What Is A Tent Footprint Used For

Is A Tent Footprint Worth It: Yes, and how to make your own for free

If you’ve already read our in-depth guide to buying a tent and discovered your ideal backcountry structure, you might be wondering if you’ll need to purchase a tent footprint to go with your new construction. Alternatively, if your tent comes with a sleeping bag, should you really take it on your next trip? When it comes to backpacking and camping, tent footprints, sometimes known as groundsheets, may be a source of friction for both groups. Is a tent footprint, on the other hand, worthwhile?

The straightforward answer is yes.

Find out everything you need to know about footprints and groundsheets by continuing reading this article.

Here’s what we are going to cover:

  • What is a tent footprint, and how do you make one? What is the purpose of a tent footprint
  • What is the purpose of using a tent footprint? What is the composition of tent footprints
  • Is it really worth it to leave a footprint? Tent Footprints Made at Home

What Is A Tent Footprint?

As the name implies, a footprint (sometimes called a groundsheet) is an extremely lightweight sheet that is roughly the shape of your tent floor’s outline and that is placed beneath your tent to act as a barrier or additional layer between the ground and your tent floor. These are frequently supplemental or optional pieces of equipment. Groundsheets, on the other hand, are becoming increasingly common among tent manufacturers, who are including them in the price of their tents. Footprints are frequently made of the same material as your tent, but with a thicker thread—a thicker thread is referred to as a higher ‘denier.’ More on this in a moment.

What Is A Tent Footprint Used For?

Despite the fact that it is constructed of exceptionally durable nylon or polyester, the floor of your tent is subjected to a great deal of wear and tear. Some terrain can cause your tent floor to wear out considerably more quickly than others. Exposed granite and sandstone can act as sandpaper on the bottom of your tent, potentially causing thin areas or holes to appear quite rapidly on the ground surface of your tent. Minor, sharp pebbles and twigs can also create small punctures in your floor, especially if they are close together.

Even yet, if holes begin to form in your tent, the effectiveness of the tent to keep you dry and warm gets more weakened over time.

A footprint serves as a protective covering against these abrasions and as a barrier between you and the ground, which can be chilly or damp at times.

Why Use A Tent Footprint?

Tent footprints have the potential to significantly increase the useful life of your tent. When you consider that a hiking tent might cost $300 or more, a footprint that costs $40-50 or less could well be worth it. In the event that you let your tent floor to become worn, you may as well be employing an arp shelter or a bivy bag. Unlike your tent, when the footprint wears out, it can be simply changed at a far cheaper cost than the tent itself.

Footprints Are Useful For Other Things Too

Tent footprints are also useful for a variety of other purposes, which is an added bonus.

As we discussed in another article, tent footprints, as well as old rain-flies, can be used in a variety of practical ways, including the following ones:

  • The use of groundsheets for bivying or when you just don’t want to bother with putting up the tent
  • They make wonderful tarps for sorting equipment. Tarps made of perfectrope for the crag
  • Picnic blankets that are a good size
  • Rain protection that is above and beyond
  • Additional heat insulating layer/windshield is recommended. Can be used to repair various items of clothing and equipment, such as tents and backpacks.

What are tent footprints made of?

It is possible that your tent will arrive with a footprint, however most tents can be purchased with a fitted footprint. Footprints will be made of either nylon or polyester, similar to how tents are manufactured. In a recent post, we discussed the differences in the characteristics of nylon and polyester. Generally speaking, nylon is a stronger textile that is also more elastic and less water resistant than polyester. Polyester is less elastic than nylon, but it is significantly more water resistant and resistant to UV damage than nylon.

When you consider that the objective of your footprints is to protect you and your tent from moisture and abrasion, most people would agree that a polyester groundsheet is the superior choice (disregarding weight).


The ‘denier’ of the fabric will be listed in the product specifications for footprints, just as it is with tent material (for double-walled tents, the denier is not as critical because the inner tent is protected by the rain fly). Denier is a unit of measure for the thickness of a thread. As an example, consider denier to be a “burliness” element in the instance of tent footprints. The greater the denier, the more hefty the product will be in terms of weight. In order to serve as a barrier, your imprints should be made of a higher denier fabric wherever possible (assuming all other factors are equivalent).

Denier By The Numbers

For example, the universal footprint for the MSR Hubba Hubba NX costs $45 when purchased from Backcountry.com. It is made of 68-denier polyester and weighs 7.0 ounces. The Nemo Hornet has a footprint that weighs 6.9 ounces and is made of 75-denier nylon. It costs $49. As a point of reference, the floor material of the Hubba Hubba is 30-denier nylon, while the top micromesh is 15-denier nylon. Nylon is much lighter than polyester. Because it is made of a higher denier material, the Nemofootprint weighs less than the Hubba Hubba footprint in terms of overall weight.

Is A Tent Footprint Worth It?

All of this is in order to answer the question, “Is leaving a footprint worth it?” A tent footprint is absolutely worth the investment, especially considering how lightweight, inexpensive, and versatile they are. Let’s imagine you’ve come to a conclusion and are now looking for the ideal footprint for your tent on the internet. There is one more thing to think about, and it might end up saving you a significant amount of money.

