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Rainshadow 2 pitching/ advice
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Kevin Manley
(manleyk) - F - MLife

Locale: Denver-ish
Rainshadow 2 pitching/ advice on 10/15/2013 16:46:15 MDT Print View

Hi all,

I recently purchased a Rainshadow 2 (thanks KK!) and used it this last weekend. I pitched it in the Colorado high desert at Shelf Road. There were two of us in it, along with a pile of gear.

Night one: temps got down to 32F. It was pretty cold in the tent and drafty, even with the vent closed. The beak was about 1.5 feet off the ground, and the vent was closed the whole night. When we woke, there was a little condensation on the inside of the tent. Humidity was about 30% outside.

Night two: temps down to 39F. Much warmer in the tent, beak a little closer to the ground, less drafty (until the wind gusted to 40mph, but that was brief). Light rain forced us into the tent. I left the vent open. We awoke to heavy condensation (enough to soak a towel).

In neither case was the pitch drum tight. In both cases, it was a fair and stable pitch. I read lots of reviews, talking about only mild condensation in humid places. I saw lots of pics of people camping in this tent in the snow. So...what am I doing wrong?

We got this to replace the Nemo Espri LE 2P we had been using (which the GF says is too small and I say is too heavy), but the condensation is a real problem, as is the draftiness.

Edited by manleyk on 10/15/2013 16:47:38 MDT.

John Myers
(dallas) - F - MLife

Locale: North Texas
Re: Rainshadow 2 pitching/ advice on 10/15/2013 16:53:52 MDT Print View

I'm guessing you have seen the setup video, but if not:

Kevin Manley
(manleyk) - F - MLife

Locale: Denver-ish
video on 10/15/2013 17:26:38 MDT Print View

Thanks, John. I watched it before I left and after I got back. I forgot to walk around the back and lift it after the front pole was in, but other than that, I don't think I missed anything.

Mary D
(hikinggranny) - MLife
Rainshadow 2 pitching/ advice on 10/15/2013 17:27:34 MDT Print View

With any tent, but especially with a single-wall tent, you will have to chose between draftiness and condensation. Ventilation is highly important. Don't close the vents or the beak unless it's raining sideways!

Also, silnylon stretches when damp, so you will need to tighten the guylines at bedtime. You can reach the adjustments for the front and front side guylines from inside the tent, so if there's no dew but it starts raining in the middle of the night, you don't have to get wet.

Try to camp well away from bodies of water, not down in a deep valley and under trees. All these help to reduce condensation. For those times you can't avoid such locations, have a packtowel or two to wipe down the moisture. If you have a Labrador Retriever in the tent, as soon as he wakes up and starts wagging his tail, you'll have a shower! However, a good DWR on your sleeping bag shell solves this problem; just shake the drops off the sleeping bag once you've put the dog outside. And you certainly won't have to wipe the tent down!

I like Franco's setup video:
His method of using the rear stake before inserting the rear pole. staking the front corners before doing the center and using two poles instead of one works a lot better for me than the method on the Tarptent site. Your Mileage May Vary.

However, you'll have quite a bit less condensation if you always sleep with your head at the door end. The lower the ceiling, the more apt the water vapor from your breath and body moisture is to condense before it can exit the tent.

If you're on uneven, sloping ground, it is harder to get a good setup. That's especially true with the beak if the tent door is facing uphill.

Edited by hikinggranny on 10/15/2013 17:32:46 MDT.

Franco Darioli
(Franco) - M

Locale: @Tarptent
Rainshadow 2 pitching/ advice on 10/15/2013 17:45:53 MDT Print View

OK, I see others have already posted some of the points I wanted to make.
Just as a reminder, as you see a wet lawn or car in the morning after a non rainy night, you will see a wet open tarp, so sometime you can have as much air around your tent as possible but still have a wet fly.
This is why :

Note for example the inside of this well made double wall tent :
Double wall condensation
in that situation any tent fly would have been wet except of course, unless you have a look ,you may not see it.
Sometime ago the exact samedouble wall solo shelter was described by one user in one forum as having "ZERO condensation" and here by another as "a condensation machine"
They were probably both describing accurately their experience, just different time and location.

Drawing lifted from :
Tent photo from Google Images
(just type "Tent condensation " for plenty of examples of this kind)

Edited by Franco on 10/15/2013 17:53:39 MDT.

