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Gossamer Gear Polycryo Plastic Ground Cloths Review

Gossamer Gear Polycryo Plastic Ground Cloths Review

Gossamer Gear Polycro Ground Cloths

Lightweight
Durable
Waterproof
Inexpensive
Multi-purpose

UL Footprint Substitute

Gossamer Gear's Polycryo plastic sheeting is a cost-effective ultralight alternative to tent footprints or Tyvek sheets that can slash some serious weight from your gear list.

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Gossamer Gear Polycryo is ultralight industrial grade plastic sheeting that’s used as an ultralight ground cloth or tent footprint by many backpackers. It’s waterproof and surprisingly puncture proof making it an ideal protective barrier for inflatable sleeping pads and ultralight tent floors. You can also cut and shape it with a pair of scissors to the size you need to save weight or make it easier to manage. It’s virtually indestructible and I typically use the same sheet over and over for a year or more.

Gossamer Gear was the first ultralight backpacking company to popularize polycryo (often mispelled as “polycro”) for ultralight backpacking and it’s still one of their most popular products. They buy the stuff in huge batches, cut it down, and sell it in two sizes: large (96″ x 72″) and medium (96″ x 40″).  A medium sheet polycryo weighs 1.6 oz / 46 g and a large sheet weighs 3.65 oz / 104 g. A medium pack has 2 sheets and the large, one sheet. You can cut them down to any size after that.

For example, if I’m using a tarp for camping. I’ll spread a piece of polycryo down on top of the ground and lay my inflatable sleeping pad and quilt down on top of it to protect them from ground moisture, rocks, and pointy sticks.. I also carry a small square of polycryo to use as an ultralight porch under a hammock, to keep my feet clean when I get out at night. You have to weigh it down with some rocks to keep it from blowing away, but it works pretty well to keep leaf litter out of the hammock.

Polycryo used as a tent footprint
Polycryo used as a tent footprint

The sheets of polycryo you get from Gossamer Gear are really thin, so it helps to lick your fingers when unfolding a fresh piece, because the layers stick together. When packing polycryo, folding it compresses it better than bunching it together, but it will never fold up as flat as when it still arrives. I usually stuff it down the front stretch pocket of my pack when I carry it, in case its damp with condensation.

Gossamer Gear’s Polycryo is constructed from industrial grade cross-linked polyolefin. It’s waterproofing plastic membrane that used everything from food packaging to building products. It’s also found in shrink-wrap window insulation kits, like Duck Brand Window Shrink Film, which you can also buy online and cut down to size.

Polycryo is also lighter weight than Tyvek Home Wrap as a low-cost and lightweight ground sheet or tent footprint. For example, the 5′ x 9′ Tyvek ground sheets sold by Zpacks weigh 9.25 oz or about 7 oz more for the same size protection. It’s even lighter weight than the super expensive Dyneema DCF ground sheets sold by Hyperlight Mountain Gear and a heck of lot more abrasion resistant.

I’ve been using Gossamer Gear Polycryo as a ground sheet for going on 15 years and it’s great stuff. If you’re using the footprint that came with your tent or Tyvek, Polycryo is easy way to shave a lot of weight off your gear list at minimal cost.. Highly Recommended!

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9 comments

  1. I’m going to have to give this another try. A few years ago I bought some from Gossamer Gear and tried it as a ground cloth in my back yard. It ripped almost instantly so I gave up on it right then, assuming it was just too fragile. Maybe I just got a dud. Still have one in my tent gear box so I’ll dig it out and try again.

  2. Is it slippery when you stand on it while using it as a porch? I use 2 mil plastic as a foot print, but I know the 2 mil is a bit heavier than polycryo. I have about 50 nights on that piece. Do you know how the 2 mil plastic compares to polycryo with regards to durability?

  3. It’s a remarkable material. I’m continually amazed by how durable it is. Each morning I fold mine into a quart-size ziplock freezer bag (unnecessarily big, but easier to handle) and then just add it in with my shelter’s stuff sack. If the groundsheet is particularly wet from ground moisture, I sometimes keep it accessible so I can unfold it at lunch to dry out.

  4. …or just go to Home Depot and buy some?

  5. I find that the SOL Survival Blanket 58″ X 98″ X 1mm thick (at 92g) is also almost indistructile Plus it’s silver, aluminized side is 90% heat reflective & thus can work as an emergency blanket. And the blaze orange side can be used for an emergency signal if required. So, multi-purpose.

  6. Polycryo, is strong and puncture resistant but it will tear along certain plains. We ripped one, once, while violently shaking the dirt and condensation off. Shake a little less vigorously now and haven’t had the problem again.

    It also will shrink from wrinkles and heat, so you want to start 25% to 50‰ larger. It will still be crazy light.

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