What To Use For Tent Footprint

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?

I’m not sure what a tent footprint is, but What exactly is the purpose of a tent footprint? Is it really necessary to have a tent footprint? Exactly what is the composition of tent footprints? Is it really worth it to leave a mark? Tent Footprints made from scratch;

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.

Guide to Tent Footprints

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

Let’s get started.

Why do I need a Tent Footprint?

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

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

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

What are the best Footprints?

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

  1. Sheets of Painter’s Tarp (or polycro). My personal fave. I use a 2 mm thick sheet, which is a terrific option because it just weights a few grams and is small enough to put in my pocket while still being effective. “Tyvek” is available for $2 at your local hardware shop. A brand of flashspun high-density polyethylene fibers that are frequently used to protect structures while they are being built. Among the other alternatives are “shrink” polymers, which are used to seal windows and doors during the winter months.
See also:  What Is The Speigel Tent On The Norwegian Breakaway

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

How to Make Your Own DIY Footprint

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

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

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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. Is it truly necessary for me to leave an imprint in the first place?
  5. It’s probably a good idea if you’re going to be camping on really rough terrain.
  6. 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.
  7. It is far less expensive, albeit you do not have the convenience of the attaching grommets.

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.

Ultralight Backpacking Tent Footprint Substitutions

The weight of your tent’s footprint is measured in kilograms. The weight of this one is 7.4 ounces. More than half of all backpackers utilize a manufacturer’s tent footprint inside their tent when going on overnight hiking journeys in the wilderness. These precautions are taken in order to protect the bottom of their tents from sharp pebbles and sand that can shred or puncture their tent floors, to increase the water resistance of their tent floors, or to keep their tent clean and mud free, which makes it simpler to pack.

When camping in abrasive sand, mountain campsites with sharp rocks, ancient tents with holes in their flooring, or even modern tents with impossibly thin 7 denier polyester or nylon floors, an additional layer of protection under the tent floor may be quite advantageous.

Tent Footprints Are Heavy

Manufacturer tent footprints, on the other hand, are heavy and costly. What if you could provide the same degree of protection while utilizing a groundsheet that is far less in weight and costs significantly less? The two most common ultralight groundsheets are manufactured from an industrial plastic called Polycryo (which is marketed by Gossamer Gear) and Tyvek, both of which are created from recycled materials. The use of window wrap plastic insulation as a tent footprint alternative is quite effective.

Window Wrap

Window Wrap is the plastic covering that you place over your windows and blow dry to insulate them during the cold winter months. It is possible that a single piece will survive a season or longer, depending on how frequently it is used. One of the most popular products is Duck Brand Window/Door Shrink Film ($4.88), while another is Frost King Stretch Window Kit ($7.70). A number of small-scale producers also offer it under the brand name Polycryo, although at a hefty premium. It’s the same stuff as before.

Tyvek HomeWrap is heavier than Window Wrap, but it is also more durable.

Tyvek HomeWrap

Building with Tyvek HomeWrap is a great way to keep drafts out of your home by creating a vapor barrier between your internal walls and the exterior siding of your house. It is lightweight, waterproof, and puncture resistant, which is why it is commonly used as an ultralight groundsheet due to its characteristics. The fact that it is so durable means that it will survive for several seasons. On eBay, you can get Tyvek HomeWrap by the foot, which is cut from a 9′ roll. Tarptent.com also sells Tyvek groundsheets that are specifically scaled for the tents they sell, which range in price from $12 to $15.

The weight of a Tyvek groundsheet for a one-person tent ranges from 2 ounces to 5 ounces, and for a two-person tent, the weight ranges from 5 to 8 ounces.

While utilizing a Tyvek groundsheet rather than a manufacturer’s footprint is likely to result in some weight savings, the primary advantage of adopting a Tyvek groundsheet over a manufacturer’s footprint is the cheaper cost.


