About | Blog | Forums | People | Free Newsletter
Trailspace is a product review site for outdoor enthusiasts. Use it to find and share great gear.

Best material for footprint...

12:54 p.m. on November 4, 2013 (EST)
30 reviewer rep
146 forum posts

Hi fellow packers....

I want to make a footprint for my tent and with all the different types of fabrics to choose from it can be a daunting task.  I want it to be lightweight but yet durable.  I have a silnylon tarp that I could use, just cut it to shape, but as my hands were trembling as I was about to do that I thought I would ask all of you first.  (perfectly good tarp)

My tent has an option for a screen and floor...but it is way too heavy, coming in at over two pounds.  I have some Velcro already attached around the perimeter of the tent that was there for the factory option so I was going to try and use that.  I was thinking of a tub design around the edges, since that would be easier to attach to the tent and still keep the floor flat.  I was think of cuben fiber.  Any thoughts on this?

Thanks

Sankey

1:19 p.m. on November 4, 2013 (EST)
GUIDE/OUTFITTER TOP 25 REVIEWER REVIEW CORPS
770 reviewer rep
105 forum posts

Sure, it can never hurt! I have been successful using Dupont Tyvek 1443R, which is kite making material. Very light & durable. Please post your project!

1:34 p.m. on November 4, 2013 (EST)
TOP 10 REVIEWER
1,269 reviewer rep
317 forum posts

Cuben fiber really offers no advantages as a footprint...it pierces just as easily as nylon of equal weight...that is...if you could find .35oz and .54 oz nylon. Cuben fiber is best used as a tarp (does not absorb as much water as sil-nylon...sags less when wet...most people agree it has a greater tear strength...though Jardine did a "test" suggesting the opposite http://www.backpackinglight.com/cgi-bin/backpackinglight/forums/thread_display.html?forum_thread_id=74117). Cuben fiber also makes great water-proof stuff-sacks (unquestionably the lightest most durable waterproof material)...and it could possibly work as a component in a backpack (I am skeptical...but pillowthread has used one with a lot of success...to which I have turned a covetous eye).

As far as footprints go...Tyvek is one of the cheapest and most puncture resistant options...though there is some question about the level of protection it provides in terms of water saturated ground. As far as more typical fabrics...there is some debate as to which is better between taffeta and rip-stop (the reinforcement grid in rip-stop is thought to cause uneven wear on the silicon coating)...here is a forum discussion on the matter http://www.backpackinglight.com/cgi-bin/backpackinglight/forums/thread_display.html?forum_thread_id=38155. For all of my projects except one I have used 1.9 oz. silicon coated fabric for the floor with lots of success (I once used a ridiculously thick silicon coated 1.9 oz. fabric called K-kote from Seattle Fabrics for a two-person bug-tent which I believe will outlast all of life on planet Earth).

I have contemplated using 1.3 oz silicon as a lightweight floor in a bivy. Though questionable...I think it would work as a bivy floor because the sleeping pad prevents a lot of abrasion (I use my sleeping pad inside my bivy)...and also because I typically (whenever practical to do so) use leaves and other soft ground debris to build-up the ground underneath my bivy to increase drainage and prevent sharp ground objects from puncturing through (I do this instead of preening the ground...takes just as long...but provides twice the protection). As a tent floor...where the coating will surely be exposed to more abrasion...I would be very hesitant to use anything less than 1.9 oz silicon coated fabric.

1:35 p.m. on November 4, 2013 (EST)
72 reviewer rep
1,047 forum posts

I used Building Tyvek for a footprint.Not expensive and very lightweight and durable..Cheaper than Cubin fiber.

2:07 p.m. on November 4, 2013 (EST)
169 reviewer rep
171 forum posts

Take a good look at Polycryo!

This stuff -


0000000061157.jpg

That’s right, window insulating film!

This material is a heat shrinkable cross linked polyolefin. It has significantly higher tensile strength than Tyvek and both the aluminized mylar and polyethylene “space blankets”, and is many times stronger than polyethylene of similar thickness. It isn’t as puncture resistant as silnylon or cuben fiber, but it is ten or twenty times less expensive than those materials.

