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M Condensation in Single-walled Shelters: Contributing Factors and Tips for Reduction

by Will Rietveld

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Article Summary:

Single-walled shelters are much lighter than double-walled tents and are a great way to save some serious weight. Almost all of the Backpacking Light staff routinely use some type of single-walled shelter for most of their trips. However, many people new to lightweight backpacking purchase a single-walled tent to reduce weight, and then get rid of it because "the condensation was terrible." This article will teach you the techniques that expert backpackers use to solve this problem.

Single-walled shelters are notorious for collecting condensation on the inside of the walls. There are many variables that determine whether - and how much - condensation will occur. Two campers can pitch the same tent in the same area on the same night and have totally different condensation scenarios, and we'll explain why below. Technique can help you avoid or minimize condensation, but tent design is very important too. And there are definitely situations where nothing can be done to avoid the dreaded drip.

When we describe condensation issues in our shelter reviews, or when readers discuss their experiences with condensation in our forums, keep in mind that differences in shelter design, campsite location, and shelter use are HUGE factors in condensation formation.

The message of this article is: if you use a single-walled shelter, it is imperative that you educate yourself about the factors that cause condensation, and learn the techniques to avoid or minimize condensation. There's no good reason to avoid using a single-walled shelter because it's "prone to condensation." Condensation is easy to manage and even avoid if you do the right things.

The key questions to be addressed in this article are:

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