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If you’re sleeping outdoors, some natural condensation can be expected, especially if you’re camping out in the cooler seasons. It’s important to know how to keep your sleeping bag warm and dry, both for your own comfort and to avoid hypothermia. But how do you keep the morning dew off your sleeping bag, especially if you’re on the ground?
Here’s how to keep morning dew off your sleeping bag:
- Cover the sleeping bag with a light tarp.
- Set up your campsite under natural cover.
- Use a synthetic fiber sleeping bag liner.
- Create a bivouac shelter.
- Pack a tent.
- Do not hand-dry the sleeping bag.
Keeping yourself and your gear dry is important if you’re backpacking or camping, both for your wellbeing and the maintenance of the sleeping bag. Keep reading for information about how to keep your bag dry through the night, as well as some tips on what to do when you wake up to a sleeping bag covered in dew.
1. Cover the Sleeping Bag With a Light Tarp
Sometimes a simple solution is all you need to prevent condensation from collecting on your sleeping bag.
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According to Outside Magazine, a light tarp can be effective in keeping your bag free from morning dew. If you’re a regular hiker or backpacker, a specialized ENO Eagles Nest Outfitters ProFly Rain Tarp from Amazon.com for rainy weather is a good addition to your packing list.
If you don’t have access to a backpacking tarp, a standard rain tarp can be effective as well.
The advantage of a backpacking tarp, however, is that it can be folded down into a more compact bundle than traditional tarps. Some backpacking tarps are designed to be multifunctional, so that hikers can use them as either a rainfly or a hammock, depending on the conditions.
2. Set Up Your Campsite Under Natural Cover
Outside Magazine also recommends choosing a naturally protected location when setting up your campsite. Sleeping under a canopy of trees can help to reduce the amount of moisture that collects on the outside of your sleeping bag in the morning.
Choosing dry, flat ground is also important when picking out your campsite.
Pitching your camp in a dry, even, and protected place will help to prevent water runoff from entering your camp, as well as limit the amount of condensation.
3. Use a Synthetic Fiber Sleeping Bag Liner
One method of handling morning dew while camping or backpacking is to use a synthetic liner over your sleeping bag. Synthetics dry out faster than down sleeping bags, which makes the morning condensation less of a problem.
Simply shake out the liner in the morning and hang it to air-dry while you break camp or start your day of camping.
The tightly knit plastic fibers that make up synthetic sleeping bag materials are typically more water-resistant than traditional sleeping bags, according to Camping Habits. This means that, while dew may still collect on the outside of the sleeping bag, you will remain warm and dry within.
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On top of keeping moisture out of your sleeping bag, synthetic fiber liners can also help to contain body heat. A synthetic liner, such as a Litume Thermolite All Season Sleeping Bag from Amazon.com, can increase the temperature inside the sleeping bag by as much as 22°F (-5.55°C), according to the product description.
4. Create a Bivouac Shelter
A bivouac, sometimes called a bivy, is a general term encompassing any temporary campsite that doesn’t use tents or shelter. Bivouac shelters are typically minimalist, crudely installed structures intended to be set up and broken down quickly, providing the bare minimum of protection against the elements.
The advantage of bivouacking is that it allows hikers, backpackers, and originally soldiers to carry their shelter with them. The rudimentary nature of bivy shelters means there are fewer pieces of equipment to carry, making it a popular option for grittier long-distance hikers.
Modern Bivy sacks, according to REI, were designed for rock climbers who need lightweight shelter they can carry on their back. If a climber is camping on a rock face during the course of a multiple-day climb, it’s helpful to have a weather-resistant liner.
The difference between a bivouac shelter and a bivouac sack is the former consists of a tarp and lines, while the latter essentially works like a sleeping bag liner.
5. Pack a Tent
The easiest way to keep morning dew off your sleeping bag is to sleep inside.
Many backpackers avoid bringing tents along with them because of the additional weight a tent adds to the load. A lightweight backpacking tent, or even an individual-sized pup tent, can make all the difference in terms of waking up warm and dry.
- The design allows for high volume pole architecture resulting in steeper walls
- High volume angle hub increases stability and strength while creating optimal livable space.
Backpacking tents, such as the Big Agnes Copper Spur available on Amazon.com, can weigh as little as 2 or 3 lbs (0.90 or 1.36 kg). The lightweight composition, in combination with the weather-resistant features of the tent, can make those extra pounds worth their weight.
Try to set up your tent in a naturally protected location. If you can handle the addition of a tent to your pack load, a lightweight backpacker’s tent can also solve the problem of morning dew collecting on your sleeping bag.
Related Article: Are Ultralight Tents Worth It? 5 Things to Know
6. Do Not Hand-Dry the Sleeping Bag
According to Camping Habits, if you wake up with morning dew on your sleeping bag, it’s crucial to dry the bag properly. Wiping water off the sleeping bag may be your first impulse, but that will only serve to soak the water further into the material.
Hang or spread the sleeping bag out in the sun in order to dry. This will allow the water to evaporate out of the bag. Be sure the bag is completely dry before stuffing or packing it away.
Storing even a damp sleeping bag can damage the integrity of the bag and lead to mold, mildew, and foul odors. Always hang your sleeping bag up to air dry after you’ve been sleeping in the open air.
If you’re out on the trails, making sure you have a way to keep warm and dry through the night and morning is crucial. Properly protecting yourself and your sleeping bag from water condensation will not only improve the quality of your camping or backpacking experience but will also extend the lifespan of your sleeping bag.
Covering the sleeping bag with a specialized tarp, bag liner, or bivouac shelter can be beneficial in preventing condensation.
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