Help, how to stop condensation between sleeping bag & swag?

Submitted: Wednesday, Jul 23, 2008 at 20:29

Member - G N (VIC)

Hi all

What to do?? Are all cotton sleeping bags the way to stop this happening? We guess that being natural that cotton will breathe, unlike the current sleeping bags we are using which have a nylon cover and result in ALOT of moisture on the outer surface of the sleeping bag and the inner roof of the swag. Hence holding up our departure to another beautiful camping spot!!
Has anyone had this happen to them and how have you solved it?
I found an all cotton sleeping bag online today called "Roman Swag Bag" has anyone heard/used one of these and if so what have you found??
Any other solutions welcomed!!!

Thanks for your help..
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AnswerID: 316824   Submitted: Wednesday, Jul 23, 2008 at 20:36

Pomgonewalkabout replied:

Not sure about Swags, but our camper trailer has some sort of breathable mat that sits between the plywood base and mattress.

Maybe a piece of this might work?

cheers Eric
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AnswerID: 316825   Submitted: Wednesday, Jul 23, 2008 at 20:38

Member - John replied:

G'day, Doona and sheets.
John and Jan
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FollowupID: 583101   Submitted: Wednesday, Jul 23, 2008 at 21:17

Member - G N (VIC) posted:

Good idea
But these are kids in swags so we want to keep it cheap, simple and easy!!
But we are trying to investigate every option!!

So what is the cheapest option!!!!?
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AnswerID: 316826   Submitted: Wednesday, Jul 23, 2008 at 20:39

Louie the fly (SA) replied:

G'day GN. I'm no authority on this, but as a seasoned camper my understanding is that although canvas is cotton and breathes, your swag is most likely coated in a waterproofing solution, like tents. This cuts down the canvas' ability to breathe as it seals the weave. Probably one solution to the condensation problem is ventilation. This way you get some air movement. This should cut it down but you will probably get some because of the temperature differential between inside & out. Do you have a mattress in the swag?
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FollowupID: 583091   Submitted: Wednesday, Jul 23, 2008 at 20:44

pt_nomad posted:

I agree with louie
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FollowupID: 583106   Submitted: Wednesday, Jul 23, 2008 at 21:31

Member - G N (VIC) posted:

We bought the swags for kids who had hardly camped... they were cheap swags (made in china) and we are now trying to solve the problem of condensation and we really think that an all cotton sleeping bag may solve it.....there is enough ventilation (large front opening) and flywire at the foot. That really it should be OK!!

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AnswerID: 316831   Submitted: Wednesday, Jul 23, 2008 at 20:56

Member - Glen O (WA) replied:

Just stop breathing!
No you just need more ventalation which means letting more cold air in.
I just pack mine up wet and let it dry and air out that afternoon when setting up camp.

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FollowupID: 583096   Submitted: Wednesday, Jul 23, 2008 at 20:59

Michael ( Moss Vale NSW) posted:

He could try sleeping on his own!! LOL!!
Patrol 4.2TDi 2003 390,000 Ks on the clock and still going slow!

There's time to rest when you're dead, Get out and do something instead!
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FollowupID: 583151   Submitted: Thursday, Jul 24, 2008 at 07:41

Member No 1 posted:

i was just about to say the same thing Glen...Stop Breathing..hahahaha

ventilation is the secret to get rid of all that moisure one exhales .....if you let more cold air in you might need to get a warmer sleeping bag though, and get used to wearing a beanie to help keep the heat in your body and hence inside your bag
'If women are so bloody perfect at multitasking.......
how come they can't have a headache and sex at the same time

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AnswerID: 316835   Submitted: Wednesday, Jul 23, 2008 at 21:09

Member Brian (Gold Coast) replied:

We had this problem last weekend camped out at Warwaick, it was rather cold..... that is, frosts on trucks in the morning etc.

When we bought our sleeping bags, my SWMBO made flannelette "covers" to provide a little extra warmth and they work a treat, but also by pulling the flannelette "cover" right up, it lessened the condensation effect!

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AnswerID: 316848   Submitted: Wednesday, Jul 23, 2008 at 22:07

patrolin replied:

I suggest you try to leave a slightly larger air gap in the upper part of the swag zip-up area.

A second thing I do is place over the swag a number of windscreen reflectors ( that have an insulating profile) taped together to form an insulating layer.

These fold up easily each morning and just take the real cold contact off the swag canvas.

If reflective, they can be useful if rising sun is an issue in warm months. They also help in rain situations.

Works for me

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AnswerID: 316853   Submitted: Thursday, Jul 24, 2008 at 04:52

Member - Bucky (VIC) replied:

Do not worry about the condensation...
Never be able to stop it.

