Tent Footprint

2:13 a.m. on June 29, 2015 (EDT)
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Hello all! recently I purchased a Kelty Tempest 2 person tent from Dicks sporting goods and I realize I need a footprint. I was looking at making my own using tyvek since one is not available to buy, and It seems simple enough and cheaper to do it on my own. As I was looking online I understand you have to trace the outline of your tent do you only do the main floor portion of the tent? or do you include the fly into the pattern when tracing? I hope this question makes sense. 

6:39 a.m. on June 29, 2015 (EDT)
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Generally you want a footprint to be a little less than the size of the main tent compartment so you don't collect water from the fly. I like a little extra for a doormat in the vestibule area but not covering the whole area to avoid collecting splatter.  With the exception of my doormat the footprint is totally covered by the tent and unseen. If you can see it sticking out around the edges it is too big.

7:51 a.m. on June 29, 2015 (EDT)
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If you're using the fly then the footprint can stick out from underneath the tent floor -- rain can't collect on it and run under the tent if it's covered by the fly. And if you don't want to set up the fly then that's a night that you aren't expecting any rain anyway.


James, you don't necessarily "need" a footprint. Tent floors are pretty durable and easy to repair. For a simple and cheap and very lightweight footprint you could try polycryo, which is available as insulating window film, like this: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B002GKC2OY/ref=sr_ph?ie=UTF8&qid=1435578379&sr=1&keywords=window+insulation. Will protect your tent floor from sharp sticks and rocks and abrasion, should be under 2 oz for a piece to match a 2p tent.

8:33 a.m. on June 29, 2015 (EDT)
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I agree they are not necessary, but can extend the life of a tent. Some UL tents don't seem as durable. I usually cut one just short of the tent floor as LoneStranger suggests. If your fly doesn't come all the way down to the ground, which can reduce venting, then some splatter and rain in bad storms can get under there if the footprint is outside the tent area. I used to use an extended piece at the door, but now carry a small piece of tyvek separately. I don't lose any small items when they lay on that.

9:25 a.m. on June 29, 2015 (EDT)
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Whether to use a footprint and what sort depends a lot on what surfaces you're setting up on. Generally I use a cut down piece of painters tarp unless I'm camping on sharp rocks or a weathered wood platform. For rougher surfaces I'll risk sacrificing my tarp for the sake of the tent.

While you can always repair damage or buy a new tent I'd rather spend my time and money on getting out on trail. If carrying a couple of ounces of prevention means I have to pack one less cookie I'm willing to pay that price.

10:03 a.m. on June 30, 2015 (EDT)
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I cannot decide if footprints are a design concept that tent manufacturers have come up with to sell more of their products, or if they are useful.  I have never used one, but I have used lots of tents with no floor.

1:25 p.m. on June 30, 2015 (EDT)
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If my memory serves me correctly, in the early 80's when I first started backpacking there were no footprint options and we cut ours from typical plastic rolls.  So we were using them before the mfg's started seeing a profit generator.  The first footprints I saw were in the 90's sometime along with the "light" option of just bringing the footprint, poles, and fly. Maybe I was just too poor to consider a manufacturer's footprint then and forgot they were available...and now I am too cheap so still make my own.  But I do tend to use them on a regular basis.

6:53 p.m. on July 1, 2015 (EDT)
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I used tents for years without a footprint, they were also heavier & tougher than many of the tents that are now popular, so now I use them. I don't think you "have to". 

I have a couple tents that use a footprint with grommet holes (as mentioned above) the tent poles fit into, this lets you pitch the tent with just the poles & rainfly, minus the inner tent body.  This is usually called a "fast pitch option".

I also have several tents that came without a footprint, and none were offered by the manufacturer at the time I bought them. For these I make my own footprint out of painters plastic. I do this to protect the tent floor from wear & tear, and to get as much life out of the tent as I can.

As has already been discussed, I set the tent up with plastic underneath then I use a sharpie marker to trace the tent onto the plastic. I use scissors or a knife to cut an inch or so inside the line I drew on the plastic.

I like my homemade footprints cut to fit just inside the edges of the inner tent body so rain, and rain splatter, does not collect on the plastic and run under the tent.

