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

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

Old 06-21-24, 09:51 PM
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"Proof You Don' Need a Footprint" for your Tent

It's an interesting video on footprints and if they are warranted.


Includes an attempt at scientific testing.

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Old 06-22-24, 02:00 AM
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His argument is"why have a seat belt installed in your car? Just drive carefully."

No, searching out and removing all objects from the ground each time you pitch is not a viable alternative to using a footprint if you want to maximize the lifespan of your tent floor before it develops holes.

The footprint doesn't just protect your tent floor. It is also there to protect your inflatable sleeping mat.

And you don't need to pay $100 for a branded footprint.
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Old 06-22-24, 02:43 AM
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Yan Posted: His argument is"why have a seat belt installed in your car? Just drive carefully."

No, searching out and removing all objects from the ground each time you pitch is not a viable alternative to using a footprint if you want to maximize the lifespan of your tent floor before it develops holes.

The footprint doesn't just protect your tent floor. It is also there to protect your inflatable sleeping mat.

And you don't need to pay $100 for a branded footprint.

I find the foot print is not enough, even when you first clear the area. I use closed cell foam under my air mattress also.
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Old 06-22-24, 02:50 AM
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Originally Posted by Yan
His argument is"why have a seat belt installed in your car? Just drive carefully.".
What a load of rubbish ...
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Old 06-22-24, 02:53 AM
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Originally Posted by Rick
I find the foot print is not enough, even when you first clear the area. I use closed cell foam under my air mattress also.
Each to their own of course. I have used a self-inflating mattress for various types or probably 15-plus years in variable conditions and never bothered with a footprint or a closed-cell foam mat. I have considered a footprint at times but could not justify the expenditure or extra weight/space used up, well until next week when this statement will bite me on the rear end

Onthe subject of tent floors (my tents swing towards the lower end of the scales), I have never developed holes. Maybe cheaper tents have problems I do not know.
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Old 06-22-24, 03:34 AM
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*smh* Everyone wants to be an “ influencer” these days.

I poked holes in a tent floor by not using something under the tent. It wasn't a cheap tent. Made by some company called Sierra Designs. I’ll stick with my 12 ounce plastic tarp, thank you very much.

BTW:

Tent Footprint Size

Last edited by indyfabz; 06-22-24 at 07:18 AM.
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Old 06-22-24, 06:29 AM
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I use an old footprint that came with a previous tent. It's not the exact size but it's close enough. My current tent is 10 years old and has seen more than 400 nights of use. Saving money on not getting a footprint and putting more wear on the tent surely loses one more money on the long run.
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Old 06-22-24, 07:19 AM
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I am an old timer so I have been through quite a few tents over the years and none were retired because the floors failed despite the fact that I didn't use footprints or ground sheets on most of them. I also have not had sleeping pad failures that seemed to be due to the lack of a ground sheets. Some of that may be due to the cacy that I tend to crawl into the tent. lie down, and not move around. The sleeping pad is typically in place before I crawl in. My shoes come off on the way in.

I would suggest that patching a floor as needed, recoating as needed. and as a last resort after a long life adding a ground cloth. The ground cloth can be inside the tent at that point. I don't speak from experience because my tents have never had the floors fail. Zippers have failed, coatings have broken done, but floors have held up okay as long as the rest of the tent did.. I get that not every one uses their tent in the same manner though.
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Old 06-22-24, 08:53 AM
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I actually don't use one, but I am aware that this is sub-optimal. I've been fortunate enough not to have poked a hole in the tent floor in any of my tents. (I have damaged a few in other ways.)
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Old 06-22-24, 12:08 PM
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Originally Posted by Aushiker
What a load of rubbish ...
You mean the video you posted? Yeah.
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Old 06-22-24, 12:36 PM
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having a little slumber party in a national forest with groomed tent sites is nice, but i'd like to see a test under real life conditions:

...........something like setting up the tent in a cactus field on a lava flow covered with goatheads in a heavy rain.

lather, rinse and repeat for a year.
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Old 06-22-24, 01:18 PM
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Well, I hiked the CDT and the AZT with one silnylon Tarptent without a ground cloth. I didn't have lava, goatheads, cactus and rain at the same time, but often two at a time. The floor was flawless when I retired it, after a zipper failure and a tie down point on the canopy started pulling apart. I found a way to travel without that vital piece of equipment, as well as a few others.
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Old 06-22-24, 02:34 PM
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Originally Posted by saddlesores
having a little slumber party in a national forest with groomed tent sites is nice, but i'd like to see a test under real life conditions:

...........something like setting up the tent in a cactus field on a lava flow covered with goatheads in a heavy rain.

lather, rinse and repeat for a year.
Backpacked and bike toured in a wide variety of locations. More often not on groomed sites than on. A large portion was in the US west. Much of my camping was on improvised sites.