I have been using it under my tents as a ground cloth for some time now.

A large ground cloth of this material is astonishingly light, just a few ounces.

In this thread I show how to make tarps out of this material.

http://www.trailspace.com/forums/beginners/topics/120382.html

One of the tarps I made for that thread has been set up in the woods near my house since it was made, and it is still in perfect shape.

 

 

 

2:10 p.m. on November 4, 2013 (EST)
TOP 10 REVIEWER REVIEW CORPS
2,264 reviewer rep
5,188 forum posts

Or you could use the old approach, which will cost you much less, of getting a plastic drop cloth (3 mil) at your neighborhood hardware or painter's store. About $1.50 for a piece big enough to cut 2 footprints out of. I find they last a full 3-season for one half and almost unlimited winters, so 2 full years for $1.50. 3 mil plastic is completely waterproof, and if you clean the tent site of sticks and stones (which you should do anyway), you won't get any punctures or rips.

Yeah, I know, Tyvek is fashionable for the do-it-yourselfer, and factory-made footprints with the Famous Manufacturer logo on them are what the outdoor store will try to sell you. But plain old plastic does the job for a huge amount less. And most waste disposal companies (the ones that collect your town's trash and garbage) can recycle it.

2:12 p.m. on November 4, 2013 (EST)
TOP 10 REVIEWER
1,269 reviewer rep
317 forum posts

EtdBob...I was going to add that this stuff makes amazing tarps for its weight...will not protect you from the sun at all...and you might get a talking to by a fanatical LNT about how plastic shelters litter the landscape...but I very sound suggestion (I would have totally loved this idea when I was 16!).

2:53 p.m. on November 4, 2013 (EST)
225 reviewer rep
1,158 forum posts

A good ground cloth has to provide both puncture protection and ground water seepage protection.  Just set your tent on wet snow or on wet-sponge ground and then sit on it and see if any moisture comes thru.  It usually does with typical low denier tent floors so popular nowadays.  30 denier, etc.

Here's a test I recommend for people wanting to stay really dry inside their tents---

**  Go out to the backyard on the grass and place running water hose in a slight depression.

**  Fill up with water and place your tent floor or ground cloth on top of small pool.

**  Sit atop the cloth/tarp on the pool and wait 5 minutes to see if any amount of water seeps thru under your butt.  If it does, your ground cloth/tent floor is inadequate.

One of the few tarps I have found to keep out this kind of moisture is the heavy weight poly tarps available at places like Walmart.  They are cheap and can be cut to size (remove all the edges and grommets, etc).

The "Butt Test" has caused many materials to fail---tyvek, urethane coated nylon, all lightweight tent floors, etc.

3:19 p.m. on November 4, 2013 (EST)
118 reviewer rep
131 forum posts

Or you could use the old approach, which will cost you much less, of getting a plastic drop cloth (3 mil) at your neighborhood hardware or painter's store. About $1.50 for a piece big enough to cut 2 footprints out of. . .

 

Quoted for truth. I've been using cheap hardware store drop cloths since the late 1970's.

Not sexy. Not high tech. Not newest, latest, greatest. Its old school, light, cheap, durable and it works.

3:54 p.m. on November 4, 2013 (EST)
200 reviewer rep
3,939 forum posts

I use the nylon tarp I have carried for many years as a foot print under my tent. It also gets used as a emergency shelter. I dislike things with mainly one use in my gear!

8:58 p.m. on November 4, 2013 (EST)
119 reviewer rep
456 forum posts

I have often used plastic, usually around the 3 to 4 mil thickness.  I had one for my old Walrus Arch for probably 5 years, I just set the tent up on top of the plastic and marked it out and then cut it.  Back then I also just used little "tabs" of the plastic to run the loops through so it would stay under the tent.  Worked great and protected the bottom of the tent.  As long as I did not set up like a fool so the water ran on top of the plastic.  Yea I know.

