Why Does A Tent Footprint Need To Be The Same Size As A Tent

How Big Should a Tent Footprint Be?

Next time you’re visiting a public campsite, take a look at some of the tents that have been set up. Check the bottom of the tent to check if there are any tarps or ground cloths hanging out. If you can see the footprint of the tent, it is far too large. What is the optimal size of a tent footprint? Purchase a tent footprint that is 2′′-3′′ smaller in circumference than the floor of your tent. Having a footprint that is larger than your tent can cause flooding issues if it rains heavily. When the water starts to pool on top of the tarp and run below the tent, it will cause more harm than good.

However, they have never used it in the rain because it protects their floor from tearing and helps to keep it clean.

For a time, you might be able to get away with using a large ground cloth, but it will ultimately catch up with you and bite you in the bum.

Don’t wait until it’s too late and your sleeping bag is drenched to take action!

Choosing The Right Size Tent Footprint

Before you can pick a ground cloth or tarp, you must first determine the size of your tent. Hopefully, you’ve been able to determine the product name and year of manufacture of your tent. Alternatively, if you do not have the packing, you can wish to consider where you purchased the tent. I was fortunate enough to have purchased my prior tent through Amazon, which made tracking down my previous orders a breeze. Just have a look at the specifications and then go to the section below. Don’t be concerned!

Simply put up your tent in the backyard, grab a tape measure, and start to work measuring things up.

Go 2-3 Inches Smaller Than The Tent Floor

Before purchasing a tent, it is critical that you determine the size of the tent you require. Never squander time with a tent footprint that is significantly larger than it has to be. Purchase a tent footprint that is 2-3 inches smaller in circumference than the outside measurements of the tent. Consider the area of the top of your tent’s roof, for example. A basic three-person tent will have a floor area of around 81 square feet. Water will be diverted onto the top of your tent footprint since the full surface area of your tent will divert water.

All of that water must be able to percolate down into the soil.

Tent Size Fold Tarp Down to Size and Use aGrommet Kitto Secure Alps Mountaineering Tent Footprint Size
2-Person 6×8 Tarp 7’2″ x4’8″ Footprint
3-Person 8×10 Tarp 7’2″ x 6’2″ Footprint
4-Person 8×10 Tarp 8’2″ x 7’2″ Footprint
5-Person 9×12 Tarp 9’8″ x 7’8″ Footprint
6-Person 12×16 Tarp 9’8″ x 9’8″ Footprint

Before purchasing a tent, it is critical that you determine the size of the tent. If your tent footprint is too large, you’ll be wasting your time and money. Purchase a tent footprint that is 2-3 inches smaller in circumference than the outer measurements of the tent you are purchasing. When you think about your tent’s top, consider how much surface area it has. The area covered by a standard three-person tent is approximately 81 square feet. Water will be diverted onto the top of your tent footprint by the whole surface area of your tent.

All of that water must be able to percolate down into the earth. Calculate how much water is diverted around your tent using the US Government Rainfall Calculator.

Ask The Manufacturer For Product Specific Tent Footprints

Call the tent manufacturer and see whether they provide a tent footprint that is specifically made for your tent. Investing in a tent footprint that is properly created for your tent is by far the most advantageous choice available. You will almost certainly have to pay a premium for this service, but it is well worth it. The majority of manufacturers adopt standard size so that their whole product range may be covered with the same ground cloth. Although there is no industry standard tent size, the table below should help you get a good idea of what to expect.

It’s important to remember that you’ll almost certainly need to trim down some tarp and put grommets in it (my grommet kit).

Check Out The Tarps At Harbor Freight

After visiting a total of ten stores and failing to locate anything of interest, I came upon a goldmine at Harbor Freight. It’s insane how many different tarps they offer in different sizes and styles. The whole back wall of my neighborhood business had been entirely covered with advertisements. If you can’t locate a tarp that will work for you at harbor freight, you’re not going to be able to get one anyplace else either. Before traveling to the store, you might want to look at their online collection.