FWIW, I doubt any ground sheet makes much difference one way or the other with goat head thorns.
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Old 06-22-24, 02:45 PM
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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.
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Old 06-22-24, 05:17 PM
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I take a footprint because it can be used for other things. If I have a groomed spot for my tent, I can use my footprint to cover my bike or other gear to protect it from rain, dew, and frost, or I can use it to make a shelter under which I can dry my clothes.
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Old 06-22-24, 07:09 PM
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Originally Posted by phughes
You mean the video you posted? Yeah.
Apparently.
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Old 06-22-24, 07:11 PM
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Originally Posted by saddlesores
having a little slumber party in a national forest with groomed tent sites is nice, but i'd like to see a test under real life conditions:

...........something like setting up the tent in a cactus field on a lava flow covered with goatheads in a heavy rain.

lather, rinse and repeat for a year.
If this is what you mean by "real-life testing", how often have you done this over a year? We do not have lava or cactus fields here, but I have spent 30+ nights camping out one ride, mostly in station country were thorns and the like are normal. That was in a Tarptent Scarp 1. I never felt the need for a footprint and didn't suffer any punctures to the flow or mat. I did, however, suffer a seam blowout on my Exped mat.

I did, however, endeavour to clear the ground with my shoes, ie., get rid of the worst sticks and stones and the like ... that was the extent of my 'grooming'.

Of course YMMV.

Last edited by Aushiker; 06-22-24 at 07:16 PM. Reason: Typos
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Old 06-22-24, 07:17 PM
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Originally Posted by 50PlusCycling
I take a footprint because it can be used for other things. If I have a groomed spot for my tent, I can use my footprint to cover my bike or other gear to protect it from rain, dew, and frost, or I can use it to make a shelter under which I can dry my clothes.
That is fair enough, and if it works for you, that is great. I tend to put any damp clothes in my quilt. Dry and toasty in the morning
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Old 06-22-24, 07:18 PM
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Originally Posted by 50PlusCycling
I take a footprint because it can be used for other things. If I have a groomed spot for my tent, I can use my footprint to cover my bike or other gear to protect it from rain, dew, and frost, or I can use it to make a shelter under which I can dry my clothes.
That is fair enough, and if it works for you, that is great. I tend to put any damp clothes in my quilt. Dry and toasty in the morning

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Old 06-22-24, 07:54 PM
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Originally Posted by indyfabz
*smh* Everyone wants to be an “ influencer” these days.

I poked holes in a tent floor by not using something under the tent. It wasn't a cheap tent. Made by some company called Sierra Designs. I’ll stick with my 12 ounce plastic tarp, thank you very much.
Cheap was the wrong descriptor; I was referring to 'heavy' as opposed to lightweight, and by lightweight, I mean around ~1 kg for a two-person tent such as the Durston X-Mid 2. I am presuming, maybe wrongly, that heavier tents are likely to have thicker floors or use heavier materials.
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Old 06-22-24, 08:11 PM
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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.
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Old 06-22-24, 08:46 PM
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I use a footprint/ground-cloth. To me, the only reason not to is if needing to be ultralight. My standard footprint is heavier weight clear plastic. I do have a lighter polyester one picked up dirt cheap at REI's return sale, if needed.

I have one hole in my tent; Back in the '90s, first time used, was stopped in a couple days of rain so was cooking in the tent, dropped a lit match, instantly put a small hole in the floor, footprint was no help there. I'm much more careful now. But I was able to patch the hole easy, a Park sticky patch on the inside and outside of the floor, still in place fine.

If carefully thought out, a footprint can have multiple uses, or something else used as a footprint. Perhaps your footprint is a fully-unzipped rinko bag or other for bike transport. Poncho. Transport sacks or duffle that holds your panniers in transit. Windshield sun reflector material that you tie over your trailer or panniers in the hot sun to keep contents cooler. Along with tent fly, used to collect rain for drinking water. The footprint need not be one piece to serve its purpose.

Last edited by Duragrouch; 06-22-24 at 08:49 PM.
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Old 06-23-24, 04:12 AM
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Puncture and abrasion resistance:

I don't think straight up punctures are that big of an issue but the test did show a footprint helps. Having something to take up the abrasion instead of the tent floor is something I like having. Grooming a site isn't realistic a lot of the time. You'd be amazed how much unseen nasty stuff a baby can vacuum to their mouths from a square meter of carefully cleaned ground. Having to do that for a tent sized area would be chore / impossible at times.

Waterproofing:

Is this a thing?

Condensation:

What grinds my gears with this test is that it was performed with the wrong type of tent. A dome tent such as used in the test doesn't have large enough vestibules to cause an issue with ground condensation. A tunnel tent on the other hand often has a vestibule that's near the same size as the sleeping area. If the ground isn't bone dry, you can be sure some of the ground condensation will end up on the tent. You cover that exposed ground area with a footprint and the ground condensation has much less chance to rise to the tent from.

Additional benefits:

Having a floor in the tunnel tent vestibule is really nice especially if the ground is wet, muddy or otherwise nasty. Prevents a lot of the crud getting inside the tent. Helps with insects too.
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Old 06-23-24, 05:22 AM
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Humbug!

I have two footprints! Sometimes I travel without the tent, just the footprints.
They are sewn together with a hole to crawl into if it rains.

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Old 06-23-24, 05:32 AM
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Originally Posted by saddlesores
having a little slumber party in a national forest with groomed tent sites is nice, but i'd like to see a test under real life conditions:

...........something like setting up the tent in a cactus field on a lava flow covered with goatheads in a heavy rain.

lather, rinse and repeat for a year.
Stealth camping through Texas and dealing with goatheads, definitely need a footprint. Actually that's cot territory. I patched many a hole in my sleeping pad even with a footprint.
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