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  1. #1
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    Default Suggestions for making a tent footprint

    I used to use heavy plastic drop cloth material from Home Depot to make a ground cloth. Is Tyvek or something else better?

    Mike

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    Tyvek. You got it.
    Hiking is the best teacher, it grades on a curve.
    AT miles: 255.5 / Total miles: 905.27

    Author of "Hiking Into Trail Days"



  3. #3
    Registered User Elaikases's Avatar
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    I've tried a number of footprints. My current favorite is polycro. Light. Disposable if something happens. Does not absorb any water (unlike the Tyvek footprint I have). Did I say light? And you can see through it. While you can buy them through tent makers, Home Depot and Amazon.com are better bets.

    Did I say just how light they are?

  4. #4

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    The plastic will work but probably won't be very durable in the long run. Tyvek is nearly indestructible. And remember, a foot print should not extend beyond the floor of the tent.
    The AT - It has it's ups and downs...

  5. #5

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    Quote Originally Posted by Elaikases View Post
    I've tried a number of footprints. My current favorite is polycro. Did I say just how light they are?
    Too light in some cases. Try making it stay in place if you got a stiff breeze. Tyvek isn't much better, but at least you can see where it blows away too.
    The AT - It has it's ups and downs...

  6. #6
    Registered User colorado_rob's Avatar
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    Best footprint is no footprint. You just plain don't need one. Don't carry your fears like so many do.

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    Skip the footprint. But, if you must, go with Tyvek.

  8. #8

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    I like Tyvek. But my ground sheet of choice is a painter's drop sheet kinda plastic, the lightest, 3 or 0.3, I can't remember.

    I put a dab of tape folded over in each corner and paper-punch a hole. When I'm setting up I find my "flat" spot and tack the sheet down lightly with 4 stakes. I lie on it both ways to figure out which way is slightly uphill. There's always an uphill. And it's always my second try. It also makes it easy to pick out twigs and small stones that I couldn't see before, you feel them through the plastic. Then I set up the tent, pulling out and using the stakes for the corners as I go.

    A sheet usually lasts me anywhere from 25-75 nights, depending on what kind of ground.

  9. #9
    Registered User Elaikases's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Wil View Post
    I like Tyvek. But my ground sheet of choice is a painter's drop sheet kinda plastic, the lightest, 3 or 0.3, I can't remember.

    I put a dab of tape folded over in each corner and paper-punch a hole. When I'm setting up I find my "flat" spot and tack the sheet down lightly with 4 stakes. I lie on it both ways to figure out which way is slightly uphill. There's always an uphill. And it's always my second try. It also makes it easy to pick out twigs and small stones that I couldn't see before, you feel them through the plastic. Then I set up the tent, pulling out and using the stakes for the corners as I go.

    A sheet usually lasts me anywhere from 25-75 nights, depending on what kind of ground.
    And they are so cheap that replacing them is painless.

  10. #10
    Registered User Venchka's Avatar
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    At my local Ace Hardware stores...
    Painters Drop Cloth plastic from 0.5-2.0 mils.
    PolyCRYO Window film from 0.75 to 1.5 mils.
    I've used both in 1.5 mils thickness. The Polycryo window film is slightly lighter than the drop cloth material and seems stronger.
    Why use this stuff? Big Bend and similar desert environments come to mind. Under my Xtherm when not using the floor of my StratoSpire 1 is another situation.
    Blanket statements don't always work.
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  11. #11
    Registered User Redrowen's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by colorado_rob View Post
    Best footprint is no footprint. You just plain don't need one. Don't carry your fears like so many do.
    There is nothing wrong with someone wanting to carry a footprint, they have multiple uses not based on "fear". This "Don't carry your fears like so many do" mantra is over used, and can be a bit condescending and misleading at times when just tossed out.

  12. #12
    Registered User DownEaster's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Elaikases View Post
    And they are so cheap that replacing them is painless.
    I would tend to disagree on this point. You've got to get to the next town with a hardware store, meanwhile without protection from the twigs and rocks that are trying to puncture your tent floor. And you've then got to buy the painter's drop sheet, cut it with your dinky Swiss Army knife, buy some tape for the corners, and buy or borrow a hole punch. Pain in the neck, yes; painless, no.

