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Randy Nelson
(rlnunix) - F - M

Locale: Rockies
SL3 condensation on 02/27/2012 10:38:00 MST Print View

I was on a hut trip over the weekend and I brought along my Golite SL3 to test out in winter conditions and figure out how to pitch it. I'd read of quite a few people using it as a winter shelter. I've always found it pretty easy to pitch even without using the trekking pole to determine stake points method. Just need to move a few stakes around to get a tight pitch. But I hadn't tried to pitch it in the snow with deadmen. First off, it looks like I should have dug the holes for the deadmen farther away from the tieouts. They were only 18-24 inches away from the edge of the tent. I started this kind of late and didn't want to dig them out and reset them as darkness was approaching. So I ended up with a kind of sloppy pitch. I only used the main tieouts, which seems like a mistake. It was really windy and the direction was changing constantly, so I piled some snow on the bottom edges to block the wind, except for the door and the panel across the tent from where I was sleeping. I thought that, combined with the 3 top vents, would provide enough ventilation to prevent much condensation. But with the snow pushing the sides in and not using the additional tie-outs, the inside was significantly smaller than a 3 season pitch.

Around 3 AM, after about 4 hours in the tent, I woke up to condensation falling on my face when the wind would hit the tent and knock the condensation off. And there was a lot of condensation. My bag was a bit wet on top as well. I would have been fine as far as safety was concerned continuing through the night, and I was plenty warm (first test of my WM Kodiak as well) but there was a very warm hut nearby and I bailed to get better sleep.

I know I could have used the additional tie-outs and better placement of the deadmen for a much tighter and roomier pitch. But I was still surprised at the amount of condensation. So here's the questions.

1. If I had pitched it better, and say the volume would have been twice as much as what I had, would that have significantly improved the condensation issue? Or only delayed it a bit?

2. How much more ventilation would I have needed to avoid it? It wasn't actually snowing and the wind was swirling a lot so I might have had some snow blown in, but I considered just tying the door open as I was plenty warm and could have dealt with a littler more wind. But in the case of driving snow, I wouldn't want to do that so I don't think trying that would have taught me anything. Other than possibly to keep the door closed . :)

3. Does anyone have a good method for determining where to place the deadmen since you need to place them and have them setup before raising the shelter?


Any other comments or suggestions? Thanks!

Eric Swab
(ericswab) - M

Locale: Rockies
SL3 condensation on 03/01/2012 19:41:00 MST Print View

I have had my SL2 out a few nights this winter, for staking out with deadmans I have been using these:

http://www.rei.com/product/783074/nite-ize-figure-9-carabiner-rope-tightener-with-35mm-cord-package-of-2

Because the SL2 is rectangular it may be easier to guess where the anchor goes but I haven't had problems getting a good pitch.

As for condensation not sure I have much experience, on one very snowy night I had frost and condensation in the tent even with the door wide open (no wind) as the night went on the bottom sealed up so I had no air flow and frost in the tent.

On other calm nights in the single digits I have had good venting around the bottom and left the top of the door open some (two way zipper) and haven't had any issues with condensation.

I think the tent will be fine, just need a little more air flow and try the Nite-ize for the deadman anchors for added flexibility.

Randy Nelson
(rlnunix) - F - M

Locale: Rockies
Condensation on 03/07/2012 05:00:58 MST Print View

Thanks for the reply Eric. I think my problems mostly come from not understanding what to expect in winter conditions. I've done some reading and it sounds like some condensation is unavoidable. Which doesn't bother me but in heavy wind conditions where you'd want to button down your shelter, the possibility of condensation is higher AND the wind is likely to knock that condensation off your shelter and onto your head. And that's unpleasant. I don't know how single wall, or even double wall users handle this. I'll have to do some more research.

Andy F
(AndyF) - M
Re: SL3 condensation on 03/07/2012 09:10:35 MST Print View

I didn't like dealing with my SL3 in the winter for the reasons mentioned, but many don't seem to mind it. It is time-consuming to get the pitch right due to the hex shape. Especially for winter, and sometimes even for the other seasons, I now prefer a freestanding tent with poles which I can just crawl into without any anchors if I really need to. (And without anchors, I'd probably need to crawl into it right away to keep it from blowing away if there was a serious wind. ;)

There are some ideas in this thread:

http://www.backpackinglight.com/cgi-bin/backpackinglight/forums/thread_display.html?forum_thread_id=57510&skip_to_post=487505

Randy Nelson
(rlnunix) - F - M

Locale: Rockies
SL3 on 03/07/2012 16:20:47 MST Print View

I have no issues with the non-winter pitch. But I'll have to work on the winter pitch in the backyard a bit before trying it again in the field. A proper pitch will increase the room quite a bit and that's got to help some. If I come up with a repeatable way to pitch it properly in the winter, I'll post it. Digging down a bit might help as well.

James Klein
(jnklein21) - M

Locale: Southeast
Re: SL3 condensation on 03/08/2012 07:13:41 MST Print View

Re: Condensation...

I am not sure how cold it was if the conditions are right it is just gonna happen regardless of ventilation. I have slept under an A-frame hex tarp in a hammock at ~10F and woke up with an ice layer all over the bottom of the tarp. I have slept in one of the large 3-sided AT shelters (probably 15'X15'X15') @ -10F and woken up with an ice layer on the top of my sleeping bag (near my mouth).

It has been a while since I have camped that cold by I have found that a good option is to sleep with a nice layer of fleece covering my mouth and nose to reduce the humidity of my exhaled breath. In the cold I think your best bet is to close up the shelter as much a possible and just do what you can to keep condensation out of your insulation (vbl, inner tent, dwr bivy). And hope you can shake the ice/water of your shelter in the morning.

Andy F
(AndyF) - M
Re: Re: SL3 condensation on 03/08/2012 10:43:06 MST Print View

Hi Randy,

I found that template/guyline method to offer the most precise placement.