What is a Footprint for a Tent? [Updated 2022]

No wonder we don’t know much about tent footprints, why to use footprints, and how much they cost. People spend a substantial amount of money to buy a tent and tent floor. Then we think, is it really necessary to buy a tent footprint? It matters on several key conditions like the toughness of the tent, where you are camping and how the surface is, how the footprints help us on that surface.

Let’s just know what is a footprint for a tent? You’ll know about the DIY tent footprint later in this article, but to tell you shortly, tent footprints actually protect your tent floor from getting a puncture. You may not experience abrasion of the tent floor because you use a new tent floor every time you use a tent. But here, the footprint will make the difference; it will save your cost on the tent floor and a tent on future tours.

Here we’ll talk about how tent footprints work, what they are made of, and how to set up a tent footprint correctly. Let’s get started.


What is a Footprint for a Tent?

We all use the tent floor and know the material they are made of. Normally a tent floor is made of thin or less thick fabric, and we lay it under the tent. Most of us often campaign on a good and durable surface.

But after pitching the tent, we realize the real nature of the surface. It acts like sandpaper, you will feel tiny rocks and sand under the tent floor, and the grit will start to erode the tent floor. If you are unlucky, the tent floor may get punctured by rocks or roots that may put a hole on your tent floor.

  Footprint acts as a protective piece of the layer that saves your tent floor from abrasion, unwanted punctures and saves your tent floor from losing its waterproof ability. So in one sentence, tent footprints absorb all the possible damages and safeguard your tent.


What are tent footprints made of?

Footprint’s material may vary, but one thing in common: they don’t weigh much. Most of the tent footprints are made of long-lasting and cleanable polyethylene. You may use lower denier polyester material and raincoat fabric as tent footprint. Besides, there are some other popular materials for tent footprints-


PU coated Nylon Footprints

 It may weigh around 6 to 8 ounces for a single-person tent. The material is very light, and straps, grommets are included with it. If you buy a ready-made PU-coated Nylon footprint, it will cost $30-$50.



This synthetic material is incredibly popular with tent pitchers. It is light in weight, durable, and inexpensive. It may weigh 2-5 ounces for a single-person tent. And a ready-made TyvekHomewrap may cost $14-$17.


Window Wrap 

We all know window wrap is used for adding extra insulation to your windows. Though the material is very much light in weight, its durability is questionable. It weighs 1-2ounces for the one-person tent. Probably the cheapest footprint in the market.


How big should the tent footprint be?

Footprints are made for specific tent sizes or tent floor sizes. Don’t try to choose a footprint larger than your tent floor. Because if somehow your footprint is larger than the tent dimensions, rainwater will puddle along the edges and soak the fabric of the tent floor. So always tuck the footprint under the tent edges and allow the rainwater to drain off outside of the tent.


What is a tent footprint used for?

Most of us predict that footprints save the tent floor from getting soaked in water. But for your information, most of the tent floors are made of silnylon or Dyneema, which are waterproof.

So why do you need a footprint? Those tent floors are expensive, yeah they are waterproof, but they can’t resist abrasion from rough surfaces. Footprints protect the fabric as well as it protects the tent and tent floor from different situations like


Grimy stuff

If your tent goes over the root of a tree on the surface, it may have sticky creams like stuff on the bottom of the tent and your tent floor. This may make the tent and tent floor messy, and you have to clean them before putting them inside the backpack again. Footprints can easily protect from this situation.


Abrasive surface

Pebbles and little twigs look like no issue under the tent floor. Bur repetitive friction on the same spot can cause wear of the tent floor. So, tent footprints work as an extra layer under the tent floor and extend the lifetime of the tent floor.


Helps to find the Ideal Campsite

Most of us pitch a tent and then climb in and feel the awkward angle under our back because of roots. So if you set a footprint before pitching the tent, you may sit on the footprint and test if there is an awkward angle. Then you can pitch the tent.