DIY Tent Footprints

Tent footprints are quite basic objects, despite the fact that they are extremely vital. What exactly are they in the first place? You should put a sheet under your tent. Is it really necessary to spend $40-50 bucks on anything like that? The answer to this question is a resounding no.

The manufacturer-issued footprints may be replaced with a few other options that will perform better, are more adaptable, and will save you money as well. Before we get into the DIY possibilities, it’s crucial to understand how to measure the footprint of your DIY tent.

How Big Should A Tent Footprint Be?

It is recommended that the footprints be cut to be around 1-2 inches smaller than the actual outline of your tent on all sides. The rationale behind this is a bit puzzling, to be honest. It is possible that a footprint that extends beyond the tent’s edge will operate as a moisture trap. In the event of a downpour, this will allow water to pool and flow between the footprint and the bottom of your tent’s floor. It is possible that more water will enter the main tent as a result of this than if the footprint had not been present in the first place.

3 Materials For A Solid DIY Footprint

A basic transparent plastic painters tarp, which is the heaviest choice here, can be obtained at any hardware shop for a few dollars. The amount of material you receive will be plenty for your needs, and you may cut it to your specifications. Pros:

  • It is inexpensive
  • You may choose the size. Completely impervious to water
  • Big tents
  • When weight is not a consideration
  • Car camping or walk-in campsites

Polycro, which is available from Gossamer Gear and Six Moon Designs, is the lightest of the ultra-light plastics. Polycro is transparent, and it appears just like a plastic painter’s tarp, only it’s wayyy thinner. Its high strength to weight ratio means that, despite being a thin layer, Polycro is exceptionally durable, puncture and abrasion resistant, in addition to being water and abrasion resistant. A normal sheet of polycro, measuring 96″ by 48″, weighs just 1.6 ounces, which is nearly indistinguishable (45 grams).


You know that white paper-like material that is used to cover houses while they are being built? Because it’s practically unbreakable, it’s inexpensive, it’s waterproof, and it’s also somewhat lightweight. Tyvek has a high burliness factor, which means it is difficult to tear. It is far more puncture resistant when compared to the other choices. Tyvek is also impervious to water. However, because it is light and compact, you can simply roll up and cinch it in the top of your pack or one of the exterior straps when not in use.

Others will cut the piece to your preferred length if you ask them nicely.

In comparison to Polycro, a piece of Tyvek measuring 84″ × 84″ weights 6.5 ounces (184 grams).


  • Every circumstance involving hiking or camping in which weight is not a consideration


  1. What Is the Footprint of a Tent? A footprint is a ground sheet that is molded to the contour of your tent and serves as a barrier between the floor of your tent and the ground. What Is the Purpose of a Footprint? A footprint is a piece of rubber that protects the bottom of your tent from damage. When placed between your tent and the ground, it works as a barrier, keeping moisture and cold from getting into your tent. Is It Really Necessary To Bring A Tent When Backpacking? When hiking, you do not need to leave a trace. A footprint, on the other hand, will extend the life of your tent by preventing moisture and cold from entering the tent and is relatively light in comparison. Footprints may be used for a variety of additional functions while hiking or camping, such as a rain tarp, a gear sorting station, wind protection, a picnic blanket, and other things. In Your Opinion, What Is The Best DIY Tent Footprint? Tyvek and Polycro are two inexpensive and lightweight materials that may be used to create your own imprints. Compared to Tyvek, Polycro is considerably lighter and less durable, but it is also more costly and more delicate. Tyvek is more durable and less expensive. Both variants are water-resistant.

Is it really worth it to have a tent footprint? We believe this to be true.

Do You Need a Tent Footprint for Backpacking?

You’ve invested in a tent with a water-resistant floor. Is it necessary to purchase a tent footprint or a groundsheet in addition to the tent? How sturdy and waterproof your tent floor is, as well as what the surface conditions are like where you want to use it, are all factors that must be considered. If you want to make a decision, you’ll need to understand how the thickness of your tent floor and the waterproof rating of your tent will affect its overall longevity.

The choice of a camping spot is also an essential consideration. Despite the fact that there are occasions when a footprint is beneficial, there are a variety of lesser cost and lighter weight footprint alternatives that you may employ in lieu of a traditional footprint.

What is a Tent Footprint?

It is important to understand that a tent footprint is a piece of protective fabric or material that you place under your tent to act as a moisture barrier while also protecting your tent floor from abrasion and punctures. Abrasion occurs on the bottom of your tent every time you pitch it due to the grit, small rocks, sand, and twigs that build on previously used tent sites. This weakens the fabric, which might result in a hole or puncture that allows water to seep past the waterproof layer of your tent floor and into the inside.

The majority of tent footprints are designed to correspond to the floor measurements of a certain tent.

In the event that your tent floor has a hole or has deteriorated seam tape, the puddle may soak through the fabric or seep inside the tent.

Tent Floor Durability and Waterproofing

A denier count and a waterproofing meter are frequently included in the specifications of backpacking tents. The denier count of a tent’s floor fabric refers to the thickness of the threads that make up the fabric, and it is a good indicator of the tent’s overall durability. Consider the following example: The floor of a tent that has a “70D,” or “70 denier,” construction, such as theREI Half Dome 2 Plus, will be harder and more durable than the 15 denier floor of the ultralightNEMO Hornet 2.

