Controlling Condensation in Your Truck Camper
Condensation is part of the truck camping experience. You’ll often see it on the grass or picnic tables when you wake up in the morning at your camp site. When you're living in a small space like a truck camper though, the potential for condensation is higher – and we all know how uncomfortable it feels when you wake up in a humid space.
If you've been told that condensation discomfort is just something you have to accept, and that damage can't be avoided, we're happy to tell you this isn’t true! For starters, the way Scout campers are constructed actually prevent condensation and thermal bridging, but more on that shortly.
Stick with us, and we’ll walk you through a couple ways to minimize and control condensation in your Scout camper for maximum camping comfort.
What is Condensation?
Condensation occurs when air is cooled to its dew point and dew point refers to phenomena when air contains too much water and as a result forms into droplets. When air has a high dew point, evaporation isn’t possible. Warm air holds more water vapour than cold air so activities like heating, cooking, and even breathing will naturally release water vapour into the environment around you, creating humidity.
When cold surfaces (like the walls and windows of your Scout Camper) come into contact with warm air, the air expels water in the form of droplets onto the surface of the object. This warm air is generated by each breath you expel, your body heat, and any meals you cook inside. When water vapour builds up and is left unventilated for a long time, it can cause damage, mould, and an uncomfortable, humid environment inside your camper.
All types of adventure vehicles face this issue in some form because that is the way that air and water moisture interact in changing temperatures. However, the way Scout is built offers some notable advantages and we dive into that in our next section. Luckily there are simple ways to manage condensation and prevent the damage and discomfort it may cause.
Scout campers boast a unique wood-free construction and integrate composite materials with aluminium framing. This means that the potential for condensation damage is extremely low, because aluminium doesn’t rust. In addition, the woodless structure means that there is a much lower chance of toxic and unsightly mold formation to occur on the inside or outside of the camper.
When speaking about condensation, the term 'thermal bridging' is often used. This term refers to the fact that certain materials are especially conductive to changing temperatures and as a result let heat or cold move across them quickly. This influences the environment around them, especially a small space like a truck camper.
Materials like wood, metal, and concreate act as thermal bridges that move energy like heat quickly across them rather than acting like an insulator. This can cause a lot of energy loss, resulting in using more heating to keep the camper warm and more condensation due to the quick energy shifts in the heat or cold.
The good news is that Scout campers are built with advantages that overcome this issue common to truck camper manufacturing. As mentioned, metal is a sensitive temperature conductor, but there is minimal metal in our construction. The composite walls are made of polyurethane foam and fibreglass which not only promote insulation but offer no opportunity for thermal bridging. Only the aluminium framing will act as a thermal bridge, which can easily be manged.
The thermal pane windows are another great feature that automatically promote insulation, so you can keep the camper at a stable temperature while you enjoy the rain or snowfall from inside. While these construction elements are helpful in the fight against condensation, humidity should still be managed to enhance your comfort and keep things dry. When it all comes down to it, condensation means there is little air flow in the space and the simple solution is increasing the air flow.
Ventilation is hands down the best way to combat condensation. By increasing air flow, you push out humid air that is filled with water vapour. It’s good practice to always keep a window open when camping, especially when you are doing any kind of cooking, washing, or heating.
We cannot stress air flow enough. Living in small spaces like your Scout truck camper means that there isn’t a lot of room for those microscopic water droplets to disperse, so they congregate. To resolve this, crack a window, run your fan, and let the fresh outside air do most of the hard work for you.
Scout has another thoughtfully designed feature that helps you maximize on this method. The 12V solar powered cross ventilation system found on the ceiling of your Scout Camper is incredibly efficient at circulating air in and out of your camper. Turn this on whenever you are cooking inside, washing up, or using any source of heat. This is just one more way that Scout works with your environment to give you the most comfortable, sustainable, off-grid experience possible.
Keeping wet clothing or gear outside the camper is also important. The exterior Gear Locker is a good place to store wet items that could bring more moisture into your camper. When using hot water in the camper, like the portable rinse station in the Kenai model, make sure to crack open a window and turn on the 12V fan like you would in a typical bathroom. The hot air will make the camper damp unless you take action to establish good ventilation.
Dehumidifiers & Moisture Absorbers
Dehumidifiers can also be a good option if you are camping somewhere cold or damp for a long period of time. In extremely humid environments, dehumidifiers can give you a leg up on moisture when ventilation might not do the trick alone. Many dehumidifiers do require electricity, which might not be ideal for your off-grid truck camping experience. This is a better option for nights when you are connected to the grid.
Moisture Absorbers are helpful because they suck up moisture directly from the air without the need of electricity. They are popularly made of silica gel beads, which make them safe and non-toxic to the air you breathe. The industry-recommended brand is DampRip which are small and lightweight, so they’re perfectly sized to fit in inconspicuous areas like inside cabinets.
On the topic of nooks and crannies, areas like cabinets and interior storage are the most vulnerable areas of your camper. They collect condensation but are often forgotten about since the moisture appears out of sight. This makes them at a higher risk for mildew or mould, so placing these condensation stoppers here is an added security. Just make sure that if you have a reusable model, that you check the water capacity of your moisture absorber, and give it a quick charge when needed. Then you should be good for another 4 to 8 weeks.
The heater you use in your camper can have a big impact on humidity levels that cause condensation. Some heaters create much less water vapour, while others, like portable propane heaters, can contribute to condensation if the ventilation is not appropriate.
The Newport Real Flame 4.5 BTU fireplace is an ideal Scout heating option because it has a built-in blower that keeps the heated air in constant motion. In addition, the unit has an isolated combustion process where exhaust gases are released outside through a chimney. This means no additional humidity is being created inside your unit by the heating process.
Keeping your camper at a consistent temperature will lower the chances of condensation. It’s usually when there is a quick flux between temperatures that water vapour appears. If you have your own portable heating option, make sure you have adequate air flow and ventilation for safety and condensation control. Remember, when it comes to heat, slow and steady wins the race!
In Short, Air Flow is the Way to Go
Condensation doesn’t have to be a big worry. It may be an inevitable part of camping, especially if you are traveling in colder, damper temperatures, but you can reduce it significantly on your own. With the right camper, constant ventilation, and proper heating considerations, you can keep you, your camper, and your belongings comfortable and dry.
We’re happy to have designed each Scout Camper with everything you need to stay dry, warm, and happy. It’s really the perfect camper to travel all year round.