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 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
- 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.
Do I need a tent footprint?
When you join up for Outside+ today, you’ll receive a $50 discount off an eligible $100 purchase at the Outside Shop, where you’ll discover a variety of brand-name goods handpicked by our gear editors. Lots of uncertainty exists around the proper usage of a tent footprint (does it keep out water?). Is it for the purpose of insulation?). However, here at the Gear Brain Trust, we have the ability to clear things up. A tent footprint or ground cover is simply anything that serves to protect the tent’s floor from abrasion.
- With a footprint in place, it is forced to bear the brunt of the assault.
- Footprint No.
- We used to pitch tents without leaving footprints all the time, and I don’t recall anything negative happening as a result of that.
- Although it is ineffective on uneven, rocky ground, pitching the tent in the shade and staking it out securely to prevent it from thrashing around is an effective technique to safeguard your investment.
- It is OK to use a handmade version.
- The key is to ensure that the footprint is cut such that it is slightly smaller in size than the tent floor.
Then any rain that does fall will become caught on the footprint and will roll beneath the tent. The 2006Outside Buyer’s Guide, which is currently out on newsstands, has 396 torture-tested items, including the 2006 Gear of the Year award winners and an entirely new women’s-specific review section.
6 Reasons You Need To Buy A Tent Footprint
It doesn’t matter if you’re buying a tent for £150 or £1500; a tent footprint may save you time and work while, more crucially, protecting a key section of your tent from damage. The inexpensive cost of this attachment, which ranges from £10 and upwards, making it an absolute must-have to purchase with your tent or to use with an existing tent you already possess. First and foremost, it could be worthwhile for us to go over the fundamentals.
What is a tent footprint?
Do you have a clear understanding of what a tent footprint is? Most of the time, you can tell what a tent footprint is by looking at it, but in case you’re unclear, it’s a groundsheet-like piece of cloth that rests between your tent and the ground. Depending on the size of your tent, it is available in a variety of sizes. It is pinned down in the corners and is the first item you should take care of while assembling your tent. Here are six compelling reasons why you should invest in a tent footprint:
1. Prolong the life of your tent
Due to the fact that 90 percent of tents are now constructed with a sewn-in groundsheet, purchasing a footprint has become even more important. Take precautions to keep your brand new tent secure from abrasion or cuts caused by loose stones and twigs – think of it like purchasing a screen protector or cover for your brand new phone – it’s better to be safe than sorry! Accidents may happen while camping even with the finest intentions and utmost care in the world – therefore it’s worth you in the long run to build your tent with as much safety as possible from the start.
2. Add extra warmth
Incorporating a footprint beneath your tent will add another layer, somewhat elevating you off the ground and reducing the amount of heat that escapes to the ground. When people go camping, they grossly underestimate how much body heat may be lost in this manner, which is a severe mistake. This, in conjunction with a goodsleeping matorair bed, will give an excellent foundation for a restful night’s sleep. When you’re camping, the majority of your heat is lost to the ground, thus leaving a footprint can assist keep you warm and comfortable.
3. Add extra waterproofing
Layers of protection are twice as effective as one layer. A second layer of waterproofing can not only provide you with peace of mind, but it can also help to safeguard your investment by preventing water damage. Your brand new tent is an investment, and you’ll want to make sure that it remains in the best possible condition for as long as possible after you’ve purchased it.
4. Easier, simplified pitching
You’ll have a clear picture of where your tent is going to be placed, where it will fit, and where to begin pegging from the start because most footprints are custom-made and particular to the contour of your tent’s outline. When it comes to actually pitching your tent, you will save valuable time and have less problems as a result of this.
5. Packing away is less hassle
It’s certain that the camping grounds will be wet during your stay (as is often the case in the United Kingdom), and when it comes time to pack up your tent, you will find that the sewn-in groundsheet of your tent will get quite wet and muddy – hardly the most pleasant of farewell presents.
