/ 400 Mountain Equipment tent gets wet floor - what to do?

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jhw - on 26 Mar 2012
I used this 400 tent over the weekend and in the morning the inside floor of the tent was damp. It wasn't particularly wet outside. The groundsheet was simply letting dew in, I think.

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.

Warranty time?
robaj - on 26 Mar 2012
In reply to jhw:

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!

Rob
nniff - on 26 Mar 2012
In reply to jhw:

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.
frankbabs - on 26 Mar 2012
In reply to jhw:

Hi there,

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!!

Cheers.
robaj - on 26 Mar 2012
In reply to jhw:

....apart from ensuring all zips are done up, I guess.
vscott - on 26 Mar 2012
In reply to jhw: It's almost certainly condensation - a common problem for 'mountain' tents as being designed to be as weatherproof as possible, they often allow less air circulation (less mesh on inner, fly lower to the ground, higher bathtub floor etc.) than 'summer' models. Taking a small pack towel to mop works ok.

Euge - on 26 Mar 2012
In reply to jhw: Most lightweight mountain tents have this problem... need to get some tarp for underneath, don't bother with an expensive footprint.

Cheers
Euge
AdrianC - on 26 Mar 2012
In reply to jhw: Ye cannae change the laws of physics, Jim. If it is warm and damp (from breath, wet gear etc.) inside and cold outside your waterproof groundsheet then you're going to have condensation inside. Try leaving the inner doors open a little.
professionalwreckhead - on 26 Mar 2012
In reply to jhw: Agree with the suggestions re condensation.

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).
GrahamD - on 26 Mar 2012
In reply to jhw:

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.
winhill - on 26 Mar 2012
In reply to jhw:

put your sleeping mat under the tent instead of in it.
jhw - on 26 Mar 2012
Thanks all - I'll try everything suggested.

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...
professionalwreckhead - on 26 Mar 2012
In reply to jhw:
>
> 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 ;)

Rich @ ME - on 26 Mar 2012
In reply to jhw: Hi JHW, it does sound like this is probably an issue with condensation, there are have been some excellent replies above explaining why this may have happened. I'd be extremely surprised if the groundsheet was leaking but obviously if you are concerned that this might be the case we'd be very happy to inspect your tent for you. If it is leaking this is clearly a serious fault and we would replace your tent asap. Before we do that I'd definitely try using the tent again but this time ventilating the inner a little. Regardless of the brand of tent I was using or the environment I was in I would very rarely zip my inner up completely unless things were truly wild outside or it was exceptionally cold. For further help or advice you can e-mail me directly at products@mountain-equipment.co.uk, hopefully we can get to the bottom of this for you!

Rich
Mountain Equipment
GrahamD - on 26 Mar 2012
In reply to professionalwreckhead:

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.
TheDrunkenBakers - on 26 Mar 2012
In reply to jhw:

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.
professionalwreckhead - on 26 Mar 2012
In reply to GrahamD:
> (In reply to professionalwreckhead)
>
> 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? ;)

ezzpbee - on 26 Mar 2012
In reply to jhw: Ive got the dragonfly and have found the same problem with it being damp under the sleeping mat in the morning I thought it was some sort of condensation as has happened on dry grass
CarolineMc - on 26 Mar 2012
In reply to jhw: Same as many people above have said - condensation. I find it happens most on cold nights, even when I use a footprint, regardless of the tent I use. If I'm not backpacking, I put a sarong down on the groundsheet which makes things more comfy and is easy to air out in the morning. Co:
Rich @ ME - on 26 Mar 2012
In reply to professionalwreckhead: Our groundsheets have an 8,000mm HH for those interested in the specs, we consider this to be the right level for a 'general purpose' lightweight mountain tent.

Rich@ME
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professionalwreckhead - on 26 Mar 2012
In reply to Rich @ ME:
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!
NottsRich on 26 Mar 2012
In reply to jhw: Silly question, but were you cooking in it that evening?


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?
Bjartur i Sumarhus on 26 Mar 2012
In reply to jhw: Most mountain tents don't have waterproof groundsheets...I was told it's to keep weight down and most are designed to be pitched on snow. My Trango leaks in the UK on muddy fields.But I guess it was not designed for muddy fields so...

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
In reply to Game of Conkers:
> Most mountain tents don't have waterproof groundsheets...I was told it's to keep weight down and most are designed to be pitched on snow.

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!
GrahamD - on 26 Mar 2012
In reply to TobyA:

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 ?
ballsac - on 26 Mar 2012
In reply to GrahamD:

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...
Hannes on 26 Mar 2012
In reply to TobyA:
> 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.

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
mrchewy - on 26 Mar 2012
In reply to TobyA: My Mountain Hardwear get's wet under my downmat, has done since new BUT I'm sure it doesn't leak and I've spent some serious time trying to get it to. It's a two man, so I've slept on the opposite side and the same thing happens, I can kneel all over that area and nothing comes through. I've even poured water into the bathtub on dry land to see if it drains away... nope. I've come to the opinion it just condensates in the small areas between the baffles on my downmat.
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.
mrchewy - on 26 Mar 2012
In reply to Hannes: Yep - I know that feeling on my knees with my MH but my knees never get wet. Spent a very wet week in Langdale last Oct and it never got any worse after the first night's sleep.
Toerag - on 26 Mar 2012
In reply to jhw: My VauDe mk3 eventually got retired because of this 'phenomenon' - when new it NEVER got wet inside, but after ten years of hard use (220 nights?) on UK fields and hard gritty sites in the US and europe it became 'permeable', and failed the 'kneeling test' as well as getting damp under my ridegrest.
ScraggyGoat on 26 Mar 2012
In reply to TobyA:
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..........
ScraggyGoat on 26 Mar 2012
In reply to Rich @ ME:

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.
ben b - on 27 Mar 2012
In reply to jhw: Even small (by volume) quantities of water from condensation make a very large wet layer under the sleeping mat by capillary action, and gravity. It's very unlikely to be the groundsheet leaking.

