A high-quality tent isn’t all you need to have the best experience on your camping trip. There are certain items that you need to have in your camping gear to ensure that you are truly ready for the outdoors. One of such items is a tent footprint.
This brings up the question that has been on the lips of campers for years; what’s the best tent footprint to buy? Finding a straight answer to this question can be a tricky task as there are various types of tent footprints on the market.
In this guide, I’ll be making all the details you need to find the most suitable tent footprint for your camping needs. But let’s take a look at some of the best tent footprints on the market today.
IN A HURRY? HERE ARE OUR TOP PICKS…
|Best Tent Footprints||Product||Material||Size||Buy|
|TopB-Air Grizzly Tent Footprint||Laminated polyethylene||6 × 8 feet, 20 × 30 feet||Check price|
|Terra Hiker Camping Tent Footprint||210D Oxford cloth||S: 59 x 86 inches, M: 70 x 86 inches, and L: 94 x 86 inches||Check price|
|Morrison Tent 2 Footprint||Polyester||52 × 88 inches||Check price|
|REDCAMP Waterproof Tent Footprint||210D rip-stop polyester||82 × 82 inches||Check price|
|Standsport Reinforced Camping Tarp||Rip-stop polyethylene||8 × 10 feet, 24 × 36 feet||Check price|
Table of Contents
The Importance of Tent Footprints
If you are to follow the Leave No Trace principles, you will find yourself camping on durable surfaces most of the time. But while this is the best thing for the environment, the hard surfaces will cause your tent floor to experience wear and tear before long.
As a result, you will need a tent footprint to protect your tent floor. A tent footprint is a lightweight material that serves as a protective layer between the tent floor and the earth.
The 5 Best Tent Footprints for Camping
You may feel that all tent footprints are just about the same. However, they come with different features and in different sizes. For this reason, I’ve included different types of footprints in my list to ensure that there’s something for you.
B-Air Grizzly Tent Footprint
The polythene fibers used in manufacturing this tent footprint are closely woven and laminated to ensure durability and protection. It is also large-sized, waterproof, and UV resistant. As a result, it is one material that is suitable for all kinds of use during your camping trips.
With this footprint, you can be assured that your tent will have the protection it needs against the elements of the weather. This is thanks to the 5 mm thickness of the material which also makes it suitable for use over wet surfaces.
Additionally, only a few footprints can match the material’s waterproof laminated construction and the heat sealing of the seams. It also offers UV protection that will benefit you a lot if you opt to use it as a tarp.
Setting up this tent footprint is quick and easy and once you finish, you will have a very durable shelter. Its reinforced edges make it resistant to damage and there are grommets after every 36 inches.
Terra Hiker Camping Tent Footprint
This high-quality tent footprint from Terra Hiker will be an excellent addition to your camping gear. It comes in a variety of colors and sizes, so you will be able to choose the design that suits your tent best.
It also comes at a very affordable price. But despite its affordability, it is highly durable and waterproof. Hence, it is the ideal option for you if you want to protect your tent floor without breaking the bank.
The tent footprint is made with a top-quality 210D Oxford cloth and comes waterproofed. This enables the material to keep your tent dry regardless of how bad the weather is. It will also make your tent floor much more comfortable.
Additionally, this camping gear can be used for other purposes asides from protecting your tent floor. You can use it as a rain tarp or a truck tarp. It will be a good gear to have during picnics too. Finally, the footprint has a foldable design that makes it easy to transport.
Morrison Tent 2 Footprint
Though this tent floor print isn’t available in multiple colors and doesn’t offer lots of features, it is a great choice for anyone needing a fitted footprint. To start with, it is resistant to both water and fire to provide you with a higher level of protection outdoors.
The tent footprint also features bartack and grommet reinforcements. This makes it suitable for other purposes during your camping trip. For instance, it will perform excellently as a tarp.
When it comes to portability, the Morrison Tent 2 Footprint will also bring you great value. It won’t add lots of extra weight to your camping gear as it weighs just 0.55 lbs.
Finally, the footprint was originally designed for the Morrison 2 Person Tent. However, you will find it to be a good fit for similar tents. You can also use it in other situations where you find yourself needing a tarp.
