How To Set Up Tent Footprint

The Best Way to Attach a Tent Footprint – Appalachian Mountain Club

REI The placement of the grommets is critical to achieving a stable footprint. Tent footprints are custom-made to perfectly fit the size of a tent’s floor. They give protection from abrasion, dampness, and general wear and tear when placed below the tent, and are normally advised when a few more ounces aren’t a huge concern. (When it comes to ounces, though, the situation is different.) (More on this in a moment.) These days, nearly every gear manufacturer provides footprints that are particular to their numerous tent models.

How to securely connect a footprint to the bottom of your tent Manufacturer footprints are often comprised of a sequence of tabs and grommets that correspond to the positions of the grommets on the tent body where the poles are to be put, according to the manufacturer.

Because of this, when you take up or reposition the tent to find a better location, or hoist it above to shake out debris, the footprint will frequently come loose at one or more of the attachment points on it.

The following is a straightforward method of avoiding this: Place the footprint grommets above the tent body grommets while pitching your tent so that the pole tip is attached to the footprint first, and then to the tent body after the tent is fully assembled.

  1. Is it truly necessary for me to leave an imprint in the first place?
  2. It’s probably a good idea if you’re going to be camping on really rough terrain.
  3. And if you’re trying to reduce the weight of your pack as low as possible, a footprint is one of the first items you should consider removing from it.
  4. It is far less expensive, albeit you do not have the convenience of the attaching grommets.
  5. Manufacturing companies are continuously changing tent shapes and dimensions, making it difficult to acquire the exact same version of your tent a year or two later.

How to Use a Tent Footprint (The Right Way)

An appropriate tent footprint may be a fantastic method to provide additional protection for your tent when it is used properly.

These ground coverings are lightweight and simple to apply, and they protect your tent from sharp items as well as damp ground and moisture build-up. As a result, let us examine how to utilize a tent footprint correctly, which type to select, and whether or not you actually require one.

Should You Use a Tent Footprint? has the Wise Owl Outfitters Camping Tent Footprint, which is available for purchase. A sharp item may wreak havoc on even the most durable of tents, which is why it is important to keep your temporary home as safe as possible. Ground coverings for tents help to extend the life of your tent and maintain it in good shape for longer periods of time. You can be protected against harsh items by leaving a thoughtful footprint. Pebbles, branches, roots, and other such objects are included.

Small holes in your tent can easily be stretched and trapped, resulting in a full-blown hole in your tent structure.

Moreover, the advantages of using tent footprints do not end there!

  • Obtainable from is the Wise Owl Outfitters Camping Tent Footprint. A sharp instrument can wreak havoc on even the most durable of tents, which is why even the most durable of tents may be completely destroyed by one. Tent ground coverings help to maintain your tent in good shape for a longer period of time by extending its lifespan. Protect yourself against harsh items by leaving a thoughtful footprint. Stones, branches, roots, and other natural materials are examples of these. It may not seem like much, but pressing little things against the bottom of your tent over time can cause holes to appear in the fabric. Small holes in your tent can be easily stretched and trapped, resulting in a full-blown hole in your tent. Regardless of whether you want to use a footprint, you should properly clean the area where you intend to pitch your tent and make certain that it is clear of debris. There are several more advantages to using tent footprints.

Do you require a tent footprint, then? When it comes to camping, a tent footprint is by no means required; you will most likely be alright without one provided you take the proper procedures when erecting your tent. A ground cover, on the other hand, is a wise investment if you want to keep your tent clean and extend its life. You may save a significant amount of money in the long term, particularly if you have a high-quality tent. Our discussion of this topic will continue later in the post (and we go into great length about it in our guide titled Do I Need a Tarp Under My Tent?).

How to Use a Tent Footprint for Best Results

The process of using a tent footprint is rather basic. An illustrated explanation on how to utilize a tent footprint to achieve the greatest results is provided below.

Step 1: Place the Tent Footprint on the Ground

First, pick where you want to put up your tent and mark the location with a footprint on the ground in the location you want it. Whether you are unsure which side of the tent footprint should be raised, simply check the product label to see if it states which side should be raised. You will often want the waterproof, coated side facing up and the dull or uncoated side looking down when using a waterproof coating. The footprint should be absolutely flat, so pull on each corner to make sure it is fully flat.

Step 2: Set Up the Tent Over the Footprint

Set up your tent on top of the footprint. Inserting your pole tips through the grommets on your tent’s footprint will secure it to the tent. Aside from that, some models come with straps that may be used to secure it to the tent. When pitching your tent, it is recommended to place the tent poles first into the grommets on the foot of the tent, and then into the grommets on the canvas itself. As a result, whether you move your tent to adjust it or raise it to shake it out, the footprint will remain in place and you will not have to reposition and reattach it again.

