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What is a tent footprint groundsheet, and why do I need one

In recent years there's been a lot of talk about footprint groundsheets for tents, and now it seems like every tent on the market can be accessorised with one of these extra groundsheets

So what is a footprint groundsheet?

Simply put, a footprint groundsheet is a piece of waterproof tarpaulin cut to the exact size of the bottom of your tent.

Don't most tents already come with a 'built-in' groundsheet?

Yes, most tents are now sold as fully complete and include either a sewn-in or zipped-in groundsheet. Some even have extra bathtub style groundsheets for porch and living areas.

If my tent is already waterproof, why do I need a footprint groundsheet?

An extra groundsheet doesn't just give you extra waterproofing, there are some far more important reasons to invest in a footprint groundsheet:

1. Your very own patch of dry ground
Make pitching a doddle by bringing some dry ground with you to pitch your tent. A footprint groundsheet keeps the bottom of your tent clean and dry making packing away much easier. For tents with sewn in groundsheets, having a footprint groundsheet means much less hassle and means it is less likely your tent will need airing and drying when you get home.
2. Perfect pitch, every time
Banish pitching problems by knowing exactly where to put the corners of your tent. With many larger or modular style tents it is painfully difficult trying to work out where to put the corner pegs before you get the frame up, and equally as frustrating when you have to move them again. A footprint groundsheet shows exactly where you should be pegging your corners and avoids wasted time.

3. A little more warmth
When camping most heat is lost to the ground, and a footprint groundsheet adds another layer of insulation to trap the warmer air and prevent heat loss

4. Protecting your investment
If you've just spent several hundred pounds or more on a spangly new tent you probably want to keep it in the best condition, for the longest time. Just like Scotch-Guarding a new sofa, a footprint groundsheet helps to prevent damage, rips and tears to the underside of your new tent from unseen sticks and stones on your chosen campsite. It is far easier to repair or replace a damaged footprint groundsheet than the integral groundsheet of your tent.

5. Doubles the waterproofing
Most tent groundsheets have a string 10,000mm hydrostatic which means you are very unlikely to get wet but over time, water can get through even this high spec barrier. A second layer provided by a footprint groundsheet further increases your protection meaning peace of mind, even on longer trips. Some expedition and trekking tents only have 5,000mm hydrostatic head groundsheets so for longer trips where weight is not an issue, a footprint groundsheet is recommended.

So there you have it, five compelling reasons to go out and get yourself a footprint groundsheet for your tent - an investment that might end up saving you money in the long run, and will certainly save you time and hassle every time you pack up your tent!