A tent is the first thing that comes to your mind when you think of camping and it is a gear that ought to last for a long time and that is if it is given a proper care.
taking care of your tent is not something that is laborious, just keep it out of direct sunlight don’t store in a dump place, and use a footprint. which brings us to the question
what is a tent footprint?
A tent footprint also called ground cloth is a lightweight sheet usually made from polyester or polythene that is placed under a tent to protect its floor from twigs, rocks, or any other thing that may cause abrasion. A tent footprint might also provide a slight thermal insulation in some cases.
So buying a tent footprint is like buying a $20 phone cover to save a $1000 phone, or in this case buying a $20 footprint to save your expensive sleeping pad
How to make your own tent footprint(DIY)
Step 1- To start with you need a tarp a plastic or even a tablecloth and plastic can work, but I would prefer a tarp. if you don’t have one in your house you can buy it from a hardware store.
Step 2- Start by measuring your tent’s floor. if you have a square tent measure 1 of the side and you know the others, if you have a rectangular tent just measure two sides.
After you get the measurements deduct 0.5-1 inch from all sides. Why? because you want your tent footprint smaller than your tent to avoid pooling of water if it rains.
Step 3- Get a scissor and cut it accordingly and you are done.
Step 4 (optional)- Buy grommets from a hardware store or get these from amazon and place them in the four ends.
Final step(optional)- If you want your tent footprint to be waterproof you can use a water repellent spray, like this spray on Amazon.
Does your groundsheet go under or inside your tent?
So do you really need a tent footprint?
So is a tent footprint worth it? I mean when you have invested big cash to get a premium tent the last thing you want is for it to get damaged! so taking care of your tent is a crucial thing to prolong its life.
I am not saying it is a must that you get a tent footprint I mean it is not worth getting a $30 footprint for an $80 tent not that you cant but it is not worth the money.
And not all tents need a tent footprint, some tents are stronger than others.
Most family tents are made from thick ripstop polyester which means they have more resistance than backpacking/1person/2person tents which are made from a very thin material that can get damaged easily.
Not many people use tent footprint though, not that tent footprints don’t have benefits but people tend to overlook them and think it is something you get if you have extra money to spend or if you have an extra room to put it in but I would say tent footprint is a priority especially for someone who owns an expensive tent.
When and where is a tent footprint not worth it?
The one place I would say tent footprint is not necessary is if you are beach camping, I mean if the ground is sand it won’t damage the tent floor in the first place so I don’t see the benefit of using a footprint on a beach camping unless you intent is waterproofing.
The one time I wouldn’t take a tent footprint is when I am hiking/backpacking, I want to reduce every ounce of weight from my back. In that kind of time, I don’t see the value of adding extra weight so I might take a plastic sheet, that way I can still protect my tent, and I don’t add extra weight.
If you don’t want to buy a tent footprint the easy thing you can do is clean the area before you pitch your tent, I mean you wouldn’t need a tent footprint if the ground you are pitching your tent on clean grass. So take some time and remove every bit of thing that could cause harm to your tent floor and you are good to go.
What benefits you can get from a tent footprint?
Increased lifetime of your tent and sleeping pad– If you use your tent often, the floor will start to getting damaged and will wear out over time, if you don’t do something about it, holes will appear on the floor. But with a tent footprint, it is not the tent that gets damaged it will be the footprint itself. even if you don’t use a sleeping pad, tent footprints can protect your sleeping bag
Waterproofing– Most tents are waterproof when brand new, but over time tossing and turning during the night and walking on it grinds the fabric to the ground and wear the waterproof layer of the tent as a result water might start leaking in. but if there I another smooth waterproof layer between the tent and the ground there won’t we any friction which mean your tents waterproof layer will last longer.
Insulation– Tent footprints are very thin which means they don’t give that much insulation, but depending on the material it is made of it can have some insulating effects. Especially if your campground is dumpy or wet, the ground can suck the heat from your tent, but if you have a footprint it will act as a barrier at least a little bit.
Added comfort– This is the basic use of your footprint, it is not comfortable to sit on the ground directly but if you have some kind of sheet on the ground it will add some comfort but footprints are not thick so don’t expect a lot.
How big and how thick should your footprint be
This is a very tricky question because it depends on you. but there are some things that are obvious like, The ideal size of a tent footprint is 0.5 to 1 inch smaller than the tent, the reason it is made smaller than the tent is to prevent pooling of water between tent and groundsheet during rain.
What if the footprint is bigger? when there is heavy rainfall water will get trapped under your tent, as a result it will feel like you are stomping on a water when you are moving in your tent.
How do you know the size of the footprint when buying from online stores? so they have their size written, most of the time, like “8feet by 10feet” or the number of the person ” 1perosn” or “4person”. but the problem is not all 1 person tents have the same size so make sure you check the real measurements.
Or as I have said just buy a bigger footprint and you can cut it according to the size of the tent and you can reinstall the grommets.
The thickness is completely your choice, what you have to know is that the thicker the tent footprint the heavier it becomes, but on the other side the thicker your footprint is it will last longer and it will give your tent more protection.
How much does it cost you to get a tent footprint
On average a tent footprint costs anything from $10 to $50 depending on the size and the material it is made from.
Most companies that sell tents provide tent footprints as well, so you have many brands to choose from, just make sure you get something that is good quality and also avoid anything that is too expensive I mean it is still a tent footprint😀.
If you ask me which tent footprint I recommend, there are 100s of footprints to choose from, so just check amazon best sellers and choose one that fits your tent
Tip: put your tent’s name + footprint on google and you can find the exact tent footprint that is made for your tent. i.e Coleman 2-Person Pop-Up Tent’s footprint.
if you checked amazon or other sellers they refer the groundsheet as tarps. I mean there is a slight difference between a tarp and a tent footprint
what is the difference between a tarp and a tent footprint
A tarp is a heavy-duty strong flexible sheet that has grommets at four sides. It is mostly used to cover your tent from the sun, rain and even snow, on the other side footprint is a very lightweight friction-resistant sheet you put under your tent.
Tarps have a fabric that has similarities with a trampoline it is flexible and it is very strong. And so you can use it to cover your tent and some other goods and it can act as the sun, you can sit in the shade and enjoy your time.
Tarps also protect you from snow if you are camping in snowy season snow might pile on your tent it might be dangerous but if you have a tarp to cover it, it will take care of it.
Can you use a tarp as a tent footprint? yes you can, if you use a footprint as a tarp, it won’t give you the protection tarp would give you, but if you use a tarp like a tent footprint it would be great because it is thick and will give your tent enough protection.