How Big Should a Tent Footprint Be? (Expert’s Advice) 

How Big Should a Tent Footprint Be

Let me tell you all a little story, I was once sleeping in my tent however, I was not using any tent footprint thinking that it is a waste of time, money, and space, and do you know what happened then? 

Well, the bottom of my tent was heavily damaged, in addition, I could not sleep properly at night because of the cold surface. 

Now, if you have ever faced a similar situation and wish to avoid this in the future then this article is only for you! 

How Big Should a Tent Footprint Be? 

Well, your tent footprint size depends on a lot of things such as the place where you are pitching your tent, your tent/ground size, etc.

Ideally, your tent footprint should be around 2inches to 3inches smaller than the ground/bottom of your tent. 

If you want to know more about the reasons and what to do and what not, then just keep reading, my friend! 

Tent Footprint OR Tarp? Which One is a Better Choice and Why? 

This question is directly connected to the level of protection that you are expecting as well as your budget. 

First of all, the basic difference between a tent footprint and a tarp is their thickness which means that the thicker the shield is the greater protection the tent will be getting. 

The tent footprints are thicker than the tarps thus, if you are looking for something really strong and durable then you could buy a tent footprint. 

Tent Footprint OR Tarp

On the other hand, a tarp is not so thick however, if you are looking for a budget-friendly option for your not so expensive then you could buy a tarp. 

Please note that you should always make your protection the topmost priority when you are away from your home, especially away from your comfort zone. 

What if You Use a Bigger Tent Footprint? 

Have you ever noticed that when you are getting in and out of your tent, the outermost part of your tent is going back and forth, getting scratched by the soil and as a result, it gets damaged, right? 

Now, let us say that you are using a bigger tent footprint. Do you know what will happen? The remaining part/ extra part after covering the bottom of your tent will create an obstacle for you to get in or out of the tent.

Especially during rainy times, it will be slippery and the water underneath the tent will start running as well.  

Thus, it is recommended that you avoid using bigger tent footprints.  

Why a 2 inches to 3 inches Smaller Tent Footprint? 

Now that we know that we should not use a bigger footprint, I will tell you why we should use a smaller footprint, particularly 2-3 inches. 

The basic reason is if you use a much smaller tent footprint than your ground floor then of course you will not get enough protection. 

Do not forget that the first and foremost reason to use a tent footprint is to protect your tent and yourself from the outer damage and cold. 

Thus, if you want no hassle from a bigger tent footprint and proper protection that you will not be getting from a very small tent footprint, just buy 2 inches to 3 inches smaller (than your ground floor) tent footprint. 

Advantages Can You Get from a Tent Footprint – (6 Amazing Perks!)

When you are pitching your tent and use a tent footprint along with it, you get plenty of perks that come with it. 

Keep an eye on this article, I will tell you about your secret treasures! 

Give your tent an extra lifeline! 

When you are using a tent footprint, you are making an extra layer or shield that protects your tent from many harms.  As the tent footprint saves your tent from damage, the tent stays intact and usable for a longer period giving your tent extra lifelines! 

Keep yourself warm

This is pretty basic. What do you do when winter comes? Well, if I talk about me then no matter how many blankets I use, it does not feel enough (laugh out loud)! However, the best part is although your heart does not find contentment, your body understands the situation.

I am pretty sure you have already guessed what I am about to tell you. When you are using a tent footprint, through an extra layer you are keeping a distance from the cold and staying warm! 

Less water, less trouble 

Do not be scared. I am not asking you to drink less water and stay thirsty. What I am telling you is that when you are adding a tent footprint, you are creating less chance to barge into your tent thus, the waterproofing level of your tent increases to the maximum level.

This tent footprint protects you from water as well as many insects and so that saves you from lots of troubles. 

Save time and sound sleep 

When you are adding a tent footprint, it just makes your tent easy to pitch away. Your time and energy get saved and this way you can focus on your camping more and have a better sleep at night. 

Protect your precious investment

When we go camping, we pay a lot of attention to our tents because our tents are like the heart of our camping.

Now, after buying a tent we do not feel like or should not allow ourselves to ruin our expensive tents because of underlying mud, sticks, and stones.  Thus, when you use a tent footprint, you get the chance to protect your expensive tent

Give yourself a break from heavy cleaning! 

Well, I do not know about you guys but I am super lazy to clean my entire tent, especially the bottom part of my expensive tent that needs more care.

So, what I do is I use a tent footprint, and trust me when you are using a perfect size tent footprint (2“, to 3“ smaller than the tent), you are just saving yourself from washing the entire tent

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Should the footprint be smaller than the tent? 

Answer: The one-word answer to this question is, YES. That is because if you choose a smaller footprint, then the water collection problem will be gone from underneath your tent. 

What can I use instead of a tent footprint? 

Answer: Plastics Wrap. However, if you are an environmentally-conscious person then you can of course skip this one!  

Are tent footprints waterproof? 

Answer: Yes, tent footprints are waterproof and made of double-layer sheets to keep between the soil and the tent base. 

Are tent footprints worth it? 

Answer: There is no definite answer to it. It is more about the user’s preference. If you feel like you are better off your tent footprint and comfortable that way, then you can of course pitch away from your tent without tent footprints. 


If you pay attention to your tent base size and buy a slightly smaller tent footprint, then that would be the best decision. However, it is all about choices, if you are more comfortable without a tent footprint then go for it (rooting for you)!

So to sum it up, 

  • Buy 2 inches to 3 inches smaller tent footprint
  • Decide if you want a tarp or a footprint
  • Be aware of the bigger tent footprint problems
  • The ultimate reasons behind a smaller tent footprint
  • More advantages, as they say, more the merrier! 

Go camping and keep the ball rolling with a smaller tent footprint! 

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