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Free Tent Groundsheet

So, after sneaking the money out of the mattress to buy a $400 tent, risking the kids' college fund and the house payment the tent company has the nerve to ask you to buy the $100 footprint so you can have a groundsheet to protect the floor of your soon to be doghouse. 

To prevent this, I asked the guy at the lumber yard for a piece of Tyvec to make my own.  Its only sold in 60' rolls so either buy the whole roll (might as well pay for the brand name groundsheet) or scrounge construction sites; too time consuming, possibly trespassing.

The lumber store guy said that I was free to have a lumber tarp they were throwing away, as long as I took the whole thing.  Free!  Score!

This stuff is as light as Tyvec, almost as durable and super easy to cut. 

Wicked expensive tent: (don't ask me about the review, I just got it!)

Giant lumber tarp, some company in Oregon

I cut out the holy pieces and made two sheets to go under my tent

The tools and the two sheets, lightly folded, they pack pretty small

The part that took the longest was the drive to the lumber yard.  When one shreds, who cares! Just make another.


Score!  Another good source for a similar material is the stuff they use to wrap boats for the winter. It might be the same exact stuff and is plentiful around here in the spring when they unwrap the boats to put them back in the water.

Good idea if you like groundsheets. I have never used one in 50 years. I bought a small footprint from some tent I have never heard of on sale for $20 to use with a tarp and it works fine.

PPine I've never owned a groundsheet either but the price of this little tent made me reconsider.

The only purchased groundsheet I own is one for our family backpacking tent.  I got that because I knew it would make Mrs Stranger happier than my usual scrap of painters tarp I use on all my other tents, not because I think it works better :)

I was on the fence when I bought a new car camping tent earlier this year.

There was a footprint available, but the tent doesn't offer a "bare bones" or "fast pitch" setup with the fly. Basically, the footprint could only do exactly what a tarp (I already owned and used for decades) could. 

So why pony-up a few more Hamiltons for it? Couldn't justify it.

Paying for a groundsheet is almost like being charged extra for the paper bag your Mickey D's comes in - eventually, you're tossing it out anyhow, and it's an essentially disposable item. 

Nice grab, Jeff - try using a small length of shock cord to store the groundsheet in your pack (if ya don't already). Keeps it wrapped up nicely without adding the weight or fuss of a stuff sack.

Nice score! I got a piece of TyVek a couple of months back. I intended to make a DIY hammock tarp, but haven't gotten around to it yet (Most of my DIY projects, suck.).

I have always used a WP ground sheet with a tent.  The moisture under it whenever I strike camp assures me of my wisdom, as I have little faith in the coating of my tent bottom remaining intact after camping on top of pine duff, desert soils, and sharp gravel. 


I have for about 30 years used a 8x10 foot blue tarp for my tent footprint and it doubles as a spare tent,awning and other uses on the trail.

When camping on snow, I do not use a ground sheet. But for dirt, sand, rocks, etc, ground that will put extra wear on my tents, I just use plastic painters tarps - $1.50 for an 8x12 that can be cut in half to make two. Cheap, light, and last a long time. I want to protect all my expensive tents, including the ones I got for free - all my tents are expensive, including the free ones. Just a holdover from my dirtbag days, I guess

Can't complain about that, Jeff! Like Bill S said, "cheap, light, and lasts a long time!" Can't go wrong with that DIY project

I also knew a guy once who worked in construction who was a backpacker and had a huge sheet of Tyvec he used for a tent/tarp.

Not to be difficult, but the advantages of a footprint:

- Fits perfectly with no overhang (of course you can do this yourself). Overhang can let water puddle on top of the groundsheet and under the tent floor.

- Has tabs that allow the footprint to be staked to the ground. When a tent is empty and winds are high a loose groundsheet can blow away. I've had it happen in the Sierras. "Dan, what's that black thing down by the lake?"

- Do use something. Evergreen tree pitch can really gum up a tent floor.

- The footprints I have used have lasted for many years. They're easy to wash (easier than a tent floor).

I have always used a ground sheet.  I have used everything from garbage bags to heavy duty plastic I could scrounge at construction sites. 

I tend to use my tents for a long time.  My MSR tent is still good shelter after ten years.  I believe due in no small part to using the ground sheet designed for it.  But if you dont want the fast pitch feature, any kind of plastic will do. 

I never thought of getting Tyvec from a lumber yard though, thats a great idea!

Thanks for sharing.

Jeff, it's great to see others that hate to shell out money when not needed.  I've used ground cloths since I started hiking and backpacking (I think my first trip was with Moses on a desert trip).  I've always used the cheap way of finding some cast off material from someone using plastic drop sheets for painting.  These work well, and last a surprisingly long time.  I usually cut mine as a rectangle regardless of the shape of the tent -- I tuck the extra overhangs underneath, and the rectangular shape is easier to use when I use it more as a tarp than a ground cloth.  The overhangs are also great in keeping the ground cloth in place when setting the tent up in a wind.  Besides the obvious advantage of the ground cloth protecting the tent bottom, it provides other uses:

-- It keeps ground moisture coming up overnight from wetting the bottom of the tent;

-- If the night is nice and you want to sleep under the stars, or you change your mind and decide on a snow shelter, you don't even have to break out the tent;

-- It provides temporary shelter during an unexpected afternoon rain shower;

-- If everything is muddy at a rest stop, you have instant ground cover (I usually mount the ground sheet on the outside of the pack, or near the top if it's inside the pack).

December 5, 2020
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