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  1. #11
    Senior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by 4estTrekker View Post
    For what it’s worth, I inflate my pad fully and still experience condensation.
    in a gathered end? your DIY Bridge?

    what temps are you getting condensation? relative humidity?


    no idea if any of these are meaningful questions tho!

  2. #12
    Senior Member
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    Also a pad user, also in a 90į hammocktent, also noticing condensation, though on a bothersome yet not concerning level.
    The zlite like uneven surface of alike pads was a plus as the condensation gathered in little ponds of the little pits

  3. #13
    Member aikirunner's Avatar
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    I use a Z Lite pad in my double layer hammock. I havenít got any condensation yet. The lowest temps I went to is 36 degrees.


    Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk

  4. #14
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    I'm pretty sure all this talk is about trapped, accumulated perspiration and not condensation, just as cmc4free stated. Having a cover on a pad can help with both the tiny bit of circulation it provides as well as possibly some wicking.
    Last edited by TominMN; 09-04-2019 at 22:17.

  5. #15
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    I have used a Thermarest self-inflating open cell foam pad in the past without issues but in warmer temperatures maybe getting down to about 48 degrees F. I just tried putting a piece of Reflectix between the layers of my hammock in the back yard and woke up at about 4 am with sweat on my back and buttocks. It had gotten down to about 41 degrees F. I wonder if it would matter on the ZLite if you put the reflective side down instead of reflective side up?

  6. #16
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    When I use a Thermarest Z-lite, any closed cell foam, or an inflatable pad not covered in fabric, I get condensation when it's less than 45 degrees. I have an REI self-inflating pad that has a thin layer of poly fabric and there is no condensation at any temp.

  7. #17
    gunner76's Avatar
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    When the wife and I first started sleeping in our hammocks ( BlackBirds ) we did not have UQs and were using pads. On our first trip I used a closed cell foam pad and the wife used an inflatable pad. She had a problem with condensation and I did not. On the third night we swapped pads and she still had condensation issues. We did not have TQs and were using sleeping bags. I opened my sleeping bag up and used it like a TQ and the wife used her sleeping bag as a sleeping bag in the hammock. We both stayed warm but she had the condensation issues. I ordered UQs when we got back from that trip and she has not had any problems since. It did take about another 5 years before I got her to give up her sleeping bag and go with a TQ ( ie I "forgot" to pack her sleeping back one trip ).
    I am still 18 but with 51 years of experience !

  8. #18
    Senior Member 509-T203-KG's Avatar
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    Iíve been fortunate that in 40+ nights in a bridge hammock on inflatable and foam pads, with sleeping bags and top quilts, from -10įF to 70įF, I have only found a small amount of moisture on my pad one time after an uncomfortably warm night, which is my best guess as to why. I canít stand being too warm when I sleep, so I try to find the gear combo that keeps me *just* warm enough.

    Unfortunately I donít have any other theories or explanations for why it might happen in a hammock but not on the ground, nor for why I seem to be immune to it.




    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

  9. #19
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    This is a confussing topic for sure...

    Technically- any pad that can hold air is a vapor barrier. Some foam pads use a combination of open and closed cell foams to increase comfort and reduce the clammy feeling you can get by allowing a bit less of a pure vapor barrier. A mylar film coated pad is basically a solid vapor barrier over the foam.

    So this is issue number one- your vapor producing skin in contact with a vapor barrier.
    I do generally agree that a hammock presses this Vapor barrier tighter against you in a hammock. You are also less likely to toss and turn.
    You've got both gravity and geometry forcing you that much tighter into contact with that surface, increasing the surface area in contact.

    Also- with the pad wrapping around you overall you're closer to a 50/50 split up to a 2/3 to 1/3 ratio of non breathable insulation (pad) to breathable insulation (top quilt).
    On the ground it's the opposite- with only a third of you typically in contact with the pad and the other 2/3 of you covered by your top quilt... which allows body vapor to pass.
    Simply put- more surface area in contact with the vapor barrier- more moisture can accumulate.

    This can and does happen on the ground, but the issue is less obvious for the reasons mentioned.