The footprint is something that will prevent the most of this from happening and will keep your tent reasonably dry and clean, which means there will be a lot less work to do once you get home.
6. Tailor-made to suit your tent
In most circumstances, footprints will be particular to a tent type (or in some cases, footprints will fit more than one model) and will be slightly smaller than the floorplan in order to avoid any water from collecting between the sewn-ingroundsheet and the footprint. This’made-to-measure’ approach makes finding the correct footprint for your tent a cinch thanks to its flexibility.
Do I need a tent footprint?
Hopefully, we’ve provided you with six compelling arguments for why you should invest in a tent footprint. Our recommendation is that you use a footprint or groundsheet, just like you would with your man ropes, but ultimately it comes down to personal opinion. Although a footprint may seem unnecessary to a seasoned camper who has never used one, it can be extremely useful if you’ve ever suffered a tear in the bottom of your tent, struggle with water seeping in from beneath your tent, or simply despise packing away a muddy tent; in these cases, a footprint can be extremely beneficial.
- Interested in learning more about tent footprints?
- The following are some more questions that you may have: What should the footprint of a tent be in terms of size?
- This is done in order to prevent water from collecting between the footprint and your tent, which would completely contradict the purpose of the footprint!
- What is the composition of a tent footprint?
- However, you’ll discover that the majority of them are constructed of polyethylene, which is both sturdy and easy to clean.
- How to clean the footprint of a tent Use a clean (preferably brand new) cloth to wipe away any filth, followed by a simple rinse with water.
Check out ourgreat range of tent footprintsto make your camping trip that little bit smoother.
Take a look at our whole assortment of tent accessories or our entire tents collection, which includes: Tents by Size|Family Tents|Polycotton Tents|Tents by Brand Check out more articles from the Winfields Blog to get you ready for 2020. Remember to check out our camping blog for more articles like this. This year’s top ten best family camping tents include an inflatable tent. Buying an Air Tent: A Buyer’s Guide
Do You Need a Tent Footprint for Backpacking?
You’ve invested in a tent with a water-resistant floor. Is it necessary to purchase a tent footprint or a groundsheet in addition to the tent? How sturdy and waterproof your tent floor is, as well as what the surface conditions are like where you want to use it, are all factors that must be considered. If you want to make a decision, you’ll need to understand how the thickness of your tent floor and the waterproof rating of your tent will affect its overall longevity.
The choice of a camping spot is also an essential consideration. Despite the fact that there are occasions when a footprint is beneficial, there are a variety of lesser cost and lighter weight footprint alternatives that you may employ in lieu of a traditional footprint.
What is a Tent Footprint?
It is important to understand that a tent footprint is a piece of protective fabric or material that you place under your tent to act as a moisture barrier while also protecting your tent floor from abrasion and punctures. Abrasion occurs on the bottom of your tent every time you pitch it due to the grit, small rocks, sand, and twigs that build on previously used tent sites. This weakens the fabric, which might result in a hole or puncture that allows water to seep past the waterproof layer of your tent floor and into the inside.
The majority of tent footprints are designed to correspond to the floor measurements of a certain tent.
In the event that your tent floor has a hole or has deteriorated seam tape, the puddle may soak through the fabric or seep inside the tent.
Tent Floor Durability and Waterproofing
A denier count and a waterproofing meter are frequently included in the specifications of backpacking tents. The denier count of a tent’s floor fabric refers to the thickness of the threads that make up the fabric, and it is a good indicator of the tent’s overall durability. Consider the following example: The floor of a tent that has a “70D,” or “70 denier,” construction, such as theREI Half Dome 2 Plus, will be harder and more durable than the 15 denier floor of the ultralightNEMO Hornet 2.
- For example, a tent floor with a waterproof rating of 5000 mm, such as the Hilleberg Niak, is 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.
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.
|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!
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.
