MYOG: Easy, Cheap, Kinda Light Tent Footprint

We tend to prefer to use a footprint for our tent. So when we originally got our Z-Packs Duplex, we made our own! We have also made the same design for our Z-Packs Triplex.

This design has lasted years of hiking and has taken the majority of the wear and tear on our tent floor.

Design

The footprint design is very simple. It is a square, slightly larger than the floor of the tent. Each corner is reinforced with Tuck Tape and has holes in it for elastic cable.

The elastic cable has a mitten hook at the end, which connects to the guy lines on the tent. This can be modified to fit other tent designs, including freestanding tents.

When set up, the edges of the footprint should be lifted off the ground. If they are not, then the elastic cables need to be adjusted to be shorter or the dimensions of the plastic should be adjusted to be smaller.

Pros/Cons

  • PROS
    • The materials are cheap and easy to find at a local hardware store
    • The design is relatively lightweight
    • The poly material stretches easily and does not tear unless there is a cut or pinhole. This keeps the footprint from getting damaged on rough surfaces and allows it to take up some of the sharp edges to keep them from damaging the tent floor.
  • CONS
    • When setting up, if you don’t get the dimensions quite right the footprint can catch water rather than repel it
    • If the edges have sharp internal corners (sloppy scissor cuts) the footprint can tear easily.
    • It’s about 70 g extra weight to carry and gets wet, so holds water when in your pack.

Specs

  • Mass:
    • Our Triplex footprint is about 70 g (dry)
  • Dimensions:
    • The same as the Z-Packs Triplex and Duplex footprints
  • Materials:
    • Clear Poly Window Film
    • Tuck Tape
    • Elastic shock cable
    • Plastic mitten hooks

It packs well, but I usually just stuff it in an old Ziploc to keep things together.

How To

Step 1: Cut the plastic to size

  • Using a pair of scissors, cut the plastic sheet to the required dimensions.
    • I find that sewing shears work best
    • Folding the plastic, and marking with a coloured sharpie is a good way to make the large sheet manageable. Keep an eye on it -the plastic slides and moves around!
    • Make sure the cuts are smooth and there are no jagged edges. If you have a sloppy cut it might tear later.
  • When measuring and cutting, be sure to confirm you are working with a single layer of plastic. The plastic can stick together when new and you may not count a fold or two of the plastic.

Step 2: Tape the corners

  • Using about 3 inches of tuck tape per side (a 6 inch long strip that can be folded in half) tape the corners.
    • The tape is VERY sticky so take your time applying it. Don’t be afraid to trim the tape down if it goes off of the edge of the sheet of plastic.

Step 3: Make holes

  • Using a standard hole punch, make one hole in each corner through the tuck tape.

Step 4: Tie the elastic shock cable loops

  • On each corner, tie a loop of shock cable through a mitten hook.
    • Use your preferred knot.
  • Test on your tent, and if the corners of the footprint are too tight, loosen the cable. If they are too loose (and lay flat on the ground) tighten the cable.

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