Ever go to the sporting goods store and wonder why they are trying
to sell you a special footprint for your tent at a cost of forty
dollars? That's not exactly cheap - especially after you just
plunked down for a brand new tent. Many people pass on the tent
footprint when purchasing a new tent and in doing so unknowingly
just decreased the life of their new tent. Well, the good news
is that you can easily and cheaply make your own tent footprint
for seven dollars.
As far as I am concerned, a tent footprint is a
necessary piece of gear if you do a lot of camping. One of the
first things to wear out on your tent is the floor. Over the years,
twigs, sticks and rocks work on the bottom of the fabric. Inside,
the wear and tear of your feet, pebbles, sand and pine needles
work to remove any protective coating of the fabric. After a couple
of years you are looking at a perfect recipe for leaks and sometimes
quite a few leaks. When that happens it is time for a new tent.
Floor leaks are much more difficult to fix than leaks in the tent
The first thing you need to do is to pick up a plastic tarp from
your local hardware store. These tarps are usually around seven
dollars and sometimes available in different colors, but the standards
are blue and clear. You will also need a pair of medium to large
sized scissors. Make sure they are sharp or it can be a pain to
cut the material in a precise fashion. A thick black marker is
also an option for those who don't want a pair of scissors anywhere
near their tent. Finally and obviously, you need your tent.
Begin by unfolding the tarp and laying it on a flat
surface. Once the tarp is positioned, begin to set up your tent
on the tarp in a way that matches it from length to width.. Set
the tent up as you normally would without the fly. The tent fly
is not needed for the footprint creation. Once the tent is complete
and set up on the tarp, makes sure it is taught and well staked
out. When that is finished, take your black marker and trace the
outline of your tent on the plastic tarp which is on its way to
becoming a footprint. Those who are confident that they will not
slice open their tent with the scissors can feel free to proceed
here without the marker. If you went with the marker, slide the
tarp(now a footprint) out from under your tent and cut along the
line you traced. You have no created your seven dollar tent footprint!
In my experience, these cheap tent footprints actually last longer
than the forty dollar footprints that the tent manufacturers sell(sorry
guys). The only negative is that these footprints tend to be bulkier
than the official footprints, but it's not an unreasonable difference.
The plastic from the hardware store bought tarps seems to really
take a ton of abuse over the years with no real loss in quality
or toughness. Another plus is that the sun does not seem to eat
away at the material unlike the fabric created official footprints.
In fact, your new cheap tent footprint may outlive your actual
tent depending on how often you go camping. The UV rays are a
tent's worst enemy, and even the most cautious tenter will see
their old camping tent reduced to shreds over time.
Always try to use a footprint for your tent. Your tent will last
much longer and you will also stay drier in strong storms. For
seven dollars, you can't go wrong.
Enjoy your new footprint and sleep with confidence in our great
...it doesn't look like much but this is a very
valuable piece of gear.
Top image note: You can see the custom tent footprint under the
tent in the image. With the fly on the tent, the slightly exposed
plastic of the footprint doesn't matter. I experienced twenty
hours of rain the follwing day without a drop in the tent.