    This is most obvious when wearing a baselayer, especially one with natural fiber (wool or cotton) as this baselayer is ideally placed to absorb the moisture.

    This can be less obvious on a cheaper pad. Newer SUL pads use an impregnated fabric- IE they feel like you are sleeping on a plastic bag, a common complaint with say the neo-air series of pads.
    Older pads or more affordable ones use a coated fabric. Basically the surface of the pad can be it's own 'baselayer' of sorts as the vapor barrier is a heavy coating applied to the wrong side (inside) of the pad's surface. This is one reason some summertime folks still prefer a self inflating type pad since it has a better feel against your skin.

    BUT... none of this involves actual condensation just yet.

    Actual condensation- requires a cold (or cooler) surface to be in contact with warm (warmer) moist air. This can happen both on the ground and in the air when conditions are right.
    The obvious example is that ice filled glass sitting out in the ambient air. This is moisture in the air CONDENSING on the cold surface of the glass.

    It happens when you get 'dew' forming on the inside of your tarp via your hot moist breath hitting the inside of the tarp. Or your body vapor condensing on the interior of a tent wall.

    It can also happen on the surface of your pad:
    In a tent... if you've ever woken up and found a damp spot under your pad this is more often because you warmed the area above the ground- causing the surface of the earth to act as that 'cold glass' where moisture in the ground could condense. Remember- you don't need 40* water on a 90* day... that just makes it happen really fast. Your 70* room temperature mirror collects condensation in your 80* bathroom just fine.
    All that is required is moisture and a temperature differential. The greater the differential and/or the more humidity- the more condensation forms. Frost is condensation (frozen dew), even though it is in the form of ice and while it may not seem 'hot and moist' the point is it is all relative.

    This is a common issue for folks who wonder- why is my tent floor leaking? If it only 'leaks' under you it usually isn't. But you are collecting condensation between the pad and the ground.
    (The common theory is that the weight of your body is forcing water through the fabric, while this has some truth it is not the full truth).

    It also tends to happen more readily when camping on snow, as the snow deflects a bit more (like a hammock) and gives you a tighter seal against the pad AND the pad is a cooler surface than your warm moist body. So this is both perspiration and condensation forming. Most also tend to naturally sleep a bit more statically in the cold to stay warm in winter (bust drafts).

    When you go to the air-
    You can create conditions for condensation on BOTH sides of your pad.
    Remember a pad is simply insulation- not actual heat. You are the only source of heat.

    Going to the air introduces convection heat loss (vs conduction on the ground).
    Convection is more volatile, and if you have an inflatable pad you also have convection INSIDE the air pad too. (Foam counters this issue quite a bit since it has no internal air to move)

    The more temperature differentials you create- the more opportunities for condensation to form.

    Since you are the source of heat for your pad... your pad is cooler than you. Essentially becoming the 'cold drink'. As convection loss strips away your heat from below... this gradient is greater.
    Your skin may be 80*, the air pad layer next to you may be 70*, and the outer layer may be 50* against say 40* air.

    So it is possible for you to form condensation both under your pad and against your pad in the right conditions.
    That said- the already mentioned increased contact with your pad in your hammock does reduce the opportunity for moisture laden air to circulate under you and condense on the surface of your pad. For me personally- this is always the nail in the coffin AGAINST condensation being the culprit. Condensation requires moist air to move over the cold surface- if no air is moving- no condensation can form.

    In an air pad... you are dealing with many temperature differentials at once.

    Bottom line-
    There is only one vapor barrier in the system. This is the most common cause of dampness overall.
    Hammocks aggravate this issue (if you care to think of it that way)

    Condensation opportunities exist no matter where you sleep- but the hammock adds additional layers of opportunity not found on the ground.

    Air filled pads (vs foam) create even more opportunity for temperature differential.

    UNDERquilts are not vapor barriers (unless you build one that way with DCF or coated shell material).

    If you wear a VBL suit- you would eliminate most of the moisture as it is trapped inside your VBL. But you would still be vulnerable to condensation if conditions were right.

  10. #20

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    Most logical and thorough explanation I’ve seen. Thanks, O wise and knowledgeable Just Bill.

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