tent camping in the rain

What is the best thing to put under a tent to keep it from getting wet?

You are headed out to go tent camping but it is going to rain, how do you keep the floor of your tent dry and protected? What do you put under your tent to keep it dry? Here is the simple answer to that question and a few more tips for wet weather camping.

Each of the ground cloth/footprint materials below will help to keep your tent floor dry, and each has its own special advantages and disadvantages that we will explore further below.

What is the best thing to put under a tent to keep it from getting wet?

Several things can protect your tent floor from moisture:

  • Footprints: Many tent manufacturers offer footprints specifically designed to fit your tent model. These provide a perfect fit and are often made from durable materials. They may be more expensive, but offer convenience and a guaranteed match for your tent.
  • Tarps: Tarps are a classic choice for ground protection under tents. They’re affordable, widely available, and can double as rain shelters or gear covers. When using a tarp, the key is to size it slightly smaller than your tent floor and fold any extra edges under the tent. This prevents rainwater from pooling on top of the tarp and potentially seeping underneath.
  • Housewrap: Housewrap, like Tyvek, is the material used to wrap houses during construction. It’s surprisingly effective as a groundcloth – water-resistant, lightweight, and extremely affordable. While not as durable as dedicated footprints or tarps, it’s a great option for occasional campers or those looking to save a few bucks.
  • Heavy Mil Plastic: Heavy mil plastic sheeting (usually 6 mil or thicker) is an affordable and readily available option for a groundcloth. However, it’s important to note that it’s generally less durable than housewrap, especially when it comes to punctures from sharp rocks and debris. If you’re expecting rough terrain, housewrap or a tarp would be a more resilient choice.

Why Do I Need A Groundcloth?

A groundcloth, also called a tent footprint, is a protective layer you put under your tent. It’s important because it acts as a shield against the wear and tear caused by rocks, sticks, and other debris on the ground, extending your tent’s lifespan.

A groundcloth also offers an extra layer of defense against moisture, helping to keep your tent floor dry even in wet conditions. It also helps keep your campsite cleaner by preventing dirt and debris from sticking to the bottom of your tent.

Not sure if you need a groundcloth? Consider the terrain you’ll be camping on – rough, rocky sites make them essential. If you have an older tent or have invested in a quality one, a groundcloth is a worthwhile way to protect your investment.

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