But in your case your using it as the bottom of your tent if I follow you.  I would recommend a piece of Sill-nylon or PU nylon.  PU is cheaper, a little heaver and probably more durable.  If you can sew then it should be easy to make a bathtub floor and use some Velcro strips to attach it to the inside of the tent.  You should be able to get this at Wall mart or a fabric store. 

Also depending on the size of your tent, the bottom may or does not have to cover the entire area.  I have a GoLite Shanghai La 3 and when I use the floor I normally only use 1/2, I leave the rest for boots, gear and cooking.  Not I don't cook in my tent, what gave you that idea.  So it might be a good idea, if there is room, to leave some of the floor exposed so you can keep wet stuff in the tent with you.

I also think that Plastic, Tyvek, or the window film would suck to sleep on and keep as a floor in your tent.  Slip sliding away....

Wolfman

9:37 p.m. on November 4, 2013 (EST)
TOP 10 REVIEWER
1,269 reviewer rep
317 forum posts

If weight and space are not serious concerns all of the cheaper "plastic" suggestions above are totally adequate...but generally speaking they are heavier and significantly less compressible than silicon coated nylon (the polycryo suggestion being the lightest and most compressible option suggested...but also the least durable in terms of punctures).

PU coated rip-stop makes a very durable (if heavy) tarp...but there is good evidence to suggest that silicon coated nylon last longer as a "floor" due to it having significantly less friction (the second link I posted demonstrates this).

As Tipi said (and I said previously)...I would be hesitant to use a 30 denier (1.1oz uncoated - 1.3 coated oz) nylon for a shelter floor (except as a bivy with a sleeping-pad between me and the floor to prevent abrasion). 30 denier is actually rather uncommon (also usually more expensive than higher denier fabrics). 70 denier (1.9 oz coated) nylon is the industry standard for footprints + tent-floors + bivy-bottoms...and I have used it in the wettest parts of the country (Northwest and Eastern Woodland) with 100% success...but as I said...if the ground is saturated or flash-floods are expected...I would collect some soft ground debris (instead of preening) to place my "floor" on...it will increase drainage and prevent the pressure-seepage that Tipi is speaking of while adding some conductive insulation.

12:03 p.m. on November 5, 2013 (EST)
30 reviewer rep
146 forum posts

Thanks for all the replies and great suggestions.  It seems that I may have used the wrong term, that being "footprint" as that implies that it goes under a tent floor?  My tent has no floor, unless I buy it.  (The manufacturer does not state what material they used for the floor.)  I could buy theirs but it would be heavy as it includes zippers and netting, and as I said it comes in at over two pounds and is 150 bucks.

So what I would be doing is a "floor" of sorts, rather than something to put under an existing tent floor.  I am sure you all knew that, but I wanted to clarify.  Therefore I wanted to make one, as I was sure that I could make it lighter.  No netting needed, since it would be tight to bugs once the door is closed.  (the tent has plenty of vents)

When I bought the tent, I was ready to be a tarp tent person, being able to have a roomier tent with little weight gain.  But the Velcro that is already attached to the perimeter of the tent would make easy to make a piece to just close in the bottom gap where you cannot get a tight seal with the ground. Especially in off level situations. So...I thought...since I am making that piece, why not just make a complete lightweight floor.  

Anyway...why not the floor?  It would be dryer and better for the sleeping pad, as if I did not do the floor I would need a ground cloth for the pad anyway...right? (of course that would be lighter)

The floor area is 97 square feet, including the vestibule area.  So I had originally figured that I would need a very light fabric.  I would have trade-offs to get that light weight.  So how heavy would even the lightest fabric be with that much area?    

Snakey 

12:52 p.m. on November 5, 2013 (EST)
21 reviewer rep
1,012 forum posts

Whatever is light and waterproof. I bought a footprint for some tent I have never heard on sale for use under a tarp.