Step 3: Make Sure the Footprint is Completely Covered

Make certain that the groundsheet does not protrude from the tent’s perimeter.

It will accumulate on top of the footprint and eventually make its way between the tent and the footprint, undermining the purpose of employing a footprint in this situation.

Which Tent Footprint Should I Use?

Generally speaking, if your tent comes with a footprint, it is recommended to utilize that exact footprint because it has been carefully built and fitted to your particular tent type. However, if your vehicle did not arrive with a groundsheet, you may always purchase one aftermarket. There are several brands to choose from, and the majority of the top names are reliable. The following are three common solutions that are both effective and reasonably priced. Referred to:Tent Footprint vs. Tarp: Which Is Better for Campers?

Tyvek Tent Footprint

Tyvek is an ultra-light, breathable fabric produced from spun bond polyethylene fibers that is used in a variety of applications. Tyvek makes a fantastic footprint material, and it will assist to maintain your tent by keeping moisture out of the tent inside. The grommeted corners on the Tyvek tent footprint shown below make it simple to stake out your structure. It’s inexpensive, lightweight, and simple to pack and transport while you’re out camping with friends.

Universal Tent Footprint

This waterproof tent groundsheet is available in a variety of sizes and is equipped with grommets for easy attachment to your tent. It also has stitched loops in the corners, which may be used to secure the tent to the ground or to stake it into the ground. All of the materials used to make these footprints are 201T ripstop polyester, which is both waterproof and rip-proof.

DIY Tent Footprint

You may also construct a tent footprint on your own. Making a tent footprint is simple and quick, and it allows you to customize it to match any form. It is entirely up to you how elaborate you want to make it, but it can be completed in a short amount of time for less than $15!

Materials Needed:

  • Material for the tent’s footprint (tarpaulin, Tyvek, etc.)
  • Scissors
  • A sharpie or a marker of any sort

Steps To Make a Tent Footprint

  1. The first step is to purchase whatever you have decided to use as a basis, which may be done either online or at a local hardware shop. Tarps and Tyvek are the most commonly used materials. All that is required is that the material be larger than the base of your tent. Following that, you’ll want to lay out your material and set your tent on top of it. Make a trace around the perimeter of the tent. Maintain a smooth surface on the ground and strive to be as exact as possible
  2. Finally, take your tent down and cut out the shape you created. Make sure not to cut right on the line that you traced, but rather an inch or two inside of it instead. You want to trim it so that it is slightly smaller in circumference than the base of the tent. If it is overly huge, water might collect beneath it and cause flooding.

Is a Tent Footprint Worth It? Our Take

Both yes and no. It is worthwhile to have a tent footprint when:

  • The use of a footprint is recommended if you camp regularly and wish for your tent to survive for a long period. If you want to camp in a rocky, branchy, or otherwise difficult terrain, a footprint may be necessary to protect the bottom of your tent. Consider the sort of terrain you will encounter before you camp to determine whether or not you will want to carry a footprint with you. In addition to the initial purchase expense, adding a footprint to your camping gear has minimal drawbacks if you are vehicle camping and aren’t concerned about added weight and bulk.

It is not necessary to have a tent footprint in some situations.

  • Especially if you are planning a lengthy trekking or hiking trip, every ounce of weight counts. Leaving the tent footprint at home and bringing along only the essentials may be useful in camping scenarios
  • If you’re not concerned about taking a chance, there’s no reason to waste your time and money on a tent footprint. Tents are designed to be set directly on the ground, so if you aren’t concerned about slipping, don’t spend the money on a tent footprint. If you are camping on sand, cement, or in a designated campsite, you will most likely not require a tent footprint. The most beneficial use for them is when you are sleeping in the woods on difficult terrain.

Tent Hacker is made possible by donations from readers. It is possible that purchasing through links on our site will result in us receiving an affiliate commission. Because I am an Amazon Associate, I receive money when people make eligible purchases.

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 pricey and don’t provide much—if anything—in the way of additional functionality above a standard tarp that can be purchased from a hardware or outdoor store for as low as a fourth 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.

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.

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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.

Which Side of A Tent Footprint Goes Up?

Because it is such a straightforward piece of equipment, there are no written instructions. When it comes to setting up your tent footprint, is there a correct way and a wrong way? Which side of a Tent Footprint is the upward facing side? Which side of a tent’s footprint should be raised? The waterproof side of your tent footprint should be facing upwards, towards the sky, according to technical specifications. This is normally the side that is bright and sparkly, and it is usually the side that carries the brand logo on it.

To be completely honest, I don’t believe it makes any difference whether side is up. Does it really make a difference? Does it truly make a difference? Most likely not! Continue reading for additional information on how to set up your tent footprint correctly.

Which Side Of a Tent Footprint Goes Up?

