View Full Version : Footprint or not?

10-11-2006, 17:00
Please help - I am trying to complete our gear for a two-nighter at the end of this month. I have a Eureka Spitfire 2. Do I need a footprint and/or floor saver? Please, with all due respect, no hammock responses.

10-11-2006, 17:17
Here's a question that might help answer your question. Where are you hiking and what is the terrain ?

There are some who feel that a footprint/groundcloth is unecessary under any circumstances. I disagree. The damage to a tent floor is cummulative and may not appear after a 2 night hike. I carry a piece of Tyvek just a bit smaller than the footprint of my tent. I'd rather damage the Tyvek than my tent.

If the terrain where you will be hiking/setting up camp is all earthen then you can probably go without the footprint. If however, there is considerable ground rock/debris then a footprint goes a long way to sparing your tent bottom, both of excess dirt/mud and damage.


10-11-2006, 17:25
Like the prior post, I always think it's cheaper to replace the footprint than to replace the whole tent. Plus, when staying in a shelter, it doubles as a ground cloth on the floor of the tent to help keep my sleeping bag cleaner. I always use one, even when tenting on earthen ground. Just keeps the tent bottom cleaner.

10-11-2006, 18:22
Your tent floot will wear out on one side or the other. A footprint saves only one side. If it traps water, pressure between the footprint and the ground will force water into the tent. It is easy to patch the tent floor when (not if) it starts leaking. Or you can put a footprint inside instead of outside. One thing that you always have to deal with when using a footprint is it makes the floor slip around more and strains the stake loops.

max patch
10-11-2006, 18:29
I slept in my tent probably 120 times on my thru and didn't use a footprint and my tent floor didn't wear out or leak so my guess is that a footprint isn't necessary. However, if you want to carry the extra weight, bulk, and expense of a footprint thats fine too. I'm sure it helps. The amount of help is debateable.

10-11-2006, 18:44
answer is no. many many people don't even use a tent, just a tarp. they use tyvek to keep them off the ground plus a sleeping pad. you certainly don't need 3 or 4 things under you: bag, pad, tent floor, footprint. It is just another item the retailers are trying to sell you. don't fall for the fear factor. your tent won't fall apart if you don't have one.

10-11-2006, 18:51
No footprint...

10-12-2006, 07:55
I prefer a 3-6mil piece of plastic as a footprint, although you can usually buy odd sized footprints of discontinued tents models very cheaply ($4-$10) and cut to size and use as a tarp or a footprint for your tent.

What I do like about a footprint is that my tent floors still look great after years of use. I don't use anything inside the tents except winter in deep snow I use the plastic sheet inside rather than outside.

Things to consider - some areas I hike have huge slug populations and the last thing I want is a smashed up slug smeared on my tent floor (uuggh....), I have many times had them smashed and smeared on my plastic footprint and they are easily washed off with some water from my waterbottle or a nearby stream. YMMV.

10-12-2006, 09:40
Thanks for all the replies. What I'm hearing is that although a footprint may help preserve the floor of the tent, it is not really necessary to keep water from seeping into the bottom from the ground (which was my primary concern)? Is the bottom of the tent itself enough or if it rains, will it become wet - and is that more a function of where and how you pitch the tent?

We are doing a two-nighter on the Jack's River Trail in the Cohutta Wilderness, starting at the Beech Bottom trailhead, and I am not familiar with the terrain, I've never been there.

Where do you get Tyvek in the Atlanta area? Campmor sells a Tyvek groundcloth for $15, seems a little expensive.


10-12-2006, 10:43
Where do you get Tyvek in the Atlanta area? Campmor sells a Tyvek groundcloth for $15, seems a little expensive.


Look for new home construction as you drive around. If you see a house with Tyvek on it stop and talk to one of the contractors. They will sometimes cut you a piece off their roll and either give it to you or charge you a couple bucks for it.


10-12-2006, 10:45
Most outfitters are now selling it off the roll, by the linear foot...

10-12-2006, 10:54
Most outfitters are now selling it off the roll, by the linear foot...

where and what outfitters? I can't think of any in Nashville that do

10-12-2006, 11:00
I know Mtn Crossings @ Neels Gap does.

10-12-2006, 11:03
I use Tyvek. I am not an ounce cruncher, so the minimal weight of a Tyvek footprint for my SD Clip Flashlight is a non-factor. I actually kind of like it, because I can wrap my entire wet tent up in it burrito-style, and still fit it in the stuff sack. Stick the bottom of the burrito-rolled wet tent in a gallon ziploc bag and it doesn't leak rain water into your pack, and the Tyvek keeps most of the wetness from leeching hortizontally. The only downside iis that your tent bag gets really dirty, but I can't see that bothering many people days into a backpacking trip.


10-12-2006, 12:18
I use a piece of 3-mil plastic. Its cheap and light. Cut it slightly smaller than the tent and make sure that it doesn't hang out or you may experience the "waterbed effect" in the rain. I mark it so that the same side is always up so that I don't transfer the squashed slugs, etc. to the tent.

10-12-2006, 12:45
Most outfitters are now selling it off the roll, by the linear foot...

You can also order Tyvek from AGG http://www.antigravitygear.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=198

Don't forget to "wash" it a few times to soften it up.

10-12-2006, 14:49
I've had the same tent now for over 10 years and I've never used a footprint. The bottom is fine and my bottom is fine. I've never had a problem not using one and I'd think it would just be something else to hassle you with.

10-12-2006, 16:29
how about 2 footprints? per tent? and per person? now there's an idea that's worth worrying about. who knows, you might wear one out on a thru hike, then what would you do? how about an extra stove while we're at it. I mean one could go bad, right?

10-12-2006, 16:42
I use large trash bags as my footprint. Once they wear out get some more.

10-18-2006, 03:08
If your tent is so flimsy that you need another piece of material underneath it to keep it from leaking, then perhaps you should consider buying another tent...tents should be designed to keep out the water on their own, with or without a footprint. Seems like most tents nowadays have a sturdy enough floor that you wouldn't need anything else.

That said, trash bags would do the trick just as well, and could double as a backpack liner or cover, or to keep your sleeping bag dry, etc.

Johnny Swank
10-18-2006, 09:28
I wouldn't mess with the footprint myself. Take a 3 mil sheet of plastic cut slighly smaller than the tent if you want anything.

Something we started doing on the river was just to put the pads UNDER the tent and call it a day. We use closed-cell foam so punctures weren't an issue, the pads don't shift, and it's just one less thing to have to keep super dry (the pads). I do this when I'm tarping as well (pad under tyvek).

10-18-2006, 11:40
I used a full-sized tent foot print for many years. One of the things it was useful for was to check the area where the tent will go prior to pitching. That is you can throw it down, kneel on it and feel for/ remove lumps, stumps, rocks, thorns, etc. Of course, once those things are removed, the footprint doesn't have much value any longer (assuming the tent floor is waterproof).

If you carry a smaller sheet to sit on, you can leave the full-sized footprint at home and just use the smaller sheet to check/prepare the tent-site.