10 Tips On How To Keep Your Tent Dry Inside

Last Updated on 26/03/2022

how to keep your tent dry inside

How to Keep Your Tent Dry Inside

Learning how to keep your tent dry inside is easy once you understand what contributes to moisture levels. Keeping your tent dry inside is more important than you might think, especially when camping in cold weather. Groundsheets and tarps prevent moisture building from above or below, and good site selection and ventilation stop condensation from soaking you overnight.

Anyone who has camped regularly will most likely have woken up at some point feeling damp. This is usually during your early experiences of camping with an inadequate tent or touching against one of the inner walls. For tents that can withstand any weather, check out these geodesic dome frame tents.

There are some things you can do to keep yourself and your equipment dry while you go camping. If you’re out on a longer trip, damp gear can be difficult to dry, or can sometimes damage your equipment. For example, down can clump together in your winter sleeping bag and limit the insulating qualities.

If nothing else, being damp is uncomfortable. You are prone to cooling down quickly in damp conditions and it will give you a rough night’s sleep. So what can we do to keep our tent dry inside?

The Best Advice for Keeping Your Tent Dry Inside

Be prepared!

There are plenty of things you can do to help avoid getting wet inside your tent long before you head out of the door. This includes having the means to dry a wet tent from the inside. Firstly, buying the right tent will regulate your temperature appropriately and give you enough ventilation to avoid condensation buildup. A tent with a bathtub floor will keep you dryer than one without, especially in long grass or wet weather.

Checking the weather and planning your location is going to put you in the best position to stay dry. If the weather is looking particularly wet, perhaps plan a trip where you can camp in more sheltered areas. Carrying a sponge or pack towel to wring out moisture from the inside of your tent is also a good idea.

10 Tips to Keep the Inside of Your Tent Dry

Here are our top ten tips for how to keep your tent dry inside when camping and also how to dry it out if it gets wet inside.

Choose a Good Location

Okay, so we mentioned location in the planning. But remember that plans should always be open to change. If your planned campsite no longer looks like a good idea, check the map and find somewhere more sheltered.

Selecting a spot with good drainage will stop water pooling underneath your tent. Checking for local water sources not only gives you a good idea of where you can collect your water for cooking and sterilizing but also lets you know if you’re pitching up on a flood plain.

Long grass should be avoided if possible. Long grass collects moisture and deposits it high up the sidewall of your tent. You also tend to walk more moisture into your porch and then into your tent when you are camping in long grass.

While it’s important to find shelter, you should try to camp somewhere with airflow. Camping in strong winds may force water up the inside of your tent, but a gentle breeze carries moisture away and prevents condensation.

Avoid Condensation Build Up

Condensation on the inside of your tent is one of the most common ways to end up soaked when camping. It’s also easy to avoid.

Condensation forms when warm, damp air you breathe out or heat with your body, touches the cool outer wall of your tent. This forms into water droplets and runs off, hopefully away from you. If large amounts of condensation build up, they can drip through onto you in the night.

Single-walled tents are the most susceptible to condensation build-up and here are some ways you can avoid wet tent walls.

#A double or triple walled tent gives you more protection from this, just so long as you don’t let the inner and outer wall touch. These double-walled tents also have a greater level of ventilation.

By pitching your tent where there is a gentle breeze, as we mentioned earlier, condensation can be carried away through the night. Condensation builds more on less ventilated tents, so you should make sure your tent is appropriate for your conditions. Tents with more internal mesh and vents that can open are better suited to warmer or damper environments.

Use a Rain Tarp to Increase Protection

Now we’re getting into the extra equipment you can carry to stay dry. One of the reasons condensation can build is because your tent gets damp on the outside and doesn’t breathe properly. By raising a tarp over the top of your tent, you keep the skin dry and limit condensation.

Not just that, but there’s the obvious extra weatherproofing, too. A tarp will give you that extra layer of protection from heavy rain or snow.

keeping the inside of a tent dry

How to Pitch Your Tarp?

There are a few ways to fit your tarp, depending on where you are camping. If you can find a suitable area in and around trees, then you’re on for an easy system. Simply attach the corners of your tarp to suitable trees and you have an extra layer of shelter ready to go. If you don’t have the benefit of trees around your chosen campsite, you can manufacture a way of holding up the corners of your tarp. Use either walking poles or fallen wood to raise the corners as needed.

