February 28, 2022

Is a Tent Footprint Worth it and What is a Tent Footprint?

by Roger

Let’s be honest; tents are costly. It would be best if your tent were to serve you a long time. All the same, spending extra funds on a product you purchased with hundreds of dollars does not make sense.

When it’s time to determine whether or not you should make or buy a footprint, it’s crucial to weigh in factors like your tent’s fabric, where you like backpacking, and how essential it is for you to have a lightweight tent. 

So, is a Tent Footprint Worth it? 

Is a tent footprint worth it? Yes and no. While this might not be the answer you’re looking for, continue reading to understand it better. 


Table of Contents

What is a Tent Footprint?

By shielding the floor of your tent from moisture and abrasion, a tent footprint comes in handy in prolonging your tent’s lifespan and keeping the interior dry. Usually, tent footprints match the exact shape of your tent, thus reducing the material needed for complete coverage. 

Besides, it sports corner fittings to clip it firmly to the tent frame, provided it is adequately installed beneath the tent. Depending on the fabric and size, footprints for a backpacking tent for two people weigh approximately less than 10 ounces and costs between 30 and 60 dollars. 

When is a Tent Footprint Worth it?

A footprint comes in handy for a handful of reasons.

Generally, a footprint is most suitable if you’re going camping on a rough or rocky route, where there’s a high risk of running into rough edges and sharp points. Terrain with a lot of laid down timber and the risk of sharp branches could also be an issue, which is where a tent footprint comes in handy. 

If you love backpacking or camping and would prefer to have your tent serve you for years on end, then you should seriously consider purchasing a tent footprint. What’s more, if you like to go car camping and do not mind carrying a bit of extra weight with the tent, having a tent footprint will be beneficial. 

Related Article: All Different Camping Types of Tents Explained

When is a Tent Footprint Not Worth it?

As mentioned above, not everyone needs a tent footprint, and here’s why.

At times, you might not want to carry extra bulk and weight when camping. Avoiding a tent footprint is the most effortless way to reduce weight during your adventure. When you’re not going to camp on rough terrain, you won’t need the additional weight that comes with a footprint. 

While the footprints ensure longevity for your tent, not carrying them doesn’t translate to it being ruined. You might experience one or two marginal tears and a bit of moisture inside the tent, though this is something you can easily handle. Besides, the small tears can be repaired with tenacious tape. 

Related Article: Titanium vs. Aluminum Tent Stakes: Which Pins Tents Better?

When Should You Buy a Tent Footprint?

In the event that you feel you require a tent footprint, it would be best if you purchased it when buying the tent. Even though you might not need to use it every time you go camping or backpacking, it will come in handy a few times. 

This is because tents are usually in demand, and manufacturers are continuously tweaking and making changes; in the designs and dimensions of the new versions and the compatible footprints. The chances of finding the specific footprint for your old tent rapidly reduce with time. 

What is a Tent Footprint Used for?

A tent footprint has multiple uses, including the uses listed below.

Protecting the tent from wear

When camping, at times, you have to pitch your tent in rough terrain with sharp twigs, rocks, and roots, which pose a risk of tearing the floor of your tent.

This is where footprints come in handy; they shield the tent from these risks by offering an additional layer between the ground and your tent. 

Furthermore, if your footprint gets punctured or torn, it’s more affordable to replace or repair it than the tent. 

Waterproofing your tent 

This one is obvious; the more the layering, the more you shield the interior from the rain. Again, a footprint will hinder the moisture and mud and shield your tent against mildew and mold. Read how you can extra waterproof your tent.

Ease when cleaning 

When you install a tent footprint, it is much easier to clean the tent. A footprint is basically the first line of defense to keep the tent clean. Moreover, it usually comes with a sack which facilitates the separation of a dirty footprint from other gear. 

Adding insulation 

The footprint beneath the tent establishes an extra layer that aids in reducing heat loss, so if you love having a goodnight’s sleep when camping, you will appreciate the role a footprint plays in making that happen. 

Related Article: Bank Line Cord Main Uses

How to Use a Tent Footprint?

It is relatively easy to use a tent footprint. You simply need to lay it out on your preferred camping location, pitch the tent on it, and then place the additional fabric beneath the floor of the tent to hinder any condensation or moisture pooling on the footprint “fringe,” and you’re done. 

What are Tent Footprints Made Of?

Typically, tent materials are designed using different materials. However, this results in durability, cost, weight, and protection variances, depending on the material you pick. Here we’ll briefly review the most popularly utilized material to make tent footprints.

Polyester or PU-coated material

Most tent footprints are made with these fabrics. They are created by coating a polyester or nylon material with polyurethane. They tend to be water-resistant, durable, and lightweight. Also, they provide decent protection for the tent floor. 

Footprints made from PU-treated nylon usually weigh about 1.9 lbs per Sq. yard. The entire footprint weighs not more than 9 ounces for a tent accommodating one person.

This fabric is light though most factory-made footprints feature the stuff sack, grommets, and straps, which increase weight. They go for about 30 to 50 dollars. On the other hand, you can purchase the fabric and create PU-treated nylon tent footprints for not more than $20. 

Window Warp 

This fabric explicitly works to add insulation to the tent windows in Winter. It is as well common among backpackers as it is remarkably lightweight and water-resistant. All the same, this material has one shortcoming; it probably won’t last for more than one season. 

That being said, the window warp weighs approximately 0.55 lbs per Sq. yard. So, the entire footprint will weigh 2 ounces for a tent that accommodates one person. Besides, you can purchase pre-designed window warp footprints from various manufacturers. 