Custom Tarps are Way Too Expensive

Don’t even bother attempting to locate a heavy-duty custom-made tarp of sufficient strength. Truckers, landscapers, construction workers, and other professionals virtually exclusively employ custom tarps. A tailored tarp for my 3-person tent would have cost me anything from $30 to $70, depending on the thickness of the material used. That is more expensive than simply getting the one that is specifically made for my tent.

How Thick Should a Tent Footprint Be?

Good luck with your attempt to determine the thickness of your tent’s footprint. I tried phoning a few other manufacturers, but I couldn’t get a straight response from any of the representatives. It appears that the majority of lightweight models are. The standard version is 5mm thick, while the heavy-duty variant is 1.5mm thick. As a result, your footprint should fall somewhere between that range of values. Fortunately, it doesn’t really matter how large your footprint is. Any tarp or ground cloth that is less than a year old should suffice.

Make no mistake: don’t use that nasty old tarp that you found in the garage.

Making Your Own Tent Footprint Out of a Tarp

It is really simple to create a tent footprint. Please follow the procedures outlined above and refer to the video for further information.

  1. Determine the dimensions of your tent. If you are unable to determine the size of your tent, you will need to stand it up and measure the bottom. Simply turn the tent on its side and lay it out on the floor to use. In most cases, you shouldn’t have to put up the tent in order to collect a measurement. Obtain a tarp that is approximately 2-3 inches shorter in length and breadth than the length and width of your tent. Instead of being excessively enormous, it is preferable to be somewhat smaller. It is possible that you will have to buy a large tarp and trim it down to size if you cannot locate a close match
  2. Take scissors and cut your tarp down to size. Don’t be concerned about cutting out grommets
  3. They may be reinserted at a later time. A substantial section of the footprint should be saved for a subsequent phase. Adding grommets is optional, but it will help to strengthen the tent and provide a location to attach the tent poles. Spending a lot of money on a grommet kit is unnecessary. a low-cost Coghlan’s Grommet Kit is all you truly need
  4. It includes everything. This is an optional step, but I believe it is well worth the time and effort it entails. To make corner grommet straps, take the remaining piece of tarp from before and cut four 8-12 inch strips to fit around the corners. Take a look at the image below for inspiration. Fold the straps in half and tie them to the corners of the tarp with bungee cords. Simply connect the strap to your tarp with the grommet kit that came with it. This should provide a strong enough connection, but you may want to add a few stitches to ensure a secure connection. Make a mockup of your tent over the tarp and mark the spot where your poles will intersect with the straps. Install another grommet where the tent poles will be aligned, and then insert the tent poles into the grommet. If you do so, your tarp footprint should be prevented from slipping below the tent floor.

Should Tent Footprints Be Smaller Than The Tent?

Pay attention to the number of tents you notice the next time you visit a public campsite. You’ll notice a slew of various tents, each with footprints and tarps draped over the edge of the tents for decoration. Because of this, the footprint sent with my tent is smaller than the tent itself. So, what is it about tarps that hang over the edge of tents that attracts so many people? Should the footprint of the tarp be less than the footprint of the tent? The footprint of your tent should be 2 to 3 inches smaller than the floor of your tent.

Due to the inability of the water to drain, it will pool around the sides of your tent, inflicting greater harm than good.

Once water begins to pool at the base of the structure, there is nothing you can do to prevent it.

The amount of rain does not matter; even a tiny shower might cause pooling to occur on the ground. After that, I’ll show you how to measure your footprint and create a tarp to fit your tent out of any old tarp that you have lying around.

What Size Should a Tent Footprint Be?

As previously stated, the footprint of your tent should be somewhat less than the footprint of your tent’s floor. The footprint should no longer be visible once your tent has been put up properly. An excessively tiny footprint will always be preferable than an excessively large footprint. Center the structure on a footprint that is too tiny in order to safeguard the high-traffic regions. Never use a footprint that is larger than the floor of your tent. It’s preferable not to use a footprint at all than to use one that’s too large for the situation.

Don’t wait until your entire tent is submerged before determining the proper footprint size.

No need to fiddle about with it because it will be just the right size.

If you can’t find the footprint that goes with it, you’ll have to take measurements of the floor of your tent.