My good lady wife insists all doors shut overnight as she doesn't like drafts. Some mornings we have to swim for it :-(

b
Siward on 27 Mar 2012
In reply to ben b:
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.
In reply to ballsac:

> me too - my ultra quasar just got retired (after 12 years plus) because whenever i touched the groundsheet water would literally pour through.

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?
Bjartur i Sumarhus on 27 Mar 2012
In reply to All:

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 .
mrchewy - on 27 Mar 2012
In reply to jhw: Then maybe the answer is to go to Wickes and buy some of that secondary glazing film they sell - makes for an amazing light footprint!
professionalwreckhead - on 27 Mar 2012
In reply to Game of Conkers:
> (In reply to All)
>
> 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.

Robert Durran - on 27 Mar 2012
In reply to jhw:

Dry it with a small towel?
jhw - on 27 Mar 2012
Thanks Rich and everyone else - very helpful thread. It was indeed foggy that morning so maybe the strange weather conditions combined with lack of ventilation caused condensation. I will try using it with more ventilation and see what happens.

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!

Cheers

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captain paranoia - on 27 Mar 2012
In reply to TobyA:

> But if Mountain Hardware are really selling un-waterproof groundsheets I don't see why any UK shop would stock them?

Or why any purchaser would not inspect the HH figures for fly and groundsheet and go 'WTF? I want a waterproof groundsheet'...
In reply to captain paranoia: Actually, I would argue that consumers shouldn't need to look up the HH of a companies groundsheet. The ground can be wet, and groundsheets should stop you from getting wet inside your tent. That to me seems a very reasonable expectation. It would be very interesting if someone from Mountain Hardware could comment on this as that seems to be the brand that people are referring to here.

We now know what Mountain Equipment says is there HH standard. Perhaps we should start asking other companies!
gear boy - on 27 Mar 2012
In reply to jhw: Mountain hardwear tents do have a HH i think its around 3K for ground and 1.5k on Fly, so not much

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
TheDrunkenBakers - on 27 Mar 2012
In reply to jhw:

Just checked my TN Voyager and its 5000 fly, 5000 ground sheet.
In reply to gear boy: I have the Hilleberg catalogue in the loo (yeah, I know. Moving swiftly on...) so checked. Their heavier, strongest models have a floor with a 7000 mm HH and their lighter tents, 5000 mm. Their fly fabrics have an HH of 3000. So it looks like ME put heavier groundsheets on than Hilleberg which should be reassuring for ME tent owners!
mrchewy - on 27 Mar 2012
My Mountain Hardwear is only 3000 I've discovered today and the tent is maybe 6 years old... does make me wonder. I can't make it leak on purpose but does that mean it's not? I never thought to check the HH, I just assumed a MH tent would be bombproof. That means waterproof to me.
Siward on 28 Mar 2012
In reply to TobyA: Ah, but Hilleberg tents are made from special elven fabric that ordinary mountain tents just can't match :)
ScraggyGoat on 28 Mar 2012
In reply to TobyA:

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.
Bjartur i Sumarhus on 28 Mar 2012
In reply to ScraggyGoat: Totally agree, I would always check the HH of the groundsheet now after spending a lot of money on tents that had low HH groundsheets. I mistakenly assumed a mountain tent would be bullet proof, but that is far from the case regarding the bottom. Buyer beware!
Bjartur i Sumarhus on 28 Mar 2012
In reply to Game of Conkers: My mates Macpac has their Torrentwear XP groundsheet which is 10000mm HH. That's what you need for boggy ground in the damp UK ;-)
professionalwreckhead - on 28 Mar 2012
In reply to Game of Conkers: My Quasar has a 10,000mm HH. I've woken up dry with water running under the tent.
captain paranoia - on 28 Mar 2012
In reply to TobyA:

> Actually, I would argue that consumers shouldn't need to look up the HH of a companies groundsheet.

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...
Ricky Martin - on 28 Mar 2012
In reply to professionalwreckhead:
>
> was planning on buying an Ultra Voyager for this summer!


You Sir have more money than sense......

But I am very jealous
professionalwreckhead - on 28 Mar 2012
In reply to Ricky Martin:
> (In reply to professionalwreckhead)
> [...]
>
>
> 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!

Solaris - on 28 Mar 2012
In reply to jhw:

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.
In reply to captain paranoia:

> Would you buy a waterproof jacket without checking the MVTR figures?

Yes.

> Would you buy a car without checking the MPG,

Yes.

> or the number of seats,

That's kinda bloody obvious. ;-)

> or the size of the boot?

I'd look in it at least. Does that count?

Perhaps I'm just a bad consumer...
Major malfunction - on 30 Mar 2012
In reply to professionalwreckhead:

They have a voyager superlite on sale at 364.99; don't confuse this with the ultra voyager, with an rrp of about 1000!!!
Andy Say - on 30 Mar 2012
In reply to ScraggyGoat:


>
> 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!
Cheers,
Andy

jhw - on 30 Mar 2012
In fairness to Mountain Equipment - I have been reading into this extensively and it looks like part or all of the issue could be down to my bag - a Mountain Hardware Lamina.
ScraggyGoat on 30 Mar 2012
In reply to Andy Say:

http://www.imagescotland.com/scottishmountaingear-home.asp

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.
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NottsRich on 02 Apr 2012
In reply to jhw: In what way could your sleeping bag be the problem?
Dave B on 02 Apr 2012
In reply to ScraggyGoat:

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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