tent floors

7:05 a.m. on March 4, 2003 (EST)
Matt_J

a.k.a. Matt J, MattJ

It used to be that tent floors were made of tarp like material. Even if you pitched your tent in a hole that filled with water overnight it was still perfectly waterproof. Lately I mean for the past 4 years tarp floors are substituded with coated nylon (I think that's the name for the fabric). I mean I understand that weight and folded size played some kind of role here. But why would this change take place?

1:57 p.m. on March 4, 2003 (EST)
Bill S
REVIEW CORPS
4,537 reviewer rep
6,037 forum posts
Much more than 4 years

Matt -

The use of coated nylon for tent floors dates back well over 40 years, and probably to when nylon was first used as a tent material. Maybe you are referring to "family" tents, but certainly in backpacking and climbing tents, coated nylon for floors (and flies) is a long-standing practice. Some floors are made with a heavier nylon than others (family tents and tents likely to be used mostly in summer on bare ground).

There are several factors in the decision of the type of material. You have to balance weight (especially for backpacking and climbing tents) with durability. Nylon is a very durable material and can be lighter weight (thinner) than other fabrics for the same wear characteristics. The coating chemical and method play a major role in the water-proofness of the floor. Eventually flash coatings (most common kind) will wear in spots or peel off.

So what type of tents are you referring to?

2:31 p.m. on March 4, 2003 (EST)
Jim S
67 reviewer rep
757 forum posts

Quote:

It used to be that tent floors were made of tarp like material. Even if you pitched your tent in a hole that filled with water overnight it was still perfectly waterproof. Lately I mean for the past 4 years tarp floors are substituded with coated nylon (I think that's the name for the fabric). I mean I understand that weight and folded size played some kind of role here. But why would this change take place?

Along time ago and far far away... Tents were made of cotton canvas and had no floors or bug (snake)protection. People would lay down another piece of canvas inside and called it a ground cloth. After while pup tents came into fashion and people liked the idea of a floor and maybe a mosquito proof window, but they were still cottom canvas. If it rained bad - you went home.

I think it was 1967 that the first experimental all nylon tents came out for high altitude expedition use. No one uses a ground cloth at altitude - no need.

Over the years the coated nylon tents came available to mere mortals though most were pretty dismal in a rain by modern standards. 30 years ago I spent 3 months in Alaska in the wet in a $35 nylon tent with a nylon floor - no ground cloth.

Maybe a decade ago maybe longer - good manufacturers started using heavy multi coated boat floors that as you say, would sit in a lake and keep the water out.

No with the ultralight krase combined with corporate profits and clever marketeering, manufacturers have convinced people to buy tents that were lightened by poor design, not good design. They say their tent is lighter and it is, only its less durable and they have convinced people to buy these stupid FOOTPRINT things. No good tent requires a footprint - period. And it you do use a footprint which a ground plastic, not a ground cloth, it will hold the water that runs off the side of your tent and you will now be in a lake because they don't put any drain holes in them.

This piece of lore - ground cloth good - hmmm ground plastic good is one of todays miracle stupid camping ideas.
If you really need it - put a 4 ounce piece of thin plastic inside your tent as a vapor barrier.
I know a lot of people think the ground plastic keeps their tent bottom clean - but it can make you seriously wet.
JimS

2:33 p.m. on March 4, 2003 (EST)
Matt_J

a.k.a. Matt J, MattJ
Re: Much more than 4 years

Bill

I bought a North Face Nebula tent few years back and it has a coated nylon floor. I was just putting another coat on the seams in my basement and realized how thin the floor is (somehow I paid no mind to it before). So I dragged out my first hunting tent which had a tarp for the floor. I realized or it seems that puncturing nylon floor would be much easier than the tarp one. Also human nature wants me to belive that when it comes to water resistance, tarp would do better than coated nylon.

Matt

12:29 a.m. on March 8, 2003 (EST)
Waldo

Use Thompson Water Seal

Jims advice solid. If you do anything extra put a 4 mil plastic sheet INSIDE the tent. The lighest alternative is paint your tent floor with Thompson Water Seal for concrete/wood. Sounds dumb but it works.

3:32 p.m. on March 18, 2003 (EST)
Scott M.

a.k.a. Scott, Scott m

I've heard arguments for and against ground pads. Personally, I use 4 mil painters plastic sheet cut SMALLER than the footprint of my tent. You want to cut it smaller so that it does not act as a funnel and bring water under the tent. I haven't tried putting one on the inside of my tent. Might have to give that a shot. I can't recommend buying one of those premade footprints that a made specifically for a certain tent. They just charge you a lot of money for something you can make yourself.


Quote:

Quote:

It used to be that tent floors were made of tarp like material. Even if you pitched your tent in a hole that filled with water overnight it was still perfectly waterproof. Lately I mean for the past 4 years tarp floors are substituded with coated nylon (I think that's the name for the fabric). I mean I understand that weight and folded size played some kind of role here. But why would this change take place?

Along time ago and far far away... Tents were made of cotton canvas and had no floors or bug (snake)protection. People would lay down another piece of canvas inside and called it a ground cloth. After while pup tents came into fashion and people liked the idea of a floor and maybe a mosquito proof window, but they were still cottom canvas. If it rained bad - you went home.

I think it was 1967 that the first experimental all nylon tents came out for high altitude expedition use. No one uses a ground cloth at altitude - no need.

Over the years the coated nylon tents came available to mere mortals though most were pretty dismal in a rain by modern standards. 30 years ago I spent 3 months in Alaska in the wet in a $35 nylon tent with a nylon floor - no ground cloth.

Maybe a decade ago maybe longer - good manufacturers started using heavy multi coated boat floors that as you say, would sit in a lake and keep the water out.

No with the ultralight krase combined with corporate profits and clever marketeering, manufacturers have convinced people to buy tents that were lightened by poor design, not good design. They say their tent is lighter and it is, only its less durable and they have convinced people to buy these stupid FOOTPRINT things. No good tent requires a footprint - period. And it you do use a footprint which a ground plastic, not a ground cloth, it will hold the water that runs off the side of your tent and you will now be in a lake because they don't put any drain holes in them.

This piece of lore - ground cloth good - hmmm ground plastic good is one of todays miracle stupid camping ideas.
If you really need it - put a 4 ounce piece of thin plastic inside your tent as a vapor barrier.
I know a lot of people think the ground plastic keeps their tent bottom clean - but it can make you seriously wet.
JimS

3:35 p.m. on March 18, 2003 (EST)
Scott M.

a.k.a. Scott, Scott m
Re: Much more than 4 years

You say you just realized how thin the floor was. This leads me to think that you have not had any problems with punture and/or water resistance. Is that the case?

Quote:

Bill

I bought a North Face Nebula tent few years back and it has a coated nylon floor. I was just putting another coat on the seams in my basement and realized how thin the floor is (somehow I paid no mind to it before). So I dragged out my first hunting tent which had a tarp for the floor. I realized or it seems that puncturing nylon floor would be much easier than the tarp one. Also human nature wants me to belive that when it comes to water resistance, tarp would do better than coated nylon.

Matt

June 5, 2020
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