What Is A Tent Footprint And Do You Need One?

Are you new to camping and trying to figure out everything you need? Well, one of the things that you might have seen that you need is a tent footprint. Some people have mix opinions though on if this is actually needed. Well, in this article we will look at what a tent footprint actually is. We will talk about what it does and the function it serves while camping. Then we will talk about if you really need one or not. Be sure to continue reading this article to learn everything you need to know about a tent footprint and have all your questions answered before you invest in one or not.

Do I need a tent footprint?

Do I need a tent footprint?

What is Tent Footprint?

So, before getting into if you need a tent footprint we will first talk about what it is. It is actually really simple. A tent footprint is a tarp like ground covering that goes on the ground under your tent. You can actually use a tarp as a tent footprint if you want to save some money and not buy a specific tent footprint. The good thing about actual tent footprints over just using a tarp is that they tend to fold away better which makes it easier to backpack and carry one on your camping trip.

Kelty Salida 2 Tent Footprint

Kelty Salida 2 Tent Footprint

What does it do

So, now that you know that a tent footprint is just a basic ground covering that goes under your tent you may be wondering what it does. Well, the key thing that a tent footprint does is it protects the bottom of your tent. If you are being a responsible camper you are setting your tent up on a hard and possible rough spot to not erode or damage the environment. This rough surface can cause the bottom of your tent to wear out faster. Yes, tents are designed to be on the ground, but rough surfaces over time can cause a lot of wear to your tent. Having a tent footprint is like having a phone case on your phone. It is an extra layer of protection to keep your item nice. A tent footprint is a lot easier to repair or replace if it gets ripped. If the bottom of your tent gets ripped, then it is a lot harder to repair and might mean having to buy a new tent.

Extra Warmth and Dryness

Another reason to have a tent footprint is that it provides extra warmth. That is because it is another layer between you and the ground. Every bit of installation can help, especially if you are camping in cool weather. If the ground is cold it will come right up into the floor of your tent and make the floor of your tent cool. By having an extra layer between your tent and the ground, it will help keep you warm. A tent footprint just provides more comfort in general. The extra padding can also help back out any rocks or roots in the ground that you didn’t get out of the way. You generally want to move all the rocks that you can so they don’t rip your tent, but if you have a tent footprint you don’t have to move the rocks as perfectly.

Also, by using a tent footprint it adds more waterproofing to your tent. Most tent bottoms are waterproof, but it never hurts to have extra protection. Also, if the ground does get wet, then it isn’t your tent that is right in the water. That means that you won’t have to worry about the water or mud damaging your tent. Also, it means that you can pack your tent up easily and not have as much cleaning off. If the mud got on your tent you would have to clean it off before packing it up. If mud is on the tent footprint you can rinse it off and not have to worry as much about it being perfect. Also, if you have a cheap tent footprint or homemade do it yourself one, then you can just toss it out if your camping trip is over and make or get a new one.

Easier Set Up

One benefit that you may not think about with having a tent footprint is that it can make setting up your tent easier. That is because you can get a tent footprint made specifically for your tent. If you are using just a tarp, then you won’t get the benefits as much from an easier setup. The reason that having a tent footprint makes set up easier is you know right where your tent is going to end up as you are putting the footprint down. That means that you can start stacking as you set the footprint out. This will speed up the process of securing the tent when it comes time to do that.

Some downsides

The reason why some people say you don’t need a tent footprint is that it is one more thing to pack. Also, it is one more thing you have to buy which can be a problem for some people. Also, they add extra weight when hiking which some people feel isn’t worth it. Some of these problems though you can get around by making your own tent footprint. We already mentioned that you can just use an extra tarp that you have as a tent footprint. You can also make one yourself. We aren’t going to get into the specifics of a DIY tent footprint here, but most start with Polycryo sheets. These are a plastic type sheet that you can cut into the size and shape that you need.

Do i need a tent footprint

So, now that you know what a tent footprint is and what it does the question comes to do you need a tent footprint? Well, the technical answer is no. You don’t have to have a tent footprint, but it is a good idea to have one. That is because using a tent footprint is like an insurance policy for your tent. It will keep your tent from wearing out as quickly and will keep your tent from getting major damage. Also, it will make your sleeping in the tent more comfortable. If cost or size is an issue you don’t have to buy a specific tent footprint, you can just make your own.


Now you know what a tent footprint is and our recommendation on if you need one or not. You know that a tent footprint is a ground covering that goes between the ground and the bottom of your tent. You can get ground coverings that are specifically tent footprints and even made for your tent or you can make one yourself if you want to save money or weight. Your tent footprint doesn’t have to be anything fancy. Any ground covering between your tent and the ground will give you the benefits of using a tent footprint.

Tom Chandler

"When your hands hit the floor, they get cut up. When mine hit the floor, they slide with ease"

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