Go Back  Bike Forums > Bike Forums > Touring
Reload this Page >

Tent Footprint Size

Notices
Touring Have a dream to ride a bike across your state, across the country, or around the world? Self-contained or fully supported? Trade ideas, adventures, and more in our bicycle touring forum.

Tent Footprint Size

Old 03-06-24, 07:52 PM
  #1  
Senior Member
Thread Starter
 
Join Date: Nov 2012
Posts: 4,483
Mentioned: 15 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1757 Post(s)
Liked 1,388 Times in 727 Posts
Tent Footprint Size

I have been reading quite a lot of opinions on the sizing for a tent foot print. Some claim make it smaller than the foot print of the tent, some say make it larger. I am looking for people's additional opinions on this since I'm quite certain the responses to my question of "Is your tent foot print smaller or larger than the actual foot print of the tent." will not be AI generated.
TiHabanero is offline  
Old 03-06-24, 08:13 PM
  #2  
gna
Count Orlok Member
 
gna's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2009
Location: St. Paul, MN
Posts: 1,819

Bikes: Raleigh Sports, Raleigh Twenty, Raleigh Wyoming, Raleigh DL1, Schwinn Winter Bike

Mentioned: 2 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 122 Post(s)
Liked 177 Times in 97 Posts
I thought footprints were supposed to be smaller than the actual tent by a couple of inches.
gna is offline  
Likes For gna:
Old 03-06-24, 09:13 PM
  #3  
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Sep 2015
Location: QC Canada
Posts: 2,004

Bikes: Custom built LHT & Troll

Mentioned: 12 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 872 Post(s)
Liked 152 Times in 109 Posts
Mine is a bit smaller than the tent, the argument being that larger footprints catch water falling down the tent walls, which could create a puddle under your floor. Makes sense
​​
Some people advocate a larger footprint, where you can put your shoes/luggage, as if it were a door mat. I don't
gauvins is offline  
Likes For gauvins:
Old 03-06-24, 09:38 PM
  #4  
Senior Member
 
indyfabz's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2010
Posts: 39,501
Mentioned: 211 Post(s)
Tagged: 1 Thread(s)
Quoted: 18527 Post(s)
Liked 15,876 Times in 7,454 Posts
Every footprint that is made to go with a specific tent that I have or have seen has grommets at the corners that are used with the bottom of the tent poles. As such, the footprint is roughly the same size at the tent floor.

I don’t use a dedicated footprint with my touring tents. I have a cheap, 4’x8’ plastic tarp. If there is a chance of rain, I make sure it’s folded under and completely covered by the tent floor and fly.

A while back, someone posted a link to a light, compact floor mat. Not something I would normally consider, but the product actually looked pretty neat.

Last edited by indyfabz; 03-06-24 at 09:43 PM.
indyfabz is offline  
Likes For indyfabz:
Old 03-07-24, 01:26 AM
  #5  
Newbie
 
Join Date: Jan 2024
Posts: 26
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 13 Post(s)
Liked 20 Times in 13 Posts
I use tarp and it is actually more than twice the size of my tent footprint. The idea behind it is that I can also use it as a cover for me and the bike if I am in the open and caught by nasty weather (it's on the rear rack and easy to reach), or as an additional tent protection on the side where the rain/hail is coming from... Sometimes it's just nice to have a large controlled surface (no bugs) when I have to go through stuff for whatever reason.
On normal days, I just fold it below the tent so there is around 20cm (8in) of tarp on each side (slightly more at the entrance). The extra tarp on all sides (especially on the higher side if the ground is not level) is then stuffed underneath the fly sheet so the rain doesn't get between the tarp and inner tent, while the lower part (usually entrance) stays the way it is so the water (if it still gets there) can flow out.

But this is all very individual, like most things. If you are very weight conscious (relative to average tourer) then you'll probably go as small as possible. There are things/types of comfort in cyclotouring that mean a bit more to me than to others and I willingly and gladly pay the price.
cyclomath is online now  
Likes For cyclomath:
Old 03-07-24, 06:31 AM
  #6  
Senior Member
 
saddlesores's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2004
Location: Thailand..........Nakhon Nowhere
Posts: 3,664

Bikes: inferior steel....and....noodly aluminium

Mentioned: 24 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1056 Post(s)
Liked 343 Times in 230 Posts
If the footprint is larger than the tent, during rain (or heavy dew), water runs down the tent wall and collects on the waterproof footprint. If you're on a soft surface or grass, your body weight will depress the tent floor and footprint, putting the lowest point in the center. Your tent is now sitting in the middle of an artificial lake. Any pinholes in the fabric of the tent floor will allow water to flow in.

