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  1. #1
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    Default Are tent footprint worth it?

    I just bought my first tent and dont really know if i want the extra wieght or if i should spend the extra money on a footprint, What do you guys think?

  2. #2
    Registered User Wrangler88's Avatar
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    Don't get it.

  3. #3
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    My suggestion is to go to your local hardware store and look for the stuff that some people use to make sort of temporary storm windows at this time of year with plastic that is attached to the window and a hair dryer used to shrink tight. My understanding is that this is basically the same as polycro that Gossamer Gear sells. Buying from GG is a fine option too (!), but buying at your local hardware store eliminates the shipping charge, and you might find yourself able to find something that's better sized to your tent.

    Polycro is tough stuff, yet very lightweight. The benefits vary, depending on what you want a ground cloth for, and there are --- of course --- differing schools of thought on this. Some folks feel that a ground cloth is likely to catch and hold water above the waterproof ground cloth and this increase the chance of water infiltration. For this reason, I do recommend that you size your ground cloth such that it doesn't stick out beyond the rain-sheltered area of the tent (or tarp or whatever). Some feel, for this reason, that a non-waterproof groundcloth is best, such as tyvek.

    For me personally, a light groundcloth keeps the tent floor itself clean; I find it easier to deal with a wet/dirty/muddy groundcloth.

    There are also different schools of thought on whether the ground cloth really protects a tent floor. Some feel that tent floors are tough enough on their own, and site their personal examples of not having problems. These folks also tend to believe that anything that can punch through their tent floor will likely also punch through the ground cloth. The (or "an")other school of thought here is that the ground cloth reduces abrasion and extends the life of the tent floor, something perhaps of more value in a lightweight tent with relatively thin flooring.

    I'm not particularly religious about this, but given how light and tough polycro is, I tend to use it. I wouldn't use anything much heavier.

  4. #4
    AT NOBO2010 / SOBO2011 Maddog's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Brian321 View Post
    I just bought my first tent and dont really know if i want the extra wieght or if i should spend the extra money on a footprint, What do you guys think?
    i would't get the footprint, but i sleep in a hammock!
    "You do more hiking with your head than your feet!" Emma "Grandma" Gatewood...HYOY!!!
    http://www.hammockforums.net/?

  5. #5

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    The tents I've had have always started to leak from the top first. Use common sense and don't set up your tent on top of sharp objects and you should be fine.

  6. #6
    Registered User Toolshed's Avatar
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    Brian,
    Protect your new investment.. You can pick up a 25'x10' roll of 4mil plastic at Wal-Mart for about $6. Cut a piece off and save the roll for anything else you need (future tents, painting, etc...). You'll have enough groundcloth for the rest of your life....

    trim it to a size about an inch or two less then your tent floor.

    Take a sharpie and mark "Top" or "Door" on it to quickly note where it sets up (If you are setting up in a rainstorm, this helps)

    Put this on the ground under your tent. It will protect against general abrasion. It will increase the life of your tent, reduce stains attributable to mud, dirt, squished slugs, etc....

    It will also increase resale value of your tent, if you decide to sell it later.

    I spent a rainstorm soaked night in the tent of a friend who doesn't believe in using a groundcloths. The floor of his tent (Sierra Designs) was worn somewhat, but the fly was fine.

    We were careful to choose out site, but the ground was soaked everywhere. Anyways, over night, the tent didn't leak from the roof, but from the bottom. Capillary action from moving around on your sleeping pad sucked the water in under our pads. This made for a very uncomfortable night.
    .....Someday, like many others who joined WB in the early years, I may dry up and dissapear....

  7. #7

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    Its a personal preference insofar as whether or not you want the extra weight. One more thing to carry, one more thing to dry out if it gets wet.

    We've never carried one backpacking, ever. We are just careful to survey where we place out tents.

  8. #8
    Hiker bigcranky's Avatar
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    Having a piece of lightweight plastic to use as a groundsheet is a good idea. You can use it inside shelters, when you stop for breaks, etc.

    Buying the "footprint" that the tent manufacturer makes for your tent is not such a good idea. They are usually very expensive and heavy.
    Ken B
    'Big Cranky'
    Our Long Trail journal

  9. #9
    Registered User Big Dawg's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Brian321 View Post
    I just bought my first tent and dont really know if i want the extra wieght or if i should spend the extra money on a footprint, What do you guys think?
    What kind of tent did you buy? Is the floor made of silnylon? If so, consider this treatment for silnylon floors. Only adds 1 to 2 ozs depending on floor size, and you don't have to keep up w/ an extra piece of gear (footprint).

  10. #10

    Default I never use a tent footprint or groundcloth

    Quote Originally Posted by gumball View Post
    We've never carried one backpacking, ever.
    I haven't either and have never regretted it.

    Here is my reasoning:
    I have done a whole lot of miles with neither tent floor NOR groundcloth (relying on my sleeping pad to keep me off any damp ground,) so why would I ever need both?