Greg F
(GregF) - F

Locale: Canadian Rockies
rs2 on 10/15/2013 17:52:35 MDT Print View

I found the rs2 to be very pitch dependant. Under tree cover I never had any problems. Out in the open, near freezing, near a lake, surrounded by mountains I did get significant condensation but that is because I checked off all of the boxes. People in double walls had similar amounts on the outers of their tents.

Even with significant condensation with 3 200lb 6 ft guys in the tent we did not get wet. You just stay off the walls and don't worry about it. I have since switched to a golite 5 but that was because it is bigger not because of any flaws in the rs2.

Did the condensation you experienced get you wet or have any other negative affect? The nice thing about condensation is that you get much less on rainy nights when you need to close down the vents because the cloud cover reduces the radiative heat loss.

Kevin Schneringer
(Slammer) - MLife

Locale: Oklahoma Flat Lands
RS2 on 10/15/2013 19:23:45 MDT Print View

I have 2 of the RS2 and a tight pitch is a must. Condensation is very unpredictable when we use ours but never a major problem.
I have 4 kids so we have 2 kids/1adult in each and usually keep two towels in each for condensation.

All n all we like ours and since the kids wake us up during the night we dry the tent at least once during the night. That keeps everyone dry.
If it gets drafty use your packs to block air at the head/foot areas.

Kevin Manley
(manleyk) - F - MLife

Locale: Denver-ish
Thanks and more questions on 10/16/2013 23:44:28 MDT Print View

Thanks for all the responses!

More refining: we slept with our heads near the door, miles from bodies of water (well, other than the rain), on a hill, and next to some trees (but there were very few). The pitch wasn't tight, so maybe that was the problem.

I've never seen condensation like this inside a tent, but maybe it has occurred before and was hidden by the mesh in double walled tents.

So...would we be warmer and feel less of the condensation in a double walled tent? Or was this a truly abnormal experience?

If double walled is the answer, recommendations?

Matt Dirksen
(NamelessWay) - MLife

Locale: Mid Atlantic
Re: Thanks and more questions on 10/17/2013 06:05:14 MDT Print View

Hi Kevin,

Condensation will occurr when the right blend of temperature and humidity occurs, no matter what. (Three sleeping people in close quarters will put out a lot of moistureize the air right off the bat.) As Franco's picture shows, a "typical" double walled tent will have a better opportunity to allow warm ( and moist ) air to pass through the first permeable tent wall, to condense on the second wall if it doesn't evaporate between the two walls. Because the air between the two walls of the tent is not as warm as the interior, there will be less temperature difference between this air and the outside wall, thus reducing condensation.

So, in general, the answer to your question is: yes - a TYPICAL double walled tent will likely have a better way to manage and mitigate moisture, with all other variables being the same.

However, there is the weight penalty, and the fact that some single walled tent systems are more vapor permeable or manage condensation better than others. (Bibler & Integral Designs use fabrics with a "fuzzy" interior surface to help manage condensation.

But as others have said, ventilation is always the key, unless the air your tent is in is right at its saturation point, meaning any surface will take on condensation, no matter what. Very light rain could be an indication of just this time (like sitting in fog.)


John Myers
(dallas) - F - MLife

Locale: North Texas
Re: Thanks and more questions on 10/17/2013 07:24:57 MDT Print View


If you were up near Canon City, I checked weather underground for 10/12 & 13 and it shows you were very near the dewpoint both mornings so the humidity was almost 100%.

I think every single walled tent would likely have significant condensation under those conditions.

Mark Ries
(mtmnmark) - M

Locale: IOWAHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!
Re: Rainshadow 2 pitching/ advice on 10/17/2013 07:53:51 MDT Print View

I had one night as you described when I had a RS2 but I really didn't get wet even though I didn't wipe it down till morning. I also had some really great nights in that tent with zero condensation. If I ever have a need for that much space again I just might go back to one. If it was not raining and the bugs were no problem sleeping with the beak up, the screen open and under tree cover yet open to breezes is the best you could have done. The real nice thing about the RS is with a fairly good pitch the water tends to run down the silnylon and out the bug screen. On my night of heavy condensation the wind picked up later and it was kinda raining inside

Kevin Manley
(manleyk) - F - MLife

Locale: Denver-ish
Update... on 12/04/2013 11:21:57 MST Print View

I tried the RS2 again a couple weeks ago in Golden, CO. It was chilly and there was little wind. I pitched it tighter and with the tail end pointed into the wind. No condensation at all!

Thanks for the help!