipper flaps, the outstanding floors, the stout poles, the no-flame-retardant stink, the quick setup. 

11:10 a.m. on May 9, 2011 (EDT)
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Thanks, Tipi, that's the best feedback so far. I guess the gray triangle on the back end of the Fury is a vent? It does seem to me that for "chimney effect" ventilation you need to have fresh air coming in at the bottom and the warm moist air exiting at the top -- therefore the exhaust vent(s) should be placed as high up as possible. But maybe an end vent is good enough as long as you have good air intake?

11:21 a.m. on May 9, 2011 (EDT)
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BigRed said:

Thanks, Tipi, that's the best feedback so far. I guess the gray triangle on the back end of the Fury is a vent? It does seem to me that for "chimney effect" ventilation you need to have fresh air coming in at the bottom and the warm moist air exiting at the top -- therefore the exhaust vent(s) should be placed as high up as possible. But maybe an end vent is good enough as long as you have good air intake?

 Check out Abman47's fotogs of the Moss above as it's nearly identical to the MSR Fury.  Your comment "good air intake" means wind, and a good breeze often gets rid of condensation in most tents.  I've seen heavy condensation in Hilleberg tents during long periods of snow and cold rain, and then on the same trip in a windstorm had nothing but bone dry fabric all around.  Vents don't hurt, but they often don't work when conditions are overly saturated.  Plan B then in effect becomes stringing your bear line horizontally and drying off the bag shell before shoving off in the morning.

12:07 p.m. on May 9, 2011 (EDT)
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i agree with tipi walter that a sufficient air space around the base of the tent has a lot to do with eliminating condensation.

i have a mountain hardware kiva single wall tent. i have been having a problem with condensation with this single wall tent. there is a fair size ventilation vent near the top, sure wish it was larger.

the best fix i have found is to pitch the tent higher. i put another section of pole in the single pole, but i still couldn't get the tent body higher, until i stopped using tent stakes for the corners and started using old ski poles. this works great i no longer have any condensation problems. i still get some condensation but it is so slight that it is not a problem. this also makes the tent much cooler for summer use. after awhile the tent will work its way up the ski poles and will need to be pushed down a little. this also gives me a higher tie off on the pull outs.

12:33 p.m. on May 9, 2011 (EDT)
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Lazya4---It sounds as if your fix is a temporary one until you're hit with a real blizzard or windstorm.  I spent a winter in a Chouinard Pyramid tipi tent and gotta say, never again.  It was designed as a winter mountaineering tent whereby the outside perimeter edge is to be covered by snow, thereby preventing spindrift and adding protection.  The big drawback with these tipi tents (and with tarps in general) is their propensity to take flight when a high wind comes underneath and they act like big umbrellas.  Rising one up higher off the ground won't work in a January blizzard or in a windy July thunderstorm.

1:24 p.m. on May 9, 2011 (EDT)
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tipi walter

so far in really cold weather i don't seem to have the condensation problems. although i have yet to seal to the ground as would be required in heavy blowing snow. i did have it pitched when we had a late snow storm last month. the tent was about an inch or two above the ground. we got about 4 inches of snow, with little wind, and i had no condensation or blow in snow. it was the heavy wet snow we usually get on the valley floor. 

i have had it pitched high when we had 45 mph winds last month and the kiva did just fine. i was not out in the open, but along the creek with plenty of trees around. i was way more worried about falling branches as i could hear them coming down. i used every anchor point on the tent that night.

i hear you though about the drawbacks. a friend who winter camps, had a chouinard pyramid and coundn't get rid of it fast enough. all you have to do is mention pyramid to him and you'll get a long oratory of the pitfalls of the design. i sleep in mine most months of the year, i have it pitched in the yard and haven't found anything i like better.

ymmv
DSCN4920.jpg

1:53 p.m. on May 9, 2011 (EDT)
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lazya4 said:

tipi walter


i hear you though about the drawbacks. a friend who winter camps, had a chouinard pyramid and coundn't get rid of it fast enough. all you have to do is mention pyramid to him and you'll get a long oratory of the pitfalls of the design. i sleep in mine most months of the year, i have it pitched in the yard and haven't found anything i like better.

ymmv

 My problem is I've categorized all tipi tents into the Pyramid-with-defects class and so have caused the ire of several Kifaru types who swear by their tents.  They love them, and I suppose the Kifaru is in no way related to the Chouinards, although like your friend I've been soured and jaded on the design.  If I had the time I would like to take out a Kifaru tipi and really give it a test, and hold nothing back in my full report.

2:10 p.m. on May 9, 2011 (EDT)
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tipi walter

the kiva is much bigger than the chouinard. i think with more air there are less problems. i can stand up and put my pants on inside the kiva and usually i am the sole occupant. if i remember correctly the average person perspires about a 200ml of water every night. that is a fair amount of water to be splashing around in your tent.

i've heard using a candle lantern in the winter helps with condensation, and that using beeswax candles can attract bears. snow it goes, first one way then the other.

wish you all the time to test em all. 