  • For example, a tent floor with a waterproof rating of 5000 mm, such as the Hilleberg Niak, is significantly more waterproof than a tent floor with a waterproof rating of 1200 mm, such as theNEMO Hornet 2, which is much less waterproof.
  • It may be used to evaluate the waterproofness of different tent flooring against one another.
  • While they do not specify whether or not it is waterproof, it is unquestionably more durable than the 15 denier floor that came with the tent in question.
  • It is also important to evaluate the nature and character of the campgrounds where you intend to set up your tent, as well as whether the usage of a footprint is appropriate in that particular setting.

The soil in pre-existing tent sites and established campsites is frequently sandy and abrasive, making it difficult to create a healthy garden.

Campsite Selection

Your camping location will determine whether you require a tent footprint or not. A good example is how many pre-existing campsites have been “dished out” and have formed an indentation in the ground where many people have previously stayed. Gravel, grit, sand, and water gather in these dished-out regions, and if you camp on them on a regular basis, they will wear down the bottom of your tent. If you only camp once or twice a year, the damage on your tent floor will be less significant. However, if you have to camp in campgrounds or established campsites and your floor is thinner and less waterproof, using a footprint may be a better option.

See also:  How To Tent A Pie

A footprint is not required if you are camping on an earthy mossy forest floor that is well-drained and non-abrasive, as long as you remove any sticks and pine cones from the area before you set up camp.

I am aware that my degree of care would rise if I were to use a tent with a floor made of less than 20 denier and a waterproof rating of less than 1500 mm.

Cost and Weight of Tent Footprints

In addition to being expensive and heavy, tent footprints may be difficult to transport, which can be discouraging when you’ve invested a lot of effort and money in purchasing a lightweight tent. Spending an additional $50 for a basic piece of low-cost cloth seems like a rip-off to me, especially considering the additional weight and work necessary to transport it, as well as the additional time and effort required to clean and dry it between uses. In order to demonstrate what I mean, below is a review of various popular tent styles, followed by a comparison of the weights of the footprints sold by their respective makers.

Make / Model Tent Weight Test Cost Footprint Weight Footprint Cost
Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL 1 2 lbs 2 oz $380 4 oz $60
MSR Hubba Hubba NX 2 3 lbs 8 oz $450 7 oz $35
NEMO Hornet 1 1 lb 10 oz $330 5.3 oz $40
REI Quarter Dome SL 2 2 lbs 8 oz $349 6.4 oz $55
REI Flash Air 2 1 lb 15 oz $299 5.4 oz $55
REI Flash Air 1 1 lb 4 oz $249 3.5 oz $45

Alternative and Lower Cost Tent Footprints

When I travel with a footprint, I pack a piece of extremely lightweight plastic sheeting that weighs between 1 and 2 ounces, depending on the size of the tent I’m using as a footprint. For this reason, Gossamer Gear provides something calledPolycryo Groundcloths, which I’ve been using for several years. Despite this, whether used on sandy soil or gravel, the material is strong and will not shred or wear out. You may utilize it over and over again, and it requires no more maintenance. a cut-to-size Gossamer Gear Polycryo Plastic Sheet — the tent rainfly conceals the plastic sheet that is visible, preventing water from pooling on top of it.

  1. Depending on how frequently you use it, a single piece will last for one season or perhaps longer.
  2. Both are inexpensive and may be split into several groundsheets for a single price of less than $10.
  3. Despite the fact that it is lightweight, waterproof, and puncture-resistant, it is significantly heavier than Polycryo or Window Wrap.
  4. Its most significant benefit is that it is indestructible.
  5. We may (but not always) get a small portion of any sales made using the links provided above.

Although the cost of the product remains the same for you, your purchase allows us to continue to test and create unsponsored and independent gear evaluations, beginning FAQs, and free hiking guides for you. Thank you for your assistance, and please know that we appreciate it!

Do I need a tent footprint?

When you join up for Outside+ today, you’ll receive a $50 discount off an eligible $100 purchase at the Outside Shop, where you’ll discover a variety of brand-name goods handpicked by our gear editors. Lots of uncertainty exists around the proper usage of a tent footprint (does it keep out water?). Is it for the purpose of insulation?). However, here at the Gear Brain Trust, we have the ability to clear things up. A tent footprint or ground cover is simply anything that serves to protect the tent’s floor from abrasion.

  • With a footprint in place, it is forced to bear the brunt of the assault.
  • Footprint No.
  • We used to pitch tents without leaving footprints all the time, and I don’t recall anything negative happening as a result of it.
  • Although it is ineffective on uneven, rocky ground, pitching the tent in the shade and staking it out securely to prevent it from thrashing around is an effective technique to safeguard your investment.
  • It is OK to use a handmade version.
  • The key is to ensure that the footprint is cut such that it is slightly smaller in size than the tent floor.
  • Then any rain that does fall will become caught on the footprint and will roll beneath the tent.

6 Reasons You Need To Buy A Tent Footprint

It doesn’t matter if you’re buying a tent for £150 or £1500; a tent footprint may save you time and work while, more crucially, protecting a key section of your tent from damage. The inexpensive cost of this attachment, which ranges from £10 and upwards, making it an absolute must-have to purchase with your tent or to use with an existing tent you already possess. First and foremost, it might be worthwhile for us to go over the fundamentals.

