What is a Tent Footprint: You Can Quickly Find Out Here!

In short, a tent footprint is a ground sheet or cover that you would place under a tent.

I honestly wish I knew that the first time around.

What is a tent footprint?” I thought to myself as a fellow hiker asks about my preferences on the subject. I could tell you that no ideas came to my mind then. You, particularly, might have felt that same at one point.


From altimeters and anoraks to grommets and zeniths, the jargon in camping, as well as hiking, can be quite daunting. After some practice and five hikes later, you’d probably think to yourself how good you’re getting. But a new method or word comes up and stumps you again. And then it feels like you’re back to square one. These are the particular feelings I had when a fellow hiker asked about my tent footprint.

You, however, shouldn’t give yourself a hard time about it. Camping is a learning experience. Accordingly, the more you ask, the more you know. For example, you could ask:

Are Tent Footprints Essential?

What Is A Tent Footprint

Tent footprints are not, specifically, a must-have. You could go on hiking and camping without ever using them. In other words, think of them as similar to backpack rain covers - you could probably go on without one as well. Nevertheless, a rain cover has potentially numerous benefits.

For instance, a rain cover will keep your bag dry besides shielding it from mud and dirt. Likewise, a tent footprint can have many similar benefits. These benefits will have a markedly large effect on the lifespan of your tent.

The Benefits of a Tent Footprint

  • A tent footprint keeps the underside of your tent nice and dry while also serving as an extra layer.
  • This additional sheet will keep mud, dirt, and debris from soiling your tent as well as adding another layer of protection (and cushioning!) against the uneven, hard, or rocky ground. In other words, a tent footprint protects your tent floor from tears and punctures!
  • A tent footprint is also easier to clean as opposed to cleaning an entire tent, which can be particularly cumbersome. In other words, less tent washing and drying!
  • A cleaner tent will make it easier to pack.
  • Additionally, a tent footprint will shield you from any dampness or wetness from the soil, besides serving as further insulation.
  • Finally, tent footprints can act as emergency roofs or rain flys.
What Is A Tent Footprint

What about Newer Tent Models?

Although it’s true that many of the newer tent models sport a tent footprint sewn onto their base, adding a layer will still have the same benefits of further protection and cushioning. Also, a tent footprint will double the waterproofing of your tent floor.

All in all, a tent footprint can drastically improve the lifespan of your tent. Even more so if you frequently use your tent for camping. Moreover, quality tents don’t come cheap so making use of tent footprints will help protect your investment.

Incidentally, newer tent models boast of their lightweight. Here’s where a tent footprint becomes even more important since ultralight tents can be relatively fragile.

Aren’t Tent Footprints Pricey?

What is a Tent Footprint

The prices for tent footprints vary, but many do tend to be pricey. So, if you’re on a tight budget, consider making a DIY tent footprint from waterproof tarpaulin! You'll be able to save around half or more on costs compared to buying a tent footprint.

Cut a tarp a size smaller than your tent floor, and you're ready to go! Also, why not keep the entrance to your tent clean and dry by adding some floor space to your DIY tent footprint? Additionally, an advanced method is adding grommets to the sides of the tarp, so you’ll be able to peg it down.

Things to Consider

Whether you’re getting a tent footprint or making one at home, see to it that they are as light as possible and are not much bigger than your tent’s actual floor area.

First of all, a weighty tent footprint will be a burden during long hikes and take up precious backpack space. Second, if the footprint is much bigger than your tent, there is a chance that it will catch rain or water, which may then pool underneath your tent.


What is a Tent Footprint

I wish I knew the answer when the question first came up. And yet, I did learn many things from researching tent footprints and how they can be remarkably useful.

I always use backpack rain covers and now, I do the same with tent footprints. Backpacks and tents are expensive, you know!

Do you know any good tent footprints brand? Or could you share your DIY tent footprint? Please let us know!

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