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

"Proof You Don' Need a Footprint" for your Tent

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.

"Proof You Don' Need a Footprint" for your Tent

Old 06-23-24, 05:36 AM
  #26  
Senior Member
 
Join Date: May 2014
Location: USA
Posts: 1,903

Bikes: 1996 Trek 970 ZX Single Track 2x11

Liked 610 Times in 460 Posts
Have done a lot of hiking along the granite-rich areas of the Sierra Nevada, Coastal Range, and Cascades in the western states. Can't always expect to find a nice, cushy spot devoid of threats to tent integrity. Have also done a bit of hiking in Maui and Kauai, where not only there's footprint/prep questions but the major issue of guarding against water intrusion overnight.

I'm a fan of a prepared site and use of a footprint underneath the tent. Helps keep sharp pointy objects to a minimum, their effects upon the base of the tent to a minimum, and impact on the sleeping me to a bare minimum. I also mostly use a decent ThermaRest-type pad. Plus whatever water-intrusion guards (ie, a dig/berm surrounding the tent to help direct waterflow that might occur on the slope, if in such an area (ie, Kauai).

Can't say that I would imagine "scientific" attempts very worthy for quantifying the worth of doing it that way, or its opposite. A additional layer separate from the tent helps reduce friction and pokes upon the actual tent; over time that's got to pay some dividends. For me, a decent pad underneath the bag is sufficient, and I believe that a footprint above and beyond that is noticable in terms of comfort.

If there were clear reasons why a footprint's time has passed or was pointless, then I suspect it would have become an unavailable product long since. Yet it's not.
Clyde1820 is offline  
Old 06-23-24, 05:49 AM
  #27  
Rider. Wanderer. Creator.
 
john m flores's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2007
Location: New Jersey
Posts: 1,027

Bikes: Bike Friday Pocket Rocket, Cinelli Hobootleg, Zizzo Liberte

Liked 1,161 Times in 528 Posts
I've frequently pitched tents without footprints and have not had any issues. But I recently purchased an ultralight bikepacking tent and the materials are so thin that I cut a Tyvek footprint for it.


__________________
--------------------------------------
Rider. Wanderer. Creator.
JohnMFlores.com | YouTube: JohnMFlores
Insta: JohnMichaelFlores | TikTok: @johnnymotoflores
john m flores is offline  
Likes For john m flores:
Old 06-23-24, 05:59 AM
  #28  
Junior Member
 
Join Date: Feb 2018
Location: Rutland, MA.
Posts: 107

Bikes: 2017 Argon 18 Krypton Xroad, 2017 Bombtrack Arise 2, 2018 Bombtrack Hook EXT-C

Liked 95 Times in 40 Posts
To each his own. I did a 10,520 mile tour in '22 around the perimeter of the US. 323 days and mostly camping, hotels during rainy days. Stayed in many groomed sites, especially Oregon and California because it was so cheap, like 5 bucks for hiker/biker sites. But also a lot of stealth camping. Behind buildings, sides of mountains, beaches, deserts, fields. Everywhere. Wouldn't even consider not having a footprint. Just my opinion but carrying a $3 piece of plastic that weighs 50 grams and takes minimal space, that more than not is protecting my 500-dollar investment, even if just minimally, is a no brainer. No need to buy a specific footprint, a piece of Tyvek works perfect

chief9245 is offline  
Likes For chief9245:
Old 06-23-24, 06:03 AM
  #29  
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Aug 2010
Location: Madison, WI
Posts: 11,437

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.

Liked 1,541 Times in 1,200 Posts
I do not use a footprint 90 to 95 percent of the time because tent is pitched on grass in areas free of thorns. The 5 or 10 percent of the time when I do, it is a foot print made from an extra large disposable shopping bag with an unusually thick plastic that is not much wider than my air mattress. I am trying to protect the floor under me, but I am not bothering to protect the part of the floor that has minimal weight on top of the tent floor.

I can't get interested in debating this topic.
Tourist in MSN is offline  
Old 06-23-24, 06:10 AM
  #30  
Senior Member
 
Join Date: May 2014
Location: USA
Posts: 1,903

Bikes: 1996 Trek 970 ZX Single Track 2x11

Liked 610 Times in 460 Posts
Originally Posted by Tourist in MSN
I can't get interested in debating this topic.
Even if only one possible use for a discussion is "debate" and a desire to change others' opinions, a discussion can still have value for most people for no other reason than to see what others are doing, their own reasoning for their situations, options that some might not have considered in their own travels.

