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Both newbie campers and old-timers are torn as to whether they need a tent footprint or not. You’ve already gone through the trouble of getting a tent and other equipment, so what is the point of getting a tent footprint? Do you really need one?
In this article, we discuss the factors that determine the final decision, such as the function of a tent footprint, the strength of the footprint, the role the toughness and surfaces play on your camping, costs, size, and weight. The weather also plays a part in your decision, especially if you need winter hot tents. We also discuss the effectiveness of DIY solutions instead of tent-specific footprints.
The Tent Toughness
The denier (D) measures the fabric weight used in making your tent. The higher the D rating, the stronger and thicker the fabric thread. On the topic of the tent footprint, what you want to consider is the denier of the tent groundsheet because this part comes in direct contact with your camping ground. The denier varies often.
Some tents have very thick floors, while heavier tents have higher denier ratings. You can often tell the difference in durability between two tents based on their denier values alone. A tent floor with a lower denier value is more susceptible to damage, and in this case, you’d be safer with a tent footprint.
As a camper, you must also ask yourself if buying a lighter tent alongside a footprint is better, especially when the footprint could add extra weight to your load. You may even be wondering; what is a tent footprint used for? Some experienced backpackers would prefer not to buy a footprint and will instead be picky about the kinds of tents they buy and the location chosen for camping. Many backpackers who prefer to travel light would rather go with lightweight footprints, while new backpackers and weekenders would rather use tougher tents.
The Camping Surface
No matter how beautiful or serene, the location you choose for camping greatly impacts how comfortable you’ll be in your tent. A camping surface with granite will create a bigger opportunity for your tent floor to suffer damage than a forest ground covered with foliage. Camping on the rock will cause more wear and tear to your tent floor, especially when that rock is granite.
One sharp piece is enough to create a hole in your tent. The rocks in some locations are a lot softer than others, especially sandstone. However, you can still incur damage from them. And while forest floors appear to be safer, they can still have roots and rocks hidden amidst the foliage.
No matter the kind of surface you are camping on, you’d be safer observing the area and picking out a flat location before you set up the tent. No one wants to sleep with a rock underneath them, making things more uncomfortable.
When you consider the fact that these rocks can also cause damage to the tent floor, you need to be careful about where you set up your tent for camping. When shopping for tents, you’d be safer with a sturdy tent that is resistant to abrasions. Properly staking the tent and reducing the movement reduces the chances of tears in the tent fabric due to friction.
What is the Average Cost and Weight of a Footprint?
Many companies that make camping gear create their own footprints that fit with tents. These are tent-specific footprints. They are very convenient because the footprint goes perfectly with the color scheme of the tent, and they also fit properly into the tent. However, they may be a bit more expensive.
Some of them could go from $30 to $80. They could also be heavier due to the material used in making them. Bigger footprints for big tents also tend to be heavier. In some cases, a footprint adds a significant amount of weight to your gear, about 10% more on its own.
Before you look into DIY footprints that may be lighter and more cost-effective than others, we need to discuss tent-specific footprints and their advantages. What makes the latter more effective is that they are made to fit perfectly with the rent. No excess material is sticking out of the tent, preventing rainwater from pooling on the tent’s floor.
The tent-specific footprints are also created with metal grommets so that the tent and the footprint can be connected to the end of the tent using poles. You can also connect the footprint to the tent’s rainfly in some cases. You may not always need this, but it is handy in locations with high winds. Some manufacturer-made footprints are a lot thicker than DIY footprints, giving them longer lifespans than their DIY counterparts.
A few things you need to consider when buying a footprint are;
- Camping location
When Do You Need a Footprint?
- Footprints are useful if your camping location is rough or rocky, especially if there are a lot of sharp edges in the area. Locations with many fallen branches will also likely cause tears on your tent floor.
- If you are a regular camper and you intend to keep using your tent for several years, then a footprint could be a good investment.
- If you’re heading to your camping location in your car and the extra weight won’t be a problem, a footprint has more pros than cons.
The Bottom Line
When choosing a footprint, you need to be sure of your tent model and your style of backpacking. Some people are very careful when camping, while others don’t pay as much attention. The latter category is likelier to suffer a tear in their tent material. A footprint would be a good investment in this case, especially when you consider how difficult it could be to fix a tear when out camping. If you’re concerned about the weight and cost, you could compromise and use a lightweight footprint.