Have you just purchased a new tent only to discover that it comes with a matching tent footprint as part of the package? If the tent floor is water-resistant and long-lasting, why keep the footprint?

A tent footprint is an additional piece of material that goes underneath the tent floor. It creates a protective barrier between the ground and your tent in order to prevent damage from moisture, rocks, roots, etc.

Even if you buy an expensive, waterproof, and durable tent, a tent footprint is still recommended. There are numerous variables beyond the tent itself that should be considered while deciding if you require a tent footprint or not.

A footprint will save your time and effort, as well as avoid the need to purchase another tent after only a few camping excursions. A footprint is not necessary since there are several inexpensive alternatives available.

If you want to ensure that your investment in a new or used tent lasts for years to come, then this article is for you!

What Is A Tent Footprint by hikingrange.com

What Precisely Is A Tent Footprint

Simply put – The footprint of a camping tent is simply a layer of material that sits between the ground and inside your tent.

It’s just like a phone case that protects your device and keeps it clean!

It’s also possible to hear them called a “groundsheet” or “ground cloth.”

Dirt, scrapes, or moisture will harm the cheap tent footprint rather than your pricey tent. This significantly enhances the life of your tent and makes putting up or taking down camp a lot easier.

Manufacturers of tents sometimes provide model-specific footprints that are made to fit the dimensions of a specific tent. On the other hand, many campers employ DIY techniques by utilizing basic tarps for the same purpose.

Is this Tent Footprint Worth It

Once you’ve learned what a tent footprint is, the next logical question is whether they’re worth the extra money.

The answer is that even if you only intend on doing backyard camping, there’s no need not to use a tent footprint.

The advantages pile up quickly, and it only takes a few seconds to set up and pack down camp! Let’s look at some of these benefits in further detail.

Tent Longevity

Even the most durable of tents may wear down faster than we anticipate. Aside from being comfy, this is why it’s a good idea to remove any rocks and twigs from the area where you’ll be setting up your tent; they can damage the tent bottom.

A few items, on the other hand, are easy to overlook. Over time, these minor things will wear holes into the bottom of your tent floor.

Once you’ve stowed your equipment inside the tent, it applies a lot of pressure to any potential hazards, such as twigs and rocky ground. A tarp’s fiberglass bottom is not fragile enough to be damaged in one night, but frequent nights of harsh treatment can cause harm.


People often believe that your body heat will keep you warm all night long once you close the tent. On the other hand, the ground is notorious for leaching heat away via conduction, and you’ll be chilly even with a sleeping bag.

The inside of your tent is kept warm in two different ways by the shape of your footprint:

  • The exterior walls of your tent are curved inwards. This way, the heat is trapped near you rather than dissipating into the outside world.
  • The mattress is also very thin, so there’s no gap between where you sleep and how far it extends under your body. This makes for better insulation on all fronts!

Another advantage to using a footprint is that there aren’t any cold spots that can form in your tent.

The ground is usually uncomfortable, and a tent footprint adds another layer of comfort you wouldn’t get from the ground alone.

People who want comfort will rather glamp than camp, but any extra degree of comfort is worth defending!


Even the fanciest tents do not have the finest water-resistant flooring. If you do not allow the liquid to enter but instead let it dry up on top of the damp ground overnight, the moisture may seep into the tent and damage your items or induce mold and mildew.

The additional layer of a tent footprint prevents water from seeping into your tent during a rainy night. You’ll keep dry, as well as your belongings.

The ground cloth is far simpler to clean and wipe off in the morning than your complete tent bottom.

Easy Way To Pitch A Tent

What Is A Tent Footprint by hikingrange.com

Tents should be kept at least three feet from the ground to ensure that their footprints do not exceed the size of your tent. Otherwise, it will allow water and mud to pool around the bottom of your tent.

If you’re an experienced camper, the method outlined below is not necessary for pitching your tent.

However, if you’ve never pitched a tent before or it has been some time since last using one, follow these steps to pitch with ease:

  • You’ll need another person’s help during this process! Ensure that they understand what their role is since one person can mess up the whole process.
  • The two of you should work together to get your tent pitched quickly and correctly! First off, drive three wooden poles into the ground where you’d like to set up camp. Be sure that they are far enough apart for your tent’s footprint size. Afterward, it is time to unpack the tent.
  • Unfold it on top of your tarp, making sure that any zippers are facing down and toward you (there should be a flap where the opening is located).
  • Next, attach each end to one of the poles; this will pull out the proper shape for pitching your tent! Now comes time to use pegs stakes! Pegs and stakes are essential for making sure your tent stays upright; if they aren’t used, the wind will pick up and blow it away.

