Do canvas tents wick water through the surface?

First post, looks like a good forum.

I'm seriously considering a canvas touring tent as my next option but I want to know if they wick water through them when wet? What I mean is if the surface is wet and you touch it will water come through? I'm aware you need to condition them first so I'd be talking about a tent that had been conditioned.


Thanks, John.
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Reply By: Member - mark D18 - Wednesday, Dec 30, 2015 at 16:53

Wednesday, Dec 30, 2015 at 16:53
John
from what I have seen from the Oztent you wont have any problems with moisture in the tent.
It is the best touring tent by a fair way.

Cheers
AnswerID: 594314

Follow Up By: Member - Ross N (NSW) - Wednesday, Dec 30, 2015 at 17:23

Wednesday, Dec 30, 2015 at 17:23
Oztents are not canvas, require a lot of space when carrying and their aluminium frame, in my experience, does not stand up well in severe wind storms.
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Follow Up By: Malcom M - Thursday, Dec 31, 2015 at 08:01

Thursday, Dec 31, 2015 at 08:01
Oztents also have a stupidly low ceiling height and the packed up length is way to long to fit a roofrack properly.
Far from being the 'best touring tent' of which you clearly tried that many.

Have you tried out a Darche AT4 inflatable? Simply brilliant.
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Follow Up By: Member - Ups and Downs - Thursday, Dec 31, 2015 at 09:23

Thursday, Dec 31, 2015 at 09:23
Ross,
The aluminium frame 'does not stand up well in severe wind storms' only if the guy ropes are not utilised. Duh, what would you expect? Otherwise the tent WILL stand up to fierce winds.

Malcolm,
I'm 6'2" and can fit under that 'stupidly low ceiling'. It also fits into my standard roof rack.

Oztent is a great tent used extensively by us.

Paul
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Follow Up By: Malcom M - Thursday, Dec 31, 2015 at 09:56

Thursday, Dec 31, 2015 at 09:56
Yeah but only right under the ridge pole right?
I'm 6'3" and thats the only point I can stand up at. I like to be able to stand up to get dressed and not huddle against cold canvas trying to do so.
Howd you get it on your roofrack? Most people have an overhang or chop a slot in the rear wall. Never seen one drop into the cage.
Or do you have a platform rack?
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Follow Up By: AlanTH - Thursday, Dec 31, 2015 at 10:06

Thursday, Dec 31, 2015 at 10:06
We bought a RV4 Oztent to replace our Oztrail Tourer 9 but after a 2 week trip sold it's new replacement to friends.
It was replaced under warranty as the seam along the length of the floor started coming apart during it's only trip. Not something which happens very often apparently.

Cook didn't like the lack of space compared to the Oztrail and I was very wary of the material...... don't camp anywhere you may get a stray spark on it as a hole instantly appears. Don't try a bbq under the awning.....
I found it cumbersome and built a rack with boat rollers to slide it up from the back of the vehicle which worked well with my failing strength. :-(( Others won't have this problem.
Wind was OK and as others have said use of the pegs will keep it standing.
So it's out with the old (about 8 years) full canvas (much better material) tent for a 3 week coastal trip starting soon.
AlanH.

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Follow Up By: Member - Ups and Downs - Thursday, Dec 31, 2015 at 11:15

Thursday, Dec 31, 2015 at 11:15
G'Day Malcolm,

Are you talking about the Oztent, as it doesn't have a ridge pole. The horizontal support beam is at the front where the awning keeps the elements off the upright canvas that would otherwise be cold..

My roof rack is a standard aluminium product by Jaram in Perth. The tent fits in like a glove. I don't have to force it in, but there isn't any spare space.

AlanTH,
We used our tent for over a year, cooking under the awning every night, with a campfire in near proximity without any issue, but fair enough it could be a problem. It's good that there are many alternatives as we all have our own preferences as to what is 'best'.

Paul
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Follow Up By: Malcom M - Thursday, Dec 31, 2015 at 11:52

Thursday, Dec 31, 2015 at 11:52
Hi Paul

Yup, Oztent. The front support pole is essentially a ridge pole but whatever, thats the one I mean.
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Reply By: vk1dx - Wednesday, Dec 30, 2015 at 17:04

Wednesday, Dec 30, 2015 at 17:04
Our Hannibal roof top tent doesn't.