Footprints Should Be 2-3 Inches Smaller Than The Tent Floor

As a result, you must first determine the dimensions of your tent before purchasing a footprint or ground cloth. The quickest and most straightforward method of determining the product name is to examine the packing of your tent. Check the specifications of your floor to get the precise size of your floor. Don’t be concerned if you can’t find out what your tent’s name or specifications are. You may always figure it out the old-fashioned way by erecting a tent and measuring the space within it.

  1. Order a tent that is a few inches smaller in diameter than the outside diameter of the floor’s outside circumference.
  2. Amazon provides a few of inexpensive choices that are available in the basic tent sizes.
  3. Especially useful if your tent happens to be one of the most often encountered sizes.
  4. When I’m in a location with rough terrain or a lot of dead trees or branches, I bring a tarp with me.

Why are Footprints Smaller Than The Tent Floor?

Tent footprints have a number of significant advantages. They protect the bottom of your tent’s floor, help to keep everything clean, provide additional warmth, and help to waterproof your tent’s floor even more. When it comes to dealing with oversized footprints, the waterproofing aspect is the most important consideration. When it’s raining, you don’t want to leave too large a footprint. All of the water will begin to pool up around the edges of your tent and seep its way underneath the ground cloth of your tent.

If you have a waterproof tent floor, this may not seem like a big deal at first, but once the sun sets, condensation will begin to form inside the tent.

In order to ensure adequate drainage around your tent’s outside edges while still protecting the floor, use a footprint that is a few inches smaller than your tent’s dimensions.

How Thick Should Your Tent Footprint Be?

Backpacking tent specifications often include a denier count, which refers to the thickness of the threads that make up the tent’s floor and is measured in denier units. Generally speaking, a greater denier level indicates that the floor will be more durable than a lower denier count. Tents with fewer deniers will generally be lighter and require a footprint, but tents with higher deniers will be more durable. Unfortunately, most footprints do not disclose thickness values on their packaging, as is the case with most other companies.

If the footprint is thick enough to withstand the majority of the bashing from sticks and stones under the tent, it doesn’t really matter how big it is.

Do You Really Need a Tent Footprint?

No, the great majority of individuals do not require a tent footprint in order to sleep comfortably. When I switched to my ultralight configuration a few years back, I really did away with my previous one. The following chart should assist you in determining whether or not you require a footprint. You might be interested in reading my post describing when and why you should use a tent footprint.

When It’s Worth It It’s Not Worth It
You plan on camping on rough with a high potential for sharp edges.Areas with lots of debris from downed trees/branches and rocky areas with sharp jagged edges. You own a cheap tent that you’re not worried about damaging.
Go on lots of camping trips with expensive gear.Definitely buy a footprint if you plan on camping more than a week per year. A footprint will extend the life of your tent making sure it lasts years. Don’t want to carry additional weight.Ditching the footprint will reduce your pack weight by half a pound.That’s a big deal for ultralight backpackers.
The weather looks bad and you’re expecting a lot of rain.A footprint will protect the bottom of your tent from mud making it much easier to clean. Camping in manicured grass and your not expecting bad weather.
Not worried about a little extra weight.A footprint weighs 5-10 oz so it’s the first thing that gets ditched buy ultralight backpackers.Car campers on the other hand would be stupid not to include one.

Making A Footprint Out of Tarps and Plastic Sheets

It is likely that you will have to create your own bespoke footprint unless you can locate one that is the exact size and shape of your tent. When it comes to custom produced footprints, there are three primary alternatives. Purchase a tarp that is slightly larger than the tent and trim it down to size, or cut a tyvek sheet to match the tent’s opening, or use window wrap (stuff you blow dry over windows in the winter). But, while the Tyvek Sheet and window cover will be lightweight and compact, the tarp will be far more robust.

See also:  How To Warm A Tent

When it comes to cutting it to size, you’ll use the same fundamental procedure as before.

