Single Wall Tents and Condensation Management

In 2018, Gipfel Climbing Equipment created a revolution in India by launching Kyra 2, a single-wall, four-season tent, and at quarter or a third of the price of similar tents available in the global market.

At the time, we had no certainty of the demand for the same in India, but our goal was to provide a product to further the Indian mountaineers’ Alpinism goals.  We got some brilliant response to the tent.  While our focus was the Indian market, a large part of that sales are to the global market.

Along the way, we have gone through four iterations of the tent, changing the design of the vents, choice of fabrics and materials to ensure further weight savings, but importantly to ensure better condensation management in the tent.

We also find ourselves on occasion guiding away some of our customers towards double-wall tents, when we feel the nature of their requirements don’t meet need to invest in a single wall tents.

Kyra 2 is a specialist tent that shines through in certain situations, for Alpine style climbing during certain seasons.  Single-wall tents aren’t for everyone.

We have compiled some notes to help you make a better choice.

PROS:

Weight: Single wall tents provide great value to weight proposition for Alpine applications.

Small footprints: The optimal footprint of Kyra 2 (at 120 cm by 215 cm), allows it to be pitched in tight spaces, and is relatively bombproof because the design and the optimal canopy area in high winds.  The footprint of a tent might not seem critical for generalist camping use, but when you are digging out a ledge on hardened ice and snow slopes at the end of a mountain day, you would appreciate the minimalist footprint of Kyra 2.

Ease of setup: Kyra 2 sets up in less than a minute.  It remains in ‘shape’ with just four pegs.  And has an additional four guy out points for additional anchoring.

Price: In general, Single-wall tents are EXPENSIVE.  But Kyra 2 is priced at Rs. 11,999 for India, and Euro 280 ((Jul 2019 pricing).

CONS:

As iterated, Single wall tents are specialist tents.

Durability:  One, they are constructed with lightweight materials, so the durability over the long-term is compromised.  Suggested life of most single-wall tents about 50-60 nights of use before the fabrics’ coating wear off, or the floor develops issues.  However, Kyra 2 uses 50D breathable polyester with 3000 mm PU coating.  We have by far one of the most durable fabrics in use for a single wall tent for such a design.  This compromises with the weight slightly, but Himalayan pursuits uniquely require more number of days in the mountains, and we have specifically designed Kyra 2 with this in mind.  But still, in relation to double wall tents, there is a compromise with respect to durability.

Tight spaces: The very thing that makes them so special, the minimalist size, also could mean cramped quarters.

Condensation: The biggest challenge with Single wall tents, however, is the condensation issue.  Condensation is contributed by many factors, including our breathing (while inside the tent), natural humidity, wet gear, cooking, or from the ground below (especially from damp ground or grass).  You can’t completely avoid condensation.

But Kyra’s choice of breathable fabric, and venting system helps to reduce the condensation as much as possible.  Additionally, shrewd management from the user will help much more in this objective.  See below for some tips on condensation management.

HOW TO MANAGE CONDENSATION:

Pitching:

  • Choose locations with as little dampness as possible.
  • Consider the use of a ground sheet to create a barrier to the damp ground.
  • Avoid depressions, which could trap moisture in particular.  This may not be always possible, but something to consider.
  • If possible avoid locations on the leeward side, and at the same time in shade most of the day.  Such locations tend to be colder with no benefit of the wind to keep your tent vented.

Venting:

  • Kyra has two vents provided, plus the door has mesh.  You may have to find a balance between keeping the tent vented, and warmth.
  • Wind direction is critical, in choice of the orientation of pitching.  Watch the direction of the wind.  Make sure your air vents are aligned in the direction of the wind.

Internal Moisture management:

  • Carry a microfiber cloth to wipe off excess moisture build up on the walls
  • Use a dry sack to store your wet gear.  If possible, dry out the wet gear during the day, and store in a dry sack during the night, and further if possible, outside the tent, to avoid moisture escaping inside the tent.
  • Dry out the tent before the next use.  Running the stove in the morning could help to dry things out.  Before packing in the morning, turn the tent inside out.  This allows the moisture to freeze, and then shake it out.

Condensation can’t be completely avoided.  So consider use of a sleeping bag with water resistant outer layer, and synthetic insulation, in relation to down sleeping bags. (Synthetic insulations have improved to the extent that they provide similar weight to insulation qualities as down)

If there is any feedback, query, or additional suggestions or thoughts, please do not hesitate to write to us at info@gipfelclimbing.com.

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