Phil
AnswerID: 594315

Reply By: Member - Wildmax - Wednesday, Dec 30, 2015 at 17:22

Wednesday, Dec 30, 2015 at 17:22
We have a Black Wolf and no problems of that nature - great quality touring tent. Looked at the OzTent too, but when stowed it is very long so would have to go on the roof whereas the Black Wolf is just as easy to erect but the bag fits inside the canopy.
AnswerID: 594316

Follow Up By: Top End Az - Thursday, Dec 31, 2015 at 20:45

Thursday, Dec 31, 2015 at 20:45
2nd the Black Wolf. Need to condition it first, then it's great. Spent many months in ours and wouldn't buy anything different again. Was looking at Oztent but my back is stuffed and lifting onto the roofrack everyday isn't an option.
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Follow Up By: garrycol - Thursday, Dec 31, 2015 at 23:38

Thursday, Dec 31, 2015 at 23:38
But all the Blackwolfs I have looked at all have had a fly so not all that relevant.
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Reply By: Member - Ross N (NSW) - Wednesday, Dec 30, 2015 at 17:27

Wednesday, Dec 30, 2015 at 17:27
A good quality canvas tent is unlikely to wick.
Certainly the ones I have had over the years did not and my Kimberley Kamper does not.
AnswerID: 594317

Reply By: Ron N - Wednesday, Dec 30, 2015 at 17:33

Wednesday, Dec 30, 2015 at 17:33
John - Good quality canvas will not wick water through it, once it's conditioned.
However, in a fairly well sealed tent - or even in just a canvas tarp thrown over something - moisture rising from the ground will condense on the inside of the canvas, thus leading to the initial impression that the moisture is wicking through from the outside.
As a result, it pays to utilise an impermeable ground sheet under any tent - or, allow substantial ventilation to carry away the rising and condensing moisture.

Cheers, Ron.
AnswerID: 594319

Follow Up By: Les - PK Ranger - Wednesday, Dec 30, 2015 at 18:47

Wednesday, Dec 30, 2015 at 18:47
It's more moisture inside the tent from the occupants breathing overnight when sleeping in to tent.
It's amazing how much moisture you breathe out !!
Ground condensation stays under the (usually) PVC base.
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Reply By: Member - Rosco from way back - Wednesday, Dec 30, 2015 at 18:31

Wednesday, Dec 30, 2015 at 18:31
Good Aussie cotton canvas certainly wouldn't be a problem. The stuff may os is/may be a different story. We had experience with some RSA made canvas and it was a bloody disaster. Maybe it wasn't made in RSA ... I have no ken of its origin, but it wasn't a patch on the local stuff.
AnswerID: 594321

Follow Up By: Jackolux - Wednesday, Dec 30, 2015 at 18:59

Wednesday, Dec 30, 2015 at 18:59
Les is correct it's not condensation from the ground it's from the occupants , we use a quality Aussie canvas rooftop tent and get plenty of condensation.
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Follow Up By: Sigmund - Thursday, Dec 31, 2015 at 09:39

Thursday, Dec 31, 2015 at 09:39
A quality poly/cotton canvas is also effectively waterproof. Many top-drawer packs are made of it. The poly increases abrasion resistance.
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Follow Up By: Member - Rosco from way back - Thursday, Dec 31, 2015 at 12:59

Thursday, Dec 31, 2015 at 12:59
There's no argument from me on the condensation aspect. However the situation to which I referred was that of rain effectively falling through sub-standard canvas, with the fabric saturated.
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Reply By: John W8 - Wednesday, Dec 30, 2015 at 19:59

Wednesday, Dec 30, 2015 at 19:59
Thanks everyone.

Just so I'm 100% clear if I accidently let a bag touch the side of the tent overnight I shouldn't expect any wicking? Would this be applicable on the cheaper models like the Oztrail?
AnswerID: 594327

Follow Up By: Member - mark D18 - Wednesday, Dec 30, 2015 at 20:39

Wednesday, Dec 30, 2015 at 20:39
John

That would be correct
I have a Oztrail and for a fairly cheap tent they handle the wet and windy condition well.
but if I was buying a new one it would be a Oztent


Cheers
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Follow Up By: howie - Wednesday, Dec 30, 2015 at 23:19

Wednesday, Dec 30, 2015 at 23:19
i'm going to go against all the others.
any material which is 'waterproof' is usually because the water molecules are bigger than the 'holes' in the material, and therefore run off.
ie the 'holes' in the gauze in my fuel funnel are too small to let water through, but big enough to let petrol through. that's the way it works apparently.
however, if you were to force the petrol in too fast, it might force some water molecules through as well.
also, if i wear my waterproof top over a t-shirt (ie the material against my bare arms) it will wick water through. this will not happen with a proper fleece underneath.
my experience has been that any 'waterproof' canvas/material will probably wick if something is left against it inside.
interior condensation is another problem, usually cured by a bit of ventilation.
on a separate note, when a had a jayco swan, the roof of the pull-out bed would wake us up in the morning, dripping water on our faces during a winter trip.
this was cured temp by buying a 1" piece of foam and putting it on top of pull-out roof at night.
must be a heavy breather.
no animals were hurt during these experiments.
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Follow Up By: Member - Warren H - Thursday, Dec 31, 2015 at 00:01

Thursday, Dec 31, 2015 at 00:01
Water molecules are about 0.3 nanometers (1 nm= one millionth of a millimetre) so it's not the size of water molecule that's responsible for water proofing, it's to do with surface tension and the water droplet size. As howie wrote, the effect is seen in the fine filters in funnels where fuel has a very low surface tension and hence droplet size and goes through, whereas water forms droplets held together by surface tension and is held.
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Follow Up By: Nomadic Navara - Thursday, Dec 31, 2015 at 14:05

Thursday, Dec 31, 2015 at 14:05
Quote - "ie the 'holes' in the gauze in my fuel funnel are too small to let water through, but big enough to let petrol through. that's the way it works apparently."

