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  1. #1
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    Non-custom tent footprints

    Anyone just use a sheet of tyvek or something for a tent footprint? How did it go? Where did you get it from? Does the sizing matter much?
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    bought a bunch of those disposable mylar type blankets on ebay and use them. $12 for 12

  3. #3
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    I use a simple blue tarp like these:


    http://www.amazon.com/s?ie=UTF8&keyw...20poly%20tarps

    Think mine is 5x7. It can double as a shelter. String it up between some trees and stay dry while cooking in the rain. Also comes in handy when you are forced to sit on wet/muddy/dirty ground.

  4. #4
    Senior Member djyak's Avatar
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    I use a piece of visqueen plastic, somewhat cut to size.

  5. #5
    aka Phil Jungels Wanderer's Avatar
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    I use heavy visquene, cut slightly smaller for the outside, and another cut slightly larger for the inside. Easy to clean, quick to dry, cheap and easy to replace. Has worked great for years.

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  6. #6
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    Heavy plastic, I do not recall if sold as painting drop cloth or what.

    Make sure you cut it slightly smaller than tent floor. You do not want water to fall off the tent (or tent fly) and then land on the plastic sheeting and flow under the tent. That could happen if the plastic sheet was too big, it would prevent water from flowing into the soil and there is a greater chance that the water will get into the tent. If cut slightly smaller, there is a greater chance that rain water will not fall onto the footprint.

    I have camped on soft beach sand and was unhappy with my choice to not have my plastic sheeting in the vestibule area, that would have kept more sand out of the tent.

    Purpose of the footprint is to protect the tent floor from sharp objects. If I am camped on soft lawn grass without sharp twigs, etc., I do not use a footprint.

  7. #7
    Senior Member staehpj1's Avatar
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    These days I do not use anything. One day on a long tour in a weight reducing purge I pitched the ground sheet and never looked back. I decided that groundsheets are just not necessary. I figure that I let the tent bottom take some abuse I can patch or recoat it as needed, which it turns out has been seldom. If it ever gets too bad I would start using a ground sheet after the bottom is beyond patching, but so far I have never had a tent bottom be the reason for replacing a tent. My take is that if I spend more money to get a lighter tent, the last thing I want to do is add the weight of a ground sheet or worse yet spend even more money to add the weight of a fancy footprint.

    I have used Tyvek and plastic ground sheets in the past, but I have never used a manufactured "footprint". When I did use ground sheets, I always made them just a little (maybe 2") bigger than necessary and then folded the excess under so none showed.

  8. #8
    Cycle Dallas MMACH 5's Avatar
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    I use an SOL Emergency Blanket. It's lightweight, folds down well and costs less than $5.
    That's gonna leave a mark.

  9. #9
    djb
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    Ive always just used home made cut ones, using a reasonably thick plastic sheet, have never actually weighed them, but unlike Staeph, I prefer to use them to keep pokey stuff being in direct contact with the tent floor. Im pretty careful about clearing the pitching spot of rocks, twigs or whatever, but there have been times where circumstances dont give a lot of choice, ie cement or lots of gravel or whatever, and so its been nice to keep the tent floor directly out of contact with this stuff.
    For a 1, 2 or 3 person tent, its not much extra weight to carry--but as Staeph says, it comes down to you deciding if its worth it (if I can avoid pinhole punctures that need to be patched, Ill take it, plus who wants wet stuff in a tent in the middle of the night in a huge downpour)

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    A friend uses one cut from Tyvek and it works fine. I think he got it from one of the big home-improvement stores.

    But I agree with staeph - never use a ground cloth and have never had a problem. When I've had wear issues with tents it has either been with zippers or due to UV damage - never had a problem with the floors.

  11. #11
    Garlic
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    I used to scour building sites for Tyvek scraps (not so many of those any more, certainly not around here). But I have eschewed ground sheets of any kind for the past few years and my tents have not shown any more wear than they used to. In fact, Tarptent's website doesn't even recommend using them (but says if you feel you must, Tyvek is a good solution). My current tent, a Tarptent Contrail, has 6000 hiking miles and one Northern Tier ride on it, as well as numerous overnighters (hundreds of nights total), has never been pitched on a ground sheet, and the floor actually shows less wear than the rest of the tent.

  12. #12
    Cycle Dallas MMACH 5's Avatar
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    As a kid, my dad always insisted on a tarp under the tent. I never much thought about pitching a tent without footprint of some kind.

    If I thought about my reasoning, now, I guess it's not to preserve wear-and-tear on the tent but to keep moisture from wicking up through the bottom of the tent. So, if my tent's floor is waterproof, then I might rethink using a footprint of any kind. Hmmmmm.
    That's gonna leave a mark.

  13. #13
    gna
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    I cut an old shower curtain to fit under my Remington Timberline copy. I've met some people who insist the ground cloth should be used inside the tent, not out.

  14. #14
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    Builder's Moisture barrier , thicker, .. or a painters , disposable drop cloth , thinner .

    lots of square feet in the package.

    get a hole/ tear on the trip, clear packing tape . and then a new piece when you get home.


    Smaller than the tent outline or you get a lake on top of the moisture barrier, under your tent.

    I used loops of packing tape to hold the plastic on by the stake out loops on the tent.
    Last edited by fietsbob; 01-30-13 at 11:37 AM.