Do You Really Need a Footprint for Your Tent? — CleverHiker
Let’s face it: tents are a costly investment. You want your tent to survive as long as possible, but spending an additional $40 or more on something that you just spent hundreds of dollars on is not the best option. When considering whether or not to purchase (or construct) a footprint, it’s necessary to consider factors such as the fabric of your tent, where you spend the most of your camping time, and how important it is to you to save a few ounces of weight.
What Does A Footprint Do?
However, in contrast to common perception, footprints do not provide any additional waterproofing for the bottom of your tent; the flooring of practically all modern tents are already composed of waterproof fabrics such as silnylon or dyneema. Among the most important functions of a footprint are to protect the ground beneath your tent from abrasive things (such as twigs, roots, and pebbles), to keep your tent free of mud and tree sap, and to assist you in determining the best location to pitch your tent.
- A footprint provides an additional layer of protection from abrasive items, which can help to extend the life of your tent’s floor.
- Messy Stuff – When we go camping, we anticipate our gear to get a bit dirty, but having sticky tree sap all over the bottom of your tent can be a real pain.
- Many of us have been in this situation: you locate the perfect site to pitch your tent, as if it were virtually made specifically for your tent.
- This is frustrating.
Things To Consider Before You Buy
A fabric’s denier specifies the weight of the thread used to weave the cloth; the greater the denier, the thicker and more durable the fabric. Fabric Denier – Big Agnes Copper Spur HV UL 2 has an 18-denier nylon floor, however the MSR Hubba Hubba NX 2 has a 30-denier nylon floor, indicating that the Hubba Hubba will have a thicker (and hence more durable) floor than the Copper Spur HV UL 2. The use of a footprint, especially if your tent is constructed of a low-denier fabric, is something you should definitely consider acquiring or manufacturing in order to increase the longevity of your tent floor.
- Terrain – If you spend the most of your camping and hiking time on soft sand or in lush grassy regions, you probably won’t need to leave a footprint.
- One carefully placed stone or twig might be all that is needed to create a hole in your floor’s surface.
- T-tape is extremely durable, and it has been used to repair some of our damaged equipment for many years.
- Consider the following example: theNEMO Hornet 2Phas a packed weight of 2 lbs 6 oz., and thefootprint adds an extra 6.9 oz.
- In this particular instance, adopting the manufacturer’s footprint results in an increase in weight of around 18 percent for your tent.
- You may create your own lightweight groundsheet out of TyvekorPolycryo rather easily; further information on how to do so is provided below.
- Footprints often cost between $40 to $80, and they might be difficult to justify on top of the tent’s purchase price.
You can create your own groundsheet for much less money (see below for additional information), but it will not typically last as long as the manufacturer’s footprint. DIY project made possible by the use of low-cost Tyvek material.
So, you’d really like to utilize a footprint, but the cost and/or weight are too expensive and/or heavy. Make one of your own! Making your own footprint is substantially less expensive and nearly always results in a lighter footprint. For groundsheets, many campers choose to use Tyvek (yep, the house wrap) cut to size and shaped to fit their needs. It is waterproof, inexpensive, and nearly unbreakable. Polycryo (also known as poly/polycro) is another popular alternative for DIY groundsheets on a tighter budget.
The following is a comparison of the approximate weights of the fabrics:
- So, you’d really like to utilize a footprint, but the cost and/or weight are prohibitively expensive and/or heavy for your budget to support. Customize it to suit your tastes. Making your own footprint is substantially less expensive and will almost always result in a lighter footprint than purchasing one from another source. As a groundsheet, many trekkers choose to use Tyvek (yep, the house wrap) cut to form because it is waterproof, inexpensive, and nearly indestructible. An additional common alternative for DIY groundsheets on a budget is polycryo (also known as poly/polycro). In comparison to Tyvek, polycryo is significantly lighter in weight but far less durable. The estimated weights of the textiles are shown in the following table:
The footprint should be approximately one inch shorter than the tent floor on all four sides if you are planning to cut your own footprint to size yourself. In the event that you have fabric sticking out from under your tent or too close to the edge of your tent floor, it might collect water and cause it to pool beneath your tent.
