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Weight Saving Tip: Tent Footprints

If you are serious about lowering your backpacking base weight, you need to weigh and examine each item on your gear list and ask yourself if you can substitute it with a lighter weight alternative.

For example, if you have a tent made by one of the larger commercial manufacturers, such as Marmot, Sierra Designs, Big Agnes, or MSR, chances are that you can trim between 8-11 oz. of base weight by replacing your manufacturer’s tent footprint with one from Gossamer Gear or Tarptent.

Consider for a moment, the function of a tent footprint. It’s primary purpose is to extend the lifetime of your tent’s floor by limiting any abrasion that might occur between it and the ground. This is particularly important in ultralight or solo tents that are made of less durable fabrics. To accomplish this, it doesn’t matter how thick or heavy the footprint it, or whether it has grommets and can be staked down. All you need is a lightweight cloth or plastic sheet that is tough enough to withstand repeated use and is wide and long enough to protect your tent floor.

I’ve been using a large-sized polycro footprint from Gossamer Gear for the past 2 years that weighs 5 oz and cost $6.00. It is a big sheet of tough but extremely thin clear plastic. Tarptent, another ultralight gear manufacturer, also sells sheets of Tyvek that weigh 5.5 oz and cost $12.00.

If you use one of these alternative footprints, you’ll save money as well as a significant amount of pack weight.

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  1. Great post! I've always used cheap nylon tarps as a footprint and have found that they only last a couple seasons before degradation occurs. Definitely going to give polycro/Tyvek a try.

  2. I bought the specific Big Agnes brand footprint for my Seedhouse SL2 tent because that footprint can be used with just the poles and the fly to set up an ultralight shelter, which I like to use on the beach actually. But it did cost a fortune ($50).

  3. But what about when you are backpacking. How much does the seedhouse footprint weigh?

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