/ £400 Mountain Equipment tent gets wet floor - what to do?
Any tips welcome.
Is this a product issue or am I using it wrong? I was surprised given I've never had this issue before, over many years using cheapo Eurohike tents.
I had this problem last time I went camping, despite there being no rain. I assume dew forms on the groundsheet due to the tent not being air tight...bit of a guess though. Not much you could do about that, either!
Condensation? Warm breath against cold floor? You could always do a test; put some of the groundsheet over a bowl and pour some water in and see if any leaks through.
You're gauranteed for a full year anyway under the Sale of Goods Act if it is faulty, get on the phone mate and ask for either an exchange or a full refund!!
....apart from ensuring all zips are done up, I guess.
If you have a couple of people in the tent, then that's at least 2 litres of water vapour, much of which will condense as soon as it hits something cold - normally the inner skin (particularly if it's solid nylon, not mesh) or your ground sheet.
Your cheaper tent probably didn't have this problem because it was more "breathable", and although it would allow more water vapour to escape, it would not have been as protective in respect of keeping bad weather out as your mountain tent (which is the key objective of the mountain tent).
Ventiliation is the best cure - try leaving a slight gap at the top of each door, both inners and outer (if you have more than one entrance!) to allow airflow to remove the water vapour. If it's a mountain tent, then it will be designed in a way to allow you to open the doors to allow airflow, without reducing the ability of the tent to keep out the elements.
I do a lot of winter camping, and a good gauge of how well your sleeping bag insulates you is if you wake up with a slightly damp (or frozen!)layer on you sleeping bag outer - meaning that it insulated you so well that the outer part of the sleeping bag remained cold enough for water vapour to condense on it.
I'll often take a very lightweight sheet on multiday wild camps in winter, which I lay on top of the sleeping mats. This often helps to keep the sleeping bags and mats a bit drier, which is particularly important if you have no weather/opportunity to dry them out (i.e. cold, wet trips where you are having to pack and unpack damp kit).
Is it wettest under a waterproof bed mat ? If so it can't really be condensation. It appears the more you pay for a tent, the less absolutely waterproof the ground sheet appears to be (I get similar on the Quasar and numerous Vango light weight tents). The unsatisfactory answer is to cut up a cheap orange survival bag and put it underneath. This cures the problenm and again tends to discount the condensation thoery.
put your sleeping mat under the tent instead of in it.
The wetness was concentrated under where I'd been sleeping, making me suspect it was dew permeating the groundsheet, but I'll keep my windows open next time and see if it helps. If not, I'll bring along a second groundsheet which would be highly unsatisfactory...
> The wetness was concentrated under where I'd been sleeping, making me suspect it was dew permeating the groundsheet, but I'll keep my windows open next time and see if it helps. If not, I'll bring along a second groundsheet which would be highly unsatisfactory...
If it's UNDER where you have been sleeping, then that's not condensation. Bummer.
I use a bit of tarp cut to size for my Quasar (cheap and protects the groundsheet from tears from sticks and rocks), however I've pitched it in almost running water and it's been fine.
Have a really close look at the groundsheet, particularly the sealing around the seams. It does seem odd that it's noticeably wet though, especially if there are no tears etc.
Send it back and buy a Quasar ;)
My Ultra Quaser does exactly the same - as have evry light weight groundsheet I've ever tried. The underside of the sleeping mat gets wet.
Ive had this happen also, typically in slightly colder weather where you will get more condensation and the vapour will react more to the outside temperature of the tent. My tent is a Terra Nova Voyager, probably seen as a premium tent too.
It only happened once on a crisp spring trip and only became wet under the sleeping mat which I can only assume is somethig to do with the underside of the mat being the lowest point on my pitch, hence the dampness ending up there. I was concerned and ready to send it back but I gave it the benefit of the doubt.
I have since used this tent on howling wet nights when the ground was already swamp-like before I had even set up the tent and had cosy dry nights.
> My Ultra Quaser does exactly the same - as have evry light weight groundsheet I've ever tried. The underside of the sleeping mat gets wet.
I've only ever used the Super Quasar, so no experience of the lighter weight Terra Nova kit, but having a quick look at the figures the regular Quasar is 10,000mm v 5,000mm on the Ultra - so using my incredible mathematical brain, the regular groundsheet is twice as waterproof as the Ultra.
I hadn't realised there was quite as much difference. I'll keep a hold of my tarp then, was planning on buying an Ultra Voyager for this summer!
Looks like Rich has come to the rescue now anyway...the power of the internet eh? ;)
That seems to be pretty high HH for a lightweight then. What do you have in your range which is similar in size/weight to the Ultra Voyager? Good opportunity for a sale here ha ha!
