At some point in your life wake up to drenched camping gear. No you don’t have a leak in your gear, it’s just a little bit of condensation.
Things get even worse when camping in a hammock. With such a big difference in internal and external temperature it’s just going to happen. That being said there are a few things you can do to fight off condensation.
What Causes Condensation?
In extremely general terms condensation is caused by warm air coming into contact with a cold surface. The warm air quickly cools releasing the water in the air onto the surface of your gear.
Preventing Condensation in a Camping Hammock
First off, you can’t fully fight off condensation. Condensation is just something you have to learn to live with.
Since our internal body temperature is typically warmer than the outside air you can never fully prevent condensation. Every time you breath you release just a little bit of water into the air (about 2 Liters per night).
All that warm humid air is going to settle on the coldest surface it can find. So you’re always going to have a little bit of condensation.
Buy a Underquilt
Preventing condensation is all about increasing the insulation between your body heat and the outside air. Personally I would go with a 20 Degree underquilt which can be used all year round.
During the heat of summer you might be carrying some extra weight, but you can always loosen up the ends. Unless you want to spend a ton of extra cash I would go with the Snugpak Under Blanket. It’s probably the best bang for your buck underquilt on the market. It protects you from the wind/rain and it’s surprisingly lightweight.
You can also go the diy route with a cheap blanket and a bunch of bungee cords from your garage. This setup will be a little bit bulky, drafty and you’ll be limited to warm weather.
Vapor Barriers Trap in Moisture
It’s really hard to figure out vapor barriers and get them right. When you don’t get enough insulation/circulation between your body and the vapor barrier it’s going to trap in sweat.
Unless you go with a completely breathable underquilt system you’re going to have condensation problems.
Don’t Use a Pad In The Winter
During the winter it’s almost impossible to use a pad in your hammock. When sleeping with a pad you’ll end up with a pool of water between your bag and pad. You’ll end up with a ton of condensation and be drenched by morning.
If you really want to use a pad you can try putting a vapor barrier between your sleeping bag and pad. Your clothes might end up a little wet, but your bag will be dry in the morning.
You should probably just skip the pad and buy a nice underquilt(like this one). Under Quilts really do excel in cold weather.
Vapor Barrier Clothing Works But It’s Uncomfortable
I’ve never really been a fan of wearing a vapor barrier close to your body. You would basically be wearing a rain suit to bed. All the moisture would get trapped on your skin and protect your gear.
Only problem is when you eventually sweat it’s going to get trapped on your skin.