Camping is fun and exciting, and getting used to living the nights in a tent makes a trip ten times more enjoyable. Most of the good quality tents cost hundreds and yet, doesn’t come with a footprint.
To get a footprint, you will have to push the budget up by another 50 to 100. But is it really necessary? Do you REALLY need a tent footprint? More often than not, yes, you will need a footprint.
Footprints are the extra layer of protection that the floor of the tent need. The footprint of a tent also provides some level of protection from water or mud as well as other types of harm.
A tent coupled with a footprint will last at least a year to two more than it would without one. But if you asked, is it a must? Then the answer would be not. Most, if not all, tents will be completely fine and functional without a footprint.
A footprint is not a functional part of a tent. It’s more like armor for the tent floor. And when damage is inevitable, it’s the footprint that will take the first blow. But if you are on a tight budget and can buy a footprint, there are alternatives like homemade footprints.
You can buy a sheet of Tyvek, polycryo, or nylon of the appropriate size and sew the edges as well as make the holes for the poles. That will be sufficient for a footprint. So –
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What Does A Tent Footprint Do?
Is it like a supplementary water resistance for the lower quality tents, as many suggest? Or is it there just for the additional padding for the tent floor?
Both of the answers are yes, and there is more to it than that. A footprint helps a tent in many ways such as –
1. It Is The Armor For The Floor
It is undeniable that the floor of the tent is at the most risk of tearing and wearing. Every time you set up a tent, the floor is the part that comes in contact with the ground, and there is no alternative to that. Every time you enter the tent, you step on and sit down on the floor. So, the floor is constantly under stress.
When you are out in the wilderness, the ground is poorly, if ever, prepared for pitching a tent. No matter how well you try to clear and prepare it, there will always be that one pebble or root that will be perfectly positioned under the tent. And under the right circumstances, will manage to poke a hole.
And there goes the integrity and water resistance of your tent, which could be avoided if you happened to have a footprint. The footprint is made of stronger materials and will absorb the first blow.
So, do you need a tent footprint?
Yes. It is highly recommended!
2. It Adds To The Water Resistance
Some people believe that the tent footprint is necessary for the tents with lower denier ratings and water-resistance as it supplements the lackings. At the same time, some people argue that it doesn’t do anything to keep the water out.
In reality, yes, it won’t keep your tent dry if there is standing water after rain, but a footprint will help a lot until there is standing water. How so? Let me explain.
When you have to pitch a tent on muddy or wet ground, say, after a rain, if you don’t use a footprint, the tent floor will be the only layer of protection between the wet ground and your valuables. Water won’t sip in, but the inside of your tent will undoubtedly feel damp and uncomfortable.
A footprint will add to the protection to keep the water and wetness out. Because of the heavier and thicker fabric of the footprint and the added protection of the two layers, your tent will be considerably more comfortable.
So, do you need a tent footprint?
It is recommended. But can be avoided in certain scenarios.
3. It Marks The Ground And Helps To Plan
If you are a regular camper, then there must’ve been times when you found the perfect spot to pitch your tent only to find out that the annoying root of the tree is in the way when you are already half done. Or perhaps the other tent, which seemed a safe distance away, is actually annoyingly close to yours.
Everyone has some sort of experience that directly or indirectly correlates to these types of situations. If you started with a footprint, you could place that thing down beforehand to get a more accurate idea of the landscape.
But do you really need a tent footprint for this?
No, you do not have to buy a footprint for this purpose. The situations are rare enough, to begin with, and experience and foresight are enough to avoid most of them.
Things You Should Consider Before Buying A Footprint
If you are determined to get yourself a footprint, there are few things you should be considerate of before settling the deal.
It Adds To The Budget
It is obvious. Getting a footprint adds to the already high expense of the tent. If you are not on a tight budget or your camping nature is relatively on the calm side, then you might get away without getting a tent footprint.
It Adds To The Weight
Weight is not that big of a deal when you have the freedom of accessing the location with your car, but when you are tracking and backpacking, every single ounce counts.
Getting a footprint for the tent will inevitably increase the weight by a considerable margin because the footprints are made of thicker and heavier fabric with a higher denier rating.
It Is Not Always Necessary
A footprint is not an utter necessary part of a tent. When you are camping in the woods, or on the mountain, or in rough terrain, a footprint is a kind of necessary, but when you are camping at the beach, or at picnic spots, or on the snow, or other relatively calm and predictable spots, you will be totally fine without one.
So, think of it, how much and how often will you be using it? is it worth it for you? Think of it before you buy one. One more thing, a footprint is almost a must in the rainy season, not for the water but for the dampness.
With all that said, it is up to you to decide whether you shall get a footprint or not. I’m sure the answer will vary from person to person and so shall the reason. So, it would be unwise for me to decide on behalf of someone.
But if I were to decide, I’d say yes. You do need a footprint. It’s not a necessary-level need. It’s more like a should-like need. If you are unable to extend the budget, you can use a tarp. Tent footprint and tarp both have certain pros and cons.
A simple 50–100-dollar piece of canvas can extend the life of your fancy tent for quite some time. So, having a footprint is more necessary for the pricier tents.