Tent with Mesh or Solid Fabric?

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ainmsuil
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Joined: January 16th, 2018, 4:50 am

Tent with Mesh or Solid Fabric?

Post by ainmsuil » February 9th, 2018, 2:25 pm

For a wet climate like Olympic National Park in spring, summer, or fall (or the Pacific Northwest in general), is there any particular benefit to a tent with (mostly) mesh walls vs one with solid walls?

I ask because someone suggested that a wet climate might produce interior condensation on a tent with solid walls.
I have not camped in a wet climate like this before.

I have always had a solid walled tent before (my current solid walled tent is 11 lbs, not good for real, overnight backbacking), but I would not be averse to a mesh-walled tent (obviously with a solid "bathtub" floor), if there is a real benefit to it vis a vis water not dripping down the inside wall from condensation.

I guess a mesh tent would have better ventilation (even with a rain fly on), and might be cooler in summer.

My young son and I will be going car camping this summer, and possibly doing some overnight backpacking away from the car. So, weight would matter.

I would not be camping in winter.

Thanks.

Mac

raven
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Re: Tent with Mesh or Solid Fabric?

Post by raven » February 12th, 2018, 12:03 pm

In my experience, on a well-pitched tent the condensation is on the fly. As long as the fly is separated from the body of the tent, neither kind of interior is wet from condensation. The fly, becoming wet, may sag more than the body of the tent; so beware.

The greatest source of condensation can be below where the fly covers -- on the walls of what can be called the bathtub floor. (Also on the floor when pitched on snow.) Touching a sleeping bag to the lower walls of the tent is not an uncommon source of wetting, particularly in small tents. Netting does not help with this.

In general net tents are cooler. Important when hiking in the hot and humid eastern US in summer, not so much in the drier, higher and cooler western ranges. Netting is not good in blowing snow, sand or dust, but that should not affect you.

The Olympics, may be quite wet, but they seem more western than eastern in terms of temperature and humidity; even along the valleys on approaches to the higher core where one starts low. Usually when the humidity is high, in my experience the temperature has not been. Also, the pattern of rain is western, with summers being relatively dry.

ainmsuil
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Re: Tent with Mesh or Solid Fabric?

Post by ainmsuil » February 13th, 2018, 5:01 am

Thanks for the comments.

I appreciate them.

Mac

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texasbb
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Location: Tri-Cities, WA

Re: Tent with Mesh or Solid Fabric?

Post by texasbb » February 13th, 2018, 7:04 am

And don't forget the views. Why bottle yourself up to see nothing just because the bugs are out?

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retired jerry
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Re: Tent with Mesh or Solid Fabric?

Post by retired jerry » February 13th, 2018, 7:26 am

If it's not raining don't use a tent at all. In my experience.

PNW usually doesn't have a huge number of bugs so you can ignore them. Sometimes a headnet and DEET are good.

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Bosterson
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Re: Tent with Mesh or Solid Fabric?

Post by Bosterson » February 14th, 2018, 1:43 pm

ainmsuil wrote: I guess a mesh tent would have better ventilation (even with a rain fly on), and might be cooler in summer.
If your current tent is 11 lbs, it sounds like you may be in the market for a new tent anyway!

Good backpacking tents are generally either double wall (eg, mesh walls + fly) or single wall waterproof/breathable (more $$, usually for mountaineering). Modern double wall tents are much lighter (though smaller) than they used to be, and the tent body is mostly mesh with a waterproof bathtub floor. These days the pole designs allow there to be vents in the top of the fly to let warm moist air out when the fly is on. In my experience, you don't need the fly on unless you expect bad weather, and you won't get much condensation unless the overnight air temperatures drop into the 40s and below. The mesh used in tent walls is actually so fine (to keep out bugs) that most drips stay on top of the mesh and don't continue into the tent. These days, there is no reason to get a new tent that's not mostly mesh unless you expect to be somewhere cold and/or need wind/snow resilience (like for mountaineering). REI makes some decent double wall backpacking tents at reasonable prices. There's a nice balance between weight at price at around 4 lbs for a 2 person three season tent. (Be sure to scout sales - I know there are some going on right now.)
Will hike off trail for fun.

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Charley
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Re: Tent with Mesh or Solid Fabric?

Post by Charley » February 15th, 2018, 6:35 pm

I think the modern double wall tent (mesh inner tent with vented rainfly) is the best of both worlds for most backpackers.

I own and use two different tarps, a tarp shelter, and a few different kinds of double walled tent, and find all of them useful for different specific conditions. Most backpackers are not trying to go ultralight (using my tarps is far easier on my back, and allows me to have views) and not camping in true winter conditions (my double-pyramid-style tarp shelter sheds snow better).

I've used a single wall mountaineering tent on a few ski camping trips and found that it was not as light as my tarp shelter, while being far more condensation prone. On these trips, there wasn't even much overnight snow, so a normal three season tent would have sufficed, and probably breathed better (it was muggy and stinky in there, even on the first nights of my trips).

In good-weather summer conditions I've found that the double wall tents are cozy, allowing one to set up with the rainfly (allowing weather protection or privacy), or without the rainfly (allowing views, ventilation, and cooler sleeping).

So, while I'm a real tarp partisan, I have no problem recommending that you go for a double wall tent. I happen to have gone camping in the summer in the Olympics and my double wall tent did get a little muggy overnight, but I don't like car camping with a tarp (no privacy) and the single wall shelter would have been sweltering and even more muggy.

Kalarv
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Re: Tent with Mesh or Solid Fabric?

Post by Kalarv » June 22nd, 2018, 2:26 am

I have both. I got the mesh pair because they're a bit lighter and the ability to dry quickly was just a plus. Problem is they don't have something to stiffen the opening like the HH sil ones so they're not as easy to use. I'd be more concerned about the functionality than the material (pockets, size, construction, etc).

The mesh ones tend to slide when trying to bundle the tarp up. I may modify my set with an extra loop a few inches form the wide end and a small toggle on the other. Then I can connect the two easily into one long tube for transport.




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Kind regards,Kalarv Diceus

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