The three items that every camper is likely to require on a camping trip are tents, sleeping bags, and backpacks. However, necessary camping equipment goes much further than that. For example, you can use a sleeping pad for better ground insulation, a water-resistant rain fly to shield your shelter from heavy rain, or portable wood stoves for more comfortable winter camping.
A tent footprint is another piece of equipment you might want to bring to the campsite. Continue reading to learn more about tent footprints and when you might need them.
What is a footprint For A Tent?
A tent footprint is essentially a waterproof ground cloth that sits between the bottom of your tent and the ground. The fabric used to make tent footprints is typically strong but relatively light-weight, like polyethylene, cuben fiber, oxford nylon, or polyester.
They come in a range of sizes and shapes, so you can find the ideal match for your tent. The first thing you must arrange when setting up your wildlife shelter is a tent footprint, which can be nailed down in the corners. Ground sheets are an optional piece of equipment because the majority of tents do not include tent footprints.
Do you really need a footprint For A Tent?
If you want to increase the lifespan of your tent, you must first get a tent footprint. Since footprints typically don’t cost much, replacing them when they become worn out is simple. Many tents don’t require footprints, but keep in mind that backpacking tents do because they’re made of thinner materials and are more likely to suffer damage.
Additionally, it’s a great idea to heed the advice of tent manufacturers and to see if they sell a footprint designed especially for your tent. If they do, then you should get it.
Why should you consider buying a footprint For A Tent?
They’re good for your tent
Few campgrounds are as level or lawn-like as we would like. While the majority of us are content to accept the occasional root, rock, or twig under our sleeping area as a normal part of camping, every time we shift our weight onto one of these, we run the risk of damaging the groundsheet of our tent. The main advantage of a tent footprint is that it adds a layer of protection between your tent and the ground, which is necessary in rough terrain even for the best tents. It will be much less expensive to repair your footprint than your tent if it does happen to get torn or punctured by something on its underside.
They double down on waterproofing
With the exception of rips or abrasions in the walls, the area where your tent is most likely to leak is its underside. This is due to the fact that the weight of the people using the tent and their equipment causes more water pressure to be applied to the fabric when it is wet.
Despite the fact that the majority of groundsheets are more waterproof than tent walls, in particular in wet conditions, it simply isn’t enough to stop water from seeping through the floor. In these situations, a tent footprint is priceless because it offers an additional layer of waterproofing that will keep you and your camping companions dry no matter how slick the ground may be.
They boost insulation
Even the most effective pads for sleeping have their limitations. By adding a second layer of insulation between your body and the chilly ground, a footprint will help reduce the amount of conduction heat loss and, in some cases, eliminate the need for an expensive sleeping pad altogether.
They keep your tent clean
It’s never particularly enjoyable to decamp at the end of a trip when it’s raining. No matter how diligently we clean our groundsheet before packing, there is a good chance that it will have soaked and contaminated the rest of the tent by the time we get home, necessitating a time-consuming and labor-intensive cleaning task after the trip. But you can avoid all that trouble by using a tent footprint as a “first line of defense” to keep the rest of your tent clean. The majority of footprints also include a stuff sack that you can use to keep them separate from the rest of your gear in your backpack. This feature is useful if you’re only going camping for one night, and even more so if you’re going on a multi-day trip.
They cost very little
Although many tent manufacturers create their own, unique tent footprints to fit the majority of models in their line, the cost is frequently a little deterring. The good news is that DIY footprints cost little more than a six-pack of beer, are incredibly simple to make, and can be tailored to fit tents of all shapes and sizes.All you need to do to create a DIY tent footprint is purchase a sheet of waterproof tarpaulin, cut it to size, and purchase a stuff sack to store it in. This will give you a “bespoke” tent footprint that will perform the task you need it to do just as well as branded models. (More on this later)
Tent footprints help to pick the right spot
If your tent footprint is the proper size, it can help determine whether or not your tent will fit in a given location. Spread your tent footprint across the area to get a much better estimate.
You can use them in multiple ways
Tent footprints can be used for more than just protecting your tent’s floor. Your footprint, for instance, can be used as a picnic blanket, a station for organizing gear, a rain tarp, additional protection from the wind, and more.
Things To Consider Before You Buy a Tent Footprint
The term “denier” refers to the thread weight used to weave fabrics; the higher the denier, the thicker the fabric. If your tent is made of a low denier fabric, you should strongly consider getting (or making) a footprint to increase the longevity of your tent floor. For tents with a floor of 30 denier or more, we typically omit the footprint, but this is a matter of preference.
If you do most of your camping and backpacking on soft sand or in verdant grassy areas, you probably don’t need a footprint. However, mountainous regions and heavily forested areas frequently have roots, sticks, and rocks everywhere, which over time can erode the fabric of your tent. Your floor may only need a single perfectly placed pebble or twig to develop a hole.
Footprints can significantly add to the overall weight of your shelter system because they typically have a higher denier fabric than the floor of your tent. In this case, adding the manufacturer’s footprint to your tent will increase its weight by about 15-20%. A branded footprint is probably not worthwhile for you to carry if you’re an ultralight backpacker looking to save weight wherever you can. More information on how to make your own lightweight groundsheet is provided below. You can use Tyvek or Polycryo for this.
It costs several hundred dollars to buy a good lightweight tent, and footprints are rarely included. In addition to the price of the tent, footprints typically cost between $40 and $80, which can be difficult to justify. Although it costs much less to make your own groundsheet (more on that below), it typically won’t last as long as the manufacturer’s footprint.
How big should a tent footprint be?
It may seem odd, but it works best when the footprint of your tent is up to 2 inches smaller than its overall shape. The problem is that in the event of rain, water may collect between the footprint and the floor of your tent if your groundsheet is larger than or extends past the tent edge.
Is it possible to make your own tent footprint?
Making your own footprint is a practical substitute for buying one. Even though it takes some work, it always results in lower costs. The choice of material, which can be made at any hardware store, is the most crucial step. The most typical materials are:
Tarp is durable and waterproof enough to withstand any abuse Mother Nature can dish out. In addition, it is reasonably priced. The drawback of using a tarp is that it will be heavier to carry than other options.
Contrary to popular belief, polycro and polyethylene are not the same material. The lightest of all ultra-light plastics is polycro which is a clear plastic. This material’s high strength to weight ratio is one of its most remarkable qualities. Polycro is waterproof and puncture-resistant despite being relatively thin. The best option for an extremely light backpacking trip is this one. The only drawback to polycro is its comparatively high cost.
The most popular house wrap material for creating DIY footprints is Tyvek. Typically, a building under construction is wrapped in Tyvek house wrap to protect it from the elements. Although Tyvek is more bulky than Polycro, it is still strong, lightweight, and inexpensive, making it better suited for car camping.
How to properly use a tent footprint
Using a tent footprint is simple; just follow a few easy steps, and your shelter will be double protected.
- Take out the tent footprint.
- Remove big rocks, sticks, or other objects that might prevent your footprint from lying flat if you are camping in a rocky area.
- Place the tent’s footprint on the ground.
- On top of the footprint, lift up your tent.
- Connect your groundsheet to the tent if it has buckles, clips, or loops.
Before storing your footprint, don’t forget to thoroughly clean it of mud and sand and make sure it’s dry.
When isn’t a tent footprint worth buying/making?
The main drawback of using a footprint is the added weight involved. Even though the majority of tent footprints weigh less than 1 pound, those who favor ultralight backpacking may find this additional weight to be excessive.