I just bought a new ultralight tent, and after seeing how expensive footprints were I set out to make one myself. A footprint is an important piece of ground protection to extend the life of your tent for as long as possible, especially for ultralight tents as they are relatively fragile. I used Tyvek, as it is lightweight, waterproof, and durable.
What is great about making a footprint yourself is that it costs half as much to make, is really easy, and you can customize it however you want. I added extensions at the sides to line the vestibule areas to protect gear from mud, which ended up being very helpful for this tent's first rainstorm.
Ready to make your own? Let's go!
Step 1: What You Need
Tyvek sheet - I got lucky and had a roll at work, but those are expensive. This site has relatively cheap sheets, and I'm sure there are other good deals out on the interwebs.
Large eyelets/grommets, and setting tool
Small piece of canvas fabric
Scissors and hammer
Step 2: Prototyping
First I tested out grommets in various ways to figure out what would last. Adding it directly to the Tyvek ripped right away, so I tried reinforcing with felt. This worked better, but without the line of stitching it was still too fragile. Finally I tried a piece of lighter fabric but with a sewing line around it, and that seemed to hold up well enough, and was less bulky than the felt.
Step 3: Lay It Out
Roll out your tyvek, and mark where the poles will sit.
Important! Actually set up your poles, as simply laying out the tent and guessing where the corners will lie is not exact enough.
Step 4: Add Grommets
Cut out small pieces of fabric reinforcement, and an opening through both layers that will fit the grommet. Inset it, place the backing on the other side, and use the included tool to hammer it down. Please note that I did a terrible job here. I didn't have the correct backing for these or tool, and while I succeeded in attaching the grommets, they aren't pretty.
For a better tutorial on adding these with much nicer results, have a look here.
Step 5: Add Vestibule Wings
Next I added wings to either side of the footprint to protect bags and gear underneath each vestibule, as my tent is small enough that two bags will not fit within the tent and most gear will live outside. I guessed for shape knowing it would be easy to trim later, and sewed both sides to the center piece. When not in use they easily fold under the tent.
Step 6: Done!
That's it! Get out there and enjoy your new footprint!