What Is A Tent Footprint? Getting Every Fact In A Simple Way

For people who love an awesome outdoor adventure, going camping or hiking is the only way to get the satisfaction that they need. Whether it is to watch wildlife, go birding, or deer hunting, camping will give you a home away from home as you enjoy a number of your most favorite outdoor activities.

However, for a camping trip to be successful, there are a number of things that you must put in order and more importantly, you must make sure that your tent is properly rigged. While setting up your tent there is one very important accessory that your tent needs to perform best. It is called a footprint.

So what is a tent footprint? In this post, I have delved deeper in many aspects of the tent footprint so that you can understand every little aspect about the tent footprint that might have been of concern before.

What Is Tent Footprint

A tent footprint is a ground cloth that’s often used under a camping tent so as to prevent any form of wear and tear that your tent might have experienced as a result of being set up against the camping ground.

A good example is if you camp in a rocky terrain. You will clear the rocks but might steel have little rubbles and pebbles that could actually cause minor wear and tear on the bottom of your tent.

To prevent these minor scratches and tears you can always make use of a tent footprint to salvage the situation.

Why You Should Buy a Tent Footprint

The main reasons why any camper should buy a tent footprint must be clear for anyone. However, there are many other reasons too. Take a look at what I have prepared for you here to understand why you need the tent footprint.

Prolong a Tent’s Lifespan

Most tents today say about 90% are usually made up of sewn in groundsheet.  This makes them very delicate and more importantly prevents them from lasting as long as they used to before. It is therefore very important that you buy a tent footprint.

A tent footprint will add more protection to your new tent and prevent it from abrasions, cut, and tears from the loose stones and also twigs. It will, therefore, prolong the lifespan of your tent and leave you with a good return on your investment pack too.

Maximized Comfort Too

Once you have two layers of extra padded materials under your tent you will definitely have a much more comfortable place to lay out your sleeping pad and also your sleeping bag. You can then enjoy a cool resting place and more importantly a nice sleep in a cozy room outside the comforts of your home.

Add More Warmth to Tent

Your tents floor is designed to provide the perfect waterproofing and additional insulation to your tent so that you can easily retain the heat in your tent and prevent any temperature drop at any time.

Yet with a tent footprint, the deal is even better as any addition of the footprint underneath the tent creates an additional layer and slightly raises your tent off the ground. This will eventually reduce the level of heat loss and in turn, keep you warm.

Makes Tent Pitching Easy

For most new campers the stress of pitching up the tent is the one thing that will hurt the most. However, with a footprint, this is usually nothing to worry about. Thankfully, most footprints are usually tailor-made to the specifications of most of the tent outlines.

This will make it easy for anyone who is pitching the tent to have a clear idea of where their tent is headed for as they pitch, where it is going to fit, and at what place to actually start the pegging too.

At the end of it, you will save so much precious time and actually have one of the best laid out tents for your next camping adventure.

Additional Waterproofing Touch

It is common sense really, when you double the layers of your tent floor you will actually double the protection that your tent enjoys from running water, moisture, or even cold frozen ice that is underneath the tent.

Folding Up Made Pretty Easy

Pitching a tent as we have seen if easy with a footprint but folding up is easier; a hassle-free experience that you can do over and over again without getting irritated. More specifically if you are packing up after a few days in a fairly wet ground.

The footprint prevents your sewn-in groundsheet from catching mud and wetness and thus leaves you with a hassle-free packing up experience any day.

Customized for the Tent

Footprints are usually tailor-made for either specific or a number of tents so that you don’t have to worry about scouting for a thousand more pieces before you get what you need. It is, therefore, a great experience that leaves you with one of the best camping accessories of your time. It is also reliable and will last longer.

Tent Footprint Additional Facts

New campers usually find it quite difficult to actually grasp what a tent footprint is. In many occasions, I have had to answer so many questions that might have thrown me out of balance if I didn’t have enough camping experience. In this section, I want to add more tips that will shed more light on tent footprints.

Why Tent Footprints Aren’t the Main Waterproofing Layer

Given a group of campers has always though that tent footprint should be the main waterproofing layer on the floor tent. In their view, the footprint should be wider than the base of the tent floor so as to keep water out.

That is however never the case. In fact, the reason for this is very simple. The tents that are used today come with their floors designed from a material called Silnylon. Silnylon is a material that’s forged from combining nylon and silicon so as to attain a high level of waterproofing touch.