The footprint should be approximately one inch shorter than the tent floor on all four sides if you are planning to cut it yourself to form. In the event that you have fabric protruding out from under your tent or that it is too close to the edge of your tent floor, water can collect and pool below your tent.
Maintaining the condition of your equipment is critical, and we hope that this advice has assisted you in determining whether or not you require a tent footprint. If you know of a wonderful footprint substitution or application that we overlooked, please share it with us in the comments section below! You may find more CleverHiker backpacking advice by visiting the following websites:
- Trail Skills, Lightweight Foundations, and Top Gear Picks are all covered in detail in the CleverHiker Gear Guide.
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.
- 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.
- 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.
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.
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What is a tent footprint? (And why you need one!)
What is the definition of a tent footprint? (Image courtesy of Getty) What is a tent footprint? Without wasting any time, let’s get right to it: of all the accessories you could possibly add to your camping and backpacking gear, few, if any, will provide a return on your investment as impressive as the humble tent footprint. A tent footprint is a low-cost, lightweight piece of equipment that can significantly improve your camping experience in a variety of ways. However, it is rarely given the recognition it deserves because our tents, sleeping bags, and sleeping pads, among other items, take up most of the attention.
In essence, a tent footprint is simply a sheet of fabric that is placed beneath your tent to provide additional weather protection and thermal insulation.
Some tents are sold with a footprint, but in most cases you’ll have to make an additional purchase to get your hands on one.
Jack Wolfskin is a writer and editor who lives in New York City.
But while most of us are willing to accept the presence of the odd root or rock or twig under our sleeping area as part and parcel of the camping experience, every time we shift our weight onto any of these, we run the risk of puncturing our tent’s groundsheet (see our guide to tent repairs ).
The main benefit of a tent footprint is that they “take one (or several, rather) for the team” by providing an added layer of protection between your tent and the ground – something that even the best tents need in rugged terrain.
This is because the weight of the tent’s occupants and their kit increases – in wet conditions – the degree of water pressure placed on the fabric.
In such circumstances, a tent footprint is worth its weight in gold, providing an extra layer of waterproofing that will ensure you and your camping companions stay dry no matter how wet the conditions underfoot.
Adding a footprint to your tent setup will go a long way towards mitigating this problem by adding another layer of insulation between your body and the cold ground, thereby reducing the extent of conductive heat loss, and could even negate the need for quite so pricey a sleeping pad in the first place.
No matter how much effort we put into wiping down our groundsheet before packing up, the chances are that it will have soaked and sullied the rest of the tent by the time we get home, leaving us with a time-consuming and labor-intensive cleaning job on our hands post-trip.
Most footprints will also come with a stuff sack that lets you keep them separate from the rest of your gear in your backpack – handy if you’re camping for one night only, even handier if you’re on a multi-day excursion.
A tent footprint will add some much-needed insulation to the floor of your tent(Image credit: Getty) (Image credit: Getty) They cost very little While many tent manufacturers make their own, customized tent footprints to fit most models of tents in their range, the price tag can often be a little daunting.
To make a DIY footprint, all you need to do is buy a sheet of waterproof tarpaulin, trim it to size, pick up a stuff sack to keep it in, and you’ll have yourself a “bespoke” tent footprint that will do the job you need it to do every bit as well as branded models.
Kieran is a climber, mountaineer, and author who divides his time between the Italian Alps, the US, and his native Scotland.
He climbs when he should be writing, writes when he should be sleeping, has fun always. Kieran is the author of ‘Climbing the Walls’,an exploration of the mental health benefits of climbing, mountaineering, and the great outdoors. [email protected]
Do I Need a Tent Footprint? Pros and Cons
Tents are becoming increasingly pricey and unstable. This is the product of intricate lightweight designs combined with cutting-edge high-tech textiles. After investing hundreds of dollars on a new tent, you want to make sure that it lasts for the longest time possible. When it comes to extending the life of your tent, using a footprint is a good option. This tutorial explains what a tent footprint is used for and what factors to consider while purchasing one. On top of that, I’ll show you how to create your own tent footprint on the cheap.
