What is a “Tent Footprint” Used For? (Do you Know?)

What Is A Tent Footprint

Did you just buy an expensive new tent and want to keep it nice and clean for as long as possible? Then you might consider getting a tent footprint for it. Even if your new tent has a waterproof floor, there are reasons for investing in a groundsheet for it.

What Is A Tent Footprint?

What Is A Tent Footprint Used For

Despite its fancy name, a tent footprint is simply a protective material you put under the tent to protect it from getting wet or punctured by the ground. No matter how much you try to carefully choose the ground where you will pitch your tent, chances are it will get some abrasions from tiny rocks, twigs, sand, or grit from the patch of land it is standing on.

Some products might have a thicker tent floor and a better waterproof rating, which means they are more durable than other models out there. This does not mean that you cannot benefit from buying a sheet to protect it. Just imagine if a sharp twig creates a hole, then you can say goodbye to your waterproof tent. You can expect water to seep in, along with sand and mud.

Tent footprints are usually tailored to the dimensions of your tent. If it is too big, then rain will collect and create puddles along the edges. If you end up with material too big for your tent, you can easily tuck in the edges so rainwater will simply get soaked by the soil surrounding it.

Benefits of A Tent Footprint

Benefits of A Tent Footprint

In terms of use, a tent footprint is pretty straightforward. It is simply a layer of material that goes under the tent. Despite its basic purpose, it does bring a couple of advantages, making it a truly worthwhile purchase.

Protect Your Tent From Getting Too Wet or Getting Damaged

As mentioned above, the main purpose of this sheet is to keep the tent dry and clean. They may also be used, however, to supplement a cheaper tent when the denier count (which refers to how thick the threads are) of the tent is lower. This means the chances are higher that it gets damaged or ripped by small pieces of rock.

If the tent you purchased has a low denier footprint and waterproof rating, then a tent footprint is a top addition to extend the life of your home away from home.

Make It Easy To Pitch

If your tent footprint is just the same size as your tent, then it has the added benefit of making it easy for you to pitch your tent. All you need to do is to lay it on the ground and you will know where to peg the tent. Not only does this save you time, but this step can be difficult at times as well.

Make Your Tent Warmer

Not only is the ground wet, but it can be cold as well. When you add an extra layer between you and the ground, you end up losing more body heat while sleeping and you also reduce the cold air that is coming into your tent.

Make It Easier To Fold The Tent Away

Other people use a tent footprint for the practical use of making it easy to pack up. A wet and muddy tent cannot be easily folded up or needs to be dried at home. With a tent footprint, this step can be easily avoided.

Prolong The Life Of Your Tent

As mentioned above, a tent footprint will keep your tent from getting punctured, torn, or otherwise compromised by the small stones on the ground where you pitch the tent. If you do not have a very thick or waterproof tent, to begin with, then you can make up for it by simply investing in a tent footprint.

How Much Does A Tent Footprint Cost?

How Much Does A Tent Footprint Cost

There are many sites out there that show you how to create your own tent footprint, but buying one is also a good option. This is because buying from the same manufacturer as your tent means the tent footprint is already the right size, saving you the time of measuring and cutting it.

Plus, you can be sure of the good quality of material. Tent footprints are made mostly of polyethylene, though some are made of lighter material like oxford or lower denier polyester material. Because of this, you can only expect to shell out below $50 in general, although some brands might be a few dollars over that. Considering its uses and benefits, it is a fair amount of money to protect an investment like a good-quality tent.

Do-it-yourself (DIY) alternatives use ordinary lightweight plastic sheets, like a tarp sheet or other materials used for painting or construction. Even the shrink plastic used to seal doors and windows during the cold months can be used for this purpose.

They might be lighter compared to the tent footprints sold by manufacturers, but again, you will have to do the work of making sure it is just the right size so it does not actually let more water in when your tent is pitched in. They might also not have the guarantee of being strong and durable enough to resist wear-and-tear and other damage.

Should You Buy A Tent Footprint?

Should You Buy A Tent Footprint

So far the only disadvantages of a tent footprint are the additional cost, weight, and work of laying it down. The weight, especially, is a common complaint because they may even be heavier and bulkier than the tent itself.

These are real concerns if you have to carry the gear far from the car to the campsite. But if your car is just close by, then taking the additional step of carrying it and preparing it is more advantageous than not.


Do you need a tent footprint?

While a tent footprint is not strictly necessary, it can help to extend the life of your tent by protecting the floor from abrasion and moisture. If you have an ultralight tent with a low denier floor, it may be worth investing in a footprint to protect the floor from damage. Additionally, if you are camping in an area with rough or rocky terrain, a footprint can provide an extra layer of protection for your tent.

Do you peg a tent footprint?

While it is not strictly necessary to peg a tent footprint, it is generally recommended to do so. A tent footprint is a piece of fabric that is placed underneath a tent to protect the tent floor from wear and tear, moisture, and dirt. By pegging the corners of the footprint, you can help to keep it in place and prevent it from shifting or bunching up under the tent.
Pegging a tent footprint can also help to prevent water from pooling between the tent and the footprint, which can cause moisture to seep into the tent. By securing the corners of the footprint with tent stakes, you can create a slight slope that allows water to run off and away from the tent.
Overall, while it is possible to use a tent footprint without pegging it down, pegging the corners of the footprint can help to improve its effectiveness and protect your tent from moisture and wear and tear.

how does a tent footprint work?

When you pitch a tent, the tent floor comes into direct contact with the ground. This can cause the tent floor to become dirty, wet, or damaged over time, especially if you are camping on rough or rocky terrain. By placing a tent footprint underneath the tent, you create a barrier between the tent floor and the ground, which helps to prevent damage from rocks, roots, and other sharp objects.
In addition to protecting the tent floor from wear and tear, a tent footprint can also help to keep the tent floor dry. By preventing moisture from seeping up through the ground and into the tent, a footprint can help to reduce condensation and dampness inside the tent. This can help to keep you and your gear dry and comfortable during your camping trip.
Overall, a tent footprint works by providing an extra layer of protection and insulation between the tent floor and the ground. By using a footprint, you can help to extend the life of your tent and improve your overall camping experience.

what is a tent footprint

Final Words

Is a tent footprint worth it? Yes, it is. When you are out roughing it, you can expect wear-and-tear and water damage to your tent, so protecting it is always worthwhile. What’s more, it keeps you warm and dry when you are away from home.

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I manage the Publishing side of things here and specifically responsible for Travel Section as an Editor. Through this section, I intend to provide all the tiny little nuggets that I managed to capture in my experience of travelling to countless countries. I have been featured on Timesticking, Yahoo Finance, Bestlifeonline, Finance at USnews, CreditIgniter and numerous publications. To sum it up: I am a Thinker. Beer evangelist. Certified organizer. Typical tv practitioner. Vegan fanatic. Introvert and an Extreme travel nerd.
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