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Buying Guide for Tent Footprints

 

By Steve Kopitz

 

So you’ve finally picked out the perfect tent. You’re all set right? Well, how about some insurance for that brand new piece of equipment you just spent so much time picking out? Nothing’s worse than packing up after a long relaxing weekend only to find a tear in your brand new tent’s floor, because you set up in a less than suitable spot filled with sticks, branches and rocks. The reality is, most sites don’t consist of soft fluffy grass or a nice bed of leaves, but rather things that could potential damage your tent. A tent footprint is your tool to fight against this!

 

What is a Footprint?

 

A tent footprint is a piece of strong coated nylon fabric that is shaped specifically to match the floor of your model of tent. Footprints are placed between your tent floor and the ground and act as a barrier between your tent and damaging elements.They are incredibly durable, pack small, are lightweight, and hook into the poles of your tent to keep it in place. Some tents come with footprints, while with most it’s an add on that’s well worth it.

 

A tent footprint is a piece of strong coated nylon fabric that is shaped specifically to match the floor of your model of tent. Footprints are placed between your tent floor and the ground and act as a barrier between your tent and damaging elements.They are incredibly durable, pack small, are lightweight, and hook into the poles of your tent to keep it in place. Some tents come with footprints, while with most it’s an add on that’s well worth it.

 

As we pretty much already covered, the main purpose of a tent footprint is that it provides a layer between your tent floor and the ground. This extends the life of your tent immensely, because while a good tent floor should be fairly durable it still will be subjected to a lot of wear and tear. Sticks, rocks and any other sharp objects can easily puncture the floor of your tent exposing you directly to the elements. Think about when you move around in your tent. You’re essentially rubbing the tent floor on the ground. With a footprint, you don’t have that direct friction with the ground as you’re only coming into contact with the footprint and not the ground. Wouldn’t a cheap tarp do the same thing? In terms of protecting the tent floor from wear, yes, however if you set up a tent with a foot print you will notice something very important. The footprint, while also conveniently locked into place with your poles, is about an inch smaller than the tent floor all the way around. What this does is keeps water from dripping off your tent and building up underneath the floor of your tent. Sure, a good tent is waterproof, but that doesn’t mean it can be submerged in water, which is what can happen if you essentially create a puddle underneath you. A cheap tarp may save you a few bucks initially, but what price can you put on a weekend ruined due to soaked gear?

 

tent footprint

 

 

How to pick out the right footprint?

 

This is the easiest part! Most quality tent manufacturers will make a tent footprint to fit your model specifically. Say you purchased the Mountain Hardwear LightWedge 2 Tent. Simply find the “Mountain Hardwear LightWedge 2 Footprint” and you’ll be all set. Just remember to pay attention as your tent may come in other versions such as the “Lightwedge 3” which is designed for 3 people instead of 2, meaning the footprint will be shaped to fit a much larger tent.

 

Fly and Footprint Pitching

 

For most of us, having the comforting walls of our tent is something we enjoy. For others, it’s simply a luxury. Some people prefer fastpacking or minimalistic backing where shedding pounds and ounces are more important that the comforts a tent can provide. For those people, a footprint can be a crucial part of a shelter. Some tents have the ability to set up a shelter using the fly, footprint and poles rather than the tent body. This drastically cuts down on weight. Of course, you no longer have the protection of walls, but those going for the ultra-light weight package may be looking for a shelter options such as this. Not all models are capable of this, but will be denoted by one of our data points if they are.

 

Pawprints

 

Last but not least we have pawprints. While this is currently specific to the brand Nemo, we mention them because they are similar to footprints in that they are specific to the tent model and are made to protect your tent floor. However, they are actually used on the inside of your tent and are made to protect against something other than the treacherous ground. Your Pets! Pawprints are designed for the camper that wants to bring their dog along for the fun. A soft material, and designed to fit perfectly, a pawprint is a great way to protect your tent floor from both boots and paws. Get it muddy and full of dog hair, and simply wash it in the washing machine. Pawprints are even great for placing a sleeping pad under so they don’t move around. If your dog camps as much as you do, a pawprint is the perfect accessory to making your tent the full package.

 

Overall, a tent footprint is a great way to prolong the life of your tent and is a small investment with a large payout. The footprint specific to your tent won’t vary in quality or price so you won’t have to worry about shopping around. Make sure your next tent purchase includes a footprint, and you and your tent floor will thank you years and many trips later.