If the weather circumstances necessitate the use of a tent footprint, but you want to save money by not purchasing one, or you want to minimize the weight of your stuff in your backpack, try constructing an ultralight groundsheet out of window wrap insulation or Tyvek instead. It’s worth noting that some of the lightest and least priced camping equipment isn’t actually backpacking equipment. NOTE FROM THE EDITOR: If you’re considering about purchasing gear that we’ve reviewed or recommended on SectionHiker, you may contribute to our fundraising efforts.

Simply click on any of the vendor links provided above.

Thank you for your assistance, and please know that we appreciate it!

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?

Amazon.com 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!

  • By using a tent footprint, you can simply prevent getting sticky tree sap on your clothes and mud stains on your clothes. When camping in the rain, footprints can assist you in keeping your tent dry. During a downpour, water may pool beneath a tent and leak in through the bottom
  • Even if it doesn’t rain, ground moisture can build under your tent and seep into your sleeping space. Tent footprints are waterproof and can assist you in staying comfortable and dry while camping

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.

See also:  Scum How To Find A Tent

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.

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.

Everything to know about a Tent Footprint – Benefits and alternatives

When a tent is pitched, the footprint, also known as the groundsheet, is a piece of cloth that is placed below the floor of the tent to protect it from wear and damage. The tent bottom also serves as a layer of moisture protection, preventing water from soaking through. Despite the fact that certain tents do not require a footprint, the vast majority of them do. Let’s go through some of the things you should look for to evaluate whether or not you require one for your tent. In addition, we will explore how to utilize one as well as a few options that are more cost-effective.

Do you need a tent footprint?

Use of a footprint, while not always essential, is recommended in order to extend the life of your tent’s floor. The use of a footprint is optional for certain tents, although many backpacking tents require it because to the thinner and lighter materials used, which increases the danger of damage to the tents. You can also learn about the products that the company suggests. Alternatively, you might go online to see whether a footprint for your tent is available. As a rule of thumb, if a product has been designed expressly for your tent, it is advised.

If you’re not sure what the difference is between a backpacking tent and a camping tent, check out my post on the subject.

  1. What kind of material is the floor of your tent? What is the thickness of it
  2. In what condition is the ground in question
1. What material is your tent floor?

The type of material used to construct your tent floor is arguably the most important aspect in determining whether or not you require a footprint. The majority of tent floors are constructed of nylon, although others, such as those from Zpacks and Hyperlight, are built of DCF (Durable Composite Fiber) (dyneema composite fabric). DCF (previously known as cuben fiber) is a particularly strong and lightweight material. It is up to 15 times stronger than steel when measured in terms of weight! A tent constructed with DCF should not require the use of a footprint.

Given the high cost of all things DCF, a tent footprint can be used to extend the life of the DCF.

2. How thick is your tent floor?

Denier is a unit of measurement for cloth thickness. Essentially, the greater the denier number, the thicker the fibers or threads that were employed in the product’s production. Tents made of lightweight nylon, such as those usually used for hiking, have a lower denier, typically ranging from 10D to 30D, making them more suitable for camping. The denier of standard camping tents is greater, ranging from 210D and above. A footprint is required for any nylon tent floor that is less than 30D in thickness.

It’s not going to hurt to keep the floor of my tent clean and free of moisture.

Please contact the manufacturer if you are unable to locate the denier of your tent floor and ask what they recommend. If you have a lightweight tent, on the other hand, it is fair to presume that a footprint should be employed.

3. What are the ground conditions?

Making certain that your tent is put up in an area free of sticks and pebbles is critical, not only for the purpose of safeguarding your tent floor, but also for your comfort. Having saying that, finding a tent location that is clear of any debris is an uncommon occurrence. Unfortunately, unless you are pitching your tent in a location that you are acquainted with, you will not know what the ground conditions are until you are ready to set up camp, which may be a frustrating experience. In addition to offering an added layer of protection, a tent footprint will assist to alleviate some of the uncertainties.

Benefits of tent footprints

If you’re still not convinced, consider the following advantages of adopting a tent footprint:

  1. This product protects your tent floor from harm while also keeping the underside of your tent floor clean. Keeps the underside of your tent’s floor from becoming wet
  2. It is less difficult to clean.