A smaller footprint allows the tent wall to funnel the water onto the ground. The waterproof footprint should prevent water from the saturated ground from reaching the tent floor from below.

The last tent I purchased had a ready-made footprint was about 1" smaller all around, attached to the corner poles with tiny resin clips on wee, tiny straps. Before that I just used cheap blue tarp cut slightly smaller than the tent floor.

One drawback to the pre-cut footprints that remain attached is stuff can get caught in between the footprint and the floor. Roll over at night and squanch a mouse and it'll stick there. What's that smell?

Last edited by saddlesores; 03-07-24 at 06:36 AM.
saddlesores is offline  
Likes For saddlesores:
Old 03-07-24, 06:33 AM
  #7  
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Aug 2010
Location: Madison, WI
Posts: 11,306

Bikes: 1961 Ideor, 1966 Perfekt 3 Speed AB Hub, 1994 Bridgestone MB-6, 2006 Airnimal Joey, 2009 Thorn Sherpa, 2013 Thorn Nomad MkII, 2015 VO Pass Hunter, 2017 Lynskey Backroad, 2017 Raleigh Gran Prix, 1980s Bianchi Mixte on a trainer. Others are now gone.

Mentioned: 48 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 3507 Post(s)
Liked 1,492 Times in 1,165 Posts
Smaller. As noted above, you do not want a puddle on top of your footprint.

I use several different tents, most of them I use a footprint only when the tent is going up on non-grassy ground. I then use them to protect the tent from sharp rocks, etc. I try to avoid setting up tents in mud but it occasionally happens, in that case the footprint makes the tent slightly cleaner.

There is a store in my region that has some huge heavy duty plastic shopping bags. When I shop there, I often ask if I can get an extra shopping bag or two. I use the plastic from those for footprints. It does not cover all the ground under the tent, but it covers the area under my air mattress which is what I am looking for. The bags are similar to large garbage bags in size, but use thicker plastic.

I have heard some people buy tyvek sheeting to use as footprints too.

I only have one dedicated footprint that is sized for the tent. In that case, I can use the footprint grommets to hold the fly and poles in the right places if I wanted to set it up without the inner tent body. I have never done that yet, but some of the tent reviews on line mentioned that option so I bought the footprint.

I also have cut small footprints for vestibule area in case of mud, but those are rarely used. I decided to start doing that after paying a huge amount of money for a tiny campsite at a KOA and my only option was muddy non-grassy ground. In that case I got some newsprint out of a recycle bin to keep the stuff I stored in the vestibule less muddy.
Tourist in MSN is offline  
Old 03-07-24, 07:36 AM
  #8  
Newbie
 
Join Date: Jan 2024
Posts: 26
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 13 Post(s)
Liked 20 Times in 13 Posts
I apparently rambled a bit above - I claim innocence, it was before my morning coffee
What hopefully can be understood from what I said is that, when my tent is all set, the area covered by the tarp is just about the size of the tent footprint, with the parts that stick out are stuffed underneath the flysheet. That way, no water gets between the tarp and tent.


Last edited by cyclomath; 03-07-24 at 07:41 AM.
cyclomath is online now  
Old 03-07-24, 07:40 AM
  #9  
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Nov 2013
Location: Near Pottstown, PA: 30 miles NW of Philadelphia
Posts: 2,193

Bikes: 2 Trek Mtn, Cannondale R600 road, 6 vintage road bikes

Mentioned: 83 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 476 Post(s)
Liked 1,083 Times in 410 Posts
Originally Posted by Tourist in MSN
Smaller. As noted above, you do not want a puddle on top of your footprint.

