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What Is A Tent Footprint and Why Do You Need One?

A high-quality tent can make your outdoor experience enjoyable and worthwhile. A durable, waterproof, and cozy tent in your camping gear allows you to have peace of mind whether you camp in a forest, a desert, or a hilly area. It offers a safe shelter in the midst of the wilderness. But what about the rough and abrasive terrains that can cause cuts in the bottom of your tent and make your camping activity less comfortable?

The base of a tent can be subject to tearing or getting punctured when set up on rocky, harsh ground. That makes a tent footprint an essential accessory for not only providing additional protection to your tent but also safeguarding your well-being while you are outdoors.

In this blog, we will discuss why you need a tent footprint in your camping backpack. But let’s first elaborate on the basics of this add-on.

What is a Tent Footprint?

A tent footprint is a piece of waterproof and puncture-resistant fabric that is laid between the tent and the ground. It acts as a barrier that provides additional protection to your tent from the rocky surface, increasing the tent’s lifespan.

Footprints are generally made of sturdy but lightweight fabric, such as cuben fiber, polyethylene, polyester, or Oxford nylon. These are available in different shapes and sizes, allowing you to find one that matches the dimensions of the base of your tent.

How To Use A Tent Footprint?

Using a tent footprint is a simple process, which we are going to elaborate on in the following steps.

  • Place your tent footprint on the ground: Identify the spot to set up your tent and clear it of the twigs and rocks. Lay the tent footprint there. Look for the manufacturer’s label that indicates which side of the footprint must go up.
  • Set up the tent over the tent footprint: Position the tent’s groundsheet so its corners align with those of the footprint, then insert the tent poles into the footprint’s grommets. Some footprints come with additional straps that can help secure the sides of the tent.
  • The footprint should be completely covered: When setting up the tent, make sure that your footprint doesn’t stick out from any side of the tent. Any uncovered side of the footprint allows rainwater and other debris to make its way between the tent and the footprint.

Why Do You Need a Tent Footprint?

You need a tent footprint because it protects the underside of your tent from moisture and abrasion, extending its longevity and keeping its interior drier.

The top reasons that warrant purchasing a tent footprint are as follows.

1. It Prolongs Your Tent’s Lifespan.

Tents have to be set up on different types of terrains that may have an abundance of twigs and loose stones. This can cause cuts or abrasions on the tent base. With a tent footprint, you can prevent erosion on the bottom of the tent, extending its lifespan by many years. This is similar to using a phone cover. No matter how carefully you handle your phone, it will inevitably get surface scratches if you don’t use a cover.

2. It Adds Warmth.

The additional layer between the tent’s bottom and the ground helps create an extra bit of warmth inside the tent. A tent footprint reduces heat loss to the ground, potentially making your outdoor experience more comfortable. It also provides additional cushioning to the tent flooring, making the tent’s inner environment cozier.

3. It Makes Your Tent Waterproof.

An extra layer at the bottom makes your tent a bit more waterproof, giving you peace of mind and protecting your tent against water damage. A tent is a costly investment, so you want it to remain in the best possible condition for as long as possible. A tent footprint can help you achieve just that.

4. It Is Easy To Attach.

A footprint is undoubtedly an additional step when setting up a tent. However, it’s easier than you think. Almost every footprint comes with grommets that allow it to be fastened with the tent’s poles. This allows the footprint to be auto-adjusted whenever the tent is repositioned.

5. It Is Easier To Pack.

A tent footprint is lightweight and easy to pack, not only when preparing the camping gear but also when you have to abruptly pack down everything while camping due to rain or storm. The special fabric used in the making of the tent footprint is designed to be easy to clean and quick to dry. All you have to do is flap the footprint a few times, and it’s good to pack away.

6. You Can Easily Find A Footprint That Suits Your Tent.

Most footprints available on the market are made to suit specific tent models. It is worth mentioning that a footprint is always smaller than the tent model it is made for. This is to prevent water from collecting between the tent’s groundsheet and the footprint. You can easily find a suitable footprint that matches your tent’s measurements.

What to Consider When Choosing a Footprint?

Footprints are a worthy investment only when you choose the right one. Certain factors must be considered to ensure you pick the best tent footprint, such as:

  • Footprint size: Size is the primary factor to consider when choosing a footprint. So when purchasing a footprint, keep the dimensions of your tent’s groundsheet in mind. An ideal footprint is generally 1-2 inches smaller than the tent’s groundsheet.
  • Durability: The whole point of buying a footprint is to keep the groundsheet safe from damage and moisture. Therefore, you want to buy a footprint that holds out against everything that has the potential to damage the bottom of your tent.
  • Water resistance: Every footprint is designed to keep moisture away from the groundsheet, but some footprints are more water-resistant than others. The water resistance of a footprint can be measured by its Hydrostatic Head rating. This rating indicates how long your footprint will keep water from getting in. The higher the rating, the more waterproof the footprint.
  • Cost: The price of a footprint depends on the material used in its making. It also depends on the material’s water resistance. Be sure to browse through different stores and compare prices to get a better idea of the cost of the footprint you want to buy.

In Summary

If you are heading to a campsite with harsh, rocky, or moist terrain, a tent footprint can be a valuable addition to your camping gear. It helps prolong your tent’s lifespan and gives you peace of mind. However, you must choose the footprint that offers the required level of protection for your tent. It may cost a few extra bucks, but you will appreciate the decision in the long run.