It goes without saying that using an additional layer beneath your tent floor will give additional protection, but using a footprint will help keep the bottom of your tent floor clean and dry as well. This stops you from having to stow a tent that is damp and dirty in your backpack. Additionally, a footprint will be simpler to shake off debris, and you may place it in the outer mesh pocket of your bag to allow it to dry faster. RidgeTrekker Quick Tip: I recommend a backpack that has a mesh pocket on the front.

How to use a tent footprint

It is not difficult to set up a tent on a tent footprint. Follow these three straightforward steps:

  1. Prepare the ground for your tent’s footprint
  2. Set up a tent on the roof
  3. Make certain that the tent’s footprint is tucked below it.

First and foremost, choose a moderately clean and level location for your tent footprint. Some footprints can be staked, so if you want to do so now, go ahead. Knowing where you’re going to put your footprint is advantageous, especially on windy days. Otherwise, you may use pebbles, sticks, or even some of your own gear to weigh it down when the situation calls for it. Once everything is in place, you can start erecting your tent on top of it. It may take a little practice to get your tent to sit properly.

It is possible to hoist and center a freestanding tent over the footprint if you have one.

In this way, water is prevented from collecting on the footprint and flowing below your tent floor, soaking it and perhaps seeping through to the interior.

Alternative Tent Footprint Options

It is usual practice to choose an alternate choice instead of purchasing footprints that are especially built for a certain tent. The following are the most often encountered alternate footprints:

Type Strength Weight Price
Tyvek Very High Heavy $
Polycro High Ultralight $
DCF Very High Ultralight $$$
Tarp Varies Varies Varies

If weight is your major concern, the table below breaks down the weight by ounce per square foot based on the type and thickness of the material used in the construction (when applicable).

Based on goods from Six Moon Designs, Gossamer Gear, and Zpacks, the ounces per square foot are calculated.


Tyvek is inexpensive, and if you can find a leftover piece at a building site, you can get away with using it for nothing. Tough and waterproof Tyvek tent footprints are incredibly sturdy and long-lasting, although they may be rather hefty. Some firms, like as Zpacks, sell Tyvek footprints, and you may also get them on the online marketplace Etsy. Some include grommets in the corners for staking. You can make one yourself if you can get your hands on some scrap or don’t mind purchasing it on a roll.

See also:  What Kind Of Tent Cna You Set Up By Yourself

When it comes to tent footprints, polycro is another popular choice. It is long-lasting, lightweight, and inexpensive! Although it is not as robust as Tyvek, for most trekkers, the weight reduction outweighs the disadvantages. When employing polycro, the following are the drawbacks:

  • It is unable to breathe, which results in condensation on the ground side. When temperatures are high enough, they can shrink. Laying out is more difficult (even a moderate wind will have you trying to keep it from blowing away)
DCF (Dyneema Composite Fabric)

Another material choice for a tent footprint is DCF (diamond-shaped fiber). Even while it is lighter, it is also quite pricey. Making your own can save you money, but the benefits aren’t all that significant. It may be more durable than polycro, but the added durability does not justify the significant price difference between the two materials.


Last but not least, a tarp, even the blue tarps from the hardware store, can be utilized to create a footprint. Tarps are available in a broad variety of materials and for a number of uses, and there is something for everyone. Tarps can be inexpensive or expensive, lightweight or heavy, and robust or weak, depending on the material used. Some may or may not be waterproof, depending on the material. Because of the diversity, you should use your best judgment when choosing whether or not a tarp will be suitable for your needs.

How to choose an alternative tent footprint

When selecting an alternate footprint, there are two characteristics to look for.


First, decide on the type of material you intend to utilize. This will decide the longevity of the footprint as well as its capacity to preserve the floor of your tent’s inside. It also has an impact on how large your carbon footprint is going to be.