This material is commonly referred to as Polycro. Although, if you’re on a budget, it would be cheaper to purchase several window warps and make the footprint yourself. Some brands offer a sizeable one-packet window warp, enough to make four footprints, which will serve you for four seasons effectively. 

Tyvek Home warp 

Tyvek material is purposed for utilization as a house warp, though it’s unbelievably common in the camping community. It is a synthetic fabric designed from Polyethylene fibers. It is water-resistant, durable, affordable, and lightweight. 

This fabric weighs about 1.8 ounces per Sq. Yard, so the entire footprint will weigh less than 5 ounces for a tent holding one person. As with the other fabrics, you can purchase a pre-designed Tyvek footprint or go for the cheaper opportunity and buy Tyvek fabric and create your tent footprint. This way, you will save some cash and learn something in the process. 

Cuben Fiber/Dyneema 

This is a highly robust and light fabric designed from polythene. It is a synthetic fabric and is one of the strongest materials on earth. The manufacturer maintains that it is 15 times tougher than steel. Besides, Dyneema is impressively sturdy and is water and tear-resistant. 

It is used for different industries like outdoor gear, medical, mining, military, aviation, maritime and policing. Again, it weighs 1 ounce per sq. yard; therefore, it will weigh less than 4 ounces for a tent that can hold one person. 

Nonetheless, the downside of using Dyneema fabric is extremely costly. One footprint made of this fabric will cost about 100 to 200 dollars. However, if you want to purchase it and design your tent footprint, you will spend around 32 dollars per yard. 

Poly Tarp/Polythene Tarps 

Poly tarps are standard utility tarps versatile enough to cover your car when it’s indoors and make a tent footprint. They’re designed from securely interlaced polyethylene fibers. The final product is an affordable, water-resistant, and durable material. Fortunately, this fabric is widely available. 

It can be found at your local hardware, and you can cut it and create a suitable tent footprint. It’s an excellent footprint material choice, particularly for car campers who don’t mind carrying additional weight during their adventure.

A 6 by 8 ft polyethylene tarp weighs about 10 ounces and costs 5 to 10 dollars. Again, most have grommets; thus, you can comfortably pitch them. Learn more if you can use a tarp as a tent footprint?

DIY Tent Footprints 

Regardless of being somewhat essential, footprints are simple items to create and use. They’re basically a sheet beneath the tent, and if you feel like spending more than $50 for one is too much, you can always make yours. 

There are several alternatives to the store-bought tent footprints, and they’ll function better, offer more versatility, and are more affordable. Tyvek and polycro are inexpensive and lightweight options to use.

However, if you don’t mind spending a few extra dollars, you can use the Dyneema fabric. It is impressively robust, tear, and water-resistant. 

How Big Should a Tent Footprint be?

Ideally, a tent footprint should be smaller than the base of your tent by 2 inches. This means that when it rains during your adventure, you won’t have to stress about water getting inside your tent and wetting the floor. 

Again, to avoid the hassle, confirm with your tent manufacturer to see if they also have footprints for your model. Most manufacturers sell tent footprints, though they are somewhat expensive.

Even though you might prefer to make your tent footprint, one specifically designed for your tent sounds convenient since you won’t have to worry about fitting. All the same, if you’re on a budget, you can make it at home. 

Meanwhile, if you purchase a universal tent footprint that’s larger than your tent, don’t trim it to fit the size of your tent floor. The edges are durably sewed for longevity, and you might ruin it when trimming. Alternatively, tuck the edges beneath till the footprint matches your tent floor’s size. 

Do You Really Need a Tent Footprint when Backpacking?

Not really. 

It is not necessary to carry your tent footprint when backpacking. On the other hand, a footprint will extend your tent’s lifespan and hinder cold and moisture from accessing the tent’s interior.

Similarly, a tent footprint is relatively lightweight. When camping or backpacking, footprints can come in handy in numerous ways, as they could act as a place to sort your gear, rain tarp, picnic blanket, or wind protection. 

What’s the Best DIY Tent Footprint?

Polycro and Tyvek are the most lightweight and affordable options for DIY tent footprints. Polycro is lighter, more expensive, and fragile compared to Tyvek. On the other hand, Tyvek is sturdy and affordable. That said, these two fabrics are waterproof. 

How to Repair a Hole in a Tent Floor

If you choose to go without your footprint and it results in a hole on the tent floor, it is possible to salvage it. Try patching this hole with Tenacious tape. It is rugged, user-friendly, water-resistant, and affordable.

Tenacious tape is mainly used on outdoor gear like sleeping bags, jackets, and tents. To repair the floor, you simply need to clean the torn part, dry it, cut the tape, and place it on the hole. 

Conclusion 

Footprints are indeed useful but not necessary. They help extend your tent’s longevity. If your tent is ultralight featuring a low floor, you might want to consider spending some extra cash to buy or create a tent footprint. 

Nevertheless, whether you have it or not, make sure to avoid rocks, twigs, and pinecones from the camping site before setting up your tent to prevent damaging it. 

Related Articles:

The rankings on rappellingequipment.com are curated to save you time by aggregating the best reviewed products from the most reputable companies. We may receive a commission if you buy something using a link on this page.

About the author 

Roger

Roger was born into a family of climbers. As the youngest of his siblings, he was also the most ardent climber of them. Small and agile, he practiced climbing all day. Today, Roger teaches children how to climb the large rock walls safely.

{"email":"Email address invalid","url":"Website address invalid","required":"Required field missing"}

DOWNLOAD

eBook: Rappelling Equipment Guide

 $ 29.99  FREE

Download our Rappel Rapport eBook: a Rappelling Guide for Beginners. It's free.