  1. Place a tarp or a plastic sheet in the yard to protect your belongings. Set up the tent on top of the tarp/plastic, making sure the edges of each size dangle over the edges of the other sizes. Using scissors, trim the edges of the tarp/plastic so that it is even with the outer edge of your tent. Shift the tent to the side so that it is not in the way. After you’ve finished, you’ll want to check to see if it fits properly. At this point, you have two alternatives available to you. Either cut 2 inches off each side of the footprint or fold the sides over and fasten them with a grommet tool to make a more permanent impression. For my own personal preference, I like to put grommets on the corners of my footprint to keep it in place, but the choice is yours. If you hadn’t told me how many tasks I’ve used that grommet tool on since purchasing it for my tent footprint, you’d have no idea. Optional: To make setting up your tent poles easier, tie small straps to each corner of your ground fabric.

Tent Footprints: The Reasons You Really Need One

This page contains information about tent camping tips. Tent Footprints: The Reasons Why You Should Consider Using One Learn why and why a tent footprint is required, how to use it, and most importantly, how to select the proper sized groundsheet for your specific tent in this article. Read on!

When and why are tent footprints necessary?

Almost all of us forget that our tents are simply sheets of some form of polymer that have to withstand a great deal during the course of their useful life. Moisture, UV rays (does your tent have UV protection? ), water, fire (sometimes), mold, condensation– the list is endless. Nevertheless, everything said above is something that you can notice and act on right now. The difficulty arises when the damage is done to portions of the tent that are rarely seen, such as the underside of the floor of the tent.

Gritty soils, sand, and rocky terrain, on the other hand, are the most perilous of all.

The use of a tent footprint is recommended while camping on a gritty, abrasive, or rocky terrain. This will help to prevent the tent floor from incurring irreversible damage such as the following:

  • Punctures
  • Deterioration of the waterproof covering (for example, when it comes into contact with sand)
  • And When the tent is not securely anchored and the floor is sliding over steep terrain, rips are quite likely to develop. Mold development occurs when a tent is left on moist ground for an extended period of time.

Even while the primary function of the footprint is to guard against abrasion, it may also be utilized to further waterproof the tent floor if it is put appropriately. However dense the footprint material is, it should never be employed for the purpose of providing additional insulation because it has almost no insulating properties. Learn more about tent insulation for use during the colder months. It appears that with the introduction of more costly tents and the resulting desire to safeguard their investment, people have begun to use them when camping for the first time.

When deciding whether or not you truly need a tent footprint, it’s important to understand the other criteria to consider (which are covered in greater depth later down in the article): the durability rating of the tent fabric and the waterproofing rating.

What are tent footprints and how do they work?

Essentially, a tent footprint (also known as a groundsheet) is a sheet of extremely resistant fabric, most typically made of polyester or nylon, that is placed below a camping tent’s floor to protect it from rips, wear, and tears when camping on unlevel or uneven terrain. When you step inside your tent, the floor will move/slide ever so little, and if the soil beneath the tent is hard enough, this might cause damage to the waterproofing layer or, even worse, a puncture in the tent’s waterproofing.

This is due to the fact that it is composed of a very resilient fabric that is capable of withstanding any form of abuse.

Because all of the sharp edges on the equipment will rub against the floor, the inside of the vehicle will often wear down faster than the outside.

Learn more about what more you can do to keep your tent in good condition.

How big should the tent footprint be?

It is preferable to get one that is approximately 2 inches smaller in circumference than the bottom of the tent. If it rains while you’re camping, you won’t have to be concerned about water seeping underneath the shelter and dampening the entire ground under you. Consider contacting the tent’s maker to see if they offer footprints for that specific model in order to make your life a little less complicated. The likelihood is that the majority of them will sell them, but you must be prepared to pay a premium for their services.

But, at the very least, you won’t have to be concerned about the sizes since you will be certain that they will fit flawlessly.

Important: If you purchase a universal footprint that is larger than the tent’s floor, do not cut the borders to make them match the size of the tent’s ground cloth. Those edges have been heavily stitched to provide additional reinforcement. Simply tucking them below will help to make it smaller.

Tent floor durability and waterproofing ratings

In today’s market, almost all of the tents that you may purchase should have a denier count listed somewhere on their specs page. It is the overall thickness of the threads that make up the cloth that is represented by the denier count (in our case, the floor of the tent which is usually thicker than the body). We may use this measurement to make an educated guess about the material’s long-term durability. In general, the greater the denier of a material, the more durable the material is going to be.

