A tent footprint is a worthwhile investment if you are sleeping in a ground tent in hot countries where the ground may be unforgiving.
I never used a tent footprint in the past, that is because all my camping was done in England and Scotland where you can pitch up on soft grass. There was no need to pack an extra item – that is until we dropped €600.00 euros on a new tent as part of our overlanding set up.
For the sake of €20.00 a simple tent footprint is worth it especially if you are camping in dry and arid countries, even the camp sites can be rough with sticks and stones that can hole your tent groundsheet. There are several benefits to a tent footprint but our primary focus was protecting the groundsheet.
What is a tent footprint?
A tent footprint really is a very simple piece of kit. A footprint provides an additional layer and a barrier between the ground and the groundsheet of your tent. Footprints come in an array of sizes with some made specifically for certain models of tent.
Using a simple tarp is perfectly acceptable and one of the most budget friendly options out there.
You can also make your own custom footprint using materials like polyester or a heavy duty plastic sheet or buy something as simple as a tarp. Tent footprints need not be expensive.
When will you need a tent footprint?
While a tent footprint can be used wherever you decide to camp up they are of most benefit on rough ground where you may have stones, sharp sticks etc which can damage your tent groundsheet.
Tent footprints and overland camping: You’re going to need a footprint if you’re overlanding in hot countries. Even on designated campsites, especially during and just after the summer there may not be any grass at all which will leave you with some dusty, rough ground to contend with. Campsites in Andalucia are a good example of this, while they may be flat which is great, the terrain by it’s very nature is rough and hard so an extra layer of protection is a good idea.
Protecting your investment
A fifty euro pop up from a budget supermarket isn’t going to warrant the protection but if you’ve invested in a good tent then it’s worth protecting. The additional [and minimal] cost make sense because if you puncture a groundsheet in an expensive tent it’s a whole lot of aggravation you don’t need.
The more a tent is used the more it’s going to be subject to wear. The friction produced by simply walking in the tent, moving around on your knees and making contact with the groundsheet and ground below will accelerate wear and tear. A tent footprint adds protection and also adds more [although minimal] extra cushioning too.
Keeping clean and dry
We’ve all been there, lift the tent from the ground and it’s wet, mud is stuck to it and it’s a general mess that need cleaning and drying out. A footprint eliminates this as it takes the brunt of the damp, mud, grass and whatever else allowing you to roll up your tent realtively clean and dry.
Using a simple tarp
Using a simple tarp is perfectly acceptable and one of the most budget friendly options out there. Tarps come in a range of sizes and fold flat taking up minimal space in your vehicle. Overland ground camping is where a tarp will shine as you can also use them for shade too making them very versatile in this respect.
Overland trips throw up all types of terrain – even on campsites and a tarpauline sheet will come in very handy indeed as a base layer of protection for your tent.
Tent footprints and overland camping
In conclusion a tent footprint for your overland camping exploits is a good idea especially given the low cost these footprints can save your tent groundsheet and add many more camping trips to your set up without having to delve into repairs that could have otherwise been avoided.
We use a simple tarp, it works, it’s cheap and we don’t have to worry as much about where to pitch up. Tents with a vestibule or porch area also benefit from a footprint as the outer part of the tent [non sleeping area] can be covered too providing a clean area to kick your boots off.