What is a tent footprint?

Do you have a clear understanding of what a tent footprint is? Most of the time, you can tell what a tent footprint is by looking at it, but in case you’re unclear, it’s a groundsheet-like piece of cloth that rests between your tent and the ground.

Depending on the size of your tent, it is available in a variety of sizes. It is pinned down in the corners and is the first item you should take care of while assembling your tent. Here are six compelling reasons why you should invest in a tent footprint:

1. Prolong the life of your tent

Due to the fact that 90 percent of tents are now constructed with a sewn-in groundsheet, purchasing a footprint has become even more important. Take precautions to keep your brand new tent secure from abrasion or cuts caused by loose stones and twigs – think of it like purchasing a screen protector or cover for your brand new phone – it’s better to be safe than sorry! Accidents may happen while camping even with the finest intentions and utmost care in the world – therefore it’s worth you in the long run to build your tent with as much safety as possible from the start.

2. Add extra warmth

Incorporating a footprint beneath your tent will add another layer, somewhat elevating you off the ground and reducing the amount of heat that escapes to the ground. When people go camping, they grossly underestimate how much body heat may be lost in this manner, which is a severe mistake. This, in conjunction with a goodsleeping matorair bed, will give an excellent foundation for a restful night’s sleep. When you’re camping, the majority of your heat is lost to the ground, thus leaving a footprint can assist keep you warm and comfortable.

3. Add extra waterproofing

Layers of protection are twice as effective as one layer. A second layer of waterproofing can not only provide you with peace of mind, but it can also help to safeguard your investment by preventing water damage. Your brand new tent is an investment, and you’ll want to make sure that it remains in the best possible condition for as long as possible after you’ve purchased it.

4. Easier, simplified pitching

You’ll have a clear picture of where your tent is going to be placed, where it will fit, and where to begin pegging from the start because most footprints are custom-made and particular to the contour of your tent’s outline. When it comes to actually pitching your tent, you will save valuable time and have less problems as a result of this.

5. Packing away is less hassle

It’s certain that the camping grounds will be wet during your stay (as is often the case in the United Kingdom), and when it comes time to pack up your tent, you will find that the sewn-in groundsheet of your tent will get quite wet and muddy – hardly the most pleasant of farewell presents. The footprint is something that will prevent the most of this from happening and will keep your tent reasonably dry and clean, which means there will be a lot less work to do once you get home.

6. Tailor-made to suit your tent

In most circumstances, footprints will be particular to a tent type (or in some cases, footprints will fit more than one model) and will be slightly smaller than the floorplan in order to avoid any water from collecting between the sewn-ingroundsheet and the footprint. This’made-to-measure’ approach makes finding the right footprint for your tent a cinch thanks to its flexibility.

Do I need a tent footprint?

Hopefully, we’ve provided you with six compelling arguments for why you should invest in a tent footprint. Our recommendation is that you use a footprint or groundsheet, just like you would with your man ropes, but ultimately it comes down to personal opinion. Although a footprint may seem unnecessary to a seasoned camper who has never used one, it can be extremely useful if you’ve ever suffered a tear in the bottom of your tent, struggle with water seeping in from beneath your tent, or simply despise packing away a muddy tent; in these cases, a footprint can be extremely beneficial.

  • Interested in learning more about tent footprints?
  • The following are some more questions that you may have: What should the footprint of a tent be in terms of size?
  • This is done in order to prevent water from collecting between the footprint and your tent, which would completely defeat the purpose of the footprint!
  • What is the composition of a tent footprint?
  • However, you’ll find that the majority of them are made of polyethylene, which is both durable and easy to clean.
  • How to clean the footprint of a tent Use a clean (preferably brand new) cloth to wipe away any dirt, followed by a simple rinse with water.

The best method for cleaning substantial amounts of mud that has become attached to the footprint would be to scrub it away with a scourer, taking care not to be too rough.

Check out ourgreat range of tent footprintsto make your camping trip that little bit smoother.

Take a look at our whole assortment of tent accessories or our entire tents collection, which includes: Tents by Size|Family Tents|Polycotton Tents|Tents by Brand Check out more articles from the Winfields Blog to get you ready for 2020. Remember to check out our camping blog for more articles like this. This year’s top ten best family camping tents include an inflatable tent. Buying an Air Tent: A Buyer’s Guide

What Is A Tent Footprint & Do You Need One?

For the uninitiated, a tent footprintor (tent ground cover) is a big piece of impermeable fabric that may be placed beneath your tent to keep it from getting wet. One of the primary functions of the tent floor is to act as a barrier between the tent floors and the forest floor, providing additional protection against abrasion caused by rough or rocky terrain. Most footprints have the appearance of basic tarps, and they are typically composed of the same synthetic, waterproof materials as these tarps.

Should I Buy The Tent Footprint Sold By The Manufacturer Of My Tent?

In a nutshell, the answer is probably no. Branded tent tarp sheets are typically expensive and don’t provide much—if anything—in the way of additional functionality over a simple tarp that can be purchased at a hardware or outdoor store for as little as a quarter of the cost. In addition, creating your own tent footprint is a rather simple process. All you have to do is measure the dimensions of your tent floor and then walk down to the store to have the tarp material cut to the exact measurements you specified.