3:45 p.m. on May 9, 2011 (EDT)
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lazya4 said:

tipi walter

ymmv
DSCN4920.jpg

 Thanks for the picture.  It looks like you were inside a bear canister hiding from large mammals.

7:41 p.m. on May 9, 2011 (EDT)
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lazya4 said:

i agree with tipi walter that a sufficient air space around the base of the tent has a lot to do with eliminating condensation...

 

One workaround for full length tent flies is placing objects on the ground around the tent, such that the tent fly must be routed over these objects, creating gaps between the fly and ground, allowing air to circulate and remove condensation.

The reason Helliberg tents have a full length fly is not a design flaw, it is intended to keep blowing snow off the inner tent wall under four season use, whereas the shorter fly designs such as MRS's are intended for three season use, specifically addressing the condensation.

Ed

10:40 p.m. on May 9, 2011 (EDT)
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whomeworry said:

The reason Helliberg tents have a full length fly is not a design flaw, it is intended to keep blowing snow off the inner tent wall under four season use, whereas the shorter fly designs such as MRS's are intended for three season use, specifically addressing the condensation.

 ...this is why I'm quite glad my Hilleberg Allak has two fully-sheltered doors on opposing sides...open doors (and great views) in the middle of a rainstorm, and cross-breezes galore...

8:50 a.m. on May 10, 2011 (EDT)
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whomeworry said:

The reason Helliberg tents have a full length fly is not a design flaw, it is intended to keep blowing snow off the inner tent wall under four season use, whereas the shorter fly designs such as MRS's are intended for three season use, specifically addressing the condensation.

Ed

 I would have to disagree with this as the MSR Fury tent as pictured above is probably one of the most robust four season tents I've seen, and can compare or possibly even out-perform my Hilleberg tents.  I was in a blizzard last January in a Hilleberg Keron and the wind and spindrift was so bad that it even got under the fly and piled up on the sidewall of the inner tent, but as you say the low fly does help in spindrift control.  The higher fly on the Fury will allow spindrift to pile up on the canopy sides and would have to be removed until the outside snow depth is higher than the fly edge, thereby defeating any advantages in ventilation.

While the Hilleberg full length fly may not be a design flaw in winter blizzards, it sure contributes to more condensation in the other three seasons.

8:58 a.m. on May 10, 2011 (EDT)
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pillowthread said:


 ...this is why I'm quite glad my Hilleberg Allak has two fully-sheltered doors on opposing sides...open doors (and great views) in the middle of a rainstorm, and cross-breezes galore...

 I've used my Staika in all sorts of storms and find it's vestibule door(s) to be a bit problematic as it can't be unzipped all the way without rain coming inside the inner tent, so it has to be left half unzipped but then it's hard to clip open to the side pole to keep it open.  So, coming in and out of the Staika in a rainstorm usually results in some water entering my inner tent.  I wonder if the Allak also has this same design feature??

Don't get me wrong, I'm not on a Disrespect Hilleberg Phase, but I can certainly point out all the problems I have seen with them after years of use.  They are great tents and I will probably go back to my Keron tunnel, it's just a matter of time. 

1:14 p.m. on May 10, 2011 (EDT)
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Years ago I bought a 3 - 4 season convertible MH tent, I have been very happy with the ability to use the tent year round. While 3-4 season tents tend to be slightly heavier than dedicated seasonal tents (extra zippers & panels etc.) it does get the job done for me.

When I bought the tent I couldn't afford two tents, but loved winter camping and this was a good compromise for me.

In the humid S. Appalachians I prefer double wall tents with a lot of mesh. I have tried single wall tents, although I have not used a Hille, I do plan on getting one as a dedicated winter tent and see how it goes. Hille tents have a great reputation and it would be wonderful to have one in my gear collection.

8:10 a.m. on May 19, 2011 (EDT)
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The more ventilation the less condensation. More people in the tent means more condensation is likely. A human exhales about 1 qt of moisure over a nights sleep so it must be removed from the tent in order to prevent or minimize condensation issues. Full coverage flys will provide less ventilation. So a gap between the fly and ground is good. High vents help if you have them. Taut pitches help too. Always leave all venting options open (windows,vents and vestibules) as much as weather permits. No-see-um mesh does not allow as much air to pass as you might think, so if there is no bug issue leave the mesh open. Pitching the tent so a vent, window or door can catch the breeze is helpful. Condensation is going to happen and sometimes conditions are conducive to condensation. Some areas of the country are more prone to condensation issues than others. Learn how to recognize and predict when it is likely to occur and always pitch the tent accordingly.

12:50 p.m. on May 19, 2011 (EDT)
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thetentman

thanks for the one quart figure. that is the figure i remember from years ago, i started to post that in my earlier post and then doubt got the best of me so i checked the internet and got the lesser 200ml figure. a quart is a fair amount of water. 

1:56 p.m. on May 19, 2011 (EDT)
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I should have qualified it to say up to 1 quart. All humans will vary according to size. But if being a nitpicker is your thing - well than good job!

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