Cost and Weight of Tent Footprints

Don’t think the tent footprint is a thin layer material; it is cheap. No tent footprints are not really close to cheap. Sometimes spending around $50 for something which has no direct use for us feels so bad. It will tear up my heart. Also, some other things included carrying extra weight, and you have to clean an extra thing.

If you have a 2 lbs tent, you may need a 4 oz footprint which may cost $60. If you have a 3 lbs tent, you will need a 7 oz footprint. Similarly, for a 1 lb tent, you will need a 3.5 oz to 6.4 oz tent footprint, which may cost $45 to $55.

You may use the alternative option if you don’t want to buy durable and expensive footprints. The gossamer Gear has something called Polycryo Ground Cloth, which actually does a great job as a footprint. This material is tough and doesn’t tear and wear even after using it again and again. Also, it doesn’t need any extra bit of care.

Moreover, you can use window wrap. The plastic covering we usually use on the window in winter will last more than one season, depending on the frequency of use. Window wrap will cost around $10.


Do I need a tent footprint?

It’s a thousand-dollar question. Tent footprints cost around $35-$55 for camping tents, but it looks like a huge cost to me. If you have enough courage about your tent floor that it won’t get wear and tear up because of abrasion, then the tent footprint doesn’t need to be a build one we get from the store.


You can make quality camping tents and tent footprints at home. Like I used a tablecloth as a tent footprint, and it fitted perfectly into my tent. Also, you can buy polyethylene sheeting from the hardware store and cut them a little smaller than the tent’s inside dimensions. So you don’t really need any specific tent footprint to buy from a camping store; even a $2 table cloth is worth it.


Benefits of Using a Tent Footprint

There are enough benefits if you use tent footprint. We have listed down below some key benefits of using tent footprints.

Key Benefits

  • Extend the life of your tent and protect the brand-new tent from abrasion and cut.
  • Decrease the heat losing probability. As the extra layer creates a barrier as your body heat can’t get lost to the ground.
  • Works as a second layer of waterproof protection.
  • It keeps the tent relatively dry and clean.
  • Anytime anywhere, you can make a footprint with the help of a Tylor.


Tent Footprint Vs Tarp – Which Should You Get?

If your first concern is comfort, then using a footprint will be a better option. But the rubber tent footprint. This footprint protects the tent floor from rips and tears and additionally works as a moisture barrier.

When you will camp on rough terrain, your best bet should be pre-fabricated tent footprints. This type of tent footprint is free from scratches. Using a tarp on rough terrain is nothing but wasting your money.

On rainy days, both tarp and tent footprints do a great job. But don’t forget to use a little smaller tent footprint or tarp for your tent; otherwise, rainfly will enter inside your tent easily. Often the tarps which have extended dimensions act as a rain catcher and the rain moisture rolls between the tarps leading to a soggy mess.


Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What can I use as a tent footprint?

A: You can use any polyester-made material as a tent footprint. But most of the tent footprints are made of lower denier polyester material, PU coated Nylon, Tyvek Home Wrap, window Wrap, table cloth, etc.

 Q: Can I make my tent footprint?

A: Definitely, you can make your footprint. Before making your own made footprint, just pitch your tent footprint and measure the dimensions. As you know, the footprint is supposed to be smaller than the tent floor dimensions. So, subtract 1 inch from each dimension.

Now buy your favorite footprint material we have discussed here and cut the material according to the latest dimensions. This is how you can make your footprint.




I don’t think using a footprint is an extra bit of work. If you don’t want to buy a ready-made footprint spending a lot of money, fine, you can make your own. You can even buy polycryo at any hardware store near you.

You are using a Footprint just for protecting your tent floor, and the tent worth it. It never seems like a waste of money to me. Hopefully, you have a great idea about what is a footprint for a tentand why people use it. If you want to buy a Tent cot, follow this tent cot review.


Related Resources:


1 thought on “What is a Footprint for a Tent? [Updated 2022]”

Leave a Comment