Is a Footprint Necessary?

MSR Footprint

It seems like no matter what camping equipment we buy these days, there are endless accessories. Do you want liners or orthotics for your boots? Glow in the dark guylines or regular? Then there is the tent footprint.

Common Alternatives

Some people simply choose to go without anything beneath their tent. Many tents are made with a tarp-like base that makes them more durable against cuts and punctures than in the past. If you are going somewhere that is fully improved, including groomed tent areas and you know there is absolutely no chance of rain, you may be able to get away without anything beneath your tent.

If you’re going a little more off the beaten path or there’s a chance of precipitation, something beneath your tent to protect it from damage and any flowing groundwater is essential. Some people choose to simply get a tarp that is similar in size to their tent. Less expensive and easily available, this is not necessarily a bad decision.

Benefits of a Tent Footprint

Mountain Hardwear Skyledge 2.1 Superlight Two-Person Tent

However, a tent footprint has some significant advantages over a tarp. They are typically stronger material than the lightest weight tarps, yet weigh less meaning you get more protection at a lower pack weight. They are also sized to be identical to your tent, so if you have a non-standard sized or shaped tent you won’t have excess tarp around your tent to trip over and deal with. Most tent footprints also offer custom-placed grommets and straps to help it mate up perfectly with your tent.

Some tents, like the Mountain Hardware Skyledge 2.1 Superlight Two-Person Tent and the Marmot Aura 2P Ultralight Tent even include the option to simply pair the rainfly with a tent footprint to create an open air, freestanding structure when temperatures allow.

Tent footprints offer a variety of benefits over standard tarps, so consider one with your next tent purchase.

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