REDCAMP Waterproof Tent Footprint
The REDCAMP Waterproof Tent Footprint is another great product for protecting the bottom of your tent. It is made of a ripost material that is resistant to moisture and the wear and tear that it will be exposed to on your camping trip.
In addition to being a tent footprint, the material can also be used as a tarp. What’s more, you will find it easy to move around because it can be packed into a compact size. It weighs only 0.8 lbs too.
You can rely on this material to protect both you and your tent even during rainstorms. This is thanks to the material’s PU 1000mm waterproof rating. When used as a groundsheet, it will keep the bottom of the tent dry. It will also extend the life of your tent by acting as a shield against sticks, roots, straws, dirt, etc.
Finally, the tent footprint has two straps and grommets on its corners. This will prove very beneficial in case you ever have to use it as a rainfly in unfavorable weather conditions. The straps are also double sewn for increased durability.
Standsport Reinforced Camping Tarp
There are several things to like about the Standsport Reinforced Camping Tarp. First, the rip-stop material is waterproof and large-sized. So, it can be placed at the bottom of your tent or above it to protect you from the sun and rain.
If you are on a tight budget, this is arguably the best tent footprint that you can get. The footprint’s rip-stop material is reinforced on each side. Also, the color of the material makes it more suitable for campgrounds.
Additionally, the edges of the tent tarp are reinforced with ropes while the grommets are rust-resistant. As a result, you don’t have to worry about your tent footprint tearing apart.
For even more durability and longevity, there is a heavy-duty grommet after every 3 to 4 feet. Finally, you will find the fabric to be easy to secure in bad weather thanks to its reinforced edges.
Our Top Choice
Each of the tent footprints in this review is tested and trusted to bring good value. However, the best of them all has to be the B-Air Grizzly Tent Footprint. I have chosen it as my overall best because no product matches it in terms of durability.
Since the major function of a footprint is to prevent damage, durability is very essential. In addition to its durability, you can rely on the footprint to keep water and other elements of the weather out of your tent. It is also the only footprint that you can rely on protect your tent from mildew.
You may check out this short video to learn how to use a tent footprint:
How To Find The Best Tent Footprint
You can extend the life of your tent by using a top-quality tent footprint, but what features should the ideal footprint have? In this section, I will be taking you through all the essential factors that you should be looking out for.
If you are going to use a tent footprint, you need to first consider the size of your tent. A tent footprint that is too small will be unable to provide your tent with complete protection. Similarly, a tent footprint that is larger than the floor of your tent will enable water to pool inside your tent.
The perfect footprint for your tent should be slightly smaller than it. So, even if you buy something larger, you can just trim it. Alternatively, you may save yourself the trouble by getting a footprint that was specifically designed for your tent.
The weight of a tent footprint is determined by its size and thickness. So, the greater the size and thickness of your footprint, the heavier it will be. But since these features also determine the performance of your footprint, you just have to be very careful when making a choice.
You should opt for a footprint that will give you the needed protection without adding excess weight to your camping gear. That said, the weight of your tent shouldn’t exceed 20 ounces. Anything more will make your backpacking trip inconvenient.
Tent footprints are made using different types of materials. However, the most popular options are nylon, polyester, and Oxford fabric. Though these materials have their unique properties, they are all synthetic.
The makers of tent footprints prefer synthetic materials because they are more durable, water-resistant, and lighter than other materials. A tent footprint made of any of the materials should serve you well.
You can get a good idea of the durability of a tent footprint if you take a look at its Denier number. The Denier number is usually written as “D”. For instance, a tent footprint can be said to be made of 210D polyester or 20D nylon fabric.
The Denier of a fabric simply means the thickness and weight of the threads in it. Hence, the higher the Denier number of a fabric, the tougher it will be.
However, you should keep in mind that the Denier number range differs by fabric. So, you shouldn’t make comparisons between two different materials using their Denier number.
What you can do is to compare the Denier number of two different footprints made of the same fabric. For instance, the thread in a 420D polyester cloth is two times stronger than the one in a 210D polyester cloth.
Another thing you should look out for when in search of a reliable tent footprint is the term “rip-stop”. Fabrics that are made with this technology are known to be highly resilient. They do not get damaged easily because they have tougher cross threads at regular intervals and this produces a grid pattern.