You won’t have to be concerned about rain runoff pooling on the footprint and rolling beneath the tent floor.

See also:  How Many Round Tables Fit In A 20X20 Tent

All of these materials can be obtained at a significantly lower cost than branded footprints and, in most cases, will not fall significantly short in terms of performance as branded footprints.

Tent Footprint vs Tarp – Do I Need A Tent Footprint?

These days, the great majority of tents on the market have bathtub-style floors made of reinforced, very waterproof fabrics (often silnylon), which provide excellent protection against abrasion and leakage. Having said that, there are a variety of reasons why using a footprint to protect your tent’s flooring is a smart idea in some situations. First and foremost, utilizing a footprint will help you extend the life of your tent by minimizing the amount of wear and strain on your tent floor as well as giving additional protection against potentially corrosive materials like as sand, grit, animal feces, and tree sap that might accumulate.

Finally, a footprint might serve as an additional layer of security against leakage.

The disadvantage of utilizing a footprint is that it requires you to carry extra weight.

What is the solution?

How To Use A Tent Footprint

In order to use a tent footprint or groundsheet, all you have to do is lay the footprint out on your selected camping site, pitch your tent on top of it, then tuck any extra material beneath the tent floor to prevent any rainfall or condensation from accumulating on the “fringe” of the footprint.

Guide to Tent Footprints

A tent footprint, which is also known as a ground cloth or a groundsheet, is a waterproof sheet that is placed between the floor of your tent and the ground of the surrounding forest. They are intended to avoid wear and tear on the tent’s floor – a tent footprint will prevent (or at least mitigate) any scratching or punctures produced by sand, sticks, or stones when the tent is pitched on rough, gritty terrain. These items can also assist you with a variety of other tasks such as preventing water from seeping into your tent, cushioning the ground, insulating the floor, and keeping your tent clean.

Let’s get started.

Why do I need a Tent Footprint?

Tents should be protected for the rest of their lives. It goes without saying that the most important and most common use of a footprint is to protect the floor of your tent. It is likely that the floor of your tent will be subjected to a great deal of abuse – imagine your body weight tossing and turning in your sleep as you grind the floor of your tent into rocky ground. You can easily wear out and damage the cloth as a result of this operation. If the tent floor is not properly covered, it will decay much more quickly than the rest of the tent.

  • Tents are expensive, and I prefer to make the most of mine by extending its lifespan as much as possible.
  • Waterproofing.
  • The addition of a second layer of a footprint will prevent rain from seeping into your tent and soaking your sleeping bag, clothes, and other personal belongings in the process.
  • Your groundcloth will absorb a significant amount of the dirt and moisture, avoiding the growth of mold and mildew in your tent.
  • Cushioning and insulation are included.
  • Your body, on the other hand, will absorb and feel whatever temperature the earth is at the time.
  • A tent footprint, on the other hand, may give a smidgeon of additional insulation from the ground as well as a smidgeon of additional cushion, which is very useful if you are trying to make it lightweight and reduce every ounce.
  • It might be challenging to locate a suitable tent location.
  • Because of the small size of a footprint, it is quite simple to lay it out on the ground and determine the size of your property.

Occasionally, before setting up, I will lay down on top of the footprint to ensure that the ground is flat and level. Painter’s Tarp (on the left) and Tyvek (on the right) (right)

What are the best Footprints?

Most of the nicest tent footprints, particularly for lightweight trekking or hiking, are made by the camper himself. Those manufacturer alternatives that were expressly developed for your tent, in my (modest) view, are subpar. Because they come with clips and buckles to attach to your tent, they tend to be on the pricier side (some are more than $50), and because they are excessively hefty because of this. We’re back to the do-it-yourself possibilities. The majority of ultralight backpackers rely on one of these.

  1. Sheets of Painter’s Tarp (or polycro). My personal favorite. I use a 2 mm thick sheet, which is a great alternative because it only weighs a few grams and is small enough to fit in my pocket while still being effective. “Tyvek” is available for $2 at your local hardware shop. A brand of flashspun high-density polyethylene fibers that are frequently used to protect structures while they are being built. Among the other alternatives are “shrink” polymers, which are used to seal windows and doors during the winter months.

Don’t be concerned about attachments; the weight of your body will keep it firmly in place beneath the surface. You can place your gear (or a hefty rock) on top of your tent if you are in strong winds and are concerned that it will be blown away if you are not inside the tent.

How to Make Your Own DIY Footprint

Obtaining the Materials: Tent footprint material, a sharpie marker, and scissors Step 1: Go to a hardware shop or look online for the materials you want to use. Just make sure it’s larger than the size of the floor of your tent before starting. Consider the following example: a one-person tent may be 7 feet long and 3 feet broad. Second, lay the tarp down flat on the ground and place your tent on top of it to protect your belongings. The third step is to use a sharpie to trace the floor of your tent.