Tent floors that are made out of Silnylon, therefore, won’t leak unless someone or something pokes a hole in it. Yet even with a hole poked in them, this material can still be easily fixed with a duct tape and will still last long. And this brings use to this next question:

Why Are Tent Footprints Smaller than the Tent Floor?

Tent footprints are usually slightly smaller than a tent’s main floor plan so as to prevent any collection of water between the tent’s sewn-in groundsheet and also the laid out the footprint since if this happens it will cause constant dampness and lead to the temperature drop.

What a Tent Footprint Does and Does Not Protect Your Against

Another common assumption from most campers is that a footprint is usually made to protect the tent against sharp objects such as sticks and rocks. That’s not the case. It only adds an extra layer of protection so that the nylon under the tent floor is not scratched.

However, under direct contact with a sharp object such as glass, sticks, and rock pebbles a tent footprint will also tear. That’s why you still need to clear your camping ground every time you want to lay out your tent.

In short, the real reason why we use a tent footprint is usually to protect your tent floor against the effects of long-term wear and tear that is typically caused by friction.

NOTE: Every time you use the tent – lie or sleep in it – your tent is bound to move around, including when you are adjusting your body or moving around the sleeping pad in the middle of your cozy sleep. This movement caused the bottom of the tent to also move and eventually cause the Silnylon that the tent floor has been made of to break down and fail – and that’s why you need a footprint to protect your tent from this effect.


While the main question that we addressed was: what is a tent footprint, I want you to understand that there are still many other concerns about tent footprints that buyers and users alike have brought forward. They include what I will address in this section.

Should I Buy the Recommended Tent Footprint?

Not necessarily especially if your tent can take any type of footprint and work properly with it. However, if your tent has a much more specified approach, I would suggest going with the recommended tent footprint instead of going all out random.

Are there Any Other Materials I Can Use Instead?

Well, if you don’t have enough money to buy one of the best tent footprints that we have in the market today, you can always use a lightweight tarp or even a thin sheet of Tyvek. I have also seen other people using ultra-light polycryo plastic just to save some dollars and they all worked so well too.

How Will I Find the Right Size of Footprint for My Tent?

Most footprints used in the tents are usually slightly smaller to the floor plan. This is what we call ‘made-to-measure’ technology. This technology makes it quite easy to nail the perfect fit footprint for the tent you are using.

Tent Footprint Made Of?

Tent footprints are made of various fabrics. Nonetheless, most of them are made from durable light, and easy to clean polyethylene. Another common set of ground footprints are those that have been made out of lighter oxford denier polyester material.

How do I Clean a Tent Footprint?

The easiest way to clean a tent’s footprint is to use a clean cloth dipped in mild detergent and wipe over the footprint. If you get any stubborn stains, you can also use water and a brush and scrub lightly until the dirt is washed away. The same can be done if your footprint has substantial mud. You can also make use of a scourer but like I mentioned before, remain very careful and scrub lightly so as not to scratch the footprint.

How Does Silnylon Fail?

We have seen what causes Silnylon to fail. When it fails though, it can fail in two main ways; the very first one is that the silicone coating can be worn off right from the bottom of your tent. This will leave you with a tent that’s not waterproof.

Secondly, Silnylon can also fail if the wear and tear eventually cause a huge and visible hole in the main tent floor.

How Long Can a Tent Last Before The Floor Breaks Due To Friction?

There isn’t any specific time as camping grounds and terrains also differ from one location to the next. Nonetheless, it should be quite a lot of use every year for a number of years before it breaks down.

NOTE: Most tents that we buy today like we said have floors that are designed with a bathtub touch made out of Silnylon which is a nylon fabric with silicone to get a cool waterproofing touch. This is why anyone who buys a tent shouldn’t worry about leaks.

Conclusion: It would be wrong to wait until your tent floor gets the shocker with water leaking through before you rush out there to grab a footprint of your own. It will be too late and it won’t make much of a difference really as footprints are not typically designed to address the waterproof needs.

That is why it is very important that you take the necessary care before you can actually wrap up a good experience with your tent. Footprints are easy to use and also pretty light and durable. You can easily carry them around and still get enough time to enjoy the very best camping experiences too.

In case you want the best footprint for your use you should always look at what the previous users say about the brand that you are choosing, how much it costs, what is the material of make and finally how best it suits your needs.

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