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Old 11-02-15, 02:33 PM   #1
MAK
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Wet Tents?

I enjoy doing supported multi-day tours and I'm considering some self supported touring. I have all the gear needed so I just need to get a plan, get my butt in the saddle and go. Question...What do you do with a wet tent in the morning. Even without rain, there's the issue of dew, etc. How do you keep the tent from mildewing or even if that's not an issue, how do you keep it from smelling like a wet tent?
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Old 11-02-15, 02:42 PM   #2
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I use a hammock. Just shake off the tarp and roll it up. Tent? Wipe it down and let dry in the sun while packing up?
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Old 11-02-15, 02:46 PM   #3
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i pack it wet if need be, but usually it will dry in the morning if i can get it in the sun for 15 minutes or so.

but if i pack it wet, it will dry fast enough once i set it up again.

IME, mildew takes some time to generate and as long as the tent is not put away and left unpacked for more than a few days, i've never had a problem with it. BITD when tents were made of oiled canvas, it was more of a problem.

i think there will be greater concerns, if that's of any consolation.
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Old 11-02-15, 03:00 PM   #4
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IME, mildew takes some time to generate and as long as the tent is not put away and left unpacked for more than a few days, i've never had a problem with it. BITD when tents were made of oiled canvas, it was more of a problem.

i think there will be greater concerns, if that's of any consolation.
+1. OP: Have you never done a supported, multi-day, camping tour and had to pack up a went tent and throw it on the luggage truck? Not really different than packing a tent during self-contained touring.
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Old 11-02-15, 03:18 PM   #5
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I pack my tent, wet or dry. Put it up when I make camp later. Never had a problem with it mildewing in the few hours that it is packed. And I put it in Ortlieb classic panniers, so it does not dry out at all while packed. I try to avoid getting any mud on it while packing.

It takes several minutes between taking the fly off and packing up the tent body. For that reason I try to take the tent down when it is not raining. But that is not always possible, so sometimes the tent body gets pretty wet.
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Old 11-02-15, 03:19 PM   #6
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It comes out the next day which hopefully is not raining..
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Old 11-02-15, 03:24 PM   #7
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I had a Big Agnes Seedhouse that I consistently packed wet over four months and it destroyed the seam taping, that thing was never waterproof again.

So obviously I'm more careful with my new tent. Some things I find that help: Be choosy of where you sleep. It's enticing to sleep next to lakes or on a beach, but this is the most likely place where you'll get hit by moisture. Pine forests where the ground is covered with needles are the best and driest places to sleep. Bring a lightweight tarp along. I cook under mine on rainy days and then I pitch my tent under it... I can keep my fly almost completely dry this way. Find shelter if it's raining; sleep in a picnic shelter, hostel, gazebo, garden shed, under a bridge, etc... only pitch your tent if you absolutely have to.

If your tent still gets wet then make sure if the sun comes out for 10 minutes your tent is drying in it. It's also possible to hang your fly on your rack and let the wind dry it out. Worst case scenario you can stop at a laundromat and pop it in a drier for a bit.

Something that also worries me is leaving my tent inside a scorching hot pannier, this can wreck the coating and seam taping. I try to let it vent out.

Good luck!
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Old 11-02-15, 03:30 PM   #8
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+1. OP: Have you never done a supported, multi-day, camping tour and had to pack up a went tent and throw it on the luggage truck? Not really different than packing a tent during self-contained touring.
True confessions: I've done BRAG (Bike Ride Across Georgia) four times, RAGBRAI twice and the Erie Canal Tour once. BRAG was a motel tour, RAGBRAI was camping but someone put tents up, took them down and transported them in a bus along with luggage and the Erie Canal ride I used a company (Comfy Campers) who put tents up and took them down and even provided an air mattress, towel and camp chair.

Reading this I'm embarrassed and wonder if I should be permitted to participate on the Touring Forum.

That said, I am really considering some self supported riding so my heart is in it despite hueyhoolihan's ominous "greater concerns" comment.
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Old 11-02-15, 04:00 PM   #9
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I shake the fly off as much as possible before packing it up. Same with the tent- I will extend it out downwind(if there is any) and give a few soft shakes while its in the air to knock moisture off. When I then arrive at where I am staying for the night, I unpack and lay/hang both out and then unpack other things. After 10min, both are totally dry.

