Let’s face it- life gets stressful. One way to escape the dreaded humdrum is to escape into the great wilderness. With the spirit of adventure floating your boat, you can get all the invigoration you desire.
That’s why hiking and camping are the perfect examples that hit the spot and take you out (although momentarily) from the dread of the daily. However, when it comes to this sort of outdoorsy stuff, we can’t help thinking about the essentials to survive and sustain the hiking/camping trip.
Without a doubt, tent footprints and tarps are the most sought-after objects for camping trips. These camping tools can help you protect your tents from a moisture attack.
It’s nearly impossible to get on with the other steps of a camping set-up without stretching these out on the forest floor. So, if you’re planning your next big outdoor trip and can’t put your finger on what to get, this article about tent vs. tarp can help you out.
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Tent Footprint And Its Purposes
Tent footprint is a waterproof ground cloth laid out between the forestland and tent’s bottom. In simple terms, it goes underneath the tent to keep it nice and dry as well as save it from getting ripped. There are many reasons for using a tent footprint.
The fabric of the tent is susceptible to ruptures and tears by stony rocks or sticks. It can also be damaged by damp conditions such as rainwater, muck, or mud. On the other hand, these footprints are denser than the tent’s fabric which is able to keep the warm air trapped inside.
So, the tent footprints are prepared to give you some extra layers of insulation and added comfort for your night-outs. They should be placed right at the beginning before pitching the tents.
Moreover, tent footprints ensure that the rainwater doesn’t pass through the weak platform of the tent. This protector’s dimension is perfectly cut to the size of the tent is what helps it fit really well.
In short, a tent footprint has two functions- it protects the tent and traps in warm air to provide more comfort. Neat, isn’t it? Let’s not forget- it’s lightweight to boot.
Tarp and Its Purposes
If your main goal is keeping weight to a minimum and if you are willing to accept few trade-offs, then an ultra-light camping tarp can be an excellent choice among the other backpacking shelters.
Quality tarps are specially designed with plastic, nylon sheet, vinyl, etc. It is a multi-purpose waterproof camping gear that is truly helpful to keep the moisture off of the bottom of the tent.
Tarps are likely to be heavier than the tent footprints. So, they may not seem to be a plausible solution to some people in terms of providing a better level of comfort.
Besides, tarps need to be clipped and trimmed according to the tent’s bottom size, just like the tent footprint. Most importantly, they will always have to be smaller than the tent.
While tarps aren’t the best buds of a tent because you have to size it accordingly, they are flexible equipment that you can use for different purposes.
Differences Between Tent Footprint And Tarp
These floor protectors are used to save the tent from general damage by producing coverage and extra comfort. However, they have some fundamental differences that have been discussed as follows:
1. Tarps tend to be bigger, bulkier but also quite a bit cheaper, whereas tent footprint is lightweight as well as slightly expensive compared to tarps.
2. Tent footprint is specifically manufactured for a particular brand and model. On the contrary, tarps tend to be cut in standard square or rectangular dimensions to fit under any model’s tents.
3. Tent footprints serve best in keeping the excess moisture or water at bay from making its way inside the tent.
4. At the same time, tarps are always there to surprise you with their multi functionalities, such as a place for cooking out of the tent or picnic mat, protecting from other external influences like heat, snow, and rain. In short, a tarp is the right choice for its wide variety of use.
5. Tent footprint minimizes the scratching and tears of the base of the tent, but tarps are also very durable in quality as it’s made up of stronger fabric than the tent footprints.
6. Both are created using polyester or polyethylene. However, tarps are particularly covered in some plastics and polyurethane, which makes them diverse from tent footprints.
7. Tent footprints are pre-designed, easy to set up, and only for the underneath usage of the tent, but tarps need to be cut according to the tent’s size. They are able to provide the overall protection of the entire tent and relatively easy to clean up.
Pros and Cons of Tent Footprint
- Tent footprints are suitable for backpacking as it’s light in weight.
- They can protect the tent from getting dirty with external elements.
- They can deliver added warmth with their additional thermal layer in order to make your sleeping territory comfy.
- They are resistant to moisture and don’t let the water swim into the tent.
- They don’t allow the jagged edges to tear through the tent.
- They don’t perform better in terms of versatility.
- They may turn out porous sometimes, which cannot hold water.
- They may take up a lot of room in your backpack.
- The price is slightly higher compared to tarps.
Pros and Cons of Tarps
- Tarps are less expensive.
- Tarps are easy to put together for the way they are designed with grommets.
- They are great as wind sheds and shade shelters to hang out in.
- They work better in extreme weather.
- They can act as footprints if need be and safeguard the tent floor.
- Tarps are not capable of keeping you as warm as footprints.
- They need to be tailor-made to replace the footprints.
- Tarps don’t serve the purpose of privacy as they’re not fully fenced.
Which One Is the Best to Choose for Camping?
Tarps and tent footprints are both worthwhile to count on. Two of them fight against the damage of the tent. Even though choosing any of the gears comes down to your individual preference, what you find convenient to use.
Tarps work well in staving off the moisture, while the primary concern of footprints is to watch over the floor tent. If you are planning on backpacking, a footprint is a perfect fit.
In that case, a tarp is not a good idea as it takes up a lot of space. While it is lighter than tent footprints, you’d have to carry a lot more to make it work. So, it becomes a tough task to carry the equipment off all the way up to the campsite.
If you use a car, then a tarp is your best shot. It’s not going to feel like unnecessary trouble any longer. In fact, you can feel free to carry both the gears inside.
Lastly, despite the shortcomings, each of them has its own perks. If you are ready to afford both the protectors together, you can have an amazing camping experience. However, you just need to make sure which one is designed and functions better in what type of situations or emergencies.