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What Is A Tent Footprint?

What Is a Tent Footprint

A tent footprint is not simply a ‘footprint’ left by your tent in the ground after camping overnight, which might come as a surprise to some people!

But, it is a piece of camping equipment that can be incredibly useful, yet is sometimes overlooked and misused.

It can increase the lifespan of your tent, it can keep you safe and comfortable overnight, and it can prevent any water buildup from soaking up through the floor.

The options are also pretty lightweight, budget-friendly, and easy to set up.

This article looks at a tent footprint in closer detail, to what it is and why you should bring one next time you go camping.

A Tent Footprint

A tent footprint is also known as a groundsheet and it is a piece of material that is placed between the bottom of your tent and the ground.

The sheets add another layer of comfort, protection and can act as another waterproof for your tent. 

You can buy a tent footprint designed for your tent from your tent manufacturer and this will make sure it fits the shape of your installation perfectly. It also means it will look great and will match the color of your tent too.

However, you could also opt for a universal tent footprint and this is designed to be used under any kind of tent. Find one that matches the size of your tent and you’re usually good to go!

This is also a budget-friendly way of protecting your tent as you can take it with you every time you update your tent model. Just ensure you are buying a tent of the same size.

You can also make a homemade tent footprint with a tarp or any other kind of plastic sheeting. This is often the most lightweight option and affordable option. 

Benefits Of A Tent Footprint

The chances are, if you’re camping, you’re going to need a tent footprint, unless you never camp in the rain or always camp on perfectly smooth surfaces. Tent footprints can help in a variety of ways including:

It Increases The Lifespan Of Your Tent- The main use of a footprint is to protect the floor as the floor of your tent is subject to a lot of abuse, from camping on rocky ground to tossing and turning on the terrain as you sleep.

This can damage the fabric and if not protected, the tent floor will deteriorate a lot quicker than the rest of the tent.

It’s much more budget-friendly to buy a tent footprint than a new tent as you can easily replace these at a much more affordable price than a new tent.

It Keeps You Warm And More Comfortable As You Sleep- A groundsheet can provide an extra layer of insulation and cushion between you and between cold ground. This makes it a lot more comfortable to sleep in your tent at night.

Using A Footprint Keeps The Inside Of Your Tent Drier- If you use a groundsheet, this helps to keep water, ice, and dew from attaching to the bottom of your tent. This means you’ll be dry all through the night.

Footprints Make It Easier To Set Up And Take Down Your Tent- Once you have spread out your footprint, you will be able to see where your tent will be pitched.

You can then remove any unwanted objects from the area so you won’t get anything digging into your back as you sleep. It also means your tent will be less muddy when it comes to packing away.

DIY Tent Footprint

Making a tent footprint yourself is a great way to protect your tent and keep it budget-friendly. You will need tent footprint material, scissors, and a sharpie marker.

  1. Source your material at the hardware store or buy it online. You need to ensure it is larger than the dimensions of the floor of your tent. For example, a one-person tent might be 7 feet long by 3 feet wide and these measurements would increase for how many people you can fit in the tent.
  2. Lay down the tarp on the ground before setting your tent up on top of it.
  3. Using a sharpie marker, trace the floor of your tent. If the tent’s floor is rounded, keep it as flush as possible with the ground to get an accurate border. Avoid getting any sharpie on the actual tent.
  4. Cut across about 2 inches inside the border of the traced line. You should make your tent footprint slightly smaller than the floor of your tent. If you don’t, you would find it captures the rain runoff and this would pool underneath.

Does A Tent Footprint Prevent Holes In The Tent Floor?

A tent footprint can not make your tent impenetrable to any sharp object. However, it will stop any rips that develop from wear and tear.

If you end up setting your tent on top of cacti, sharp rocks, or sticks, you still might end up with a puncture on your tent floor. A ground cover will not prevent these holes. 

To avoid holes, you should check the whole area before setting up your tent. You should move sharp rocks and branches out of the way and look at any plants you might pitch on top of.

Moreover, most people move in their sleep and this means your sleeping bag will rub against the bottom of the tent.

The rubbing will create fiction on both the inside and outside of the floor and this consistent tension will weaken the fabric, causing it to eventually rip.

A tent footprint, however, slows this tent erosion down. Instead of brushing on rocks, twigs, or plants, it brushes against a smooth surface and this means you will not have to worry about replacing or repairing your tent too soon.

Final Thoughts

We hope after reading this article you now know what a tent footprint is and how it can benefit you whilst camping.

The main use of a tent footprint is that it prolongs your tent life, so if you want a way of increasing how many nights under the stars you can have before replacing your tent, we recommend you either invest in a tent footprint or DIY it.

We promise it will not only increase the lifespan of your tent but also keep you warm and dry and make camping a whole lot comfier!

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