Caravan and Hybrid condensation; how to deal with it

If you have a Hybrid Camper or a Caravan and suffer from condensation, this is not a unique problem to just your setup. We suffer it badly as well, and it’s a common camper and caravan problem, although not talked about that often.

Condensation is water droplets that form inside your van, and occasionally even drop down, like rain. There’s a huge number of things that contribute to condensation, and on the flip side, a number of things that you can do to control, or hugely reduce it.

Condensation on our R2
Condensation is hugely common in campers and caravans

Condensation can be annoying at best with everything being wet that you touch, but it can also cause timber to swell, mould to grow and make your camper or van smell quite bad long term too.

What causes condensation?

Warm air inside, and cold air outside

Hopefully, you’d notice a big difference in temperature inside your van or hybrid camper trailer than outside. This is the first, major contributor to condensation. If they were both the same temperature, you’d have much less chance of condensate forming in the first place.

Cold night in the paddock
If its cold outside, and warm inside you’ll get condensation

You, and everyone in the van breathing out moisture

Every night, when you go to sleep, you breath out up to 2 litres of water in your breath. This is unavoidable, but that moisture has to go somewhere, and if it’s trapped inside your van it’s going to form droplets.

That 2L is per person as well, so if you have a family of 5 sleeping in a van expect to have a much higher amount of moisture going into the air.

Kids playing inside our camper
With 4 of us inside a tiny space the condensation can be really bad

Lack of airflow

Sealing your caravan or hybrid up when it’s cold seems like the smart thing to do, as it keeps the heat in. However, what it also does is keeps the moisture in, and if you have no fresh air coming into your setup, you are going to have huge condensation issues.

Windows cracked for air flow
Good air flow hugely reduces or eliminates condensation

How can you deal with condensation?

Crack windows, or vents

The most effective way to reduce condensation inside a van or camper is to increase the air flow. If you have a roof hatch, simply cracking this will allow some fresh air to enter, and moist air to leave. This is the first thing you should start with. If you don’t have a roof vent, try a window that you can handle having open all the time.

Our camper has a small mesh pocket at the top of each corner of the van that is permanently open. This on its own is not enough (although I’d hate to think how bad it would be without it!), so we try and crack a few windows open a tiny amount. I’m not suggesting you leave them open and put up with a breeze from the arctic, but even having the zip not all the way done up allows a bit of air to move around.

Window views
If its not freezing, we leave the windows cracked a bit

Run a heater

You wouldn’t believe how effective a diesel heater can be at stopping moisture. I guess a gas heater would be the same (a dedicated caravan one, not any gas heater please!), as the heat automatically dries out any condensation that forms.

Of course, if you don’t need a heater on, or you don’t want to run one then you have to look at alternatives.

Diesel heater being pulled apart
Our portable diesel heater that I pulled apart and mounted permanently

Reduce the number of people inside

Kids get to an age where they prefer to camp outside, away from the adults, and this can help hugely with the amount of condensation. That said, don’t kick your kids out just because they are making condensate!

Kids playing at camp
Our kids are a bit too young to be in swags outside!

Run moisture traps

You can buy a number of moisture traps from your local grocery store (Coles and Woolworths for example) which trap moisture, and then you throw the unit out. These collect a surprising amount of water, so be prepared to go through them, but they are a fantastic option for vans that are stored too; any moisture that you can remove from the air is a good thing.

Is it really a problem?

I reckon our Reconn R2 would be one of the worst setups in terms of condensation when camping, purely because its tiny, and we have 4 people inside. We just accept that there is always going to be some condensation, and its not really a problem. 

We will occasionally wipe things down before we shut the camper up, but for the most part we just let the camper air well during the day and its all OK.

I wouldn’t want to be going to bed every night with water forming, and we certainly don’t, but its not a massive issue overall. 

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