What is a Tent Footprint?
In its most basic form, a tent footprint is a piece of material that is placed between the ground and the ground level of your tent. For footprints, a durable and waterproof material such as silicon coated polyester or nylon fabric, Tyvek, or polycryo is commonly used (polycro). Each side is cut a few of inches smaller than the floor of your tent, and this is true on all four sides.
What Does a Tent Footprint Do?
There is considerable misunderstanding as to what the function of tent footprints actually is. Some individuals think that they aid in the prevention of flooding. Others say they are beneficial for insulation. This isn’t the case, however. The footprints of tents are used for four primary purposes:
- In order to conserve weight, tent manufacturers are now using incredibly thin floor materials, which means that footprints are necessary to protect your tent floor from abrasion. Over time, rocks, twigs, thorns, roots, sand, and other foreign objects can wear a hole in the floor of your tent’s floor. A footprint serves as an additional layer of protection between the floor of your tent and the ground. This helps to extend the life of your tent by reducing the amount of wear on the floor. It is significantly less expensive and simpler to replace a worn-out footprint than it is to patch a hole in your tent floor or to purchase a completely new tent. Keep your tent floor clean by leaving footprints on it. The earth is soiled and unclean. While camping, you may find tree sap, mud, berry juice, insects, and other substances on the bottom of your tent. A tent footprint helps to keep your tent floor clean by preventing it from becoming soiled. As a result, your tent will remain cleaner for a longer period of time. A clean tent will always be more comfortable to use than a filthy one, regardless of the weather. If your other gear brushes up against your tent, it might also assist to keep it cleaner. Tent footprints enable you to pitch your tent’s rainfly before you pitch the inner tent, which is very useful while setting up camp in the rain. Because the rainfly covers the inside of your tent while you are pitching, the inside of your tent remains dry. In order to accomplish this, you will often need to purchase the footprint that is specifically made for your particular tent. Some tents can be set up in this manner, while others cannot. It is determined by the design. Tent footprints can assist you in selecting the best camping spot- How many times have you erected your tent and climbed into it only to discover that you had a root under your back or that you were sleeping on an incline? With a footprint, you can check out your camping spot before setting up your tent. Simply set it up on your selected site and then lie down to put your site selection to the test. This is particularly useful when you’re attempting to cram numerous tents into a small space such as a camping site. You may test the fit of the footprints before erecting the tents by laying them out on the ground first. The footprints of a tent can be used as a tiny tarp or poncho in a pinch. A tent footprint may be a useful piece of equipment that can be used in a variety of situations. For example, if you don’t foresee any rain or mosquitoes, you can cowboy camp on the property. If the ground is damp, you may also use it to sit on or to spread your stuff out to dry on top of it. Some hikers choose to use aponcho tarpas as both their rain gear and tent footprint, rather of carrying both. This is a fantastic method to conserve some valuable packing space in your backpack
Reasons Not To Use a Tent Footprint
Every journey does not necessitate the use of a tent footprint. There are a few of compelling arguments for staying at home and avoiding unnecessary travel. As an illustration:
- Extra weight-Regardless of the style of footprint you pick, it will add a few ounces to the weight of your pack. The minimalist polycyro footprint is about 1-2 ounces in weight (28-56 grams). Tyvek footprints are around 2-5 ounces in weight (55-140 grams). Custom footprints created by tent manufacturers are typically 6-8 ounces in weight (170-225 grams). If you’re an ultralight hiker, you might want to forego a footprint in order to save a few ounces on your pack. Cost-Most tents come with a footprint that they are intended to be used in conjunction with. The majority of tent manufacturers do not offer footprints with their tents. You’ll have to purchase them on your own. These tent-specific footprints typically range in price from $30 to $50. Occasionally, even more. After purchasing a $300-$600 tent, it might be difficult to rationalize investing much more money. Fortunately, there are numerous low-cost options for creating your own carbon footprint. I’ll go through them in more detail later. Excess weight and bulk-A footprint takes up important packing space in your bag. Some tent footprints from different manufacturers may require as much as a couple of liters of water. It’s possible that once you’ve finished trekking with a 40-liter pack, you’ll discover a better use for the extra space