Types of Surface
The type of surface on which you set up your backpacking tent will affect the floor of your tent. For instance, a granite slab will cause more damage than a forest ground covered in foliage. Rocky surfaces are the biggest threat to your tent as all that is needed to create a tear is a sharp piece and some movement. So, a highly durable tent footprint will be the best choice for this type of surface.
The color of the material will be of importance if you plan to use it as a tarp sometimes. Footprints and tarps come in different colors including blue, green, and camo blends. I prefer using a green shade when camping in the great outdoors as it blends in with the environment seamlessly. But if maximum visibility is what you desire, then you should opt for a bright color like orange or neon.
The majority of the materials used in producing tents are waterproof. However, some steps are usually taken to further increase their water resistance. There are two major forms of waterproofing treatments that are used by footprint makers. They include silicone (SIL) and polyurethane (PU).
Though both treatments create excellent waterproofing, they have their unique advantages and disadvantages. Let’s take a closer look at these two waterproofing treatments:
- Silicone (SIL) Waterproofing: This type of treatment is usually applied on tent footprints that are made of nylon. It penetrates deep into the fabric and thereby, increases its resistance to damage. Also, you will only have to shake off any water buildup on the fabric because silicone repels water. The disadvantages of using footprints that are coated with silicone are their low breathability and high cost.
- Polyurethane (PU) Waterproofing: This waterproofing treatment can be applied on both polyester or nylon. It also offers more breathability and affordability than silicone waterproofing. However, it breaks down easily and doesn’t add to the durability of materials.
To compare the waterproofing capability of one tent footprint to the other, you need to take a look at their waterproofing ratings. The higher the waterproofing rating of a tent footprint, the greater the protection that it will provide. So, a fabric that has a rating of PU6000mm will have two times more waterproofing than a fabric with PU4000mm.
Another area in which tent footprints differ from one another is in their features. The higher the number of features offered by a tent footprint, the more versatile it will be.
For instance, a tent footprint may feature grommets, loops, or both. This will make the footprint more than a sheet that you place below your tent. You will also be able to use it as a rainfly or shade.
Additionally, a footprint may come with pockets that are sewn into one another. So, in a situation where you are unable to stake it, you will have the option of holding it down with the aid of stones or any other heavy item. This feature will also be beneficial if you opt to convert it to a blanket on the beach or during a picnic.
While factors such as size, weight, durability, and waterproofing are more essential, some extra features can make a lot of difference.
Here’s a guide on how to make a DIY tent footprint or watch the following video:
Frequently Asked Questions
Is a tent footprint worth the investment?
There is a debate in the camping world on whether a tent footprint is a necessity. But from my experience, I have learned that it is a bad idea for a camper to step into the great outdoors without a footprint.
Tent footprints have a lot of benefits to offer in the wild. They shield the delicate fabric at the bottom of tents from damage and also keep tents dry. Additionally, a top-quality tent footprint will serve as a thermal barrier and keep your body warm.
How large should my tent footprint be?
Some campers prefer having a little space outside their tent on which they can place wet and muddy items. So, they opt for footprints that are larger than their tents.
However, this isn’t a very good idea because water will be able to pool on such a footprint when it rains. Your footprint should keep your tent nice and dry. So, you should opt for one that is just a little bit smaller than your tent.
What is the difference between a footprint and a tarp?
The main function of a footprint is to provide a foundation for your tent. It is usually made of tough materials to prevent rocks, roots, sticks, etc from causing damage to the bottom of tents. A good tent footprint should be waterproof and snag-proof.
Meanwhile, tarps also offer resistance against snag and water but are not as heavy as footprints. A tarp will shield you from the elements of the weather and may stand alone as a shelter or go over your tent.
Depending on its features, a tarp may be used as a footprint.
For more, we’ve dedicated a full article on the differences between footprint and tarp.
How thick should a tent footprint be?
There isn’t a specific thickness for tent footprints. However, good tent footprints are usually at least 2mm thick. I would like you to note that the thicker your footprint, the greater the weight that you will be adding to your camping gear.
Can I use a tarp instead of a footprint?
Yes, you can use a tarp instead of a footprint if it’s thick enough.
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