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What is the best tent footprint?

A good tent is an investment and something you want to protect. One easy way to increase the lifespan of your tent is to buy a tent footprint to go along with your shelter. When selected and used correctly, a footprint can protect the floor of your tent and keep your shelter free from tears and mold for many seasons to come.

When selecting a footprint, make sure it is appropriately sized for your tent. If you’re looking for a quality tent footprint that comes in multiple sizes, the best option is the ALPS Mountaineering Tent Footprint.

What to know before you buy a tent footprint

What is a tent footprint?

Tent footprints serve two main purposes: protecting your tent floor and helping keep moisture away from your tent. A footprint is an extra layer of protection that pays for itself over time. Footprints minimize wear on your tent and the need to patch or replace it earlier in its life expectancy. Tent footprints also utilize waterproof materials, which provide some added protection to the bottom of your tent.

Do I need to buy a tent footprint?

While you don’t need a tent footprint, consider it insurance for your tent. Pricier tents often are made from thinner materials to make them more lightweight. Putting a tent footprint down protects your tent from the ground, especially if you are camping on dirt and rocks. Some tent footprints can have several uses as well. Use larger footprints as tarps, shelters or picnic blankets.

Are there any reasons not to use a tent footprint?

The only people who may want to forgo a footprint are hikers on long trails where weight savings are crucial.

What to look for in a quality tent footprint


A tent footprint will have a denier rating. The higher the number, the more durable the footprint (i.e., a 10D footprint will not be as rugged as a 30D footprint). This durability comes at the cost of extra weight. Still, most campers will be unlikely to notice a difference of a few ounces.


Tent footprints aren’t solely for waterproofing purposes. However, their waterproof materials cut down on moisture accumulation. If moisture from the ground continually interacts with your tent, that likely will lower the tent’s life expectancy.

Most footprints have one side with waterproofing treatment (that side will be shinier). Ensure the shiny side is facing your tent, and the duller side is facing the ground to protect the footprint’s waterproofing.


While this mainly depends on the size of the pack you carry, heavy and durable footprints tend to be bulkier. Consider what you bring on an average camping trip and make sure your footprint will be able to fit. Packability is especially important if you prefer to camp with more luxury items and a fuller backpack.

How much you can expect to spend on a tent footprint

Expect to spend $20-75, depending on size.

Tent footprint FAQ

What size tent footprint should you buy?

A. You’ll want a tent footprint that corresponds with the size of your tent. For example, if you have a two-person tent, get a footprint that fits a two-person tent. However, not all two-person tents are sized equally. While they’ll all be similar, it’s best to check the dimensions of your tent before purchasing a tent footprint. A good rule of thumb is that your footprint should be 1-2 inches smaller on all sides than your tent. If your tent footprint is too large, water will pool and potentially get into your shelter.

Can you mix brands for your tent and footprint?

A. Yes, but only if the dimensions are correct. However, your best bet is to buy a footprint made specifically for your tent (if there is one). If your tent doesn’t have a footprint made for it, there are several good footprints available.

What’s the best tent footprint to buy?

Top tent footprint 

ALPS Mountaineering Tent Footprint

ALPS Mountaineering Tent Footprint

What you need to know: This durable, four-season footprint fits a wide range of tent sizes and weighs just over half a pound.

What you’ll love: With six sizes to choose from, you shouldn’t have trouble finding a fit for your tent. The polyester material will provide long-lasting protection for your tent’s floor. You can stake your tent into the attached grommets for extra stability.

What you should consider: While not heavy, this isn’t the lightest option available.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Top tent footprint for the money

Amazon Basics Waterproof Camping Tarp

Amazon Basics Waterproof Camping Tarp

What you need to know: If you want something functional you also can use as a stand-alone tarp, this is the best pick.

What you’ll love: For the function that this waterproof tarp provides, the price is a bargain. Rust-proof grommets go around the entirety of the tarp and give you multiple tie-down options. The corners are reinforced for added durability.

What you should consider: At nearly 2.5 pounds, it’s the heaviest option on this list. There are only two size options.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Worth checking out

Amazon Basics Waterproof Camping Tarp

GEERTOP Ultralight Tent Footprint

What you need to know: If you want to pack a lighter footprint, this is about half the weight of the ALPS Mountaineering footprint.

What you’ll love: With five size options, ranging from backpacking tents to large family tents, you’ll find something for your needs. This footprint packs down into a drawstring bag and won’t take up too much room in your backpack.

What you should consider: While this is the lightest option, it isn’t as durable. At 20D, this is thinner and may wear out earlier.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon


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Joe Coleman writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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