I have heard some people buy tyvek sheeting to use as footprints too.
This is what I use. Works well for me. I cut the material to be an inch or so less than the tent floor. Note: when setting up camp, place the tyvek (or any competing house wrap material) printed side down. Moisture moves from non reprinted sided “out”. Yes, the printing makes good advertising on new construction houses but the house breathes better that way too.
Prowler is offline  
Old 03-07-24, 08:00 AM
  #10  
djb
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Jul 2010
Location: Montreal Canada
Posts: 13,246
Mentioned: 33 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 2748 Post(s)
Liked 979 Times in 801 Posts
Originally Posted by cyclomath
I apparently rambled a bit above - I claim innocence, it was before my morning coffee
What hopefully can be understood from what I said is that, when my tent is all set, the area covered by the tarp is just about the size of the tent footprint, with the parts that stick out are stuffed underneath the flysheet. That way, no water gets between the tarp and tent.

despite what you wrote, your photo shows your blue tarp extending further out than your rain fly.
the rain will drip onto your blue tarp and then under your tent floor, caught between the tarp

I have generally make my own footprints from large sheets of plastic, slightly smaller than the tent floor, and if I use a larger footprint, I just fold the excess underneath, with fold turned under the plastic footprint, towards the ground, to make sure it doesnt turn out past the fly and start funneling water between the tent floor and plastic
djb is offline  
Likes For djb:
Old 03-07-24, 08:17 AM
  #11  
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Feb 2012
Location: Golden, CO and Tucson, AZ
Posts: 2,849

Bikes: 2012 Specialized Elite Disc, 1983 Trek 520

Mentioned: 13 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 681 Post(s)
Liked 755 Times in 435 Posts
Back when I used to carry one, I had a Tyvek footprint that was quite a bit smaller than the tent floor.

This is off topic so please feel free to ignore: But I don't use one anymore and life is better. I'm better at site selection, and there's one less wet dirty thing to pack up. The guy who makes my tent, Henry Shires, also repairs them and he says he virtually never gets a tent back for a floor repair. His website mentions that footprints are optional.
andrewclaus is offline  
Old 03-07-24, 08:19 AM
  #12  
Newbie
 
Join Date: Jan 2024
Posts: 26
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 13 Post(s)
Liked 20 Times in 13 Posts
Actually, the water would go away from the tent, because the ground is not level (it is lower towards the lower right corner of the photo). That is why the tarp is not folded and completely stuffed underneath the flysheet.

In any case, we agree that the tarp should be set up in such a way that no water would be allowed between it and the inner tent. The actual size of the tarp is not important, so long as the extra parts are on the side of the tent where terrain profile would take the rain away from the tent.
cyclomath is online now  
Old 03-07-24, 09:13 AM
  #13  
djb
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Jul 2010
Location: Montreal Canada
Posts: 13,246
Mentioned: 33 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 2748 Post(s)
Liked 979 Times in 801 Posts
Originally Posted by cyclomath
Actually, the water would go away from the tent, because the ground is not level (it is lower towards the lower right corner of the photo). That is why the tarp is not folded and completely stuffed underneath the flysheet.

In any case, we agree that the tarp should be set up in such a way that no water would be allowed between it and the inner tent. The actual size of the tarp is not important, so long as the extra parts are on the side of the tent where terrain profile would take the rain away from the tent.
Ok, I prefer to tuck them under and don't need to think past that when setting up the tent.
Thanks for clarifying, good for someone looking at the photo who hasn't used footprints before.
djb is offline  
Likes For djb:
Old 03-07-24, 09:25 AM
  #14  
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Oct 2023
Location: New Jersey
Posts: 606
Mentioned: 5 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 387 Post(s)
Liked 295 Times in 191 Posts
I have never heard the term "footprint" before in this context. I would call this sheet a "groundcloth". The footprint of a tent, to me, is the area that it covers on the ground.

I think that a footprint/groundcloth is cheap and sacrificial. It exists to protect the tent floor from rocks and sticks and has little to do with keeping anything dry.

I do the same thing with my home ice rink. I save an old liner (no longer watertight) to go underneath and protect the new liner from tears.

