Whether you're purchasing a tent that's £150 or £1500, a tent footprint can save you time, effort and, more importantly, keep an essential part of your tent protected. Ranging from £10 and upwards, the low cost of this accessory makes it absolutely essential to buy with your tent or for a tent your currently own.
First of all, it might be worth us covering the basics...
What is a tent footprint?
Do you actually know what a tent footprint is? You can probably take a reasonably educated guess, but just in case you're unsure, a tent footprint is a groundsheet-like piece of material that sits between your tent and the ground. Available in various sizes depending on how big your tent is, it's pegged down in the corners and is the first thing you should sort when pitching your tent.
Here are 6 great reasons you need to buy a tent footprint:
1. Prolong the life of your tent
With 90% of tents being made with a sewn in groundsheet these days, buying a footprint has become even more essential. Protect your brand new tent from abrasion or cuts from loose stones and twigs - think of this like buying your brand new phone a screen protector or cover - better being safe than sorry! Even with the best will and greatest care in the world, accidents can always happen while out camping - so it'll pay off in the long run to give your tent as much protection as possible from day one.
2. Add extra warmth
Adding a footprint to the underneath of your tent will create another layer, slightly raising you off the floor to reduce the amount of heat loss to the ground. People seriously underestimate how much body heat can be lost like this when camping. This, combined with a good sleeping mat or air bed will provide a great basis for a cosy night's sleep. Most heat is lost to the ground while out camping, so a footprint will help keep you nice and cosy.
3. Add extra waterproofing
Double the layers, double the protection! A second layer of waterproofing can not only give you peace of mind, it can also protect your investment. If you've spent a lot of money on your brand new tent, then you'll want to keep it in the best possible condition for as long as you can.
4. Easier, simplified pitching
Thanks to most footprints being tailor-made and specific to the outline of your tent, you’ll get a clear idea of where your tent is going, where it will fit and where to start pegging from the outset. This will save you precious time and cause fewer headaches when it comes to actually pitching your tent.
5. Packing away is less hassle
If the campsite grounds are fairly wet throughout your stay (let’s face it, this can quite often be the case in the UK), when it comes to packing your tent down, you will find that the sewn-in groundsheet of your tent can get very wet and muddy – which isn’t the nicest of leaving gifts. The footprint is something that will prevent most of this from happening and leave your tent relatively dry and clean, so there is a lot less to do afterwards.
6. Tailor-made to suit your tent
You’ll find that most footprints are specific to a tent model (or in some cases fitting more than one model) and will be slightly smaller than the floorplan to prevent any water collection between the sewn in groundsheet and the footprint. This 'made-to-measure' approach makes it really easy to find the right footprint for your tent.
Do I need a tent footprint?
Hopefully we've given you six excellent reasons why you do need a tent footprint. We'd say a footprint or groundsheet is as essential as your guy ropes, but at the end of the day it comes down to personal preference.
If you're a seasoned camper who has never used one, then you might not think there's much point, but if you've ever suffered a tear in the bottom of your tent, you struggle with water seeping in from underneath or you hate packing away a muddy tent, a footprint can be invaluable. Plus, they're relatively inexpensive, so it's not a huge investment.
If you want a little more information about tent footprints, then check out this video from Outwell...
Here are some other questions you may be wondering:
What size should a tent footprint be?
Ideally, a tent footprint should be slightly smaller than the base of the tent. This is so that water doesn't collect between the footprint and your tent, which would totally defeat the purpose of it! If, for some reason, you do have a tent footprint that's too big, then this isn't really an issue if you're guaranteed good weather, but if you think it's going to rain, you'd need to pack around the tent to stop the water or just not bother.
What is a tent footprint made of?
The fabric of a footprint can vary. However, you’ll find that most are made out of durable and easy to clean polyethylene. You can also get some lighter weight groundsheets which are made out of an oxford or lower denier polyester material.
How to clean a tent footprint
Use a clean (brand new is best) cloth and simply use water to wash away any dirt. For substantial mud which is attached to the footprint, it would be best to use a scourer – being careful not to be too rough.
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