DIY footprint material idea, good or bad?

4:51 p.m. on May 12, 2012 (EDT)
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The newbie promises not to swamp you...but you were great (and quick!) on my first question. The new tent has no footprint yet. Now, I've always used either a tent's custom footprint, or tarp cut to fit, but I'm in foggy, wet, often chilly eastern Canada and there's almost always moisture between the footprint and the floor when the tent comes down. So -- does a footprint have to be waterproof? Obviously I want to protect the floor from pokes and scrapes. I'm looking at a roll of weed block fabric (feels like thick cellulose, but I think it's polyethelene). It's extremely tough, practically weightless, and water-permeable. I tested a piece, and it does not wick water along the fabric (the corner under water got wet, the rest stayed dry). It saturates under pressure, but doesn't absorb (no plumping) and it dries fast. I'll be seam sealing the tent floor :) and don't think I need the footprint to be waterproof. Will this work?

5:19 p.m. on May 12, 2012 (EDT)
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The main purpose of a footprint is to protect your tents floor from punctures and damage. Footprints are fairly easy/cheap to replace when compared to a tent floor. 

Also they are quite beneficial if you have a fast fly option for your shelter. Some can't be set-up w/o a footprint due to the grommets for the poles and side release buckle receivers for the fly are built into the footprint.

(as seen here)

2011-05-13_13-47-10_29.jpg
Plus it gives ya something dry to lay on when you are not using the tent inner.

It really doesn't have to be waterproof because as you state above you have found moisture in between your tent floor and footprint so this kind of negates any added waterproof protection(if any) that they may add. 

I have footprints for both of my solo tents(3 & 4 season.)

The 4 season really doesn't need one because the floor is pretty tough stuff(70D)but I like it to fast pitch the shelter in snow plus it also covers the vestibule area.

(as seen here)

Hille-Soulo-1-003.jpg

Now with my UL 3 season(1st pic/tan tent)a footprint is a must. The floor is thin(30D.) I do not believe that if I used this tent w/o a footprint that the floor would last very long in the terrain that I frequent(rocky.)

If you want to get creative here is a fun way to make a footprint and you can be as creative as you want in regards to what material you want to use.

Oh and don't worry. You are not swamping us in the least. We are all more than happy to help.

Hope this helps ya a bit. 

8:17 p.m. on May 12, 2012 (EDT)
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Islandess said:

and don't think I need the footprint to be waterproof. Will this work?

 Yes, you are correct and yes again.

8:34 p.m. on May 12, 2012 (EDT)
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Years ago I found an old destroyed Alps tent. I cut out the floor and use it now for all my tents. It protects the floor from dirt and sticks, plus it adds some more water proofing. Rain-forest areas. If your area is really damp you might want to have a little more protection. But I lean towards safety over weight.

10:08 p.m. on May 12, 2012 (EDT)
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Islandess said:

The newbie promises not to swamp you...but you were great (and quick!) on my first question. The new tent has no footprint yet. Now, I've always used either a tent's custom footprint, or tarp cut to fit, but I'm in foggy, wet, often chilly eastern Canada and there's almost always moisture between the footprint and the floor when the tent comes down. So -- does a footprint have to be waterproof? Obviously I want to protect the floor from pokes and scrapes. I'm looking at a roll of weed block fabric (feels like thick cellulose, but I think it's polyethelene). It's extremely tough, practically weightless, and water-permeable. I tested a piece, and it does not wick water along the fabric (the corner under water got wet, the rest stayed dry). It saturates under pressure, but doesn't absorb (no plumping) and it dries fast. I'll be seam sealing the tent floor :) and don't think I need the footprint to be waterproof. Will this work?

Hi Islandess and welcom to Trailspace,

Huh,  Thats a really good idea to use weed block fabric.  I usually use Tyvek when I can find some for cheap but it's pretty expensive if one buy's it new.  I have a 6 ft wide roll that I believe is 200 yards long of industrial weed block fabric out in the shed from my days as a landscaping days that I've been trying to find a use for.  Thanks for a great idea.  Bring the questions on.  You will find that this is a community of wonderful people here who like to help each other new and old alike.  I would guess that if you did want to waterproof your weed block material you could just dip it in Thompsons Water Sealer.  Having a water proof footprint will not help in keeping water from getting in between the tent an the foot print but it's nice to have a small water proof tarp of sorts to hide stuff under or sit on while taking a brake on the trail.