  1. Caution should be exercised to avoid getting sharpie on the tent!
  2. The goal here is to have your tent footprint be somewhat smaller than the floor of your actual tent on all sides.
  3. Done!
  4. Stoveless BackpackingMeals

Do You Really Need a Footprint for Your Tent? — CleverHiker

Let’s face it: tents are a costly investment. You want your tent to last as long as possible, but spending an additional $40 or more on something that you just spent hundreds of dollars on is not the best option. When considering whether or not to purchase (or construct) a footprint, it’s necessary to consider factors such as the fabric of your tent, where you spend the most of your camping time, and how important it is to you to save a few ounces of weight.

What Does A Footprint Do?

However, in contrast to popular belief, footprints do not provide any additional waterproofing for the bottom of your tent; the floors of almost all modern tents are already made of waterproof fabrics such as silnylon or dyneema. Among the most important functions of a footprint are to protect the ground beneath your tent from abrasive objects (such as sticks, roots, and rocks), to keep your tent free of mud and tree sap, and to assist you in determining the best location to pitch your tent. Tiny twigs and stones may not appear to be a major concern at first, but repeated abrasion on the same location over time will ultimately wear a hole in thin tent floor fabric.

Choosing a place with care and painstakingly cleaning away rubbish before erecting your tent can help to limit the likelihood of catastrophes occurring.

Footprints can absorb the majority of the sap and berry stains, allowing your tent to remain looking and feeling like new for a longer period of time.

As you begin unloading your belongings and erecting your tent, you notice that there is one root that, no matter how you angle your tent, will not allow you to fit into this space.

This is frustrating. Setting a footprint initially (particularly if you need to accommodate numerous tents in a single location) eliminates the majority of the guesswork involved in spatial design.

Things To Consider Before You Buy

A fabric’s denier specifies the weight of the thread used to weave the cloth; the greater the denier, the thicker and more durable the fabric. Fabric Denier – Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL 2 has an 18-denier nylon floor, however the MSR Hubba Hubba NX 2 has a 30-denier nylon floor, indicating that the Hubba Hubba will have a thicker (and hence more durable) floor than the Copper Spur HV UL 2. The use of a footprint, especially if your tent is constructed of a low-denier fabric, is something you should definitely consider acquiring or manufacturing in order to increase the longevity of your tent floor.

  1. Terrain – If you spend the most of your camping and hiking time on soft sand or in lush grassy regions, you probably won’t need to leave a footprint.
  2. One carefully placed stone or twig might be all that is needed to create a hole in your floor’s surface.
  3. T-tape is extremely durable, and it has been used to repair some of our damaged equipment for many years.
  4. Consider the following example: theNEMO Hornet 2Phas a packed weight of 2 lbs 6 oz., and thefootprint adds an extra 6.9 oz.
  5. In this particular instance, adopting the manufacturer’s footprint results in an increase in weight of around 18 percent for your tent.
  6. You may create your own lightweight groundsheet out of TyvekorPolycryo rather easily; further information on how to do so is provided below.
  7. Footprints often cost between $40 to $80, and they might be difficult to justify on top of the tent’s purchase price.
  8. DIY project made possible by the use of low-cost Tyvek material.

DIY Footprints

So, you’d really like to utilize a footprint, but the cost and/or weight are too expensive and/or heavy. Make one of your own! Making your own footprint is substantially less expensive and nearly always results in a lighter footprint. For groundsheets, many campers choose to use Tyvek (yep, the house wrap) cut to size and shaped to fit their needs. It is waterproof, inexpensive, and nearly unbreakable.

Polycryo (also known as poly/polycro) is another popular choice for DIY groundsheets on a tighter budget. Polycryo is far lighter in weight than Tyvek, although it is not nearly as durable. The following is a comparison of the approximate weights of the fabrics:

  • Manufacturer footprints are commonly made of PU coated nylon (1.9 oz./ sq. yd.)
  • Tyvek is 1.85 oz./ sq. yd
  • Polycryo is.55 ounces/ square yard
  • And other materials.

The footprint should be approximately one inch shorter than the tent floor on all four sides if you are planning to cut your own footprint to size yourself. In the event that you have fabric sticking out from under your tent or too close to the edge of your tent floor, it might collect water and cause it to pool beneath your tent.

Final Thoughts

Tent footprints are obviously not required, but they can assist to extend the life of your tent if you use them properly. If you have an ultralight tent with a low denier floor, it can be worth it to spend a few more dollars on a footprint or to create your own from scratch to protect your investment. Irrespective of whether we have left a footprint, we always make a point of thoroughly cleaning our campsites before pitching a tent in order to avoid any disasters.

More Information

Maintaining the condition of your equipment is critical, and we hope that this advice has assisted you in determining whether or not you require a tent footprint. If you know of a wonderful footprint substitution or application that we overlooked, please share it with us in the comments section below! You may find more CleverHiker backpacking advice by visiting the following websites:

  • Trail Skills, Lightweight Foundations, and Top Gear Picks are all covered in detail in the CleverHiker Gear Guide.

Tent Footprint: What It Is and Why You Need One

Modern, high-quality tents are not inexpensive, especially when it comes to lightweight options appropriate for hiking. However, here’s why you should spend a few additional bucks on another piece of equipment – a tent footprint. We require shelter as humans, and the process of selecting, acquiring, and setting up a suitable shelter demands an investment of both time and money — as well as, perhaps most crucially, knowledge on how to do so. Knowledge on whether you need a footprint, how to select the right footprint for your tent and intended use, and how to keep all of this equipment in good condition are all important.

