Home Beginners Camping Guide Tent Footprint Vs Tarp: Everything You Should Know

Tent Footprint Vs Tarp: Everything You Should Know

by Rayhan
Tent Footprint Vs Tarp: Which is Best

Camping is one of the most pleasurable activities in which everyone can participate. Whether you enjoy your weekend in the woods or car camping, you should be prepared with every camping gear while out on your trip. And although deciding between tent footprint vs tarp is tough, you can get the most suitable one once you understand their primary purpose.

Tarps and footprints are used to cover your tent or shelter when camping. These can prevent water from getting in. You can cover just about anything with tarps — boats, motorcycles, pickup trucks, campers, and even RVs! You can get a tarp for practically anything.

On the other hand, Footprints are growing more popular due to their specialized ground coverage. Unlike tarps which are often large and unwieldy, footprints are made for tents and shelters.

Nevertheless, there are some other crucial differences between these two-camping gear. You can use them for any secured comfort level, especially when you are deep in slumber at night. But before you get your hands on their setup, get to know these definite essentials. 

What Is Tent Footprint: Specifications

One of the main benefits of a dedicated tent footprint is its protective qualities. While a tent’s dual-layer ground material offers the most protection, a footprint acts as an additional layer of abrasion and moisture barrier to the tent’s bottom. A footprint can also protect your entire tent from various environmental impacts such as rain, snow, and debris.

Unlike a camping groundsheet, a tent footprint has been constructed to be more durable and thicker than your average groundsheet. Depending on your camping needs, there are various tent footprints to pick from.

Solid Footprints 

Solid tent footprint has a lot of benefits: they’re affordable, easy to clean, protect any tent model, and are available in many different sizes. They don’t offer much ventilation, though. That is why mesh or screen-based versions are better for warmer climates or seasons. The footprint also allows you to pitch your existing tent easily, and its washing function makes cleaning a breeze.

Mesh Footprints 

A mesh tent footprint is an added layer of protection that increases its lifespan. Howbeit, it cannot protect the floor of your tent when camping on wet or dirty surfaces. These footprints are best for use in summer as they are too lightweight and offer ventilation scopes. It will assist in keeping condensation at bay. Mesh tent footprints are less expensive and take up less room as they are composed of porous material. You’ll see that most tents come with one included, and it’s easy to upgrade.

What Is Tent Tarp: Specifications 

Tarps are a versatile piece of camping gear and can be used in numerous ways. Nylon or polypropylene are commonly used for tent tarps. It can be used for the tent ground cover or any other form. They primarily serve as a waterproof barrier between the ground and the tent’s bottom. Instead of tent rain flies, a tarp can also be used for protection from the rain or snow above.

Their versatility doesn’t end with camping and hiking. A tent tarp can also be used as a makeshift shelter in an emergency, supplementing your main tent when in nature. And many come with different kits of accessories that can add to their abilities. You can use these to protect tents from falling items and other potential hazards. 

A tarp can act as a heat insulator and conductor above your cooking setup if you’re planning to cook. Due to their lightweight composition, tarps are also much easier to transport. They are also excellent at filtering UV rays due to their thick layers that prevent the sun from penetrating.

Tent Footprint vs Tarp: Which Should You Use?

If you’re planning a vacation, a camping footprint for a tent can be useful. These are made of durable, waterproof material and fit underneath your tent. It gives an extra layer of protection between your tent’s fabric and the ground. This is good because it prevents small rips and tears from becoming bigger issues down the line. It also helps protect against moisture, damaging the tent’s material over time.

A tent tarp is your key to comfort and safety in the outdoors. Any serious camper knows that the more protection a tent has, the longer it can keep you safe and warm within. If you’re in an area with rocky or rough terrain, a tarp can provide an extra protective layer to prevent your tent floor from severe abrasion. 

Your tent’s tarp shouldn’t extend past the dimensions of its floor. Rain may collect in that extra space and then roll between the footprint and base. Set up your tent by placing the tarp directly below the tent’s pole. Keep no more than 6 inches of extra space should remain on any side. You can also use the tarp above your tent to avoid getting your entire tent wet all over.

If we want to make a list of camping essentials, a tarp is always good to cover uneven ground. If something goes wrong, you can easily set up a tarp as it is lightweight and easily transportable, unlike a footprint. You can also use it for wind protection, extra comfort, or make a shade canopy for cooking around the fire. However, it’s always better to carry the footprint and tarp in heavy inclement weather.

Tent Footprint Vs Tarp: Key Factors You Might Not Knew

Many individuals loving to enjoy nature spend their nights in a camping tent every year. However, a camping trip entails additional camping gear and a secure tent setup. And in this case, the debate about tent footprint vs tarp hasn’t been sorted out yet. Below are some key differences between a camping tarp and tent footprints to help you decide on the best-suited equipment for yourself. 

  • A tent footprint acts as a tent floor protection. By using a footprint, you can ensure that your tent stays in good condition for years to come. On the other hand, tarps can save your tent from abrasion or natural elements from different angles. You can, for example, drape it over the top of your tent to protect it from bad weather.
  • A tent tarp can be a worthy product to own for those who camp. It’s an inexpensive alternative to a tent footprint if you’re on a budget. However, tent footprints are a great addition to the tent grounded layer of protection. In contrast, a tent allows you to customize your camping experience differently. Tarps are also easy to tear and pack away when not in use.
  • Installing a tent tarp is cheaper and easier than installing a footprint. A tent footprint can take additional time to adequately set up and cover the tent’s interior. Tents with tarps are also more water-resistant, making them more reliable for lousy weather.

Simply put, tent and tarp weather protection systems are tools that campers use to prepare for inclement weather. While similar in a few respects, the tent footprint and the tarp have their differences. Both should be stored clean to remain free of dust and dirt. You should also remember to wash them regularly.

Frequently Asked Questions

Some of the most frequently asked questions about tarp and tent footprint will be answered in this area. Campers often find it challenging to make a final purchase decision when faced with such options, but the following information should make this much easier for you.

When it comes to camping, you have to think about the weather. A specialized tent footprint will provide more protection than a tarp if you can afford one. However, if you’re on a tight budget and still want to set up camp in a pinch, a tarp is your best bet and can even be used as an extra layer of shade!

Certainly, even though tarps are often used to protect tents from sunlight and rain, they can also be used as floor protection for the tent when you do not have a footprint.

Pick up a slightly larger tarp than your tent size. For example, if you have a 10×10 ft tent, buy a 12×12 ft tarp.


Now, you understand what a tent footprint is and how it differs from canvas tarps. Mostly tent footprints are ideal for when your camping configuration requires protection beneath the tent.

We believe you’ll be able to make the best decision possible after reading this guideline. You can now have a better selection process on what tent items will keep your tent firmly in place when you’re outside camping.

From solo backpacking to group camping with friends, various options are available. Using a footprint or tarp to protect your tent will help it last longer and keep your tent dry when it rains. Depending on their needs, backpackers can choose from lightweight tarps or heavier prints.

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