  15. #15
    Senior Member PDX Reborn's Avatar
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    Trash bags..plus they can double as a poncho in an emergency

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    Quote Originally Posted by stevage View Post
    Anyone just use a sheet of tyvek or something for a tent footprint? How did it go? Where did you get it from? Does the sizing matter much?
    I've used unprinted tyvek to make tent floors and "ground cloths". I bought mine on ebay, it's sold by the foot:

    http://www.ebay.com/sch/Sporting-Goo...R40&_nkw=tyvek

    Tyvek is much lighter and packs easier than plastic sold at HD or Lowes.

    It is very stiff and "rattles" with a lot of noise when new. One trick to improve this is to cut footprint to desired size, then put in washing machine with a bunch of fabric softener. It's hard to get it in the tub, and it doesn't seem like it will work when you're doing it, but it does. It will come out with a million wrinkles and then will forever be softer, less noisy and pack easier.

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    Footprints are silly, a kind of belt and suspenders thing, assuming that one camps on relatively benign surfaces. I'm sure there is some place that some people camp that shreds tents. But for fields through to smooth rock they are not necessary. Even if one wore a hole into the floor it is easily fixed, but in decades of camping I have never had to do that.

  18. #18
    Senior Member robert schlatte's Avatar
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    I made a footprint for my tent using a blue tarp with grommets and all. I followed the video instructions below.


    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RueJ7t2J6t0

  19. #19
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    Footprints are definitely a bit unnecessary. Tent floors are made to be puncture resistant and waterproof (or at least highly water resistant). The only reason to use a footprint, in my opinion, is if you want to ditch the inner tent and just pitch the fly.

    I've used painters drop cloth, the 2 mil plastic variety, cut to size, and it works, but it lacks durability. In about a week, it's so full of holes that it needs to be replaced.

    Tyvek housewrap works well; it's light and durable, but it can be a bit loud, and it doesn't pack all to well. It's still cheap and works well.

    I've heard really good things about Polycryo, the stuff used to insulate windows. It's supposed to be lighter and more durable than even Tyvek.

    I'm not a fan of the blue tarp stuff; while it's really durable, it's far heavier than it needs to be. Unless you're camping on a bed of nails, you don't need a floor that bombproof.

  20. #20
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    I used a blue plastic tarp which I cut to fit. It worked very well. The most crucial time was while camping at the Knott County Historical Society in Hindman, KY I chose to stay in the tent that was already set up. My ride partner did also. I used my home made footprint as an added shield under my sleeping bag, and my panniers. My partner elected not to use his. It rained very hard that night. The floor of the tent leaked badly, I stayed dry, but my partner was soaked. My footprint doesn't weigh much, nor does it take up much room.
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    I make sil-nylon footprints for my tents.
    Everything should be as simple as possible...But not more so.---Albert Einstein

  22. #22
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    Ask for a scrap of Tyvek at a construction site, or buy it. We don't use a footprint, and when it's damp I sometimes wish we had. Before washing (it's really noisy and cumbersome if you don't) sit down in front of the television for an hour or so and crumble it up every way you can, wringing it out frequently as if it was wet. Then wash it. It will come out soft, covered in creases and nearly completely quiet when you roll around on it. In my view, it's much better than those you purchase, both for its durability and its cost.

  23. #23
    Senior Member Doug64's Avatar
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    The primary reason I use a light weight footprint(6' X 8') is to keep my tent dry and clean. With out a foot print I would be stuffing my tent with a wet and perhaps muddy bottom into a compression sack. I just tuck the access under the tent so that it does not collect water during a rainstorm. Unless you are in the desert, the part of the tent or the ground cloth will collect moisture on the bottom side even in "dry" weather. I would like to keep a relatively dry clean tent clean and dry if possible. It is a lot easier to pull out a light weight sil-nylon tarp that I use for a ground cloth during to day to dry out than it is a tent. It also makes a nice floor for the vestibule.

    I've also used our ground cloth as a shelter while waiting out downpours and hail storms. It is also a good cover for the eating area if needed in wet weather.



    I even carry the groundcloth when I actually have to carry it!

    Last edited by Doug64; 01-30-13 at 09:05 PM.

  24. #24
    Dirt Bomb sknhgy's Avatar
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    I like a 5 x 7 tarp under my Keilty tent. It keeps things clean and it packs away in the stuff sack with the tent. I won't go camping without a tarp of some kind. They are just too handy.
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  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by staehpj1 View Post
    These days I do not use anything. One day on a long tour in a weight reducing purge I pitched the ground sheet and never looked back. I decided that groundsheets are just not necessary. I figure that I let the tent bottom take some abuse I can patch or recoat it as needed, which it turns out has been seldom. If it ever gets too bad I would start using a ground sheet after the bottom is beyond patching, but so far I have never had a tent bottom be the reason for replacing a tent. My take is that if I spend more money to get a lighter tent, the last thing I want to do is add the weight of a ground sheet or worse yet spend even more money to add the weight of a fancy footprint.
    Good info, thanks. Previously I haven't used one - but the floor wore out on my previous tent. I did reseal it (using fairly expensive tent floor fixer stuff), but the next time it rained/snowed (Grindelwald!), we ended up with a huge puddle inside the tent. It's possible the fly fabric had also worn out...in either case, I'm not trying again with that tent.

    The new tent is much more expensive, so I'm keener to protect it. I don't think I'd take the footprint on weight-critical trips, but not all trips are weight-critical...

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