We hope that this page will provide comprehensive answers to any queries you may have concerning tent footprints.

What Is a Tent Footprint?

Essentially, a tent footprint is a lightweight piece of material that is about equal in size and form to the floor of your tent’s main structure. Consider a tarp as an example. These are normally produced from the same material as your tent, but with a somewhat greater denier count than the tent itself. The denier count of a fabric refers to the thickness of the threads that make up the fabric. More abrasion-resistant and durable a material is, the greater the denier count of the material used in its production.

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Tent footprints that are designed particularly for a specific tent type will attach to the tent’s body, which will aid in keeping the footprint in place while the tent is in use.

Tent footprints are further distinguished by the inclusion of details like as grommets or corner loops, as well as unique stitching that makes them suitable for camping.

What Is a Tent Footprint Used For?

Josh Larios is a writer and musician from Los Angeles, California, who lives and works in Los Angeles, California, and is a member of the Los Angeles Philharmonic. ” data-descr=”” data-alt=”tent footprint”> ” data-descr=”” data-alt=”tent footprint”> Josh Larios is the photographer who took this photograph. Tent footprints are used to prevent your tent’s floor from making direct contact with the ground while camping. Some of the most luxurious tents available on the market today weigh less than a pound.

The use of a tent footprint will reduce the likelihood of abrasive pebbles or sticks on the ground ripping or damaging the body of your tent body.

The fabric underneath you will be crushed into the ground by every movement you make while sleeping in a tent while sleeping on the ground.

Why Should I Buy One?

Tent footprints have the potential to significantly increase the life of your tent. Purchasing a new backpacking tent is an expensive proposition, and replacing a tent footprint is significantly less expensive than purchasing an entirely new tent. You can get away with not having a tent footprint, strictly speaking. The majority of tents are already made of waterproof materials, and a tent footprint isn’t really designed for waterproofing in the first place. Although it is not required to do so, it is recommended that you use a tent footprint because your tent will wear out more quickly if it is used frequently.

Other inventive uses for a tent footprint include the following:

  • A clear area on which to arrange equipment
  • A fantastic climbing tarp made of rope
  • For open bivvies (when putting up a tent isn’t essential), this ground tarp is ideal. A play surface or a designated area for small campers
  • The use of a protective surface when sleeping beneath the stars
  • A shelter to provide protection from the rain or the sun
  • There are several additional applications.

Loonyhiker” data-descr=”” data-alt=”setting up tent”> Loonyhiker” data-descr=”” data-alt=”setting up tent”> Photo courtesy of loonyhiker

Is a Tent Footprint Worth Buying?

This is ultimately determined by your requirements and financial constraints. We do, however, recommend that you purchase a tent footprint. It is a highly efficient method of significantly extending the life of your tent. The ideal option is to invest in a high-quality tent footprint that is designed particularly for your tent type. Alternatively, if the tent you already or want to purchase does not come with a carry bag, investigate whether the manufacturer offers one separately. If you’re on a tight budget and a name-brand footprint is just out of reach (footprints may cost anywhere from $30 to $80), you can make your own tent footprint out of plastic tarp or Tyvek wrap (which costs between $3 and $15).

You may also purchase a tarp square that has already been cut (if you can find one that matches the area of your tent). Simply cut the cloth of your choosing to the proportions of your tent floor, and you’ll have a low-cost tent footprint in no time!

The Best Camping Tents of 2021

Make the most of your home away from home by selecting the best camping tent for your upcoming excursion or vacation. We scoured the market to find the best vehicle camping and family camping tents for every price and application. More information may be found here.

The Best Backpacking Tents of 2021

You can find the finest backpacking tents of 2021 no matter how long you want to stay on the trail or how much money you have to spend. More information may be found here.

Tent Footprint: What Is It Used for, How To Choose and More

Pavlo Lysyy (Pavlo Lysyy) Tents, sleeping bags, and backpacks appear to be quintessential camping gear that no camper should be without when going on a camping vacation. Essential camping equipment, on the other hand, extends much beyond that. For example, sleeping cushions are frequently used by campers to provide better insulation from the ground, and portable woodstoves are frequently used to provide more pleasant winter camping. A tent footprint is another piece of equipment that you may wish to carry to the campground.

What is a tent footprint?

A tent footprint is a piece of waterproof cloth that is similar to a groundsheet and is placed between your tent and the ground. Tent footprints are typically made of a durable but relatively lightweight fabric such as polyethylene, oxford nylon, or polyester, depending on the application. The fact that they are available in a range of forms and sizes ensures that you will discover the right fit for your tent. When setting up your wildlife shelter, the first thing you should do is create a tent footprint that can be secured with pegs in the corners of the shelter.

Do you really need a footprint?

First and foremost, if you want to extend the life of your tent, you must use a tent footprint. Footprints are typically inexpensive, which makes them simple to repair when they become worn out or damaged. The use of footprints is not required for many tents, but it is recommended for backpacking tents since they are made of thinner fabrics and so have a larger chance of being damaged if they are not used. Also, it’s a good idea to follow the manufacturer’s instructions, or to check online to see if the company sells a footprint that’s particularly designed for your particular tent.

How important is a tent footprint?

