What Does A Tent Footprint Do?

A tent footprint is used to help prolong the life of your tent. It protects the floor from moisture and abrasions. Anyone who is a camper knows how quickly wear and tear can happen to the floor of a tent. Different weather elements all contribute to the deterioration of a tent floor, some more than others.

What Is A Tent Footprint Made Of?

The material of which a footprint is made from depends on the manufacturer but are usually made of Polyethylene, or a denier Polyester material, each having their own strengths.


This material is completely waterproof and if your footprint is made from it, it is very unlikely that you will have to deal with leaks, but while it is durable and great for leaks the material itself is pretty bulky and heavy and it can be very difficult to try and fold back up once its been opened.


This material is great at resisting UV damage and because of that it maintains its color a lot longer than Polyethylene and is lightweight, durable and can also be easily waterproofed.

How Long Can You Use Your Tent Before The Floor Starts To Breakdown?

How long you can use your tent before it really starts to breakdown depends on how many times of year you use your tent and where you pitch your tent when you use it. If you are an avid camper and you like to camp multiple times per year in multiple weather conditions for days at a time, it's possible for your tent floor to break down pretty quickly, usually within about a year or two.If you do not camp as often and you are careful about where you are pitching your tent, your tent should be able to last years without any serious wear and tear to the tent floor.

Does A Footprint Help Stop Leaks Through The Tent Floor?

Having a footprint does add extra protection against rain seeping into your tent and easy tears to the tent floor because of the moisture that is caused by the rain, but the majority of tents on the market are equipped with bathtub style floors which helps prevent leaks mainly because of how the floor runs up the sides of the tent and its Silnylon material that has silicon within it, which essentially makes it waterproof.

Do You Really Need A Footprint?

There are a few reasons why you would need a footprint.

Prolong the life of your tent - Tent floors are very susceptible to abrasions from a number of things such as sharp stones and twigs and most of the tents made are made from sewn in groundsheet, which in a lot of cases is not very doable, with a footprint, instead of the tent floor being exposed directly to the ground, the footprint will.

Provide extra warmth - The majority of air comes through the tent floor, and a lot of body heat is lost to the ground as well, by having a footprint you greatly decrease that airflow, which keeps you and the inside of your tent warmer.

Makes Pitching Easier - If you do not have a footprint, you have to be a lot more cautious of where to pitch your tent. You have to avoid uneven ground, sharp rocks or anything that could possibly cause abrasions to the tent floor. Most footprints are very specific to the outline of the actual tent, so you have a better idea of exactly where your tent will fit before actually going through the hassle of setting it up.

What Size Footprint Do I Need?

You should make sure your footprint covers the entire floor of the tent. If it is too small, the section of the floor that is exposed is still subject to tears and abrasions. If too big, your footprint is exposed to rain and the outside weather elements which will cause it to deteriorate a lot faster than it being on the inside of your tent, which would defeat the purpose of buying it.

When Is It Worth It?

  • If you are a backpacker and you camp a lot, and you would like for your tent to last you years down the line, you may want to consider having a footprint.
  • If you are camping on an uneven or rocky terrain, that has sharp rocks, branches or wood, a footprint may be a wise investment
  • If you tend to camp during rainy weather potentially for days at a time
  • If you are car camping and you do not have the concern of the extra weight that is added to the packed weight of the tent

When Is It Not Worth It?

  • When you are backpacking during the time when weather conditions are not as harsh and you do not want the added weight of a footprint
  • If you only camp a few times per year
  • If you would rather make your own footprint and cut your costs

About the Author Kyle Grey

Hey Everyone! My name is Kyle Grey and I am the guy behind outdoor intensity. I am an avid camper and have been camping for well over 10 years. Camping and the outdoors is something that I am super passionate about and because of that I decided to share my experience and knowledge that I have gained over the past 10 years.

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