Now, there are many ways to set up your tarp which require an entire article in their own right. If you’re not sure about different tarp styles, there are many videos, like this one here that can give you some useful ideas. Whether you choose to raise your tarp high is going to depend on the wind conditions. A tarp draped over your tent, though, isn’t going to keep the wind blowing through and help ventilation. It might, however, still offer some extra protection.

Extend Your Porch

Often, dampness in your tent is caused either by us walking moisture in from the outside, or equipment drying overnight. Using a tarp, or a specifically designed extension, you can increase the porch size of your tent.

There are several benefits here. Some tents, especially backpacking models, have a small porch which leaves the inner open to getting wet when the door is open. If you want to climb in and out of your tent, or leave the door open to dry your tent, as we will look at later, you don’t want rain coming in.

A large porch gives you space to dry your gear overnight without the moisture building inside your tent. It also gives you space to change out of wet gear and sort your equipment, without bringing that wetness into your tent.

Finally, it’s more space to cook. Cooking in your tent can either lead to condensation or spills, both of which we want to avoid. A large porch gives you space to cook safely and keep your gear dry.

Use a Groundsheet to Block Moisture from Below

Even if you pick the best location available to you, it can be impossible to avoid camping somewhere on wet ground. If you’re not convinced that your tent floor is going to keep the moisture out, you can add a tarp or groundsheet under your tent for more protection.

How you fit your groundsheet is important. A loose-fitting groundsheet, or a sheet that comes out under the side of your tent, can gather water and cause more issues than it solves. A tight-fitting groundsheet or a well-placed tarp will stop moisture coming up from below, and protect your tent from damage.

Leave Your Boots and Wet Gear at the Door

Any damp gear you take into the tent is going to cause you problems. The only things you should take into the inner of your tent should be your sleeping gear and some dry clothes.

Now, you don’t always realize how wet your gear is until you take it into a dry place. Having wet clothing and gear drying inside your tent causes damp air which condenses on the outer wall of the tent.

Leave your wet boots and damp gear at the door to let them dry in the breeze. Extending your porch, as we said earlier, gives you more space to dry your gear properly.

Don’t Spill Anything

In wet weather, chances are you want to hide inside your tent to cook and eat. When you cook in your tent you create condensation and damp air. It’s also easy to spill things inside your tent. On numerous occasions, I have slept on my hydration reservoir tube to find a small puddle in the morning where I had knocked the valve.

If you’re going to cook inside your tent, you should cook in the porch area. This means that any spillages don’t go onto your sleeping bag or mat.

Dry Your Tent Out During the Day

If you are hiking and plan to move site every day, try to dry your tent out before you pack it away. Give yourself time in the morning to shake your tent off and hang it up to dry, so long as the weather allows you to.

When you arrive at your campsite, make sure your tent is dry when you pitch it. If you can hang it out to dry before pitching. Once pitched, open the door and let it vent through and dry out before putting your sleeping gear down.

If you don’t move the site, open the doors and dry your gear out. If the weather allows, remove your sleeping gear and hang it out to ventilate, and let your tent dry.

Have a Campfire

There’s a fine balance to strike here. A campfire dries out equipment efficiently. Even from several meters away, the heat from a campfire can help to dry your tent out. This tip doesn’t always apply to keeping your tent dry but it can help as a cure. A campfire can also be used to dry out your sleeping bag and gear which will in turn help to keep moisture out of your tent.

Of course, if your fire is too close to your tent, it can cause damage. Sparks from the fire can burn small holes and the excessive heat can damage the skin on your tent beyond repair.

Pack a Micro Towel or Sponge

Of course, you should avoid getting moisture into your tent where you can, but be prepared to dry it out if you do. If you need to dry your tent, there’s nothing better than a micro-towel to do the job. These weigh almost nothing and can just be thrown into your pack. They soak up a good amount of water and can be wrung out, again and again, to dry your tent out.

A micro towel or sponge can also be used to wipe down the inside of a tent if there is a buildup of condensation. In the same way, this can be done on the outside of a tent on a morning before you pack it away.

We hope you found these tips on how to keep your tent dry inside interesting and useful. Thanks for reading.

Gear Assistant
Gear Assistant

This article has been written and/or edited by Andrew N. 20+ years of hiking, mountaineering, and camping experience, with access to all the latest outdoor gear.

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