Make a Tent Footprint




About: I'm a designer at Instructables. I have a degree in fashion design and like to sew, get crafty, and attempt to use power tools.

Intro: Make a Tent Footprint

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!



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    11 Discussions


    1 year ago

    Great for arid locales, but up here in the North East it gets wet whether you like it or not, so a couple of cheap inflatable pool rafts on a ground cloth, plus the usual overhead tarp will keep you dry and comfy even in the lovely pattering rain.


    3 years ago

    not to be mean, because it's nice work, but you made that too big. the point of a footprint is to keep dew and rain and what not from sitting on the floor of the tent and soaking through. it needs to be just smaller than the actual size of the tent. and you definitely don't want an extension that would fuel water under the tent.

    I will add that for good weather and when you don't need to stake your tent it's a great idea!

    4 replies

    Reply 3 years ago on Introduction

    so basically no grommets or if you do have grommets they need to just stick out to the poles. no other extra stuff out, Is that correct?


    Reply 3 years ago on Introduction

    Yep. Based on everyone's feedback I cut down the tyvek so that only the grommeted corners stick out. I've now been through some serious rainstorms so thanks all for the comments. Next time around I'll put grommets into webbing and attach that to the four corners of the tyvek instead.


    Good point, I don't think it rained hard enough to be a problem the first time around. Nice thing about tyvek is that it's easy to cut down. I'll keep the wings on it but bring it all in closer to the shape of the tent.


    3 years ago on Introduction

    Tyvek isn't waterproof, pressure will allow water to seep through. Polycryo is my preferred ground sheet material. It's similar to the plastic sheet you double glaze windows with, but the gossamer gear product is a little heavier duty. I edge the sheet with tape to reinforce it as it tears easily otherwise. I've used the same polycryo sheet for years with my Tarptent Double Rainbow.


    3 years ago on Introduction

    If the footprint of the ground cloth is larger than the floor of the tent (if it sticks out or can be seen) it is highly probable that it will collect rain water that will flow under the tent. This can cause the contents of your tent to get wet. If your tent has a bathtub type water prooffloor that may not be that important. All of my ground cloths have a measurement that is an inch or two smaller than the measurement of the tent floor.


    3 years ago on Introduction

    As i was reading i was thinking the same thing. I like the fact that it could be a mat for your vestibule though...although the rain water will just go right under the tent like that.


    3 years ago on Introduction

    Awesome job! I have always wanted a base for my tent that wasn't just an old tarp. Voting!