Tent Footprints are meant to keep your tent protected from the elements while you’re camping. When the ground isn’t perfectly flat, a tent footprint or ground fabric will help to keep your tent floor from ripping and tearing. So, what is the best way to make use of a tent footprint?

The Shiny Decorative Side Goes Up

It actually doesn’t matter which side of the Tent Footprint is used to construct the structure. The majority of manufacturers recommend that you place the glossy side with the logo facing up. According to the manufacturer, the glossy side has a waterproofing coating, but I don’t believe this (it’s probably simply so people can see the logo). When you consider the appropriate method to use a tent footprint, it doesn’t make any sense. After you’ve set up the tent, you shouldn’t be able to see the footprint any longer.

Its sole purpose is to keep muck and unintentional punctures at bay.

Setting Up Your Tent Footprint

All of the other steps in the setup process are quite straightforward as well.

  1. First and foremost, you must prepare the area where you will be camping by placing your footprint or groundsheet. In most cases, unless your tent is quite costly, you will not require a particular footprint. (I’ve been using this inexpensive footprint.) Any inexpensive blue tarp will suffice
  2. Determine which side of the tarp/footprint is waterproof by looking at it closely. The shiny side of the ground fabric is normally facing up towards the sky
  3. Begin erecting your tent on top of the ground cloth. Incorporate your tent poles into the grommets, then secure them with the straps for further stability. It will just take a few minutes to put up your tent and call it a day if you have a tarp.

Advantages to Buying a Real Tent Footprint

The great majority of my life, I have avoided leaving a physical footprint in favor of utilizing a tarp instead of paper. That was all I actually required on those brief camping trips over the weekend that I took. It wasn’t until I started working with lightweight equipment that I realized the importance of specialized footprints for me. It is possible to eliminate the need for the tent body and simply utilize the rainfly and footprint when you have a footprint created particularly for your tent.

You may certainly use a tarp as a tent footprint, but it will not be the most effective solution.

Does that seem like something you’d want to tuck away in your bag somewhere?

Is a Footprint Really Necessary?

Unless you’re spending a lot of money on camping equipment, leaving a footprint isn’t really essential. Tents that cost $20-$30 are supposed to be thrown away, so leaving an imprint isn’t going to help problems. When dealing with pricey equipment, it’s likely that you’ll want to leave a trace. The only time you’ll absolutely want a footprint is on sandy or gravelly terrain. Sand and gravel will soon erode the surface of your tent’s groundsheet.

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?

If you’re camping on rocky terrain, you’ll need a tent footprint (also known as a groundsheet), which is nothing more than a sheet of extremely resistant fabric, most typically made of polyester or nylon, that you’ll put below your tent to protect the floor from rips, wear, and tears. It is possible that when you step inside your tent, the floor will move/slide ever so little, and if the dirt beneath your tent is sufficiently rocky, this might cause damage to the waterproofing layer or even worse, produce a puncture.

Considering that it is composed of a highly resistant fabric, it has no difficulties with any form of abrasion that may occur.

When you have a lot of sharp edges on your gear, it is likely that your inside will wear down more quickly than its outside.

The fact that you don’t have to wash the entire tent when it becomes filthy is another advantage of utilizing one. Learn more about what more you can do to take good care of your tent by visiting the website.

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.

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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 effort making their own groundsheets, stitching grommets, and trimming 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 replace your tent? Most likely, you’ll have to start from the beginning. As a result, why not spare yourself some trouble and simply get some low-cost blue polypropylene? Make no effort to trim it to the proper size; if it’s too large, simply fold it below 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.

Choose a location for the tent and the groundsheet to be set up and secure. Before you can start putting together your tent, you must first lay your groundsheet exactly where you want it to go. You can tell which side is waterproof by looking at the product’s packaging. Most of the time, the shiny side (coated) will be facing up (facing the tent), while the dull side (uncoated) should be facing down (facing the ground); Prepare the tent by putting it up on a stake. Place the tent on top of it and place the poles into the footprints grommets to begin erecting the structure.

Look for signs of a proper setup.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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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.

  • Depending on how frequently you use it, a single piece will last for one season or perhaps longer.
  • Both are inexpensive and may be split into several groundsheets for a single price of less than $10.
  • Despite the fact that it is lightweight, waterproof, and puncture-resistant, it is significantly heavier than Polycryo or Window Wrap.
  • Its most significant benefit is that it is indestructible.
  • 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!

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 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.

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 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 necessary to cut footprints that are roughly 1-2 inches smaller on all sides than the actual contour of your tent. The purpose for this is to prevent puddling. It is possible for a footprint to protrude beyond the tent’s border, creating a moisture trap. If this occurs during a downpour, water will pool there and flow in between the footprint and the tent bottom. It is possible that this will enable more water to enter the main tent 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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