Clyde1820 is offline  
Likes For Clyde1820:
Old 06-23-24, 07:12 AM
  #31  
ret'd msgr
 
ignant666's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2007
Location: upstate
Posts: 134
Liked 22 Times in 16 Posts
I bought my first tent around 1975. I first heard of the idea of a tent footprint around 2016, and actually got my first tent footprint in 2022 (it came attached to a new REI tent).

If an object can make a hole in the thin nylon/polyester floor of a tent, it would seem likely it could also make a hole in thin plastic, or another layer of thin nylon/polyester. I don't see how the footprints that are most common could possibly help protect tent floors from thorns, rocks, or other sharp objects, but many seem to believe, or at least claim, that they do. Tyvek seems like it might be slightly more hole-proof that other typical footprint materials.

But if you want to be sure that you aren't making holes in the floor of your tent, checking for and removing poky objects takes only a couple minutes.
ignant666 is offline  
Likes For ignant666:
Old 06-23-24, 07:42 AM
  #32  
Senior Member
 
saddlesores's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2004
Location: Thailand..........Nakhon Nowhere
Posts: 3,681

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

Liked 348 Times in 235 Posts
I spent 18 months in one tent........6 months new zealand and 12 months circling australia. outback roadside bush camping for the most part, only a few actual campgrounds. 3' man tent with a footprint cut from blue tarp.

the floor survived quite nicely. the zippers and poles, not. worth the expense and weight to me.

YKMV
saddlesores is offline  
Old 06-23-24, 07:52 AM
  #33  
djb
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Jul 2010
Location: Montreal Canada
Posts: 13,343
Liked 1,010 Times in 829 Posts
Originally Posted by chief9245
To each his own. I did a 10,520 mile tour in '22 around the perimeter of the US. 323 days and mostly camping, hotels during rainy days. Stayed in many groomed sites, especially Oregon and California because it was so cheap, like 5 bucks for hiker/biker sites. But also a lot of stealth camping. Behind buildings, sides of mountains, beaches, deserts, fields. Everywhere. Wouldn't even consider not having a footprint. Just my opinion but carrying a $3 piece of plastic that weighs 50 grams and takes minimal space, that more than not is protecting my 500-dollar investment, even if just minimally, is a no brainer. No need to buy a specific footprint, a piece of Tyvek works perfect
That's how I see it, the same as being careful overall with things to extend their life.
But I know some people are hamfisted and are like a bull in a chinashop with stuff, and aren't even aware of it, and are notorious "breakers" of things--and bemoan it when said thing breaks or has a problem.

Carrying and using a tiny amount of weight of a plastic sheet, to me, totally outweighs the small weight penalty, and if I'm setting up my tent on nice grass, I don't use it.

djb is offline  
Old 06-23-24, 08:30 AM
  #34  
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Oct 2023
Location: New Jersey
Posts: 752
Liked 360 Times in 233 Posts
Here's my attempt at settling the issue once and for all. The manufacturer designs a floor into a tent that has a certain level of durability. If you take the tent into terrain rougher than a grassy lawn, you might want to consider a footprint. If you take your tent into even rougher terrain, you might want to consider a heavier footprint, or frequent replacement.

It is up to you, the user, to carry the appropriate level of protection for where you are going. It sounds like everybody is doing just that. Carry on.
ScottCommutes is offline  
Old 06-23-24, 01:22 PM
  #35  
mev
bicycle tourist
 
Join Date: Dec 2007
Location: Austin, Texas, USA
Posts: 2,326

Bikes: Trek 520, Lightfoot Ranger, Trek 4500

Liked 276 Times in 186 Posts
I've watched this conversation with some amusement. For what it is worth, I will agree and disagree with several points brought up so far...

