IS MY TENT LEAKING?

If you are unlucky enough to wake up to small puddles of water inside your tent, you panic.
Do I have a leaking tent?

Puddle of condensation in a tent

If you have bought a cheap tent, you expect some leaking in heavy rainfall. But when you’ve bought a high-quality tent and spent good money on it, you’re not going to be happy.


Bellisima tents are made to the highest specifications. The material used to make the tent is tough and waterproof. The stitching is strong and the seams are sealed; your tent is designed to keep the weather out.


Therefore, if you find little puddles, it is very unlikely that you have a leaking tent.
What has probably occurred is one of the following things:


TENT WEATHERING

When a tent is new, the thread is small and the holes are freshly made. These holes can let water in. The first few times your tent gets wet, the threads will soak up some water and swell. They dry a little bit wider than before, which seals the holes.

This process is called weathering.

This is common knowledge with canvas tents, but even if you have a polyester tent, it is a good idea to get it out and thoroughly wet it through before you go camping. Focus on the stitching areas and especially the areas that have been stitched right through the fabric leading to the interior.

This begins the weathering process.

Your tent may need a few repeat attempts at getting wet before all the threads swell and fill all the holes.


CONDENSATION


One of the downsides of polyester tents is condensation.


Condensation can be seen hanging from the ceiling of your tent, running down the sides of your tent and even creating puddles of water on the floor.


When we sleep, we exhale moisture.


1 person can produce up to 1 pint of condensation per night. So, if you have 4 people inside, that’s 4 pints of water in your tent!


The air itself holds moisture. A typical 6-man tent holds approximately 1 pint of water.


At night, the temperature inside a tent becomes warmer and humid from occupants, heaters and lack of ventilation. Warm air holds more moisture than cold air. When the warm air inside the tent hits the cool fabric of the tent, the moisture deposits onto the surface as condensation.


Condensation can be made worse when the air outside the tent is significantly cooler than inside, especially after a warm, humid day.


When there is temperature drop in the evening, more condensation often forms!


There are two points inside a bell tent where condensation seems to puddle/drip:

  • The first is the pockets, these areas seem to act as a run off for condensation. We have found putting a little cloth in or under each pocket helps.
  • The second is the A frame. Because it is made of metal, it condenses the water and runs it off. This moisture can then appear as water droplets on the A-frame and puddles at the base of the A-frame, so try not to store items around the base of the A-frame.


Wet items increase the water inside a tent; wet shoes, towels, swimwear, clothes, dogs, cooking and boiling kettles are all culprits of extra moisture!


Unfortunately, condensation is difficult to avoid.


Rain makes condensation much worse!


When it rains, the humidity is 100%, which is why the clouds are unable to hold any more water and the humidity increases because of evaporation.


The longer it rains, the more the humidity will increase because the air is constantly drawing the water.
When the air is warmer, water evaporates faster creating a high humidity too.


SOLUTIONS

Ventilate your tent

To reduce condensation, ventilate your tent and increase the airflow as much as possible.
Find low and high venting options and open them to let moist air flow out. If the weather allows, leave the lower section of the door open and keep the mesh section zipped.


Make sure the vents inside your tent are never obstructed by bags or sleeping bodies.

Wipe the walls

Remove condensation from the surface as much as possible and stop any drips.

Remove wet items

Keep towels, wet shoes, damp coats, swimwear, etc outside of the tent if you can. Cars are a great place for stuffing these things into!

Don’t cook inside

It isn’t safe to cook inside a tent anyway but cooking also releases lots of moisture into the air.
Turn heaters off

Turn heaters off

Warm air can support more moisture, so warming the air inside the tent increases water vapour. The warmer the tent is the more moisture will be released into the tent through evaporation and perspiration. Try to stay warm with good sleeping bags and clothes instead of heating the air in the tent.

Pitch your tent in a breezy spot


Areas with no air flow are much more likely to get condensation. Pitch your tent so that vents are lined up with the prevailing winds.

Don’t pitch too close to water

Rivers and lakes can increase humidity. Pitching your tent, a little further away from water sources can help reduce condensation.

Take towels / microfiber cloths

They’re super useful whilst camping anyway but they can be used to simply mop up little puddles in the morning and squeeze the water out outside.


BAD WEATHER


You want your tent to be super durable but we often have horrible weather in the UK, especially around the coastlines.


Has your tent been designed for the weather you’re camping in?


It is worth considering the Hydrostatic Head rating of your tent’s fabric. This is a measurement of how waterproof your tent is.


Bellisima Camping Polyester bell tents are 3000mm Hydrostatic head. This means that if a tube of water was placed on top of the fabric, the depth of the water would be 3000mm before it starts passing through the fabric.


A tent with a 1500 – 3000mm rating is going to keep you sheltered and dry in all but the absolute worst of conditions.


The aerodynamic shape of bell tents makes them great in wind. We also supply Bellisima tents with thick 6mm guy strings and aluminium runners along with heavy duty rebar tent pegs as we found this let us down with other tents!


If the rainfall is so heavy that it is too much for the hydrostatic head of your tent, it will force water through the fabric. This will create a fine mist in the tent which will make everything damp to wet.


Typically, when you get bad weather, you get bad wind. This can blow water up through all the ventilation holes, mesh windows, zips and openings. Really bad weather can force zips open.


Bellisima camping bell tents also have an additional row of elastic hoops around the base. These are designed so you can double peg your tent if required. They hold the weather lip down over the zip that runs around the edge of the tent.

If really bad weather is forecast, weather stronger than what your tent is designed for, we recommend you change your plans and don’t go camping!


ITEMS TOUCHING THE SIDES OF THE TENT


Things touching the sides of the tent can draw water in.


As bell tents are single skin, you need to be mindful of this and keep things away from the edge in rainy weather; bags, shouldn’t touch the tent walls.


Sometimes if the weather is really bad and blowing into your tent, the tent can be pushed into your belongings and by morning, you can have puddles, so move them nearer the middle if its very windy.

A GAP LETTING WATER IN

Check for obvious rain holes!
Pull lip over zip

Check for any obvious gaps letting water in.

Ensure the lip is pulled down over the zip that runs around the base of the tent.

Double peg around the base if you are getting gaps to ensure there are no water holes.


ITS NONE OF THESE


In this case, you might have a real leak in the tent.


The first thing to do is contact the manufacturer. Your tent will need to have been well weathered and photos of where the tent is leaking are likely to be asked for.


The most common cause of leaks is at the seams where the thread holes just haven’t quite sealed by weathering and they need a little extra help. Therefore, they will likely send you a product to apply to this area to help resolve the issue.


However, if there is a sewing or manufacturing defect, this should be covered by the tent warranty and it is likely that you will be asked to return the tent.


LINKS


These pages are an excellent read regarding the above:


https://www.getoutwiththekids.co.uk/camping/camping-tips/fix-a-leaking-tent/


https://www.vango.co.uk/gb/blog/how-to-prevent-condensation.html