In backpacking, one of your main concerns, especially in cool weather, is staying dry. Waking up after a cold night, however, you may find that the inside of your tent walls and your sleeping bag have been dampened by condensation. When you breathe and the moisture from your breath has nowhere to go, this is what happens. This means your bag will be heavier, and if you have a down bag it will not keep you as warm. There are a few things you can do to stay drier.
Don't Breathe Inside Your Bag
Keep the inside of your bag as dry as possible by not breathing into your bag. This may be tempting when temperatures drop and you want to snuggle your face into your bag away from the cold, but this will surely create a dampened bag from the inside out. The cool thing about mummy-shaped bags (which you should be using if you are backpacking in cold temperatures) is that they usually provide a cinch cord around the face so the bag fits your head like a hood. Cinch this down so that there is a small hole for your nose and mouth to breath through, and try as hard as you can to keep this opening at your mouth. This can take some getting used to, but eventually you can learn to sleep more still so that the hole remains where you want it to.
Use a Vapor Barrier
Use a vapor barrier liner in your sleeping bag if you tend to sweat more than others during the night (everyone sweats a bit during sleep). These are especially important for down sleeping bags. A liner keeps the moisture created by your body from getting to the down material, adds another layer of warmth and can keep a person better hydrated. According to Integral Designs, a person's body will sense that it is in a humid enough environment and decrease sweat production.
Ventilate Your Tent
Keep the tent ventilated. This can be hard when it's cold, but keep a small opening or two in the tent doors or windows. This allows the moisture from you and anyone else breathing inside the tent to escape and evaporate out into the air instead of collecting on the tent walls and the tops of your sleeping bags. Double-walled tents will stay drier than single-walled tents. Double-walled tents breathe better because air circulates between the inside body and the rain fly of the tent.
Article Written By Naomi Judd
Naomi M. Judd is a naturalist, artist and writer. Her work has been published in various literary journals, newspapers and websites. Judd holds a self-designed Bachelor of Arts in adventure writing from Plymouth State University and is earning a Master of Fine Arts in creative writing from the University of Southern Maine.