Leaking tents is a concern every camper has. There are various reasons for the leakage in a tent. Does touching a tent make it leak?
Touching a tent doesn’t always make it leak. Most tents tend to develop leaks during storms or rainy weather. During rain, if you touch the inside wall of the tent, the surface tension can be broken or the hydrostatic head could be altered. This could lead to potential tent leaks.
It’s doesn’t matter how much you paid for your tent. It could depend on the material that the tent is made of. If you touch the inside walls of a waterproof tent, there is a chance that the hydrostatic head remains the same, and does not cause any seepage.
Other possible reasons for tent leaks
The reasons behind a leak in the tent may not be just a touch. There could be an undetected tear or hole in the wall of the tent, causing it to attract water from the outside. The humidity and condensation within the tent could also cause a leak. Water penetration is also possible when the base of the tent is not fixed properly.
The tents that are not seasoned before use are the most likely to develop a leak. When you use polycotton tents or canvas ones, there are higher chances of water seepage.
So, investing in a polystyrene tent that is water-proof and seasoned, can avoid any mishaps.
Why you shouldn’t touch the tent walls during rain?
Usually, canvas and cloth tents leak when you touch the inside walls during a shower or downpour. This happens because the temperatures are different inside and outside the tent. The surface tension of the water droplets that are on the outside walls of the tent tends to break when they come in contact with a dry object.
This does not happen only when you touch the tent with your finger. If there is any object that is in contact with the walls of your tent, there is a chance that you will notice dampness around it. Surface tension and condensation are the reasons behind it. The water droplets move towards the inside of the tent because of the humidity within the tent. This seepage of water is what leads to leaking tent walls.
The best way to avoid this is to make sure that your camping equipment and supplies are kept away from the walls of the tent. It is a good idea to move your sleeping bags, backpacks, and other supplies towards the center of your tent. In this way, you avoid any contact with the walls of the tent. This reduces your chances of having a leaking tent during your camping trip.
Though it is not advisable to touch the insides of the tent during a rain shower, there are many companies that produce tents that do not leak even if the inside walls are touched. This is owing to a double layer of material to prevent seepage. Otherwise, using a water-proof sealant and making sure that all the objects inside the tent are away from the walls, is a good way to make sure that you remain dry while camping in rainy weather.
Pro Tip: Even if a tent has a good hydrostatic head number, touching the tent could cause a leak because of the surface tension.
Can I touch the tent walls when there is no rain?
Yes, you can touch the tent walls when there is no rain. This is because there is the same amount of moisture inside and outside the tent. There will be no seepage of water from the outside because there are no water droplets clinging to the outside walls of your tent. However, if you are camping in a place that is close to a water source, like a lake or a pond, you might need to be careful about humidity and the conditions around the tent.
Sometimes, you will find some condensation on the inside walls of your tent in the morning. This is because of the moisture in our breath. The walls of the tent are cooler than the breath we expel. When this air we exhale hits the cooler walls of the tent, there is some condensation, and you will have tiny water droplets like dew, on the insides of your tent.
Tips to avoid touching the tent walls
There are various ways to avoid touching the tent walls.
- Use a tent that suits your needs. If you are camping alone, bring along a tent that is suitable for one person. However, if there are a few people accompanying you, get a tent that can accommodate multiple people and their baggage.
- Do not use a mattress while camping. A mattress takes up more space than a sleeping bag, and cannot be stored in a compact space. Mattresses can also create more contact spots. This means that there are more chances of seepage of water.
- Pitch your tent on flat ground to cover maximum space. If you are pitching it on a slope, there are more chances that your supplies could be stacked up against the wall of the tent. If there is a depression in the ground, there could be an accumulation of water in the hole.
- Have enough light inside the tent so that you are not groping around in the darkness to open the tent. While you feel the insides of your tent to find the zipper to open the tent, you are maximizing the areas of contact. This means that you are causing some leakage inadvertently.
What should I do if my tent leaks?
The best way to avoid leakage is to use a rainfly or tarp to protect your tent if the weather forecast warns you well in advance.
If the leak is due to the guy lines not being taut, you could first repair that. Check the rainfly of your tent and make sure it is not touching it to prevent further leakage. Move everything that is touching the walls of the tent away from it, so that the contact is reduced.
Find out if there is a leak. You can use a patch repair kit to repair your tent to prevent further leakage. This can only be done after the rain. This can prevent other incidents of leakage while you camp. Any tears and rips should also be taken care of while you are making necessary repairs. You can find the hole quite easily. You can look for the wettest area in the tent walls, and make the required repairs.
After the incident, dry your tent. Then, use a water sealant spray and weather-proof your tent thoroughly. A seasoned tent is always better than a leaking one. To prevent condensation, leave all the wet or damp objects outside your tent. Do not try to increase the heat inside the tent by heating water. This produces steam that could condense when it hits the walls of the tent.
If the seams of the tent seem to let in water, you could use some tape to seal them temporarily. But you will have to choose the correct seam sealer. A liquid seam sealer is usually the go-to option for many seasoned campers. Before you apply any sealant, it is good to carefully clean the surface of the tent before applying a new layer to cover the gaps.