1. The author in the Youtube video indicates on average most people use their tents not many days per year. That might be true, but that doesn't mean some of us haven't gone on extended trips with a lot of camping and many nights in the tent along the way.
2. In my experience, I'll agree that the zippers and poles seem more fragile than the floor. I have damaged tent floors but that that has come from other reasons, e.g. letting the tent rub on a bicycle tire, than normal use.
3. Biggest issue I've had with floors has been a sharp thorn or similar poking through. For example, cycling across Africa with TDA I got punctures in a thermarest two different times. Cycling from Alaska to Argentina I had a thermarest puncture once. This notion of "groomed sites" seems strange - yes you try to avoid camping on top of obvious sticks and stuff - but I've also had occasional marginal sites (on TDA it was group camping and I was one of the slower riders - so didn't always have best picks) or not so obvious thorns. The are also less arid places where it may not be as big of an issue.
4. I often put a groundsheet/footprint under my tent - though not always. Some of this is probably also habit from my youth camping with the boy scouts when we called them ground cloths - though I've also gone without.

Overall, I'd come down on the side that using a footprint/groundcloth is slightly better than not but it is also not the most important thing to get excited about.
mev is offline  
Likes For mev:
Old 06-23-24, 01:57 PM
  #36  
Senior Member
 
phughes's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2011
Posts: 3,289
Liked 1,533 Times in 839 Posts
Originally Posted by veganbikes
Anyone suggesting not using a footprint for a tent has lost me completely. I am sure there are situations you may not really need it but being that my tent is $549 at full price I would rather not take a chance. Big Agnes certainly makes good gear but they also make footprints for a reason. I guess yes you could reinforce the bottom and eliminate it but having an extra barrier is nice to have.

I would love to pitch my tent in perfectly groomed areas all the time but that isn't realistic heck if they could make a shovel or some grooming tool that weighs less than an ounce and fits in your pocket and takes only a couple seconds to do a great job then yes sure get rid of the footprint.
I agree. I do have one tent though that I generally haven't used with a footprint. It is an old Coleman three person tent. The bathtub floor is made out of heavy tarp material, fully waterproof and very tough. I have had it for almost 20 years and used it a lot, and the bottom is perfect. I do use footprints on my other tents, and would never go without one. They keep the floor in good shape, and help keep moisture from seeping though the floor. I cannot imagine not using one. It only takes one time to ruin a tent. You may get lucky for a long time, but that one time is enough to ruin the tent floor. I'd rather use the footprint and not have that bad day.
phughes is offline  
Old 06-23-24, 04:22 PM
  #37  
Senior Member
 
indyfabz's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2010
Posts: 40,094
Liked 16,653 Times in 7,803 Posts
Originally Posted by ScottCommutes
Nowadays, fixing a little problem with a tent is a simple task for a product like Gorilla tape. My tent had zippers at both ends until a zipper broke. Now that side is permanent taped shut and the tent still has one entrance. My inflatable pool is also patched in two places with Gorilla tape and still works fine.
So I should carry a roll of tape to fix a problem that I could have prevented in the first place by carrying a blue tarp that probably weighs the same (if not less) and, as noted above, can be used for something like protecting the bike in inclement weather when there is a nice surface. Got it.
indyfabz is online now  
Old 06-23-24, 05:43 PM
  #38  
Senior Member
Thread Starter
 
Aushiker's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2007
Location: Walyalup, Australia
Posts: 1,468

Bikes: Surly Long Haul Trucker, Salsa Mukluk, Riese & Muller Supercharger GT Rohloff (Forthcoming)

Liked 58 Times in 45 Posts
Originally Posted by indyfabz
So I should carry a roll of tape to fix a problem that I could have prevented in the first place by carrying a blue tarp that probably weighs the same (if not less) and, as noted above, can be used for something like protecting the bike in inclement weather when there is a nice surface. Got it.
I carry a bit of tape wrapped around my toilet shovel in case of a need to repair something. t never occurred to me to carry a whole roll. YMMV.
Aushiker is offline  
Old 06-23-24, 08:34 PM
  #39  
Senior Member
 
indyfabz's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2010
Posts: 40,094
Liked 16,653 Times in 7,803 Posts
Originally Posted by Aushiker
I carry a bit of tape wrapped around my toilet shovel in case of a need to repair something. t never occurred to me to carry a whole roll. YMMV.
Never felt the need to carry any, especially to fix a problem that can be prevented by taking a dirt cheap item with multiple uses. I did tear a non-critical part of my tent fly 25 years ago when I stumbled while exiting. I bought a fabric patch. Help up fine.
indyfabz is online now  
Likes For indyfabz:
Old 06-23-24, 09:47 PM
  #40  
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Apr 2017
Posts: 2,795
Liked 719 Times in 573 Posts
Tyvek... that's a good idea, it's properties are similar to waterproof/breathable membranes like goretex; I've recycled tyvek mailing envelopes to durable writing pages for the field. I've seen in construction, Tyvek "housewrap"... is that what you use, and can small quantities be bought at the home improvement store, without buying a roll?
Duragrouch is offline  
Old 06-24-24, 04:33 AM
  #41  
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Nov 2013
Location: Near Pottstown, PA: 30 miles NW of Philadelphia
Posts: 2,215

