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Tent Footprint vs. Tarp: What are the differences, and which should you get?

Tent footprint vs Tarp

Guest Contribution by Victor Nicholson

As you plan to enjoy the outdoors, you should consider comfort and safety. For outdoor lovers such as campers, a tent is a necessary investment. While a tent may not provide you with the maximum comfort you enjoy in your home space, it does not have to be unbearable.

Whether you frequent the outdoors for camping or venture outside once in a while, your tent flooring is a concern you should tackle. A ground filled with moisture can make your experience less enjoyable. Getting a tent footprint or a tarp can be a dilemma. Here in this article, you’ll find the definitions of both items, their differences, and the best option for you.

What is a tent footprint?

Getting your gear for camping requires some research. One area is the need for a tent footprint or tarp. Before deciding which is more suitable for your scenario, you need to know the individual purposes of tarps and tent footprints.

A tent footprint is a piece of material to be laid on the floor of your tent. They are cut to fit the size of your tent, and they protect your tent from being directly on the floor. Tents can be fragile and can easily be damaged if not taken care of. Tent footprints are usually made from waterproof materials, preventing moisture from getting into your tent. With one of these items, you get the guarantee of extra comfort whether you are setting your tent on a rocky beach or abrasive surface.

Tent footprint vs Tarp

What is a tarp?

While tent footprints will serve as protection for the floor of your tent, a tarp will offer ground protection and even roof safety. A tarp is a piece of long-lasting material you can lay on the floor and roof of your tent. In some cases of camping, a quality tarp can replace a tent. Tarps are made from different materials, including plastic and vinyl. These waterproof materials also prevent moisture from getting into your tent.

Some tent footprints are usually thicker and will provide extra comfort than tarps thinner. For campers, these pieces of equipment are essential for ensuring safety and comfort. Tents are sometimes created from light materials and so may not be able to withstand pressure from elements like sunlight, rain, or wind. By adding a tarp or tent footprint to your camping setup, you create a better experience.

Now you know the definitions of both items, you should know their differences. In learning the differences, you will also find out which will serve you more during your next camping trip.

Learn More @ Read up more about tent footprints and camping!

Tent footprint vs. Tarp: Differences

A tarp and a tent footprint are essential equipment for a great camping experience. They perform essential functions of protecting the flooring and roofing of your tent. They are similar in that they keep moisture out, but they also have differences. Some differences are:

  1. A tent footprint is a material used for the floor of your tent to protect against moisture, while a tarp can extend from the top to the bottom of your tent. When you purchase a tent footprint, you want to safeguard the ground area of your tent against tears and rips. Using a tarp allows you to protect your whole tent.
  2. Since tent footprints are specifically designed for the floor of your tent, they are usually more comfortable than a tarp. Some tent footprints feel soft against the feet.
  3. Tarps can be less expensive than some tent footprints. Though there are cheap brands, footprints are generally more expensive than tarps.
  4. Fixing tent footprints need more precision than tarps. Footprints are to be placed in the exact dimensions they fit in. Tarps are easy to set up as you mostly need to place them over the tents.

Which should you get?

Deciding on the best option for you is not a decision you can make in isolation. Different factors will come to play before deciding if a tarp or a tent footprint will be better. Based on the kind of surface you plan to set up your tent, a footprint or tarp may be best.

The kind of weather you’ll get is a determinant. Though you cannot always predict the weather, a guess could save you from a terrible experience. If you do not adequately prepare and it starts raining during your time outdoors, it can get uncomfortable. Both items can prevent water from getting in through a tarp and can offer protection for your tent from the roof to the ground space.

You should check which surface you will be setting your tent on in deciding what to get. A tent footprint might be a better option if it is a beach, abrasive or rocky surface. Since these two items more or less perform similar functions, one needs to carefully look at the material the tarp or tent footprint is made from.

One more factor to consider will be the temperature. In extreme hot situations, a tarp will lessen the effect of the heat by creating a cool place. No one said you couldn’t enjoy comfort outdoors, and these items can help make your experience more enjoyable. It is up to you to decide which will serve you better with the information given.

Your tent is easily the most crucial part of your camping paraphernalia as you need to sleep somewhere enclosed while outdoors. Considering how valuable this equipment is, protecting it should be a priority.

Images: Unsplash/ Baikang Yuan and Mattias Helge

Author Bio

Victor Nicholson is an outdoor enthusiast, camper, fisherman, and hunter. With 20 years of experience exploring incredible Australian landscapes and nature, he has honed his ability to evaluate and recommend the right equipment for various outdoor activities.