Hike-N-Light Tyvek tent footprints
An inexpensive alternative to tent manufacturer's nylon footprints, but not set up for a fly-first or fly-only pitch. Some assembly required, and hard to keep clean.
- Reasonably lightweight
- Some assembly/modification required
- No fastex clips for fly-only pitch
- Stuff sticks to fibers in Tyvek
- Grommets too large
I figure TS folk ought to know about the pros and cons of this cheap alternative to manufacturer's tent footprints...
The cons (mainly weight) and pros (mainly protection) of tent footprints are much debated here on TS and other backpacker's sites. They seem to be a good idea if you can afford the weight or may be pitching your tent on "coarse" surfaces that might otherwise damage your tent floor.
Once you've made the decision to go with a footprint, your are faced with coughing up another $50 or more for an expanse of coated nylon with a few straps, grommets, and clips attached, or looking around for a cheaper alternative. For our Big Agnes Copper Spur UL 2, I jury-rigged a tough and not-too-heavy footprint out of some heavy-duty polyethylene, duct tape, and a grommet kit. Faced with dropping $80 for a simple rectangular footprint for our Copper Spur UL 3, I again started looking around for alternatives and stumbled across Hike-N-Light's cut-to-size Tyvek footprints on Ebay at $15 plus shipping.
It arrived as folded rectangle of Tyvek with some self-stick squares with pre-mounted grommets and a terse instruction sheet. As recommended, I ran the Tyvek through the washing machine to soften it up. It was precisely cut to fit the 70 x 88 floor of the tent, so that if I mounted the grommets directly on the corners they wouldn't line up properly with the poles, which are positioned via webbing extensions about 4" outboard of the floor corners to keep the fly from dripping on the tent body.
So I went to work with some 1" Gorilla tape to make some extensions. I think Hike'N'Light would be well advised to provide extensions as part of the package, even if they leave final assembly to the user.
(crude but effective)
The finished product weighs in at 9.6 oz (273) comparing favorablly to the manufacturer's weight 9 oz for the "official" model.
It was only after putting it all together and trying it out for the first time that I realized that the grommets are a size too large, so that they fall off the pole ends when lifting the tent with footprint attached. I think grommets the same size as those on the tent (or manufacturer's footprint) would stay in place. -1 star just for that little problem.
You're on your own if want to add the fastex clips needed to anchor the fly at the corners of the footprint for a fly-first or fly-only pitch. I suppose with a little more money and time I could rig that up, but as-is it doesn't duplicate that function.
Is Tyvek really waterproof? As a crude test I laid the footprint over a bucket and poured a cup of water on it. Four drops got through after about 30 minutes waiting time, possible through pinholes after a couple weeks of regular use, but otherwise it seemed to be waterproof. We recently sat out a heavy rain shower with the tent pitched on a slight slope, and some water got between the footprint and floor, but I think this was from splash rather than leakage.
(my friend's Corgi for scale)
After pitching the tent and footprint on coarse duff under spruce and fir trees on a recent hike in Colorado, I noticed a lot of bits and pieces of soil organic matter clinging to the underside of the footprint. They wouldn't come off with shaking or casual brushing—it seems that the fibers in the Tyvek gives them something to hang on to.
I finally got the footprint cleaned up by hanging it to dry then going at it with a broom. But in the meantime I was lugging around a few grams to ounces of damp wood and leaf fibers. I would also imagine these might be rather unwelcome in an apartment-living situation. I looked at online discussions of the pros and cons of Tyvek footprints and didn't see any mention of this, but it's at least worth knowing about before going this route.
Hike'N'Light also offers lengths of Tyvek off of 5, 7, or 9 foot wide rolls at per-foot prices ranging from about $1.50 to $2 per foot, with the grommet patches sold separately so you can custom cut your own footprint, but you can save yourself some time and hassle and buy some precision by ordering the cut-to-fit ones where available. Given the grommet size problem, you might just as well get a grommet kit and some Duct/Gorilla tape and do it right.
Hike'N'Light does not seem to have its own website, and the info available on E-bay is not clear about whether the footprints are cut to anything closer than the minimum rectangle for a given tent model, i.e. whether or not further cutting is required. For example, the smaller Copper Spur tents as well as the updated Cooper Spur HV UL 3 have trapezoidal floor plans, and of course many tents have hexagonal or even more complex floors. In my opinion a footprint should not extend anywhere beyond the tent floor to prevent it from conducting splash and drip under the tent floor.
I can recommend this option for budget-minded hikers who don't mind doing some final customization to get to a fully functional footprint. Otherwise you might be better off laying some cash down for the full monty.
Source: bought it new
Price Paid: About $15 plus about $5 shipping
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Reviewers Paid: $15.00