Sunday, July 31, 2011

DIY Tent Footprint

So you just bought yourself a fancy new tent and you see that there is a matching footprint that goes along with it. "Hold on a minute," you think to yourself, "I just spent my hard earned money on a tent, and I need to spend more money on something that goes underneath it?" Well, the answer to the question of whether or not you need a footprint is a hard one to answer. Some people will adamantly tell you, "Yes! You Need it!" (e.g. Marc Wiltse), but others say that they've never used one or only use one when they know they are going to be pitching a tent on gravel.

As for myself, I have camped both with and without a footprint. The purpose of a footprint is both to minimize the amount of potential moisture that seeps through the bottom of the tent and to reduce the amount of wear and tear on the tent (it's much cheaper to replace a footprint than an entire tent). Although I could purchase the recommended footprint for my tent for about $30 (or $20 if it's on sale), I decided to go the cheaper route and make my own for under $4. As a matter of fact, with the amount of material I bought I could make quite a few footprints. Here are some simple instructions for how you too can make a footprint for your camping adventures.
Take the drop cloth and spread it out on a flat surface. My tent was much smaller than the 9 ft by 12 ft drop cloth, so I didn't even unroll the entire thing.

Take your tent and place it on top of the drop cloth and trace its outline with a marker.
Now, for the important part. When you cut the plastic, make sure to cut about 3 to 5 inches inside the outline you traced. Your footprint needs to be completely under your tent (and thus smaller), otherwise rain will seep onto the footprint and get trapped between the footprint and the bottom of your tent and you will be sleeping in a nice big puddle.

That's it! You just saved yourself some money and made yourself a cheap (but sturdy) tent footprint.


  1. Technically that is not a footprint. A footprint has loops, grommets and/or eyelets designed so the tent fly can be pitched without the full tent. Some folks use this configuration to save weight while others use this in warmer weather when the full tent with the additional layers might prove too warm.


    1. @Jester
      Yes, I guess you're right and this is only a groundcloth. I plan on making an actual footprint at some point in the future with some left over material that I have....