    I NEVER rely on my shelter floor, if any, to keep pooled/running water out of my tent. That is asking for trouble. I set up in areas of good drainage.

    If I do have a shelter with a floor, it is mainly for insects, with the added advantages of keeping debris out and as a moisture (not liquid water) barrier. IF I get pinholes from tiny stone/stick punctures, my floor will still work fine because I'm not sleeping in pooled/running water. Therefore I've saved 100% of the weight of a tent footprint/ground cloth.

  11. #11

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    I ditched mine after the first few hundred miles because it just wasn't worth the hassel of packing up, especially when it got muddy. In heavy enough rains moisture and mud always gets between the tent floor and footprint.

    In theory you could probably prevent this with optimum site selection and perfect placement of footprint, but that ain't going to happen everytime on the AT. -- Some one will dispute this, I guess they're just a better camper than me

  12. #12

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    hi,
    i never use one. the tent is heavy enough, whichever i carry.

    my ahwahnee has 9 holes in the floor (its been bought in 1985, got the holes on denali in 1986), i would not want to miss them. they donīt matter at all, and the big one that my partner burned into the floor with the stove is used to get rid of the dirt while i am inside. the 8 small ones were punched with crampons by the very same person.

    i never got a hole in the floor from the surface i was camping on.

    happy trails
    lucky luke
    happy trails
    lucky luke

    ____________________
    resist much, obey little!

  13. #13
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    Some tent makers offer a lightweight fly/groundcloth pitch option making the tent more versatile. You can leave the tent body at home and simply pitch the fly and ground cloth for a single wall shelter. If your tent offers this option, you may want to consider this.

  14. #14

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    Quote Originally Posted by john gault View Post
    I ditched mine after the first few hundred miles because it just wasn't worth the hassel of packing up, especially when it got muddy. In heavy enough rains moisture and mud always gets between the tent floor and footprint.

    In theory you could probably prevent this with optimum site selection and perfect placement of footprint, but that ain't going to happen everytime on the AT. -- Some one will dispute this, I guess they're just a better camper than me
    BTW, I have yet to puncture my floor, tent is 5 years old and I've used it all along the AT and on a few cycling trips. However, I do carry a tent repair kit. I punctured my platypus hydration sys. and used the tent tape and it's still holding (2 years later). On-trail repairs only add character to your equipment, imo.

  15. #15

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    Polycro.

    DO a search ont he internet for frostking and get one of their window insulation kits.
    Just the clear plastic one. Tough stuff and tent size it typically weighs about 1.5 oz.

  16. #16
    Registered User Wise Old Owl's Avatar
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    I read the above posts and its all very good advice, in PA the mud comes right up though the debris. Condensation forms on the bottom,and makes breakdown of a tent twice as long because It needs to be packed dry, to avoid molding. A lightweight sheet of plastic makes a huge difference in making your investment last longer...


    In back of car camping they now require the tent to be on the "pad" in state/nat. parks. The pad is made of stone micro chip and it tears up the "bathtub" flooring. We use a heavy Polycro tarp for additional protection that has been sized to the tent.

  17. #17
    Registered User scope's Avatar
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    Default setup in rain

    Quote Originally Posted by gregp View Post
    Some tent makers offer a lightweight fly/groundcloth pitch option making the tent more versatile. You can leave the tent body at home and simply pitch the fly and ground cloth for a single wall shelter. If your tent offers this option, you may want to consider this.
    Especially if this setup allows you to put up the fly first (in the rain) where you can then setup the tent body and keep it dry in the rain (relatively speaking) under the fly.
    "I wonder if anyone else has an ear so tuned and sharpened as I have, to detect the music, not of the spheres, but of earth, subtleties of major and minor chord that the wind strikes upon the tree branches. Have you ever heard the earth breathe... ?"
    - Kate Chopin

  18. #18
    Garlic
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    I don't use a ground cloth either with my silnylon tent floor. It has over 5,000 trail miles on it, including a couple thousand desert miles, and not a sign of inordinate wear, no more than the canopy. I spoke with the tent manufacturer (Henry Shires) about once it in amazement, and he verified that he practically never repairs a floor. I say save the weight and money.
    "Throw a loaf of bread and a pound of tea in an old sack and jump over the back fence." John Muir on expedition planning

  19. #19

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    I only use a groundcloth in my floorless shelters. I have small holes from pine needles and lava rock in my tent floors. Since I always pitch on high ground, I don't worry about water coming in.
    "If we had to pay to walk... we'd all be crazy about it."
    --Edward Payson Weston

  20. #20
    Super Moderator Ender's Avatar
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    I'm a fan of ground cloths, for two reasons. The first is it keeps the tent a little cleaner, though that's certainly not a necessity. The second is that if I feel like sleeping out under the stars I can use it alone to keep my sleeping bag and whatnot better protected from the ground. Really though, like others said, it's all a matter of personal preference.

    But I wouldn't go out and buy a footprint, just buy some tyvek and cut it to size.
    Don't take anything I say seriously... I certainly don't.

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