If you leave a flap open a little, but the fly screen still zipped up...then you have a chance of reducing condensation...

5 - 10 minutes airing in the morning with the top completly open is usually enuf

If its raining, in the morning then ASAP, open it up..


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AnswerID: 316899   Submitted: Thursday, Jul 24, 2008 at 10:28

Member - G N (VIC) replied:


Thanks for all the replies, I think we may give the cotton sleeping bag a go, hopefully it might make some difference....and if not then we'll just have to dawdle a little in the mornings to let everything dry out!!

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FollowupID: 583213   Submitted: Thursday, Jul 24, 2008 at 10:54

unko posted:

this has only happen to me when i was in halls gap or portland i could feel the condenstaion seeping into the sleeping bag.There where chunks of ice on top of the swap tho and a warm boady in side. its like driveing a car when its cold when u get into the cab the will be a slight differnt air temp and make condenstaion to solve it u wind down your window. Its the same thear.

the best bet is to say in a worm place at night somewhere in australia.

im going to look at cotton sleeping bag

if your just useign a blanket and sheeps dont they get wet as well??? or just not as bad as the sleeping bag??
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FollowupID: 583242   Submitted: Thursday, Jul 24, 2008 at 13:23

Member - G N (VIC) posted:

Hey unko this is not New Zealand there's no "sheeps" in our swags

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FollowupID: 583481   Submitted: Friday, Jul 25, 2008 at 15:39

unko posted:

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AnswerID: 316903   Submitted: Thursday, Jul 24, 2008 at 11:11

deserter replied:

Just wondering - given that the condensation is caused by the moisture from your exhaled breath - then what difference will cotton sleeping bag make ?
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FollowupID: 583230   Submitted: Thursday, Jul 24, 2008 at 12:32

Ken S posted:

Just wondering - given that the condensation is caused by the moisture from your exhaled breath - then what difference will cotton sleeping bag make

Condensation is caused by warm / hot air being cooled and as such condenses causing condensation .It is not only from exhaled breath . Body heat travels outwards until it reaches a cold surface ( being the swag as canvas is a very poor insulator )and there cools and condenses . Cotton will only absorb more of the moisture . The colder the outside the wetter the inside .
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FollowupID: 583255   Submitted: Thursday, Jul 24, 2008 at 14:08

robak (QLD) posted:

Further to Ken's answer...

I think we need to understand why condensation happens before we can attampt to deal with it.

Cold air can hold less water than hot air. (From memory ) Air at 30 degrees can hold about 35 grams of water (per cubic metre.). Air at 10 degrees can only hold about 6 grams of water.

For example - Air which is at 30 degrees and contains 20 grams of water is said to be at about 60% RELATIVE humidity. If this hot air is cooled, the relative humidity rises, even though the absolute (20 grams) amount of water in the air stays the same. This air will reach saturation point at 25 degrees where the relative humidity is 100%. Any further temperature drop will force the water to come out of the air. When this air reaches 10 degrees it will hold 6 grams of water, be at 100% relative humidity, and shed the other 29 grams of water.

When you are in a tent, a swag or a camper a few things happen. The air around you is heated by your body and your breath. Extra moisture is placed into the air with your breath. So what you have around you is warm air with plenty of moisture in it. When this warm touches cold surfaces (like tent poles or tent fabric) it is cooled and the moisture is forced out of it. This moisture clings to the cold surface and eventually starts dripping.
To prevent this happening you can do a two things.
1. Remove the moist air by ventilation
2. Prevent surfaces from becoming cold by insulating or heating them.

In my opinion, using a cotton sleeping bag will only absorb the dripping condensation. It will not prevent it.

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AnswerID: 316949   Submitted: Thursday, Jul 24, 2008 at 17:09

PGK replied:

Thankyou for the explanation on condensation!

We have an aluminium-skinned, enclosed motorbike trailer in which we often camp.

Tailgate is down and lid is up when camping & canvas 'shroud' that slides into C-section runners fills in:
- the open triangles between top of trailer sides and open lid; and
- the open end

At this time of year in central Victoria (quite chilly overnight!) the condensation becomes a problem - as the sun rises & hits the trailer lid, the accumulated condensation rains down upon bedding & any late risers! Quite comical as we rush around trying to get everything packed up before it gets soaked, but the novelty factor is starting to wear off!

So what I learn from the posts above is that my best bet is to insulate the trailer.

Do people have suggestions on insulating material for:
- the inside of the walls and lid
- the underside of the (chequerplate) floor

Many Thanks for your input


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