Once I unpacked the tent and fly when I stopped for food and laid em out on picnic tables. That was after a humid evening where I was on a little peninsula surrounded by a slow moving river and the moisture was insanely high.

I usually keep both the tent and fly up atop the rack and not in a pannier, which keeps it from getting everything else wet.
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Old 11-02-15, 04:24 PM   #10
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Waterproof stuff sack keeps the tent from getting everything else wet if it goes in a pannier. Just try to keep the tent from stewing in its own juices for more than a day or so. You can hang or drape the tent at lunch, assuming it's dry and there's something to hang it on.

One trick I learned for a self-supported tent is to erect it, put two stakes at the front (or back), and roll the whole thing over. That dries out the floor of the tent pretty quickly (in dry, sunny weather). Flip it over, let the breeze blow through the top for 15-30 minutes, then put on the fly.

Worst case, after 2-3 days of solid rain, get a motel room. You'll probably be ready for a roof over your head, and you can drape the tent over chairs, hang the sleeping bag up on hangers, wash and DRY clothes, etc. (And you'll enjoy the warm shower!)
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Old 11-02-15, 04:38 PM   #11
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Since I am an early riser and like to hit the road very early, letting it dry out in the sun in the morning isn't an option. I try to sop up any condensation inside and pack it up still a bit wet. If only the fly is wet, or it is a lot wetter, I pack that separately. I often but not always get to camp while there is still some sun to dry it out. In any case it has never been a huge deal.

I have sometimes stayed with hosts or gotten a room for a couple days and the wet tent packed away in it's bag was still fine. I try not to leave it wet longer than that without airing out, but have had it stay packed and wet a little longer without issue.

Some folks stop mid day and dry it out if it is sunny, but I typically don't bother.

It helps to keep the fly separate if it is especially wet compared to the rest of the tent. When the bottom is wet and the rest is drier, I try to roll it so the dry part is inside and the wet side of the bottom are away from the drier parts. It doesn't dry out any when rolled that way, but it doesn't get any wetter either, even with the tent strapped on top of the rear rack.

I have in recent times switched to either a bivy or bug bivy and tarp, but most of the issues are still the same.
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Old 11-02-15, 05:00 PM   #12
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I carry a small absorbant cloth and use this to wipe the outside of the fly before packing it away separate from the inner tent and inside a plastic garbage bag. Both inner and fly are packed into a rack pack, away from my clothes. When the tent is put up in the evening, it dries very quickly and the inner stays dry. Sometimes, after mopping the excess water off the fly, it will dry quickly before packing away if the weather is good. I don't leave the wet or moist fly packed away for more than the rest of the day before trying to dry it fully since I always camp.
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Old 11-02-15, 05:01 PM   #13
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Some days my tent is wet. Shake it if it's not raining, then roll it up and go. Since I camp virtually 100% when touring, it's out that evening. I wouldn't leave a wet tent packed for more that 1/2 a day.
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Old 11-02-15, 05:33 PM   #14
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Choose you campsite wisely and you won't have to worry about getting wet, even if it rains. The correct campsite can make ya or break ya. I think I only had once this summer where I packed up a wet tent, maybe. Granted it was a dry summer but even at that you would expect to have to deal with dew but because I don't camp on grass I don't have to deal with dew like most do. I don't waste time drying out the gear because I keep it dry in the first place...at least I try my darnedest to. Be smart about every aspect of your trip and you will enjoy it that much more even when things don't want to cooperate.
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Old 11-02-15, 08:49 PM   #15
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You camp on concrete, gravel, and ledges every night?
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Old 11-03-15, 05:59 AM   #16
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That said, I am really considering some self supported riding so my heart is in it despite hueyhoolihan's ominous "greater concerns" comment.
I can assure you he wasn't suggesting that bad things are likely to happen. Rather, he was saying packing up a wet tent is the least of your concerns. There is a difference. I rode a fully-laosded bike on one 62 mile ride the week before I set out on my first tour, which was nearly four months long. The first night of the trip was the first night I had even slept in a tent. I survived the trip with only three stitches. You will survive too and have a blast.
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Old 11-04-15, 07:10 PM   #17
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Hilleberg tent storage bags are oversized to allow wet tents to be packed more easily.
I dry mine in the morning if possible, in the daytime if it is very heavy, but damp tents can wait until I pitch in the evening.
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Old 11-04-15, 08:26 PM   #18
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i pack it wet if need be, but usually it will dry in the morning if i can get it in the sun for 15 minutes or so.

but if i pack it wet, it will dry fast enough once i set it up again.