- Your tent’s floor is made of a high-denier, durable material. Denier is a measure of the thickness of fibers used in a piece of cloth. The majority of tent flooring these days are 20-30 denier. For tent floors made of 30 denier or higher material, you can definitely get away without using a footprint and not have to worry about harming your tent floor as much as you would with a footprint. A footprint is advised for tents with 20 denier or lower floors, as well as for tents with lower walls. Some new ultralight tents have flooring as thin as 7 denier, which is a very thin material. You’re camping on soft ground—some terrain is more difficult on tent flooring than others, depending on the terrain. When it comes to soft grassy fields and sandy beaches, you can almost always count on them not causing harm. When it comes to leaving a footprint, you have the option of not doing so. When camping in the woods or the mountains, you must exercise extreme caution to avoid injury. Rocky ground, twigs, and thorns are all potential puncture sources for your tent floor. In these settings, it is preferable to use a footprint
Tent Footprint Materials
Tent footprints may be fashioned out of a variety of different types of materials. The primary differences between the two materials are the weight, cost, durability, and protection that each material provides. I’ll go through each of the most widely used tent footprint materials in further detail below.
PU Coated Nylon or Polyester fabric
These are the materials that the majority of tent footprint manufacturers employ in their production. A layer of polyurethane is applied to a nylon or polyester fabric to produce them. These textiles are low in weight, long-lasting, and resistant to water. They provide a high level of protection for the floor of your tent. The weight of PU coated nylon footprints is normally approximately 1.9 ounces per square yard. One-person tent footprints typically weigh between 6 and 8 ounces (approximately 170-225 grams) in total, depending on the material used.
Footprints that have been manufactured often cost between $30 and $50.
Although this material is intended for use as a house wrap, it is quite popular among backpackers and other outdoor enthusiasts. Tyvek is a synthetic material comprised of polyethylene fibers that is used in a variety of applications. It is lightweight, long-lasting, water-resistant, and reasonably priced. Tyvek weighs around 1.85 ounces per square yard and is made of polyethylene. If you’re setting up a one-person tent, the entire footprint will weigh 2-5 ounces (approximately 55-140 grams).
Tarptent.com sells pre-made Tyvek footprints for $14-$17, which are ideal for camping. If you want to save money, you may get Tyvek by the yard on eBay from a 9-foot roll and easily create your own from scratch. You could manufacture your own for $5-$10 if you wanted to save money.
Window Wrap (Polycryo)
Window wrap is a type of material that is used to insulate the windows of your home during the winter months. Additionally, the material is well-liked by the camping community since it is both extremely lightweight and water-resistant. The primary disadvantage of this substance is that it is not particularly long-lasting. Your window wrap footprint will most likely just endure for one season at the most. The weight of window wrap per square yard is approximately.55 ounces. For a one-person tent, the total weight of your footprint will be 1-2 ounces (about 28-56 grams).
Polycryo is the term that they often use to promote the material.
This is the footprint choice that I like.
If I cut it properly, one packet will yield enough material to build four footprints for my Big Agnes Fly Creek HVUL 1 person tent.
Dyneema (Cuben Fiber)
Dyneema is a polyethylene-based polymer that is both extremely strong and lightweight. This synthetic material is one of the most powerful substances ever created by man. It is said to be 15 times stronger than steel by the maker. In addition, the fabric is extremely robust, with excellent tear and water resistance. A variety of industries, including medical, military, law enforcement, marine, aviation, mining and of course the outdoor gear industry, use Dyneema fibers in their products. Dyneema is lightweight, weighing around 1 ounce per square yard.
