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What is a Tent Footprint? A Guide for Campers

What is a Tent Footprint

There are so many things you can add to your collection of camping gear that you don’t really need, but one thing you shouldn’t go without is a tent footprint. But what is it?

Whether you have a backpacking tent or a full-on four-season family tent, a tent footprint is an invaluable piece of equipment to help protect your tent floor and provide an extra layer between you and the cold ground for a cosy night’s sleep.

Our guide covers everything you need to know about tent footprints, including a closer look at what they are, why you need one, and our camping expert’s recommendations. 

Let’s make your next camping trip the most comfortable one yet!

What is a Tent Footprint?

A tent footprint is a groundsheet-like piece of durable material between your tent floor and the ground. They protect the bottom of your tent from damage that could be caused by uneven, rocky or twig-filled ground, as well as adding an extra layer of insulation between you and the cold ground.

These sheets are typically made from strong polyethene to resist any rips or tears. This material is also really easy to clean, requiring only a wipe down with a cloth or a hose down for more stubborn mud.

Tent footprints are often sold separately from camping tents, but some tents have a footprint included. If you’re buying a new tent, it’s worth checking to see if it contains one or if you need to purchase one separately.

What is the Difference Between a Tent Footprint and Groundsheet?

Think of a tent footprint as a groundsheet for a groundsheet.

The groundsheet is the part of your tent that sits directly on the ground, while the tent footprint sits beneath it to protect it from damage, dirt and cold.

The Benefits of Using a Tent Footprint

There are so many things that a tent footprint brings to your camping experience. Below are some of the main benefits of having a tent footprint under your tent:

Extra Protection For Your Tent Floor

Laying a footprint down before you pitch your tent is the perfect way to protect your tent floor when camping in rocky or mountainous areas. It’s even beneficial to lay one down if you’re camping at a dedicated site.

This additional layer of protection can keep the bottom of your tent in the best possible condition, and it seemingly lasts forever.

Provides Extra Warmth in the Tent

Having an extra layer between you and the ground can minimise heat loss and make a huge difference to the temperature within the tent at night. 

Helps Keep the Tent Clean 

Camping isn’t always the cleanest activity, particularly in dense forests or during the spring and autumn seasons. Using a footprint can stop the tent bottom from getting dirty, which makes packing it away a much more pleasant experience. It also cuts down on the time you need to spend cleaning your camping kit when you get home.

Creates an Extra Waterproofing Layer

Having a footprint groundsheet protector beneath your tent provides you with an additional layer of waterproofing. Any moisture on the ground now has two layers to penetrate before it begins to affect your camping trip.

Different types of tent footprints
What is a Tent Footprint? A Guide for Campers

Different Types of Tent Footprints

Before you rush to buy a footprint for your tent, there are different types that offer different benefits and serve different purposes. 

You need to know what these tent footprints offer to know which is right for your tent and style of camping.

Type of Tent FootprintWhat it is
Fitted FootprintA fitted footprint is designed specifically for your tent model so it fits perfectly beneath it.  
These should come with your tent, or you can purchase one to fit your specific tent model.
Universal FootprintUniversal footprints are more versatile than fitted ones, making them a popular choice for many campers. 
They’re made to fit most tents, but they may not provide a perfect fit like fitted footprints.

All these types of tent footprints need to be secured to the ground using ground pegs or tent pegs. Some tents will come with a sewn-in groundsheet, which doesn’t require additional tent pegs to secure.

Can You Make Your Own Tent Footprints?

Of course, it’s possible to make a DIY footprint for your tent using a simple tarp made from durable materials like nylon or polyethene. However, you run the risk of not having a perfect fit for your tent and it may not be as reliable against the elements. We always recommend buying a specific fitted or universal footprint for your tent and style of camping.

Do I Need a Tent Footprint?

We asked our camping experts to weigh in on this one, and their verdict is yes. 

While a tent footprint isn’t necessarily essential, it definitely offers many benefits that you’ll want to take advantage of.

Using one will prolong the life of your tent and help keep it clean. It’ll also add another layer of protection from sharp objects, water, and mud that can collect beneath the tent floor. Not to mention keeping the inside of your tent warmer.

It’s a no-brainer, really. If you want to protect your tent, keep it clean and stay warm, a tent footprint is a must-have.

What to look for in a tent footprint
What is a Tent Footprint? A Guide for Campers

What to Look For in a Tent Footprint

When choosing a tent footprint, there are a few things to consider:

  1. Size: The footprint should be slightly smaller than the base of your tent. This prevents rain from pooling on top of the footprint and creates issues with water seeping into your tent.
  2. Material: Look for a durable, waterproof material such as polyethene or polyester that will provide excellent protection against wear and tear.
  3. Weight: If you’re backpacking, the last thing you need is to add too much extra weight to your pack. There are plenty of lightweight footprints available, especially when it comes to DIY options.
  4. Insulation: Look for material that is thick enough to make a difference to the temperature inside your tent. This is particularly important if you’re thinking of doing some winter camping.

Our Tent Footprint & Groundsheet Recommendations

We’ve picked out 2 tent footprint groundsheets that fit some of our most popular camping tents. Before you head out on your next camping trip, we recommend you pack one of these sheets in your kit.

3F UL Gear Lanshan Footprint

Fits: 3F UL Gear Lanshan 1 or 2 Tent

The 3F UL Gear Lanshan Footprint is made from silnylon, an excellent waterproof material that’ll keep the bottom of your tent from getting soaked if you’re pitching up on wet ground. Choose from a sheet to fit the Lanshan 1-person or Lanshan 2-person tent, providing the best fit for your tent and ensuring you get the most out of it.

DD Hammocks SuperLight – Bikepacker Groundsheet

Fits: DD SuperLight Bikepacker Tarp

For bikepackers, backpackers and hikers who use the DD SuperLight Bikepacker Tarp for shelter, this groundsheet is a must. It weighs only 150 grams, which is ideal for keeping your kit as light as possible, and you can set it up in minutes.

Complete Your Camping Kit with a Tent Footprint

A tent footprint may not be an essential piece of camping equipment, but it’s certainly beneficial to have one. From providing added protection and warmth to keeping your tent clean and dry, a footprint can make all the difference in your camping experience.

Make sure to consider the different types available and choose one that best fits your tent and style of camping. Check out our range of tents and footprints at Wood To Water to complete your camp pack today!


Do Tent Footprints Come Included With Tents?

No, not all tents come with a footprint included. Some camping tents have a fitted footprint to purchase separately that fits the shape of the tent perfectly. Tents that don’t come with a fitted footprint can be used with a universal groundsheet.

How Do I Secure a Tent Footprint to the Ground?

The easiest and best way to secure your tent footprint to the ground is to use tent pegs or ground pegs. Footprints and groundsheets will come with either attachment loops or eyelets. Use the pegs to secure the loops or eyelets to the ground.

Should I Use a Tent Footprint for my Camping Trips?

A tent footprint offers lots of benefits that’ll make your camping trip much more comfortable and restful. A tent footprint can provide an extra layer of protection for your tent floor, keep it clean and dry, and offer additional insulation to keep you warmer at night.

Can I Make My Own Tent Footprint?

A makeshift tent footprint can be a good idea if you get caught out during your trip during bad weather – but we wouldn’t recommend it. Purchasing a tent footprint from a trusted brand will ensure you get the most protection for your tent.

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