No that's not the way it works. If you clean that gauze and pass water through it then petrol or diesel will not pass through the funnel. We used the same size gauze back to strain milk before putting it through the separator.

Way back we also used chamois leather to filter fuel. If the chamois was wet with water then it would not pass fuel. Likewise id you wet the chamois with fuel then you could filter water out of suspect fuel.
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Follow Up By: howie - Sunday, Jan 03, 2016 at 03:39

Sunday, Jan 03, 2016 at 03:39
i am talking about a specialized funnel i use, called a 'mr funnel'
this funnel will stop any 'free' water in fuel if used correctly (as opposed to emulsified water)
this funnel never needs cleaning, it's teflon coated gauze will never let water through unless there is more than 2 cups, when the sheer weight of the water will force the water through the gauze.
if you have more than 2 cups of water in a 20 litre jerry, you have serious problems, and if used correctly, you would spot the build up of liquid(water) in the funnel.
the funnel never needs cleaning, just shake any residue out and let any remaining liquid evaporate.
it has a vertical gauze instead of the usual horizontal gauze in other filters.
i have yet to try it with milk.

i believe (i could be wrong) this filter uses the molecular filter system, as when things are magnified 100 times, they resemble sieves.
i am imagining a balloon that won't go through a hole that is slightly too small for it, but with a little push, goes through easily.
that was my theory, no matter how good your tent is, there will be a point where the weight of water can start leaking through and that objects left against the walls can encourage leaks.
what i should have said was, usually, you get what you pay for.




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Reply By: Nomadic Navara - Wednesday, Dec 30, 2015 at 23:35

Wednesday, Dec 30, 2015 at 23:35
A new tent will often leak until it has had some exposure. Before you use it, erect it in the back yard and hose it down heavily a couple of times. Dry it thoroughly and it will be ready for use and you will stay dry.
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Reply By: Les - PK Ranger - Thursday, Dec 31, 2015 at 07:32

Thursday, Dec 31, 2015 at 07:32
Yes, you need to 'season' most tents, the stitching holes are usually not filled fully by the cotton thread.
Wetting it several times and allowing it to dry between each hosing expands the cotton a little more each time, and the holes are sealed.

The canvas itself should be fully treated / waterproof, it's not like the canvas waterbags you used to see a lot on vehicle bullbars in days gone, they were deigned to allow them to wet through, and the air flow while driving cooled your bag of water.

Use a good piece of shadecloth underneath as a ground sheet, bit out the front fore a veranha, perfect.
This catches most dirt etc off your shoes, drains, keeps sand out and lets sand through off your shoes, and protects the floor well.
AnswerID: 594343

Reply By: Malcom M - Thursday, Dec 31, 2015 at 08:14

Thursday, Dec 31, 2015 at 08:14
There is a few more things to consider.
When you say 'canvas', there are different types.
There's the canvas that used to be on the old military or Boy Scout tents I grew up with. Incredibly heavy things.
A modern variant on this is the stuff you get on real Ozzie camper trailer tents. Stuff made by Wax Converters etc. Much lighter in weight and just as waterproof.
There's also the modern 'rip stop' stuff which is not really in the same league but still called 'canvas' and is even lighter in weight plus fairly transparent to light.

All of these need to be seasoned as mentioned.
All should remain waterproof but all can be made to wick water if you try hard enough.

However...
What I think you really want to know is how canvas compares to a nylon tent which maybe you are upgrading from?
Well that's chalk and cheese. The wicking in a nylon tent is about a million times worse than what you could achieve in any of the canvas styles. What you may have experienced in your nylon tent is not going to happen in a canvas jobbie.
We have a nylon for summer use and a canvas one when there is any sign of moisture or we are touring.
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Reply By: Member - Duncan W (WA) - Thursday, Dec 31, 2015 at 12:55

Thursday, Dec 31, 2015 at 12:55
I have the OzTent (original design and canvas, green with the yellow awning). It will transfer moisture from the outside to the inside if you have something against the canvas during rain. I had my pillow against the canvas during rain and the pillow got as wet as buggery. This didn't cause a wick effect just wet where I had stuff pressed against the wet canvas.

I also have the Oz Trail centre pole tent and the same happens with that. Condensation can be an issue but by leaving the window flap open a bit and the upper level vent flaps open definitely helps.

With the OzTent I also drape the front awning over the top of the tent so that any dew is on the awning and not the tent. I find this is easier to dry out in the morning thus allowing for a quicker pack-up.

Cheers

Dunc
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