1:15 p.m. on November 5, 2013 (EST)
TOP 10 REVIEWER
1,269 reviewer rep
317 forum posts

I'm just gonna do approximate math here since 97 requires math to several decimal places to be exact (which still wouldn't be exact because you will be adding thread and possibly sealer). Instead of 97 square feet let us say that your floor is 90 square feet...which breaks down to 10 yards of fabric perfectly. 10 yards x weight of fabric = total floor weight. The lightest (I think wholly unsuitable) fabric that I know the weight of is .34oz Cuben Fiber (25.00 per linear yard from Z-packs!)...10 x .34 = 3.4 oz. The next lightest that I know of is 1.3 oz. sil-nylon (very skeptical of its suitability)...10 x 1.3 = 13 oz...(and Quest has 1st for 10.50 a linear yard...they offer cheaper 2nds). The lightest (personally) known suitable weight fabric is 1.9 oz. sil-nylon...10 x 1.9 = 19 oz...(Quest has 1st for 5.25 a linear yard...again they offer cheaper 2nds).

Just a note about your floor construction...if you want your floor to be both bug-resistant (it will only be resistant) and water-proof I would construct a whole floor...leaving the option of folding some of the fabric back for wet gear and storage (if you do not do this water will pool on top of the floor). If you only want the floor to provide water-proof protection...I would only construct a half-floor...or more precisely...a floor just a little larger than my sleeping pad to provide moisture protection for my sleeping-pad and sleeping-bag as well as some dry-storage space for gear I want to keep dry.

6:57 a.m. on November 6, 2013 (EST)
314 reviewer rep
1,124 forum posts

97 sq feet is a very large sleeping area. have you thought about a sleeping net with floor? Something like this http://www.cocoon.at/eng/show.php?doc=frameset&page=cocoon_ckat2&kat=12&prod=64 . Less than 1/2 Lb and could hang from the inside of your outer.

9:31 a.m. on November 6, 2013 (EST)
30 reviewer rep
146 forum posts

mikemorrow said:

97 sq feet is a very large sleeping area. have you thought about a sleeping net with floor? Something like this http://www.cocoon.at/eng/show.php?doc=frameset&page=cocoon_ckat2&kat=12&prod=64 . Less than 1/2 Lb and could hang from the inside of your outer.

 Yes...I was looking at the Sea To Summit single and it weighs more than the cocoon...so thanks for the link.  I may just do this, and it is the sleeping net that made me think about the floor.  However, I decided that it would give me more use of the tent than using the net.  I many times make a camp for days, and having to crawl into that small net to get away from mosquitoes and flies is no better than my Hubba.  It gets old not being able to move around.  That is why I went to the tarp tent, as it gives me the ability to stand somewhat.  One more pound for a four person is not bad.  By closing off the bottom edges of the tarp, and once I zip it closed, I have a much nicer space that is relatively bug free.  The trick is to do it with as little weight penalty as possible.  

Snakey

9:33 a.m. on November 6, 2013 (EST)
30 reviewer rep
146 forum posts

I think I will forego the floor entirely (just doing the skirt) and just use a ground cloth under the sleeping bag.  So I would have a very light addition to the tent to make it bug free.  The entire area in the tent including the vestibule area would be usable space.   I need to do a diagram I think.

10:26 a.m. on November 6, 2013 (EST)
TOP 10 REVIEWER
1,269 reviewer rep
317 forum posts

You mean relatively mosquito and fly free...there are lots of crawling insects that will make their way inside with ease:-)

4:10 p.m. on November 6, 2013 (EST)
BRAND REP
0 reviewer rep
138 forum posts

Snakey

What exact shelter do you have ?

The reason I am asking is because if you go with the net skirt and a small footprint under your mat you still end up with a similar or higher weight than if you get a largish fully enclosed bug inner.

The plus side of a separate inner would be that you could leave (depending on the design of you shelter) the door open for light/views and less cloustrophobia and of course you could keep the inner fully bug free.

A net skirt will pick up dirt particularly on wet ground so that will increase you weight anyway.

7:04 p.m. on November 6, 2013 (EST)
30 reviewer rep
146 forum posts

jrenow said:

You mean relatively mosquito and fly free...there are lots of crawling insects that will make their way inside with ease:-)

 You forgot snakes...  ;)

9:05 a.m. on November 8, 2013 (EST)
30 reviewer rep
146 forum posts

Franco said:

Snakey

What exact shelter do you have ?