I would advise getting a footprint/groundcloth slightly smaller than the tent so that it collects as little water as possible. Rolling up the edges of a larger piece of material to get it out of the rain is OK, but this creates the possibility of water pooling up in it.
ScottCommutes is offline  
Old 03-07-24, 10:34 AM
  #15  
Senior Member
 
staehpj1's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2006
Location: Tallahassee, FL
Posts: 11,886
Mentioned: 7 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1255 Post(s)
Liked 767 Times in 567 Posts
I quit using a ground cloth (footprint) years ago. I found that other parts of my tents tended to wear out or otherwise fail before the floor did any way. So my approach would be patch the floor as necessary. Then when/if required recoat the floor. If it eventually got too bad for even that use a ground cloth inside the tent. Size it big enough to turn up a little around the edges. I have never actually resorted to either recoating or using a ground cloth inside though.

I am pretty easy on floors though since I crawl in shoeless directly onto the sleeping pad and pretty much only read and sleep in the tent.
staehpj1 is offline  
Old 03-07-24, 12:55 PM
  #16  
Senior Member
 
indyfabz's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2010
Posts: 39,501
Mentioned: 211 Post(s)
Tagged: 1 Thread(s)
Quoted: 18527 Post(s)
Liked 15,876 Times in 7,454 Posts
Originally Posted by ScottCommutes
I have never heard the term "footprint" before in this context. I would call this sheet a "groundcloth". The footprint of a tent, to me, is the area that it covers on the ground.
You must not look at tents offered on line. A specific “footprint” is often offered if one is manufactured.

E.g.:

https://www.rei.com/product/216298/r...with-footprint

Here is a whole bunch of “footprints” on offer:

https://www.rei.com/search?q=Tent+footprints+

I have 2 tents that came with free “footprints”. One is a 13 lb., 4P base camp tent too heavy to tour with. The other is a 3P hybrid that I took on a few tours with the ex. Weighs in at over 6 lbs.
indyfabz is offline  
Old 03-07-24, 06:14 PM
  #17  
Senior Member
Thread Starter
 
Join Date: Nov 2012
Posts: 4,483
Mentioned: 15 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1757 Post(s)
Liked 1,388 Times in 727 Posts
Cyclomath, thanks for the visual as it clearly explains things. Never thought about using the foot print as a work mat as well. Good thinking. I now know what I am going to do.
TiHabanero is offline  
Likes For TiHabanero:
Old 03-11-24, 07:51 AM
  #18  
Old age cyclist
 
sbrudno's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2021
Location: Northern Virginia
Posts: 115

Bikes: Motobecane Grand Record, Motobecane Super Mirage (3x5 speeds), Motobecane Mirage, Atala (unknown model), Peugeot mixte frame Tourist and Schwinn Sport. A bunch more kids bikes. Most recently a Trek Verve One, tricked up for serious touring.

Mentioned: 1 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 42 Post(s)
Liked 46 Times in 30 Posts
Originally Posted by cyclomath
I use tarp and it is actually more than twice the size of my tent footprint. The idea behind it is that I can also use it as a cover for me and the bike if I am in the open and caught by nasty weather (it's on the rear rack and easy to reach), or as an additional tent protection on the side where the rain/hail is coming from... Sometimes it's just nice to have a large controlled surface (no bugs) when I have to go through stuff for whatever reason.
On normal days, I just fold it below the tent so there is around 20cm (8in) of tarp on each side (slightly more at the entrance). The extra tarp on all sides (especially on the higher side if the ground is not level) is then stuffed underneath the fly sheet so the rain doesn't get between the tarp and inner tent, while the lower part (usually entrance) stays the way it is so the water (if it still gets there) can flow out.

But this is all very individual, like most things. If you are very weight conscious (relative to average tourer) then you'll probably go as small as possible. There are things/types of comfort in cyclotouring that mean a bit more to me than to others and I willingly and gladly pay the price.
I kind of agree. I don't camp much in the rain so the tarp is for protecting my tent and allowing for stuff I want to leave outside to have someplace to rest and air out (shoes, sometimes shorts, etc.). IMHO
sbrudno is offline  
Old 03-14-24, 05:12 AM
  #19  
Senior Member
 
indyfabz's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2010
Posts: 39,501
Mentioned: 211 Post(s)
Tagged: 1 Thread(s)
Quoted: 18527 Post(s)
Liked 15,876 Times in 7,454 Posts
Originally Posted by djb
despite what you wrote, your photo shows your blue tarp extending further out than your rain fly.
the rain will drip onto your blue tarp and then under your tent floor, caught between the tarp

