What Is a Tent Footprint and Why You Need One ASAP

Being able to answer what is a tent footprint can help you to prolong the life of your tent. Most tent materials are made to be high-quality and durable, but some areas get more action than others. The one area that experiences the most wear and tear is the bottom of your tent, as it’s what comes in direct contact with dirt and debris.

Instead of putting yourself in a position where you’re buying a new tent every season, a footprint is one of the most convenient and essential cool camping tools to have. We’ll go over the advantages of having one as well as why it’s so important.

What Is a Tent Footprint?

The first thing to ask yourself is what the primary purpose of a footprint is. These single sheets of fabric will be placed underneath your tent, similar to a traditional tarp, to protect the base. When you place a footprint down first, the bottom of your tent won’t be exposed to sticks, rocks, or even sand on the beach.

This way is by far one of the best ways to protect your investment and to ensure your tent lasts years of regular use.

Where Can You Find a Footprint?

Every avid camper or backpacker likely wants to make sure their tent is taken care of, which means it’s time to find a footprint. You’ll notice the vast majority of manufacturers have an assortment of styles that can work correctly with their tents. For some, this is the best option as they are already sized to perfection.

However, if you’re interested in saving a little bit of money, you can always opt for a traditional lightweight tarp or polycryo plastic to create a DIY footprint. One of the best features of making your footprint is that if it gets damaged, you can quickly and inexpensively replace it. With one bought from the manufacturer, you’ll likely have to spend far more money for a replacement.

What Are the Advantages of Using a Footprint?

With this particular piece of camping equipment, the pros far outweigh the cons. An adequately used footprint can help with waterproofing, prolonging your tent’s life, and even add warmth.

1. Tent Protection

The most prevalent and distinct advantage of a footprint is that it helps to protect the bottom of your tent. The vast majority of tents today have a sewn-in groundsheet to act as a barrier, which isn’t as resilient as a tarp. By opting for something between the bottom of your tent and the ground, you can prevent tears, rips, and scrapes.

This fact is especially true if you’re a heavy sleeper or someone who moves around a lot at night. You won’t want to have to worry about accidentally poking a hole in your tent with a stray twig.

2. Added Insulation

When heat is generated in a tent, it goes straight through the bottom layer of the material and into the ground. You’ll want to pay close attention to the insulation if you prefer camping in the fall and winter. On average, the human body loses up to two degrees of body heat while asleep, and when paired with cold temperatures, it can cause an uncomfortable night’s rest.

When you place another layer of material between the bottom of your tent and the ground, it helps to keep more warmth inside of the shelter. This reason is also why it’s a good idea to consider finding the best cool stuff for camping to keep you warm at night in the wilderness.

3. Easier Pitching

If you’re one of the campers or backpackers who invest in a footprint made by the manufacturer, you’ll love how easier pitching your tent will be. Since footprints will mimic the exact size and design of your shelter, you can lay it out to see where you want to set up your camp. You can also begin pegging the ground before getting the rest of the tent up.

Planning where your tent will go is the first step to reducing your setup time by several minutes, especially if you have a tent that is a pain to put together.

4. Water Protection

Although not everyone agrees that footprints help with water resistance, as discussed below, they can help in some ways. If the ground you’re camping on is already wet, you’ll be relying on the bottom of your tent as the primary and only line of defense against water. With a footprint, though, it will be the primary barrier between you and the wetness of the ground.

In most cases, having an extra layer of plastic to protect you can be quite useful and beneficial.

What Are the Disadvantages of Using a Footprint?

You can tell that there are far more benefits to having one of these essential items at your disposal. Though it’s important to note there are a couple of disadvantages as well.

1. Rain Runoff

One of the most significant concerns that campers have with footprints is that they can increase your chances of getting wet, especially if your tent doesn’t have a bathtub bottom. Since bathtub floors have special silnylon that travels up the side of the shelter for optimal rain protection, not having one puts you at risk. With a footprint, you are also increasing the probability of rain to pool around the outside of your tent.

If your camping gear has insufficient seams or poor waterproofing, you’ll find the pooled water will significantly increase your chances of getting wet. If your tent is directly on the ground, the soil will absorb the water. There is a way to remedy pooling water on your footprint by opting for a campsite that has fantastic drainage.

With proper drainage, the water will run off the sides of your tent and also run off your footprint, straight onto the ground.

2. Extra Cost

Some campers suggest a footprint isn’t as significant of an item as other types of essential camping gear, especially since tents are becoming more advanced. You’ll start to see more affordable tents that have bathtub floors or superior protection near to the ground to prevent water penetration. You can even purchase waterproofing sprays to protect the seams of your tent.

If you know you’ll camp in all types of weather, we highly recommend investing in a footprint to protect the bottom of your tent. Even though it’s a minimal cost added to your existing camping expenses, it keeps you from having to buy a brand new shelter.

Final Thoughts

Answering the question, “What is a tent footprint?“, gives you a convenient and essential camping tool. It is a fantastic second line of defense against moisture and the elements. Not only that, but they also help to protect the longevity of your tent with every trip you take.

Whether you buy one from your tent’s manufacturer or make your own, it’s a great piece of equipment to bring with you.

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