Specification Of Tent

Some tent footprints are not particularly elaborate, yet many are designed to match certain tents. It’s easy to use and saves time by eliminating the need to measure your tent’s bottom. 

Look up the specifications of your tent, and you may find identical footprints to match them.

The cost of tent flooring options is greater than DIY tent footprints, although the convenience of a perfect fit may be worth the extra expenditure from time to time.

If your groundsheet is too big, you’ll save time and won’t have to worry about forgetting to fold in loose fabric.

Weight Of The Footprint Tent

Many tent footprints have a lot of advantages, one of which is how lightweight they are!

The majority of footprints weigh less than three pounds, and the average weight is only 16 ounces.

There’s also no real possibility of your tent or groundsheet being blown away as long as you or your gear is within the tent, making the additional weight useless.


Some camping sites have rough surfaces with a lot of vegetation, so it’s essential to protect your tent from rocks and sticks.

The footprint can do this for you! In addition, some campsites are rich in plant life, where the roots grow very deep into the ground underneath. It depends upon your footprint tent material and design.

It also helps to protect the bottom of your tent from sharp objects such as stones, sticks, or acorns that may be on the ground where you pitch it up for camping.

If those roots or rocks pierce through your groundsheet, it can cause a tear or hole in your tent. A footprint will prevent that from happening!

Do You Need A Tent Footprint

What Is A Tent Footprint by hikingrange.com

There are lots of reasons why it’s recommended – even if your tent is waterproof!

The best reason to get one is the same as purchasing an additional rainfly for your camping shelter. Dirt, rocks, and other debris can almost immediately damage (and destroy) a standard flooring, particularly in rocky regions or areas with thick plant life.

On the other hand, a camping footprint helps protect your tent from dirty or sharp objects lying beneath it where you pitch up for a night of peace and tranquility.

It also keeps any dirt that may have come into contact with your footwear during transport away from your sleeping quarters!

What Size Tent Do I Need

The tent footprint you should purchase depends on the size of your shelter.

It is important to make sure that there’s enough room for one person to sit upright while still maintaining a comfortable sleeping area without being too tight or cramped.

For instance, if you have a three-person camping tent and you go out and buy a four-person footprint, you’ll have a lot of extra room to move around.

However, if you buy a three-person tent footprint for the same shelter, it will be much more constricted and uncomfortable to sleep in.

It’s also important that your camping tent is well ventilated – this prevents condensation from building upon its walls, especially when it is raining.

The material of the footprint you purchase should be breathable to let airflow in and out of your tent, keeping the interior dryer!

Diy Footprint Material

Although the majority of tent footprints are made from a similar material, there is a variety available.

Plastic Tablecloth

The most common material is a thick, durable plastic tablecloth that can be purchased at your local dollar store.

They’re also very sturdy and usually have grommets along the edges, making it easy to secure them underneath your tent’s poles. These footprints are very lightweight and waterproof; they’re also extremely durable.

Tarp Sheet

This option is only two millimeters thick and weighs practically nothing. It costs around $2 and is both simple to set up and transport about.

If you end up camping in a mucky location, it’s easy to clean off and water-resistant.


Tyvek is a fantastic alternative for making your own tent footprint. Their material is flash spun high-density polyethylene fibers, which are ideal for use while camping.

This material is both lightweight and long-lasting. And it has the added benefit of being both waterproof and breathable.


Before you purchase a tent footprint, there are some things to consider.

The size of your shelter is the most important factor when making this decision – just as it would be if purchasing an additional rainfly! Also, remember that dirt and other materials on the ground where you will set up could damage or destroy a standard camping flooring. A footprint will help to prevent that from happening!


Is it possible to use a tarp as a tent footprint?

Absolutely! Tarp sheets are usually the cheapest option available, but they’re also incredibly lightweight.

How long should a footprint last?

If it’s made from high-quality material and taken care of properly, your tent footprint can last for several seasons.

What is the best time to use a camping footprint?

This depends on the climate and weather where you’re camping. If it’s raining, an additional rainfly is always a good idea!

What size tent footprint should I buy?

When purchasing a tent footprint for your shelter, there needs to be enough room for one person to sit upright while still maintaining comfortable sleeping quarters. It’s also important to make sure it’s well ventilated so condensation does not build up on the inside of your tent.

What is a good material for making my own footprint?

Tyvek and plastic tablecloths are both great options when creating your tent footprint! They’re lightweight and durable while also being easy to clean and water-resistant.