Tent footprints are used as ground cloths under camping tents to prevent the wear and tear of your tent against the ground. For example, let’s say you camp on desert sand or on a sandy beach. The bottom of your tent will probably experience some minor wear and tear as a result of scratching against the ground.
Should I buy the tent footprint recommended by the manufacturer?
Manufacturers make a lot of money off of people who buy tent footprints. The truth is that you can use a lightweight tarp or a sheet of tyvek (which is very lightweight), or ultralight polycryo plastic as a footprint and save yourself some money. Rolling your own footprint like this also makes it interchangeable between tents of different sizes and is easily replaceable if you destroy it.
How much do I need to use my tent before the tent floor breaks down due to ground friction?
You’d need to use your tent a lot every year for a few years. Most people don’t use their tents that often however, and I’d recommend that you avoid carrying the extra weight.
Won’t a footprint or ground cloth keep me drier if it rains?
Most tents that you buy these days have bathtub style floors made out of a fabric called silnylon, with sidewalls that run up the sides of your tent a few inches. Silnylon is nylon impregnated with silicon to make it waterproof. Silnylon floors won’t leak unless you poke a hole in them, and even then, they’re easy to fix with duct tape.
As for rain, some argue that a footprint or a ground cloth actually increases your chances of getting wet in a tent because it will pool water on it’s surface. soak through your tent’s seams. A better alternative is to pick a campsite with good drainage.and let the rain run off your tents’ sides onto the ground.
If you have any more questions about footprints, leave a comment. I’m happy to answer any more questions about this topic that come up.
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