Glossary: For those who aren't already acquainted with her, Wendy is our Stephenson’s Warmlite 2R; a very lightweight and very sturdy tent.
Recap: Wendy’s first outing was on a campsite in North Yorkshire on a very cold and still night. Her performance was not assisted by a bad bit of pitching (well, it was her first outing and she needed practice at getting herself right) and by morning the inside was running with condensation, both on the single and double skin sections. We conceded that it wasn’t a very fair test as in the exceptionally still conditions most tents would have struggled to remain dry.
Her second outing was on a weekend of wet and stormy weather in Wales. We were jolly impressed at her stability and condensation was not a problem on this occasion. In fact, the only problem was that we had pitched in an incredibly bad position (the pitch having turned into a pond overnight) leading to us waking up in a pool of water. As much as I cursed Wendy when the water was first discovered, she was soon forgiven when the cause was discovered.
Latest Test: Her third outing was once again in very cold and quite calm conditions on 13/14 February. This time we chose a good pitch and we pitched her well (she’s getting used to the process now) and then we did everything we could to minimise condensation: we cooked well away from her and we sat outside until late in the evening when the cold got the better of us and chased us inside.
A breeze picked up overnight (although I’m not sure whether ventilation was affected by having pitched head to the wind).
In the morning I was disappointed to find that despite having done nothing in the tent that may have led to an excess of water vapour (no cooking and certainly no sweating as it was jolly cold; all we did was breathe) the double-skin section was once again damp with condensation.
I know that Alan Sloman has had excellent results with Wanda, his Warmlite 2C and the only explanation that I can give for the variance of results is that he uses Wanda solo whilst there are two of us in Wendy. I firmly believe that Wendy would cope just fine, even on a still night, with one person breathing, however, in cold conditions with two people it seems that she can’t quite cope.
That raises the question as to what will happen when it’s raining out and we have no option but to use the stove inside of her. Alan found that this wasn’t a problem, but again he was only producing enough hot water for food and drink for one person. We will have to double those quantities, which will put twice the water vapour into the confined space.
To date Wendy has not dripped on us. The condensation only causes a problem when we brush against it in our down sleeping bags or down jackets. Again, if there was only one person in the tent the space would be so vast that one could manoeuvre without touching the sides. With two people it’s difficult not to touch the sides.
All that may seem like doom and gloom, but I’ve still not given up on Wendy. The difference I see between our LEJOG and the test-runs to date is that (hopefully, at least) on our LEJOG the weather will be rather warmer. Hopefully those few degrees of warmth will be enough to stave off the condensation that we’ve seen to date.
The test period continues…