A tent footprint, also known as a groundsheet, is a piece of material that lies beneath the tent’s floor to protect it from wear and injury. It also serves as a moisture barrier, keeping water from leaking into the tent.
We will find out what the best tent footprint material is. Our research includes:
- Polyethylene foam (PPE)
- Polyvinyl chloride (PVC) insulation
- Paul Oxford insulation
Let’s go through things to look for when deciding whether or not you need one for your tent. We’ll also go through how to care for it and several options.
What Is The Best Tent Footprint Material?
The majority of footprints are composed of nylon and Tarpaulin. However, products from Zpacks and Hyperlight use DCF as materials.
DCF is an extremely strong material that is yet quite light. In terms of weight, it is up to 15 times stronger than steel.
There are three different types of flooring for winter tents. During the winter season, many anglers and visitors make extensive use of the following materials:
- Insulation made of polyethylene foam (PPE)
- Polyvinyl chloride (PVC)
- Insulation by Paul Oxford
The high water resistance of nylon provides comfort, and the manufacturing method provides high tensile strength. The result is a solid base for the floor, which is vulnerable to punctures and other mechanical damage. At the same time, it is lightweight and waterproof.
The main disadvantage of a nylon floor is its cost and the final price. Of course, it is somewhat more expensive to produce durable and waterproof nylon than the same Tarpaulin.
Tarpaulin is a material made of polyethylene, which perfectly protects against water. And as long as there is no hole in the material, it can ensure tightness.
However, some people do not like polyethylene for its low strength, and it is easy to pierce or tear. To increase the strength of polyethylene, manufacturers came up with reinforcing it.
It means introducing various reinforcing elements in the form of fibers into the material. The result is a fairly tear-resistant material, which at the same time has excellent water resistance.
Nevertheless, the legacy of polyethylene remained. So, it’s not recommended to set up a tent on a hard rocky surface with sharp stones.
However, you should note that a small hole in the bottom of the tent will not cause a flood. And it would help if you were not afraid of this.
Well, do not forget to choose a suitable place for installation. It will help if you clean the place for the tent from various sharp objects (pebbles, knots, etc.).
Dyneema Composite Fabrics (DCF)
Perhaps some of you have already come across tents made of this ultra-light yet durable material. The thing is interesting, with great potential for maximum lightening of the weight of your luggage, and volume too.
DCF made it from Cuben Fiber. Technically, it was a laminate sandwich of the thinnest layer of UHMWPE between two layers of PET or BoPET.
In addition to full moisture resistance and wind protection, the resulting material had extremely low weight and volume. It features high elasticity, vitality, and resistance to chemical influences, temperature, and ultraviolet light.
Today’s technologies made it possible to use it in ultralight tents, awnings, emergency shelters, as well as in a significant amount of tourist equipment.
Hermetic packaging made of such material is something that wide circles of the tourist community dream about during long winter nights.
Polyethylene Foam (PPE)
PPE is cross-linked polyethylene foam. Such material is resistant to moisture and has increased elasticity. So that it does not deform when twisted, even in severe frost.
Another advantage of a PPE footprint is its low weight. The main disadvantage of this material is its low surface wear resistance and short service life.
Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC) Insulation
Insulation made of PVC is a product that has an internal foam heat insulator and is sealed on top with a frost-resistant cover. This type of floor has heat-sealed seams that are moisture resistant.
With prolonged use, the floor with PVC does not wear out. But still, you should not use it in severe frost (-120°F and below) as the material may crack.
Paul Oxford Insulation
Insulated Oxford floor is a lightweight, moisture-resistant sewing product with high wear resistance. It does not burst even at extremely low temperatures, often used in winter tents.
The disadvantage of Oxford is that it is difficult to seal the seams, which causes moisture to seep into the cover. As a result, this can lead to freezing and, consequently, problems with folding and transportation.
As a result, it is impossible to say unequivocally which tent footprint will be better. Each option has its pros and cons:
|Nylon||Durable, lightweight, dries quickly, inexpensive||Risk of puncture|
|Tarpaulin||Waterproof, dries quickly, crease-resistant, inexpensive||Insufficiently strong, heavy|
|Dyneema® Composite Fabrics (DCF)||Durable, ultra-light, moisture resistant, wind protection||High price|
|Polyethylene Foam (PPE)||Moisture resistant, elasticity, lightweight,||Short service life|
|Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC) Insulation||Foam heat insulator, frost-resistant, moisture resistant||Risk of cracking in low the temperature|
|Paul Oxford Insulation||Lightweight, moisture-resistant, wear-resistant||Not airtight|
Characteristics Of A Good Tent Footprint
A good tent footprint needs to meet the following requirements:
- Adds the comfort of staying in a tent;
- Strong and resistant to punctures and tears;
- Have a high coefficient of water resistance;
- Protect against water penetration;
- Good thermal insulation.