The reason I am asking is because if you go with the net skirt and a small footprint under your mat you still end up with a similar or higher weight than if you get a largish fully enclosed bug inner.

The plus side of a separate inner would be that you could leave (depending on the design of you shelter) the door open for light/views and less claustrophobic and of course you could keep the inner fully bug free.

A net skirt will pick up dirt particularly on wet ground so that will increase you weight anyway.

 I have the Nemo Pentalite 4P....

...if you go with the net skirt and a small footprint under your mat you still end up with a similar or higher weight than if you get a largish fully enclosed bug inner.

The weight of the inner tent is over two pounds, and I am sure that I can come in lighter than that.

 ...A net skirt will pick up dirt particularly on wet ground so that will increase you weight anyway.


I don't get this...?  You are saying that I will pick up dirt...but I would shake it out?  I cannot see how this applies unless you set the tent up in mud. ??

I could get the Wedge (the inner tent) and cut out most of the the floor to lighten it up, as I really do not care about having a full floor but just to be able to close in around the sides. This would not be totally bug free of course.  

However, I really do not need all the screen either.  What I would do is add velcro to the vestible area so that I could skirt that too.  I could actually make two versions this way.  One that would be say cuben fiber and another net.  I could take whatever one would work for the type of camping.  Really hot....take the net skirt, cold take the CF skirt.

I will post pictures if I can get this done before the snow flies and the ground freezes.  I need to find someone that can stitch it up for me.

 

2:53 p.m. on November 8, 2013 (EST)
TOP 10 REVIEWER
1,269 reviewer rep
317 forum posts

Snakey...yes...snakes too!

If you have access to a sewing-machine you can totally do this project yourself. For some reason a lot of folks think sewing is a like a magical-power...but it is really easy...and can save a lot of money (just don't expect it to be perfect...take your time...and get a seam-ripper). If you're working with Cuben you can just use the no-sew method (I know they sell the tape through z-packs...which usually has the best price on Cuben...they also have the lightest insect mesh).

6:23 p.m. on November 8, 2013 (EST)
BRAND REP
0 reviewer rep
138 forum posts

Putting a net skirt around the base of the Pentalite will need a minimum of 20 square feet of mesh. Add the ground sheet to that and you have the weight of a largish solo fully enclosed bug net. 

Yes the mesh would pick up dirt/debris particularly when it rains and will freeze on snow if you end up using it for that.  Something like a Pyranet 1 from BearPaw should work. That one is 10oz.

BTW, I have no experience with the Pyranet , just something you could look at.

Another maker you could look at for inspiration is this:

http://oookworks.com/

8:53 a.m. on November 9, 2013 (EST)
30 reviewer rep
146 forum posts

jrenow said:

Snakey...yes...snakes too!

If you have access to a sewing-machine you can totally do this project yourself. For some reason a lot of folks think sewing is a like a magical-power...but it is really easy...and can save a lot of money (just don't expect it to be perfect...take your time...and get a seam-ripper). 

 Hey....jrenow,

So what would I need to spend to get a decent sewing machine?  Should I go used or new.  I don't want to spend a lot but would not want to end up with a piece of poo poo..

Snakey

7:10 p.m. on November 9, 2013 (EST)
30 reviewer rep
146 forum posts

Snakey said:

jrenow said:

Snakey...yes...snakes too!

If you have access to a sewing-machine you can totally do this project yourself. For some reason a lot of folks think sewing is a like a magical-power...but it is really easy...and can save a lot of money (just don't expect it to be perfect...take your time...and get a seam-ripper). 

 Hey....jrenow,

So what would I need to spend to get a decent sewing machine?  Should I go used or new.  I don't want to spend a lot but would not want to end up with a piece of poo poo..

Snakey

 I started a new thread on buying a machine...

April 25, 2014
Quick Reply

Please sign in to reply

 
More Topics
This forum: Older: Anyone try VAPUR microfilter pouch 'anti-bottles'? Newer: Help, please? with a pack.
All forums: Older: FS: Coleman 40 degree sleeping bag Newer: Important questions about community engagement