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What’s the Best Way to Pitch a Tent in Cold Weather?

My tent has zip in/out panels and I'm not sure what the right balance is between keeping the heat in and getting the condensation out.

Question:

Dear Kristin,
What is the ideal way to rig your 4-season tent for cold weather?
My tent has zip in/out panels and I’m not sure what the right balance is between keeping the heat in and getting the condensation out.

Submitted by - Will, Ft. Lauderdale, FL

Answer:

It’s all about venting. A battened-down tent can trap a lot of heat–especially with several huffing and puffing people inside—and, in winter, heat is a very good thing. But if there’s too much hot air inside, it can condense on the tent’s inner walls, and things can get clammy.

There’s an old technique called high-low venting, which should create the right balance (and it also works in hot, humid conditions where you want to stay protected from rain without steaming up your tent. Basically, you want to create a path for a bit of wind to circulate through your tent. First, determine which end is pointed into the wind. Find the zip-out panel on that side and open it down low only. This is the air’s point of entry. On the opposite side, open just the top of your zip-out panel. Now you’ve given the air an escape route.

But what if you don’t have zip-out panels? Use what you do have, whether it’s a vestibule door or a ceiling vent. Just figure out a high-low path and try to wrangle the air to obey.

By the way, there’s one more key to good ventilation in a double wall tent: proper pitching. You want your tent’s fly to be as taut as a trampoline, so air can circulate between it and the canopy. That means cranking down on all the stake-out points, utilizing guy-out points, and tightening everything up periodically as it inevitably slackens. —KRISTIN

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