Drippy tent


Nov 23, 2015
I backpacked to Grizzly Lake in Yellowstone. I put my tent up in the meadow where it appeared everyone else had put their tents. Sometimes you don't have much choice.


Anyway, I had staked things out taughtly, and had one door open for ventilation. In an hour, or so, I looked out to look at the moon and one star, and noticed the sleeping quilt near the door was damp. Where the other side of the vestibule was closed, things were dry. I decided to close the door, and the next time I woke, there was condensation on the entire fly, and it was doing a slow drip on my head. This tent seems more prone to condensation than some of my other tents, but frankly, it's a common enough problem with all the tents I've had... what do you you do to control it? This tent is worse than some of my single wall tents (which I used in the east, where it rains a lot more).

Help. !!! Please.
This might not be different from most Google answers, but here's my take:

When the atmospheric conditions are perfectly wrong, there's little you can do other than site selection. Ventilation has done very little to help in my experience. Most campsites in Yellowstone have trees nearby, and being under the lowest branches, furthest from water, and slightly higher than the surrounding terrain helps a lot. Even when I have bad condensation, I've never had it drip on my head because of the angle of my tent walls. Maybe it's your tent model's design. I use Zpacks Triplex single wall for mountains and Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL2 double wall for desert/beach. Worst case scenario, I spend 2 minutes wiping the Zpacks ceiling with a tiny shamwow type towel until the towel is soaked, then no problem. I usually leave the fly off the Big Agnes--in the rare event of condensation, I just wipe off the top of the quilt (which never soaks through).

Another good idea is to breathe less, but I haven't tried that yet.
yeah in my experience there's no bulletproof solution to condensation when conditions favor it. usually here out west there's ample opportunity to dry stuff out the next day so I just do that.

the "dripping on head" problem is super annoying for sure, I'm not sure I've had that happen in a tent but one of my bivy bags does this reliably when temps/humidity are wrong, and it just sucks

one thing I often do is put extra clothing and stuff near the foot of the tent, which keeps the foot of my bag from pushing up against the tent wall.
I’m drying my stuff right now, in my dryer, set on fluff/no heat. I’m just frustrated. That tent was so wet this morning… I think it probably had more water than a little kid’s swimming pool. I like the idea of breathing less, but I think I want someone else to test it.

I’ve never carried a sham wow, but maybe I should. It would give me something to try to fight it with. I had this silly notion that keeping everything tight would keep the fly from sagging onto the screen, but that didn’t come to pass.

This tent is a Marmot SuperAlloy 2P, but I am a gear geek, and have a ZPacks Altra, a Nomad 242, a Big Agnes Fly Creek 2, a Big Sky Soul 2, a Big Sky Evolution 2, a Sierra Designs Clip Flashlight, a… you get the picture. This happens in all of them, at one point or another, which may just be the atmospheric conditions issue. The Marmot seems to be worse than others, though. Does it make a difference if the door I open is toward, or away from any stream in the vicinity? Last week I was on the Falls River in Yellowstone, and had a door open and it was dry as a bone. I think I had the door on the away side open. This week it was the stream side. It was a very beautiful campsite, and I’m really glad I went, but I hate it when it rains IN the tent.

Thank you for the ideas.
My take: I don't think it actually makes too much difference where you pitch the tent. The condensation is determined largely by just temperature and air movement. Most 3 season tents just plain suck when it comes to condensation with way too small vents. If one has two doors/vestibules, if you leave both open it significantly reduces condensation. The obvious problem with that is if any precip of high wind is involved. The only tent I have owned that effectively controlled condensation is the REI Arete ALS 3 but it isn't something I want to pack unless snow is in the equation. MSR's Mutha Hubba NX 3 works pretty well, but only because you can leave the fly doors open without getting precip in the tent due to the outward canted doors. But that isn't exactly a light tent either.

Of the dozen tents I've owned, I think the Copper Spur was the absolute worst for condensation. With the crappy fly zippers that would always get hung up with the fabric, both you and most of the tent contents took a bath before you could make an escape. To date, the only item I have ever returned to REI in my 50 something years membership.
I get a pretty good amount of condensation just about every night when I'm camping unless it's been really dry and we don't hit the dew point overnight (which has actually happened on both my outings this summer since it's just been so hot and dry until recently). Sucks, but there's usually enough time for it to dry out when I set up at the next camp site. Or it stays kinda wet and I just deal with it.
Thanks for your responses. At least I am now coming to the conclusion that I’m not alone, and I’m not doing anything particularly wrong. I feel better, at least. Thanks!
Thanks for your responses. At least I am now coming to the conclusion that I’m not alone, and I’m not doing anything particularly wrong. I feel better, at least. Thanks!
Just throw it over the bear pole to dry for a bit……..
Camp in meadow you get condensation almost always. Pitch under a tree or a breezier ridge most times not. It's a factor of more moisture.
Single tents generally worse than reg tents.
More vent thru tent helps but may not total eliminate it.

My tarpents have clips to put a layer in between you and the tent shell to catch drips..... But I think it's a waste.... I just live with the dampness... Dries out fast anyway
A side note at the beginning - what drives me bonkers is when it's breezy/windy and my fly "squeaks" against the tent poles! Argh! I usually end up putting socks and other clothes in between the fly and poles to make it stop. :)

I must be in the minority because I don't typically have too many issues with condensation! And I usually camp near a stream and don't try to angle my tent a certain way depending on the breeze - or worry about finding higher ground. I'm usually camping in places like the Winds, Uintas, and Sawtooths. I'm mostly in my FlyCreek 1 man. Maybe I really do breath less than most. I'm a small skinny guy with a slow resting heart rate. Haha. Who knows?

One thing that MIGHT help is to try to make the tent taut again after the initial setup (after a few hours...or more). Most tents stretch out and could benefit from moving the stakes out further or pulling the guy lines tighter. (And make use of all the guy-out points too). (Maybe you did this whole taut business initially but not a second time?)

From an article:

  1. Ventilate your tent by rolling back the rain fly or leaving the vestibule door open so humid air and moist exhalations from your breath can escape.
  2. Remove wet clothes or shoes from your tent at night. Dry them outside or put them inside a stuff sack to reduce nighttime humidity.
  3. Cook and boil water outside your tent to avoid increasing the interior humidity level.
  4. Avoid camping near streams, lakes, ponds, or in wet or marshy areas where the humidity is higher. Yes, it’s nice to camp next to a water source, but you’re asking for tent condensation when you do it.
  5. Avoid setting up your tent at a low point in the landscape where cold air pools at night. If your tent’s walls and fly are warmer, you’ll have less condensation.
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Reactions: Bob
Thank you for the suggestions. I couldn’t do all of those, mostly because of the location of the campsite, but again, thank you. It sounds like I’m doing the right things, when possible. I will double check the tightness of the tent after a bit. I laughed about keeping wet things out of the tent… I had to splash through a stream to get to the campsite. I actually slept with the socks, so they would dry, which they did. :)

I had thought that I had missed some blatantly obvious set up rule, but it appears not. Again, thank you for the comments.
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