9:45 p.m. on July 2, 2015 (EDT)
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I use a blue tarp big enough when folded in half as a tent ground sheet/foot print. It also doubles as a lean-to tent and other uses as well. Been using a tarp for about 30 years.

Now-a-days you can get one cheap at Dollar Tree for yup, you guessed it $1 and they last forever if taken care of.

And the gromment's on the edges make it easy to stake it out.


Blue-tarp.jpg

8:57 a.m. on July 3, 2015 (EDT)
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Come to think of it, I do have a footprint. It was made for some tent I have never heard of. I use it under a tarp if the ground is muddy or dusty.

I like Mike and Gary's posts.

10:29 p.m. on July 3, 2015 (EDT)
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The only use for a footprint is to reduce abrasion on the tent floor.  If you have large holes in the footprint it is still doing most of its job - depending where they are.  When you get paranoid enuf, replace the one with holes. 

I used (as others have said) paint cloths - not the heavy duty ones.  I make two while at it, putting the spare someplace that I will never remember where it is years from now when needed.

Lay out the material.  Pitch the tent on it.  Trace the tent as close as you can with a Sharpie (or similar).  Cut it 1 inch short all around.  You are not trying to keep the damp outside from coming up.  You need the extra material under you where you kneel, stand, sit or sleep upon.

I have had a sylnylon tent for almost 2 decades.  No problem with tent floor.  I blame it on using the footprint which gets replace non-routinely. 

1:33 a.m. on July 8, 2015 (EDT)
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If you buy one of those costly, manufacturer sized and produced nylon footprints to protect the floor of your tent you may begin to think that you ought to get a footprint to protect the footprint that you acquired to protect the floor of your tent.

8:51 a.m. on July 8, 2015 (EDT)
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Where do you use the footprint i.e. do you put it under the tent or inside the tent?  Under the tent is most common, but there is an argument that most of the we comes from inside the tent.

Does anyone actually use their tent in "fast pitch" mode?  It is buggy much of the time where I live, but even other times of the year, I don't think I would want to because the flys don't go all the way to the ground (the bathtub sides of the tent make up the difference.  For a small tent, "fast pitch" mode isn't doing to provide much protection from rain or snow (part of me is going to stick out) so what is the point?  It seems like marketing.

With regard to footprints not being available to buy for some models, there are only so many ways to lay out two people in a two person tent so the footprints are fairly interchangeable.  Most of these tents are a rectangle, although some are more of a diamond shape.  I have made my own footprints from plastic sheeting, but have also bought clearance footprints for a couple bucks for tents models no longer made.  The 2 person rectangle footprints only vary by an inch or two, and footprints are usually a little smaller than the floor anyway.  It's not like I am putting wear on the edge of the floor - the wear is in the middle.

12:42 a.m. on July 9, 2015 (EDT)
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The reason I need a footprint is I will do most of my camping here in AZ. mostly desert bike camping. I did not want the bottom of my tent tearing. 

thank you all for the help it is greatly appreciated!

1:03 a.m. on July 9, 2015 (EDT)
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I have found that if you cut the foot print larger, to a size that gives you enough to tuck under the tent floor, the lip or fold of the plastic acts as a little wall that causes any water running over the ground to be directed beneath the foot print rather than between the tent floor and footprint. I remember that in the older Sierra Designs tents it wasn't hard to exceed the psi specs of the coating and water would start to seep in a bit right through the fabric. Such as with a knee pressing onto the floor. Better to keep the water under the ground sheet if the ground is really getting saturated.

4:43 p.m. on July 13, 2015 (EDT)
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I just wanted to say thanx everyone for the help! Im going to order some tyvek for this project.

9:48 p.m. on July 14, 2015 (EDT)
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pine sap said:

I have found that if you cut the foot print larger, to a size that gives you enough to tuck under the tent floor, the lip or fold of the plastic acts as a little wall that causes any water running over the ground to be directed beneath the foot print rather than between the tent floor and footprint. I remember that in the older Sierra Designs tents it wasn't hard to exceed the psi specs of the coating and water would start to seep in a bit right through the fabric. Such as with a knee pressing onto the floor. Better to keep the water under the ground sheet if the ground is really getting saturated.

 That's a good point!

I can see how that would work if you had lots of rain and water flowing or pooling around the tent. Sometimes you just can't find the perfect spot to pitch a tent to avoid all potential problems.

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