  1. If your tent floor material has a denier between 70 and 150, it is considered to be a very durable material, and in this case, using a tent footprint under normal camping conditions is not necessary.
  2. However, these sorts of tents are far more expensive, and for an additional $30 dollars, you can likely get a universal footprint that will provide further protection (better safe than sorry).
  3. A hydrostatic head measurement is what this is referred to as.
  4. The use of a tent footprint is required if the hydrostatic rating of your tent floor is only about 1200-2000mm, even if the soil appears to be dry.

Campsite selection determines the need for a footprint

The choice of a camping location might also influence whether or not you require a tent footprint. In the case of forest floor camping, you will very certainly find yourself pitching your tent on ground that is riddled with brambles, twigs, pebbles, roots poking out, and other such hazards. It may be vital to use a footprint in this situation if you want to be certain that you are not damage your tent. Also, even if you’re using a groundsheet, it’s a good idea to spend a few of minutes attempting to clear the ground before you start working.

The grass should be sufficient to serve as a footprint and protect the floor of your camper.

This is due to the fact that the ground where people used to sleep has changed into a “dish” over time.

Even the tiniest submerged space can have all of these characteristics, despite the fact that they are not apparent to the naked eye. You may use the table below to determine whether or not you’ll need a tent footprint based on the type of soil you’ll be camping on.

Terrain type Denier50 Denier50
Grassland Not required Not required
Sandy beach Required Required
Forest floor Required Optional
Rocky terrain Required Required
Snow Optional Not required

The requirement of tent footprints is determined by the kind of terrain encountered.

Winter camping

Is it necessary to use a tent footprint when camping in the winter? The answer is dependent on the two sorts of circumstances that you are most likely to come across:

  1. Camping on snow – if this is the case, a tent footprint is not required as long as the amount of snow covering the ground is sufficiently deep
  2. Camping on frozen ground– In this situation, it is preferable to use a tent footprint rather than a groundsheet since moisture can accumulate below the tent and cause it to freeze fast. Frost may harm the waterproofing layer on a tent and, in extreme cases, it can freeze so hard that it causes the floor to tear as you’re raising the tent from the ground.

Beach camping

Is it necessary to leave a footprint when camping on the beach? A tent footprint is almost always required while camping on the beach, regardless of the season. This is due to the fact that sandy soil is the most abrasive of all the soil types (think sandblasting). Sand may cause damage to the tent floor in a variety of ways, but the most typical issue is that the tent floor will shift ever so slightly on top of it, which is comparable to rubbing it against sandpaper. The waterproofing layer will be completely gone in a short period of time.

Best universal tent footprints that you can buy

A universal groundsheet is the most cost-effective and simple option if your tent does not come with a footprint (which, in most cases, is sold as a pricey optional item by the manufacturer). You’ll discover the most cost-effective option farther down this page.

3. Marmot Ultralight

Despite the fact that the most of us are accustomed to hefty groundsheets, if you’re looking for something lighter, this would be the best option. People normally avoid using footprints since they add extra weight to their backpacks, which is something no one wants, especially if they’re camping. However, this device is lightweight and compact enough to be carried in any backpack. Really, if you want to do something, your weight isn’t an issue. The fabric is made of featherweight nylon. Sizes:This option is only available for 4 and 6 person tents.

It may be used just as a footprint for a specified size and no other purpose.

Waterproofing: It is waterproofed on both sides of the product.

2. ALPS Mountaineering

Excellent value for such a high-quality cloth. It’s also available in a variety of tent sizes, and it takes less than 5 minutes to put together. It is quite sturdy, thanks to the reinforced edge and strong sewing, and it should last you for many camping seasons to come. Polyester fabric is used in the construction of this item. Tents are available in a variety of sizes ranging from 2 to 6 people. Multipurpose:No. It may be used just as a footprint for a specified size and no other purpose. It does not come with any reinforcements, which is a disappointment.

The manufacturer does not specify if the product is coated on both sides.