Following that, you’ll need a footprint that’s large enough to accommodate your tent. Having anything that is overly big is acceptable if it can be reduced to the appropriate size. If the tarp is too small, it will only protect a piece of the tent’s floor. If you do decide to trim it to fit, be sure you cut it just little less than the size of your tent floor or close enough that you can easily tuck the extra underneath.

Is it worth it?

So, do the advantages of having a tent footprint offset the expense of a few ounces of extra weight? It is entirely up to you to decide. It is, however, never a bad idea to have a footprint along with you on your camping excursions. When it comes to the lifetime of what is likely to be your most costly piece of hiking equipment, a few ounces is nothing.

Can You Use A Tarp As A Tent Footprint? – Van Camping Life

The wide outdoors, how I love thee. Because I am a person who appreciates nature, I can speak to the pleasures of camping and getting out into nature to have a good time while being outside. However, while you’re out camping, you’ll want to be certain that you’ve prepared yourself to be successful and safe from the weather. One method of achieving this is to use a footprint to protect the tent bottom from being damaged by the ground beneath it. Is it possible to use a tarp as a tent footprint, though?

  1. As a result of the tarps’ longevity, we frequently use them to shield the tent’s outside from exposure to the weather.
  2. If you are going camping, you should consider bringing a tarp with you.
  3. Any camping tips and tricks that you can pick up to make your camping trip more enjoyable are always welcome.
  4. Not only do they give a sturdy base for you to set up your tent on, but you are also establishing a barrier that will keep the bottom of your tent covered, so safeguarding your financial investment.

Tarps are available in a variety of sizes; however, it is unlikely that you will be able to locate one that is a perfect match for the size of the tent you now possess.

Using a Tarp as a Footprint

In addition to the fact that it may be used as a footprint, employing a tarp for your footprint has the added advantage of being able to be converted back to its original state when necessary. If the weather isn’t going to be fantastic once you get there, you may make greater use of your tarp by using it to cover the top of your tent, which will serve as a roof. It can be beneficial to have both a footprint and a tarp on available in case one or both of them are required. However, if you forget to bring a footprint and need something to put beneath your tent for protection, the tarp will be of great use.

  • When you receive your tent, you will receive a footprint that is the same size as your tent and will not extend beyond the sides of your tent.
  • When utilizing a tarp as a tent footprint, be sure to get one that is the closest fit to the size of your tent.
  • As a result, you will need to make appropriate adjustments to the tarp.
  • Folding under helps to prevent water from accumulating within the tarp.
  • Some individuals trim the tarp to fit the size of the tent they’re setting up.
  • Due of the bigger size of your tarp, however, using it as the footprint will necessitate some additional considerations.
  • When it comes to tarp placement, improper positioning might result in some problems, particularly if you wind up with water accumulating on the tarp.

As a result, make sure you are in the proper position, that the ground is level, and that any moisture that goes onto the tarp can readily roll off the tarp footprint and away from the tent.

Tarps are often composed of polyethylene, which has the added benefit of increasing longevity as a result of its low carbon footprint.

If your hiking abilities aren’t up to par, a tarp may be a real pain in the neck.

However, if you’re only going camping, using a plastic tarp as your footprint will reduce the likelihood of your tent ripping or becoming damaged.

If you don’t already have a tarp, here are a few choices to think about purchasing one.

Grommets that will not rust are included.

This tarp has been designed to withstand the damage that you will subject it to when camping in the great outdoors.

One that is 10 mils thick is manufactured by Safety.

Whiteduck is another another option to consider.

Made from polyethylene that has been tightly woven, it is UV protected to prevent it from being damaged by the sun’s rays.

The pebbles and other things on the ground can cause damage to tents, so using a tarp can assist to preserve your tent while also saving you money in the long run.

We also have a page on pitching a tent on gravel that will provide you with further information about how to cope with this problem if you ever run across it.