Possibly related, but last year I was bivvying in a really good, clean, gore tex bivvy bag. I wasn't too hot or cold overnight, but woke up with a wet (not just damp) sleeping bag. The sleeping mat was outside the bag, ruling out (ish) water from the ground. The ground was pretty much dry, but I woke up in a cloud because it was so foggy. It's the only time I've bivvied in a cloud, and it's also the only time the bag let me down. Heavy rain seems fine. Perhaps if your tent was up on one of the recent foggy nights that could be the cause? I don't really understand it, but at a guess I'd say that the humidity outside (in the cloud!) was greater than the humidity in my bag, so the moisture transfer was in the wrong direction. Sound possible? I don't know if that relates to non-goretex fabrics on your tent.
Last time I used my mountain tent the ground was frozen but the air above freezing. We cooked in the tent, and as expected the groundsheet inside was damp all over and froze overnight. I thought that was to be expected. Maybe not?
MacPac tents have 100% waterproof groundsheets. No fcking about with all this footprint BS. I am planning on getting a macpac next because of this
Have you got any evidence for this claim? Sound's like bollocks to me. I've slept in loads of different tents over the years and never found a new one with a leaky ground sheet. You get condensation (including under your thermarest which is what the OP seems to have found) but not normally leakages.
If you tent is still newish, I'd complain and get them to fix it!
I'd be interested to hear how you get condensation under a waterproof mat and why it goes away if you put a thin plastic sheet under the groundsheet ?
me too - my ultra quasar just got retired (after 12 years plus) because whenever i touched the groundsheet water would literally pour through.
of course, if someone can seriously suggest 'condensation' is the reason water pools around my knees as i kneel in a tent with both doors open and no flysheet on it, i'm all ears...
The Mountain Hardwear rep (one of the good climbers, can't remember which) said to us in the shop that the reason the bottom wasn't waterproof was to keep weight down. Stupid really but there goes, that's why I use a footprint with my MH tent. We basically asked him why they didn't just make a tent that would keep the water out and got that explanation. That said I've camped at North lees a couple of times with that tent and it has never wet through the foot print despite being made from the same material as the bottom of the tent though kneeling in it leaves you feeling rather cold and damp
Doesn't happen in my Laser Comp ever with the same mat, sleeping bag and me in it, so I've no idea why.
It is strange.
I had a mountaineering dome which from new, the bottom of the groundsheet got damp and any area under a mat was absolutely soaked. Sent back, manufacture reported that it was faulty and sent me a new one.
The replacement did exactly the same after about six months i.e. failing the kneel test completely. Complained again, and was told it had a light groundsheet to decrease weight and that in wet conditions it was designed to be used with a footprint, which was then duly provided free of charge.
After a year or so of light use (I have serval tents) the same thing started to happened through both the footprint and the ground sheet. Complained again and was told to get stuffed.
In comparison an old TN voyager which had a higher hydrostatic head than the newer dome, had never after ten years of abuse leaked through the grounsheet, nor had more than condensation on the base. i.e. Not absolutely soaked.
I've had a new groundsheet with a high HH put in the dome, and guess what; its bone dry (so far).
So yes I do believe that some modern tents, in order to keep the weight down, have sub-standard leaky groundsheets.........and from a major highly respected manufacturer.
To the OP complain like hell..........
Good to see that you have a HH of 8,000mm, some of your competitors have far less...and I for one have been suckered thinking a 'mountain tent', from a top manufacturer would be by its very name be upto to UK 'mountain' conditions.
FWIW I expect in really heavy rain water to be able to flow under a undamaged groundsheet without penetrating, or in a sudden thaw the snow underneath to turn to a saturated porridge consistency, while I can eat my porridge inside snug and dry.
My good lady wife insists all doors shut overnight as she doesn't like drafts. Some mornings we have to swim for it :-(
I don't recall ever having suffered from wet groundsheet phenonmenon in an old vango force ten- the ones with a thick rubberised groundsheet that really are waterproof.
Then of course they are cotton so condensation is not a problem anyway.
I think most of those above are right- in a newish tent it is condensation that will be the killer, not material failure.
Definitely seen that groundsheets become less waterproof with time. But if Mountain Hardware are really selling un-waterproof groundsheets I don't see why any UK shop would stock them? Surely said shop would get most of those tents returned sooner or later?
The groundsheets in high end mountain tents are not waterproof.I have a MH Trango, plus an Airlight both leak. Mate has a MSR and and North Face...both leak. It's not condensation. Yes, they are water resistant so will give the impression of waterproofness over a short time period.Hence the need for an extra layer/footprint (why not just make the groundsheet waterproof in the first place?)
As I said earlier MacPac do not buy into this philosophy (there maybe others but I do not know) and the groundsheets are 100% waterproof .No I do not work for macpac or own one..but a friend does and we have all been impressed with it compared to our tents groundsheets .