Terra hiker universal footprint

A true versatile design that may be utilized for a variety of purposes other than camping. People frequently utilize these groundsheets for a variety of additional purposes, such as serving as a tarp for their vehicles. This is a multi-purpose product that will serve you well for many years to come! 210D Oxford fabric is used for this project. Sizes: 59′′ x 86′′ (150 x 220 cm), 70′′ x 86′′ (180 x 220 cm), 94′′ x 86′′ (200 x 220 cm) (240 x 220 cm).

Picnic blanket, tarp, groundsheet, and rainfly are all multipurpose. It does not come with any reinforcements, which is a disappointment. Waterproofing: It is coated on both sides with a waterproofing agent. Price range: low to moderate Vendor: Check Amazon for current availability.

DIY tent footprints and lower-cost alternatives

People have spent a lot of time making their own groundsheets, sewing grommets, and cutting sheets of Tyvek or polypropylene to fit their tents, as I’ve observed while walking around town. The results are pleasing, but I have a concern about this: what if you decide to change your tent? Most likely, you’ll have to start from the beginning. As a result, why not save yourself some time and simply purchase some low-cost blue polypropylene? Make no effort to cut it to the proper size; if it’s too large, simply fold it underneath your tent to make it smaller.

How to correctly set up a tent footprint

Time required: ten minutes. How to properly erect a tent’s ground footprint

  1. Choose a location for the tent and the groundsheet to be installed. First and foremost, you must position the groundsheet precisely where you want the tent to be. Find out which side of the goods is waterproof by looking at the label. Most of the time, the shiny side (coated) will be facing up (facing the tent), and the dull side (uncoated) should be facing down (facing the ground). Prepare the tent by putting it up on the ground. Begin erecting the tent on top of it by placing the tent poles into the grommets in the footprints. Some may have straps connected to them in order to attain a more secure fit
  2. Check to see if yours does. Check to see if the installation was done correctly. Ensure that the sheet does not protrude from the wall, and if it does not, you’re done.

In the event that you have one that you created yourself, you can simply place it below and everything will be great. Just make sure you set your tent on level ground or you may end yourself falling off.

Frequently asked questions

Is it possible to utilize a tent footprint as a tarp? It is possible to use a tarp with multifunctional footprints such as Redcamp or Terra Hiker without making any adjustments to the footprint. If the product is intended to be used exclusively as a groundsheet, you’ll most likely need to hunt for a more appropriate tarp to replace it. The bulk of footprints are narrow because they were intended to be somewhat smaller in size than the tent’s ground surface. These proportions may not be suitable for a tarp of similar size.

  1. What should the thickness of a footprint be?
  2. Lightweight variants have a thickness of only 0.5 millimeters, whereas heavy-duty ones have a thickness of 1.8 millimeters (see illustration).
  3. All of the tent footprints have at least one side that is waterproofed, if not all of them.
  4. In most cases, if you go with the one that the manufacturer recommends, you’ll end up with a footprint that has the same Hydrostatic Head rating as the tent.
  5. Although their primary function is to guard against abrasion, using one will increase the waterproofing value by a factor of two, which is not a bad idea when you consider that the more pressure you apply to a tent’s floor, the more it loses its ability to withstand water.
  6. You must wash the footprint with cold water and a sponge when it has dried.
  7. Never wash your clothes in the washing machine since it might shred your footprint.
See also:  How To Put Up A Screen Tent

If you don’t have a specialized cleaning product on hand, soak the footprint in WARM water for an hour or two before beginning to remove the dirt from it.

Don’t leave it out in the direct sunshine.

Is there any insulation provided by groundsheets?

In this case, space blankets or insulated footprints might be utilized to keep the space cool.

A glossy side (which should be coated for waterproofing purposes) and a dull side (which should not have any coating at all) are common characteristics of footprints.

So that the waterproofing layer does not become destroyed, this is done.

Any dirt that is left behind will scrape the coating, since the tent will always slide a little bit over the groundsheet when it is being used.

Painter’s Tarp Sheets are also known as painter’s tarps, and while they are far lighter in weight than your typical footprint, I would not advocate utilizing them on a regular basis.

Is it necessary to tie the footprint to the tent?

However, as we all know, we are often forced to use a universal sheet, which will never be the precise size of the tent we are setting up.

With the exception of those who are camping on a steep slope where there is a possibility of the tent sliding down the valley, you should be alright without securing the pole to the tent’s bottom.