  13. #13
    Registered User colorado_rob's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Redrowen View Post
    There is nothing wrong with someone wanting to carry a footprint, they have multiple uses not based on "fear". This "Don't carry your fears like so many do" mantra is over used, and can be a bit condescending and misleading at times when just tossed out.
    Well, yeah, that phrase is overused, sorry, but it is also appropriate, witness the recent response that the guy us worried about being without one for even a very short while...

  14. #14

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    Quote Originally Posted by Redrowen View Post
    There is nothing wrong with someone wanting to carry a footprint, they have multiple uses not based on "fear". This "Don't carry your fears like so many do" mantra is over used, and can be a bit condescending and misleading at times when just tossed out.
    The things I miss because of the "Ignore" feature.

  15. #15
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    There is a bunch of YouTube videos that show you how to make a footprint


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

  16. #16

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    The AT is in general, a wet trail. You often have to set up on damp or wet or even muddy ground. A footprint adds an extra layer of waterproofing between you and the wet ground, which can otherwise seep in through the floor. The footprint keeps the bottom of the tent clean, which in turn keeps the rest of the tent clean when you stuff it into a sack.

    The footprint is also useful in shelters where the cleanliness of the floor is suspect or has gaps in the boards which can let air blow up from under you.
    It can be used as a picnic blanket at lunch.
    Used as a small tarp.
    Folded up, used as a sitting/knelling pad.
    It provides a dry place for you to unload your pack onto if you need to dig to the bottom.
    You can cowboy camp on it.

    I carry a Tyvek ground cloth for all the above reasons.
    The AT - It has it's ups and downs...

  17. #17
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    If your worried about tyvek letting water through, the new synthetic roofing material often used instead of tar paper doesn't let any through. I get it at work so haven't looked into buying small quantities. Pretty much the same as tyvek but a tad bit more heavy duty and waterproof - tad bit heavier to but I'll take the compromise.

    We've used tyvek as a cooler before with sitting water and didn't notice any leaking (building material tyvek) so I can't imagine that being to much of an issue.

  18. #18
    Registered User Crossup's Avatar
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    Agree, I carry anything that can serve several purposes that I will actually use to make life easier. When I hear "don't carry your fear" my first thought is why are you saying that yet you carry sleeping gear, food or for that matter, anything beyond clothing and a water bottle? My fears are not yours so please respect that they are mine and shut up.

    Quote Originally Posted by Slo-go'en View Post
    The AT is in general, a wet trail. You often have to set up on damp or wet or even muddy ground. A footprint adds an extra layer of waterproofing between you and the wet ground, which can otherwise seep in through the floor. The footprint keeps the bottom of the tent clean, which in turn keeps the rest of the tent clean when you stuff it into a sack.

    The footprint is also useful in shelters where the cleanliness of the floor is suspect or has gaps in the boards which can let air blow up from under you.
    It can be used as a picnic blanket at lunch.
    Used as a small tarp.
    Folded up, used as a sitting/knelling pad.
    It provides a dry place for you to unload your pack onto if you need to dig to the bottom.
    You can cowboy camp on it.

    I carry a Tyvek ground cloth for all the above reasons.

  19. #19
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    One area where I do a lot of camping is in the Texas Hill Country where there are a lot of small sharp rocks underneath your tent even in the best spots. They will wear a hole in the underside of a tent after a while, so it would not be just for waterproofing. Tyvek sounds good but I curious at to whether it absorbs water.

    Mike

  20. #20
    Registered User DownEaster's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mrappe View Post
    Tyvek sounds good but I curious at to whether it absorbs water.
    Yes, it absorbs water. If you've got a kitchen scale you can do an easy experiment at home. If you don't already have a Tyvek envelope at hand, pick up one from any FedEx or USPS mailing center. Weigh it, submerge it in water for a couple minutes, towel it off, and weigh it again.

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