It is not uncommon for us to have to put up with erecting the tent on a surface that is littered with roots, pebbles, and twigs, despite the fact that we are taking the risk of puncturing the tent floor. Footprints are intended to safeguard your tent from the damage by giving an extra layer between your tent and the ground. Again, if your footprint is torn or punctured, it is far less expensive to repair or replace it than it is to replace your tent.

It functions as extra waterproofing

It goes without saying that increasing the number of layers will increase your protection from the rain by a factor of two.

In addition, a tent footprint will absorb all of the dirt and moisture, protecting your shelter from the growth of mold and mildew.

It helps you minimize cleaning

It is considerably easier to clean the footprint of the tent than it is to clean the entire tent. It serves as a “first line of defense” that aids in the preservation of the cleanliness of the remainder of your tent. Furthermore, footprints are often packaged in a bag, which allows you to keep a filthy one apart from your other equipment.

Footprints add extra insulation

A footprint beneath your tent adds an additional layer of insulation, which helps to reduce the amount of heat you lose while sleeping. If getting a good night’s sleep on your camping trip is one of your top priorities, you’ll definitely need a footprint.

How to choose a tent footprint

The ‘denier’ of the material is specified in the Footprint product specifications. The weight of the thread is determined by its denier rating: the greater the denier rating, the thicker the cloth. If you want to pitch your tent in hilly terrain or dense woodland, the highest denier index available should be taken into consideration. It is possible to protect the floor of your shelter from damage caused by roots, twigs, and pebbles if the groundsheet is thick and durable.

How big should a tent footprint be?

It may seem strange, but it is preferable if the footprint of your tent is up to 2 inches smaller than the contour of your tent’s frame. However, if your groundsheet goes beyond the tent border, it may allow water to collect between your tent footprint and your tent floor when it rains, which can be dangerous.

Is it possible to make a DIY footprint?

DIY footprints are a feasible alternative to purchasing a pre-made footprint. Despite the fact that it needs some effort, it can help you save money. The selection of the material is the first and most significant stage. The most prevalent alternatives are as follows:


Mother Nature may hurl anything at it and the tarp will stand up to it. Furthermore, it is reasonably priced. On the negative, a tarp will be significantly heavier than other solutions, so be prepared to carry an additional amount of weight.


Polycro is a transparent material that is among the lightest of the ultra-light polymers. A notable characteristic of this material is that it has a high strength to weight ratio, which makes it particularly useful for structural applications. Polycro, despite its thinness, is abrasion- and waterproof, despite its abrasion resistance. It’s the finest solution for a backpacking trip if you want to travel as light as possible. Polycro’s sole drawback is that it is quite expensive compared to other options.

PU coated nylon

Manufacturer footprints are often made of PU coated nylon, which is the most popular material. In addition to being lightweight, waterproof, and durable, the nylon fabric treated with polyurethane provides a high degree of protection for the floor of your tent.


Tyvek is the most commonly encountered type of house wrap when it comes to creating DIY footprints.

House wrap is typically used to protect a structure under construction from the elements by wrapping it with plastic. It is more durable, lighter, and more reasonably priced than polycro; however, it is bulkier than polycro, making it more suitable for car camping.

How to properly use a tent footprint

It is not difficult to use a tent footprint: just follow a few easy instructions and your shelter will be twice as safe as before!

  1. Unpack the footprint of your tent
  2. Make a sloppy mess of it
  3. Pitch your tent on top of the footprint
  4. This will protect it from the elements. If your groundsheet has buckles, clips, or loops, use them to attach it to the tent
  5. Otherwise, use a tie-down system.

Also, remember to thoroughly clean your footprint and allow it to dry before putting it away for future reference.

What are the best footprints?

It is dependent on your specific requirements. Choosing a lightweight groundsheet is essential if you’re going to use a backpacking tent and carry it on your own. This will prevent you from having to carry too much weight. If you are going to vehicle camp, on the other hand, you can choose thicker and more sturdy choices.

Final thoughts

All in all, while they are optional, it’s a good idea to incorporate a tent footprint into yourfirst camping tripchecklist. First and foremost, choosing a footprint ensures that your tent is adequately protected and that its lifespan is extended. Not to add, footprints are your greatest friends if you are concerned about getting adequate ground insulation in your home. Furthermore, if you want to avoid having to clean your entire tent, this type of camping equipment is your best option. Footprints are reasonably priced and may be manufactured quickly and easily at home.


  • Yes, you may use a tarp as a tent footprint if you want to save money. Tarps perform an excellent job of covering the floor of your tent from dirt, stones, and twigs
  • But, they are not waterproof.

Should tent footprint be smaller than tent?

  • Yes. Choose a footprint that is approximately two inches smaller in diameter than the floor of your tent. This will prevent water from collecting between your tent’s footprint and the tent’s frame.

Can you use tent without footprint?

  • Sure. It is not required to have a footprint. Nonetheless, if you want to extend the life of your tent, it is a good idea to invest in one. Also, because a footprint provides additional insulation from the ground, it is recommended that you use one when camping in cold weather.

❓Does a footprint make a tent warmer?

  • To be sure, one of the most efficient methods to keep your tent interior warm is to use a footprint to stand on. Moreover, it acts as an insulator between the tent inside and the chilly ground, minimizing heat loss.

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