The primary functions of any footprints, whether purchased or made by hand, are to protect the more expensive tent from difficult terrain, to keep water away from the tent floor, and to assist in keeping the tent clean when it is muddy. As a result, even if the durability of your tent is sufficient to avoid the need for a footprint, it is recommended that you purchase one. Because the cost of a universal footprint is so minimal, it’s always a good idea to invest in one. In the event that your budget does not allow for it, even a simple DIY groundsheet may work miracles, and you can construct one for as little as $10.

Why Does A Tent Footprint Need To Be The Same Size As A Tent

Purchase a tent footprint that is 2′′-3′′ smaller in circumference than the floor of your tent. Having a footprint that is larger than your tent can cause flooding issues if it rains heavily. When the water starts to pool on top of the tarp and run below the tent, it will cause more harm than good.

Should a tent footprint be the same size as the tent?

The footprint of a tent should, in most cases, be somewhat smaller than the base of the tent. This is done in order to prevent water from collecting between the footprint and your tent, which would completely contradict the purpose of the footprint!

Why do you need a footprint for a tent?

A tent footprint or ground cover is simply anything that serves to protect the tent’s floor from abrasion. For the reason that after a tent is set up, the weight of the person sleeping within it, as well as the tossing and turning they do during the night, wears away the waterproof coating and may eventually cause the fabric to fray.

Do you need to put a ground sheet under a tent?

It is only by using a tent footprint or ground cover that you can protect the tent floor from abrasion. For the reason that after a tent is set up, the weight of the person sleeping within it, as well as the tossing and turning they do during the night, wears away the waterproof covering and may eventually cause the fabric to become damaged.

Is it safe to stay in a tent during a thunderstorm?

Take shelter: During thunderstorms, a tent is not a safe haven to be in. In comparison to a vehicle, a tent is unable to function as a faradic cage, which is capable of transmitting electricity from its surface into the surrounding ground. If a lightning bolt strikes a tent, the energy released by the bolt will be distributed unevenly through the tent’s frame and into the ground.

Should my tarp be bigger than my tent?

In conclusion, the tarps that you purchase, regardless of their size, must always be larger than the tent when it is transported overland. However, when utilized as a tent footprint, the tarp should be somewhat narrower in order to better protect your tent and keep the water out. If you are bringing a large group of people, it is advised that you bring many tarps.

What does footprint mean in tents?

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. These items can also assist you with a variety of additional tasks like as preventing water from leaking into your tent, cushioning the ground, insulating the floor, and keeping your tent clean.

What are the 4 most important things to bring when you go camping?

Checklist for basic shelter and comfort I’m going to sleep in a sleeping bag. Pillow. If you’re tent camping, you’ll need a sleeping mat or a camp bed.

Table and camping chairs are provided. A mallet, extra pegs, and a puller are all included. Batteries in reserve, as well as a portable charger and cords. Torch and a head torch are required. Tent repair kit, paracord, gaffa tape, cable ties, sewing kit, and other miscellaneous items

How do I keep my tent floor dry?

Instructions for Keeping the Tent Dry Under your tent, spread a ground cloth to protect the ground. Maintain a higher elevation for your tent than the surrounding region at all times. The use of a tarp inside the tent might assist to keep the flooring more dry if the tent’s floor has begun to leak. Make certain that you have a tent with a rain fly that provides adequate protection.

How thick should a tent footprint be?

What size should the tent’s ground footprint be? It is preferable to get one that is approximately 2 inches smaller in circumference than the bottom of the tent. If it rains while you’re camping, you won’t have to be concerned about water seeping underneath the shelter and dampening the entire ground under you.

What should you not bring camping?

Here’s a list of things you shouldn’t bring along with you on your next camping trip. Colognes, perfumes, and scented lotions are all examples of fragrances. Glassware as well as individual beer bottles are available. Food containers that are large enough to feed a family. High-end jewelry or clothing are available.

What should you not forget when camping?