I have generally make my own footprints from large sheets of plastic, slightly smaller than the tent floor, and if I use a larger footprint, I just fold the excess underneath, with fold turned under the plastic footprint, towards the ground, to make sure it doesnt turn out past the fly and start funneling water between the tent floor and plastic
+1. When I first started touring I had never camped before. On the third night of the trip we were supposed to get rain overnight. One of the seasoned participants in the group noticed me setting up my tent with the tarp extending beyond the tent floor and fly. He was nice enough to school me.
indyfabz is offline  
Likes For indyfabz:
Old 03-17-24, 08:01 AM
  #20  
Senior Member
 
Chr0m0ly's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2014
Location: Back in Lincoln Sq, Chicago...🙄
Posts: 1,609

Bikes: '84 Miyata 610 ‘91 Cannondale ST600,'83 Trek 720 ‘84 Trek 520, 620, ‘91 Miyata 1000LT, '79 Trek 514, '78 Trek 706, '73 Raleigh Int. frame.

Mentioned: 13 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 685 Post(s)
Liked 370 Times in 219 Posts
Originally Posted by indyfabz
You must not look at tents offered on line. A specific “footprint” is often offered if one is manufactured.

E.g.:

https://www.rei.com/product/216298/r...with-footprint

Here is a whole bunch of “footprints” on offer:

https://www.rei.com/search?q=Tent+footprints+

I have 2 tents that came with free “footprints”. One is a 13 lb., 4P base camp tent too heavy to tour with. The other is a 3P hybrid that I took on a few tours with the ex. Weighs in at over 6 lbs.
this is a new piece of vocab to me, too. A footprint is what the tent covers when it’s set up. I think this new use started when they had a product to sell that matches the tent’s “footprint”. I’ve always cut a blue tarp down to the size needed for my “ground cloths”.
Chr0m0ly is offline  
Old 03-17-24, 08:10 AM
  #21  
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Oct 2023
Location: New Jersey
Posts: 606
Mentioned: 5 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 387 Post(s)
Liked 295 Times in 191 Posts
I'll go further. Assuming a tarp under your tent is only to protect the floor, it could be small (you only put it where the rock is) or even in two pieces.

Another idea is to roll you sleeping back up in the tarp to keep your bag dry.
ScottCommutes is offline  
Old 03-17-24, 08:51 AM
  #22  
Senior Member
 
indyfabz's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2010
Posts: 39,501
Mentioned: 211 Post(s)
Tagged: 1 Thread(s)
Quoted: 18527 Post(s)
Liked 15,876 Times in 7,454 Posts
Originally Posted by Chr0m0ly
this is a new piece of vocab to me, too. A footprint is what the tent covers when it’s set up. I think this new use started when they had a product to sell that matches the tent’s “footprint”.
The terms has been in use for well over a decade, at least. When I bought my 3P Sierra Designs tent for a 2009 tour it was on clearance from Moose Jaw, so it came with a free "footprint." (Might as well include the footprint if the tent is being discontinued so you don't have them hanging around the warehouse.) MSH was using the term when I bought my Hubba Hubba around the same time, but I didn't pony up the extra money. My Bedouin 4P, also from Sierra Designs, also came with a "footprint." I bought that in 2007 for Cycle Oregon I was doing with a friend. (They carried gear, making a 13 lb. tent possible.)
indyfabz is offline  
Old 03-17-24, 09:15 AM
  #23  
str
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Sep 2013
Location: Spain
Posts: 1,080
Mentioned: 4 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 280 Post(s)
Liked 523 Times in 251 Posts
Originally Posted by TiHabanero
I have been reading quite a lot of opinions on the sizing for a tent foot print. Some claim make it smaller than the foot print of the tent, some say make it larger. I am looking for people's additional opinions on this since I'm quite certain the responses to my question of "Is your tent foot print smaller or larger than the actual foot print of the tent." will not be AI generated.

What is the question?¿
str is offline  

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off


Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy - Privacy Statement - Terms of Service -

Copyright © 2024 MH Sub I, LLC dba Internet Brands. All rights reserved. Use of this site indicates your consent to the Terms of Use.