> Hence the need for an extra layer/footprint (why not just make the groundsheet waterproof in the first place?)
Whilst I agree that if you have a groundsheet with a low HH, it's going to leak, I was under the impression that the footprints were for protecting the groundsheet more than anything else?
It's all well and good sticking a tent up in a campsite or on snow, but the amount of times I've had to stick a tent up in the dark or not had time to clear a wild camp site because of weather etc - it's all too easy to stick the tent on top of a rock/branch etc.
That said, I use a bit of tarp cut to size to protect the groundsheet, which was considerably cheaper and is tougher than the recommended footprint.
Dry it with a small towel?
Other than this issue, it's a really great tent, and I love Mountain Equipment's other gear (have loads of it) - so I hope this can be resolved!
Or why any purchaser would not inspect the HH figures for fly and groundsheet and go 'WTF? I want a waterproof groundsheet'...
We now know what Mountain Equipment says is there HH standard. Perhaps we should start asking other companies!
I always used to say 10K for ground and 5k for fly, but thats old Terra Nova numbers
Anyways used lots of tents and they all condensate, even the old nigers and icelandics in cubs and scout days
Just checked my TN Voyager and its 5000 fly, 5000 ground sheet.
Low HH are not just the preserve of Mountain Hardware........
I'd agree with you viz that you should not need to look up HH figures, but that is exactly what you have to do. Manufacturers have systematically reduced these values due to the competition to save, and market products primarily on weight. Viz old Terra Nova ground sheets being 10,000 while thier newer offerings are alot less.
Would you buy a waterproof jacket without checking the MVTR figures?
Would you buy a car without checking the MPG, or the number of seats, or the size of the boot?
Maybe I'm unusual, but I know that all aspects of designs are compromises, so I know to check the parameters I'm interested in. I'm certainly not going to rely on the manufacturer to make the correct choices for me, or assume that they have designed the thing for the same needs as mine.
The design of US tents is often quite different to that of North European (British, especially) tents; a lot more mesh on the inners, much larger gap between fly and ground. These differences reflect the different climatic conditions that US users seem to encounter. It may well be that MHW think their tent users don't encounter much rain or wet ground...
> was planning on buying an Ultra Voyager for this summer!
You Sir have more money than sense......
But I am very jealous
> You Sir have more money than sense......
> But I am very jealous
ha ha, that may be true! To be fair, I wild camp pretty much every other weekend (sometimes more) all year round, so i do get the use out of my kit. Plus, lugging around the Super Quasar in mild weather is brutal - 4.5kg of unnecessary bomproofness. My girlfriend can't carry too much weight and I'm not strong enough to carry all of hers on a multi day, so less is definitely more in summer (don't seem to mind the extra weight in winter as much).
Also, Sports Direct are doing the Voyager Ultra for about £350 at the moment, so a bit of a bargain!
I've only skimmed the rest of this thread but having had a similar problem (ie almost certainly not condensation) with a Macpac a while back and having posted about it on here, the nice Macpac people got in touch with me and the groundsheet was replaced FOC. A bad batch of fabric, apparently. (Have to say, Scottish Mountain Gear who do/did Macpac repair work weren't as good as when Gordon had the business...)
Ground sheets on quality tents should not leak: take it back to the shop or contact the manufacturer direct.
That's kinda bloody obvious. ;-)
I'd look in it at least. Does that count?
Perhaps I'm just a bad consumer...
They have a voyager superlite on sale at £364.99; don't confuse this with the ultra voyager, with an rrp of about £1000!!!
> I've had a new groundsheet with a high HH put in the dome, and guess what; its bone dry (so far).
Where did you get that done? I've got a grand old Wild Country tent that is in real need of a new lease of life. I have come across a 'paint-on' solution on a forum in the past but just cannot find it now!
Send them an email with your tent details and ask what options they have. I went for a 8000mm HH (the highest they had), because my old Terra Nova had a 10,000m and was bombproof. Unfortunately its a bit heavier than I expected, my fault them weight in g/m2 was clearly stated. May be ask for them to send you some swatches, so you can touch and feel what your getting.
Don't go down the liquid solution,friend tried that, and made it far worse. The proofing manufactured claimed it was the tent groundsheet being beyond help, a discussion ensued and the proofing manufacture sent the tent back to the tent manufacturer recommending that the groundsheet had been substandard to start with. Not suprisingly the tent manufacture declined to get involved.
Terra Nova replaced the light weight ground sheet on my Ultra Quasar with a normal one they put in the quasar. This removed this problem with under sleeping mat wetness... Very light ground sheet will let water through... I reckon you need about 6000mm+, but that's only on the experience of 3 or 4 tents..
8000mm is about a third HH of normal Goretex...
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