 

6:02 p.m. on June 9, 2012 (EDT)
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270 forum posts

Just an update, I've now field-tested the weed block footprint. Ten days out, three pitches, unseasonably chilly even for eastern Canada, fog every morning -- exactly the conditions that always caused condensation under the tent floor, which was then trapped by the waterproof footprint. The fabric was a total success! Once down, it never moved, even without staking. No dirt came through, not even a spruce needle, and the tent floor looked factory-new when I packed for home. When I camped on a slope during an intense thundershower, water did of course run under the tent...and kept on going, instead of pooling on the footprint. As I said, no wicking, so the water didn't spread under the tent, and no absorbing, so it dried long before the grass did. And the thing weighed less than my 5x8 siltarp. Now the only reason I can see to use a waterproof sheet would be if the floor of the tent leaked...and then I'd put it inside, until I could do the repair, while still using my weedblock outside. Highly recommended!

4:17 p.m. on June 11, 2012 (EDT)
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I just use a 8x5 foot blue tarp under mt tent, no need to cut to fit (as then it can be used for others purposes).

4:33 p.m. on June 11, 2012 (EDT)
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Typar might be a viable option as well. I have had experience with this stuff when building homes. Definitely stronger than weed block.

http://www.typargeotextiles.com/

11:00 p.m. on June 20, 2012 (EDT)
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I checked on Typar. Their only suitable product for a footprint is a weed barrier BUT it has an insecticide impregnated into it. That's not something I want to handle of have next to my tent floor.

A lighter Tyvek or non-insecticide treated lamdscaping fabric looks better. I still use light plastic painter's cloths but have some left over landscaping fabric I'll try.

6:04 p.m. on June 21, 2012 (EDT)
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Hmmmm, thanks for pointing that out. I wasn't aware of that and I have worked with the stuff on more than one occasion.

Maybe that is why I have a thumb growing out of my forehead. ;)

5:34 p.m. on June 23, 2012 (EDT)
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BTW, I ran across a place that sells Tyvek by the foot for making footprints.

http://www.antigravitygear.com/tyvek-ground-cloth-by-the-foot.html

7:19 a.m. on June 29, 2012 (EDT)
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I checked on Typar. Their only suitable product for a footprint is a weed barrier BUT it has an insecticide impregnated into it. That's not something I want to handle of have next to my tent floor.

8:51 a.m. on June 29, 2012 (EDT)
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300winmag & diypartner,

Okay, I did some digging on the Typar Geotextiles...

It even lists that their product is chemical free on their home page(as seen below:)

Premium(guaranteed for 10yrs:)

http://www.typarlandscape.com/ls_landscapefabric.html

Professional(guaranteed for 20yrs:)

http://www.typarlandscape.com/ls_tlf_pro.html

Are you referring too their Bio-barrier root system? I am just not sure what product you are referring too. 

Could either/both of you provide a link for what you are referencing?

There are quite a few Typar(DuPont) products out there. 

If you were referencing the heavy grade Typar used for construction applications(which I have used as well) it is some heavy stuff. 

It can handle #3 rock no problem...

You would be better(lighter) using something else. 



1:00 p.m. on July 20, 2012 (EDT)
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1,469 forum posts

Islandess said:

The newbie promises not to swamp you...but you were great (and quick!) on my first question. The new tent has no footprint yet. Now, I've always used either a tent's custom footprint, or tarp cut to fit, but I'm in foggy, wet, often chilly eastern Canada and there's almost always moisture between the footprint and the floor when the tent comes down. So -- does a footprint have to be waterproof? Obviously I want to protect the floor from pokes and scrapes. I'm looking at a roll of weed block fabric (feels like thick cellulose, but I think it's polyethelene). It's extremely tough, practically weightless, and water-permeable. I tested a piece, and it does not wick water along the fabric (the corner under water got wet, the rest stayed dry). It saturates under pressure, but doesn't absorb (no plumping) and it dries fast. I'll be seam sealing the tent floor :) and don't think I need the footprint to be waterproof. Will this work?

 Better not to be waterproof.

Sounds good.

8:43 a.m. on July 21, 2012 (EDT)
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270 forum posts

Thanks, Callahan! The more I use it, the more convinced I am, that weedblock fabric is the way to go. With the waterproof footprint, if I was lucky enough to avoid trapping runoff, I was still trapping condensation. (I now have a lot of respect for the floor of my old MEC tent, it worked hard to keep me dry!) And it's so light it's practically antigravity. Still not a rock scratch or stick poke on the tent floor. Problem solved for life, I figure! I still carry a thin plastic sheet for boggy camps, just in case, but it's to put inside the tent if it leaks, and I haven't needed it yet.

August 20, 2014
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