What Is a Tent Footprint? All You Need to Know About Tent Footprints

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What is a Tent Footprint?

A tent footprint is a ground cloth under your tent that keeps the tent clean and dry. 

It’s an extra layer of protection for your campsite shelter. And it’s typically made from a thick material that can protect it against sharp objects, moisture, or other things on the ground.

A tent footprint is basically used to protect the fabric at the bottom of your tent.

Whenever you pitch your tent, there are tiny rocks, sand, and dirt that get into contact with the flour of the tent. This kind of friction can cause the fabric of the tent to be weak and even cause a hole that can allow water into the tent.

A tent’s footprint can be purchased as an accessory or created by cutting down a tarp or old sheet to size.

Why Use a Footprint?

what is a tent footprint?

Footprints help keep your tent clean and dry.

Footprints help protect the bottom of the tent from sharp objects, rocks, sticks or other debris that might be on the ground. The footprint also protects you by keeping any moisture away from where you are sleeping.

Footprints are a great way to protect your camping or glamping tent from harmful elements..

Is a Tent Footprint Worth It?

Yes, investing in an extra piece of protection is worthwhile because it will help extend the life of your shelter! If you’re going on an extended trip where there’s no chance to go back and fix or replace anything, then buying one is certainly beneficial.

A good quality footprint will save you money and hassle in the long run.

A tent footprint is an essential accessory that will make your camping experience much more enjoyable.

It adds extra warmth, makes pitching easy, simplifies packing away and provides added waterproofing for the floor of your tent.

A footprint can be used to repair or replace a worn out foot print on your current tent or if you are buying a new one it comes with the purchase at no additional cost.

Which Direction Should a Tent Face?

Tents can be pitched with their doors facing in any direction. If you are camping with a group of friends, it’s nice to face them all in the same direction, so everyone is looking at each other!

Does a Tent Come With a Footprint?

No, most tents do not include footprints. The footprints are sold separately and are very inexpensive.

If you already have one from your previous camping trips, then there’s no need to purchase another. 

What Are Tent Footprints Made Of?

Footprints can be made out of just about anything capable of protecting your shelter from the ground.

They’re usually made with thick materials to help keep any moisture off while protecting your tent from sharp objects below.

Can You Use a Tarp as a Tent Footprint?

Yes, if you don’t mind getting down on your knees, a tarp can work to place it under your tent.

But if it touches the ground or any part of the shelter where moisture might be present, then this will cause damage over time. To prevent this from happening, lift one corner and secure it to something above the ground.

However, some tarp materials are not designed for extended outdoor use and will degrade over time.

If you want the convenience of a pre-made footprint, then make sure that it is smaller than your shelter because if they overlap, there might be gaps between them where water can seep through.

Can You make a tent footprint from a Plastic Sheets?

Plastic sheets are another cost effective option to go for if you’re looking for something waterproof and capable of protecting your tent from rough elements capable of scratching your tent.

The good thing about plastic sheets, is they are supper light weight and require almost no maintenance. They can also be cut into multiple groundsheets which can be used each for a number of trips before throwing it away.

However, when sorting for one the trick is to look for quality ones and sheets that you can easy manipulate size to fit your tent.

The most popular one include Frost King, and Duck extra large patio film. They are affordable and a single piece can be used for a whole season (of course depending on the frequency of use). 

DIY Tent Footprints

You can easily make your tent footprint with a tarp.

Here Is a Step by Step Guide To Make a Tent Footprint from a Tarp

1) Cut Your Tarp To Fit the Same Size As You Tent

If it is too big, trim it down with a pair of scissors or utility knife so that there are no excess edges hanging off.

Ensure that any grommets in your tarp line up correctly and they can clip together easily (the clips don’t need to be attached, just make sure they are in the right place to connect).

2) Attach or stake your tarp down

Some tarps have loops that you can thread rope through and then attach with stakes around your tent.

Other times it is easier to use gaffer tape (duct tape) to secure them directly onto the ground, though this is less durable.

Here Is a Step by Step Guide To Make a Tent Footprint from an Old Sheet

If you are using an old sheet, cut it to size and attach with gaffer tape or stakes around the outside edges of your tent.

Ensure that any holes in the material are not directly underneath where people will be walking so they do not get caught on anything.  Stakes work best if you hammer them into the ground at an angle so they can easily be taken out.


A tent footprint is an extra layer of protection for your shelter.

It’s made from thick materials such as tarp, old sheet or nylon that help protect against sharp objects, moisture or other things on the ground and prolong its life.

If you’re going out for an extended period where there won’t be any chance to fix anything, buying one is certainly beneficial.

4 thoughts on “What Is a Tent Footprint? All You Need to Know About Tent Footprints”

  1. F*ckin?remarkable things here. I am very glad to see your article. Thanks a lot and i am looking forward to contact you. Will you please drop me a mail?

  2. I need to to thank you for this great read!! I certainly loved every bit of it. I have got you book-marked to look at new things you post.

  3. Nice read. A friend asked me if my tent has a tent footprint haha I had no idea what that is. Thank you for the info!

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