Camping Necessities & Supplies Wood. We can’t tell you how many times you’ve arrived at a party only to realize that you’ve forgotten to bring the wood for the fire. Wet wipes are a type of wipe that is used to clean surfaces. Batteries. Duct Tape is a type of adhesive used to seal ducts. Fuel. Ice. Water. Hatchet/Hammer.

What are the 10 essentials for camping?

Ten Essentials for a Camping Trip Tent. Even if you like to sleep beneath the stars, it is always a good idea to have a tent or other emergency shelter on hand in case of an emergency. Bag for sleeping. Bottle of water. Fire Starter is a kind of accelerant. First-Aid Kit (also known as an EMT kit). Knife for the pocket. A map and a compass are useful tools (Or a charged GPS) Clothing and rain gear that is appropriate for the weather.

Can I use a tarp as a tent footprint?

A tarp can be used as a tent footprint if necessary. As a result of the tarps’ longevity, we frequently use them to shield the tent’s outside from exposure to the weather. As a result, a tarp may be placed beneath the tent to protect the ground from the elements as well as ground debris.

Why does the inside of my tent get wet?

What is the source of condensation in tents? Because of the presence of people, heaters, and a lack of ventilation, the air temperature in the tent might become warm and humid. During the condensation process, moisture condenses into liquid form when the heated air within the tent comes into contact with the comparatively chilly tent fabric.

Do I need a tarp under my tent?

The use of a tarp beneath your tent is not required but is strongly recommended. In addition to keeping holes and tears from emerging on the bottom of your tent, a tarp may keep moisture from leaking into your tent.

What do you put on a tent floor?

You might want to explore any of the following tent floor padding options: Foam tent floor tiles that fit together like a puzzle. When it comes to encouraging comfort and convenience on the tent floor, interlocking foam tiles are unmatched by any other solution. Blankets that are soft and fluffy. Carpets for the floor of a tent. Tent floor mats and carpets are available.

Is a tent footprint the same thing as a tarp?

The Most Significant Difference Between a Tent Footprint and a Tarp The most significant difference between a tent footprint and a tarp is that a tent footprint is designed to protect only the ends of the tent where it meets the ground, whereas tarps can be used to protect the entire tent (and its contents).

What to do when it’s raining while camping?

If you’re planning on camping in the rain, here are some ideas to keep you happy and dry when the liquid sunlight begins to pour from the sky. Locate an Appropriate Tent Site. Make the Night a Little Brighter. Create an outdoor living room with a fire pit. The People Have the Power (and the Food). Increase the number of layers. Choose the color orange. Hang up, then go somewhere else. Include a Bivy Bag.

Is a tent footprint worth it?

If you want to camp on rugged, rocky terrain with a high likelihood of sharp points and rough edges, leaving a footprint is often a good idea. Except for the expense of acquiring a footprint, if you’re vehicle camping and don’t mind a little more weight and bulk with your tent, adding a footprint offers little drawbacks other than the cost of obtaining one.

How thick should a tarp be under a tent?

The outer measurements of your tent should be 2-3 inches less than the outside dimensions of your tarp. This will aid in the prevention of pooling. Prepare the area where you will be erecting the tent by clearing it of debris. You want to get rid of all of the branches and jagged rocks in your path.

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.

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.

To ensure that precipitation flowing off your tent’s rainfly is absorbed into the surrounding soil, if you’re using an excessively big tent footprint, it’s recommended to tuck the footprint edges beneath the borders of your 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 far more waterproof than a tent floor with a waterproof rating of 1200 mm, such as theNEMO Hornet 2, which is substantially 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.
See also:  What Is The Biggest Tent In The World

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.

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.

However, if you’re camping on sand or exposed rock that’s more abrasive, leaving a footprint may be a good idea. 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.
  6. 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.

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. Furthermore, the other straightforward response is no. Find out everything you need to know about footprints and groundsheets by continuing reading this article. Allow us to assist you in determining whether or not a tent footprint is worthwhile for you.

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 included them in the price of their tents. Footprints are frequently constructed 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 helpful for a variety of other applications, which is an added plus. As we explained in previous post, tent footprints, as well as old rain-flies, may be utilized 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.

However, polyester is somewhat heavier and less abrasion resistant 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 specs for footprints, much 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 total 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 polymers. 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 very 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.

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