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

Liked 1,129 Times in 422 Posts
Originally Posted by Duragrouch
Tyvek... that's a good idea, it's properties are similar to waterproof/breathable membranes like goretex; I've recycled tyvek mailing envelopes to durable writing pages for the field. I've seen in construction, Tyvek "housewrap"... is that what you use, and can small quantities be bought at the home improvement store, without buying a roll?
I’ve been using Tyvek house wrap for many years. Light and durable. There are always homes under construction so I stop by one and ask for “scraps”. Remember to put them “logo side” down as they breath that way. Waterproof one way breathable the other. Being a dweeb, I tested some one time. Water drips through one way, not the other.
Prowler is offline  
Old 06-24-24, 05:03 AM
  #42  
Senior Member
Thread Starter
 
Aushiker's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2007
Location: Walyalup, Australia
Posts: 1,468

Bikes: Surly Long Haul Trucker, Salsa Mukluk, Riese & Muller Supercharger GT Rohloff (Forthcoming)

Liked 58 Times in 45 Posts
Originally Posted by indyfabz
Never felt the need to carry any, especially to fix a problem that can be prevented by taking a dirt cheap item with multiple uses. I did tear a non-critical part of my tent fly 25 years ago when I stumbled while exiting. I bought a fabric patch. Help up fine.
That must have some tear to remember your experience 25 years later.

Irrespective, I will continue to carry my “roll” of tape. Such a small thing for the benefits it can provide.
Aushiker is offline  
Old 06-24-24, 11:58 AM
  #43  
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Aug 2019
Posts: 1,185
Liked 536 Times in 319 Posts
While we are on the topic, how do I protect my footprint?
Pratt is offline  
Likes For Pratt:
Old 06-24-24, 12:16 PM
  #44  
ret'd msgr
 
ignant666's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2007
Location: upstate
Posts: 134
Liked 22 Times in 16 Posts
A good question.

In order to protect your plastic or fabric tent footprint, good practice requires a plastic or fabric footprint footprint.

And in order to protect that....
ignant666 is offline  
Likes For ignant666:
Old 06-25-24, 12:56 AM
  #45  
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Apr 2017
Posts: 2,795
Liked 719 Times in 573 Posts
Originally Posted by Prowler
I’ve been using Tyvek house wrap for many years. Light and durable. There are always homes under construction so I stop by one and ask for “scraps”. Remember to put them “logo side” down as they breath that way. Waterproof one way breathable the other. Being a dweeb, I tested some one time. Water drips through one way, not the other.
Interesting!! That was not mentioned at all in the Tyvek wiki page. That would suggest either, a) different physical surface finish on the two sides, or b) a chemical coating on the intended exterior side.
Duragrouch is offline  
Old 06-26-24, 12:42 AM
  #46  
str
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Sep 2013
Location: Spain
Posts: 1,100
Liked 535 Times in 260 Posts
Thats a easy one

Footprint when using the tent without the inner tent.
No footprint when using the tent with the inner tent.
str is offline  
Likes For str:
Old 06-26-24, 06:41 AM
  #47  
djb
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Jul 2010
Location: Montreal Canada
Posts: 13,343
Liked 1,010 Times in 829 Posts
only just now watched the video

the point he showed of common sense less puncture going on with two layers is pretty basic and why I usually use my very inexpensive plastic sheet under my tent--some sites I pitch my tent can have a pokey thing or two I missed or just there and not clearable

the point about water intrusion-- don't know about you guys, but the bottom of my tent generally stays dry even with rain, unless it is raining so hard and water cant soak into the ground fast enough due to hardness of ground or a slope or slight dip (which I generally am careful to not put my tent in a depression)-- so for me, its more about trying to reduce the chances of the actual tent floor getting holes poked in it, which then with a super heavy rainfall, water will not leak into the tent from below if water is actually that much under the tent

just wanted to address the actual video, but hey, they are all your tents, do what you want.
djb 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 - Your Privacy Choices -

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