IME, mildew takes some time to generate and as long as the tent is not put away and left unpacked for more than a few days, i've never had a problem with it. BITD when tents were made of oiled canvas, it was more of a problem.

i think there will be greater concerns, if that's of any consolation.
I've seen the same though I haven't done long tours in damp conditions. Tent interior gets damp anyway in cooler conditions. I think that tents are less vulnerable to rapid mildew 'cause for at least 8 hrs/day the fabric is spread out & exposed to air currents. Went to Richmond2015 & camped during long downpour--didn't have a chance until a week later to wash/dry the tent. Surprisingly the tent didn't stink or have mold.
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Old 11-05-15, 05:15 AM   #19
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When you get home from a trip set up your tent, let it dry and check the inner for debris or paper money. Everything else is a non-issue.
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Old 11-05-15, 06:36 AM   #20
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If it is not raining, I wipe it down each morning before folding/packing it. If it is raining, I pack it wet, and then at the end of that day's ride I set it up without the rainfly to air/dry out. (Normally, if it is raining when I take it down and continues to rain throughout the day, I get a motel room that night. Setting a wet tent up in the rain is really depressing.... I always use self-supporting tents, so I set it up in the motel room to dry out.)
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Old 11-05-15, 06:42 AM   #21
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Hilleberg tent storage bags are oversized to allow wet tents to be packed more easily.
The same for Big Agnes tents if they are all like the Hubba Hubba that I got to use when there are two of us along. I never really had trouble packing wet tents in the tight stuff sacks that come with most of them, at least not once I got used to packing a particular tent. Personally I'd actually rather have a good bit smaller bag than the one that came with the Hubba Hubba.
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Old 11-05-15, 09:40 AM   #22
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If it is not raining, I wipe it down each morning before folding/packing it. If it is raining, I pack it wet, and then at the end of that day's ride I set it up without the rainfly to air/dry out. (Normally, if it is raining when I take it down and continues to rain throughout the day, I get a motel room that night. Setting a wet tent up in the rain is really depressing.... I always use self-supporting tents, so I set it up in the motel room to dry out.)
this is the sensible thing to do...
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Old 11-08-15, 08:37 PM   #23
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If it is not raining, I wipe it down each morning before folding/packing it. If it is raining, I pack it wet, and then at the end of that day's ride I set it up without the rainfly to air/dry out. (Normally, if it is raining when I take it down and continues to rain throughout the day, I get a motel room that night. Setting a wet tent up in the rain is really depressing.... I always use self-supporting tents, so I set it up in the motel room to dry out.)

Makes sense for comfort & convenience, but how long does it take for a damp tent to get stinky? BTW on last rainy camping stop I forgot to zip up tent door before assembly & got a puddle inside heh. I mopped up the puddle but w/the constant rain thru the night I was surprised that the interior & damp clothes actually dried out a fair bit overnight.
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Old 11-08-15, 08:56 PM   #24
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Makes sense for comfort & convenience, but how long does it take for a damp tent to get stinky?
I've never had a problem as long as I let the tent air out and dry at the first opportunity. That includes one trip where there was solid rain for a week. The tent was (and still is) fine after I made sure to let it dry thoroughly once I got home.

OTOH, our experience was not so good with a tent we borrowed from my inlaws many years ago. They told us to look for the tent in the rafters of the garage and we found that my wife's sibling had returned from an outing a few months earlier with the tent soaked from a thunderstorm and stored in a plastic bag since then. A hot garage and trapped moisture inside the plastic bag proved to be excellent conditions for growing mildew and the tent never recovered.
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Old 11-08-15, 10:47 PM   #25
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Hilleberg tent storage bags are oversized to allow wet tents to be packed more easily.
I dry mine in the morning if possible, in the daytime if it is very heavy, but damp tents can wait until I pitch in the evening.
I pack my wet tent just the same as a dry one. If the rainfly is the only thing that is wet, I put in a plastic grocery bag, and it goes in my rack pack. I've had similar experiences as some of the other posters; long stretches of rainy weather, and a damp tent for extended periods. However, I try to dry it when I can, especially if we are going to motel it for a night or two. Never had a problem with mildew or odor.

My tent and rainfly go in the blue compression sack.


Trying to dry the rainfly
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