The panel will be better when the water resistance is higher. The selected bottom should be polyamide or polyester when using the tent on a hiking trail.
By the fold of the material, you can judge its density. The thicker and stiffer the fold scar, the higher the density.
Longitudinal warp threads always have a strong twist. The stronger the twist, the higher the water-repellent value of such material.
The twists of longitudinal and weft threads can reveal wind and water resistance. In fabrics with a weight of 270 g/m and 260 g/m, the weft twist is strong.
It isn’t easy to provide the required warmth in a tent without a special floor in the cold season.
So, the groundsheet should be a waterproof material with excellent thermal insulation characteristics. It will protect the lower part of the tent from moisture, cold, and insects.
Many manufacturers use reinforced polyethylene or polypropylene as alternatives. These materials do an excellent job with the tasks set, do not get wet, and have good abrasion resistance.
The average service life of coatings is up to 4 years for fabrics made from natural fibers and up to 10 years using synthetic polymers.
Denier is a unit of measurement for cloth thickness. The thicker the fibers or threads used in its manufacture, the greater the denier.
The denier of lightweight nylon sheets normally ranges from 10D to 30D. Standard camping tents have a denier of 210D or higher.
Even though the Tarptent Protrail features a 30D floor, we recommend using a footprint. It’s not a bad idea to keep the floor of your tent clean and dry.
What Does The Difference In Materials Used In A Tent Footprint Mean?
Each material has its unique name, which encrypts its qualities. In this post, we will attempt to address the following questions about the many sorts of materials:
- Thread types: Nylon, polyester, Capron, Lavsan, and other thread types are available.
- Thread weaving techniques: Taffeta, Oxford, and Ripstop.
- Manufacturers measure weaving density in “tex” units: 185T, 190T, 210T, and so forth. Per square inch, the number of longitudinal and transverse threads.
- Thread thickness units: 70D, 75D, 210D, and so on.
- The existence of a water-repellent polyurethane and silicone covering, respectively PU and SI
- Water column resistance in millimeters: 450, 3000, 6000, 10000, and so forth.
As a result, the fabric’s name may be like PU 3000 Poly Taffeta 210T. It refers to a polyester fabric with a 210T weave density, a polyurethane coating, and waterproofing under the pressure of a 3000 mm high water column.
For the time being, we’d want to focus on the most common sorts of materials, ignoring density and waterproofness. Polyamide and polyester fibers are the two types of textiles.
Both species are approximately equally light and elastic under similar circumstances, and both species are similarly frequent. However, there are certain distinctions worth noting.
Polyamide textiles (Capron, Nylon) are abrasion-resistant, tear-resistant, and reasonably inexpensive. They are, however, easily stretchy when moist and sensitive to UV light.
Polyester textiles (Lavsan, Polyester) have a greater price and are more resistant to stretching when wet. They are also “immune” to UV radiation.
How To Take Care Of A Tent Footprint?
- Inside your tent, try not to wear shoes.
- Bring a small rug or mat inside the tent entrance to catch sand and wipe off the dirt.
- Sweep the tent floor every day to avoid stone damage.
- You should not keep food inside the tent. Hungry creatures will tear the tent canvas apart to pursue a tasty treat.
- Shake your tent footprint to get rid of dirt and debris before packing it up. Because the poles help hold the canvas open as you pour the soil, it’s easier if your tent is freestanding.
- Please make sure the bags are thoroughly dry before packing them.
- Moisture left on a groundsheet can cause it to deteriorate, so make sure it’s totally dry before packing up and setting out on the trail each day.
- You can drape your tent and fly over a tree, shrub, or boulder as long as the fabric is not poked or snagged.
- If you have to pack up in the rain, make sure the groundsheet is completely dry before leaving.
- Roll up your tent footprint instead of stuffing it into a sleeping bag. As a result, it reduces the stress on fabrics and coatings.
Watch this video to know how to use a footprint for camping:
Polyester and Oxford are quite popular among the best tent footprint materials mentioned. The proof is that products from these two materials receive many orders on e-commerce sites.
Ultimately, which one to choose depends on your budget and needs. In addition, you also need to consider other tent products. Read the article about rainfly material to find the best canopy!