However, the one disadvantage of Dyneema is that it is quite pricey.
In the event that you decide to purchase the fabric and create your own footprint, you should expect to pay around $32 per yard.
Polyethylene Tarps (Poly Tarp)
These are the traditional utility tarps that would be used to cover a car that was being stored outside. They are constructed of polyethylene strands that have been firmly weaved together. The tarp that is produced is low-cost, long-lasting, and water-resistant in nature. These tarps are also readily available in many different sizes. You can get a poly tarp from any hardware shop, trim it to size, and you’ll have a usable footprint in no time. This is an excellent footprint option for vehicle campers who aren’t concerned about the weight or size of their equipment.
They are between $5-$10 in price.
My tent was set up on a blue poly sheet that served as a footprint.
How to Make Your Own Tent Footprint
The thought of spending $30-$80 on a tent footprint after spending $300-$600 on a new tent is a difficult pill to take after spending $300-$600 on a new tent.
If you’re on a tight budget, you may create your own tent footprint for a few bucks by following this tutorial. To leave your own mark, follow these steps:
- Prepare to set up your tent. Make an effort to set it up on soft ground where it will not be harmed or contaminated. If you have the room, it’s best to do it inside
- Measure the measurements of the foundation. It’s advisable to take measurements before purchasing the material to ensure that you don’t purchase too much. If your tent tapers or has an unusual form, it may be helpful to design a small template on a sheet of paper
- Otherwise, you may use a regular template. Take 1 inch away from each of the dimensions. It is preferable if your footprint is somewhat smaller than the floor of your tent. If your footprint is larger than the floor of your tent, it can collect water during a rainfall and cause it to pool between your tent and the floor of your tent. During the course of the night, this water seeps into your tent floor, resulting in you becoming drenched. Tent materials are extremely water resistant, but they can still allow water to get through if exposed to enough time and pressure. Purchase the material of your choosing for the tent footprint. In an ideal world, your footprint would be composed of a single piece of material with no seams or joints. Window wrap or polycyro is one of my favorite materials since it is lightweight and inexpensive. Because it is so durable and easy to work with, Tyvek is arguably the most popular DIY footprint material. Make a straight line across the material and mark the dimensions using a pen. Then, cut the material to the desired size. It is possible to simply pitch your tent on top of your footprint to assist you in measuring the measurements
- However, this will take longer and be more difficult.
Depending on how large your tent is, you may need to perform some sewing to complete your footprint. This adds a little extra effort. If you have to sew two sections together, make sure to seam seal the seam afterward to ensure that it is waterproof following the sewing process. You have the option of using a sewing machine or stitching by hand. All of the materials described above, with the exception of polycyro, may be sewn. For a large tent, you can simply tape two strips of polycyro tape together with something like duct tape or gorilla tape to create a polycryo footprint.
How to Repair a Hole in a Tent Floor
In the event that you failed to utilize a footprint and ended up with a hole in your tent’s floor, there is still a chance that it may be repaired or replaced. I propose that you try to fix the hole using Gear Aid Tenacious Tape first to see if it works. This product is durable, simple to use, reasonably priced, and water-resistant. It is intended for use on camping and hiking equipment such as tents, coats, and sleeping bags. Cleaning and drying the area surrounding the rip is all that is required.
There is, in my opinion, absolutely no reason not to utilize a footprint wherever possible. If you don’t have the money or don’t want to deal with the added weight of a manufactured footprint, you can always create one out of polycro or Tyvek for a few dollars instead of purchasing one. Most excursions are worth it to carry an extra 1-4 ounces of gear in order to lengthen the life of your tent. The only possible exception would be a long-distance through-hike of a significant distance. It takes thousands of kilometers to accumulate the weight and time savings associated with not utilizing a footprint.
Please share your thoughts and advice in the comments section below!
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