Tent Footprint vs. Tarp? (Which Is A Better Choice)

For a lot of people, the tent from the best tent brand is one of the biggest investments they make when going on a camping trip. Thus, it is always a great idea to safeguard your tent in the best way possible. Make sure that you get the most out of your tent for a longer period.

As you pitch a tent and get inside it, you will be turning and tossing around with your bodyweight on the ground. That will eventually wear off or damage the fabric. There’s some confusion revolving around whether campers should use tent footprint or tarp in protecting their tent from rain, wear, and damage.

Tent footprint vs. Tarp – which is which? We will answer that question for you in this post.

​Everything About Tarp And Tent Footprint

So let’s get started:

1. Tent Footprint

Tent Footprint

Tent footprints are items placed underneath camping tents, adding to their resistance against constant friction with the ground. Without the footprint, your shelter will be exposed to much wear and tear and get damaged in time.

Why Use a Tent Footprint? Tents easily get damaged, and exposure to ultraviolet light and sunlight will pose a greater risk towards the material than the normal wear and tear. A ground cover or tent footprint will help protect the tent’s floor from abrasions.

For example, let’s say you decide to camp on a desert sand or sandy beach. The bottom part of your tent will take a lot of beating because of the heat and irregular surface. Tent footprint would protect your tent from the gritty, rough ground.

You can check out these tent footprints on Amazon.com.

How often must I use my tent before the floor begins to break down due to friction? You will have to use your tent each year for some years. The majority of people do not use their tents that much and the experts recommend  among other camping tips not carrying on some extra weight.

Will ground cloth or footprint protect you from the rain? Not entirely. The majority of the tents that can be purchased these days are utilizing a bathtub style floor made up of silk nylon, fabric with sidewalls covering the sides of the tent for a few inches. Silnylon is a nylon trapped with silicon giving the tent its waterproofing ability.

2. Tarp


A tarp or tarpaulin is a big sheet of strong, flexible, waterproof, water-resistant material, often made of polyester with a urethane coating. They are a useful commodity for campers while camping.

Why Use a Tarp? One of the best and most common ways to shield your tent from damage is by using a tarp underneath it.

There are the benefits of using a tarp:

  • Makes packing much easier since your tent floor remains clean and dry
  • It is much cheaper to replace a tarp than to replace a tent.

How to use a tarp? If you’re going to use a tarp, make sure that the side of your tent has no protruding edges. You can simply fold any extra tarp underneath the tent. Or else, water will pool beneath your tent when it rains.

Other uses of tarp. Aside from waterproofing the floor of your tent, a tarp will also provide you and your best inflatable lounger with extra shelter from the rain and a place to cook since you will not be cooking inside the tent.

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3. Tent vs. Tarp

When it comes to rain, there are those who would argue that ground cloth or footprint will increase your chances of getting your tent wet since it accumulates water on its surface and soaks it through the seams of your tent. This way keeping meals or chemicals like your best headliner adhesive under tarp may be not a good decision no matter how long do mres last.

To avoid this problem, you can pick a campsite with nice drainage and allow the rain to run at the sides of your tent and into the ground. But you’ll never know when the climate will turn really bad, and there are no guarantees.

A tarp, on the other hand, is completely waterproof even for keeping 10w-30 and 5w-36 oils in bottles and will keep your tent floor and your best ems boots dry when setting up right. Silnylon floors don’t leak unless they are poked with a hole although they can also be fixed easily with duct tape.

Tarps are also a more affordable way of making camping with best rain gear for fishing in an unpredictable climate a bit easier to handle. I for one have made it a habit of bringing at least one tarp when going on a camping adventure in keen or merrell shoes.

Check out this video to see the waterproofing ability of a tarp:


While campers can only stay inside their tents or best truck campers when it’s raining, you will have more options with the tarp. A tarp will keep your tent and your items dry, and its waterproofing ability is proven and tested. You may also choose to have both footprint and tarp inside your tent if you can afford it.

Also be aware of the space you will be camping in before you set up your shelter. This will enable you to check for lumps, bumps, sticks, rocks and possible ant nests that may cause problems later on when it’s raining, and you happen to tent on the wrong area.

We hope you enjoyed and learned from this post. Which do you prefer; tarp or tent footprint? Feel free to let us know in the comments section. In addition, we suggest you to go through our reviews of the best rv washer dryer combos.

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2 thoughts on “Tent Footprint vs. Tarp? (Which Is A Better Choice)”

  1. Hello!
    On this topic, often I see tent footprints with some semblance of a capacity (or via creative suspension methods, for also being used as a tarp. Sometimes they’re less expensive than a full blown tarp. But is a footprint as effective from rain (water repellent) as a tarp? Is this a case by case scenario?

  2. What I also mean is – not using the footprint for the specfied tent at all, but as an independent method for protection without a tent – the footprint IS the tarp set up to, for instance, protect me and my stuff under it in a rain storm.

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