Protecting the Top of Your Tent

In addition to the fact that it may be used as a footprint, employing a tarp for your footprint has the added benefit of being able to be converted back to its original state when necessary. If the weather isn’t going to be fantastic once you get there, you may make greater use of your tarp by using it to cover the top of your tent, which would serve as a better roof than nothing. It might be a good idea to keep both a footprint and a tarp on available in case one or both of them becomes necessary.

  1. You must take the necessary steps to correctly set up your tarp footprint.
  2. It will not be possible to match the size of a tarp to the surrounding area.
  3. On average, the tarp will be somewhat larger than the size of your tent.
  4. It is usually possible to fold the extra below so that the size matches.
  5. It is important to remember to fold the tarp below so that it may be reused for various uses in the future.
  6. By cutting it, you can cause the tarp to begin “fraying,” and you can also remove the grommets, rendering the tarp unusable for any other use.
  7. This implies that you’ll want to place your setup such that, if it does rain, the water doesn’t collect on the tarp and cause it to rip.

Furthermore, if the grade of the land is even slightly slanted towards your tent, you will get soaked through.

The process is a walk in the park!

In case you’re hiking, a real tent footprint is more portable and easier to transport.

When traveling with a tarp, it’s vital to be a little more tactical due to the fact that they’re larger and heavier in weight.

Tarps are designed to be as robust as possible in order to withstand the weather.

There are grommets that will not corrode and it is water-resistant and UV-protected.

It is possible to get an X-pose tarp that is heavier-duty and can stand up to greater abuse.

Because of its remarkable durability and weather resistance, this tarp will be suitable for use in all sorts of weather conditions.

Tearproof tarp with a 16 mil thickness that is available in a variety of sizes It is constructed of polyethylene that has been tightly woven to endure the demands of outdoor use and is UV coated to prevent it from breaking down from the sun’s rays.

We also have a piece on pitching a tent on gravel that will provide you with further information about how to cope with this problem if you ever run across it.

  • Is It Possible To Get Sunburned Through A Tent
  • Choosing Between the Hymer Aktiv Loft and the Pleasure-Way Tofino: Which is Right for You? How to Select the PERFECT Mattress for Van Camping
  • How to Choose the PERFECT Mattress for RV Camping

Tarps Keep You Dry

When it starts to rain out of nowhere, you’ll be glad you have a tarp to protect you. When camping, the last thing anyone wants is for it to rain. Furthermore, it is possible that there will be no rain at all during your whole excursion. However, guess what? Mother Nature has her own agenda, and if she feels like sending the rain, you best be prepared to be on the watch. It does happen. It’s all about preparing yourself for whatever may come your way.

Tarps Keep You Warm

The ability to keep warm is an advantage that is commonly underestimated while using a tarp. The use of a tarp to cover your tent will aid in keeping the heat inside. When the sun goes down and the temperature starts to drop, it’s really frigid. Keep the heat inside your tent by covering it with a tarp that is large enough to accommodate it. What’s even better is that having some form of footprint under the tent will increase the likelihood of this benefit occurring.

Tarps Help to Keep Your Gear Safe

Another factor that may be forgotten is the need of keeping equipment safe. You’ve got equipment in your tent, and it’s sometimes pricey equipment. You’ll want to make sure that everything is as safe as you possibly can from harm’s way. Having a tarp over your tent will give that additional benefit, allowing you to relax and enjoy your trip without having to worry about your excellent gear getting ruined by the weather. All it comes down to is protecting oneself, my friends. And you are hoping for the finest camping experience possible – while being open to the possibility of anything happening.

The ground may not be quite as soft as it used to be now that you are a bit more mature.

To Conclude

Camping is fantastic, at least for those of you who enjoy spending time in the great outdoors. And for those of you who haven’t yet had the opportunity to share in the delight, we hope that this piece will give you with some useful knowledge that will position you for success in the future. As we’ve discussed, it’s wise to take precautions when spending time in the great outdoors. Given that anything may happen, having a game plan in place that keeps you safe and dry will be quite beneficial.

Have a good day and enjoy yourself out there; remember to be safe and to get out into nature as Mother Nature intended.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *