Using Dehumidifiers In Tents – What You Need To Know


Condensation is one of the most inconvenient truths of tent camping, but it is a reality that campers have to face. No one likes waking up to their tent being wet on the inside, and you may have experienced this even if you took all the typical advice, but what about using a dehumidifier inside of your tent?

So, can you use a dehumidifier in a tent? Using a dehumidifier in a tent will help reduce the amount of moisture build-up in the air inside of the tent and it helps complement traditional ways of keeping condensation to a minimum.

If you are camping in an area where humidity is common, then consider bringing a dehumidifier to help alleviate condensation inside of your tent. Don’t think that because you have a dehumidifier that you can forget the basics of reducing condensation. Combine both traditional methods and using a dehumidifier in order to achieve the best results.

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Types Of Dehumidifiers You Can Use In A Tent

There are a plethora of different types of dehumidifiers on the market today, but realistically only the smaller more portable ones are going to be useful for camping. Typically, you are going to want some kind of dehumidifier that doesn’t require electricity because tent camping often doesn’t have access to any.

As you will learn shortly, some dehumidifiers can be battery-powered, some need to be plugged in, and some methods don’t require any electricity and instead use chemical reactions to keep moisture to a minimum. The best dehumidifying method for you is going to depend on the environment you are camping in. Including the weather, the climate, and your personal preferences.

Here are 2 primary types of dehumidifiers that could be good for camping:

Desiccant Dehumidifiers

Here is a quick video on the benefits of desiccant dehumidifiers (I’m not advertising this brand, I just think the video is good for explaining them):

Desiccant dehumidifiers work by using a desiccant wheel that absorbs the moisture from the air, kind of like how a sponge absorbs water. These types of dehumidifiers are known to work well in colder environments (such as at night in your tent). They tend to be light in weight and therefore they are more portable, but still heavy duty.

Desiccant dehumidifiers have relatively low noise levels and that can be useful when trying to sleep in a tent all night, especially in a campground where other people are trying to sleep close by. In most cases, you will need electrically hook-up when trying to use one of these dehumidifiers so they are best suited for campgrounds with more amenities such as electricity.

Dehumidifier Bags

Dehumidifier bags are filled with some kind of substance (such as silica gel) that attracts moisture and helps remove it from the air. They are also known to help remove lingering odors (perfect for smelly tents!) You will need a somewhat large dehumidifier bag in order for it to be useful in a tent.

What Type Of Dehumidifier Is Best For Tent Camping?

The best type of dehumidifier for tent camping is going to highly depend on the climate you are camping in, the weather, the temperature, and whether or not you have access to electricity.

Obviously, if you have electrical hook-ups and it is very humid where you are camping then getting a slightly more heavy-duty dehumidifier that runs off of electricity is probably going to be able to reduce the most moisture inside of your tent. However, this is usually not what tent campers have access to.

So In my opinion, I believe that utilizing a simple dehumidifier bag or another similar non-electrical device is going to be best for a majority of tent campers that need one. Keep in mind that you might not even need a dehumidifier in the first place if you are camping in areas where humidity is not too crazy. I will discuss more on traditional tips for reducing condensation in your tent a little later.

Are Dehumidifiers Safe To Use In A Tent?

Dehumidifiers are perfectly safe to use in a tent in most cases. Many small dehumidifiers are designed to be used in small rooms such as bathrooms, bedrooms, and recreational vehicles. Using electrical dehumidifiers in a tent is no different. It is safe to use one in the tent provided that you follow proper use of the machine like you would use it in any part of your house.

Dehumidifier bags and absorbent products should be labeled as non-toxic and usable in your home. If they are labeled so then they are also safe to be used in your tent. Exercise common sense and read all of the labels and warnings prior to its use. There are plenty of non-toxic dehumidifier bags and similar products that can safely be used in close proximity to you.

Where To Place Dehumidifiers In Your Tent

Place a dehumidifier somewhere in your tent where it will not be getting knocked over. Preferably you should place it on top of a sturdy surface such as a small camping table or chair. Face the intake vents facing towards the inside of the tent if you have the dehumidifier close to a tent wall.

The more centered you can get the dehumidifier inside of the tent, the better it can work, but really the difference is minuscule and probably un-noticeable, so just place the dehumidifier in an area in the tent where it makes the most sense for you and where it won’t get knocked over. Try to avoid having it touch the tent walls. This applies to electric, battery, and moisture absorbers.

Should You Get A Dehumidifier For Your Tent?

You should only really need to get a dehumidifier for your tent if you are camping in above-average humid areas. Still, in most circumstances, a dehumidifier is not going to be an absolute replacement of standard advice for reducing condensation build-up in your tent, which I will talk more about later.

Think of a dehumidifier as a compliment to helping to reduce moisture in your tent. A dehumidifier can be used elsewhere in your home even if you don’t need it all the time for camping so that is one of the great things about them. Even moisture absorbers are great around the household for places like under sinks, in bathrooms, laundry rooms, and other parts of your house where moisture is common and the risk of mold is higher.

Do It Yourself (DIY) “Dehumidifier” In Your Tent

Sometimes you don’t need to buy something when you could just do it yourself (DIY). DIY projects are fun and creating a dehumidifier that you can use while camping is possible. Although, honestly dehumidifiers (especially moisture absorbers) are already pretty cheap so don’t feel like you have to make one yourself.

One of the best ways to make a DIY dehumidifier for your tent is to take an ingredient known as “calcium chloride” and placing it into a container of some sort. You place some air holes to make a vent in the lid to allow air to come into contact with the crystals. The calcium chloride crystals will absorb the moisture and wallah you have made your own dehumidifying moisture absorber. The calcium chloride is commonly found in the kind of salt that you use to remove snow on roads, driveways, sidewalks, etc.

A product like this already exists known as “DamRid” where they have basically perfected this method:

What Is Condensation?

Condensation is the process in which water which collects as droplets on a cold surface when humid air is in contact with it. This happens when water vapor or gas turns into liquid form. Condensation happens all the time around us on our car windows, glasses, and drinking cups. These surfaces end up wet for no apparent reason, but that reason is condensation.

The same thing can happen in your tent. When the slightly warmer air within your tent comes into contact with the colder tent walls, the result is moisture in the warm air turning into liquid form on the inside of the tent walls. It can be pretty annoying, and some unsuspecting campers may think that their tent is leaking from the rain when in fact it is merely condensation build-up.

There are a few primary ways that you can help prevent condensation and moisture build-up in your tent that we will discuss later. A dehumidifier of some sort can help you somewhat with this, but it is not a replacement for the core principles of reducing condensation.

No matter how much you try, you might not be able to get rid of all condensation in your tent when you are camping in humid environments, it is just one of the realities of camping that we have to deal with.

How To Set Up Your Tent To Reduce Condensation

Setting up your tent under a tree can help reduce condensation in certain environments because trees like to absorb moisture in the air.

Setting up your tent in an area where there is a cross breeze could help reduce condensation because good airflow is one of the best ways to decrease water build up in a tent.

Setting up your tent on a slight slope could help drain some of the water that builds up inside of the tent wither from condensation or from rainwater.

Choose a double-layer tent rather than a single later tent because it allows for better airflow and more condensation can build up on the rainfly instead of inside of the tent with you.

Try to not pitch your tent too close to a body of water (you shouldn’t any way in order to help leave no trace). The body of water will release water into the air that could enter your tent as water vapor and then transition back to water on the inside of your tent, no one wants that.

Try to pitch your tent on a dry surface such as dirt. Thick vegetation could be a large source of water vapor if your tent is on top of it.

Leave any wet clothing, gear, shoes, etc. outside of your tent because anything wet inside of your tent will release water vapor that ends up as condensation inside.

Other Tips To Help Prevent Condensation In A Tent

The number one thing that you want to do in order to prevent condensation is to make sure there is proper airflow in your tent. The more airflow, the better for reducing condensation. If you can open up the windows and even possibly keep the rain fly off then that is going to make a world of a difference.

Avoid cooking inside your tent. It’s usually not safe or smart to begin with, but cooking will release water vapor into the air, especially warm water vapor that will easily condensate inside of your tent.

Have fewer people in your tent. The more people you have in one tent, the more likely condensation is to build up. Our bodies are constantly releasing moisture in the air from our skin, and especially from our breath. Havering separate tents for everyone is better for reducing condensation.

If the insects and other creepy crawlies allow you to do so then consider keeping the tent door open all night, (or at least only zip up the mesh door if your tent has that feature) because doing so will allow much more fresh air to ventilate in and out.

Related Questions:

Do dehumidifier bags work?

Dehumidifier bags work best in small areas because they draw in excess moisture. Dehumidifier bags can help prevent some condensation in a smaller tent.

Why does my tent get wet inside?

Tents get wet inside because moisture builds up on the inside of the tent’s walls when warmer humid air inside of the tent touches the cold tent walls. This is known as condensation and it can be seen in many different forms in everyday life.

My Favorite Camping Gear

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Zachary Smith

Zach is an avid outdoorsman that loves going camping with his Prius every chance he gets. He also regularly enjoys hiking and fishing. When he's not outside you can probably find him writing about it on this website. See his full bio here

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